LETTERS

Print edition : December 05, 1998
Avenging Mujib

The verdict in the Mujibur Rahman assassination case drove home the point that the arm of the law is long and that no culprit can escape punishment for ever ("Historic verdict in Bangladesh," December 4). November 8, 1998 will go down in the history of Bangladesh as a red-letter day.

The interview with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was interesting and informative. Mujibur Rahman's daughter has said rightly: "I also feel that it was a victory for humanity and human civilisation..."

Mani Natarajan Chennai * * *

I endorse the views expressed by Syed Badrul Ahsan in his article "Restoring political morality". He says: "The sentences passed on the men who caused the tragedy of 1985 are, therefore, intimations of the Bengali readiness to roll back the forces of anti-history. They are one more reminder of the thought, as true in Bangladesh as elsewhere, that nations survive if they have the courage and the ability to recognise wrong, and then do the right."

India has a lesson in this. Why have we been unable to take action against persons guilty of committing excesses during the Emergency? How do we explain our inaction against those who instigated anti-Sikh violence in 1984 and those who fuelled communal hatred which led to the destruction of the Babri Masjid? Let us follow Bangladesh's example in punishing the guilty. The warning contained in the article is relevant: "A nation which allows itself to be pushed into the sidelines by unscrupulous men commandeering politics is not one that looks for rainbows across the horizon."

Onkar Chopra New Delhi * * *

As far as Bangladesh is concerned, justice delayed in not justice denied. Even a delay of 23 years could not save Mujib's murderers, whose cruelty did not spare even his 10-year-old son. To avenge the murder of a national leader, his daughter had to gain power.

K.S. Rama Iyer Pondicherry Immunology

"Breakthroughs and challenges" (December 4) made interesting reading. The way the International Congress of Immunology was conducted left much to be desired. It is time the organisers of such international conferences did their homework to ensure that the deliberations are conducted smoothly and in a professional manner.

The women activists who protested against research on immuno-contraception have a point. In our enthusiasm to promote the small family norm, women should not be made the guinea pigs. The field trials of such contraceptive drugs and vaccines are done cursorily and secretively. Some of the drugs, rejected by the developed world, have been dumped on the Third World where there are no proper regulations governing drug trials. No vaccine, medicine or method in family planning should be accepted without a thorough investigation.

D.B.N. Murthy Bangalore Suicide stories

This has reference to the article on the increasing rate of suicides in Punjab ("Tales of life and death", December 4). In this context it may be worthwhile to compare the situations in Punjab and Kerala: the suicide rates are very high in both these States. As in the case of Keralites, a large number of Punjabis work in foreign countries. There were reports that only the elders remain in some villages in Punjab.

In both States, poverty is not the reason for a large number of suicides. The importance accorded to materialistic pursuits, competition, dejection and breakdown of the family may be some of the common reasons. A comparative study could help find solutions.

A. Jacob Sahayam Vellore Hindutva school

"Taking Hindutva to school", (November 20) portends a horrid future for India. Your correspondents have done a thorough job, giving us details and examples of the attempts to "saffronise education". Is India hurtling towards saffron fascism?

Arthur Machado Dharwar, Karnataka * * *

There are 12 great living religions in the world and all of them flourish in India. Since Independence, whoever was in power at the Centre knowingly or unknowingly tried to promote Hindutva. What is witnessed today is an extreme form of this attempt.

Joe Kannur, Kerala * * *

The articles were highly critical of the doctoring of textbooks by the BJP combine. But everything has its good and bad sides. You have highlighted only the bad side.

Sheojee Singh Patna * * *

Muslim historians who specialised in the medieval period of Indian history have taken pride in and written extensively on how Muslims destroyed temples and built beautiful mosques. There is no dearth of such material. Yet we are made to believe that the so-called aberrations of history are the products of British historians or of the BJP. If at all history is to be taught, it should be taught in its totality. The versions now available have been doctored to a similar extent by leftist historians, who until recently dominated all research institutions thanks to their political masters of the last 50 years.

Manish Garg Noida, Uttar Pradesh * * *

Your coverage reflects a bias against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The effort of the RSS to influence people in every walk of life by taking up constructive work is nothing new. Even the enemies of the RSS have eulogised its workers' initiative in rushing to the help of people affected by natural and man-made calamities. Therefore, it is no wonder that a Minister moulded in RSS ideology should present such an agenda at the Education Ministers' conference. What is surprising is the Ministers' brazen protest against the singing of Saraswati Vandana and an address by a stalwart in the field of education.

Mahatma Gandhi was not a member of the Indian National Congress. Still he could inspire thousands of Congressmen to make sacrifices. This was possible because of his inherent belief in Hindu scriptures. What the media refers to as the Hindutva agenda is the core of the Indian ethos backed by a strong organisation. It is only because the ideology of Hindutva has become prominent after its proponents assumed office at the Centre and in some States that the media portray it as a danger. It is high time terms like secularism, pluralism, cultural nationalism, communalism and fundamentalism were debated at various forums and the propaganda to show the RSS in bad light was stopped.

Democracy survives in India because Hindus view life in its totality and not in terms of politics, economics, sociology, religion, sect, cult, ethnicity and so on. The RSS' work will continue regardless of whether the BJP is in power or not.

S.N. Phadnis Mumbai * * *

In "A spreading network" it is mentioned that the Vivekananda schools in Chennai are controlled by the Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari. It is also mentioned that the life of Golwalkar is prescribed as reading material in Tamil for students of Class VII in the Vivekananda schools.

There are many organisations running schools in the name of Swami Vivekananda. All these schools are not controlled by the Vivekananda Kendra. We have only two schools in Tamil Nadu, one at Kanyakumari and the other at Valliyoor. Both the schools follow the syllabus prescribed by the Tamil Nadu Matriculation Board.

A. Balakrishnan General Secretary Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari

* * *

"Falsifying history" (October 23) was timely. The attempt to "Indianise" history has been going on for several years. It was on the agenda of the erstwhile Jan Sangh and now the BJP has taken over. Years ago P.N. Oak wrote a book arguing that the Taj Mahal was originally a Hindu palace.

Communal forces are making a similar attempt in respect of Hyderabad. They claim credit for having liberated the princely state of Hyderabad from the Nizam and deny the role played by the Communists, the Andhra Mahasabha and the Congress in the process.

We can only shape and mould the future of a country and cannot rewrite the past to suit present needs.

P.K. Janardhanan Adoor, Kerala Romesh Sharma

The story on Romesh Sharma's career in crime throws new light on the deep nexus between politicians and criminals ("The Romesh Sharma trail", November 20). That the law of the land has not helped contain crimes is a serious blow to the country's pride. Will the Romesh Sharma affair fade into oblivion as similar cases did in the past? The answer seems to be 'yes' if we go by what Praveen Swami says on this affair: "After the current media storm dies down, Delhi political class will in all probability go back to its old ways."

R. Ramasami Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu Bhopal tragedy

The article on the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy ("Waiting for succour", November 20) was timely. You have given a vivid picture of the present state of affairs in Bhopal. Although this man-made tragedy occurred almost one and a half decades ago, nothing concrete seems to have been done by the Government to mitigate the victims' suffering except to have built a Rs. 26-crore high-tech hospital.

It is imperative that the Health Department of the Madhya Pradesh Government takes serious steps and clears the mess before the relief work gets bogged down in scandals.

D.V. Ananda Rao Ahmedabad Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen, who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics (November 6), said: "India and Pakistan had neglected education, health care and land reforms in a truly regrettable way." The award, apart from being a matter of national pride, is a grim reminder of the folly committed by us on the economic front over the years.

India's achievements notwithstanding, there have been serious failures in dealing with the unpleasant realities of exploitation and deprivation. P. Sainath has this to say in a specific case: "Kalahandi is a food surplus district. Its problem is acute exploitation, not natural calamity." While this situation is depressing enough, the exploitation taking place at the global level seems to be as destructive as the mortal breath of the Arctic winds. By the 1980s India too succumbed to the global crisis of capitalism, subjecting itself to the IMF regime. Michel Chossudovsky, a development economist at the University of Ottawa, says:

"Under the IMF-World Bank tutelage, the Union Minister of Finance reports directly to (the World Bank headquarters in) Washington D.C., bypassing Parliament and the democratic process.

"The Central Government Ministries are staffed with former IMF and World Bank employees, part of the 'parallel government' established in India by the Washington-based international bureaucracy.

"Most social sector expenditure has been reduced in current Budgets, even more rapidly than other expenditures, a policy that augurs terribly for the children of the poor in Indian society.

"There are beneficiaries, including Indian elites and foreign investors and consumers. The diamond industry is an example. Seven out of ten diamonds sold in the West are cut in India, with super cheap labour, now being driven down to still greater depths of misery...

"Workers and their families may starve to death in the new world order of economic rationality, but diamond necklaces are cheaper in elegant New York shops, thanks to the miracle of the market." (From World Orders, Old and New by Professor Noam Chomsky).

There cannot be an instant solution to problems of such magnitude but a way must be found, not only through the Government's economic policy but also from the point of view of the common man.

We should heed the call of men like Nani A. Palkhivala who has said: "We suffer from a fatty degeneration of conscience and unchecked dissolution of values. We have no sense of shame or shock that under a first class Constitution we run a third class democracy." He called for a "new ethical dimension" to be established in the Indian polity by a "new generation of young Indians". Unless this is done, the India of Mahatma Gandhi's dreams will not become a reality and Amartya Sen, in spite of the attention his theories have gained after the Nobel award, may end up as a messiah without a mission, preaching in the "market" wilderness.

Confucius said: "If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for ten years, plant a tree. If for hundred years, teach the people."

Ravi Kumar Mangalam Delhi

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