Clinton's visit

Print edition : April 15, 2000

As expected, there was a lot of excitement over Clinton's visit to the subcontinent ("Clinton's yatra", April 14). The visit is a milestone in India-U.S. relations as it has dispelled any misunderstanding that U.S.' policy has a pro-Pakistan tilt. The U. S. President is keen to expand and deepen economic and cultural ties. But India has to be cautious in its trade negotiations as the ultimate objective of the U.S. is to establish a flourishing market in India for its products.

Dr. A.K. Tharien Oddanchatram, Tamil Nadu * * *

A thought-provoking and interesting Cover Story. It is a matter of pride for India that the visit has helped reduce tensions in the subcontinent.

Vinod C. Dixit Ahmedabad * * *

The impression that one gained after hearing the broadcast of Clinton's address in the Central Hall of Parliament and reading the Vision Statement is that the Indian side had successfully made the Clinton visit a smooth affair. Clinton took pains to stee r clear of all "thorny issues". All that he did was to endorse silently India's stand on the issues of nuclear non-proliferation and Kashmir. Even before he spoke, Vajpayee had asserted that India would not buckle under pressure from any quarter.

K. Kumara Sekhar Eluru, Andhra Pradesh * * *

Clinton should not have been welcomed to India, considering the United States' repeated violation of United Nations guidelines as is evident from the embargo on Cuba, the crippling sanctions on Iraq and the destructive attack on Yugoslavia. It is sad tha t the Left parties and their various front organisations, which held a joint rally in New Delhi against the Government's economic policies on March 9 under the banner of the National Platform of Mass Organisation, did not come together to oppose the Clin ton visit. There may be differences on domestic issues, but the fight against imperialism has to be a joint one.

Rajesh Ramakrishnan New Delhi * * *

Clinton's meeting with Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, a one-time "pracharak" of the Sangh Parivar, was a clear sign of the recognition the U.S. has accorded to the 'fascist' forces emerging in India. But the U.S. has denounced the Austrian Government back ed by Joerg Haider and his Far-Right Freedom Party. This shows a lack of fairness in U.S. foreign policy.

Shakil Akhtar Bhagalpur, Bihar Handloom sector

The proposed New Textile Policy, which is drawn up on the basis of the S.R. Satyam Committee's recommendations has left millions of weavers employed in the handloom sector apprehensive about their future ("Handloom sector worries", April 14).

The government should take immediate action to protect the poor weavers. Women working on looms in their own houses should be brought under organisations such as cooperative societies so that they can meet the changing demands of domestic as well as expo rt markets.

A. Jacob Sahayam Karigiri, Tamil Nadu Literature

This year's Jnanpith Award winners, Nirmal Verma and Gurdial Singh, come from different social backgrounds and their creativity blossomed in diverse situations ("Two writers, one message", April 14). What is common between them is their human approach to their themes and subjects.

Interestingly, many winners of the Jnanpith have come from rural backgrounds; for instance, Shivarama Karanth (Kannada), Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and S.K. Pottekat (both Malayalam). They have proved what Mahatma Gandhi said: "India lives in its villag es." It is life and society that made them creative, and not schools or universities.

K.C. Kalkura Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh Budget 2000

The editorial on the Union Budget sounded pessimistic ("A hail of neo-liberal bullets", March 31). It did not refer to how the Information Technology sector would be benefited by the Budget and how, in turn, it will help India. The editorial laments the entry of multinational companies into the banking sector. While MNCs try to take over Indian companies and banks, Indian companies such as Reliance Industries and Infosys Technologies are talking of taking over big companies abroad.

The editorial seems to say that India should carry on with the moribund institutions which provide nothing but a suffocating atmosphere of incompetence. It is not clear how a Budget like this could have an underlying strategy of spreading communal ideolo gy, promoting jingoism and so on.

The increase in the outlay for defence was necessitated by India's precarious strategic position, thanks to its belligerent neighbour and transborder terrorism.

H. Jaikrishnan Pune PSUs

The Special Feature on public sector undertakings (March 31) was timely. It demolished the post-liberalisation belief that PSUs are unviable. Those who argue in favour of privatisation should remember that the private sector is not free from blemish. Pri vatisation of PSUs would push the country back into the capitalism of the 19th century with all its social evils such as inequality of income and wealth, mass unemployment and exploitation of natural resources. What India needs is the coexistence of publ ic and private sectors, complementing each other.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala * * *

Since the launch of planned development in 1951, public sector undertakings have shouldered the responsibility of powering industrial development and thus its economic development. They have performed marvellously and have emerged as centres of efficienc y and excellence in many vital sectors of the economy. The PSUs have been engaged in producing commodities and providing services at affordable prices. In this way the PSUs are committed to public welfare.

Considering the historically significant role played by the PSUs in India's economic development, it is deplorable that they are now being neglected by the Government. The neglect of the PSUs amounts to the neglect of public welfare. It is ridiculous to say that the PSUs are no longer relevant in the changed economic environment of liberalisation and globalisation. They still have significance for the poor people and also the economy. Many private sector companies thrive on infrastructure facilities pro vided by the PSUs, mainly those in the power and telecom sectors.

The PSUs were not established to make profit but to fulfil certain social obligations. Now the government claims that they are a liability as they are making losses. In order to prevent losses, the PSUs must be restructured so that they function on sound commercial principles and sell their products and provide services by charging competitive market prices and not on the basis of administered price mechanisms. They should be given minimum functional autonomy and allowed to follow improved management pr actices.

Disinvestment is not the cure for all the ills of the PSUs. Moreover, the government is using the money accruing from disinvestment to offset the revenue deficit instead of ploughing it back to rejuvenate the PSUs.

Sanjai Kumar Hazaribagh, Bihar The Kargil report

It was clear from the beginning that the exercise undertaken by the K. Subrahmanyam Committee was a mere eyewash and that nothing would come out of its report ("The Kargil Committee expedition", March 31). Perhaps a parliamentary committee headed by a le ader from the Opposition could have studied the problems better. After labouring for months, and spending lakhs of rupees, the Subrahmanyam Committee has produced a report that exonerates everyone and blames it on the system. In any other country the Pri me Minister and the Defence Minister would have accepted moral responsibility for the costly lapse and stepped down. On the contrary, the gullible voters of India were made to believe that it was a great "victory" for the ruling party led by A.B. Vajpaye e.

D.B.N. Murthy Bangalore Naxalite attacks

Naxalites struck in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, killing two Ministers and several policemen ("Murder of a Minister", March 31). As pointed out in the article, what is needed is a mixture of strong regulatory and socio-economic mechanisms. However, there is a total lack of political will to address socio-economic problems. The State governments concerned should think in terms of putting an end to the alienation of the tribal people.

Union Home Minister L.K. Advani has made a dramatic declaration about accepting the "challenge" from naxalites. The real challenge is to ensure socio-economic equality. Official highhandedness, bureaucratic indifference or false encounters would only dri ve the tribal people towards naxalites.

Azmat Khan Pathan Bangalore Geeta Mukherjee

In the obituary on Geeta Mukherjee, the author states that "her colleagues recall that despite the split in the Communist Party in 1964 and the political upheavals in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Geeta Mukherjee's commitment to the people's democratic revolution remained undiluted" ("A committed fighter", March 31). This is not true. Geeta Mukherjee and her husband Biswanath Mukherjee were staunch supporters of the "national front line" from which emerged the concept of nat ional democratic revolution, the strategic line of the CPI after the 1964 split in the movement. A people's democratic revolution was the strategy of the CPI(M).

Sankar Ray Calcutta ICHR

The controversy relating to the Indian Council of Historical Research brings into focus the emerging threat to the freedom of academic expression ("Falsification of history", March 31). The BJP-led coalition must not try to suffocate the academia as it h as done in the case of Prof. K.N. Panikkar and Prof. Sumit Sarkar. To stop grants to an institution such as the Indian History Congress is a sign of an alarming situation. By letting warped, biased opinions about history, which are supported neither by r esearch nor by facts, seep into history textbooks, we are only heading towards a situation in which an entire generation will face identity problems.

Deepthi Sasidharan New Delhi Thane

The story of Thane district ("Living on the edge, in Thane", March 31) is the story of all backward districts of India where development schemes have failed to reach the people. The main reasons for this failure are the lack of responsibility and commitm ent among government officials and village representatives and the shortage of funds for the schemes. Only the rich and the powerful benefit from these schemes.

Aunjaneya Kumar Singh Salahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Congress(I) crisis

Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin is a factor that works against her leadership of the Congress(I). The legacy of the Nehru-Gandhi family can no longer charm the voter ("Crisis of confidence", March 17).

Sonia lacks the ability to relate to the crowd and give expression to their aspirations in a language that can appeal to them. If she wants to rejuvenate the party, she must allow the State units to function with some independence. Decisions imposed by a high command that is out of touch with the ground realities have stultified State party units. Also, she must not ignore regional and caste leaders who have strong vote banks.

Jaya Prasad Patna Music

This refers to C.V. Narasimhan's article on Carnatic music ("An ocean of music," March 17). Being a musician myself, I read the article with much interest. It is no competition and we are no judges to decide as to which music system is superior to the ot hers. It would be correct just to mention the greatness of Carnatic music.

Manodharma sangita, the number of percussion instruments and so on, may give Carnatic music a unique place, but features such as voice culture and sruti suddham, which are found in Western music also, give the latter an equally unique place . I wish to read here the response of a Western musician to Narasimhan's article.

T. Padmini Visakhapatnam Correction:

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