THERE is no doubt that social media played a vital role in Arab Spring (Arab Spring and the social media, March 23). The Indian government has also realised the importance of the social media network, and the latest to join the bandwagon is the Prime Minister's Office.
It was fortunate that Arab nations such as Egypt, Tunisia and Libya among others did not curb the social media. Attempts will always be made all over the world to curb the social media as is being done in China. In India, too, there have been attempts to ban Google and Facebook. Even in a liberal nation like the U.S., in the guise of anti-piracy laws, attempts were made to kill the Internet.
The judiciary should join social-networking sites, and the courts should have a Facebook account. It is unfortunate that even though India is an IT superpower, it does not have its own social-networking sites on the lines of Facebook and Twitter. China has Weibo and Sina Weibo, which are both becoming popular outside China.Vodafone verdict
TAKING a lesson from the verdict in the Vodafone case, the government should reform laws and policies in important sectors so that they benefit both investors and consumers (Cover Story, March 23). However, the judiciary cannot do anything about policies that look good on paper but fizzle out in practice. This is the problem with many of the country's welfare programmes. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said that only 25 paisa in every rupee allotted for development work reached the intended beneficiaries.
THE Cover Story makes it clear that the government provides multinational corporations cheap labour, assures them that their interests will be taken care of and, above all, allows many loopholes in tax laws so that it can boast that the country has a robust economy. The Finance Minister talks about the country's high GDP and then, ironically, complains that there are not enough resources for welfare measures.
NO doubt the Vodafone decision is a huge setback in the fight against tax avoidance in India (Interview with Prof. Mohan Gopal, March 23). The need of the hour is a comprehensive revamping of the lopsided FDI policy followed by Union governments after embracing neoliberalism.
THE government is likely to amend the Income Tax Act whereby transactions such as the one involving Vodafone will be liable to income tax. If such an amendment is made, it will not be in the interests of the country as it will hinder the economic activities of foreign companies. It would be better for the government to give an exemption with certain conditions such as saved funds, which can be untaxed and may be put to use in India in the future within a specified time frame. A separate audit should be made compulsory for such funds.Dow & Olympics
THE Olympic Games is the biggest event for national athletes, and it should not be marred by the spectre of the Bhopal gas tragedy (Dow at the Games, March 23). It takes athletes years of hard work and determination to reach the Olympics arena. The suggestion that India abstain from the London Olympics is totally unfair.
AT the Beijing Olympics, India, with a measly medal tally of one gold and two bronzes, was placed in the 50th position. In Athens, India could get only one silver medal. Indian officials have been considering boycotting the opening and closing ceremonies as a protest against Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the London Olympics. India should attend these ceremonies and boycott the Games so that it can avoid the humiliation that visits it every four years.NCTC
THE proposal to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) should be welcomed by all (Policy muddle, March 23). The growing incidences of naxalism and terrorism are due to the failure of successive governments to enhance the internal security system. It is unfortunate to note that the CAG found that funds made available by the Centre between 2000 and 2004 for police modernisation were underutilised. This is a clear reflection of the lethargic attitude of the administration in the matters of national security and public safety. Also, India should take lessons from Europe, where technology plays an important role in the fight against terrorism.
THE NCTC is vital for the prevention of terrorism. Some States with non-Congress governments fear that the Centre is encroaching on their powers. Terrorism is a problem that should be tackled by both by the Centre and the States and they should have laws to deal with the situation in a professional way.Media
THE social media now act as the Fifth Estate, playing the role of a watchdog for the other four estates (Arab Spring and the social media, March 23). Activists and civil society groups have raised many issues through the social media. They have become so powerful that in many instances they undermine the relevance of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. On the other hand, the double standards of Team Anna were brought out by the same social media. Therefore, there needs to be self-regulation by social media companies. The platform provided by them for every individual to express his or her opinion should be used constructively.West Bengal
IT is shocking that politics of violence is continuing in West Bengal even with the change of guard (Politics of violence, March 23). The killing of party leaders, regardless of which party they belong to, is bad in law and should be condemned. Simultaneously, policing standards should be improved to reduce the incidence of crimes against women.
WHEN Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is present, no Minister has the right to speak to the media, they have to support her statements, and they are not allowed to oppose her in any way. This seems to be the Chief Minister's latest guideline. Her recent comments on rape cases in the State, the murder of two CPI(M) leaders in Bardhaman district and the attack on a media photographer sound ridiculous after the results of the investigation by the State police. It is time for Mamata to speak like a Chief Minister. She carries the responsibility of the people of Bengal on her shoulders and cannot speak for her party alone.Indian roads
THE article Murderous roads (March 23) was right to emphasise the need to improve the quality of roads throughout the country. The number of fatal accidents taking place on the streets is a matter of grave concern. Roads should be designed in such as way that pedestrians and cyclists are protected from fast-moving vehicles. Roads have to cater to the needs of all the road users, not just those with cars.Srinath MaheshNoida
ALTHOUGH the number of deaths on the road involving pedestrians is on the increase, it is sad there is no perceptible shift in urban road transport policy, which only focusses on accommodating more vehicles. Road management should take pedestrians into account because they bear the brunt of fatalities and injuries.Kingfisher
IT is common sense that if a company is declared a non-performing asset by as many as eight lenders it does not make any business sense for other lenders to lend more to that company. By no stretch of the imagination is Kingfisher too big to fail. It has not shown any serious intent to either turn around its fortunes or safeguard its shareholders' interests. If recent developments are to be believed, the State Bank of India appears to be keen on helping to bail Kingfisher out partially. Such a move defies all logic.
There must be more to it than meets the eye. In the first place, why are public sector banks investing in underperforming assets? And now that the debt has been converted into equity, how will they recover their money?Art
RAMKINKAR BAIJ is an artist who inspires one to work with passion (Being universal by being local, March 23). Rabindranth Tagore did not believe in formal schooling, and Ramkinkar was also of the same mind and invented a new creative form. Today's art students just copy ideas from the West. They have no time to dip into the ocean of human feelings, beauty and creativity. Today artists spend a lot of money, but Ramkinkar succeeded in establishing himself as an artist using whatever was available to him. Rabindranath and Nandalal Bose knew how to recognise talent and genius, but today, artists like Ramkinkar would never get admitted into art colleges. If a teacher-artist today led the same bohemian life that Ramkinkar did, he would be punished and asked to follow college and UGC rules.Mumbai
THE Shiv Sena has once again been given the chance to rule the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (Lacklustre victory, March 23). Mumbai may have the richest industrialists of India, it may be India's commercial capital, and it may have a Rs.21,000 crore plus annual Budget, but it remains in a pathetic condition. Its problems with slums, floods every rainy season, and so on, are still unsolved. If Singapore can thrive as a city state, why can Mumbai not?Partition
THIS is with reference to the article The aftermath of Partition (March 23). British interpretations of events in South Asia around the time of the partition of India should be examined keeping in mind the need to remain emotionally neutral so that one can get a sense of the facts of the times. One is particularly struck by the absence of any reference to how the struggle for freedom influenced the ordinary middle-class Indians who inhabited the princely states. Indians were emotionally one irrespective of whether they lived in British India or princely India.
However, it is indeed possible that some important Congress leaders had communal traits, and there were also leaders like Mahatma Gandhi who had adopted idioms of communication which, while effective in attracting a great number of ordinary Indians to the national cause, could be interpreted as Hindu in tone and tenor. The mindset of Congress, Muslim League and British leaders at the time of Partition influenced the acceptance of the partition formula. Also, Partition gave certain linguistic groups a demographic advantage in the politics of divided India.
Historians would do well to analyse these facets of Indian freedom struggle to understand why Partition happened, who lost and who gained, and why the British government collaborated with divisionary forces during the freedom movement. Because of Partition, India permanently lost its natural advantage as a geopolitical entity and a global player.Gujarat
THE Cover Story on Gujarat provided a poignant picture of the continuing consequences of the 2002 pogrom (A decade of shame, March 9). The conduct of the SIT is mysterious. The main hope for justice for the victims is the crusading spirit of Zakia Jafri and members of Citizens for Justice and Peace. The often heard call from a section of the people to forget and move forward can be accepted only when those who have suffered and lost everything are compensated.
CHIEF Minister Narendra Modi should have resigned 10 years ago on moral grounds. Even now his political bosses in the BJP should force him to go as he was at the helm of affairs when the worst communal riots in the history of India were perpetrated in his State. As long as he is Chief Minister, he will continue to influence the judicial process and the victims will never get justice.
THE memories of the horrendous riots in Gujarat still haunt every secular Indian. If Modi were not guilty, he would have made sure that the victims received compensation and would himself have ordered an inquiry.
THE long and terrible shadow of the riots looms over Modi's administrative record. He is the BJP's asset as well as its liability, a factor that repeatedly gets in the way of coalition-building. It is undeniable that Modi failed the people of the State in 2002. Given his reputation for being an able administrator, the riot victims can hardly be blamed for assuming that he turned a blind eye to the pogrom and forgot his rajdharma. Siddhartha Shankar MishraBudharaja, OdishaANNOUNCEMENT
Letters, whether by surface mail or e-mail, must carry the full postal address and the full name, or the name with initials.CORRECTION
In the article "The aftermath of Partition" (March 23), the first sentence in the caption for the picture on page 88 should read as follows: "CPI leaders, general secretary P.C. Joshi (right), G. Adhikari and B.T. Ranadive, at a party Polit Bureau meeting in Bombay in 1945." In the interview with Prof. Antonio Ereditato ("Faster than light", March 23), the name Cerenkov was wrongly given as Eerenkov.