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Selling family silver

Published : May 20, 2011 00:00 IST

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T+T-

YOUR well researched and analysed articles on BSNL and VSNL (Call disconnect & A familiar ring, March 11) are timely and should be read by all. As your articles point out, many of these PSUs are highly profitable companies and possibly have already earned impressive returns on the government's investment. The tragedy is that it took years and plenty of taxpayers' money to build the PSUs that are now being bartered away to private players. Budget after budget proposes disinvestment because it is an easy route to raise money to stave off bankruptcy in a mismanaged economy.

As Naomi Klein states in her book The Shock Doctrine: The corporate shadow state has been built almost exclusively with public resources. The citizens who have funded it have absolutely no claim to this parallel economy or its resources. The actual state in the meanwhile has lost its ability to perform its core function without the help of contractors. Its own equipment is out of date; its experts have fled to the private sector.

Dr Airuddha Dam KolkataAnna Hazare

DESPITE his failure to attack the roots of corruption in the neoliberal system, Anna Hazare has stirred the whole nation by bringing to centre stage the issue of corruption, which has pushed the system towards a moral collapse (Cover Story, Hazare effect, May 6). The goal of a corruption-free polity is still miles away. For now, we need to raise our voice continuously and vigorously so that the government passes a strong Jan Lokpal Bill vested with sufficient powers to take severe action against the corrupt in high places.

Neeraj Kumar Jha Madhubani, Bihar

THE campaign against corruption in India is nothing new. Governments have fallen following charges of corruption. However, I am hopeful about Hazare's crusade as it is getting a lot of support from the public and is organised by selfless social activists.

Sushil Kumar Aurangabad, Bihar

WE have skipped the most fundamental way to fight corruption election reforms.

Gaurav Dutta Choudhary Katihar, Bihar

WE have to look beyond Anna Hazare, but at the same time we have to salute him for having brought the issue of corruption to centre stage at the ripe age of 71. When caste, religion and politics divide people, we need a single issue to unite the nation as Mahatma Gandhi did during the freedom struggle and Jayaprakash Narayan did during the Emergency.

Now Anna Hazare has come forward to fight the forces of corruption. It is not his fault that he has failed to attack the roots of corruption in the neoliberal system. Let us take up from where he has left off. The war has begun and it is everyone's responsibility to bring down the corruption index.

S.A.S. SARMA Ameerpet, Hyderabad

ACCORDING to a recent U.N. report, corruption continues to be a crippling problem in the Asia-Pacific region. And India is no exception. Corruption is not only the root cause of much of the problems facing the country but also a stumbling block to its economic growth.

As a first step to root out corruption, people should vehemently protest against officials demanding money for paperwork. Sting operations against the corrupt have been useful.

Maintaining transparency and retaining accountability in the administration will be of help in fighting corruption. The Right to Information Act can ensure transparency in public affairs.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai Vazhavallan Tamil Nadu

THE Jan Lokpal Bill is only a political gimmick and will not bring an end to corruption in public service. The change should happen in the mind of every public servant.

P. Soundariyan Uthanagarai Tamil Nadu

ANNA HAZARE'S fast unto death at Jantar Mantar has set the ball rolling in the battle against corruption in high places. He has called his fight the second independence struggle. He has received spontaneous support from a cross section of people, including educated youth whose faith in politicians is dwindling. Television channels have also helped in endearing Hazare to viewers irritated by the massive scams.

However, Hazare has not understood properly the communal agenda of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Activists of the National Alliance of People's Movements have rightly criticised him for supporting Modi's development model.

S. Murali Vellore, Tamil Nadu

ANNA HAZARE was fortunate in that there were elections in three States. Otherwise, he would have had to withdraw his fast unto death on some face-saving formula or die.

The Lokpal Bill will not end corruption. For that, people should learn to live within their means, shedding greed. All those who live beyond their means should be investigated and their illegal wealth should be confiscated.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala

THE Cover Story is biased. It does not talk about the indictment of Anna Hazare by the P.B. Sawant Commission. It only eulogises the anti-corruption movement.

The Lokpal Bill is nothing but a super monster as it has no provision for accountability.

The Hazare group does not represent civil society. The timing of the agitation is also suspect as it came close on the heels of Assembly elections in four States and a Union Territory. And if the activists can spend nearly Rs.40 lakh on a five-day agitation, what right do they have to accuse politicians of spending crores of rupees on elections?

Deendayal M. Lulla Mumbai

AT a time when many agitations in different parts of the country have not borne fruit, it is heartening to note that Anna Hazare's non-violent and peaceful agitation has made an impact. The notification on forming a joint drafting committee consisting of an equal number of persons representing the government and civil society is only a face-saving exercise by the government.

From the smear campaign unleashed by some leaders against the members representing civil society from day one, it is clear that the politicians of the country are determined to sabotage the process of finalisation of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

However, mere enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill will not help eradicate corruption. The legal system is burdened with archaic, ambiguous and overlapping laws. The apex court has time and again said that criminal justice system is not working in the country as it should.

In order to obviate the false impression spread by politicians that civil society is creating chaos in the name of fighting corruption, it would be good to hold a referendum on the Bill's passage once the draft Bill is ready. However, the mainstream political parties are not likely to face the people on this score.

Ettirankandath Krishnadas Palakkad, Kerala

THE fight against corruption launched by Hazare seemed to have touched a raw nerve as witnessed by the spontaneous outpouring of support from the civil society. Any move to sabotage the process will boomerang on the government .

One hopes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not allow political and criminal forces to derail the movement.

K.R. Srinivasan SecunderabadWorld Cup

WE salute Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Team India for winning the World Cup of cricket (Lords at Wankhede, May 6). Some call Dhoni a lucky captain, but it was his astute captaincy that made India win the coveted cup. Under Dhoni's captaincy, the Indian cricket team has climbed the ladder of success in a short period of time. As is evident from the Indian Premier League, the brand of cricket has overshadowed all other sports. I wonder if cricket can be a bellwether in enriching our identity in other sports and regaining our lost glory in hockey.

Dr Sanjiv GuptaPerth, Australia

WINNING the cricket World Cup is a matter of joy for every Indian. Congratulations to the Indian team. In the scramble to award honours and prizes to the Indian cricket players, some State governments are said to have diverted huge sums from public funds. Granting tax exemptions and offering free plots/houses for cricketers are not necessary. These cricketers are very rich and need no such material benefits.

Mahesh Kumar New DelhiGandhi

IT is quite natural for the Indian intelligentsia to feel sorry about the ban on Joseph Lelyveld's book Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India, but who started it (Zero tolerance, May 6)?

The author says: In a country [India] that calls itself a democracy, it is shameful to ban a book that no one has read, including the people who are doing the banning. It is an unwarranted comment. The ban move was sparked by reports in the local media following early reviews in the United States and the United Kingdom.

J.S. Acharya NewCastle-upon-Tyne U.K.Abel Prize

THE article on the latest Abel laureate, John Willard Milnor, has presented highly abstract concepts in a layman's language (Gentle giant, May 6). It has explained in a succinct manner the far-reaching contributions of Milnor.

Mathematical equations have been avoided and a few well-drawn diagrams give insight into the work of the eminent mathematician. As a schoolteacher of mathematics, I will be happy if Frontline comes out with more such articles on science.

S.S. Rajagopalan ChennaiRight method

R.K. RAGHAVAN is too optimistic in his article Investigators' plight (May 6). The method suggested by him to improve the efficiency of investigators and investigating agencies is wrong.

It is not the CrPC or the laws on punishment and evidence that need to be changed. The very method of investigation needs to change. Investigating agencies must be dissociated from the general policing body, which still follows colonial practices. An efficient way to achieve this is by creating a pool of investigators without any specific ranks and making them report to a single authority, say the court, so that there is no official meddling.

Varghese Ninan P. Thrickodithanam KeralaPension Bill

THE article Anti-labour union by T.K. Rajalakshmi shows the UPA government's attitude towards the working class (May 6).

Pension is a social security measure to enable people to lead a decent life after retirement. By taking them out of the orbit of this defined benefit, the state is being unmindful of its obligations to them. The Centre must rectify its error and be a model employer with a commitment to the labour sector, which is a vital force in the country's economic progress.

The decision to make labour laws applicable only to firms engaging more than 40 employees will pave the way for exploitation and industrial unrest.

There is the possibility of big industrial units fragmenting themselves into small firms and circumventing the laws. Both the proposed Bills are not in consonance with the principle of a welfare state.

B. Rajasekaran BANGALOREBudapest

SUDHA MAHALINGAM'S account of the Hungarian capital was beautiful (Defined by the Danube, April 22).

I hope more such articles on tourist destinations in India and abroad will appear in Frontline.

Dr Kamal Mohamad Vadodara, GujaratElizabeth Taylor

APART from being well-known for her beauty and films, Elizabeth Taylor's contribution to the cause of AIDS research and animal rights (A star forever, April 22) cannot be forgotten.

She raised $100 million for AIDS research and stood by friends like Rock Hudson when the world shunned them. In this materialistic world, one should not forget the good she did and the pleasure she brought to the public through her films.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee Faridabad, HaryanaElections

POLITICIANS are off their couches, raining freebies and promises on voters (Who wants freebies?, April 22). It would be good if the money spent thus was put to use in development programmes.

M. Ashoka Vardhan Khammam Andhra PradeshANNOUNCEMENT

Letters, whether by surface mail or e-mail, must carry the full postal address and the full name, or the name with initials.

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated May 20, 2011.)

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