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Print edition : Aug 24, 2007 T+T-

The article Russia resists (August 10) threw new light on oil politics. A decade ago C.J. Campbell in his book The Coming Oil Crisis (1997) had given the proven oil resources of top seven oil-producing countries Saudi Arabia 25 per cent, Iraq 11 per cent, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran 9 per cent each, Venezuela 8 per cent, Russia 5 per cent.

According to John Cherian, Russia has the largest reserve oil and gas in the world. This may change the power equation.

The U.S. has always been on the offensive. From 13 colonies the number of its constituent States grew to 50 in the 19th century, all of them confined to the New World. But after the First World War it established military bases in the rest of the world with an eye on oil.

Russia, however, had always been on the defensive, which was evident during the missile crisis and the Afghan war. Of late, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be more assertive in global politics. This is perhaps the result of an anti-U.S. trend across the world as indicated by the ballot boxes in many Asian and Latin American countries.

Abdul Wasay BhagalpurPakistan

President Pervez Musharraf has pushed himself into a situation from which he will not be able to emerge unscathed (Cover Story, August 10). The Generals efforts to undo the damage by wooing the Pakistan Peoples Party will not only boomerang on him but also seal the fate of Benazir Bhutto who is trying to make a political comeback.

Ramaswamy Srinivasan Hyderabad

It would be suicidal for the Pakistan Peoples Party to have any deal with President Musharraf at this most critical period in the history of Pakistan. The General must seek re-election from a new Parliament as a civilian. A civilian political leadership must emerge in Pakistan.

Thomas Edmunds Chennai

The Cover Story impeccably analysed the ups and downs in the political career of Pakistans military ruler. He is walking on a double-edged sword and nobody is sure how long he will last at the helm.

Akhil Kumar Delhi

The churning that is going in Pakistan seems to be strengthening the hands of pro-democracy segments. Any positive outcome of this process will have a profound influence on the geo-political situation in South Asia.

Sibani Sankar Samantaray Bhubaneswar

In the event of Gen. Musharraf stepping down will not the fundamentalist elements make a comeback?

Will democracy be restored or will Pakistan continue to be under military rule?

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram

The Cover Story article Dialogue in danger highlights the facts about the peace process between New Delhi and Islamabad. Even though the two countries have been engaged in dialogue for the past three years, Kashmir remains a thorny issue.

When President Musharraf is caught up in internal problems, the Pakistan government may not be able to give top priority to the peace process.

Yasar Arafath Kozhikode, KeralaVidarbha

With reference to the article Mirage in Vidarbha (August 10), one really feels sad that governments in the State and at the Centre have failed to tackle the fundamental issues that are responsible for the agrarian crisis. There are really no easy solutions.

One of the biggest follies of todays agricultural system is that there is no one at the ground level to advise farmers on agricultural methods and practices. As a result they keep repeating mistakes and end up being losers. Cotton crop is a water guzzler and farmers must be told not to grow it in rainfed agricultural lands. Indian farmers have been growing hybrid cotton for over four decades now and everyone involved in cotton cultivation must know this fact by now. It is astonishing that State-run farm universities and Agricultural Departments have not told farmers of this simple fact. Singling out Bt cotton for failure is completely missing the point that no cotton should be grown in soils without assured irrigation.

Shanthu Shantharam Maryland, U.S.Book review

I am grateful to A.G. Noorani for his generous and enthusiastic review of my book The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and Indias Future (The Rights wrongs, July 27). At the very end of the re view, however, he accuses me of a number of errors, and I should like to respond:

1. Noorani complains that I use the phrase essential features more frequently than the phrase basic structure when discussing the legal aftermath of Keshavananda Bharati. The two phrases, however, refer t o different things. The Constitutions basic structure (the phrase used in the case) clearly consists of a number of features, and there has been much discussion, ever since, about which features comprise the basic structure. There is no single canonical term for these features. My survey of the recent legal literature turns up a long list, including my term essential features, but also including constitutional fundamentals, immutable principles, unamendable features, basic elements, and fundamental features. I prefer the word essential, as handily indicating that the element in question cannot be removed without altering the Constitutions basic structure.

2. Noorani says that I err in writing that Indira Gandhi purged the Supreme Court to remove her opponents there. She did no such thing, he writes. But she did: by superceding Justices Shelat, Hegde, and Grover, all members of the Keshavananda majority, and appointing Justice Ray as Chief Justice, she got rid of three influential opponents of her tactics. (The three superceded Justices quickly retired.)

3. Noorani says that I err in writing that Mrs. Gandhi abolished judicial review; but the fact is that, in addition to the restrictions on judicial review introduced in the Thirty-Eighth Amendment and extended in the Forty-Second, the Forty-Second Amendment suspended a group of fundamental rights that had, since Independence, been the main focus of the power of judicial review. There was nothing real left of the power of judicial review after that.

4. Noorani objects to the sentence, In 1980, the BJP, Bharatiya Janata Party (National Peoples Party), the longtime political affiliate of the RSS and VHP, was founded as a successor to the Janata Party. How, he asks, can a long time affiliate be founded in 1980? In American English, longtime means extending over a long period of time, and the period I had in mind began in 1980, with the foun ding; it extends of course, to the present day.

5. Noorani complains that I am not up to date on the charges against Sanjay Dutt and his ultimate conviction. However, my book went to press in the U.S. in May 2005, and my statement was accurate as of that date. (The Indian edition appeared some months after the U.S. edition.)

6. On the last point, Noorani says that I am wrong to say that in 1949 the idols of baby Ram were eventually removed from the mosque. Here I was misled by an ambiguous source, and Noorani is correct. I am grateful for his correction. My main point in the sentence stands: namely that Nehru remained firm, arresting several leading members of the Hindu right, and that as a result the situation calmed down.

Martha NussbaumTerrorism

This has reference to Praful Bidwais Column (How not to counter terror, July 27). I totally agree with him that the Gujarat riots are a blot on our nation.

But equally brutal incidents in Kashmir have not created any gun-toting, Hindu fundamentalist Kashmiri Pandit. If Gujarat can justify Muslims turning against our nation, will Kashmir then justify Hindus actions in Gujarat?

R. Devanathan ChennaiChandra Shekhar

Chandra Shekhar was one Prime Minister India could have had at the helm for a longer period (A rebels journey, July 27). Known for his honesty and plainspeak, he could not succeed at the political game despite being a man of the masses. A great loss, indeed.

N. Krishnamurthy New DelhiHonour killing

I was shocked to read about the honour killing of Manoj and Babli (All for honour, July 27) . Is it a crime to love in democratic India?

Atanu Mitra DurgapurIslam

This has reference to the article, Map of hate (July 27). I am a research scholar of classical Arabic and Semitic religions. As a professor of Islamic theology, I pity myself for having failed to make my Muslim friends understand that no religion, whether it is Hinduism, Christianity or Islam, has the monopoly on truth. Islam is as good or bad as any other religion.

Islam is out to prove itself as the only true and genuine religion on earth. But there is nothing exclusive or specific about it. Most of the Islamic practices such as circumcision were borrowed from Judaism and early Christianity (circa first and second centuries). It is time Islamist zealots understood and accepted the facts about their religion and stopped spreading the message of hate.

Sumit S. Paul PuneOur cities

Bhaskar Ghose excellently brought out the shortcomings in governments policies (The worlds in our cities, July 27).

The policymaker and the common man have very little in common. Unless the former is able to undertsand the needs and hardships of the latter, no fruitful policy can be formulated and implemented.

Alex M. Thomas Hyderabad

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