The Cover Story has brought out the dramatic changes in the approach of governments towards the poor, bonded labour, children, women, and migrants across the world ("The Sen difference", February 25). Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's economic and philosophical insights need to be implemented at the grassroots level to make the world eco-friendly, resourceful and poverty free. His theories on capability and opportunity make us aware of the plight of backward and vulnerable sections of society. The world cannot be peaceful if half its population lives below or near the poverty line.
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Amartya Sen's interview to John M. Alexander was interesting and thought-provoking. Without any doubt, here is a man who wants to do something for the poor and downtrodden. If only we could implement a few of his thoughts, our country would have progressed.
Bidyut Kumar ChatterjeeFaridabad
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In their attempt to make a difference to the lives of people under the present world order, what economists like Amartya Sen are trying to do can best be expressed in Lenin's words: "They [the economists] stagger within that contradiction [of capitalist society] without going beyond its limits." Capitalism has long ago outgrown itself, and is no longer capable of developing the world. Capitalism has its own laws, and there is nothing much that political intervention can do to prevent its disastrous effect on people's lives. But simultaneously with capitalism has grown the revolt of the working class, which is increasingly militant and will bring about a socialist revolution.
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The timing of your Cover Story is apt. It requires a strong organisation to mobilise the people to achieve what is prescribed. With 60-odd elected representatives in Parliament, the Left parties should take up the task of putting pressure on the government to reverse their decade-old anti-people policies.
HariVirudhunagar, Tamil Nadu
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Amartya Sen, through his own experience, has developed theories that bridge economics and ethics.
A.S. ShuhaibMalappuram, Kerala
King Gyanendra has taken Nepal to the worst kind of isolation after he took over the reins of the country ("Royal coup", February 25). The clampdown on democratic rights will retard development and further disrupt peace in the kingdom.
Siddhartha Raj GuhaJabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
The article "A costly prescription" was an eye-opener (February 25). The change in the patent regime from process patent to product patent will increase drug prices and adversely affect the common man. A large number of Indians do not have access to healthcare and still less the ability to pay for it. The government, which came to power with the slogan of "reforms with a human face", should think twice before implementing the new patent regime.
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The inevitable hike in the cost of drugs as a result of product patenting is a matter of concern not only to patients, but also doctors who may be forced to prescribe cheaper, less effective drugs, depending on the patient's financial status.
Dr. Pramod S. PrasadKollam, Kerala
Criminals in politics
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It is high time we amended the laws of the land to prevent any person convicted of an offence or under trial from holding any public office ("Canker of criminalisation", February 25).
M. KumarNew Delhi
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The recent murders of Members of the Legislative Assembly in different parts of the country show that law-breakers are becoming more dangerous and bolder by the day.
Arvind K. PandeyAllahabad
With the Iraq elections, the process of marginalising "Sunni Arabs" has started ("Vote under occupation", February 25). The transfer of power to the Shias and Kurds will set in motion the process of redrawing the map of West Asia.
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Now that there is a democratically elected government in Iraq, it is time the American troops retreated. It is preposterous to think that there will be anarchy if the U.S. Army leaves the country. On the contrary, if the American forces do not leave Iraq, there could be unrest among the Iraqis. Even if there are problems between different sects in Iraq, the newly elected democratic government should handle the problem.
Amjad K. MarufMumbai
Immediately after the stampede at the Mandhardevi temple at Wai, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad demanded the suspension of the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police for their failure to make adequate security arrangements ("Crushed by the crowd," February 25). Blaming the authorities for the breakdown of law and order is not the right approach, as presumably the devotees were aware of the risks of being part of a huge gathering.
The banking sector
Privatisation, the acquisition of Indian banks by foreign banks and mergers are not in the interest of depositors and borrowers ("What is happening to Indian banking?", February 25). The pressures on banks to be profitable deprive the needy, especially rural borrowers, of bank credit.
It should be remembered that but for the enormous expansion of the public sector banks and the massive credit delivery to the rural sector, weaker sections, export and other priority segments, India would not be in the strong position it is in now.
S. Raghunatha PrabhuAlappuzha, Kerala
The development indices for Bihar point to the precarious condition in which the average Bihari lives ("Problem of choice", February 25). Today, Bihar is one of the most backward and worst-governed States in the country. The poor law and order situation makes it even worse. Given the fact that all the previous rulers of Bihar have behaved in ways no different from Lalu Prasad, a point he incessantly reiterates, there can be no hope for the State's improvement.
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An analysis of the Assembly election scene in Bihar reveals that priorities keep changing every day. It has become clear now that issues of development, security and lawlessness will give way to caste politics once again. Political parties in Bihar have been expressing their concern over the deteriorating law and order, but leave no stone unturned to turn the caste equation in their favour.
Tsunami and rehabilitation
Your articles on the rehabilitation of tsunami victims, especially those relating to Sri Lanka, were excellent ("The rebuilding phase", February 25).
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The government's plan to introduce disaster management in the school curriculum deserves acclaim. What is also needed is a scientific understanding of the traditional warning systems prevalent among the tribal people and the peculiar behaviour of animals and birds before natural calamities. Scientists should also try to find out if there is any relationship between the tsunami and the movement and position of celestial bodies.
Buddhadev NandiBishnupur, West Bengal
Claims of "faith healing", mostly by Hindu saints and gurus, have been in existence in India for many centuries ("In the name of faith", February 11). The media dedicated a lot of space to the Benny Hinn event.
It is a cause of grave concern to see so much religious insecurity in the people, which manifests itself as mob violence sometimes.
The American inaction on Pakistan's nuclear proliferation scandal exposes the double standards of the West ("A state in denial", February 11).
The U.S., which has imposed restrictions on India's import of dual-use goods while the country is committed to non-proliferation, has exempted Pakistan from such curbs by granting it the status of a major non-NATO ally.
Ankur GarmChandausi, Uttar Pradesh
A flame thrown in from outside, or a burning rag from the mob (the presence of which is almost undoubtedly proved) could have caused the smouldering of the belongings of the occupants of coach S-6 ("Still a burning question", February 11). The case may well be that `miscreant activity' caused `an accident'.
Punit MahadikUjjain, Madhya Pradesh
The effort of art historian Neel Rekha to showcase some of the brilliant folk paintings of Mithila and throw fresh light on this indigenous tradition is admirable and noteworthy ("Mithila's pride", February 11).
I agree that the famous and award-winning exponents of this folk art form are mostly women, but there are any number of male artists of greater expertise and aesthetic sense, such as Krishna Nand Jha, Batohi Jha, Santosh Kumar Das, Gopal Sah and Ram Bharose, who cannot be ignored.
Neeraj Kumar JhaMadhubani