India and China

Published : May 20, 2005 00:00 IST

The two countries have had a close relationship and have learned much from each other for centuries ("Moving closer", May 6). I admire Indian culture very much and I am sure we can learn from each other more, rather than just learn from the West.

Luen Fai TamHong Kong


An upbeat Left

The Left parties should focus on the Hindi heartland to expand their base, which will help them form an alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress ("An upbeat Left", May 6). It is heartening to note that the CPI (M) congress has devoted much time to debate this. With constrained bargaining power, the Left is doing its best to do things that will benefit the poor. The success of its efforts does not depend on its parliamentary strength but on the people's support and their readiness to join the struggle.

HariVirudhunagar, Tamil Nadu


By electing a comparatively young general secretary, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) can stand up to political parties with young leaders.

S. Raghunatha PrabhuAlappuzha, Kerala

The significance of the Left has increased in the context of growing communal polarisation and the neo-liberal economic policies pursued by successive governments. But the real question is about the potential of the Communist parties to contain these challenges. Notwithstanding their impressive victory in the last general elections, the Left is still confined to three Indian States. Despite their class struggles and progressive ideology, the Left parties have not been able to win over the vast majority of the working class and socially oppressed sections of the country.

B. Suresh KumarBanswara, Rajasthan


Conflict in the Parivar

There is truth in the statement that young people should be in charge of important positions, including in the field of politics ("Conflict in the Parivar", May 6). There should be a maximum age limit for public positions.

Mahesh KapasiNew Delhi


Dandi march

The Congress' re-enactment of the Dandi march led by Mahatma Gandhi, which provided a new dimension to the struggle for Independence, turned people's attention to the historical event but the party's effort to gain political advantage out of this event was a manifestation of its ideological bankruptcy ("Dandi in the time of globalisation", May 6).

Neeraj Kumar JhaMadhubani, Bihar


Malnutrition deaths

The loss of lives in Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh owing to hunger is shocking ("Death by hunger", May 6) What is preventing the State government from taking measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents? The bitter truth is that the rulers are more interested in making political gains. It is time to recognise that an effective public distribution system can help such problems.

Arvind K. PandeyAllahabad


Pope John Paul II

God does not have a preference for any particular gender, and the time is now ripe for Roman Catholicism to accept this fact ("Signs of contradiction", May 6). Church history hints at the androcentric predicament of the Church. The Church must be open to the Holy Spirit and must recognise "pastorally gifted women". When duly qualified theologically, such women must be ordained to lead the Church. Many denominations of the Protestant Church do ordain women.

Rev. Thomas EdmundsChennai


The writer has provided a standard contemporary critique of the Vatican's position in general and of John Paul II and Benedict XVI in particular. Such accounts are largely irrelevant to most Catholic thinkers. Christianity has always seen itself as being in opposition to `the world', as offering an alternative metaphysical perspective that incorporates some elements of current thinking while opposing others. Politically polar terms such as `conservative' and `liberal' have only remote applicability, as the papacy's primary function is to `conserve' the tradition deriving from Jesus Christ, one that incorporates a `liberal' concern for the poor. This concern is not based on any supposed inherent rights but on a particular conception of man's spiritual goals and a unique philosophy of human nature. This is why Cardinal Ratzinger's two Instructions see liberation theology as offering much of value in the context of an erroneous psychology. Contemporary critiques of the Catholic position simply miss the metaphysical underpinnings.

Also, your contributor is mistaken if he thinks the Pope adheres to the 3rd century Cyprian adage of no salvation outside the Church. But he does make a point when he says that the Pope and most Catholics regard their religion as superior to others. This is a matter of mere logic. If I believe a proposition I must believe it to be true and all other propositions incompatible with it, false. The alternative is relativism, the incoherent view that all beliefs are equally true and so equally `good'. Ratzinger inveighed against relativism in his last homily before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

H.R.T. RobertsBangalore


The legacy of Pope John Paul II was almost wholly negative. One of the most tragic events during his pontificate was the persecution of some of the most compassionate Catholic clergy in Latin America, who worked passionately to ameliorate the awful condition of the wretched of those countries.

The author has described in detail the Pope's authoritarianism and his personal grudge not only against Marxism but against anyone perceived by him to be on the Left, resulting in damage to the lives of ordinary working people, especially in Latin America. However, he has not touched upon the deaths of hundreds of thousands of AIDS victims in Africa, and the role that the Vatican's opposition to the use of condoms played in this, nor in the complicity of the Vatican under John Paul II in the genocide in Rwanda. How then, is it possible to describe his legacy as "mixed"?

Dr. Amir CassamPune

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