Published : May 19, 2006 00:00 IST

Nepal unrest

The cataclysmic consequences of King Gyanendra's dictatorial designs brought Nepal almost to the verge of civil war ("King-size crisis", May 5, 2006). At the same time, the manoeuvres of Maoists have ensured that the Nepalese people bid adieu to hopes of peace and stability.

One cannot ignore the fact that India allowed the Nepalese people to get trapped in mayhem forever. India did nothing substantial except adhering to knee-jerk reactions at critical moments when Nepal needed wellconceived strategies. An aggressive stance on the part of India could have reduced the suffering of the Nepalese people.


The Cover Story on reservation was one-sided (May 5, 2006). It did not highlight the root of the problem - which is the dysfunctional school system. If government schools are reformed on a war footing, there will not be any need for reservation at the higher levels of education. The aim should be to impart high quality school education to all. Reservation can then be scaled down to 15 per cent, and caste need not be a criterion.

C.S. Ramalingam Chennai

The solution to the problem of caste is not reservation but greater reach of education. Even today the lower castes are deprived of basic education and reservation in institutions of higher education does not benefit them. Quality education for all at the primary level in every village should be the priority.

Pranesh Sharma Bangalore

THE Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have benefited substantially from agrarian reforms after Independence. By the strength of their numbers, they have also become influential in electoral politics. Through the 1960s and 1970s, more and more members of the community became legislators and Ministers. Economically and politically, the real beneficiaries of Indian democracy have been peasant castes such as Jats, Yadavs, Gujjars and Kurmis in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Haryana, Marathas in Maharashtra, Vellalas and Gounders in Tamil Nadu, Reddys and Kammas in Andhra Pradesh, and Lingayats and Vokkaligas in Karnataka. These castes now have more land, and greater presence in political parties and in the legislatures. Hence the claim that reservations are aimed at furthering social justice is fraudulent.

J.S. Acharya Hyderabad* * *

THE founding fathers of the Constitution probably did not realise that caste labels would become new symbols of electoral, economic and political power. In principle, we must be fully committed to the uplift of the poor, backward and weaker sections of the society. The policy of reservation gives a boost only to the new elite among the backward castes.

A. Akshay Secunderabad* * *

THE article "Southern Record" does not take into account those who are disadvantaged because of reservation. It claims that reservation at Anna University has not led to any serious decline in the quality of education but does not contain any statistics of those who were affected by this practice.

K. Madhava Krishna Hyderabad

Reservation is not good for the country, especially in higher studies or professional courses. Let the government open more colleges and increase the number of seats, rather than reserving some seats for certain castes.

Mahesh Kapasi New Delhi* * *

Political leaders have been using reservation to mislead the masses and fulfil their own vested interests. Deserving people have always been denied the fruits of reservation. If our political parties are really eager to distribute the benefits of development among all sections of society without any discrimination, they should make serious efforts to uplift the weaker sections.

Deepak Kumar Begusarai, Bihar* * *

IF reservation based on caste is justified, why not have it in domains such as sports where skills and talents are revered? More to the point, are political parties ready to follow reservation policy in choosing their candidates for elections?

V.S. Mirthik ChennaiRajkumar

It is only partially correct to say that Rajkumar was one of the few actors who did not need a playback singer and that he sang his own songs ("Pride of Kannada", May 5, 2006). As many as 17 singers gave voice to Rajkumar before he started singing his own songs, and that was after he had been acting for over two decades. Until 1974, P.B. Srinivas was Rajkumar's most frequent singing voice in films. But with the song `Yaare koogadali', Rajkumar began his journey as the most famous actor-singer that the Kannada film industry has ever seen.

Kannada cinema has indeed lost an unparalleled actor. Apart from the variety of his roles, he was perhaps the last hero from the `actor-singer' era. I cannot think of any other hero who won a national award for singing.

B.S. RamakrishnaBangalore Just deserts

Thank you for the article "Wild Ways" (May 5, 2006). Every life, human or other, is important. Salman Khan deserves punishment.

S.M. Vijay Kumar Mandya, KarnatakaPrivatisation of water

THE Cover Story on privatisation of water ("Thirst for profit", April 21, 2006) has given a timely warning. Privatisation of water in the name of public-private partnership has to be condemned. The government should think of amending the Constitution to bar privatisation of water.

M. Harsha Vardhan VisakhapatnamStamps

THE article "Art in miniature" (April 21, 2006) was interesting. A stamp issued on the eve of International Year of Physics 2005, bearing the image of Albert Einstein, was very poor in design, colour selection and size. A stamp issued on this historic occasion deserved more care. The stamp issued by Bhutan was excellent.

V.S. Raju Kolkata* * *

THE number of stamps devoted to fauna in our country is miserly. For instance, India has 12 species of parrots but there is not a single stamp depicting any of them, not even the rare Nicobar Parakeet and the Malabar Parakeet. In contrast, Sri Lanka, which has only five species of parrots, has stamps depicting three of them.

D. Avinandan BangaloreResignation drama

THE article "Constitutional farce" presented an incisive analysis of the drama being enacted by politicians to escape disqualification (May 5, 2006). Politicians use all their inventiveness to find out ways to circumvent the law. It is no wonder that no law really works. What is really surprising is that the major political parties have some of the best legal luminaries as their members. How this escaped their attention is baffling.

M.M. Gurbaxani Bangalore* * *

THE magazine seems to have tried to glorify Sonia Gandhi for her resignation ("Politics of profit", April 21). She resigned because of pressure. Whenever a political leader is facing charges of wrongdoing, he or she is made out to be a martyr. Does resigning office absolve them of all responsibility for what they have done?

S.P. Sharma MumbaiAcademics

I strongly disagree with Jayati Ghosh's view that salary differentials are not necessary to attract new talents ("In pursuit of excellence", April 7, 2006). Having pursued my doctoral degree and postdoctoral research in Physics in the United States, I have seen many of my friends turn down prospects of working in Indian research institutes because of the poor compensation packages.

As the centralised remuneration system cannot be scrapped in a day, it is time to think about salary differentials. Although other aspects of academic life are attractive, one cannot always live by them. If India has to remain competitive, researchers must be recruited aggressively, particularly in the physical sciences, even if it means introducing salary differentials.

It would be useful to note that the U.S. system has evolved into a vibrant and attractive system for researchers the world over. Instead of maligning the U.S. research system, it is time to learn lessons from its success.

Mandar Deshmukh MumbaiBalkan scapegoat

Your feature on the life story of Slobodan Milosevic was excellent ("Balkan scapegoat" April 7). I hope that this would be an eye-opener to all the world leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In future, anyone who is found to have violated human rights should be given stringent punishment by the international community.

Paominlen Haokip ShillongBrain explorer

THE interview with Dr. V.S. Ramachandran was really enlightening ("In the mind of the brain", April 7). His understanding of science and philosophy is excellent.

T. Sarat Chandra Berhampur, Orissa

The clarity of Dr. Ramachandran's thoughts captured our imagination and forced us to think in a totally new direction. It was especially interesting to read about his study on autism and the role of mirror neurons. I must congratulate you on having thought of carrying such an offbeat topic as Cover Story.

Arun Krishnan MumbaiEndangered

THE article "Survival at stake" should wake up the government (April 7, 2006). A recent survey has shown that tigers are vanishing from Sariska. But the problem is not unique to this reserved sanctuary. Many other sanctuaries and reserves face problems of poaching. Something should be done urgently to protect endangered species of animals.

Ratish Chandra Chennai
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