The Kerala unit of the Congress(I) has virtually become a confederation of four groups ("Congress crisis in Kerala", October 24). Whoever be the ultimate winner of this political game, the losers are the people who voted them to power with an overwhelming majority.
B. Suresh KumarBanswara, Rajasthan
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The sad part of present-day Kerala politics is that it revolves round personalities, and developmental issues have been pushed to the background. No doubt K. Karunakaran is a master tactician. But the people can recognise his vengeful attitude and the agenda to promote his son and daughter. And if he joins hands with the CPI(M), it will be mere opportunism and may not succeed in the long run.
A. Jacob SahayamThiruvananthapuram
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The "Karunakaran factor" was much overrated in the media as the cause for the defeat of the UDF candidate, an Antony nominee, in the Ernakulam byelection. Chief Minister Antony could muster over three lakh votes under his own steam, which, by no stretch of imagination, can be called a `debacle'. Karunakaran joined a motley bunch of disgruntled communal elements and saw to the defeat of the UDF candidate.
Had his nominee been accepted by the Congress(I), it would have been a total rout for the party in the byelection and after. And, that is what the "Karunakaran factor" is really about.
This letter is with reference to "An omnibus FIR" and "A circle of hate" (October 24). Both articles were well-written. It is painful to find that the Gujarat government itself is responsible for the pogrom. Only the presence of institutions like the NHRC has given some hope to the victims of the crimes. The country's enemies have taken advantage of the situation, and this is evident from the assassination of former State Home Minister. In the recent Mumbai bomb blasts, the accused had no previous criminal records. This should serve as a warning for the Gujarat government that hate breeds hate and that for short-term electoral goals, it should not ignore the long-term consequences of its actions.
Child sex abuse
Thank you for the story "Silent victims" (October 24) and the accompanying interview. As a Kolkata-based counsellor, I have learned sad lessons in this field. I would have liked your magazine to highlight the forms of damage sexual abuse in childhood can do and the period for which such damage would last, so that at least those who indulge in it `harmlessly' realise its destructive potential.
One of my clients, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, murdered a man who abused her sexually. The tales the victims tell and their struggle to get on with their professional and personal lives leave one deeply moved.
Dr. Brendan MacCarthaighKolkataPolice affairs
Whenever I get an opportunity to read your magazine, almost invariably I gravitate first to the column covering crime, police and criminal law by former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan. His articles are well researched, cogent, balanced and relevant. His suggestions are meaningful and thought-provoking even though they are not as aggressive as, perhaps, they should be. However, I have often wondered to what extent his suggestions (coming as they do from a diligent retired civil servant who obviously knew the ropes not only at the State level but at the Central as well) are discussed, debated and, most important, acted upon for the welfare of the people.
While your magazine indeed serves a necessary and useful function in acting as an intellectual forum for ideas that can make India's rendezvous with its true, ordained destiny a reality a lot sooner, it would be a major disappointment if those in government, who can make a difference by taking action, do not take note of Raghavan's ideas.
Muthian GunasekaranLos Angeles
The story "In a twilight world" (October 24) gives a sad picture of eunuchs in India and how they are treated by their compatriots and the state machinery.
Under the Law Covenant (Mosaic Law) a eunuch was not allowed to become part of the congregation of God's people (Deut 23:1). It was the custom of eastern nations to make eunuchs out of some of the children taken captive in war.
They were appointed as attendants in royal courts or as caretakers of the queen, the harem and the women. Owing to their closeness to the royal household, able eunuchs often rose to high positions.
Jesus Christ speaks of three classes of eunuchs (Matt 19:12): "For there are eunuchs that were born such from their mother's womb and there are eunuchs that were made eunuchs by men and there are eunuchs that have made themselves eunuchs on account of the kingdom of the heavens. Let him that can make room for it make room for it."
Jehovah, the supreme lord of the universe, comfortingly foretold the time when eunuchs would be accepted by him as his servants and if obedient, would have a name better than sons and daughters. With the abolition of the Law by Jesus Christ, all persons exercising faith regardless of the former status and conditions could become the spiritual sons of God.
Following the conviction of Dara Singh and others in the Staines murder case, the debate on `religious conversions' received a further shot in the arm ("The Staines case verdict", October 24). Gladys Staines pleads with all religious zealots: "Forgiveness brings healing and our land needs healing from hatred and violence... " There is yet another saying which comes to mind: Forgiveness is the fragrance, which the violet leaves on the heel that has just crushed it.
The Christian Church constitutionally has to discharge two functions: one, missionary and two, evangelical. While most people do want Christians to continue with their missionary activities like running schools, colleges and hospitals, which are beneficial to them, they do not want any part of their evangelism, that is, their efforts to spread the gospel and convert, if possible, a few non-Christians in the process. The `marketability' of Christianity rests mostly on its purposeful missionary activity. There is not enough evidence to support the view that the conversions that have taken place here and there are owing mainly to monetary inducements, as alleged by some.
Hindus likewise can and should improve the `marketability' of Hinduism, one of the greatest religions of the world and one of the most ancient too. This can be achieved by better service to people and society as a whole, including people of other religions, backed by sustained efforts suffused in the time-honoured concepts of peace (Shanti) and non-violence (Ahimsa), instead of damaging churches and other religious places and attacking the minorities.
Even the British who ruled India did not assist the missionaries in their conversion activity by burning or desecrating Hindu temples.
Kangayam R. RangaswamyWisconsin, U.S.
I was touched by the closing lines of Professor R. Radhakrishnan's write-up "In Memoriam" (October 24) in which he bids adieu to the late Edward W. Said, vowing to continue a silent conversation with him. Radhakrishnan weaves a narrative according to which Said must be more a post-structuralist Foucauldian intellectual that was to invite a riposte from Said himself. This forces him to confess that he missed the conversation between Chomsky and Foucault on Dutch Television in 1971, which is now in print (Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind; Condor Books, 1974). What he really missed in this `border intellectual' is that he is a postmodern intellectual in exile who cares less for professing intellectualism with `isms' than for being a marginal or subaltern or `exilic intellectual'.
Unlike the Left intellectuals of the West, Said moves from being an ordinary man of the public sphere to be a Third World intellectual in quest of an ever new identity. In this respect he shares a similarity to the Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul. In his 1993 Reith lectures titled Representation of the Intellectual, Said calls himself an `amateur intellectual' with a particular bend for multiculturalism (`cultures are hybrids', `cultures are not watertight little packages') in the inclusive sense as counterposed to a professional variety. This is exactly the point the Third World intellectuals are likely to miss.
Columnist Praful Bidwai portrays him differently as a committed intellectual. Radhakrishnan is content to compare him to Jayakanthan, quoting approvingly Aijaz Ahmad's ambiguous phrase `metropolitan ambivalence' while refusing to credit him for the exile intellectual and proceeds to enumerate all the `productive' contradictions. He wonders why Said should deny identity politics. He pointedly asks further how one can jump out of nationalism when Palestinians continue to remain a legitimate people without a home. Many in Kerala go so far as to interpret him as a Marxist. He is neither a Marxist, nor a Leftist, nor a capitalist. He has at least two major traits, which American Left intellectuals like Richard Rorty miss. One is in making multiculturalism ("it is part of morality not to be at home in one's own home") as a universal trait and secondly, granting the faculty of representation a status ("thinking is a mode of experiencing the world". Edward's emphasis is squarely on permanent exile: a Third World Intellectual. His amateurism knows no bounds. Still we miss the traits that are germane to a postmodernist and that is surely enigmatic.
Sukumar Muralidharan deserves full praise for lucidly highlighting in the article "The Cancun checkmate" (October 10) how the togetherness of developing nations taught the developed world that it could not any longer browbeat them and that the WTO forum could not be treated as a platform to formulate rules that would ensure only its development. It was indeed a pleasure to see how the developing world maintained the togetherness, particularly in the face of the threats and inducements held out by the European Union and the United States, particularly to the least developed nations. These nations will now have to ensure, through bilateral agreements, that the E.U. and the U.S. are not able to defeat what they achieved at Cancun.
To achieve this, the G-21 nations will have to work hard, keeping their flock together. Singapore issues must not be permitted to have primacy over the reduction in the agriculture subsidy by the developed world, as it would mean the death of agriculture in developing nations. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for their masses. One prays that the rare unity shown by the developing world will continue and enable it to face the blackmail from the developed world.
V.K. AgarwalDehra Dun
Your article about the plight of the farmers of the Cauvery delta is moving ("Distress in the delta", October 24). Monsoon failure is not the cause of the dispute as it is seen there even in the years of sufficient rain. The lack of direct consultation between delta and basin farmers and the dominance of vote-hungry politicians in the negotiations are the reasons for the crisis. The Supreme Court should abolish the CRA, the CMC and the Cauvery Tribunal as these bodies have brought about no difference. A Cauvery Users' Corporation consisting of the users, agronomists, technical experts and experienced managers should take charge of the river, the canals and the reservoirs. The water should be charged for, depending on the demand and the supply. The funds thus collected should provide insurance cover and food security during droughts.
Dr. V. SaravananNewcastle, United Kingdom
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It would have been good if the reporter had mentioned the water levels in various dams in Karnataka. Karnataka has been facing drought for three years in a row. The drought this year is worse than that last year; it has resulted in suicides among farmers. Tamil Nadu too has suffered drought, but not to the extent in Karnataka. A farmers' team from each State had toured the other State, and the Tamil Nadu team had come to the conclusion that it would be difficult for Karnataka to release any water.
The naxalite shock
It must be humiliating for the police to admit the serious security lapses that put Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu's life in grave danger, as an easy target for the naxalite outfit ("A blast and its shock", October 24). Chandrababu Naidu attributed his escape to the grace of Venkateswara, but he cannot afford to overlook the laxity and complacency in his administration. The military options planned by the government would hardly match the People's War's tactics and technology of terror. Will the Centre and the State governments take adequate steps and employ a skilful strategy to fight terrorism?
"Tackling Terrorism" (September 26), written by R.K. Raghavan, was an interesting and thought-provoking article. He is quite right about the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and unemployment. However, he seems to have taken a much too simplistic view. The widely publicised involvement of some highly educated professionals in terrorist activities cannot be simply attributed to the improving educational composition of the community (obviously the Muslim community). The fact is that there are some highly motivated individuals who believe in fundamentalist ideologies and thus are ready to do anything for achieving their goals, including blowing themselves up.