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Targeting `outsiders'

Print edition : Jan 02, 2004 T+T-

What happened in Assam was really unfortunate (Targeting `outsiders', December 19). The "sons of the soil" mindset and the unemployment problem are the main causes of such incidents.

It is a warning for those at the helm of affairs that the problem of unemployment cannot be neglected for long. It is time the rulers created more employment opportunities.

M. Pradeep KumarHyderabad

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Words become futile after looking at the photographs depicting the hatred and aversion towards the so-called outsiders. The problem is rooted in the socio-economic condition of Bihar. There is insatiable desire for government jobs in Bihar. What else can an educated young person do in a State that has no industry, road, power, communication network and so on. A government job gives social recognition along with better remuneration.

Swapnil JhaBegusarai, Bihar

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The Cover Story brings out how deeply entrenched is the idea of `sons of the soil'. The photographs showing the attacks on `outsiders' were heart-rending. Why should the Railway Board all of a sudden change its policy of recruitment for Group `D' category? Of course the revised procedure is laudable in that it will eliminate corruption. But it should have been adopted after a consensus was reached after consultation. In the present context, it is better to retain the old method of recruitment.

G.E.M. ManoharanCoimbatore

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The gruesome violence in Assam is a testimony to the growing regional animosity aggravated by the abysmal employment scene.

Although the problem symbolises the increasing aspirations of people who are affected by economic stagnation in their respective States, clubbing Railway Recruitment Boards with railway divisions (in Group C and D categories) to meet their demands, or issuing "work permits" for daily wage labourers (as mooted by the Punjab government) are half-baked solutions.

The answer lies in developing the States on all fronts and generating more employment. This would not only reduce the need to move out in search of jobs but will also lead to balanced regional development. Although freedom of movement is a fundamental right, it should not be allowed to become an excuse for State governments to overlook their primary responsibilities.

Anil Kr. PanditDelhi

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An empty mind is a devil's workshop. This adage explains the recent happenings in Assam and Bihar. On the one hand, the number of government jobs are shrinking at an alarming rate and on the other, the governments of backward States such as Bihar and Assam are failing to attract private and foreign investments. Also with increase in demand for reservation of jobs for `sons of the soil' in Central governments jobs, it was a disaster waiting to happen. It can also produce a kind of inter-State rivalry never seen before in the annals of Indian history.

Siddhartha Raj GuhaJabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

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The cover picture was worth more than thousand words. The fact that no one came to the rescue of the hapless victim made the situation more pathetic.

The reason for targeting `outsiders' is the lack of not only employment opportunities but also the spirit of national integration. People do not feel that they are all Indians. We are Assamese, Punjabis, Biharis, and so on.

Instead of Laloo Prasad Yadav, it is Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who should have visited Assam to console Biharis.

S. Raghunatha PrabhuAlapuzha, Kerala

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The killing of more than 50 Biharis made once again clear that parochial tendencies in the name of language and culture are deep-rooted in India. But organisations like ULFA have not succeeded in their aim yet. The Army must be deployed to defeat such organisations all over the country, as they do not have trust in peace and national unity.

The Constitution gives the people of India the right to move to any part of the country for jobs, business or education irrespective of their caste, religion, language and so on. It is the lack of opportunities in Bihar that drives Biharis out of their State. It is the duty of the State and Central governments to make investments in rural and backward areas and develop them so that such internal migration could be checked.

Binay Kumar RawaniChennai

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Attaching the `outsiders' tag to Biharis is an anti-national act. It is unfortunate that one becomes `outsider' in his or her own country. The Biharis were taken to the northeastern region by the British to work in the tea gardens as cheap labour.ULFA, the outlawed organisation, now wants Biharis to leave Assam. The regional chauvinism espoused by the organisations in the region has the support of a section of the middle class. This section of educated and unemployed youth has fallen prey to the designs of regional chauvinism. The youth firmly believe that the `outsiders' are spoiling their chances of getting jobs. They fail to notice that the root of the problem lies elsewhere.

The neo-liberal economic policy initiated by the Congress(I) and vigorously followed by the BJP has increased regional economic imbalances and backwardness. The people instead of fighting among themselves should direct their anger at the rulers. The Vajpayee government's failure to fulfil its promise to create one crore jobs in a year has added to the problem. The creation of the North-Eastern Council that is monitored by a Cabinet Minister remains a cosmetic measure. It has failed to address the core issues.

Most of the youth who have indulged in violence in Assam are from the middle class. There is a need to change their world outlook.

HariVirudhunagar, Tamil Nadu

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The Cover Story extensively covered the violence resorted to by sectarian forces. The entire episode brings into focus the lopsided development process in the country owing to the implementation of the neo-liberal economic policies. The uneven distribution of wealth and opportunities is bound to create social unrest. Without understanding the reality, condemning terrorism and violence amounts to jingoism.

P. VenkateshSalem, Tamil Nadu

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The conflict between Assamese and Biharis is dangerous. The ULFA's attack on innocent Biharis is inhumane. The main cause is rampant unemployment. Nevertheless, it has to be understood that we are all Indians first.

Rajnish RajSwargashram, Delhi

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It is pity that Indian citizens are treated as `outsiders' within its territory. If this is the case, how can our own fellow nationals scattered all over the world expect better treatment from the local people?

Dr. E.J. RaymondPondicherry

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It was an unbalanced story. First, a certain kind of `partisanship' is vibrant among non-Assamese individuals/officials in Central departments and PSUs, especially those from the north Indian States. These institutions/individuals do not seem to find suitable candidates from the northeastern region even for unskilled jobs.

This is at a time when the entire region is making strides in poverty alleviation and literacy (Mizoram is the most literate State after Kerala). A look at the socio-economic indices will prove this. But the bureaucratic and political lobbies try to make things comfortable for people from their respective regions.

Secondly, Bihar still remains a part of the North Frontier Railway even though the State is criss-crossed by other railway zones. Thanks to numerous Railway Ministers, who happened to come from Bihar, the Indian Railways is dominated by employees from that State.

The media have played up the issue with an overdose of socialism and theories of ethnic confrontation. Why have they not highlighted the fundamental problems affecting Bihar which drive Biharis out in search of a living?

Uttam BorkatakiNagaon, Assam

Terror in Turkey

This refers to the article on the series of suicide attacks in Istanbul in November ("Terror strikes in Turkey", December 19). Reacting to the November 20 attacks on British targets in Istanbul, George Bush said: "We see their utter contempt for innocent life." It is well-known that the American bombers were the first to show `utter contempt for innocent life' while they engaged in barbaric carpet bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq. What moral right does Bush have to condemn the killing of innocent people by suicide bombers?

As long as American troops remain in Iraq or anywhere in the Arab heartland, the U.S. and its allies like the U.K., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Spain, Turkey and Australia can expect more and more such attacks. Innocent citizens of these countries are bearing the brunt of their governments' mistake of supporting the U.S. in its misadventure. The sooner these countries realised their folly, the better it would be for their citizens and facilitators, at home and abroad.

K.P. RajanMumbai

Jayalalithaa's acquittal

It cannot be said that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had an honourable acquittal in the TANSI case as the Supreme Court verdict is based on subtle technicalities (`The end of a legal battle', December 19). The apex court's suggestion that she must atone for the wrongdoing by answering her conscience and by returning the property to TANSI and its observations about her anxiety to save her skin are more telling than any formal punishment.

The remark made by the Supreme Court while transferring the disproportionate wealth cases to Karnataka - that there is strong indication of the process of justice being subverted in Tamil Nadu - points to the flaw in our system of administration of justice and to the harsh truth that the judiciary is not absolutely free from the influence of power politics, however rare such cases may be.

V.K. Sathyavan NairKottayam, Kerala

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The Supreme Court's judgment could not put an end to the doubts of the people. The judgment was delivered 14 months after the hearing concluded. Although the Bench absolved Jayalalithaa on technical grounds, it concluded that she must atone for the offences she was charged with. If only people go by their conscience the world would have been a different kind of place now.

Jacob SahayamThiruvananthapuram