Crackdown in Bhutan

Published : Jan 30, 2004 00:00 IST

While India can thank Bhutan for the long-awaited action against Indian insurgents using its territory it must now be prepared for an adverse fallout ("Crackdown in Bhutan", January 16). Cornered by Bhutan, the United Liberation Front of Asom is threatening to hit back. It will probably vent its anger on innocent, defenceless people.

India must make it clear that it will not tolerate any anti-Bhutanese activities on its soil by the ULFA or any other extremist group.

J.S. AcharyaHyderabad

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The government has ensured that ULFA is flushed out of Bhutan. It will sooner or later try to eliminate the People's War. The methods adopted by ULFA or the People's War are wrong, but their demand for local control over local resources is not. Instead of treating the violent youth as criminals, we need to recognise their democratic right to exercise control over local resources.

S.K. Sharmareceived on e-mail

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Some of the views expressed by Dr. Mahendra P. Lama in his article "Experiments with democracy" are coloured by his own perception of Bhutanese society. Bhutan is a small, sparsely populated country. Its people can ill-afford the luxuries of a multi-party system deranged by internecine squabbles. Bhutan's democratic norms are evolving in step with the progress and development that is now taking place under the enlightened leadership of our monarch. Thrusting democracy on a hungry and illiterate populace can only lead to chaos. Our people are by and large happy with the magnificent strides that this country has made during the past few decades.

The so-called "refugee problem" should be assessed in a proper perspective. Not all the people residing in the refugee camps in Nepal are or were Bhutanese citizens. Through a verification exercise jointly conducted by both Bhutanese and Nepalese officials, it has been established beyond doubt that most of the people in these camps are actually illegal migrants. However, a small minority of these were in fact citizens of Bhutan who had migrated to Nepal on their own volition despite the personal intervention of our King. They chose to forfeit their Bhutanese citizenship in the hope of finding greener pastures in Nepal. The Bhutan government had initiated several rounds of talks with the Nepalese government to solve this problem. Further talks have been sabotaged by the unwarranted attack on December 23, 2003, on the official delegation of our government in one of the refuge camps in Nepal.

Kesang DorjiPhuentsholing,Kingdom of Bhutan

FDI in banks

Apropos of "Banking: the new FDI frontier" (January 16), foreign banks and foreign direct investment in the banking sector do not improve the quality of banking and customer service.

Acquisitions and mergers create monopolistic structures, leading to market concentration, enabling banks to dictate terms to customers. Now interest rates on bank deposits have come to such a low level that they hardly cover the rate of inflation. Any further merger of banks will create an uncompetitive and unmanageable banking structure.

Behind the glitz and glamour of their sophisticated image, foreign banks in India have a care-a-damn attitude towards their customers, especially small depositors.

Foreign banks should realise that there is more to customer service than posh interiors, yuppie MBAs and catchy slogans.

Increasing the FDI limit is no guarantee for the banking sector's global success or its economic strength. The problems faced by the Japanese banking system prove this.

S. Raghunatha PrabhuAlappuzha, Kerala

Polio eradication

This has reference to the excellent report by R. Ramachandran "Polio: the last frontier?" (January 2). The views on OPV and IPV were balanced, but some corrections are warranted lest the readers should get the wrong information.

It was stated that IPV does not confer mucosal immunity and that this property was an important factor in its favour. Both vaccines confer mucosal immunity, and contrary to the general belief, IPV confers stronger mucosal immunity than OPV. It is OPV that requires 100 per cent coverage and that too by repeated doses for effective herd immunity. Owing to this, OPV has to be given in pulse campaigns. That OPV is suitable for pulse campaigns hides the fact that IPV would not need them.

The price of IPV in the United States is $10 a dose. Until 1997, when OPV was banned in the U.S., the price of OPV was $6-8 a dose. The cost of production of IPV is only slightly more than that of OPV. IPV was offered for Rs.10 a dose some years ago. The current prices are the result of market forces. Even if India wants IPV, it is simply not available for any price. The government established an IPV production unit in 1987 but closed it down in 1992. We lost the opportunity to use IPV and eradicate polio faster and cheaper and also to earn income from its export.

Dr. T. Jacob JohnVellore, Tamil Nadu

`Vedic science'

Meera Nanda's two-part article "Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism and Vedic science" was insightful, incisive and informative (January 2 and 16). The essay is to be studied, and not just read. The author successfully attempts to explode the myth of the Hindutva argument that modern science and Vedas are simply different names for the same truth.

As Will Durant had succinctly stated, human knowledge had become too great for human mind and in the midst of unprecedented learning, ignorance flourishes and new religions are born everyday and old superstitions recapture the lost ground. Formulations of post-modern intellectuals lack conviction and sound reasoning and their irrational denouncement of modern science would, no doubt, lead to the growth of obscurantism.

V.K. Sathyavan NairKottayam, Kerala

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It was with disappointment that I read the article. I do not subscribe to the views of the VHP but I think that Indian advancements in science, astronomy and mathematics during the Vedic age are well documented. It is a historical fact that Indians invented the number system; that Sushrusha was a leading surgeon of his time; that Panini wrote rules for grammar and linguistics. When the East India Company arrived in India, it found Ayurvedic doctors performing cataract operations. Small-pox inoculation was taken from India and Africa to England.The architectural marvels of India make one realise that to build such magnificent temples, a knowledge of science and mathematics is required.

It is unfortunate that Meera Nanda has translated her hatred for the VHP into hatred of all things Indian.

Geethareceived on e-mail

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