Published : Nov 19, 2004 00:00 IST

Congress' winning spree

The present voting pattern in India is encouraging. People have voted against communal forces, which is why the Congress-NCP combine could win the elections in Maharashtra despite the anti-incumbency factor (Cover Story, November 5). In the Lok Sabha elections, too, people chose to vote out the National Democratic Alliance government because of its communal and anti-people economic policies. However, where people had a viable third alternative, they have voted against both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

Hari Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu* * *

The image of the United Progressive Alliance government favoured the Congress-NCP alliance. The Congress should not become complacent after this victory and should try to boost its performance in the Hindi heartland by reviving the party organisation at the grassroots. The BJP, now under the leadership of L.K. Advani, should change its vision, otherwise it will soon lose its relevance. Hopefully, the new Maharashtra government will address the people's problems and will not repeat the mistakes committed by its predecessor.

Akhil Kumar New Delhi* * *

The credit for the Congress-NCP combine's victory should go to Sonia Gandhi. The victory also marks the rejuvenation of the Congress, which was on the verge of being written off from national politics.

Siddhartha Raj Guha Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh* * *

It is sad that our election system is so weak as to allow people facing serious criminal cases to contest. The need of the hour is to ensure the speedy trial of criminal cases. Until the court judgment is delivered, none facing criminal charges should be allowed to contest elections.

M. Kumar New Delhi* * *

The NCP is the clear winner. Sharad Pawar was right in claiming the Chief Minister's post for his party. The Congress' offer to allot more ministerial berths with choice portfolios to the NCP - both in Maharashtra and in New Delhi - in exchange for the Chief Minister's post exposed its hunger for power. Politics in India has unfortunately been reduced to a `numbers game'.

S. Balakrishnan Jamshedpur, JharkhandMPLAD scheme

This refers to the article "The case against MPLADS" (November 5). The basic principle underlying the parliamentary system is that the executive should spend money only with the sanction of Parliament. But, the MP Local Area Development Scheme allows parliamentarians to spend money on their own. The irony is that the CAG report is submitted to Parliament and MPs are required to scrutinise their own performance. This is against the very spirit and meaning of a parliamentary system. The MPLADS should be scrapped immediately.

C. Ramesh Keeramangalam, Tamil NaduTribal concerns

Congratulations for your constant focus on tribal people ("A primitive perspective", November 5). The non-tribal section of society and the government want tribal people to join the "mainstream". This attitude needs to be changed. Tribal people should have a greater say in deciding their own future.

M. Pradeep Kumar Hyderabad* * *

Nobody but the tribal people can claim to be the original inheritors of the natural property of India. But today, the non-tribal community is a threat to the culture and the very existence of these indigeneous people of the country. We should understand this reality and help conserve their cultural and social values and recognise their excellence in the fields such as medicine.

Ankur Garg Moradabad, Uttar PradeshRSS and the national flag

The article "A national hero?" (November 5) refers to the attitude of the saffron brigade to the national flag. I recall the period when the RSS was banned after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination. The Centre issued a press release explaining the reasons for not removing the ban on the RSS. One of the reasons mentioned was the RSS' stance on the national flag.

In response, M.S. Golwalkar issued a press release stating clearly that the national flag was only for government offices and functions and that at the functions hosted by any private organisation, its own flag should be used.

P.C. Sahajwala Received on e-mailBenzy's music

I have heard Benzy's "Kashish" ("A song of life", November 5). It is commendable that her parents developed her singing ability with the hope that music would cure her. They have encouraged the child to find a special meaning in life.

D.N. Singh LucknowClassical language

Tamil, with its considerable antiquity, its own poetic theory, grammatical tradition, aesthetics, unique literature and grammar is fit to be a classical language ("Recognising a classic", November 5).

But the granting of classical status to one language has opened a Pandora's Box, with similar demands being made by the speakers of other languages.

A.J. Rangarajan New Jersey* * *

Among the numerous scholars who championed the cause of classical Tamil, the work of G. Devanaya Pavanar, Head, Department of Dravidian Philology, Annamalai University, is remarkable.

I met him in 1961 in Bangalore where he had gone to address the students on the catholicity of Tamil. After the lecture session I had a brief discussion with him about the classicality of Tamil language in comparison with Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Sanskrit.

He enthusiastically talked about the Lemurian orgin of Tamil and cited its phonological simplicity in support of its antiquity. I was greatly impressed by these facts.

In his work, The Primary Classical Language of the World (1966), Devanaya Pavanar incorporated the results of his exhaustive research in comparative philology and highlighted the classicality of Tamil.

It is necessary to categorise Tamil into `classical' and `modern'. Modern Tamil may be further sub-divided into `literary' (present written form) and `spoken' Tamil.

R. Soundararajan Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu* * *

Swami Vipulananthar of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, too played a part in the efforts to get classical language status for Tamil. He was the first Professor of Tamil of the Annamalai University and later of the University of Ceylon. He led the movement to recognise Subramaniya Bharati as a "Mahakavi" (great poet).

Packianathan Sabapathy Received on e-mail* * *

Thank you for recognising the services rendered by my grandfather, the Tamil scholar V.G. Suriyanarayana Sastriar (Parithimal Kalaignar). He was the first graduate to take up a lectureship in Tamil in colleges. Though he was offered the post of lecturer of philosophy at the Madras Christian College, he took up the teaching of Tamil.

This despite the fact that the salary was lower for a Tamil lecturer. He was the first person to identify and project Tamil as a classical language. He coined the Tamil equivalent of `classical language' - Chemmozhi. He was also the first to write a history of Tamil language. In his Tamil Mozhiyin Varalaru, published in April 1903, he reiterated that Tamil is a classical language.

V.S. Govindan Madurai, Tamil NaduPublic power and empire

This is with reference to "Public power in the age of empire"(October 22). It is because of the hollowness of the modern democratic process that the people are facing state oppression. The acts of oppression have left the underprivileged sections of society with a sense of futility. As a result, "public power" lacks a real objective and direction.

Pawan Gogoi Laluk, Assam* * *

The author has rightly said that good concepts such as democracy are manipulated to stifle democracy and freedom is curbed under the pretext of protecting it.

Md.Ehtesham PatnaWild and beautiful

While reviewing my book On Jim Corbett's Trail and Other Tales from Tree-tops, Theodore Baskaran has faltered on two counts: He has not understood the difference between poaching (which is illegal) and hunting (legal) and he has grossly under-estimated the greatness of Jim Corbett ("Wild and beautiful", October 22).

Presently, no hunting is allowed in India, but we are still unable to control poaching, which takes place in many wildlife habitats in the country. In my book, poaching, not hunting, was identified as the main threat to the goral. The gaur was wiped out of the Javadhi Hills (Tamil Nadu) not by trophy hunters, who would have gone for only big bulls, but by poachers. Habitat loss and habitat degradation caused by biotic pressures such as grazing and forest produce collection are the other reasons. Unregulated harvesting and habitat loss have led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon, which once occurred in millions in North America. Similarly, unregulated killings, loss of habitat, prey and conflict with graziers have led to the disappearance of the cheetah in India.

But we should not say that hunting has not helped any species. If lions are surviving in the Gir forests it is only because the Nawab of Junagadh was interested in hunting lions. He protected the Gir forests as his hunting reserve. If hangul or Kashmir stag still survives in the Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, it is because the Maharaja of Kashmir was protecting them for his own hunting expeditions.

The best population of the endangered Nilgiri tahr, endemic to the Western Ghats, occurs in the Grass Hills and the Eravikulam National Park in Anamalai Hills (about 1,200 animals), and in and around Mukurti National Park in the upper Nilgiris (ca.300). This is largely due to the interest shown by the hunters in these areas who, until the mid-1970s, were permitted to shoot a few saddle-backs (full grown adult males) every year.

On the contrary, the Mudaliar Oothu area in Srivilliputtur Hills, east of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, had about 500 tahr till 50 years ago, but having no protection from the hunters and being subjected to poaching, the population has declined to less than 100 animals now.

In India, we used controlled hunting to manage locally abundant nilgai and blackbuck (that cause considerable damage to agricultural crops), leopards (which often kill children and women) and exotic chital in the Andamans.

The Government of India has honoured Jim Corbett not only because he shot the marauding leopards and tigers, but also because he made a passionate plea to save wildlife, particularly tigers, through his immensely readable books. Corbett was also highly respected for the way he befriended the poor of India through his gentleness, generosity, courage and love, and glorified them in his writings. No one undermines the importance of W.H. Champion and B.R. Hugowood, but they are no comparison to Jim Corbett, who has enriched the lives of millions of people all over the world through his books.

A.J.T. Johnsingh Dean, Faculty of Wildlife Sciences, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

Understanding crime

This is with reference to "Understanding crime" (October 8). The author's concern at the rising number of suicides in the country appears to make him adopt a dangerous view that criminal punishment can act as a deterrent to suicides.

Even if social, economic and other factors do influence people's propensity for suicide, at the individual's level, suicide is understood as an act precipitated by severe psychological pain from which the individual seeks escape. Threats of criminal punishment can only serve to aggravate the deep mental anguish of a person who has attempted suicide. Invoking criminal law in this sensitive area can be counter-productive.

Police and courts will perhaps serve the cause of suicide prevention better if they adopted a more humanitarian approach while dealing with persons undergoing emotional distress. At this time of rapid social changes, it becomes imperative that everyone concerned - officials and politicians holding public office in particular - to be more kind, more understanding and more sympathetic towards anyone facing a personal crisis.

P. Jayakumar Kochi, Kerala
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