Disaster relief

Print edition : January 27, 2006

Tamil Nadu led the rest of the country in post-tsunami relief efforts a year ago (Cover Story, January 13). The administration did well this time too in the face of persistent cyclonic weather, depression and the massive flooding of several districts. Countless lives were saved by the prompt action taken by the authorities and non-governmental agencies.

It is ironical, however, that natural disasters can morph so quickly into man-made disasters like the two recent stampedes in the Chennai relief centres - and the inevitable political fallout with the Opposition taking advantage of the situation. More lives, probably, were lost in the stampedes and because of the carelessness of bus drivers plying their vehicles in flooded regions than what was caused by the floods as such. Sustained efforts will have to be made to avoid such needless loss of lives, which leaves a blot on the administration.

Kangayam R. Rangaswamy Wisconsin, United States

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One question needs to be clearly answered: How much of aid is necessary for a tsunami survivor to have his/her livelihood restored? Only a minimum amount of aid is required for a person to start earning. It is vital that any aid distribution be scientifically assessed. With such analysis, a lot of problems in the rehabilitation process could be avoided. Governments have a big role in providing financial assistance and social security to citizens.

Aravind Kesavan Bangalore

Corruption

It is good that 11 Members of Parliament were expelled from the House ("A bold beginning", January 13). Let us hope that the Lok Sabha will be equally firm in dealing with the MPs who siphoned off money from funds allocated to them under the MP Local Area Development Scheme.

Mahesh Kapasi New Delhi

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Parliament, by expelling its tainted members, has restored its dignity. It was unfortunate that the BJP, instead of supporting the move, chose to boycott the House. It has thereby proved that it is, indeed, "a party with a difference" - a party that, when in the Opposition, opposes the ruling party/alliance just for the sake of opposing. It talks about surajya (good governance) but shields corrupt MPs.

S. Balakrishnan Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

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This is not the first time since H.G. Mudgal's case in 1950 that MPs have made money using their Parliament membership. To get anything done in the corridors of the Central Secretariat, for transfers, phone connections, and even for identity certificates, some MPs ask for and get money from the people of their constituencies.

V.V. Prabhu Kollam, Kerala

Torture

While we are too eager to discuss the use of torture in other places ("Bush and his torture chambers", January 13), a lot of things happen in India in broad daylight, such as the police excesses against agitating workers in Gurgaon. A month ago, a Hindi news channel reported how a 14-year-old accused of stealing was treated in a police station in Haryana. Such `investigations' are commonplace. The people who suffer are usually the poor.

Vijayalakshmi Kolkata

Nuclear power

The nuclear power scenario is bleak ("Uranium crisis", January 13). The euphoric India-U.S. cooperation deal on civilian nuclear facilities is likely to be a non-starter as the U.S. Congress may put a spoke in the wheel of classifying civilian and military needs. Even accepting that the uranium supplies will be effective, the question of `processing' the spent fuel will be the biggest hurdle. The U.S. and/or the Nuclear Suppliers Group will not take back the spent fuel as it is not only hazardous but also uneconomical. This means that the stockpiles will be a ticking bomb.

A.S. Raj Received on e-mail

Government role

Bhaskar Ghose's column abut private enterprises is an excellent exposure of the myth that privatisation is the panacea for all the inefficiencies in the system ("Some aspects of private enterprise", January 13). The dishonesty of those who disguise their self-interest in propagating this myth is exposed by the examples cited in the article, including that of power shortage in California after the privatisation of power distribution. The withdrawal of the state from the essential sectors could only lead to catastrophes.

Kasim Sait Chennai

BPO employees

Although too much security breeds insecurity, the Bangalore incident has forced the business process outsourcing (BPO) units to reconsider security measures for women employees ("Murder most foul", January 13). It is pathetic that call centres, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, are not bothered to provide a safe environment to their women employees.

Arvind K. Pandey Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Kerala

Much remains to be done about accommodation and travel in Kerala's tourism network ("Reinventing Kerala", January 13). The Aksheya e-literacy experiment is the first of its kind in the country. The success of technoparks, info parks, IT education in schools, availability of power at a comparatively low cost, skilled labour and so on are favourable to Kerala. It is true major IT companies are ready to invest in Kerala. The question is why, in spite of all this, Thiruvananthapuram could not place itself in the same league as Bangalore, Chennai or Hyderabad. Perhaps the State needs discipline and better work culture.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram

Orhan Pamuk

A famous writer once asked: "What is a writer if he is not the fiery voice of the people?" The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk fits the description perfectly ("A rebellious Turk", December 30). In an era of fantasy and glitz, it is heart-warming to find a writer so close to the people and their most genuine social concerns. The Turkish government's attempt to gag one of the most prominent human voices in modern Europe amounts to irreverence to humanity.

Neeraj Kumar Jha Madhubani, Bihar

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