Letters to the Editor

Print edition : May 11, 2018

Cold War

THE Cover Story (April 27) correctly analysed the genesis of the ill will and mistrust that has been smouldering between the self-styled global policeman, the United States, and the other countries of the world. What is deeply worrying is the high degree of volatility and unpredictability of the U.S. under President Donald Trump in dealing with foreign policy matters. The threat of an impending Cold War and open international conflicts among the world’s superpowers are now more possible than ever before. But, the U.S.’ actions appear to be more of an attempt by Trump to remain politically relevant by hogging the limelight through political one-upmanship rather than a genuine desire to find solutions to global problems.

The Trump administration needs to change its policies and behave more responsibly in order to avert war. India needs to take the initiative and mobilise support among other countries to defuse global tensions by reviving the near-defunct Non-Aligned Movement.

B. Suresh Kumar, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Assembly elections

CHIEF Minister Siddaramaiah will be considered a real hero if the Congress is voted back to power in Karnataka (“No holds barred”, April 27). He has been instrumental in taking the State to greater heights in many sectors. He bolstered the regional pride of the people of Karnataka by unveiling a separate flag for the State. His people-friendly policies include salary revision for State government employees, loan waivers of up to Rs.1 lakh, interest-free loans for women and fishermen to the tune of Rs.50,000 and settling the long-pending Lingayat issue. However, the agrarian crisis could be a hindrance to his success.

Jayant Mukherjee, Kolkata

Sterlite plant

THE article “Saga of a struggle” (April27) was a candid analysis of the issue of Sterlite’s copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi district and the protests by the local people against its expansion. The two major political parties in Tamil Nadu are the main culprits in helping the company establish a foothold in the State. If either of these parties had a genuine concern for the welfare of the people and the environment, it would not have been difficult to solve the environmental disasters caused by the plant.

It was a wrong move on the part of the AIADMK to have given Sterlite Industries of Vedanta Resources an entry to Tamil Nadu when the company had faced problems in other States. The DMK government rubbed salt into the wounds of the affected by enabling the company to continue its business in spite of serious accidents at the plant. Industrial establishments must protect the interests of people in their vicinity, and ecological concerns should not be ignored for any reason by any State.

B. Rajasekaran, Bengaluru

I.S.’ victims

FOR the past four years, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had been fooling not only Parliament but also the families of the 39 Indian men the Islamic State killed in Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014 (“Mosul’s echo in Punjab”, April 27). She raised false hopes in them about the safety of the men. At last, on March 20, she told the Rajya Sabha that all of them were dead. Her only correct step was to advise the families of the victims not to open the coffins of their loved ones. But the big question is, if Harjit Masih, the sole survivor of the attack, ended up spending a year in the custody of the government for telling the truth about it, then why was Sushma Swaraj spared from a Privilege move in Parliament?

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad, Haryana

West Bengal

THE flare-up of communal violence in West Bengal and Bihar during and after the Ram Navami festival exposes how fragile the law and order situation is in both States (“Divisive agenda”, April 27). As a State government is responsible for maintaining law and order, it was a blunder on the part of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to blame the Centre for the violence. What stands out is the gesture of the imam Imadul Rashidi, who lost his son in the violence. His appeal for calm in the face of personal loss should be a wake-up call to political parties and communal outfits that instigate violence for the sake of votes and power.

K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad, Telangana


THERE are times when it is difficult for people to understand what is happening in politics (“Tamil Nadu’s angst”, April 27). Recently, in Tamil Nadu the DMK and the AIADMK organised protest marches and fasts demanding the formation of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) as per the directions of the Supreme Court. These two parties have been in power in the State for as many as 50 years. The DMK even had Ministers at the Centre when the United Progressive Alliance was in power. But the parties did not do anything worthy of mention in getting the Centre to sort out the issue of water for Tamil Nadu.

The AIADMK wanted to dispel the impression that it was acting like a stooge of the BJP at the Centre and, therefore, announced a fast on a different date from the DMK’s.

When fighting for a common cause, the political parties should have united and expressed their grievances with one voice, which would have sent a powerful message to the Centre.

A. Michael Dhanaraj, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

The Congress

CONGRESS president Rahul Gandhi’s rhetoric of breaking the wall between leaders and workers sounds ludicrous (“Upbeat Congress”, April 13). He has expressed his displeasure over the party leadership denying hard-working workers party tickets. But thanks to dynastic politics his ascendance as the party president was predetermined. The Congress has not yet been able to dismantle the wall between the Nehru-Gandhi family and other leaders of the party.

Under Rahul Gandhi’s weak leadership, the party is playing second fiddle to regional parties in some State Assembly elections.

Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur, West Bengal

Farmers march

THE peaceful march by 50,000 farmers and tribal people in Maharashtra was remarkable (“The long road ahead”, April 13). The State government had no option but to meet most of the demands of the farmers, the main one being loan waiver. Farmers all over the country are in distress, but the State and Central governments are yet to address the serious issues facing them. Mostly, they just decide to waive loans.

Farmers need affordable and easily available quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Banks and other lending agencies should offer long-term loans at low rates and, in case of distress years, voluntarily postpone loan repayment. What farmers want is a ready outlet for their products and “cash on delivery” at market yards. They also want timely input about rainfall so that they can plan what crops to plant. Drip and sprinkler irrigation should be encouraged to save water. Cold storage facilities should be made available for perishable items.

Middlemen should be regulated or abolished by encouraging government-approved agencies. Agricultural products oriented towards small entrepreneurs should be encouraged. Solar power and rainwater harvesting need to be encouraged in villages. It is time the government found a permanent solution to the problems of the agricultural sector.

D.B.N. Murthy, Bengaluru

Stephen Hawking

THE tributes to Stephen Hawking by Sunil Mukhi (“A singularity in space-time”, April 13) and Dennis Overbye (“A grin & a great mystery”, April 13) helped laypeople understand the innermost recesses of astrophysics.

L. Mahesh Kumar, Chennai

Hawking will always be an inspiration to handicapped people all over the world; he showed that being handicapped was not an impediment to aspiring for a career of one’s choice. He roamed the world in a wheelchair. His achievements were such that Hollywood made a movie about him, “The Theory of Everything”, which was nominated for several Academy Awards. He astonished the world when he theorised that black holes were not bottomless pits but also emitted particles. His model of the universe, with real time as experienced by people and “imaginary time” on which the world may actually run, was a new scientific theory. His legacy will live on forever.

Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai

HAWKING was a rare phenomenon in the history of science. Because of him, one came to hear phrases from the world of physics such as “faster than the speed of light”, “event horizon”, “virtually infinite” and “cosmic singularity”. He was known for the lucid and simple language he used in his books and lectures and for his sense of humour.

It makes one wonder that he died on Einstein’s birthday and that Einstein was also 76 when he died. Hawking won the hearts of millions with his “A Brief History of Time”. He seems to have been more of a mystic than a scientist.

Siva Muthukkumarasamy, Attur, Tamil Nadu

Donald Trump

IT is no exaggeration to say that the U.S. is the only nation that matters in every part of the globe (“Trump and his tariffs”, April 13). And it has always played a role in tackling global problems. Other countries expect the U.S to engage with the international community in a proper way. To do so, the U.S. should show strong and unbiased leadership. Balanced leadership will help defuse global tensions. Nearly all the newspapers in the U.S. are unnecessarily critical of President Donald Trump. The media should support his regime through proper coverage.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai, Mumbai

Akeel Bilgrami

Surprises cannot be pleasanter than encountering an interview with Akeel Bilgrami, a star from another sky, in a day-to-day read (“Gandhi, Marx & the ideal of an ‘unalienated life’”, March 30).

“Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art,” said King Lear. I cannot resist quoting at least two of Bilgrami’s epiphanic statements: (1) From his essay “Gandhi’s Integrity”: “Here is a wallet, abandoned, and we should not take it. This would set an example to others, though no one is around to witness it. The romance in this morality is radiant. Somehow goodness, good acts, enter the world and affect everyone else. To ask how exactly they do that is to be vulgar, to spoil the romance. Goodness is a sort of mysterious contagion.” (2) From his essay “Failures of Inference”: “The literary critic Frederic Jameson got one thing right when he said that it is easier today to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. This is particularly true of working people. When the political culture in which they live and vote so completely impoverishes the options and so completely cramps the conceptual and critical resources on offer, why blame working people for the populism they turn to? It is a dark time we are living in....”.

H. Pattabhirama Somayaji, Mangalore, Karnataka

Tamil Nadu

THE article “Return to star wars” (March 30) gave one a clear picture of Rajnikanth’s and Kamal Hassan’s forays into politics. They are comparing themselves to the one and only MGR. MGR was a unique personality. Kamal Hassan’s first public interaction after he floated his party, with fishermen at Rameswaram, was not impressive. It is difficult to understand why he needs six months to come up with his party’s aims and objectives. Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth would do well to note what happened when the actors Sivaji Ganesan, Karthik and Vijaykanth founded their own parties, all of which failed miserably. Sivaji Ganesan’s unmatched acting skills did not help him in the political arena. The less said about Vijaykanth and Karthik, the better.

Mani Nataraajan, Chennai