fl30 letters

Print edition : May 30, 2014

Election

REGARDLESS of whether a Modi wave really exists, it is a foregone conclusion that Narendra Modi will become India’s next Prime Minister (Cover Story, May 16). In recent years, his popularity has grown by leaps and bounds, which no Congress leader in the fray has been able to match. Although his claims of development in Gujarat are debatable, they fetched him great political mileage.

Both the BJP and the Congress seem to be two sides of the same coin since both of them got involved in scams when in power, but the voters of India are desperate for a change.

N. Venkata Sai Praveen

Chennai

THE Congress spokesperson says there is no Modi wave in the country and that it is only media hype. The truth will come out when the election results are announced. If the BJP fails to get a good majority, it will be proved that the media created the hype and that print and e-media, including TV and social media, users are limited in number or have no influence.

Mahesh Kumar

New Delhi

ALTHOUGH the BJP has been able to successfully project Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, Rajnath Singh’s ascendency over him needs to be taken note of as a new power centre. The anti-incumbency factor, mainly because of corruption scandals, has put the Congress-led UPA in a precarious situation, with the BJP portraying itself as the alternative.

S. Murali

Vellore, Tamil Nadu

I DO not agree that there is no Modi wave. One needs to understand that there is a clear demarcation between urban and rural voters. As far as rural voters go, it is right that caste and religion come into play, but when it comes to urban voters, they are desperately looking for change. Both anti-Congress feeling and the pro Modi wave have helped to unite them; the record voting in this election is testimony to that. People have started demanding substantial things like jobs and infrastructure from their representatives, which is a good sign.

Bal Govind

Noida, Uttar Pradesh

THE results of the elections will be out soon. Politicians were busy with slanging matches against each other, and each promised the electorate the moon. In the din of elections, does anyone care about the unsung heroes who died while performing election duty? Two teachers on election duty died due to exhaustion. Election staff work in dismal conditions. Some polling stations do not have basic facilities like toilets and drinking water.

The government staff assigned election duty report to work even if they are not well as they do not want to get into legal hassles. It is a complicated situation. Merely blaming election officials is unfair. A solution needs to be found to this problem. Not a single politician issued any statement on these unsung heroes. Some politicians want voting to be made compulsory. But nobody thinks of the martyrs on election duty. Is our democratic system so ruthless?

Deendayal M. Lulla

Mumbai

IT is clear that the regional parties will be the ultimate deciding factor in the formation of the government in this election (“Significant others”, May 2). As all the achievements of the regional parties depend on the minority communities, they will never align with the BJP to form the government. Thus, they will jump on the Congress’ bandwagon and form the government.

Ramesh Kotian

Uchila, Karnataka

SHARAD PAWAR, the cunning, crafty —nevertheless venerable—politician and Maharashtra’s strongman, has proved the general belief that politics is the most lucrative business in India (“Pawar’s power”, May 2). In what other business could one multiply one’s assets by 10 in 10 years? Since he is a perennial prime ministerial aspirant, it will not be surprising if he hitches himself to any Delhi-bound bandwagon to grab the coveted chair.

K.P. Rajan

Mumbai

ALTHOUGH Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of the Jana Sangh, the BJP’s predecessor, died in Kashmir, according to Modi, his ashes were brought to India in 2003. At a rally in Rajasthan, Modi referred to Mahatma Gandhi as Mohan Lal Karamchand Gandhi, and Bhagat Singh and his two colleagues were hanged in Lahore and not in the Andaman Islands as Modi stated.

At a rally in Patna, Modi contended that Chandragupta belonged to the Gupta dynasty and that Biharis had defeated Alexander the Great although his forces did not ever cross the Ganga.

One wishes that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate was not ignorant of Indian history and important facts.

M. Hashim Kidwai

New Delhi

THERE are many special features about the elections this time (“A political watershed”, April 4): Having failed to win twice, the BJP started work early. Without compromising its Hindutva agenda, it found Narendra Modi through whom it could achieve its objective and anointed him its prime ministerial candidate. It is projecting development as its goal with Gujarat as the model.

Parties and individuals changing sides without any principle has become common. Only Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP could effectively expose the lies of Modi on development and question the undue support given to him by a section of the media. Rahul Gandhi was late to take on Modi. Tamil Nadu and Telangana were a great disappointment for the Congress. Yet, can Kerala and Karnataka along with States such as Bihar help it revive its hopes? Can the emergence of the AAP as a national party bring about any substantial change?

A. Jacob Sahayam

Thiruvananthapuram

THE election appears to be a tough fight between the Congress and the BJP (“Development myths”, April 4). Although the Congress stands on a slippery wicket over the corruption and price rise issues, it has fulfilled many of the promises made in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. The rupee has also stabilised against the dollar. However, corruption is a major obstacle. Although Modi has promised to develop the whole of India on the lines of the Gujarat model, many people see the model as an exercise in crony capitalism. Furthermore, the party is based on Hindutva ideology. It will not be easy for either the BJP or the Congress to get an absolute majority.

Jayant Mukherjee

Kolkata

Third gender

THE Supreme Court’s landmark judgment recognising transgender as the third gender marks a new chapter for India’s transgender community (“Gender justice”, May 16). In the absence of such recognition, society and law enforcement personnel have been ridiculing and harassing them at every stage and treating them as second-class citizens. The day this historic judgment was passed is a red-letter day for transgenders because they are now empowered with natural, legitimate and constitutional rights.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

THE writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez took the road less travelled, writing epic novels and short stories that had readers across the globe spellbound (“The magic of Gabo”, May16). To write “One hundred years of solitude”, his magnum opus, he locked himself in a room for 18 months with packets of cigarettes as his sole companion. He belongs to the galaxy of immortal writers such as Shakespeare, Cervantes and Dostoevsky.

N.C. Sreedharan

Kannur, Kerala

Andretta

I WOULD like to point out some errors in the article “Claying around in Andretta” (May 2). My name is Mansimran Singh, not Mani Simran Singh. Sardar Gurcharan Singh was not responsible for inviting Norah Richards to Andretta. She came in the 1930s, which was before he came.

Mansimran Singh

Andretta, Himachal Pradesh

Pakistan

THE excellent article “General in his labyrinth” (May 2) missed a valid historical reference to Zia-ul-Haq’s military rule. His rule was a typical tiger ride and its abrupt end did not allow the obvious end of a tiger ride to occur. Although Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s tiger ride started on similar lines, it was totally free from the trappings of high-definition personalities. This fact might help Musharraf get a safe exit out of the country.

G. Azeemoddin

Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh

Sahara

THE two Sahara group companies SHCIL and SIRECL, according to media reports, collected Rs.22,500 crore from three crore depositors (“Cracking the whip”, April 4). It is alleged that many deposits are black money, but I have not heard of any company or bank asking depositors whether the money they are depositing is black or white. SEBI has said that these companies violated rules regarding disclosure and listing. Media reports say that Sahara group companies employ two lakh people and have large housing projects in progress.

One option is to liquidate their assets, downsize and deposit the money with SEBI. This may satisfy some egos and give the appearance that rules and regulations are being enforced but will be traumatic for aspiring home-owners and employees who are laid off.

Better solutions must be explored. One is reminded of the Satyam Computers case, in which the promoters defalcated. The Department of Company Affairs recast the Board, appointed special teams to clean up and monitored them. Employees were retained, customers were serviced, lawsuits were settled, exports grew, accounts were cleaned up and the shares were sold to the highest bidder.

The government and the courts should consider assigning the Sahara case to the Department of Company Affairs.

G. Ramakrishna

Mumbai

Aadhaar

AFTER reading the article on “Aadhaar outrages” (April 4), I fell asleep thinking about it and had a dream in which an officious person told me: “Aadhaar is like the all-absorbing, unalterable Brahma. All are equal in Brahma and so in Aadhaar. Rich or poor, weak or powerful, Aadhaar reduces everyone to a 12-digit dehumanised number in a database. What if your privacy is compromised, freedom impaired and national security open to risk with the database management entrusted to foreign companies? These are very big things for you to worry about. Take it from me, the state can do no wrong. Learn to be content with whatever comes your way.” I woke up stricken with terror.

A.P. Govindankutty

Painkulam, Kerala

Scientific temper

THE visit of K. Radhakrishnan, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation, to a temple in Tirupati before the Mars mission was a clear violation of Article 51A(h) of the Constitution, which says: “It shall be the duty of every citizen to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform” (“Scientific bent and bent science”, April 4). As the head of a prestigious scientific organisation, he should be the epitome of scientific temper in this theocratically enriched country. However, according to Article 25, he has the freedom to practise his religion. This is an alarming contradiction. Is this the bane of our Constitution?

Santhakumar Issac

Thiruvananthapuram

Venezuela

THIS is with reference to “Another coup bid?” (March 21). As the Venezuelan sociologist Maria Paez Victor rightly stated, the real opposition to the Venezuelan government is the U.S. This has always been the case with the Latin American countries that have had left-leaning governments, which do not dance to the tune of Uncle Sam. Decades ago, the U.S. played a part in creating problems for the world’s first democratically elected communist government in Kerala.

Hugo Chavez’s socialist-welfare state legacy is something the U.S. & Co. will never like. It is thus natural for it, through its Central Intelligence Agency, to nurture and support anti-socialist, opposition groups to engage in violence and destabilise any pro-worker, socialist government. One has to wait and watch whether the U.S. will adopt any ploy against the highly popular Pope Francis, who has stated he has nothing against the Left or the Marxists as he has seen a lot of good people among them.

G. Anuplal

Bangalore

Balu Mahendra

BALU MAHENDRA’S “Moondram Pirai”, with its perfect blend of his cinematography and some of Ilayaraja’s best pieces of music, offered moviegoers an entirely new viewing experience (“Visual poet”, March 21). People who had been taken in by formulaic movies really started appreciating films after the arrival on the scene of directors like Balu. One hopes that his legacy will be carried forward by the young directors who consider themselves to be his disciples.

B.B.C. Chandrasekar

Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Elephants

I WAS touched by the plight of elephants in the article “The pain of being a temple elephant” (March 21). Every species has the same right to survival as human. Almost all medium-sized temples in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have a resident elephant (there must be at least a thousand of them in these three States, in all).

There have been several reports on TV of elephants going berserk. These incidents happen almost every year. The fact is that these animals go into musth and act wild when they are not allowed to mate. Since domesticated elephants are not allowed to mate, they act like this. And since the person restricting them is the mahout, they attack him. Are not human beings restricting the elephant’s natural behaviour and keeping it domesticated just to satisfy their own pride?

Elephants are still used in logging operations in inaccessible areas such as forests and mountains in India, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. To give relief to these animals, legislation should be passed so that all working elephants in the country can be released in a sanctuary earmarked for the purpose. The legislation should also ban all future capture and domestication of elephants. Mahouts, who will lose their livelihood and could resist such a law, can be employed by the government as sanctuary rangers/wardens.

S. Ravichandran

Bangalore



RESPONSE



Ukraine under attack



Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's acting Prime Minister.

THE purpose of this article is to rebut some false allegations, myths and even lies about developments in Ukraine as in recent months Russia has launched an unprecedented international campaign of disinformation to whitewash its brutal interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine (Cover Story, April 18).

The first lie is that the new Ukrainian government is illegitimate.

On February 21, after three months of mass protests and more than 100 victims, former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich, opposition leaders and foreign mediators signed an agreement on the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine according to which the Parliament of Ukraine adopted a law to restore the country’s Constitution of 2004, which limits presidential powers. But President Yanukovich betrayed his obligations and refused to sign it. On February 22, he withdrew himself from performing his constitutional duties and escaped to Russia.

Under these circumstances, Parliament assumed full political responsibility for the situation in the country. According to the Constitution, in the event of the early termination of powers of the President, his functions should be carried out by the Chairman of Parliament. Presidential elections were set for May 25.

On February 27, the new legitimate government headed by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was formed with overwhelming support from all major political parties represented in Parliament. Any statement about a coup in Ukraine is absolutely baseless. Parliament acted within its legitimate constitutional authority to restore order and governance. Not a single Central government building was occupied in Kiev during the revolution.

It is also worth mentioning the claims about “fascists in Kiev”. Winston Churchill said, “The fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists.” That is exactly what happened in the case of Ukraine when, with Kremlin’s actions extremely resembling Hitler’s Anschluss of Austria and occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938 under the pretext of protecting German ethnic minorities and their rights, many orchestrated voices decry “fascists in Kiev”.

The right of rebellion against tyranny and oppression can be referred from the third paragraph of the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ukrainian protests embraced all the sections of Ukrainian society. Hundreds of political, human rights and grass-roots groups joined the peaceful revolution. Right-wing groups were just a portion of Maidan’s self-defence forces. As they were prominent in the street clashes, they did not dominate the political agenda, subordinating their steps to Maidan’s command and opposition leaders.

In the present government, there are only two Ministers (Agrarian Policy and Ecology) from the right-wing “Svoboda” party. It is worth mentioning that in the 2012 parliamentary election this party won 10.4 per cent of the seats.

In comparison, right-wing parties in recent years won 26.6 per cent of the seats in Switzerland, 20.5 per cent in Austria, 19.1 per cent in Finland, 13.6 per cent in France, and 11.7 per cent in Russia. Notably, the far-right Alliance of European National Movements sided with the Kremlin’s action against Ukraine.

According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in its report of April 15 on the human rights situation in Ukraine based on the results of the mission by Ivan Simonovic, the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, “all accounts heard by the OHCHR delegation, the fear against the ‘Right Sector’ is disproportionate… there was no confirmed evidence of attacks by the ‘Right Sector’, including any physical harassment, against minorities”.

The third myth is that the so-called “referendum” in Crimea legitimises its annexation by Russia. The best response here is the “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on March 27, whereby 100 countries vowed not to recognise changes in the territorial status of Crimea and concluded that the referendum “had no validity”.

The Russian media reported that 83 per cent of the Crimean population participated in the “referendum” and that 97 per cent of them voted to join Russia; the actual turnout was around 34 per cent, according to the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars, who boycotted the vote. This data was confirmed by members of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights; it estimated a 30-50 per cent turnout, with only half of the participants opting for Russia.

On April 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that “Crimean self-defence forces were of course backed by Russian servicemen” although previously he had denied any Russian military involvement in Crimea as he currently denies Russian special operation units acting to destabilise eastern Ukraine. The referendum under the occupation is just a cover-up of the military operation, not a popular vote.

Ukraine is under attack. Separatist forces guided from Moscow are using terror tactics. They take hostages; threaten, attack, detain and kill political opponents; escalate hatred against Ukrainians; and refuse any sound solution in the real interests of the local community and the country.

Let us face the truth and not rationalise the actions of the aggressor. Ukraine wants peace, not war. But it is ready to defend itself even against the nuclear-armed power that brutally trampled upon its bilateral and international obligations. Even moral support would suffice.

Oleksandr Shevchenko, Ambassador of Ukraine in India.



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