Print edition : April 19, 2013

Hugo Chavez

HUGO CHAVEZ was a charismatic socialist leader who strove to his last breath to bring about socio-economic equality among the people of Venezuela and to protect the sovereignty of Latin American countries (Cover Story, April 5). The transformation and evolution of Venezuela under his leadership are remarkable and worth emulating by developing nations such as India. Instead of blindly following neoliberalism, which is the root cause of the growing economic disparity among people, the political dispensation in India should take note of the best practices of Venezuela to improve social parameters, especially in vulnerable areas such as health care, poverty alleviation and education.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, which buys U.S. treasury bills and other assets, Chavez kept oil revenues within Latin America, and since 2007 had provided other Latin American countries with financial aid, most of which has been repaid. In effect, this supplanted the International Monetary Fund and possibly also the World Bank. Even more unpalatable for the U.S., Chavismo represents a clear political programme for pan Latin American transformation. The U.S. may have called Chavez a social dictator, but for all those who believe in socialism, he was a champion of the downtrodden.

Ettirankandath Krishnadas

Palakkad, Kerala

CHAVEZ was undoubtedly one of the tallest Left leaders in the world, who had excellent public relations skills and a genuine interest in the welfare of ordinary people. His services to Venezuelans through nationalisation of the country’s oil wealth and the use of revenue derived from it for social security measures and social welfare activities prove that socialism is still relevant and workable in the days of rapid privatisation and liberalisation. Chavez, who was a good friend of India and its Left leaders, had one thing in common with Subhas Chandra Bose: both leaders advocated an ideology which does not negate religion or spirituality. Chavez respected Jesus Christ, an upright revolutionary who stood up for the suppressed and the oppressed.

Chavez will continue to inspire those who are opposed to U.S’ high-handedness and the exploitation of Western multinationals. In the absence of a democratically elected strong leader, it remains to be seen whether the U.S. and co. will start their interfering game in Venezuela.

G. Anuplal


THE Cover Story was a fitting tribute to Chavez, whose demise signalled the end of an era in Latin American politics. A fiery revolutionary and a humanist, his hallmark was his unflinching commitment to the ideology he believed in and his rapport with the masses. He was instrumental in raising the standard of living of Venezuelans.

While other third world countries either toed the West’s line or succumbed to the dictates of the U.S., Chavez had the guts to stand up to U.S. hegemony. His demise is certainly a setback for progressive forces across the world.

B. Suresh Kumar

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

ALTHOUGH 15 years is a small period in a country’s history, Chavez through his determination made great strides and made the world watch him. His death has created a vacuum in Venezuela’s political arena, and it is difficult to think of the country without this great socialist who had such an impact on the life of Venezuelans. He thought of the welfare of the people of the country only. Venezuela minus Chavez will face big challenges in the days to come. Hopefully, his country and his people will keep his vision alive.

B. Jambulingam

Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

THE monumental changes Chavez brought about in respect of health, education and the economic condition of masses of people require to be retold across the globe and the gains made protected, expanded and emulated.

S.V. Venugopalan


IN Chavez’s death, the world has lost a great communist and socialist. The enormous popularity he enjoyed is a testimony to the remarkable turnaround he initiated in the lives of millions of Venezuelans. He stood as a bulwark against big brother all through his life. The solidarity he displayed with Cuba and his disdain for the imperial ways of the U.S. and its allies were characteristic of his boldness.

J. Anantha Padmanabhan

Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu

THE death of the indomitable Chavez may come in the way of the creation of a united Latin America. It is unfortunate that the Government of India had only lukewarm support for his policies. Hopefully, Chavez’s legacy and his unfinished agenda for Latin America will be fulfilled by his likely successor, interim President Nicolas Maduro.

N.C. Sreedharan

Kannur, Kerala

CHAVEZ’S untimely death is not only a blow to the people of Venezuela but also a setback to Latin America. Although he established a cult personality and a power structure of his own which was corrupt and authoritarian, as a socialist leader and a shrewd politician, he worked hard to transform the lives of the poor in his country with a series of social and welfare programmes. His death has created a huge void in Venezuelan politics, which will be difficult to fill in the absence of second-rung leaders. Venezuela lost an illustrious and revolutionary leader and an outstanding spokesman against imperialism and neoliberalism.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Pope Francis

IF Mother Teresa can be called the “Saint of the Gutters”, Pope Francis can safely be called the “Pope of the Poor”, given his spartan lifestyle and his efforts to reach out to the poorest and those considered least important in society (“A Jesuit Pope”, April 5).

Pope Francis’ simplicity and humility can be gauged by the fact that he broke with tradition by keeping the simple cross of his days as bishop and eschewing the red cape his predecessor wore when he was presented to the world for the first time in 2005, choosing, instead, the simple white cassock of the papacy. He also paid his bills at the hotel he stayed in during the run-up to the electoral conclave. When asked why he insisted on paying the bill as the hotel was part of the Church and the Church was now his, he replied that he wanted to set priests and bishops a good example. His sense of humour was also evident when he told fellow cardinals: “May God forgive you for what you have done!”

However, he will have to deal with the many controversial issues that are being debated in the Christian community throughout the world.

S. Balakrishnan

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

Jammu & Kashmir

JAMMU AND KASHMIR Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has suggested that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act be repealed at least in areas where the military has almost disappeared (“Wounded valley”, April 5). But the crisis facing the State is manifold. Demonstrations, riots, and so on, in response to various problems have been put down through the use of pellet guns and pepper gas that damage the eyes and cause diseases. This will only increase the disgruntlement of Kashmiris. This vicious circle has to be broken. An entirely different approach and strategy are required to win them over. The Centre should wake up.

Jacob Sahayam


No honorifics

THE Governor of Maharashtra was right to follow in the footsteps of President Pranab Mukherjee and say that he should not be addressed as “Your Excellency” (The Nation, “No more ‘Your Excellency’”, April 5). Will the politicians of Maharashtra take a cue from this and tell their followers not to address the leader of a party as “Saheb”, as has become the norm?

Even judges have said that they need not be addressed as “Your Honour”. But this practice continues. In fact, politicians not only in Maharashtra but all over the country should follow the example set by the President and the Governor of Maharashtra.

Deendayal M. Lulla


Strike option

WHEN Indian society is faced with unemployment, an economic crisis, a bad work culture and unproductive and stagnant industrial growth, strikes seem meaningless and unfruitful (“Strike option, March 22). This strike could not have forced the Central government to change its economic policies.

Uttam K. Bhowmik

Tamluk, West Bengal

Afzal Guru

THE secret execution of Afzal Guru (“Hanged by stealth”, March 8) clearly revealed that constitutional formalities and responsibilities were not fulfilled, and the vengeance of those in power was apparent from the fact that they hanged him without informing family members or allowing them to meet him before his death.

This inhuman act also revealed the communal bent of mind of those in power in Delhi. They wanted to garner for themselves the communal sentiment the BJP-RSS-VHP combine had roused on this issue. They would not have treated a person from the majority community in this manner. It is clear that the Congress wanted to counter the “Modi wave” with this hanging.

B.A. Dabla

Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir

Amrita’s world

THE article on Amrita Sher-Gill was a revelation as very few of us would have otherwise been able to connect a half-Sikh, half-European woman (married to a British doctor) to a remote place in eastern Uttar Pradesh (“Amrita’s village”, March 8).

The State government would do well to convert the sprawling mansion where she lived into a museum commemorating the painter or hold some function there on her birth anniversary.

Anil Joshi

Nainital, Uttarakhand


AFTER going through the article “Mirage of development” (March 8), including the statistics, it appears to me that many stories about the development of Gujarat were based on Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s own bragging. They never made any serious attempt to verify its merit, thus misleading people all over the country. I hope Frontline continues to expose such fraudulent reporting so that Indians can distinguish between what is right and what is nonsense.

Ramesh Kotion

Uchila, Karnataka