Letters

Print edition : May 31, 2013

Narendra Modi



THE projection of Chief Minister Narendra Modi as Prime Minister is a media-driven exercise fuelled in ample measure by the corporate sector, which gained everything in Gujarat at the expense of the poor and marginalised sections (Cover Story, May 17). Evidently, Modi’s development model is for the rich, by the rich and of the rich. How else can one explain the mind-boggling malnutrition rates among children and anaemia in women of the State, not to speak of the maternal and infant mortality rates? For all his trumpeting of growth and development, Modi personifies authoritarianism, and the country can ill afford to have a person who always insists on self-projection. For all his protestations of innocence, Modi has yet to express remorse for the 2002 pogrom.

J. Anantha Padmanabhan

Trichy, Tamil Nadu

BODY language, charisma and vision are the attributes of leader. I feel that Rahul Gandhi is more acceptable to the common man than Modi. People search for themselves in a leader. They dislike leaders who are vain and arrogant. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance is tainted with corruption and scams and accused of misleading the Central Bureau of Investigation, but the Bharatiya Janata Party is not able to show that it is different. It would be a blunder to select Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. He is a regional leader and is irrelevant to national politics.

Uttam K. Bhowmik

Tamluk, West Bengal

THE Cover Story was biased, concocted and misleading. It appeared to be part of a deliberate smear campaign to slander Modi. There is a groundswell of support for him, even among those belonging to the Muslim community. As a result of his proactive, transparent and responsive leadership, development has replaced communal discord in Gujarat. The alleged apprehensions Muslims have about Modi are only a creation of the media.

Ettirankandath Krishnadas

Palakkad, Kerala

THE Cover Story was yet another uncharitable piece of Modi-bashing, which sadly failed to appreciate the fact that he has been democratically elected as Chief Minister of Gujarat in three successive Assembly elections. Elections 2012 were essentially a referendum on Modi’s administrative capabilities, and his comprehensive victory is a conclusive endorsement of his policies, administration and style of governance and is testimony to the fact that the voter has clearly moved away from the ghosts of the 2002 pogrom. It needs to be kept in mind that the percentage of Muslims who cast their votes in favour of Modi was higher this time than in 2007.

Modi was able to buck the anti-incumbency trend and retain power. The need of the hour for the nation is an able administrator capable of taking strong decisions in its interests. Modi has proved his mettle and deserves the Prime Minister’s chair. Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar’s continued harping on the need for a “secular” candidate for the Prime Minister’s post is nothing but pandering to minority vote-bank politics.

B. Suresh Kumar

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

MODI is aspiring for the top post in the country on the strength of his successes. However, one fails to understand why the National Democratic Alliance partners are bickering among themselves over the issue of Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. Even in the BJP, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj are reportedly averse to this. Nitish Kumar is Modi’s sharpest critic and has asked the BJP to name a secular person as the candidate. The BJP cannot afford to ignore him because it may lose a major share of votes if Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (Secular) snaps its political ties with the BJP over the issue.

Jayant Mukherjee

Kolkata

Pakistan

THE behaviour of the lawyers outside Rawalpindi High Court when Pervez Musharraf was produced before it has brought disgrace to this profession and should be condemned (“From exile to jail”, May 17). Lawyers became hoodlums. Lawyers in Pakistan are a law unto themselves—they beat police officers, assault judges, and also the media for filming their violence. Pakistan today is facing the worst kind of judicial dictatorship, and concepts such as “judicial independence” and “lawyers are officers of the court” are a myth perpetuated on the hapless public. Judges of lower courts are afraid of high-profile lawyers, and this results in the miscarriage of justice while the higher judiciary looks the other way.

Deendayal M. Lulla

Mumbai

LET Musharraf be in jail. That is good for India as he is India’s enemy no. 1 and was the architect of the Kargil War. He had the audacity to consider the war Pakistan’s victory because, he said, it brought the world's attention to the Kashmir issue, that is, he made a bilateral issue an international problem. He also said that Kargil-like wars would recur unless the Kashmir problem was solved. His return to Pakistan could have created more problems for India.

It is worth remembering that our former Army Chief, General V.P. Malik, refused to shake hands with Musharraf when he visited India as Pakistan’s President.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu

Alappuzha, Kerala

Nuclear threats

COUNTRIES find it so difficult to come to terms with the death and destruction caused by bomb blasts triggered by terrorists that one does not even want to imagine the magnitude of the destruction that nuclear weapons could cause (“Nuclear deadlock”, May 17). There are many secret and illegal nuclear programmes going on in countries such as Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. Pakistan’s nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan secretly gave support to North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programmes. Hence, these countries are a real nuclear threat. The international community should work together to keep tabs on Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and Libya, which are engaged in nuclear smuggling and proliferation.

Also, it is the responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency to take tough action against such countries.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai

Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu

Delhi University

A FULL-SCALE open consultation should be held with all stakeholders, including students and faculty, before any radical changes are made in an educational institution, otherwise the future of thousands of students could be ruined (“System error”, May 17). Unfortunately, such discussions are considered superfluous by those in charge of Delhi University, who seem to think they know everything.

The proposal relating to the introduction of a four-year undergraduate degree programme has met with a lot of opposition from several quarters and it would be wise on the part of the Vice-Chancellor not to hasten through the revision.

S.S. Rajagopalan

Chennai

Boston attack

THE bomb blasts during the Boston Marathon were a grim reminder that terrorism has still not ended in the U.S. despite all the preventive measures taken after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 (“Terror in Boston”, May 17). It reinforced the fact that no place in the world is safe, with attacks taking place anytime and anywhere.

It was wise of President Barack Obama to have advised people not to air their views until the completion of the probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. What was heartening about the incident was seeing both security personnel and spectators at the marathon swinging into action without fear to help the injured.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

THE article “Melting the pot” (May 17) was thought provoking and explained the U.S. media’s convenient, if not cunning, doublespeak while reporting various acts of violence. Among all media organisations, The New York Post’s irresponsible and unfair manner of reporting on the bomb blasts during the Boston Marathon once again exemplifies so-called Murdochism.

Ujwal S. Jagtap

Shelgaon Deshmukh, Maharashtra



RESPONSE

Nuclear power

Thank you for carrying the review of my book "The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India" by Prof. T. R.Govindarajan ("Nuclear questions", May 17). I believe nuclear power is contentious and so understand his alternate view. That said, I would like to clarify some points on which the review misrepresents my arguments.

First, the review focusses only on the goal of 40 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power by 2020.On the other hand, my book begins with the projection of 470 GW by 2050—a hundred-fold expansion—that underlay much of the U.S.-India deal debate. The question that motivates my examination of nuclear power in India is whether this is feasible. I do not think analysing the 40 GW by 2020 goal, which is dependent largely on the politics surrounding foreign reactor imports, is as important as examining the longer term projection, which throws up fundamental problems with the projection methodology of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). In my book, I highlight a basic flaw relating to plutonium accounting. This is independent of individual opinions on fast breeder technology. Further, my arguments do not use a breeding ratio of 1.04 as the review suggests. As I point out on page 133, my calculations and the DAE’s projections are based on assuming a breeding ratio of 1.582.



Second, the review’s assessment of my discussion of safety attacks a straw man by asking whether Narora was a “fearsome disaster in the making”? This “quote” does not come from my book, for I did not use the word fearsome anywhere. My assessment focusses on the lack of high safety standards within the DAE and underscores the various organisational lacunae why “one cannot take comfort in the fact that, so far, there have not been any catastrophic accidents in India” (page 221).



The review says: “People who have details tell me a different story, which is as follows. After the turbine tripped, the reactor shut itself down in exactly 38 seconds”. Now, I do mention that the Narora reactor shut down but point out (page 203) that this was because ”the operators manually actuated the primary shutdown system of the reactor (Koley et al. 2006)”. Koley et al. refers to a paper in the international journal Nuclear Engineering and Design by five authors from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, who presumably cross-checked their information before publishing it. [As in this case, much of the information in my book is carefully referenced, often to published literature by the DAE.] Thus, the reactor’ shutdown was not automatic—operators shut it down. This difference is non-trivial because operators, albeit rarely, do make mistakes.



These differences aside, I endorse the reviewer's call for “democratic movements [to] be built against any diversion of plutonium for bombs” but go further by calling for a democratic and informed debate on the nuclear enterprise as a whole. And in that spirit I welcome Prof. Govindarajan's critical comments but hope that readers evaluate the book's arguments for themselves.

M. V. Ramana

Princeton University

New Jersey, U.S.

CORRECTIONS

M.N. Govindan Nair was a Minister in Kerala and not Chief Minister as mentioned in the review of the book Janayugom Gopiye Orkkumbol, or The Scribe Remembered: N. Gopinathan Nair--His Life and Times ("Rushes of history", May 17.)

The editorial introduction to the column "Premchand plus" (May 17) bracketed Uday Prakash's work "The Walls of Delhi" with Ajay Navaria's "Unclaimed Terrain" as Dalit writing. The latter work is Dalit and the former is not. The mistake is regretted.

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