Apropos of Seema Mustafa’s analysis, ‘UPA’s Comedy Cabinet’ (August 3), grid failures in 23 states is a serious issue. Unfortunately, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde expressed no regrets. Instead, he gave an example of similar failures in the USA. The government has not yet apologised. The arrogant government has made it a habit of displeasing Hindus, considering that Shinde is a Dalit. Its only aim is to please Dalits.
—Shishir Khandheria, Mumbai
The recent simultaneous failures of the northern, eastern and north-eastern grids, which plunged nearly half the country in total darkness, are reported to be the worst of their kind in the world. A lot of newsprint and airtime has been spent by the media pillorying those responsible for the mismanagement of an essential service like power generation and distribution. But, even in the midst of the grim situation, one should look at the lighter side of this man-made disaster. New York, and the north-eastern seaboard of the US and Canada experienced a similar massive blackout in 1977, which lasted for two days. It was reported at that time that nearly 10 months after the incident, there was a baby boom in the affected areas, which was directly attributed to the blackout. What was interesting was that it happened in spite of the fact that in many homes, the husbands had not returned from work on those days of the blackout as they had been trapped in elevators and traffic jams. Hope that there is no such baby boom after the power failures in north India, which already has a poor family planning record.
—VS Kaushik, Bengaluru
Apropos of ‘Two more grids crash and half of India is powerless’ (August 1), one does not remember any such massive grid crashes on two consecutive days, affecting 62 crore people in 20 states in the last half-a-century or so. It is disheartening to note that Uttar Pradesh, already infamous for unsavoury activities, was the top culprit as it withdrew power far in excess of its permissible quota, setting off a domino effect on several power stations and leading to complete chaos in half the country. Penalising defaulting states after occurrence of the disaster is no solution. It will be necessary to constantly monitor power withdrawal by the different states and to put in place a mechanism by which power supply is automatically terminated once the allotted quota is exceeded.
—Dr V Subramanyan, Thane
Laptops? For what?
I am shocked by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s proposal to use public money to hand out laptops and Android-based cellphones to corporators, considering that it is facing a funds crunch to pay municipal school teachers, repair roads, maintain public toilets and clear garbage. Attending to public services should be corporators’ top priority. They should think of themselves after that. Besides, most corporators are school dropouts/illiterates. What are they going to do with laptops? Android-based mobile phones are a luxury even for the rich. The corporation should rethink its proposal.
—Mrs Acharya, via email
Anna aiming high
Team Anna has made a wise decision to dive into politics, as the UPA government has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to demands for a stronger Lokpal Bill. Even after nine days of fasting, the government refused to relent. That’s why Team Anna decided to enter politics. The team actually entered the political fray when they canvassed for an independent candidate in the recent Haryana assembly elections. The government, which has numerous problems on its hand, has found no time to see their demands in a proper perspective. If a government is by the people, for the people and of the people, it should have acted fast on various factors concerning the country. Instead, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh kept buying time and now, he will have to face the music from the people. The UPA will have it tough in the 2014 general elections. If Team Anna works in unison, it can do wonders and will be a force to reckon with in the run-up to the polls.
—CK Subramaniam, Navi Mumbai
It’s great that Team Anna called off its fast. But at the same time, it is unfortunate that they are entering a field that is not their cup of tea. Politics doesn’t just comprise corruption. It involves many other key issues that Anna Hazare and his team are not capable of handling. Now that they have decided to plunge into politics, all political parties may gang up and use money and muscle power to ensure that the team’s candidates lose their deposits to fight elections, which will ultimately make them lose the main cause of the movement. So, what went wrong for Team Anna?
1. It was for the first time in the history of independent India that the Congress-led UPA government decided to form a committee with five members of Team Anna to discuss the Lokpal Bill. Taking cognisance of the role played by Anna and his team was a big step. But, Team Anna wanted Jan Lokpal and nothing else. They should have accepted whatever Bill was brought forward instead of being headstrong.
2. After the Lok Sabha passed the bill, Team Anna was furious that their version — the Jan Lokpal Bill — was not considered even by opposition parties. It was at this stage that Team Anna became anti-Congress and went to town against it repeatedly, like canvassing against it in the recently held assembly elections in five states. This spelled the end of all pretence of camaraderie on the part of the Congress-led UPA government.
3. While there is no doubt that 85% of MPs are corrupt as per their own affidavits, calling them names and not accepting the fact that Parliament makes laws (whether we like them or not) made even the opposition distance itself from the team.
4. Instead of sticking to the main aim of the movement, some members of the team started accusing many of the Union ministers. When Anna continued to ignore such name-calling in public, it drove a wedge in the team. In fact, such a move backfired and turned many ardent supporters against them. The writing is on the wall for Team Anna. They should consider that before joining or floating a political party of their own. Did we not see many citizen candidates losing not only the elections but also their deposits in the recent assembly polls? Team Anna should have stuck to being a pressure group.
— Sharad Kumar, via email