In the US they lead by example
Apropos “Sandy bites Big Apple”, one has to appreciate the US authorities and citizens for the manner in which they have together prepared and coped with the storm, suffering minimum loss of life. The storm, which covered a wide area stretching over 2,000 km, affected thickly-populated states and could have wreaked massive havoc if not for the measures taken by the US administration and the way the citizens followed the advice of the authorities. It was also heartening to observe the two presidential contenders, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, calling a halt to their campaign fight and coming together to deal with the emergency situation. One cannot help but wonder, what would have been the situation in India had a similar calamity happened here. The administrative machinery and rescue teams would have been occupied trying to protect the lives and properties of political bigwigs and celebrities, leaving the ‘aam aadmi’ in the lurch. And instead of advisories on how to cope with the problem, we would have been subject to loud accusations and counter-accusations over who should be responsible with an eye on the next election. If at all democracy means ‘the government of the people, by the people, for the people’, how can we honestly call ourselves the biggest democracy on earth?
—V.Chandramohan, by email
The devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy in the eastern United States, once again reminds us of the need to get serious about the consequences of greenhouse gases. While the US learns the painful lessons from this disaster, the rest of the world must also work to minimise the possibility of such disasters that cause terrible loss to life, property and businesses. Another lesson in such situations is the consequences of a power failure. Cities in particular and the countries at large, must consider laying power lines underground. Of course, the cost for such an undertaking will be humongous, but the cost of not doing this is much higher. Mother Nature is non-partisan; mankind must learn from its mistakes.
—K Chidanand Kumar, Bangalore
Undermining government authority
The report “Garba limit enforcing cops beaten” underlines a concern that some people seem to have lost their fear of the police. The apparently timid response by the police to the rioters on August 11 has emboldened rogue elements and we are witnessing such incidents of attacks on police personnel almost on a daily basis. This matter was analysed well by Seema Kamdar in her article “Politics eroding strength of police”. The police commissioner’s order to impound the passport and driving licence of such characters is hardly going to have an effect on the rowdies, who more often than not have political patronage. A policeman is the most visible symbol of the authority of government. Politicians who put hurdles in the way of the police that prevents them from enforcing the law, should realise that they are undermining the authority of the government.
—Sanjiv Nigam, Mumbai
VAT about flat owners?
Apropos “No escaping VAT, HC tells builders”, the court has settled the matter with respect to the dispute the builders had with the government. But what about flat owners/buyers who are being threatened by the builders to pay 5% of the agreement value as VAT? Middle class house buyers are confused about the real position on this matter and the court verdict does not clear the air on this. Neither has the government thrown any light on the matter. Ideally, the tax department should have issued a detailed letter to each builder with a copy to the flat owners about the amount of VAT to be deposited. Otherwise the builders will charge whatever they want and flat owners will suffer.
—PK Undwar, Navi Mumbai
Apropos “National Investment Board gets a step closer to reality”, the setting up of such a nodal agency is indeed a commendable step as it will enable monitoring of the progress of major infrastructure projects and removal of bottlenecks. Several projects have been inordinately delayed, some pending clearance from multiple agencies, leading to cost escalation. This is a major disincentive for foreign participation in projects that are capital intensive. Fast-tracking these projects will go a long way in improving the overall economy and attracting foreign capital. On the other hand, since these large projects will be undertaken on a public-private partnership basis, the agency could well be misused to favour major private companies, especially foreign ones. In the current atmosphere, with the government labouring under a serious credibility crisis, the opposition parties are most likely to create a ruckus in parliament and scuttle the matter.
—V S Kaushik, Bangalore
Extend rail services
With reference to the letter “Improve railway services”, I would like to endorse the request to the new railway minister to ponder on the problems of commuters and the suggestions made. There is a necessity to consider linking Ghatkopar to Chembur with a halt at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, as this will enable the introduction of suburban services from Kalyan and beyond to Panvel (via LTT). Similarly, suburban services should be introduced from Panvel and Dahanu Road to Kurla (and beyond) via Diva. The Central Railway should also look into extending the Kurla-Mankhurd line to Vashi and beyond via Trombay, and extend to Uran, which will benefit the many people who travel daily to these areas. We look forward to the support of Pawan Kumar Bansal to improve services and make rail travel more comfortable for commuters.
—Cajetan D’Souza, Mumbai