Strike will serve no purpose
The strike called by trade unions on Wednesday and Thursday will not be of any good to the country and will in fact be counter-productive. The Centre and the states have failed in their duty to make essential commodities available at affordable prices. Even water has to be purchased! Good education is hardly accessible to the poor and the middle class are stretched to educate their children. But our politicians are living a comfortable life. They do not pay for the fuel they use for their vehicles. They have ample personal security. Their housing is paid for and they do not have any work timings. It’s a luxurious life of plenty. It’s unlikely that this situation is going to change very much through a two-day agitation. But if this trend continues we could be heading for anarchy.
—MVN Raj, Bangalore
Justice Markandey Katju is not only known for being outspoken in court, but he has a vast knowledge on a wide variety of issues. However, he has probably been unnecessarily harsh on occasions. Not so long ago, he was quoted as saying that 90 per cent of Indians are fools. Of course, he subsequently clarified that it was not his intention to hurt any one but to awaken people to the ills that they were tolerating silently. This time, his notes on Gujarat and Bihar have been described as political statements that are not befitting of a person holding the office of Press Council chairman. Katju once told a high court counsel: “Don’t force me to open my mouth”. How right he was! As a Kashmiri Pandit, it would be better if the retired judge spends more time for the cause of displaced Kashmiris instead of indulging in controversial matters.
Matter of business
Apropos of “West at its duplicitous worst in wooing Modi”, the writer’s outburst against the European countries showing a willingness to do business with Narendra Modi exhibits naivety, as countries are not governed by emotive idealism but by self-interest in their diplomatic dealings. For all its championing of human rights, the US has always supported despotic regimes and military dictatorship when its geo-political and business interests were involved. Whatever abuses are being heaped on Narendra Modi now would have been equally applicable to Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 when thousands of Sikhs were massacred over four days in several cities. But, none of those countries imposed any restrictions on Rajiv. They did it to Modi because he is just the chief minister of a state. But with the prospects of his dominating the national scene, they have turned pragmatic.
Talk to Prasanna
It is heartening to know that our cricketers are sweating it out at the academy in Bangalore in preparation for the series against Australia. I was particularly encouraged to read about the efforts by Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh. It would have been useful for Harbhajan to seek the guidance of one of the country’s all-time great off spinners, Erapalli Prasanna, who tormented Bill Lawry’s team in 1969. It is not too late even now. Manoj Tiwari scored a timely century to bag a place in the side. But he will do well to remember what happened to some other prolific scores in domestic cricket. For, as long as the BCCI has its blue-eyed boys, players like Jaffer, Badrinath and Tiwari will not get too far. Therefore, his comments were uncalled for. It is best that we let our performance do the talking.
—Janaki Mahadevan, by email
We all pay commissions
Nowadays it has become the trend to blame the UPA government for everything. Whether it is rape, corruption or riots, the issue is used to attack the UPA. The latest allegations are about commissions in the Rs3,546 crore purchase of 12 Agusta Westland helicopters for VIPs. But what is the fault of the UPA in this? If one buys even a single room house, you have to pay the broker a commission. Purchase a TV or a refrigerator and the dealer gets a commission. The question is how does one put a stop to this practice. When entering into defence contracts all vendors are required to sign the “integrity clause” stating that no middlemen or agents are involved in securing the deal. If this clause is violated, the contract will be terminated at any later stage and the money too would have to be refunded by the vendor. On the basis of this clause, the UPA government and its defence minister is seeking to terminate the deal and must be appreciated for this. Those who know AK Antony will not be surprised by this move.
—K Nandakumar, by email
I am using the word ‘barbarians’ in an entirely different connotation. In a recent survey on the ‘harassment of women’, conducted among men in Delhi, the interviewer should have asked those who blame women for inviting attacks by the way they dress, as to what provokes men to rape four- and five-year-olds. Do these little children behave provocatively? There are some cases where men have been found to have raped their sisters and daughters. Were they provoked by the way their sisters and daughters dressed? It is natural for a person to want to look attractive. It is also natural for a person to get attracted towards the opposite sex. But it is beastly and criminal to misbehave with, or outrage the modesty of someone under any pretext. Let us confess, that everyone with a normal set of chromosomes and normal hormonal balance may find a person of the opposite sex attractive. But only abnormal, diseased minds indulge in repulsive forms of bestial barbaric behaviour for which there cannot be any excuse whatsoever.
—Dr Virag Gokhale, Mumbai
Apropos of “Maya makes her intentions clear”, for the umpteenth time, the Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati has blurted out that her real obsession is to deliver the Independence Day speech as the Prime Minister of India from the ramparts of the Red Fort. It is clear that all her slogans, whether ‘quotas in promotions for SCs/STs in government jobs’ or ‘empowerment of Dalits and women’, are simply aimed at getting votes to fulfil her prime ministerial aspirations. She has been the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh four times in 17 years, ruling the state for close to 85 months. Yet, the quality of life of Dalits and women in the state leaves much to be desired.
—Chandramohan, by email