| PICTURE SPEAK |
| "The Great Leap Backward", May 15 |
"Introducing quotas in higher education without adequate and compulsory primary education will only lower the standards of higher education."
Sanjay Kapoor, Delhi
Reinforcing the Divide
Our Constitution stresses on equality for all but reservations make some more equal than others ("Casting for Votes", May 15). Should social justice trample on natural justice? I am taught to rise above religion, caste and creed, but when it comes to quotas, I am expected to accept it as a sane measure.
Shweta M., Chennaid
Dismissing the caste issue as a "pernicious practice" betrays a shallow understanding of the problem. How many of the upper-caste medical students agitating on the issue of "meritocracy" being waylaid will oppose capitation fees in professional colleges in a similar manner? Is the private or corporate sector really run on meritocracy?
Vinay Tandon, Shimla
We need to provide quality primary education in rural and remote areas, where a large number of students drop out of schools at an early stage. Most government schools do not even have teachers and a basic infrastructure. Once these inadequacies are taken care of, there will be no need for quotas.
Man Mohan Bhatia, Delhi
You made a very valid point-that we have not only failed to abolish the age-old caste system, but are, on the contrary, reinforcing it. The right thing to do will be to ban any reference to one's caste in social interactions, in schools and at the time of job recruitment. Once we have rid ourselves of this bias, we will be able to decide objectively whether or not a particular individual needs financial assistance. We do need to help the poorer sections of society but not at the cost of re-establishing a regressive system.
Som Sharma, Gurgaon
our rabidly Brahminical stand on reservations hardly comes as a surprise. After all, with bylines like Aiyar, Mishra and Datta what else can one expect?
Shiv Kumar, Mumbai
The initial objective of the reservation policy was laudable as it aimed at an equal society. However, over the years it has degenerated into vote bank politics and does not benefit the deserving. Why should an individual from a well-off but backward family be a beneficiary, while someone who is economically weak but belongs to a high caste is deprived of the benefits of reservations?
Navneet Dhawan, Delhi
I want to ask Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh whether he has any OBC staff in his office if he is so concerned about the backward classes. Do his personal assistant and driver belong to the OBCs? Why doesn't he give up his post for a person from that category? After all, charity begins at home.
Jagdish Jhanwar, on e-mail
This enthusiasm about reserving 27 per cent seats in Central universities and institutes for OBCs does not stem from any newfound concern for the backward classes. For the HRD minister the opportunity of donning the mantle of a messiah was too tempting to resist.
H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana, Mysore
| RISING DISCORD |
There are spoilers on both sides of the developmental divide ("Reaping Rewards From Rehab", May 15). The challenge for the Government is to hand out a fair deal to the displaced without giving in to pressure tactics.
Ramgopal Ajmeri, Ghaziabad
While Gujarat dubs the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) an anti-development NGO, it has done little to utilise the water made available to it through the Narmada project.
K.P. Rai, Bangalore
I wonder why the NBA has failed to groom a single Adivasi leader at the top level in the past 20 years.
Indra M. Pramanic, on e-mail
Redistribution of India's 20 crore acres of wasteland among the poor as proposed by Suraj Bhan will not serve the purpose ("Arm Them With Land", May 15). Even if land sharks do not interfere, making wasteland productive will entail high-value inputs such as deep finance, cutting-edge technology, managerial skills and committed labour. Also, it is surprising that the writer has no qualms about recommending the re-raising of "the chamar regiment", while he considers the nomenclature of Rajput, Sikh and Jat regiments to be contrary to the secular character of the country
R.P. Maleyvar, Delhi
Acting in Bad Faith
Your report on the demolition of the dargah of Rashiduddin Chishti at Vadodara and subsequent rioting is biased ("Razing and Rioting", May 8). It does not give the complete facts. The notice for demolishing the dargah was sent on April 28 and in spite of strong opposition it was demolished on May 1, without giving any time to local Muslims to present their views or defend the structure in a court of law. The demolition itself was illegal. Under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991, it is illegal to demolish a shrine built before 1947.
Raghuvir Mukherji, on e-mail
Justifying the demolition of the dargah on the grounds that it was routine developmental work is atrocious. Claims that there is no historical evidence to prove how old the dargah was are an attempt to reduce its importance. Given the volatile situation in Gujarat, was it not necessary to tackle the issue with more sensitivity? That there was no objection to the razing of temples is no justification for destroying the places of worship of other faiths without their consent.
Tharcius S. Fernando, Chennai
The demolition of the dargah resulted in communal riots in Vadodara even though several temples were also razed, and the Supreme Court immediately placed a stay on the next demolition. This is nothing but discrimination on the basis of religion.
Chetan N. Rathod, Vadodara
The comments made by actor Feroz Khan in Lahore were unwise and provocative ("Culture of Conflicts", May 15). What difference does it make whether a Muslim kills a Muslim or a person of a different faith kills a Muslim?
Moiney Dhal, Delhi
Book the Butchers
Editors often butcher literary works to make them marketable and, in the process, destroy their very essence ("How Kaavya Lost It", May 15). Writers have little say in the matter. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life was originally regarded by editors as "too dark" and after several adaptations, it ended up as a replica of existing novels. The publishing system should abide by a code of ethics, for it is the writer who ultimately endures the punishment for plagiarism.
Suchaita Tenneti, on e-mail
It is sad that in the name of enforcing religious practice, people are forced to separate ("Three Cheers", May 8). When religions preach love and human bonding why are religious leaders keen on separating couples by misinterpreting the Holy Book? When sober assertions are discounted and utterances in an inebriated state taken seriously, it only proves the unworthiness of religious leaders.
Sreenu Romi, Kollam
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy of Spice. But as I turned the pages, I was shocked-can things be so expensive? Spice appears to be a sybaritic tour de force for those who, as Tiffany would put it, never ask the price.
Bhaskar Dutta, Delhi
In "Poll Mall" (May 8), the West Bengal chief minister's assets were stated to be Rs 16 lakh and he was said to possess Rs 3,550 in cash and Rs 12,046 in a bank account. These are the assets owned by his wife. In "Poll Mall" (May 1), Abdul Gaffar Kazi was named as a CPI(M) candidate. He was, in fact, a Congress candidate. We regret the errors.