I was saddened to learn about India's vote against Sri Lanka on the U.N. resolution. The DMK's narrow-minded politics and the UPA government's lack of imagination have ensured that we are left without any friends in our neighbourhood. All our neighbours are now closer to China, thanks to our lack of strategic vision in engaging them.
If there were rights violations in Sri Lanka during the last phase of its war with the LTTE, it is for that country's law-enforcement agency and the judiciary to act upon — like our judiciary has done on matters related to alleged rights violations in Kashmir, Gujarat and naxal-infested States.
Foreign policy has become yet another casualty of coalition politics. Another coalition partner of the UPA government has compromised national interest at the altar of selfish politics. We have ensured that our country is surrounded by nations with strong ties with China.
The issue of Sri Lanka's Tamils has not been handled properly by successive governments in Colombo. It has, in fact, remained a silent spectator to the real concerns of Tamil civilians. It is a strong political solution, rather than a military strategy, that is the need of the hour. India should continue to voice its concerns till the ethnic issue is amicably settled.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai,
Food, bad & ugly
This refers to the article “The Food, the Bad and the Ugly” (March 22). The Food Ministry's callous attitude and misleading numbers must be accounted for. Also, the policies of targeted PDS and identification of the poor require a serious rethink.
After reading the article, I realised that we are heading for an import-fuelled demand for food, so that more land and complementary resources are available for the service sector to grow. Only competitive and large-scale producers will remain in business and the rest can actually, rest. A very global outlook will spell doom for India's poor. I hope we never reach there.
The article is an eye-opener for policymakers, who release figures based on illusions of growth and development. Even with declining per capita availability of food grains, India has no plans to provide the most basic need to all. Where, then, is the question of ensuring nutritional security that includes pulses, milk products and meat? The sluggish growth in agriculture is obviously hurting the producers and consumers of the marginalised sections. Small and marginal farmers (constituting 75 per cent of farm households) are facing the worst ever crisis. The poor, and even the lower middle class, are facing a food crisis thanks to high digit inflation. There is a crying need for a separate budget for agriculture and higher investment in the sector.
M. Yadagira Charyulu,
It cannot be denied that there has been an increase in non-cereal production and consumption over the years, especially among those who have reaped maximum benefits from the economic reforms. It is a shame that we gloat about the success of the Green Revolution as a nation, and still have levels of malnutrition comparable to Sub- Saharan Africa.
Thanks for another article that provides food for thought. India is presently under a government that does not function. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar should quit politics and stay focussed on cricket. He can play with big money and big numbers, but not at the peril of some of the most indefensible people on earth.
The article reveals the deplorable state of affairs on the food front. An ever growing population and demand for food are the biggest challenge in the 12th Plan period. One cannot lose sight of the negative impact of climate change like drought, decline in the population of farmers, and the shrinkage of cultivable land on the overall food production, procurement and distribution. The situation is too grave to be ignored.
The report on nursery school admissions of Muslim children in Delhi schools (March 19) highlights a very real issue that affects the every day life of Muslims. In 2009-10, as part of the National CRY Fellowship Programme, I interviewed several families in Zakir Nagar, New Delhi, on questions regarding educational choices. Parents regarded modern education as the single most important factor which safeguarded their child's future and clearly articulated a preference for sending children to reputed public schools. However, their narratives echoed an increasing sense of helplessness and exasperation at the manner in which it was difficult for their child to gain admission. Even though most parents shied away from using the term “discrimination”— many talked about the fact that even though they did not have substantial proof it seemed like the nearby schools had some sort of a “prefixed quota of just this much and no more Muslims” — they cited how the neighbourhood points seemed to have marginal weightage in the case of nearby schools. Others talked about having to use ‘jugaad' and ‘approach' to get their child admitted saying that this was not an option available to the ordinary Muslim. This leads to a rather vicious situation wherein on one side the policy discourse refers to educational backwardness as one of the main causes for real and/or perceived alienation of Muslims and acknowledges inclusive education as a panacea; however, the real life situations demonstrate the every day problems that ordinary Muslims face in accessing these very opportunities leading to further isolation, exclusion and excessive reliance on ‘Muslim managed services.'
It is a fitting tribute that veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee has been chosen for the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke award. His association with the great Satyajit Ray is legendary. In fact, he was preferred by Ray for his ability to portray the characters of his choice effortlessly. It was also said that Ray wrote screenplays keeping Soumitra in mind! Ghare Baire was an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's classic of the same name. Who can forget his portrayal of a radical revolutionary caught in a love triangle in that movie? In Shakha Proshakha , Chatterjee wove a stellar performance in the role of a mentally handicapped son of an ageing patriarch, and the only source of his father's solace as his siblings squabble. Besides Ray, he dished out superb cinema with Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha.
The decision to honour Mr. Chatterjee with the Dadasaheb Phalke has brought absolute delight for connoisseurs of Indian films. The films of Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha, Goutam Ghose, Rituparno Ghose, Aparna Sen bear testimony to the genius of Mr. Chatterjee. And his historic bond with Satyajit Ray ensured as many as 14 classics which are nothing but unfathomable delight.
However, Chatterjee excelled not only in so-called parallel movies; he was also popular and successful as a romantic commercial star of Bengali cinema.