OPINION

Letters to the editor

Dangerous indeed

The editorial “Mamata's dangerous game” (Aug. 11) was timely. It rightly exposed Trinamool Congress leader and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's dangerous game of manipulating the Maoist insurgency to suit her opportunistic ends.

There is no gainsaying that Maoism should not be reduced to a law and order issue. But in the name of calling the rebels for talks, the mercurial Minister should not be seen as encouraging the forces of mindless extremism. She would do well to resist the temptation of cutting bloody corners for the sake of making things hotter for the ruling Left Front in West Bengal. For, one day or the other, her chickens will come home to roost.

S. Balu,

Madurai

Ms Banerjee's unrestrained behaviour with scant regard for the collective responsibility of the Cabinet system exposes not only the inherent contradictions in UPA II but also the helplessness of the Prime Minister in reining in his defiant Cabinet colleagues. While it is her democratic right to try to defeat the CPI(M) in West Bengal, enlisting the support of Maoists whose avowed goal is achieving power through violence cannot be accepted. Her self-centred political game may give her short-term gains but, in the process, it will destroy democracy.

G. Kulandaivelu,

Panruti

UPA-II is wrestling with disparate views on Maoists from within. Ms Banerjee has cleverly grabbed an opportunity, despite her stance being at cross purposes with her own Home Minister's views on dealing with Maoist insurgency. She has embarked on a risky passage to the Writers Building — through uncharted Maoist jungles. She has begun her ride to Kolkata on a tiger's back.

R. Narayanan,

Ghaziabad

The Lalgarh rally has dented the image of the UPA government. For the sake of winning the elections, Ms Banerjee should not compromise national security. She should support the government in tackling Maoists who have unleashed terror.

Kripa Anna Joseph,

Kochi

Ms Banerjee's friendship with Maoists can only be a misadventure, an ill-fated ingenuity. She closes her eyes to the democratic and nationalistic values and this is clear from her expression of regret for the killing of the Maoist leader, Cherukuri Rajkumar, also known as Azad.

Worse, she neither consulted the Home Ministry nor invited the Congress, her ally, to the rally. The editorial is right in saying “There will be huge price to pay if the central government continues to look the other way…”

Shafee Ahmed Ko,

Chennai

It is well known that Ms Banerjee's one-point agenda is to occupy the Chief Minister's chair in West Bengal. While no one has any quarrel with that, her strategy to piggyback on the Maoists and their influence is fraught with danger. If she takes their covert support to come to power, she would become indebted to them.

The coalition compulsions which are forcing the Congress to turn a blind eye to Ms Banerjee's actions will perhaps force it to keep quiet in future also, dealing a body blow to the operations against Maoists.

M.D. Ravikanth,

Chennai

The UPA government seems to be a prisoner of indecision in dealing with errant Ministers. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared that Maoists are the greatest internal security threat, it is incumbent on him to follow up his statement in right earnest with counterinsurgency operations.

His Cabinet should be cleared of elements like Ms Banerjee who sympathise with Maoists for their selfish motives.

B. Raghavendra Rao,

Tanuku

One wonders how Ms Banerjee who openly supports the Maoists is still allowed to continue in the Central Cabinet. If the government fails to act against her, people will soon conclude that the operations against the Maoists lack sincerity. The survival of a government should not take precedence over national security.

A.G. Rajmohan,

Anantapur

Ms Banerjee's pursuit for power has taken a dangerous turn. Her act of hobnobbing with Maoists is akin to playing with fire. It is time the UPA government asserted its authority and disapproved of her acts. Civil society will be badly affected if lawlessness is nurtured like this. Who will make it to the Writers Building next year is not known now, but abetting the Maoists will certainly spell doom.

Jai Venkatesh Parthasarathi,

Chennai



French ban on veil

This refers to Syeda S. Hameed's article “Panipat to Paris: Muslim women and the veil” (Op-Ed, Aug. 10). Families that can forcibly make a woman wear the veil can very well make her stay at home, deterring her from pursuing education or work. The French ban on full-face veils can thus become counterproductive for the poor Muslim woman. The purpose of liberating the French Muslim woman will remain unfulfilled. To provide dignity and freedom to women, a more thoughtful approach, and not a ban, is needed.

Komal Jha,

Bangalore

In civil society, the identity of a person should be visible to everyone and the veil is definitely a hindrance to the free flow of communication. Why should Muslim women be denied equality in social interaction?

V. Ramasubramanian,

Chennai



On breastfeeding

The articles on breastfeeding (Open Page, Aug. 8) were instructive and informative. Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

My grandson, who was below normal weight at the time of birth, has now crossed the normal weight of a baby his age and continues to show improvement, thanks to regular breastfeeding — a gift of nature.

B. Sripadarajan,

Coimbatore

Every mother wants to breastfeed her baby. But anxiety, stress, the fear of losing her job and the lack of family support result in the inadequate secretion of breast milk, forcing her to resort to supplements — cow's milk or formula feeds.

To promote exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months, it is important to provide a stress-free environment to the mother, apart from a healthy diet. This requires sustained effort by all concerned. Most important — all organisations, private and government, should sanction six months maternity leave if the crusade for exclusive breastfeeding is to succeed.

Dr. Uma Raja,

Tiruchi

Breastfeeding should no doubt be encouraged. But it requires the motivation of not only the mother but also family support. I still regret that I could not breastfeed my child due to lack of knowledge and family support. For the first three days, I was in the ICU. I insisted on breastfeeding after I was discharged from the ICU but I faced a lot of problems.

Had the hospital staff been more patient, the process would have been gradual and smooth. A new mother should be given time to understand the process. Information on breastfeeding should be shared from the initial stages of pregnancy so that it does not become a cause of post-partum depression.

Mahima Gaur,

Tuticorin

Mothers and families need support to initiate and sustain appropriate infant feeding practices. Healthcare professionals can play a critical role in providing that support, by influencing the decisions about feeding practices among mothers and families. They should have the basic knowledge and skills to give appropriate advice, counsel and help to solve feeding difficulties, and know when and where to refer a mother who experiences more complex feeding problems.

Ch. Durga Prasad,

Srikakulam

The young mother should be conscious of her diet, temperament and physical cleanliness while breastfeeding. Smoking, including passive smoking, alcohol and an unhealthy diet are a strict no-no.

N. Dharmeshwaran,

Guduvancherry

It is indeed the right of child to be breastfed, as the milk is packed with life-saving nutrients. Research suggests that it has an important role in the composition of the gut bacteria which protects the baby against life-threatening intestinal disorders. According to Dr. David Miller of the University of California, breast milk is an astonishing product of evolution which helps both mother and child.

H.N. Ramakrishna,

Michigan

The right of the newborn to mother's milk cannot be compromised if the mother's health is good. But the health security of women at the reproductive stage needs to be improved substantially to enable them to adopt to the age-old custom of breastfeeding. Young mothers should be educated on the nutritional value of breastfeeding.

V. Rajagopal,

Tirupati

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