Amartya Sen speaks his mind

This refers to A.J. Philip's "Sen and Sensibility" (Saturday Extra, Jan 8). I endorse Dr Amartya Sen's thesis that political conviction is essential to earmark a greater share of the gross domestic product for health and education.

In the absence of firm political will, the problems of poverty and unemployment can never be solved. We had the "argumentative tradition" in the past in the form of shastrath (a face-to-face debate between two scholars).

Unfortunately, in newspaper offices, ideological intolerance is at its peak. The editor and sub-editors clap at whatever they write and publish. To be heard, one has to be not only scholarly but a man of some rank — a Governor, Prime Minister or President of the country. It is unfortunate that the editors have become prisoners of corporate heads.

It is often argued that economic reforms must be welcomed and any type of opposition to them is a sign of backwardness. The pertinent question is: What happened in Brazil, Mexico and Russia? Economic reforms broke the back of the common people there. The communists, who are critical of reforms, are being slandered much to the satisfaction of business magnates.

As C. E. M Joad said "We want to have freedom of thought for ourselves but deny the same to others". We are lucky to have a great scholar and economist like Amartya Sen who speaks his mind.

R.B. YADAV DEHATI, Fatehabad



Education for all

This has reference to Seema Sengupta’s article “Education for all not on the right track” (Perspective, Jan 2). The recently released UNESCO report on “Education for All” highlighting India’s dismal performance in achieving the aforementioned objective by 2015 AD is a timely warning to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The government should gear up the task of developing the required infrastructure in the educationally backward states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. These states are still lagging behind Kerala and Tamil Nadu with high literacy rates. According to 1991 census, over 48 per cent of the total number of illiterates hail from the four northern states as mentioned.

Admittedly, literacy campaign has to be carefully planned and meticulously executed relying on inter-personal contact and community involvement. The intense motivation among the voluntary instructors and learners, which is the key to success in any mass literacy campaign, is missing in several regions. This should be revived and strengthened.

Dr. Amartya Sen, the India-born Nobel laureate on his many visits to India, has always stressed among other important factors the dire need of imparting primary education to all in the age-group of six to 14 if India is to become a fast developing nation. The government, therefore, should heed his timely and most valuable suggestion.

R.C. SHARMA, Kurukshetra

Thanksgiving day

One appreciates the sentiments of Kiran Bedi in "Thanksgiving as a celebration", (Sunday Oped, Dec 19), but it is doubtful whether her suggestion of celebrating a 'Thanksgiving Day' will evoke the appreciation of our freedom fighters among the masses.

On the contrary, such an exercise would bring into sharp contrast the present set of political leadership, which is neither willing to change itself nor accept that they are inferior to the old leadership that led the nation to freedom without violence.

Who would be inclined to thank and sing for those who sacrificed their present for the future of the nation, particularly when one is in the agonising grip of politicians who would not mind sacrificing the people, or the nation, for personal benefits.


Neglected Saigal

No human being ever possessed the sensitive and heart-touching voice of K.L. Saigal. He deserves a fitting memorial. His contribution to the film industry is unparalleled. One fails to understand why the Indian Government and film industry has discriminated against Saigal.

Sometime back, I approached the Chandigarh Doordarshan with the suggestion that they should screen Saigal's movies during his birth centenary year. The Director said he did not have any authority to broadcast either Saigal's songs or movies.

While visiting his ancestral house at Jalandhar in 1953, I was taken to the room on the first floor where Saigal breathed his last. A charpai was still lying there and the room has remained locked ever since his death.

P.P.S. BHULLAR, Mohali

Filmi chakkar

Commenting upon my article, "Melodies from the past," (Spectrum, Nov 14), Lalit Jain says that songs like Yeh hawa aaj kyon gaa rahee hai and Yeh hum aa gaye hain kahan have been deleted from Veer-Zaara. This observation is factually incorrect. The duet by Lata and Udit Narain, Yeh hawa aaj kyon gaa rahee hai is very much there in the film. The duets, Yeh hum aa gaye hain kahaan sung by Lata and Sonu Nigam, Tum paas aa rahe ho sung by Lata and Jagjit Singh and the solo by Lata, Jane kyon... were actually recorded for the film but were never used. One can enjoy these numbers in the CD released by Yash Raj Chopra Music Co.

M.L. DHAWAN, Chandigarh

Hemingway at his best

This refers to “Hemingway uncovered” (Spectrum, Oct 10), wherein it has been mentioned that a newly discovered comic story, written by Ernest Hemingway in 1924 at the age of 25, will be auctioned at Christie’s in New York shortly, 43 years after the death of the short story writer in 1961.

As a craftsman, Hemingway erased the dividing line between journalism and literature. His style and manner, coupled with a terse representation of emotion, created an inimitable combination. In The Old Man and the Sea (1952), fishing is a grinding necessity rather than a sport. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) places his characteristic hero in the setting of the Spanish Civil War, mixing up a sense of duty with romantic love. A Farewell to Arms (1929), with its deserter hero, is a study in disillusionment.

Hemingway’s indirect narration is at its best in his short stories, in which he evokes a sense of the tragic.

Deepak Tandon, Panchkula

Arbitrary rulings

Apropos of Usha Bede’s “North or south, arbitrary judgements against women are similar” (Sunday Oped, Dec 26), khaps in north and poor panchayats in south have shut their eyes to grim social realities. Even after nearly six decades of Independence, exposure to democratic institutions, education and pretensions to liberal attitudes, we remain slaves of decadent beliefs. When will we slough them off?

Why can’t women be allowed to lead their lives as per their conviction rather than be mercilessly subjected to inhuman servility by power-possessed men? Undeniably, they continue to be victims of male supremacy. Many still liken women to animals and drums to be beaten at whim. Reportedly, due to poverty, a villager sold off his wife in preference to his cow as it yielded milk that could be sold is an eye-opener.



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