System reduces CAG to a lap dog
SIR, ~ This is with reference to your editorial, ‘CAG not a lap dog’. Those who are really concerned about the honour and integrity of our country cannot possibly ignore the ominous signals. The Government has appointed Mr Sashi Kant Sharma, former Defence Secretary, as the Comptroller and Auditor-General. In the process, it has violated all the norms and guidelines stipulated in the Constitution for appointment to such powerful and sensitive posts.
  The person thus appointed must be honest, upright and unblemished. But here the person concerned is already under the scanner for his role in the acquisition of defence equipment. Mr Sharma has been blamed for the loss of nearly Rs 8000 crore to the national exchequer, consequent to the price escalation of Admiral Gorshkov, which is yet to be delivered. The editorial can be contextualised with the former Army chief, Gen VK Singh&’s date of birth controversy and the baseless allegation that he was trying to engineer a coup. Mr Sharma&’s appointment as CAG is bound to cause a flutter across the political spectrum. It recalls the unconstitutional appointment of PJ Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner. It was common knowledge that he was facing a court case at the time of the appointment. The objection raised by the BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj, was ignored by the Congress. Eventually, however, the government had to yield to public pressure and withdraw his name.
yours, etc., minati roy choudhury, kolkata, 27 may.
Tattered queen of the hills
SIR, ~ I have recently returned from a month&’s holiday in Darjeeling, an area I have visited many times since ~ as a small boy ~ 1933, before the effects of the Bihar earthquake the following year; as a young man, just before and after Independence, in 1947 and 1948; on holiday in 1952;  as a family man with small kids in 1965; on business in 1972 and 1983; on a group holiday in 2004 and recuperation now, from knee surgery. The sad thing is that, apart from over-population, there has been continuous ecological devastation, largely man-made. In the 1950s, heavy monsoon rain brought down several houses on the hillside above the then Capital Cinema building with its clock tower. Unmindful of that disaster, there has been construction, on precarious hillsides, of houses, temples and other buildings, above and below the so-called Hill Cart Road. Surely, it would have been more sensible to construct mini-hydel plants, with upstream reservoirs, to tackle the power and water shortage (strange, isn’t it, in the monsoon). Traffic between Darjeeling and Ghoom moves at a snail&’s pace, be it motor car, bus, truck or “toy” train, a little faster between Ghoom and Kurseong and one is advised to thereafter use the Pankhabari or Rohini roads. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (D.H.R.) “toy” train, steam-driven, used to take 6 hours to travel the 51 miles from Siliguri, in the plains, to Darjeeling, almost 7,000 feet up in the hills. Now diesel-driven, it probably takes as long, because landslides have made transhipment necessary at some points. Sadly, it is nobody&’s baby, because it is a loss-making operation. The locals are only involved as engine drivers etc. Sundry overseas “friends” make nostalgic noises but nothing constructive is done. Contrast this with other hill railways in the country ~Kalka/Simla, Mettupalyam/Ooty ~ to say nothing of overseas ones like Interlaken/Jungfraujoch in Switzerland. Finance is obviously a problem, but the MP is Mr Jaswant Singh and, in the State, there is our redoubtable Didi! What have they done for their constituents? Adding to the area&’s woes is the Gorkhaland agitation, with much of which I am in sympathy. Maybe, I am just a voice crying in the wilderness.
yours, etc., saroj kumar mehera, kolkata, 23 june.
Filing an FIR
SIR, ~ It is difficult to file an FIR if the police doesn’t cooperate. They usually don’t and often on the specious plea of jurisdiction. In the age of e-mail and computer technology, one should be able to lodge an FIR at any police station. An acknowledgement and receipt of the FIR can automatically be generated and advanced to the complainant via e-mail. The e-mail of every police station in a state should extensively be advertised. Way back in 2006 it was reported in the press that for filing an FIR, the person need not visit the police station. It was claimed that the government would bring a number of services online…to know the status of applications for ration cards, house sites, inclusion of names in voters’ list, birth and death certificate, copies of land records etc. The message was that e-governance could effect a dramatic change in people&’s lives. Far from it.
yours, etc., mahesh kumar, new delhi, 18 june.
Cricket and the constable
SIR, ~  Cricket  has become an international industry involving crores of rupees. A large number of people are making a fortune through illegal transactions outside the field. It is not known, however, if the thousands of policemen who are deployed to maintain the security of players and spectators receive financial or any other benefits. The players and those associated both directly or indirectly are hugely benefited whenever cricket matches are played. The hapless constable seems to have lost out in the bargain.
yours, etc., d k choudhury, howrah, 31 may.
Archaeological find
SIR, ~ Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Hindu settlement in the mountainous region of Cambodia. Its name is Mahendra Parvat. Incidentally, according to the Purana, the abode of Lord Parshuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was known as Mahendra Giri. The word, Giri in Sanskrit, means mountain, i.e. Parvat.
yours, etc., vineet phadtare, mumbai, 17 june.