SIR, ~ This is with reference to Sam Rajappa&’s article, “Mandate for autonomy” (26 September). It is an elaborate piece but the conclusion drawn ~ India should boycott CHOGM unless Rajapaksa fulfils his commitment ~ is ill-conceived. India is surrounded on all sides by hostile neighbours ~ Pakistan to the west and China to the north-east, Nepal also in the north-east, and Bangladesh (with which India shares a blow hot, blow cold relationship depending on the party in power there) in the east. India has traditionally been a good friend of Lanka but adventurism on the part of the Indian Government has nudged it closer to China. The latter&’s  financial and strategic relationship in developing a port in Lanka are but a few examples of this growing closeness. China wants to encircle India, and Lanka can play a pivotal role in denying China this objective. India must have a wrinkle-free, warm, and close relationship with Lanka if only to thwart China&’s intentions. India&’s move in supporting the resolution against Lanka on human rights abuses was intended to please the USA at the cost of alienating Lanka. It had ruffled feathers there and caused a schism in our relationship. India ought not to annoy Lanka as it is an important ally.
yours, etc., rajendra kumar agrawal, kolkata, 27 september.
Malala&’s book
SIR, ~ Malala Yousufzai&’s autobiography, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, is to be published in London. Extracts appeared in The Sunday Times last week. The book will almost certainly attract rave reviews and record soaring sales. India has two special reasons to celebrate and easily identify with Malala&’s singular feat. The release of the book will happily coincide with the observance of Navratri with the brave young school girl from the remote tribal area of SWAT in northern Pakistan herself becoming the very embodiment of Durga Shakti which is so intimately associated with the period of piety and fasting.
yours, etc., anjan mukherjee, new delhi, 10 october.
Ram Sethu
SIR, ~ Apropos Sam Rajappa&’s article on Ram Sethu, succumbing to the veiled warning advanced by the DMK chief, the Centre wishes to go ahead with the implementation of the Sethusamudram project. The DMK chief hinted that he would leave the Congress “hand” if the ruling party at the Centre abandoned ‘its’ dream project. Apart from the implications of ‘coalition dharma’, the project has environmental and security implications. It involves the sentiments of millions of Hindus who hold the ocean channel in reverence.
China in the recent past has embarked on building ports around India, notably  the Gwadar port in Pakistan. It has built the Hambantota port and has bid for another in Sri Lanka. However, the point of interest to India is the logic of constructing the Sethusamudram project. Ram Sethu is a natural barrier protecting India from intruders. The opening and dredging of this vulnerable area, as demanded by the DMK, will open the sea route right around peninsular India. It does not in anyway benefit the nation except politicians and, of course, the people who undertake these projects.
The unequivocal stand of  Chief Minister Jayalalitha is to be commended and she is right. Completion of this project will be detrimental to our security, religious, national and environmental interests. Such projects call for reflection. China is actively pursuing its ‘string of pearls’ policy and this will be a serious security threat to the sea lanes of India.
yours, etc., h n ramakrishna, bangalore, 8 october.
Road nonsense
SIR, ~ All too often political parties resort to road blockades. It is the common people, in particular patients, who are inconvenienced the most. Most of these blockades are misguided and ill-timed. There is no point in disturbing the normal course of life all over the city.
  Blockades and demonstrations should be organised in designated places, such as Rani Rashmoni Avenue. The present dispensation, as disruptive as the previous, should end this nonsense on the road.
yours, etc., dipan roy, kolkata, 9 october.