Austerity  measures ~ too  little, too late
SIR, The Centre has decided to introduce certain austerity measures to curb government expenditure. This is aimed at addressing the fiscal deficit and its consequences. The measures count for too little, too late.
Tagore had once remarked that it is useless to dig a well when there is a fire. A large swathe of the population is deprived of proper nourishment, hygienic homes and sanitation,  potable water, quality healthcare, let alone education. The list is long.
The  much-hyped  food security  bill  confirms  that two-thirds of our population do  not  have  security  in terms  of  life&’s  essentials.  Can  a  parlous  government  allow its  bureaucrats  and  ministers  to  hold  conferences  in  five-star  hotels  and  fly  in  the executive class? The States are no less profligate. The poor travel in unreserved train compartments that are far worse than the ‘cattle classes’ ~ a reference made by Shashi Tharoor to the economy class of air travel.
The  Centre  is  silent  on middle-level officers travelling in air-conditioned cars with inaccurate entries in the logbook. Unless the government puts a brake on the import of oil, the country&’s economy will continue to languish.
Yours, etc., Prasanta Kumar Pramanik,
Kolkata, 19 September
IN A PUBLIC PLACE
SIR, This is with reference to the report, “Karnataka Bill to protect public places”. Spitting and public urination are two social curses. It reflects a psychological disorder, one that can transmit contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza and other air-borne ailments. The law against spitting and committing public nuisance must be made more stringent.
Yours, etc., Biswanath Bhattacharjee,
Bhadreshwar, 19 September.
A HINDU RASHTRA
SIR, The topic of this year&’s panel discussion ~ Who&’s Afraid of a Hindu Rashtra? ~ was remarkably appropriate. By far the best presentation was advanced by Mr NK Singh, former IAS officer and now a JD(U)  MP  in  the  Rajya  Sabha.  I  wonder  why  Ms Seema Mustafa was so scary about a Hindu Rashtra?  She even  mixed  up  the  issue  of religion, deviating from the theme of the topic of the panel discussion, and equated Hindutva with Taliban as if women are more protected and secure under a Taliban regime. She emphatically highlighted the mayhem in Muzaffarnagar but did not mention the carnage in Kistawar in Jammu. Nepal was a Hindu state for  decades and women were well protected.
Mr Paritosh Joshi, media personality, argued in favour of the motion and explained that religious festivals in India reflected the cultural ethos of pluralism. The personal attack on Modi by Mr Saugato Ray, Trinamul MP, was vociferously opposed by a section of the audience who complained that the panelists were deviating from the topic of the discussion. He was laughed out of court when he rated Kolkata police as excellent.
Mr Ajoy Bose, journalist, was at times confused but on the whole confident in his perception. As a reader of The Statesman since 1945, I look forward to the next panel discussion in 2014.
Yours, etc., Samares Bandyopadhyay,
Kolkata, 17 September.
LONG LIVE THE KING
SIR, This is in response to M. Heywerdinguer&’s letter, "The flip side" (30 August). I agree with the correspondent regarding the new format. I too started reading The Statesman at the age of ten. I still recall the words of my teacher ~ "If you want to acquire mastery over the English language as it is written, you must read The Statesman." He even encouraged us with the promise of a reward if we could spot a single mistake or error in the construction of sentences ~ grammatical, spelling, syntax etc. We are now starved of the brilliant articles by  James Cowley, Neville Cardus, Amales Tripathi, Amlan Dutta, Manohar Malgaonkar and many others. My favourite newspaper has changed its look  a number of times. Sadly but truly, we look before and after, and pine for what is not.  “The king is dead ~ Long live the king!”
Yours, etc., Subir Kumar Ghosh,
Howrah, 30 August.