HRD  the  most  inactive  ministry
SIR, The HRD ministry is perhaps the only ministry of the Union government that is totally inactive. Nothing has changed in the field of education over the past four years. Other ministries are doing reasonably well; in varying degrees they are contributing to the overall growth of the country and its economy.
Kapil Sibal, who held the portfolio for more than three years, did little that was constructive. The six bills that his ministry had drafted and wanted to present in Parliament were stalled as some of the ruling party MPs did not cooperate.  For more than four years, those Bills are gathering dust as drafts.
His successor, Pallam Raju, is neither haughty or arrogant but simply ineffective. Although elevated to Cabinet rank, he seems to be reaching his level of incompetence. It is nearly a year since he took charge. Though he had promised to streamline the ministry and present all the six Bills in the monsoon session of Parliament nothing happened.    There is a junior minister who is a writer and a proven administrator at the UN. But he is kept away from important segments of the ministry. The Prime Minister has his own problems and has no time to assess the performance of his ministers. He should at least have chosen capable and performing politicians to head key ministries like Human Resources, which he did not do for reasons best known to him.
The students are the worst sufferers of this incompetent political setup. Will Sonia Gandhi look into this deplorable state of affairs in one of the key ministries of the UPA? She too has a responsibility.
Yours, etc., PC Pillai, Ernakulam, 19 September.
SIR, In her article, “How Samajwadi lost the plot” (20 September), Seema Mustafa is wary of the possibility of the BJP performing well in western UP in the next Lok Sabha election. She is not very critical about the initial failure of the UP government to take firm action against the rioters or their instigators. However, she has criticised the administration  for its failure to arrest certain BJP leaders for their inflammatory speeches. Such speeches were also made by Muslim leaders, such as Azam Khan and Quadir Rana. Ms Mustafa is not critical of the Centre for its failure to intervene effectively. On the contrary, there is a move to discharge Mulayam Singh Yadav in the  DA case. The Congress has benefited from SP&’s support to the UPA from outside and is likely to reward him though his son failed miserably to tackle the riots. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has of course arrested  the BJP MLA, Suresh Rana.
Yours, etc., NK Das Gupta, Kolkata, 21 September.
SIR, This is with reference to your unparalleled editorial, “Dismantling the arsenal” (18 September). The USA and Russia, two permanent members of the Security Council, have exerted pressure on both the warring groups in Syria. The world now expects a solution to emerge. The blame-game will persist in the absence of a unanimous decision. As a world body, the UN is in a position to bridge the gap between the USA and Russia and convince two great powers that the crisis calls for unity and not differences. If the UN is successful,  a solution will fructify in Syria before long. It  devolves on the great powers to forestall the disintegration of the country.
Yours, etc; Aranya Sanyal, Siliguri, 20 September.
SIR, This is in response to G M Ramakrishna&’s letter, “The relevance of Swami Vivekananda” (20 September). He has quoted the Harvard Professor JH Wright as saying, “To ask you Swami, for your credentials is like asking the Sun to state its right to shine.”. Regretfully, this is a myth created by Vivekananda himself. He did believe in propaganda ~ dhum machana, to use his own expression. The Harvard Professor was not an Orientalist who could gauge the knowledge of the Hindu monk; he was an authority on the religion and culture of Greece. He had met Vivekananda in the seaside town of Anisquaum and heard his lecture in the local church. With his Brahmo background, Vivekananda was a devotee of Christ and he was an excellent orator with bright eyes. The Harvard Professor was profoundly impressed with the saffron-clad monk. He decided to raise a pedestal in honour of Swami Vivekananda in the Art Institute platform. An unbiased mind ought to determine one&’s assessment of a celebrity.
Yours, etc., Pratap Chattopadhyaya, Kolkata, 20 September.