Trinamul  admitted  Railways  to ICU
SIR,  This is with reference to the report, “TMC protests hike in Rly, Metro fares” (11 October). After Mamata Banerjee left the Railway ministry to become the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the Trinamul MP, Dinesh Trivedi, took over as Railway minister.
And while presenting the rail budget, Mr Trivedi asserted that the Indian Railways was in the ICU. As party leader, Miss Banerjee did not refute the charge; on the contrary, she removed Mr Trivedi for having proposed an increase in passenger fares after nearly a decade. Now, Trinamul Congress activists and Mukul Roy, who himself was the proxy railway minister after Mr Trivedi, have hit  the  streets  to  protest against the hike in railway fares, demanding  its  immediate withdrawal and urging passengers not to shell out the extra fare.
They even organised a protest march from Sealdah station to the Eastern Railway headquarters at Fairlie Place and urged the passengers not to pay the difference in fare as they had booked their tickets in advance.
When Miss Banerjee was the railway minister, she did nothing for the development of  the system, including its safety and security.
She spent a huge amount on railway advertisements, in particular her photographs waving green flags and inaugurating projects throughout West Bengal. She weakened the railways by not increasing fares.
The hike in passenger fares by 2 per cent from 18 October is reasonable enough. Metro fares in Kolkata have been rationalised.
Trinamul now trashes the UPA-II government as anti-people. But a year ago, it wasn’t even deemed as corrupt despite the serial scams. Indeed, Trinamul sent the Railways to the ICU.
Admittedly, the fares have now been increased bypassing Parliament. Yet there are instances of such increases in the price of diesel and petrol.
Yours, etc., Gokul Burman,
Chakdaha (Nadia),
11 October.

AUTONOMOUS COLLEGE
SIR, This is with reference to your editorial, “Empowered St. Xavier&’s” (10 October). Kolkata has every reason to take pride in St. Xavier&’s College being empowered by the Union HRD ministry to award the graduate degree.
The editorial contends that the institution&’s autonomous character and the absence of political interference is the main reason for this achievement. St Xavier&’s is in fact the only autonomous college in West Bengal.
You have argued that Presidency&’s problems stem from the fact that it was upgraded to a university, instead of being converted to an autonomous college. No educational institution can excel if it has to contend with political  meddling. But the stark reality is that we cannot  overnight do away with politics in educational institutions.
Another disturbing reality is that most of the colleges of West Bengal are located in small cities and moffusil areas. They are  facing an acute shortage of full-time teachers. Many subjects are taught by part-time teachers, who are required to attend college for two to three days for taking 10 to 12 classes per week.
There  is  also  a  category of teachers  called “Guest Lecturers”,  whose  tenure  runs  from July to December every year.
Therefore, in order to put an end to what you call the “dismal state of higher learning” in  West  Bengal,  it  is  essential to put in place the optimal physical,  intellectual  and financial infrastructure.
Autonomous colleges and new  universities  can  of course be created, whenever necessary.
Yours, etc., Narayan Datta,
Burdwan, 10 October.

COMMUTATION
SIR, The Supreme Court&’s decision to commute the death sentence of Sushil Sharma to life imprisonment in the Naina Sahani murder case will encourage criminals to kill their wives, chop off their bodies into several parts, stuff them into a tandoor, pour ghee and burn them.
They will be comfortable in the knowledge that they can get away with it.
Yours, etc., Tirthankar Guha,
Kolkata, 10 October.

PHOTO-PUBLICITY
SIR,  The President has upheld the report of  the Delhi Lokayukta against printing of photographs of the Chief Minister and another minister of Delhi on loan-application forms.
But instead of directing political rulers, Mr Pranab Mukherjee has cautioned officers of the Delhi government against the practice. File-notings reveal that the Delhi government had advised against the printing of photos of political leaders on these forms. Delhi Lokayukta ought now to draw attention to the lapse on the part of the President&’s Secretariat. The advisory from Rashtrapati Bhavan is an indictment of  political rulers.
The President should consider a total ban on photo-publicity of political masters and at the expense of the governments and public sector undertakings.
Yours, etc., Madhu Agrawal,
New Delhi, 12 October.