Paris of the East, did you say?
SIR, West Bengal&’s chief minister has endeared herself to state government employees by declaring a holiday on any pretext and at the drop of a hat.  Offices are closed for 10/12 days at a stretch during the pujas, a practice discontinued by the CPI-M. This has encouraged newspaper hawkers to close their distribution network for four days and for the second year in succession.  Apart from enjoying holidays for almost half of the year, our employees are not averse to the Frenchman&’s weakness for leisure known as ‘French leave.’
Since the year 2000,  the Frenchman&’s working week has been reduced from 39 hours to 35.  On an average, an employee works at least 12 years less in his lifetime than his counterpart in the United States. The British and the Japanese are in the workaholic club. The French perceive this as proof of the ‘essentially uncivilised’ nature of the Anglo-Saxons. They believe that the obsession with work makes them prone to tension and consequently hard to talk to. The question arises ~ Are we going the French way? Noel Coward believed that “there is always something fishy about the French”.
Holidays are essentially meant for relaxation. And the French know this art of  relaxation. After closing down their establishments, they move out in droves to see a bit of the world. What do we do with our paid holidays?   We are never much concerned with production, productivity, and man-hours. Therefore, do we have the right to enjoy the leisure and say in Virgil&’s words ‘God gave us this leisure.’
Yours etc. Debaki Nandan Mandal,
Kolkata, 23 October
SIR, The report that the Trinamul Congress is exerting pressure on the chairman of the School Service Commission is shocking. He is said to have been directed by the education minister to include flunked candidates in the merit list of the qualified.
This is bound to send the wrong signal to educated youth who aspire to become teachers. The message is as clear as it is ominous. To qualify in the SSC exam, the candidate must be close to the ruling party. Merit is not the principal criterion. Trinamul is intent on setting up a band of teachers-cum-cadres. The present ruling party represents the other side of the political/cultural coin.
It has become extremely difficult for responsible people to function because of the arrogance and nepotism of the political class.
 Appointing candidates who have failed to qualify as teachers is uncivilized, unlawful, and direly harmful for education. Mamata Banerjee repeatedly encourages people to be involved in  the small craft-agriculture-industry sectors to earn more than government employees. On the other hand, her government and political machinery are trying to induct cadres into the government sector. The face of the party and government stand unmasked.
Yours, etc., Uttam K Bhowmik,
Tamluk, 25 October.
SIR, The Union Home Minister has declared that India will give a “fitting and firm” reply to Pakistan&’s frequent incursions across the border and the killings of our soldiers. It is generally known that the “stern” action that is envisaged on the part of the Congress-led UPA can at the most be a strongly-worded protest note to the religious bigots of Islamabad. The  troops  can be asked to resist the intruding Pak forces who ought to be driven off. Beyond that, there cannot be any concrete action on the part of India.
Yours, etc., Jorhat Singh, Mumbai, 24 October.