He sang his way through life
SIR,  The passing of Manna Dey has saddened hundreds of thousands the world over. No words are sufficient to mourn his death. He was trained by his uncle, Krishna Chandra Dey. He had carved a niche for himself by dint of his genius. Apart from Bengali and Hindi songs, he sang in the regional languages as well. After a successful stint in Bengal, he migrated to Mumbai to try his luck. In the nerve-centre of Hindi cinema, he came in contact with film-makers and music directors.  Thus was he able to make his mark in the music world of Bollywood.
In Mumbai, he is credited with a number of hit songs, notably Pyar hua iqrar hua hai pyar se phir kyun darta hai dil from the film, 420 (1955) starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis. The other hit song, Aaja sanam madhur chandni mein hum and Ye raat bheegi bheegi in Raj Kapoor&’s film, Chori Chori, won the hearts of young music lovers. In Waqt, he sang Ae meri Zohra Jabeen with astounding perfection.
A recipient of a host of awards, including the Dada Saheb Phalke award for his contribution to film music, he always wanted to sing till his final day. His death leaves a void that will be difficult to fill.   The President and the Prime Minister have condoled his death. The best tribute will be a memorial in his honour in Mumbai as well as in Bangalore, where he died. The song, Zindagi kabhi to rulae, kabhi to hasae is immortal.
Yours, etc., Jayant Mukherjee,
Kolkata, 24 October.
GOLDEN VOICE
SIR, Though he passed away at the  ripe  old  age  of  94,  Manna  Dey,  popularly  called  as  ‘Mannada’,  has  left  a  void  in music and playback singing that can never be filled. Unlike many of his colleagues, he was trained in classical music. And this is quite evident in his rendering of songs. His immortal songs are Zindagi Kaise Hai Paheli of  the film, Anand, Kasme Vaade Pyaar Wafa Sab in Upkar and  Yaari Hai Imaan Mera of Zanjeer. In a sense, he was the voice of Manoj Kumar and Raj Kapoor.  The song, Heh Bhai Zara theykay chalo in Mera Naam Joker won him the national and Filmfare awards for the best playback singer. Decorated with the Dada Saheb Phalke award in 2007, Manna Dey will always be remembered for his golden voice, simplicity and dedication to music. Unfortunately, Kolkata, where he was born, could not accommodate him in his last days. He passed away in his favourite city of Bangalore.
Yours, etc., R Sekar,
Visakhapatnam, 25 October.
CONSCIENCE & CASTE
SIR, This refers to Mr Saroj Mehera&’s letter, “Follow Conscience” (23 October). In Bengal, the caste system and orthodoxy can be traced  to King Ballal Sen who introduced a doctrine of self-destructive and ill-conceived purity of class groups. Even today, on the death of a parent, a Bengali Hindu wears a white robe whereas the north Indian wears the more convenient white kurta and pyjama. There is also a difference in the duration of the mourning period.
When matrimonial advertisements appearing in national dailies highlight caste preferences over human qualities, Indians reduce themselves to a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. And yet we often criticise the British for being racist.
Had the Hindus shunned caste prejudices on the advice of Swami Vivekananda or Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the Radcliffe line would have been differently drawn. It is not the purity but the sheer demographic strength that matters. When girls like Rinkle Kumari are abducted in Sind, the caste Hindus find themselves isolated, even persecuted.
An allegation by Hindus in Muzaffarnagar is that Muslims play “love-jihad”, a conspiracy to trap Hindu girls into marriage and thereby increase their numbers. Why can’t the majority community adopt such romantic modes of aggression?
Yours, etc., Sandipan Khan,
Hooghly, 23 October.
FISCAL CONTRAST
SIR, The two reports, ‘Civic police await puja wages’ and ‘1000 Lepcha women get Rs 1 lakh each’ (24 October) present a contrasting picture of the state of West Bengal’s finances. Wages for public duties, that have already been performed by a section of government staff, is held up because the Finance department is yet to approve the payment.
On the other hand, cheques for Rs 1 lakh each are handed over by the Chief Minister to 1000 Lepcha women for the construction of houses. Quite obviously, the Finance department’s concurrence was readily forthcoming. The contradiction is much too glaring. Even if the Chief Minister’s recourse to such populist measures as doling out money is not  questioned, her government&’s delay in paying wages for work performed is definitely unfair. The government needs to settle the dues before making discretionary payments.
Yours, etc., Suman Sankar Dasgupta,
 Kolkata, 24 October.