Concert of the opportunists & politically bankrupt

SIR, ~ The idea of a Federal Front of regional parties not only reflects the bankruptcy of its proponents, but also exposes the rank opportunism and cynical manipulation of vote-bank politics by a ragtag group of non-Congress and non-BJP parties. The comical drama has been scripted by the Trinamul Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee, and co-authored by her counterparts in Bihar and Odisha. This is a puerile side-show ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The bargaining by fringe players has begun long before the emergence of the single-largest winner.
In Bihar, much will depend on how strongly Nitish Kumar can defend his own fort. If the rupture with the BJP can help him to secure the support of Bihar&’s Muslim voters, it may also cost him a percentage of the upper caste vote. Naveen Patnaik has retained his power and influence in Odisha after severing ties with the BJP.
What exactly has prompted the Mamata Banerjee-Nitish Kumar-Naveen Patnaik troika  to make such a strident pitch for a political formation that long ago lost its sheen ? More importantly, why has the call for a Federal Front, which is only old wine in new bottle, been given by the Trinamul ? Why have the JD (U) and BJD responded almost immediately? The original advocates of a third alternative have given the idea a quiet burial after having realised that it is not feasible at this juncture.
yours, etc., achyut mukherjee, howrah, 20 june.
Food insecurity
SIR, ~ The theme of World Environment Day, 2013 is “Think, Eat, Save”. The fact of the matter is that one out of every seven people in the world are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty and about 2 billion people lack food security owing to varying degrees of poverty. In India, 30 million people have been added to the ranks of the hungry since the mid-90s and 45 per cent of the children are underweight.
  More than 70 per cent of the population live in the rural areas and there have been famines both before and during the Second World War. The situation continues to be grim in the rural and tribal areas. Food insecurity and hunger still persist in India and Amlasole in West Bengal is one of the worst-affected areas. This is borne out by the annual figures over the past decade.
  According to the FAO&’s definition, food security implies that all people will, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Unfortunately even after close to seven decades of independence, the rural people cannot afford two square meals a day.
Governments at the Centre and in the states have failed miserably in the task of executing development projects for safeguarding the interests of the poor and the neglected in the remote villages and in the inaccessible tribal areas of the country. The people&’s representatives are getting elected by the hungry. And what do the poor get in return? Sheer politicking and stunts such as the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS, mid-day meals in schools, and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. All these schemes are plagued by laundering and siphoning of money that is allotted to the panchayats. The people are generally hoodwinked. The purported benefits of the schemes seldom reach the targeted group, the deprived and the poor.
The Government and its bureaucracy must make a serious assessment of the needs. Remedial action needs to be taken immediately. To establish the fact that governance exists in the country, it is necessary to visit the villages and monitor the development of infrastructure, education, healthcare and most importantly provide all people with two square meals a day. The progress of a country is measured in terms of progress in the villages. Otherwise, the Maoists or separatists or terrorists will thrive by exploiting the sentiments of the Adivasis and tribals. Population control irrespective of caste, creed or religion must be enforced. China has done it and has shown the world how to do it. India&’s projected population in 2028 is 1.62 billion ~ higher than China&’s. Now is the time to plan ahead.
yours, etc., samares bandyopadhyay, kolkata, 18 june.
Accolades only
SIR, ~ The West Bengal Chief Minister is accustomed to accolades from her subordinates in the ministry, party colleagues, and sycophants. She invariably loses her cool when faced with uncomfortable questions that are occasionally  posed by the press, Opposition leaders and common people.
  This was all too evident when she was confronted with uncomfortable questions posed by the women of Kamduni village, near Barasat. The people demanded security; in response they were treated with utter contempt, as you have rightly pointed out in your editorial, “The lady in Barasat” (26 June). In the event, the Chief Minister exposed her personality traits.
 The people are tired of hollow promises. The victim&’s family has refused to accept any compensation from the government. The villagers have demanded severe punishment of the perpetrators of the crime.
yours, etc., anil kumar choudhury, kalyani, 20 june.
Leander overlooked
SIR, ~ The 40th birthday of cricketer  Sachin Tendulkar and king of chess, Viswanathan Anand, was extensively covered by the media. Regretfully, the fact that the tennis great, Leander Adrian Paes, turned 40 recently was hardly covered. Paes is to tennis what Tendulkar is to cricket and Viswanathan Anand is to chess. How is it that the media in general overlooked Paes, who is credited with 13 Grand Slam victories in doubles and mixed doubles events? He had distinguished himself in the Davis Cup fixtures.
  He won a bronze medal for India in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The year 1999 was the best year for  Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi; they reached the four Grand Slam finals and went on to win the Wimbledon and the French Open to become the first Indian pair to win a doubles event at a Grand Slam. To my mind, Viswanathan Anand, Leander Paes and Sachin Tendulkar eminently deserve the Bharat Ratna.
yours, etc., bidyut kumar chatterjee, faridabad, 20 june.
Landmark judgment
SIR, ~ The recent landmark judgment of  Madras High Court, relating to sexual relationship between two adults and marriage, may have far-reaching consequences on the social fabric of the country. The legal fraternity must reflect on the issue and, if necessary, move a larger Bench in the High Court.
  A writ petition can also be filed in the Supreme Court, seeking constitutional interpretation of the ruling.
yours, etc., arun malankar, mumbai, 20 june.