Dam the Agitation
While it is nice to hear slogans like pani chahiye Pepsi nahi, those agitating against the Sardar Sarovar project should realise that it is all about providing water to the drought-prone areas of Gujarat.
The lady who talks about saving Narmada survived on bottled mineral water throughout her stay in the Narmada valley. It is also interesting to note that none of the so-called leaders of Narmada Bachao Andolan belong to the Narmada Valley. People like Ms Arundhati Roy had gone to the Valley only to enhance their own international profile. By trying to show that the government of a third world nation like India is not sensitive to environmental issues and is incapable of protecting the long-term interest of the populace, she is playing into the hands of a biased Western media. Ms Arundhati Roy's commitment to the agitation can be gauged from the fact that she has clearly stated that she is not sure of her long-term association with the NBA.
The only interest that is being served by such rallies is to brainwash and antagonise the local population to oppose the dam thereby delaying the project and increasing its cost. There is no doubt that celebrities like Ms Roy are working against the interest of the people as well as the state.
Shiv Patil, New Delhi
Ms Arundhati Roy got the expected reception in the Narmada Valley along with a high-profile media coverage. But merely highlighting the problem will serve no purpose. The agitators should also provide a logical remedy for solving the water crisis in the state. The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of raising the height of Narmada Dam. Mobilising public opinion against the government for raising the height of the dam is tantamount to challenging the authority of the Supreme Court. I expect the Court to take cognizance.
Many big dams like Bhakra Nangal, Hirakud and Nagarjunasagar were built for efficient management of water resources in the country and, undoubtedly, they have made substantial contributions to the green revolution in the country. The hydel power projects on the rivers have made India the fourth largest industrialised nation in the world. Similarly, the Sardar Sarovar Project conceived after years of deliberation will provide water and power to the drought-prone districts of Gujarat. Eco-romanticism may be the new trend but drought is the reality and it is now for the people of Gujarat to fight for their rights.
Amita Malik, New Delhi
Apropos your recent edit, ``Not to Question Why'', I recall a similar incident that took place in Mumbai two decades ago, when a local Sangh parivar leader was addressing a gathering. Suddenly, there was commotion in the front rows and I was shocked to see elderly Sangh parivar woman pounce on a woman and thrash her severely. I had imagined that with a taste of power, firebrand socialists, progressives and pseudo-secularists must have by now reformed and mellowed the culture of their adopted parivar. Alas, the Muzaffarnagar incident is a reaffirmation of the parivar's unflinching faith in militancy and intolerance.
Ashok Shah, Mumbai
Fear of Foreigners
It is ridiculous that the election manifesto of the BJP includes an intention to amend the Constitution so that foreign-born persons will not be allowed to contest elections. There are Indian nationals holding Indian passports currently working abroad as NRIs. The BJP would like to debar their children, born abroad, from contesting in an Indian election. An NRI would then have to send his wife to India for delivery, so that the children are not deprived of their right to be elected in this country. The BJP, which projects itself as democratic and progressive, is regressive enough to debar Indian descendants from standing for elections.
M B Wagh, Mumbai
In `The Past of a Captain' (Q/A, August 21), former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin came across as a very mature person. He seems to have developed a stoic imperviousness to adverse reactions from the fourth estate, which has been hounding him for a long time now. It is admirable that he says he could still play for some more years instead of resigning himself to hanging up his boots and calling it a day. Fourteen years of cricket have placed Azhar on a respectable pedestal. One hopes he will continue to be seen in action, for evidently, his grace and elegance have not diminished with age.
G Venkatesh, Navi Mumbai
Hats off to 35-year-old Ludmila Engquist, who clinched a bronze medal in the 100-metre hurdles at the World Track and Field Championships in Seville. This, despite suffering from cancer-- she had to have her right breast removed and undergo very painful, nauseating sessions of chemotherapy just before the track event. Anyone else would have buckled under, but Ludmila's determination and courage have proved exemplary. Her bronze is, indeed, a gold.
Vilas Hawaldar, Mumbai