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Need accountability

Life inside Indian prisons is getting better, but there are still some loopholes. Many wrong and illegal things happen in jails, and they have to be curbed by the authorities (‘Behind bars’, August 26). The inhuman practices prevailing in many prisons in the country are worrying. There is little accountability. There has to be a uniform policy and framework with regard to jails in the country, and no prisoner should suffer. A prisoner, no matter what offence he has committed, has the right to lead a life of dignity.

 

K.V. Prasad,

On email.

 

Your cover story on the life inside Indian prisons brought forth many issues and concerns of the inmates.

 

Aptly balanced, the story also showcased the positive side of prisons and why all is not hell inside prisons.

 

I had a great time going through the cover story. Hats off to you!

 

Shanku Sharma,

On email.

 

Your cover story on the state of prisons in the country was really good and informative. I believe these are true stories, without any politics.

 

Anant Alurkar,

Pune, Maharashtra.

 

These days prisoners are getting better facilities in jails than earlier. But more attention should be paid to the mental health of the prisoners. It is sad that many prisoners suffer from depression and other mental ailments.

 

Tapesh Nagpal,

On email.

 

Great leader

Somnath Chatterjee was undoubtedly one of the finest parliamentarians the country has ever seen and his track record as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha was impeccable (‘Single malt Marxist’, August 26). A dyed-in-the-wool Marxist, Chatterjee put his legal acumen to considerable use to defend his party. But he fell foul of his party bosses (read Prakash Karat) when he refused to relinquish the Speaker’s post after the CPI(M) withdrew its support to the UPA government.

 

In the evening of his political career, Chatterjee was expelled from the party, leaving him a disillusioned man. Till his death, the party never reconsidered the decision. So, his family refused to let his body get draped in the party flag.

 

Chatterjee, who was a close associate of former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu, will however be remembered as one of the flag bearers of the Communist movement in the country.

 

C.V. Aravind,

On email.

 

Totally biased

The basic idea for introducing the ranking process by the government may be to introduce a sort of competitive spirit, and, thereby, some measure of efficiency in the working of the establishments ranked (‘Powerpoint’, August 26). The agencies involved in the process may claim absolute scientific basis for the methodology adopted. However, as pointed out by Sachidananda Murthy, it is often a mafia and a scam.

There is every reason to believe that the parameters used, the data provided and collected, and the interpretation and analysis are manipulated and biased.

 

Just to cite an example, the urban development ministry has ranked Bengaluru 58th among 111 cities assessed, based on certain parameters for living standards. But, according to a global airlines events organiser, Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport is the second fastest growing airport, next only to Tokyo, based on the data of people travelling all over the world.

 

K.K. Cherian,

Bengaluru.

 

One of the greatest

India has had a troubled relationship with V.S. Naipaul, but then he has had a troubled relationship with everyone (‘Remembering V.S. Naipaul’, August 26). Naipaul produced masterpieces in both fiction and non-fiction, but has never attempted his autobiography, saying it can distort facts.

 

Naipaul’s work contained a multitude of subtle, overlapping meanings, making it difficult to fit him in a category. In many ways, he represented the shifting and transitory nature of the century he wrote in. While he is arguably one of the greatest proponents of English in its written form, there is little doubt that he was a true master of misogyny, drinking from the unlimited fount of patriarchal privilege.

 

Meghana A.,

On email.

 

Let’s respect them

Thank you so much for the Independence Day Special cover story on letters from martyrs’ children (‘My father, my hero!’, August 19). This was one of the most heart-touching cover stories that THE WEEK has published in recent years.

 

Many of us take our freedom for granted, hardly recognising the sacrifices made by our soldiers. It is only because these brave men gave their lives for our country that we are able to sleep peacefully.

 

In spite of the personal loss in their lives, it is heartening to see the mothers of these children becoming empowered in the aftermath of the death of their spouses. From a very shaky beginning, they have developed as entrepreneurs, with independent identities, taking care of the finances of the family and becoming the pillar of strength for their children.

 

Every war has its casualties on either sides. But, ultimately, there are no winners. The rough terrain and high-altitude make any war in the Himalayan region difficult and the loss of life is indeed a cruel reminder of this. India has been a peace-loving country and successive governments have been following this principle. However, when someone forces a war on us, we have to protect our territory. This is what was done in Kargil and the earlier wars. All the men who sacrificed their lives were heroes. They were ordinary individuals who found the strength to endure in spite of great obstacles.

 

Let us hope and pray that war now becomes a thing of the past with no possibility of a direct engagement on the battlefield, and peace does prevail in the region.

 

Rekha Pande,

On email.