I am bewildered at the virtual love and plastic patriotism displayed by fellow Indians in their desperate attempt to register the Taj Mahal as one of the seven wonders of the world. I am not against the Taj being named as one of the seven wonders of the world. What is a matter of concern is the fact that the monument dedicated to eternal love is actually hated by many of us. We have abused and stripped the Taj of its glory. We have polluted the Yamuna and siphoned off funds meant for preserving the Taj. Both the monument and the river that flows past it have long been humiliated by us. We must try to keep the Taj clean, safe and well-maintained, which is much more important than being in a false batch of seven wonders of the world.
-- Sameer Pushp
I am a regular reader of S. Mitra Kalita’s “Wider Angle” and enjoy it a lot. I particularly agree with “Reject the West’s rejects”, Mint, 29 June.
I work with one of the big American banks and am based in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the course of my work, and otherwise, I happen to meet a lot of my fellow countrymen (I am an Indian, by the way). I see them frequenting only malls and the chain stores, whether it be for food or otherwise.
And when these people go home, they tell their acquaintances about “so and so place” where the food is awesome.
And since most of us have never had the junk food that they serve in the US, back home our folks tend to believe what they hear.
I wonder how many Indians who have been to the US have heard of places such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Vivoli Cafe and Trattoria (Hollywood), Le Bernardin or Masa in New York? But ask them about Pizza Hut or a Nike discount store and their hands will go up. Most Indian techies tend to think that Pizza Hut or Bojangles is the pinnacle of epicurean achievement.
I have read somewhere that when Subway opened an outlet in Kolkata, there was a mile-long queue on the first day and they ran through 15 days worth of bread in two days.
So, as long as people like us go back home and narrate stories about a TGIF or a Pizza Hut, these chains will continue to fleece our brethren back home.
This refers to the editorial , “Light & dark”, Mint, 29 June, on the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Without a change in the way the bureaucracy functions, the right to information will not be an effective tool. I can provide a simple example. It is well known that there are lakhs of Provident Fund (PF) members who do not know how much the PF commissioner’s office owes them. In the case of a few lakh PF members, perhaps money lies in multiple accounts. My point is that even if I get information under the RTI Act about such unsettled claims and unclaimed accounts, its utility is limited unless the PF commissioner’s office takes remedial measures to clear the backlog of claims and to rectify faulty procedures that lead to the creation of multiple accounts which ultimately results in the PF money lying in unclaimed accounts.
To improve governance, the discretionary powers of government officials should be reviewed and curtailed if they are being misused.
It is also necessary to decide whether the information sought is confidential or not. For example, if I wish to know how many mutual fund investors seek redemption at a loss. I may find it extremely difficult to get the information. Is the information confidential? Or can it provided by the Association of Mutual Funds of India?
Lastly, a uniform procedure for payment of fee payable by an applicant under the RTI Act has to be introduced all over the country.
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