Janardhan Reddy’s arrest was politically motivated (“India shows Lokpal not needed”, Mint, 5 September). Indians would be happy if a day comes when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) takes such steps for the benefit of the people. Only in a few cases—when CBI is forced by courts or opposition through people and media support—does it make some arrests. The 2G spectrum case being one example. In that case, too, the agency did not act on its own and was forced to act, long after the damage was done. It is unfortunate that the press thinks otherwise. The country and the people are frustrated by corruption. If you give me five examples where some officers were honest and did their job properly, I can cite far more many examples where they behaved otherwise.
It is shocking that when all states in the southern part of the country are reeling under acute power shortage, protests have emerged against the construction of a nuclear power plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. At the forefront of the protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) are locals, many of whom are fisher-folk concerned about their safety and livelihood. These are valid, if overblown, fears.
The Union government is ready to reconsider the project and believes “people’s safety comes first, power comes later”. It is hardly surprising then that the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa, who had earlier defended the KNPP, has now taken a U-turn on the subject, much like the chief ministers of Maharashtra and West Bengal. This is primarily due to vote-bank politics. One cannot but agree that safety concerns in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster are real and well-intentioned, but what will be achieved by halting work when two of KNPP’s eight units are already complete and ready to begin generating power? This leaves little doubt that the world’s largest democracy is now slowly moving towards mobocracy. The concerns of citizens are being highjacked by non-governmental organizations and leaders for their self-interest and the country’s interests are being overlooked. And India’s acute power crisis is an issue of national concern.
The agitators want clear-cut answers on issues such as radiation and its harmful effects, displacement and rehabilitation, the threat of marine life, nuclear waste disposal and safeguards in case of a catastrophic accident. They deserve honest and transparent answers to these questions. If the power plant is in the country’s interests, so are the answers to these questions. One hopes the government will provide these answers, otherwise the power-deficient India will continue to suffer.
–Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee
“Poverty lines and poor minds” by Himanshu (Mint, 30 September) raised some pertinent questions. Two questions, however, remain unanswered. You have rightly pointed out that the poverty line was meant only for comparison and not for determining who should get the government support. Whatever the line, it is silly to decide that people below that line deserve subsidies/free grains and someone earning even a rupee more goes into a group that can afford food, etc. In this context, is any poverty line justifiable? This will be acceptable only if there is a gradual scaling down of assistance through a wide gray zone. Strengthening of public distribution system and direct subsidies by the Union government against actual purchase by deserving families are probably the only effective way to support the poor. The second question is: how much of the population can the government support and at whose cost? Can the productive population be made to bear an unlimited burden of subsidizing the “have-nots”? The latter number is growing even as the number of those who can support this population is stagnant or declining.
Your turn to talk
We thank our readers for some very interesting letters in response to our stories and columns. Do continue to write to us at