The easiest policy: banning

The easiest policy: banning

I read with interest S. Ramadorai’s oped, “Disconnecting India from the world" (Mint, 22 September) about India’s threat to ban BlackBerry services. The real problem is the mindset of Indian authorities. For example, whenever the Maharashtra assembly is in session in Mumbai, the entire Nariman Point area is a banned zone, with no parking permitted anywhere for miles. Instead of regulating or controlling the situation, the authorities find it easier to ban, irrespective of the problems it would cause to ordinary citizens. Once the ban is enforced, the authorities can sit back and relax. First and foremost, the government will have to wake up from its deep slumber. And it should spend time and money on training its officials to rise up to the challenges that always come with newer technologies.

—S. D. Israni

Should dying languages be wholly preserved (“The slow crumbling of Babel", Mint, 13 October)? A resounding yes. But will dying languages be preserved? It’s possible.

There is no mystery to the idea that cultures carry with them a vast storehouse of knowledge, transmitted through their language, as stated by the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. What is so important about the knowledge of these dying cultures is that it can’t be mined by the likes of a Google or a Bing. This is knowledge that has been kept intrinsically and passed from generation to generation in often compete isolation. This is knowledge such as catalogues of animals, plants and how to eat or to use them in medical applications (currently not an iPhone app), people’s stories, weather patterns, diseases, social paradigms, songs, jokes, aphorisms, strategies for war and peace, practices of trade and negotiation, knowledge of the seasons with an underlying connection to the earth that has sustained them.

This connection is different from how modern society employs the idea of connection. Our connection is the zeitgeist of our times, the Twitters, Facebooks, Linkedins, and so on. But with our technological pursuits, it is possible and worthy of our time and energy to not only document but also expose these endangered cultures to the rest of the world in order to show their importance. Although this may sound like another attempt at contact-induced change, if done properly, it won’t be. What this would entail is a mental shift in the minds of the people in modern society from “You’re in our world, learn our language" to “Welcome to our world, you can understand me because I took some time to learn your language". Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and the like are cool, but what we need to remember is that the ultimate social network is language.

-Oren Schindler

This is with reference to your editorial, “A muddle in microfinance"Mint 15 October). The recent happenings at SKS Microfinance certainly do not augur well, either for the company, or for the investors. Just before going public, the presence of CEO Suresh Gurumani, a professional banker, at the helm of affairs held out a strong case for the company’s good governance.

Now, in the short span of two months, things have changed dramatically. It is believed that the management of SKS tried not to disturb the apple cart just before launching the public issue. SKS founder Vikram Akula contended that post-issue, the CEO will not be in a position to deliver the goods and the board decided to sack him in the interests of all stakeholders. Time and again it is proved that internal bickerings had an impact on the functioning of firms, and SKS is no exception. Anyway, this episode is another case of failure of corporate governance.

Institutional investors should come forward to protect the interest of retail investors and also the functioning of organization, especially at a time the government is contemplating to regulate the functioning of microfinance companies in the country.

-K.N.V.S. Subrahmayam


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