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This refers to The Black Hole In The Heart, your story on laggard states of India (Aug 7). These ‘bimar’ states showcased in your story are all from north India. What is the reason for this? Referred to by many as the Hindi belt, cow belt, etc, north India claims hegemony over politics in India; be it pushing Hindi as a national language or the countrywide ban on beef. Delhi, the country’s capital, is located right in the middle of the north and is the true seat of power. But, although urban areas have developed at a rapid scale in the north, hardly any development has taken place in the rural areas. States like UP and Bihar hold great sway in the country’s politics, giving the maximum number of leaders to Parliament, but their own state of development remains in tatters. In general, the caste system’s inequities are also very alive in these states and no major reforms have taken place to change this. What alternative to the caste system can the government offer? Currently, there seems to be no alternative in sight.
Aditya Mookerjee, Belgaum
It’s amazing how Kerala, a tiny state compared to other Indian states, with a manageable population of 35 million, is one of the country’s most developed states. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh, the state with a humongous population of 210 million, is lagging way behind in the human development index when compared with states like Kerala. Perhaps the solution for UP is the one suggested by former CM Mayawati—divide UP into four smaller states and see the encouraging results.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
In the data given in the article, the per capita income of West Bengal is shown as being lesser than that of Orissa. This is incorrect. As per data given by the Niti Ayog, the per capita income of West Bengal is approximately 50 per cent higher than Orissa. Also, in terms of HDI, Bengal is nowhere in the bottom quarter but has an average all-India ranking. Bihar, your ‘bimar’, is also growing far faster than the national average and its per capita income has also increased considerably over the years.
Deepak Chopra, On E-Mail
Our Correspondent Replies: All poor states are indeed growing fast, as you mention. That’s more because of their low bases. To gauge prosperity, we used per capita net state domestic product (NSDP) at constant prices. Net, unlike gross, deducts consumption of fixed capital to offer a more accurate picture. We sourced NSDP for 2013-14 for Orissa from RBI’s Handbook of Statistics on Indian States. Orissa’s NSDP, it shows, was about 42 per cent higher than West Bengal’s.
The picture of north Indian states is not as bleak as painted by your article. There’s Himachal Pradesh, for instance, with an impressive human development index and per capita income. The tiny hill state is a role model for holistic and inclusive development. Between 1993-94 and 2011, the poverty level of the state dropped from 36.8 per cent to 8.5 per cent. Himachal also has a good and growing education system. Another positive achievement is that Himachal has the highest rural female work participation rates among states. The states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have become ungovernable on account of their humongous size. They must be divided into smaller states. The relatively new states of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, which separated form UP and Bihar respectively, are many notches higher in terms of HDI and GSDP than their parent states today.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
An eagle eye view can make states look good, bad and ugly but can’t offer many solutions.
Anil S. Pune
This refers to the book review of Devdutt Pattanaik’s My Hanuman Chalisa by Arshia Sattar (The Mighty Forty, August 7). The popularity and wide appeal of the Chalisa—hymns to the almighty—are a result of their frankness laced with a scientific temper. Everyone craves strength, positive energy, intelligence, knowledge and cure for all bodily ailments and imperfections. The first two couplets of the Chalisa are all about seeking such boons. I fully agree with Sattar’s view. Pattanaik’s far-fetched linkage of the Chalisa, a simple prayer composed by Tulsidas during the 16th century, with Vedism is an attempt to win over the goodwill of those in power.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
The update on the India-China impasse on the Doklam crisis was illuminating (Bowl Him A Chinaman, Aug 7). The standoff is now over a month old, but no solution appears to be in sight. Resolving Doklam, dare I say, is more in India’s interest. We have fought a war with the Chinese in 1962, when also we could have solved the issue diplomatically. We must keep that debacle in mind—it sprung largely from our giving asylum to the Dalai Lama, who set up a government-in-exile here, thus antagonising the Chinese. We are running a great risk now by taking a similar stand vis-vis Bhutan. China has already objected to India’s involvement in a matter that concerns it and Bhutan, and says India’s action violates Bhutan’s sovereignty. India should want peace on the China-Bhutan borders without any interference. Indian diplomacy needs to engage intensively with all our neighbouring countries to expose China’s expansionist strategy. We should not try to match their rhetoric with equally strident remarks—on this point this government has done very well. Moreover, the government should take the opposition along in forming a strategy on the Doklam crisis. They should be united in support on the issue, unlike the CPI during the ‘62 war with China.
L.J. Singh, Amritsar
This refers to The Centre Ups the Ante (August 7), your story on the arrests of seven Hurriyat leaders by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The NIA has claimed that Kashmiri separatists use the Haj subsidy and trade across the LoC to fund extremism in the Valley. How can any government hold talks with those whose sympathies lie with Pakistan-sponsored terrorists and stone-pelters, who want to keep the Valley on the boil? The demand for azadi cannot sit well with the views of New Delhi, which sees J&K as an integral part of India. There can be talks only to dissuade the Hurriyat from raising the demand for azadi and only when there is an atmosphere of peace in the Valley.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
The NIA probe exposing the nexus of terror in the Valley is a major breakthrough. Conversations and confessions on tapes confirm that Pakistan is funding the burning of schools and other subversive activities in Kashmir. I am sure the interrogation of the arrested separatists will expose the larger conspiracy hatched by the Hurriyat along with the Pakistan government. It is time the Centre took stringent measures to uproot terror while invoking its constitutional obligations to restore normalcy by working towards a meaningful solution within a fixed time-frame.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This refers to your cover story May I Overcharge You? (July 31). I am 83 years old. In May, I chose to close my sav-ings bank account with the State Bank of India because I could not afford to maintain the mandatory minimum balance of Rs 5,000. When the account was closed, I realised the bank had deducted Rs 544.38. Aren’t the public sector banks supposed to be serving the nation, especially the needy such as senior citizens like me?
G.L. Karkal, Pune
This refers to The Casualty Sisters (August 7), your story on the plight of nurses. That they are paid a pittance compared to what doctors earn is only the tip of the iceberg. To the avaricious modern-day business behemoths commonly called hospitals, they are veritable slaves held captive on the excuse of ‘training’. As workers, their wages and work hours are shameful to even mention.
George Jacob, Kochi
The RJD-JD(U) split was predestined. Nitish has betrayed Laloo and left him when the RJD leader needed the CM most to tide over a crisis of graft charges conspired by the BJP. Laloo was at loggerheads with the BJP at the Centre, but never opposed Nitish’s initiatives in Bihar. The coalition government could have resolved differences if the two ruling parties had trust. The break-up shows the state of politics in the country today—pure opportunism.
Janga Bahadur Sunuwar, Jalpaiguri