Antara Dev Sen

Letters to Editor

Letters to Editor

Antara Dev Sen

It’s an issue, Queen B

It is not even an issue,” snapped West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. “But a section of the media with vested interests are highlighting it to mislead people.

Happy journey!

You expect us to pay? Excuse me, Mr Minister? You can’t be serious! Don’t you know that in the sarkari sector there is really no link between what you pay for and what you get? Like you pay for public healthcare, through taxes and often direct fees. But when you need it, government medical centres — from health centres in villages right up to the biggest hospitals in the biggest cities — welcome you like the spiralling well of death, lacking facilities, staff, beds, drugs, hygiene, civility, sympathy and even doctors. So why would we pay for government services, Mr Dinesh Trivedi?

Please mind the gap

The government cares. It feels our pain. And it is now attempting, yet again, to make our roads safer. This week the Cabinet approved the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill, which calls for large penalties for traffic violations. According to reports, drunk driving could cost you between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 in fines, or six months to four years in jail, depending on the level of booze in your blood and how many times you get caught. It could cost you your driving licence too. If it does not also cost you, or others, your lives, that is. Talking on your mobile while driving would also be fined heavily, along with not wearing your seat belt, speeding, and other cool and customary traffic violations. The amendment will be tabled in Parliament this month.

Nature, law and order

Excuse me, mister, please take your pants off. And your shirt, too. Oh yes, and the underwear. No, I must insist. In the interest of law and order I must impress upon you the importance of the order of nature — and nature did not intend us to be clothed. If it did, we would have been born clothed. Like all furry creatures. And that goes for you too, auntie. If you don’t want any trouble with the law in the future, just stick to your birthday suit.

Flaws in our grand laws

The year is still new, and we are full of good intentions. This week we learnt that the government’s sporadic efforts — mostly weak and often mindless — to change anti-dowry laws for better implementation may include laying down rules on how much you can spend on weddings. The Planning Commission’s Working Group on Women’s Agency and Empowerment has recommended an income-linked ceiling on marriage expenditure, which would include gifts as well as celebratory feasts. In short, if you try to spend beyond your means on your daughter or son’s wedding, you’d better be ready for the dowry inspector.

Dogmatic dissent

If the polls come, can identity politics be far behind? With the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections round the corner, our sad, gutless, governance-less, rudderless, visionless political parties are busy wooing the minority votebank. So when the Darul Uloom Deoband announced that Salman Rushdie should not be allowed to enter India this week because he had hurt Muslim sentiments back in 1988, the netas quickly agreed.

Culture of callousness

Are you responsible for things you don’t know? Of course not, snorts the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) — that would be so unfair.

Homeless in Delhi

Brrrracing yourself for the freezing festive season? Got your woollies and your gifts in place? And the food and wine? This is one of the coldest winters in a long time, so better enjoy the little sun you get. Sure, picnics are a great idea too. Ah yes — the fog. Really messes up your life, doesn’t it? Especially in North India. Planes refusing to take off, trains perpetually late, clothes damp and clammy, room heaters and geysers giving electricity bills a horror flick look. Not easy to be bright and cheerful in this wondrous season of giving, is it?

Keep the Net clean

I am not on Facebook, Twitter or any of the social media sites. I perpetually fail to deal with my so-called social life in the real world, and the very thought that it could be extended into ether for new! bigger! better! social networking makes me want to dart under my bed and never come out.

What’s my identity?

Last month I was peeved by a headline: “Divorced wife may retain husband’s name,” it said, or words to that effect. Oh thank you very much, milord and master! She “may” retain her

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I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.