Why the PM should not attend
Your editorial, ‘Go he must’ (November 10), isn’t convincing. Let’s analyse why the PM should not go. (Are we still thinking the PM will go?) The suspense over PM Singh’s decision to attend the CHOGM in Colombo is over. While India may attend the CHOGM, by sending in Salman Khurshid, funnily, we’ve sent out a very strong signal to the Mahinda Rajapaksa. Broadly, there are two reasons to be happy. One: an ideal opportunity to express our unhappiness over Rajapaksa’s decision to dilute the 13th Amendment. Two, it is time to tell him that it cannot continue to play the ‘China card’ every time, to force a decision out of India in its favour. Irrespective of the veracity of the charges levelled against the Sri Lankan army and government of human rights violations during the ethnic war, the attempt of the Rajapaksa government to dilute the 13th Amendment poses a bigger challenge to India. In effect, it means that the Rajapkasa regime is willing to offer only an autonomy package to the Tamils that it is comfortable with. It is not putting forward a package that would meaningfully address the sense of alienation among the minorities and allow them to participate in the Sri Lankan system as full citizens of the country. The other issue stems from Sri Lanka’s penchant to play the ‘China card’ against India. For the past years, China’s growing influence and presence in the island have been a cause for worry in sections in the Indian foreign policy establishment. The PM’s staying away from CHOGM will also provide India a good opportunity to register its protest and express its displeasure with Colombo.
Subrahmanian S H

Foreign policy hits nadir
Indian foreign policy has never hit such a low as it has done now, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deciding against attending the CHOGM. By downgrading the Indian Contingent for this summit, we have sent a wrong signal. Singh’s absence will make it difficult to persuade the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to take any steps giving valid autonomy to Sri Lankan Tamils. Rajapakse may not agree to give land rights to the Northern Province under the 13th Amendment postulated in the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987. India is also likely to lose its advantage to exercise its influence over Sri Lanka to find relief for Tamil Nadu fishermen who stray into Sri Lankan waters. Our tactical partnership with Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean Region also will take a severe beating. China will seize the advantage to have better access to this region and draw closer to Sri Lanka.
C Koshy John

CHOGM would’ve served cause
I agree with the government’s decision that “it is not necessary for the Prime Minister to attend every Commonwealth conclave”, which Colombo rightly played down, saying it was not a setback and adding that it understood the domestic political compulsions behind the move. Exactly speaking, the decision to skip CHOGM is nothing but vote-bank politics. Though to many, at the last moment , Manmohan Singh’s ‘wisdom prevailed’ and he has made a wise decision not to go. The CHOGM is a low-key outfit, so why the unnecessary hue and cry by Tamil Nadu regional parties about Sri Lankan Tamils? Wouldn’it have been better that they should’ve asked Singh to use the platform of CHOGM to raise the issue of human rights? To many, India has lost a good opportunity.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee

Truly deserving always miss out
The controversy over Padma awards keeps on surfacing from time to time. It may be recalled that there were demands from various quarters in the past that they be totally scrapped. The process of nomination, and the final screening, leaves a lot to be desired. The bureaucrats hold all the aces, starting right from the collector who recommends the names, to the main selection committee comprising, among others, top central government bureaucrats. It is puzzling that eminent persons have to apply for the country’s civilian awards. Many stalwarts, with self-respect, have therefore not found themselves on the list, and some have rejected the awards for several reasons. The Supreme Court, in 1995, held that the awards were recognitions for one’s talent and excellence. Therefore, it goes without saying that it is the job of the selection committee to surf deserving names on its own without bothering about any recommendation. And, it can do the job with aplomb, considering there are several competent candidates for all the Padma categories. There also seems to be no clear guidelines on the number of awardees. Once stipulated to be in the vicinity of 50 or so, the list of the awardees has reached 100 and above. When undeserving citizens like controversial film stars, and retired civil servants known to be loyal to the incumbent government, are honoured with the awards, it is natural that other truly deserving, and distinguished, persons are embarrassed to the hilt. The government has to revamp the entire system and infuse a semblance of order in selecting names for the high civilian awards of the country.
Ganapathi Bhat

Test or exhibition match?
In all fairness, the 199th and 200th Test matches between India and West Indies should have been termed as ‘exhibition matches’, since Sachin Tendulkar has been included in the team only to facilitate his completing 200 Test matches. It was an injustice to other players in the team as also those who would have had a chance to be selected for these two Tests in the normal course, but were been denied a chance to facilitate the inclusion of Sachin Tendulkar.
In my opinion he has failed in his individual capacity as a sportsperson, not having retired at the right moment and in a way continuing to embarrass the selectors who have compulsorily included him in the team despite his failures in recent matches.
I am not celebrating his inclusion in the 199th and 200th so-called Test matches.
Kedarnath Rajah Aiyar

Go Mata!
Cow’s milk may provide cure in treatment of stomach cancer (November 11). We have always referred to her as ‘Go Mata’. In Sanskrit, Mata means mother, who gives life by giving birth, and is, therefore, called ‘Janani.’ Cow’s milk may actually prove to be a life-saving elixir if found effective in clinical trials.
Arun Malankar

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