Are they at our service, or what?
The government should seek the help of the defence forces and ex-servicemen in running banks whenever there are strikes by their staff and unions. No service provider has the right to paralyse an essential service and cause great inconvenience to all. It was shocking to read that the two-day bank strike had resulted in about 10 crore cheques, worth over Rs.50,000 crore lying uncleared. Banks exist for customers, courts exist for clients, and hospitals for patients. Those working in such essential establishments must remember this.
Valli S Rajan

What stirring times we live in
Just coming out of a two-day bank strike, we wake up to the anxieties of a rasta roko.
The two-day bank strike paralysed our economy, with the finance ministry and the IBA unable to come to a solution to avert it. What price the IBA’s notification saying the inconvenience caused to the people was regretted. If it really meant it, would it do such a thing in the first place? Clearing operations were disrupted and crores of rupees in operation lost value for 48 hours and the effect of the strike will be felt for the full week. Bank managements filled up ATMs and said that the problems of their customers were partially solved. But in reality, the cash loaded in ATMs did not last for the entire strike period, inconveniencing the aam aadmi. How is this service to the people?
To add salt to our wounds, there is the Post Office strike, a rasta roko, agitation by the Aam Aadmi Party and a bandh on account of ill-timed government policies, making sure the miseries are uniformly spread across the country.
C K Subramaniam

Hoping it’s more than a ‘bench job’
The inclusion of leading Test batsman Pujara, in a one-day team, for ensuring the Asia Cup, is a timely and good decision taken by the selectors.
I hope this time, the team management will make him rise above the ‘bench player’ status, unlike the last time, when though he was in the squad, he did not play a single match against Australia. Of course, India had won that series 5-0 very comfortably.
S Chad

Shirley ‘Dimples’
The death of Shirley Temple, the iconic Hollywood child star of yore, is a great loss to the world of cinema. The curly-haired, highly talented little child artist entertained and made her way to the heights of Hollywood and into the hearts of cinemagoers in the great depression era America. She was America’s top box office draw from 1935-38, a record no other child star has yet neared. Mothers dressed up their daughters like her.
She went on to hold several diplomatic assignments in Republican administrations when she was older. As US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, a post reserved for career diplomats, she was witness to the historical collapse of communism in 1989.
She was also a cancer survivor and spoke up about it so as to create awareness among women. She will be greatly missed by her fans for generations to come.
Ramesh G Jethwani

How does a US visa matter?
This refers to ‘Untouchable, no more’ (February 12). I am of the opinion that the U- vis-for-Modi-molehill has been made into a moutainous affair. If the US has refused a visa to someone in India, the US administration must have gone through the track records of the concerned person. To the best of my knowledge, there are many well-known personalities in India, including members of the Communist Party who have been given US visas without much fanfare. How can Modi’s silence on the Godhra riots ever be delinked from public memory just because a foreign country might issue him a visa?
S S Nair

US lifts Modi boycott
So, finally, the US has signalled the end of the Modi boycott! It was sad and surprising that many Indians – mostly ‘secularists’ – had urged the US to deny Narendra Modi an American visa. They were so blinded by their ‘secular’ hatred of Modi. Now that the US has taken a U-turn on the issue, they will condemn the decision! At long last, the US has read the writing on the wall!
Shreeram Paranjpe

Usury does banks no credit
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has acknowledged malpractices of banks when it banned zero-interest loans on EMIs to credit cardholders because of malpractices of banks through hidden costs. The RBI should also take note of abnormal interest rates and penalties imposed by banks on delayed payment of credit card dues. Even credit card statements are designed with terms like ‘minimum amount due’ to fool customers.
Banks also resort to malpractice by deliberately not sending credit card statements, to make customers defaulters, forcing them to pay heavy interest, apart from penalties. What’s more, any shortfall in payment attracts penalty and interest on complete dues! The penalty imposed for the use of credit cards over the credit limit should not be permissible. Instead banks can refuse payment on crossing limits.
The arguments put forth by banks to levy extraordinary interest rates and penalties to overcome heavy cost in credit-card operations is in itself a confessional.  The union government and the RBI should make necessary amendments whereby there may be uniform rules in respect of credit cards, including interest rates and penalties. In no case should they be permitted to levy ‘hidden costs’ in the form of extraordinary interest rates for their profits.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal

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