Letters

Miles to go

| Updated on January 16, 2019 Published on January 16, 2019

Apropos ‘Too few women in politics and the workplace’ (January 15), India’s low rank of 142 in “economic opportunity and participation” in a set of 149 countries is alarming indeed. Though India has done much to close the gender-gap at workplace, it is still not sufficient. For example, there has been little impact on cases of sexual harassment at work in spite of legal support through new laws. More efficient implementation is needed. The other form of participation, namely, women as entrepreneurs, needs equal, if not more, attention. Ease of financing, expertise back-up at the government level, small-group training in entrepreneurship in accessible centres run by the government and full family support will accelerate the progress. Also, special capital support to self-employed business which can be managed from home should get priority. As for political empowerment of women, a quantum leap would not work since ability to win in elections is the deciding criterion for choosing candidates.

YG Chouksey

Pune

US shutdown

As the longest ever US shutdown continues, frozen negotiations and prospects of a national emergency to obtain funding for the construction of border wall indicate little signs of relief in sight. Furloughed workers losing out on pay and opposition by lawmakers/financial agencies have aggravated the impact of the third, and perhaps the most disruptive, shutdown under the current regime. Enforcement of an automatic continuing regulation can prevent the financial system from entering into a turmoil and avert the potential risk of a depression. The Indian economy may remain unscathed as exports, especially IT/pharma, are mostly to private/non-Fed entities. Further, increased uncertainty on account of delayed tapering and higher risk-aversion in dollar assets, can not only facilitate influx of funds in emerging markets but also build a positive rupee sentiment in the short-term. Delay in ending monetary stimulus by the Fed, an uptick in the yellow metal and a lower sales-tax promise to offset the adverse impact and preserve investor confidence to some extent.

Girish Lalwani

New Delhi

Sedition charges

The slapping of sedition charges against Hiren Gohain, an academician, Akhil Gogoi, an activist, and Manjit Mahant, a journalist, by the BJP-led government in Assam for articulating their vehement opposition against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which the people of Assam saw as a threat to their very identity, is reprehensible. Parties across the political spectrum in the State, barring the ruling BJP, have expressed their strong opposition against the Bill for its religious bias and for initiating the NRC (National Register of Citizens) process, which whipped up waves of paranoia and xenophobia against Bengali-speaking Muslims in the State. Rather than engaging with dissenters to the Bill through discussion, which is the hallmark of true democracy, the BJP found it convenient to dub the dissenters as anti-nationals. The Assamese sub-nationalism is agnostic and any attempt to undermine that identity would backfire and affect the peace and tranquillity in the State. It is time the Assam government took steps to assuage the apprehensions of people over the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the implementation of NRC. Removal of draconian sedition provision from the statute book, which militates against the very principles of democracy, also brooks no delay.

M Jeyaram

Sholavandan, TN

 

AIADMK-BJP combine

There appears to be resentment within the AIADMK over the likely tie-up with the BJP in contesting the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. The BJP’s inept handling of issues related to NEET, Sterlite, Mekedatu Dam, Cauvery dispute, Tamil Nadu farmers, arrests of and attacks on fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy, and those severely affected in the Ockhi and Gaja cyclones are a few examples in this regard. The AIADMK might try to hoodwink the electorate with no pre-poll alliance with the BJP but offer a surreptitious post-poll support to them.

Shalini Gerald

Chennai

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Published on January 16, 2019
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