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October - November 2004


Letters to the Editor

From: S. Bannerji

Kingsbury, London, UK

Asians or British-Indians

Dear Sir,

Collateral damage is not only an unfortunate battlefield phenomenon, it has important connotations in the political arena too. British journalists while reporting on the War on Terror invariably refer to Islamic terror suspects originating from the Indian sub-continent as “ Asians “. The word Asian we all know is an overarching term used in Britain meant to include people of the subcontinent across the board. So far we Indians had no problems with that. It is now different. We are living in dangerous and uncertain times and descriptions such as these are misleading and are open to various misrepresentations. It is causing deep concern and anxiety about security and safety among the people of Indian origin living in the UK. They are loyal, hardworking, peaceful and law-abiding citizens and they wish to remain that way. In the news-item “ US breakthrough spurred arrests in Britain “ on page 4 of The Times of August 5, 2004, Stewart Tendler, Lewis Smith, and Russell Jenkins have quoted a certain Mr Muhammad Yousuf who while defending, his friend, the detained terror suspects Butch Firoze and Zamir Hussain said “ They are just young Asian businessmen. That is all “. Their use of the word Asian to describe the terror suspects, in this case, looks like a clever ploy to hide and protect the real ethnic origins of the miscreants under arrest. I trust The Times will appreciate the fears of the Indian Community and protect them from suffering collateral damage through disinformation. We have the US model before us. They describe the Indians as Indian-Americans just as the Pakistanis as Pakistani-Americans or the Bangladeshis as Bangladeshi-Americans. It lends a welcome clarity about their particular ethnic origins and provides recognition to the national pride of these communities. After all when we are asked to fill forms in hospitals and many other government documents we are asked to state whether we are Indians or Pakistanis or Bangladeshis. If The Times takes the lead to describe the Indians holding British passports as British-Indians or simply as Indians if they hold Indian passports , I am certain that other national newspapers in Britain will follow the lead. This will help providing the much needed sense of security and well-being among the members of the Indian Community and indeed the various other communities which seem to be now missing.

Sashanka S Banerjee

From: Mr. Naran Hirani

32 Portland Crescent, Harrow, Middx HA7 1ND, UK E-mail:


Dear Sir,

Introduction of ‘Tax on NRIs’ proves that the Congress-led government is looking back to old Gandhi family ways, preying on cash of people who earned with all hardships without any help from the congress governments from Jawahar Lal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi.
To keep their election promises to poor farmers, free electricity, writing off their debt etc. the UPA Government is now putting her hands in NRI’S pockets. One reason for such a vindictive behavior appears to be that most of NRI’S support India’s progressive party i.e. BJP.
We all know that poor farmers in India wouldn’t have needed free electricity and writing off their debt, if the infrasructure and irrigation had been given priority in the 37 year rule of Nehru-Gandhi family. Culture of Corruption has infiltrated all walks of life and all political parties including the BJP.
It makes us wonder who will be the next for Congress-led government’s predatory eyes for cash. Probably the farmers of Gujarat who will be taxed for having irrigations water provided from the Naramda project. This project for which Narandara Modi has worked will make Gujarat farmers free from vices of poverty. they will be self-reliant and beyond manipulation by political parties This would automatically make them as an enemy and threat to congress party.
Sonia Gandhi, Priyaka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi may put up show of being champion of poor by laughing, meeting and giggling with them but it seems they have got no idea or ability to do development and create wealth for them.
Special package for Bihar? What difference does it make? Lack of ability and honesty of Bihar leaders would see that the money goes dow n the drain or in the pockets of political leaders. The congress-led government should learn how to create wealth and development for all rich and poor.

Thank You
Naran Hirani



Dear Sir,

It is indeed frustrating to most people including politicians such as Councillors, MPs, MEPs and a host of other elected politicians that so often they are elected on a meagre vote of less than 40%, especially in local elections that do not generate much passion, heat or enthusiasm on the political front. The turnout is a bit higher in the General Election. Even then the majority of the electorate do not even bother to exercise their democratic right to vote.
It does from time to time bring on melancholy sadness but to blame the electorate solely is unfair, unjust and may put the grassroot democracy in peril. Surely we do now want to impose the old Soviet style democracy on the public, where 100% voters go to the poll under the threat of imprisonment and the candidate, most often the only candidate triumphs with 99% of the votes cast.
I would rather abstain than to vote for a party or a candidate in whom I have no trust, no faith. The Iraq scenario, the Iraq synopsis is the case where the opposition Conservative party, under the leadership of
Iain Duncan Smith, behaved like puppet opposition, dancing to the tune of Tony Blair rather than giving the Government a hard time. It has put me off voting for the Tories for life.
Politicians should ask the question why people of this Great Nation who practically invented the modern day parliamentary democracy and who are, on most part well educated, well informed and politically mature voters. So why are they reluctant to vote, to participate in a democratic process, especially in local elections?
There may be several reasons but the one that readily comes to mind is the shorter voting time allowed in local election compared to general election. A serious consideration should be given to increasing the voting hours, from 7am to 11pm, that is one hour more than allowed in the general election.
Many people who work in the City or the West End are in too much of a hurry in the morning but too late to vote in the evening, after a hard day's work, often followed by a well deserved, relaxing pint of a lager or a glass of wine after work.
The day on which voting takes place, namely Thursday, is a busy working day for most of us. Could Sunday voting as practiced in most European countries be more appropriate? This would also stop disruption to education as many schools are used as a polling ststion.
What about having voting booths in supermarkets? As most of us go to a supermarket on a weekly basis, we are all familiar with the place. So it may be less intimidating for some, especially the elderly.
Using supermarket's friendly, well trained and always willing and able to help check-out girls may dramatically increase the turnout. This could also help supermarkets who may entice the voters with a double point reward and special offers for a day. Who knows, supermarket may provide their services free of charge, saving the government a fortune in rent and wages?
The introduction of postal voting is a step in the right direction, although it has a teething problems and may be open to fraud. If the trial period is a success, then postal voting should be extended to other parts of the country, especially to isolated places where voters have to travel a long distance in order to register their vote.
Other ways of voting that may attract voters, especially the young ones, are the use of telephone, computer and websites. It seems we are far behind in the use of technology than some Asian countries like India, South Korea and Japan where the use of a ballot paper is almost obsolete.
If all these suggestions and many more that your intellectual readers may come up with, are worth considering if we would like to make elections, especially the local elections really democratic, that may also keep undesirable political parties like BNP out of the local council, parliament and European Parliament, as low turnout favours them, especially where there is a proportional representation, with their fanatical supporters always ready and willing to vote.

Yours Sincerely
Bhupendra M. Gandhi

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