Readers write

Relief efforts in India rise above prejudice

Regarding your Jan. 31 article "India rises from rubble with old social divides": Surprisingly, the detailed report focuses on the communal issue, which is hardly very relevant at a time of such a great human tragedy.

To base a sensational finding, like the one highlighted in the report, on one alleged incident and the say-so of an individual is hardly justified. Such information as we have gathered clearly shows that associations of various communities are performing a valuable service all over Gujarat.

This can be checked from officials of USAID and CARE, who are channeling their aid effort through many organizations, including churches of various denominations in India.

It is regrettable that when everyone is rising to the occasion, some of the reports are unnecessarily focusing on isolated incidents to exaggerate and magnify a few small incidents. The relief efforts being organized by the central and state governments are largely being implemented by the armed forces personnel and other officers of the government. There is no communal bias, and relief is being provided without any sort of discrimination. This is hardly the time to highlight local political rivalries which give rise to allegations being made by one party or the other. This does great disservice to the large body of officials and volunteers, some from abroad, who have been doing such a commendable job.

Amar Sinha Counselor and Special Assistant to the Ambassador, Embassy of India Washington

Regarding your Jan. 31 article "India rises from rubble with old social divides": I have a hard time believing this report.

I believe it unfairly exploits and abuses the emotions of the quake-hit victims by using their frustrations and distress to support a biased, pre-determined assumption.

Although the aid efforts of the Indian Government are far from ideal, I don't believe for a second that there is systematic discrimination taking place.

There is a lot of blame and responsibility to be placed on the authorities. They were totally unprepared for this disaster and the relief and rescue efforts are chaotic and unorganized.

I am one of the many Indians who are upset and angry at them for this. But I don't see prejudice and bias in their actions in Gujarat; I see mismanagement. On the contrary, I see the prejudice and bias in your report.

Sandeep Dave Passaic, N.J.

Earthquakes and nuclear testing

I am deeply saddened by the devastating death toll from India's recent earthquake, and I think Ben Wisner is right to assert in his Jan. 31 opinion piece, "Quake tragedies can be avoided," that human error may have also contributed to this natural calamity.

Having visited India in the summer of 1998 amid the nuclear testing of that country and rival Pakistan, I wonder if those explosions and this earthquake are related?

Theories on the link between earthquakes and nuclear explosions have been around for more than 30 years. Gujarat is right next to Rajasthan state, where the May 11, 1998 nuclear tests were conducted. And two days after Pakistan's May 28, 1998 nuclear tests, an earthquake killed 5,000 people in neighboring Afghanistan - 600 miles from the test sites.

Hopefully governments will learn that their policies - from building codes to military buildup - may have profound unintended consequences.

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang Richmond, Va.

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