i fully endorse any snide remarks about arundhati roy, but other than that, simon long was not very correct in his analysis, which the letter writers fully expose.
SIR – The advice you gave to George Bush on his departure for India stuck with the belief that the failed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is the best way to curb the spread of nuclear weapons ("A passage to India", February 25th). A quick review of the treaty's history shows that the established nuclear powers either actively proliferated nuclear technology (China and the Soviet Union), or ignored such activity in case it ran against other pressing matters (America's relationship with Pakistan). We should also note that being a signatory to the treaty did not prevent North Korea from developing a sophisticated and extensive nuclear programme. Moreover, India has adopted two policies that none of the five established nuclear powers follow: no first use of nuclear weapons, and no weapons to be used against a non-nuclear nation. Can we expect the established nuclear powers to follow Delhi's example?
Mount Prospect, Illinois
SIR – I read your imaginatively titled leader and it left me cold. I am not particularly nationalistic, but your remarkably condescending tone, the depressing eagerness to merely operate as honorary advisers to the United States, and the underlying naive and historically absurd belief that nuclear (or any other military) technology is somehow safer in the hands of an American than an Indian makes me wonder why we in India should give a toss about views that don't take account of anyone east of America's eastern seaboard. The world is changing. And it is surprising that a paper as astute as yours has either not grasped this or just cannot bring itself to accept it.
F. D. Sorabjee
SIR – While Mr Bush may well benefit, as you suggest, from reading E.M. Forster, it is pertinent to remember that Dr Aziz, the main Indian character in "A Passage to India", denied the possibility of friendship between unequal protagonists; only a relationship of patronage and supplication.
SIR – You make the case that Pakistan is of much greater strategic significance to America than India based largely on the former's help in fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and seem to be convinced (Mr Bush's spin doctors will be happy to hear) that the war on terror is still America's biggest challenge. If you had considered other strategic issues, you would see that America and India are more natural allies than America and Pakistan.
Amstelveen, The Netherlands
SIR – Many Indians will take offence at the derogatory reference you made to our writers in general, and Arundhati Roy in particular, as "the chattering classes" and at your statement that "when celebrated novelists worry that a country is melting into the darkness, its prospects are probably bright" ("The great Indian hope trick", February 25th). Indian democracy thrives on debate and dialogue with its writers and intellectuals, which is probably why an illiterate rickshaw-puller on the street is better informed and has far greater critical thinking skills than the "educated" average American.