This essay (“This Eid, a wish and a prayer for us all”) by Nandita Haksar is really to the point. It is very sad to see how vested interests are fuelling hatred between religions, between castes, between regions. As she pointed out, people of all faiths lived in fair harmony (though there have been unrests and riots earlier also). But the present general intolerance for other types/classes of people bodes disaster for true peace in the country. As she says, life would have been more peaceful if religion was not institutionalised. Can’t we just pray individually to our God and be done with it? Do we have to tell everyone that we’re praying, each one trying to outdo the other? – Anya Saini


Great piece, Nandita. You speak for so so many of us. – Shireen Mehdi


Unfortunately, such utopian thoughts are lost on the vast majority of us. – Anil Dhar

Spooky stories

I studied, stayed and was associated with the Madras Christian College for 10 years from 2002 to 2012. Never have I heard of the stories mentioned in this book excerpt (“A new book brings spooky stories from Madras Christian College and other ‘haunted’ places in India”). Also, there is no Hall called Herbert Hall as mentioned at the end of the article. The name of the hall is Bishop Heber Hall. Also, I stayed in Room 147 for one year and in Room 48 (under 147) for two years. Room 148 opens to the sub-warden’s house (now the Chaplin’s house of the Bishop Heber chapel) and is used by Chaplin and his family. Therefore surely no student in the hall died in that room as it was never open to students. Did the author actually study at MCC? If so it is a shame that he got the name wrong! If he didn’t I am shocked that he wrote about the place. In any case, I am shocked to see such an article in Scroll. – Anand Kurien


I have had a long association with MCC in Tambaram between the years 1963 and 1972 although I have not been a student or staff there. Books such as this one fosters blind belief and superstition and must not be taken seriously as a news item by Scroll which I read with interest after all the trash one finds in the media these days. – TJ John


Being some one who resided in MCC, as Madras Christian College is called, I never met any ghost. It is a beautiful campus because it is filled with trees, old trees. If you are romantically inclined, you can take your girl into any bush for perfect privacy in MCC. No ghost will disturb you. True, there were tragedies. But that happens everywhere. Even in many houses, the taps will open by themselves after you close them carelessly. It happens in our house. Probably, I am that ghost from MCC. By the way, there is no Herbert hall in MCC. There is a Bishop Heber Hall. Also, MCC is not a government-sponsored college. It is a government-aided college. Get your facts correct, that too from a ghost from MCC. – Goldin R Bennet

Music, motivation, innovation

The life of Kumar Gandharva is a remarkable saga of innovation, experimentation and motivation (“In Kumar Gandharva’s bandishes, hear the music of the common man”). Early in his life, he showed signs of making a mark in the realm of Indian classical singing. He started winning laurels even as a little child. But his brilliant career came to an abrupt halt by tuberculosis and he was subsequently advised by his doctors not to sing. His disease made him move to Dewas in Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. He resumed singing in early 1950s after getting cancer treatment. Although he could sing only with a single lung, he soon emerged a doyen of practitioners of Indian classical singing. His refusal to play a coolie to convention brought him brickbats. But he made sure that they did not affect his approach and sadhna (devotion) to his music. Special endeavours must be made to introduce nuances of the singing style of the great maestro to budding village artists, who are in search of an able ustad (teacher). – SH Quadri

Maulana Azad, a visionary

Thank you for the lovely and timely article (Why Indians need to remember Maulana Azad, the freedom fighter who has been deleted from textbooks) on one of the country’s visionaries. No matter how much the present government might try, India will retain its secular fabric. We are just going through a brief mad pandemic. – Krupa