Bharat Mata narrative

Lovely article, powerful and emotion evoking (“Why it’s time to demand aazadi from Mother India”). Yet, you seem to miss a very crucial part of the Mother India narrative – her fury. The counter-narrative of women unleashing their fury denotes much more power and agency, albeit not very often. But suggesting she is the meek mother of her sons and nothing more is an incomplete argument. – Aliya Dasgupta


You are reading too much between the lines. Kanhaiya Kumar shouted anti-national slogans. That was an insult to Mother India. Richa Singh had caste certificate problems. Hence, there is no correlation with Mother India. She perhaps had forged her caste certificate. That’s not the same thing as saying :Bharat tere sola tukre hoge inshallah inshallah”, isn’t it?

Also, Bharat Mata is just a personification of India. Germany is known as the Fatherland. USA has Uncle Sam. And Bharat Mata means that the country loves its citizens, just like a mother loves her sons and daughters. – Revati


I have few opinions which I think we as Indians should know before criticising something that has existed for more than a century. Mother India or Bharat Mata is the so-called Goddess of India, but not literally “a mother of the billion people of India”. It’s our mother, meaning a goddess who is as caring and loving as mother, but who is equally strong and powerful, who can guide its children to right path. She has ability to give birth, but that is not her only identity as you are constantly trying to focus on. She holds the national flag, sometimes bearing a lion, and also holds weapons as some of her paintings depict. It means she can fight for justice and self-defence when the time comes.

Of course, it is an imaginary emblem for motivation and was probably made to invoke feelings in common people to respect their nation and motherland in the times of the freedom struggle. Without any tangible form – a sculpture or painting which can be seen – it is difficult for common people to focus or imagine on a school of thought.

If it would have just been a “birth-giving” mother, people could have just portrayed it with a child in a lap, for instance. It wouldn’t have been a symbol of patriotism or nationalism. It wouldn’t have been used as a motto by the brave men of the Indian Army – “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, meaning victory.

How politicians use this term in different contexts and events is yet another story and matter of debate. But, again, concluding that “motherhood is the only position in a woman’s life’ is just not fair.

I feel we all should learn to decode the symbolism in these mythical emblems before we react and form conclusions based on literal terms. And, as you demand, if we discard this so-called Mother India, do you think women’s problems are going to be solved? – Tejashree Kulkarni

Larger context

As a committed feminist, I fully support this endeavour and really applaud critiquing societal norms through memes (“The Spoilt Modern Indian Woman: A new meme is busting our everyday sexism”). However, I was wondering how that conversation could be expanded through an inclusion of voices across class, as well as across the urban-rural spectrum (because clearly this is for the large part an urban middle class narrative).

I’m wondering how those memes would change, and what that would mean for solidarity amongst women, rather than merely in opposition to misogyny. Just a trailing thought, but still very much appreciate your article. Aparna

Glaring omission

I found your compilation to be genuinely informative, as is most of the content on, so I thank you for your consistently good work (“These nine laws make Indian women less equal than men”).

However, in this case, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the writer has failed to include the polygamy (incestuous polygamy, in a few cases) in Islamic communities. This activity, as I am sure you are aware, affects a large number of women. These women have little or no protection from the current laws, as they are heavily skewed to favour men of the community. A Kerala judge also brought up this issue just recently.

Being a left-leaning mind, I strongly support not just freedom of speech, but also dissemination of complete and exhaustive information on a particular issue and we partly rely on alternative sources like to fulfil that role. So I feel really disappointed and deflated as a reader, if not cheated.

I would be happy to know if this particular law was left out in error (which seems rather doubtful), or was there any ulterior other motive behind not including it. Vikramaditya Arora

Non-inclusive approach

Thanks for your article highlighting the misguided advertising found online to “celebrate” Women’s Day (“This is how you shouldn’t celebrate International Women’s Day”).

Overall, you tried to highlight the regressive corporatisation of gender. I disagree with the claim that Practo did a good job of celebrating Women’s Day. They may have tried to host a chat about women’s health, but all the creatives only mention men’s health issues and women’s weight. This is not an inclusive way to try to involve women on discussions about their health. Mansi Reddy

False dawn

This is nothing but a very biased opinion of an anti-BJP person, who is not interested in the real issues but whose whole purpose is to discredit the present prime minister and this government (“Kanhaiya Kumar has shown that the government is only for BJP supporters – and against everyone else”).

Kanhaiya Kumar comes across as nothing but another Arvind Kejriwal - climb the political ladder by dragging the government through the mud and projecting yourself as the messiah of the suffering citizen.

Anyone who can’t see through this game plan is either blind or has his own personal axe to grind. I can predict with 100% certainty that come the next elections, this gentleman will either grab the opportunist offer of one of the opposition parties, join them and fight the elections. If he doesn’t have any political ambitions, as the writer of this article so profusely seems to be sure of, then why did Kanhaiya Kumar choose to be a leader of students in JNU, stand for and win the student union elections, instead of using his opportunity at JNU to study and forge a respectable normal life thereafter?

Giving him the halo of a voice of the common man, out to correct their sufferings, is either plain stupidity or another effort to promote one’s own ends by people who probably encourage and cultivate such youths either by promises of a political future or just money. Pankaj Prakash

Selective secularism

This article got me confused (“Like Nero and Hitler, the BJP is lighting a fire to battle its opponents”). I respect the fact that everyone has a right to have an opinion and it is good for the society as well. But a pigeon-like attitude is a matter of concern and bad for society.

Comparing the country’s scenario with the ideology of Adolf Hitler and Nero is a reflection of selective thinking and a one-sided point of view. On the fact that you see acting against the people who are spreading seeds of terror and sedition as political gains, I just want to ask the writer if he agrees with the JNU people who claimed that Afzal Guru’s execution was judicial killing? And I’m not even touching on the point of shouting anti-India slogans. If yes, then I’m not interested in singing for a deaf soul.

On claiming that riots have a direct relation with electoral gains, let me tell you something: when someone expresses a thought under freedom of speech like Kamlesh Tiwari did, a wild mob in Malda destroys public and private worth millions, looted shops of particular, but that is not highlighted anywhere. No one would write an article condemning that act.

When someone raises a voice against nude paintings of religious deities, it is ignored under “freedom of art”, but when Shireen Dalvi printed Charlie Hebdo cartoon, the offices were vandalised and there was no freedom of art. Isn’t this double standards? Where is the secularism in this case? I would request you to please stop practicing selective secularism. Rohan Agarwal


The author seems to be suffering from partial amnesia. Does she know that the slogans against the Indian republic are against the law of the land and thus a cognisant crime in law. Since the matter is sub-judice, we leave it to the judiciary. Motilal Seroo

Foregone conclusion

The article assumes that JNU was debating whether Afzal Guru was terrorist or martyr (“Was Afzal Guru a martyr or a militant? JNU students were debating a question that law can’t”). When you invite people under the guise of cultural event, where the verdict is already delivered when they say they are protesting judicial killing of Afzal Guru, how is that a debate? Vijit

All talk, little action

It is instructive to hear about the classes and teachings at JNU, and there is reason for a little hope, still, for this country (“Manufacturing ‘anti-nationals’: Look who’s talking about doctored videos”).

However, it is curious that even the JNU professors and students are still busy analysing and debating the symptoms and establishing culpability. They are yet to move towards suggesting and enacting an action plan to counter the Hindutva agenda. While Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech was clever for precisely this reason – that he gets that the way out is to unite the fragmented opposition and the electorate – there is little clarity as yet about how to go about it.

Make no mistake that there are but three short years left before we lose the chance to reverse the march of Hindutva. Those who have diagnosed the problem need to move towards organising a solution, which is all the more difficult with the entire state apparatus lined up against them plus the gullible electorate chanting the chant. However, perhaps that hubris also allows some to work behind the scenes – one hopes that is the case. A kam-bhakt

Attacking our own

It is important to note that the Mizo movement was initially non-violent, but as usual the government at the Centre ,with its deep mistrust, tested people’s patience (“50 years ago today, Indira Gandhi got the Indian Air Force to bomb its own people”).

Is it not surprising that a nation whose founding fathers always practiced non- violence, even to fight the mighty British empire, had to resort to such extremely violent means? If there was some honest assessment of the Mizo movement, this tragedy could have been averted. After all, Mizos are one of the most peace-loving people in our country, in spite of the fact that they have to struggle for many such facilities which people in other parts of the country get normally. Sanat Limaye


Nice piece. I have been following this story the last three years. But there is one tiny omission: among the “brave and glorious” pilots were Suresh Kalmadi and Rajesh Pilot, who eventually became Congress MPs and ministers. This is another reminder of the Congress and Indira Gandhi’s record of authoritarianism, expediency and myopia; decades of cynicism that in 2014 paved the way for the sinister. Rafeeq Ellias


For how long will India remain in denial of this shameful act? The time has come for Mother India to admit to the bombing of Mizoram and to convey its message of apology to the people of the state before the resentment becomes full-blown. A reader

Snake attacks

Thanks for looking into this much-neglected issue (“Snake attacks in India are a real problem that no one is talking about”). A key challenge in rural areas is the problem of storage of anti-venom serum. Because it requires refrigeration, which requires reliable supply of electricity, storing anti-venom closer to remote villages is that much more difficult. A very high percentage of deaths occur because it takes a long time to transfer a victim from remote areas to the nearest hospital with anti-venom. Barun Mitra


The author has used the term poisonous for snakes. This is wrong and a commonly made mistake. Snakes are not poisonous but venomous. There is a big difference between poison and venom, one of them being the fact that venom is harmful when injected in blood, whereas poison is harmful when it is ingested. Ritobroto Chanda


Your article provided a good read. I do differ in many ways and my thoughts are a bit different, and I can take it as everybody has the right to have his/her view. But yes, I cannot stand people calling snakes “poisonous”. I have no idea what kind of so-called experts you are talking to, but none of these snakes you mention are poisonous. So before you publish anything you should vet your facts. Niladri