I find your article pretty ironic considering how you fail to mention the fact that minority religions (less than 5% in many states) get to enforce public holidays on the majority population (“The Centre has made it clear: Holi is ‘national’, all other festivals of colour are ‘local’”). Why should the majority community be forced to celebrate those festivals?
You seem to be chest-beating your anger towards Hindu-Hindustan but you seem to turn a blind eye towards Lefty-Lefty-Hindustan where Muslims get appeased. – theagolx on email
Thank you for elaborating on the perception that “national” is not really national. It is really exasperating to see rituals getting ‘Hind-i/u-ised’ to the tunes of Bollywood and the national holiday calendar. Your account of other Bengali festivals definitely added to my knowledge of Indian culture.
We also need to scrutinise what we are calling “local” here. For example, though in Maharashtra, Diwali is celebrated in a slightly different manner from the North, it is quintessentially a Brahminical tradition as it is celebrated by priests, traders and wealthy castes. At the same time, peasant and property-less castes in Maharashtra remember the rule of “Baliraja”, under whom castes did not matter and everybody was equal.
What I am trying to say is that we need to collect multiple accounts, across regions, castes, classes and religions to present truly multicultural traditions, and in some cases, even reconcile the practices of an antagonistic nature between different communities by reinterpreting mythology differently. – Sanika G
First, the purpose of national holidays is to synchronise the work-leave continuum across central government offices, banks and other commercial institutions. They are necessary for instrumental reasons and not for enforcing any notions of culture. States are free to and they do impose state holidays.
Second, the writer takes this grievance and expands this into a greater hypothesis that all cultural exports in India are from a Hindi-Hindustani-Hindian (pejorative) belt to the “periphery”, which according to him includes places like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. This grand hypothesis is based on frivolous assertions like the font size on currency notes, Border Security Force rituals, declaring Holi as a holiday, among others.
To begin with, the cultures of Bihar, UP, Punjab and Gujarat are hardly a unified whole that deserves a common name.
Finally, his contention of cultural imposition supported by state power ignores the agency of people. People may simply have chosen the louder and colourful Punjabi-style “shaadi” in favour of the more private and traditional Bengali “biye”, or the more urban sanitised Diwali in favour of more rural-devotional Kali Puja, exactly the same way North Indian women have chosen the Bengali style of Sari because of its convenience. But then why would crypto-chauvinists understand that? – Suvrajyoti Gupta
I wish to remove the doubt regarding the declaration of Holi as a national festival and Dol Jatra being overlooked.
The central government makes a list of holidays which have to be observed across all states of the Indian Union. This list includes all the major festivals which have to be observed. However, the states are at liberty to declare state festivals as state holidays. The intention of not incorporating all the regional festivals into the central list was to prevent the loss of man days of other state governments which do not celebrate that festival, not because they don’t want to, but because it may not be a regional custom or tradition to celebrate that festival.
There is a section of restricted holidays as well which does contain a lot of festivals on which no holiday shall be observed. There is no cultural hypocrisy at play. – Avinash Mishra
I really appreciate the article, which tries to delineate the often misinterpreted notion that Holi is a Hindu festival (“In Mughal India, Holi was celebrated with the same exuberance as Eid”). However, it is sad to see the form this has taken. Hooliganism and chemicals are now the crux of the festival. "Bura na maano holi hai" has been misinterpreted gravely, to the extent that one can resort to any sort of hooliganism in the name of festival and there is no scope of consent. But sadly, no form of media tries to address such issues. – Sakshi Jain
What a beautiful article. This information should be included in school textbooks as compulsory learning. Thank you for an amazing piece. – Atul Bagai
Belling the cat
Maheshwer Peri’s fight against Arindam Chaudhuri is praiseworthy (“Maheshwer Peri on how he won the legal battle against IIPM’s Arindam Chaudhuri”). He is now totally exposed and must go to jail. Because of Peri’s fight, the careers and money of thousands of poor students have been saved. – Jitendra Singh
This story should reach every school and college student. It might be worthwhile to constitute a public education watchdog which should reach out to and caution the innocent and gullible. – Dr Virendra P Singh
People like Maheshwer Peri need more presence and they help restore a sense of trust in society. I strongly feel that IIPM is just one of many thriving institutes working in the dark. – Sai Shankar Ramani
I feel that Maheshwer Peri’s fight will have lasting effects on the future of many students whose hard-earned money these vultures snatch mercilessly. Thanks for fighting for a good cause. You a true patriot and a great Indian. – Dr Shivesh
I doff my hat to the gentleman and his wife (even willing to go to jail), who withstood all the harassment by IIPM and eventually emerged triumphant. It gives hope to all those who pursue cases against people with clout and money power. May their tribe increase. – Melanie P Kumar
I do not understand why Scroll would post such a controversial article during the most holy period for Christians (“Good Friday question: Was Jesus really nailed to the cross?”). Has the editor done any background checks to verify the details in the article?
This article clearly aims to create doubts in the minds of the faithful and divide the community. The cross and the painful crucifixion have been at the centre of Christianity since the 1st century. There are multiple references in the Bible to Jesus being nailed on the cross.
I raise my strongest objections to this article because of the lies it spreads. – Rohit
Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s article on Aadhaar tries to balance the crying need to plug the leakages on subsidies for the poor and possible leakages of privacy for the rich (“Aadhaar Bill: Why did the Congress take so long to wake up to the need for a strong privacy law?”).
Only the poor can understand what these subsidies mean to them. They cannot understand the self-actualisation needs of the English-speaking, tax-paying and should-be-tax-paying people of India for privacy.
As the poor outstrip the rest by millions, this democracy should attend to their needs first. If Aadhaar has a semblance of a chance to benefit the poor, and even if there is a potential leakage of privacy for the articulate well-to-do, the government is within its rights to work on its pro-poor agenda first.
In the meanwhile, the others can intelligently discuss, debate and decry the government's actions. After all, the elite thrive on obfuscation and their prioritised human values such as privacy and freedom of expression, instead of dealing with hunger, disease and death. – Ravee NK
Bhagat Singh's legacy
As always, a very analytical article from Scroll (“Why Bhagat Singh was not the ultimate militant nationalist he’s made out to be”). It sums up the predicament of thinkers across ages, from Socrates to Chomsky and anyone who dares to challenge the norm with solid rationale. Yes, I agree that Bhagat Singh is a difficult act to follow. I dare say that Arvind Kejriwal is the only one in the political spectrum who has dared to question the prevailing norm and has succeeded. But the challenges the two faced were vastly different and so the comparison should end there. – Ponnanna
Hijacked by opportunists
Ajaz Ashraf’s insights are mostly correct, but there are a few things which he misses out on (“Why Muslims have no problem chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ at Kejriwal’s rallies...”).
Mainstream Indians (read Hindus) too do not feel comfortable with the RSS’ ideology because it born out of a particular brand of patriotism which has its roots in the armed struggle to liberate the motherland and what we call “krantikaris”.
Aam Aadmi Party or the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress are different versions of the same political spectrum, and it is foolish for anyone to think that they are different.
However, the BJP is not the RSS, AAP is not the movement that Anna Hazare started, and the Congress is not what Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel envisaged.
In other words, these parties are inhibited by opportunists such as Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi. – Bhasker Misra
Shashi Tharoor is an intelligent man (“Shashi Tharoor says statement comparing Kanhaiya Kumar with Bhagat Singh was a ‘throwaway remark’”). I suppose this best describes a person who intelligently reneges on what he says, and then repeats the same as an explanation.
I suppose Tharoor belongs to the Kanhaiya Kumar bunch which has got into questioning the Constitution of India as not being a list of “definitions”. I suppose that he too believes in avoidance of law because it is unwritten.
I would advise the Kanhaiya Kumar bunch to see the laughably simple Magna Carta, which is the mother and father of all constitutions. It is just one page, without any unresolved philosophical definitions. – Rakesh Saran
The bailed persons may be bitter, but they are speaking irrationally (“‘What is the boiling point of your blood?’ Watch Anirban Bhattacharya’s speech after his release on bail”). Whatever they point out might be administrative lapses, but doesn’t have anything to do with the concept of a nation. These students have been brainwashed by some strange ideologies.
No wonder then that the likes of Kanhaiya Kumar are afraid to leave their cocooned lives in pampering educational institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University, and face the harsh realities of the state administration.
They are so selfish that they want to keep living in their foolish dreams of “nation”, which the enemies of the Indian state are foisting on them. – Rakesh Saran
Matters of plagiarism
You have claimed that in the Q&A session, the questioner’s caste was referenced when he alleged plagiarism against Rajiv Malhotra (“Next on the checklist: Why ABVP desperately wants to gain entry into TISS...”). This is absolutely false.
On the contrary, when Malhotra was responding, the audience was impatient and it appeared that they were interested only in a one-sided story.
In a civilised world, when one person accuses another of being a thief, they should at least display decency and listen to a response. Rajiv Malhotra is right to claim that this allegation was planted by his opponents in the media.
I am not arguing about the rest of the article. But one mistake backed by solid evidence would give your critics free ammunition to question the authenticity of the entire article. – Ravi
Jyoti Punwani has made at least one erroneous statement. With regard to a student’s baseless allegation of plagiarism on Rajiv Malhotra’s part, Punwani either did not do due diligence or fails to understand the concept of plagiarism, much like the young and juvenile-minded student at TISS whose antics could be forgiven.
Malhotra could not possibly be accused of plagiarism since the subject material was not an original text by the said author, who was credited by Malhotra in the index. Punwani’s speculation on this front is without merit.
It is ironic that Punwani chooses to sarcastically express surprise at the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad looking to exercise the right to organise and exercise their freedom of speech at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences campus, but allows leftists like Kanhaiya Kumar’s ilk, who hold it so precious. One wonders if she is proposing to deny the ABVP that right. – Arun Bhate
Taking on intolerance
These officers will now be targeted and hounded (“Full text: ‘The atmosphere of intolerance is growing’ – public appeal by retired officers”). They will be called opposition stooges and anti-national among other things.
If government officers who have served in the corridors of power feel that something is definitely going in the wrong direction, then the Bharatiya Janata Party should take note of it.
But the BJP is a highly arrogant party that is unable to look inwards. It will dismiss these utterances as sour grapes on the part of the officers, but will not do some course correction. – Preeti Jindal
Seeds of discontent
I am glad that at last the Indian government has taken a firm stand on Monsanto’s dubious Bt seeds which led farmers to incur a huge loss in income on investment and ultimately commit suicide (“India ‘not scared’ if Monsanto leaves country over uniform cotton seed pricing”).
I hope the government sticks to its decision and will not yield to the threat of Monsanto. We do not have to relent in this case. We have the potential and necessary resources to develop our own viable cotton seed suited to our farming conditions. – Prakash