Transport and technology

The livelihoods of taxi and auto drivers are being killed, but they enjoy no public sympathy (“Unfair competition? How Uber and Ola are killing livelihoods of Mumbai’s auto and taxi drivers”). For far too long, they have survived in a monopoly-like market. Much like the age-old Ambassador car, they are not particularly reliable, extremely costly and treat you like dirt. With the arrival of Ola and Uber, they have had to spruce up their act. – Rajiv


There are always winners and losers in technological change. In this case, as in most cases, the winners – the commuters – far outnumber the losers - taxi drivers. You conveniently ignore this fact and the gains in efficiency that aggregator apps provide, to say nothing of the improved lives of those who actually drive for the apps. Are they to be beggared because the same drivers who have so loyally held the city hostage and annoyed people, are now facing tough times? Don’t be a Luddite. – Utkarsh Dalal


As is being done in many other cities, what prevents the Mumbai black and yellow taxis from also adapting to the app-based aggregators, and then choosing whether or not to respond when a prospective customer calls?

Service providers have to move with the times and technologies, otherwise we may even want to justify the tongas and the horse-drawn Victorias which used to ply Mumbai streets before the black and yellow cabs came into service. – Veeresh Malik

Fighting for our forests

If the writer can see the cause and cure as clear as day, so can the government, policymakers and the forest department (“So what’s wrong in asking who set the forests on fire in Uttarakhand?”). Their vision beyond a doubt is blighted by lucre. It’s a bleak picture and one that only we, the lay citizens, can fix if we so desire, will, demand, work and fight for. – Ira Chauhan


The writer is partly right in his assessment. However, he fails to grasp the larger problem, which is the failure to devise a mechanism of sharing forest resources with the people who live around it.

The forest department has failed to make the locals the custodians of conservative endeavours. It is a complete failure by the administrative and political machinery. There is a bigger forest dispute among the villagers and officials in Uttarakhand now more than ever before. So before we get into the entanglement of the “blame game”, let’s not be fickle about addressing the core issue. – Vaibhav Chauhan


I could only partially agree with the writer, as he does not dare to take the bull by the horns and call a spade a spade. His perspective is upper class at best. If the “forests” had “trees” rather than “timber”, and if local communities had a stronger and wider stake in their “forests”, these fires would be put out promptly. In any case, most people tend to use the word “forest” even for pine tree plantations. Pine plantations are a scourge to the local people and only interests the greed of the forest department, the timber mafia and resin factories.

The forest department is the biggest landlord in India – excluding, harassing and kicking out local communities from their homes, lands and forests at will. Local communities have been forcibly excluded from their traditional access to forests and their mixed, broadleaved forests have been cut down and replaced by fast-growing timber varieties such as pine. This is a tradition which has continued uninterrupted since the British colonial period.

It is surprising that the writer forgets the period when, for the first time. these forest fires were lit purposefully as a form of resistance against the colonial barbarity and plunder under the British. Sachin Singh

Welcome revelation

Thank you for introducing Safia Manto to us (“Remembering Safia Manto, the woman who stood by the writer in good times – and the many bad ones”). She seems totally lost in Manto’s stories and life. Being a woman, I was surprised that such a forward, open-minded and progressive writer would keep his wife a secret. – Shubh Schiesser


I love reading anything about Manto, but for an article that declares little is ever written about the women who stand by their celebrated spouse’s side, Nandita Das annoyingly goes on to write little to nothing about Safia.

I continue to know only that she was Manto’s wife, and that Manto never raised his voice to her, and that he ironed her saris, and told her to address him by his first name, or that what she thought “mattered to him”.

What did she think? What did she do? If you don’t know, don't write an article that claims to be about her, for god's sake.

I love Manto more than ever for all of these insights on his life, but this is supposed to be a tribute to Safia Khan. If anyone ever paid “tribute” to me in terms of how the people around me acted or treated me, I would be deeply insulted. Thanks for continuing to write little about another wife who stood unflinchingly by the side of a celebrated man. – Mahjabeen Zafar

Dubious plan

It seems that the central government does not want its work to be under scrutiny and that politicians want to loot the country without being accountable (“Narendra Modi government to replace Nehruvian five-year plans with 15-year goals”). A 15-year plan means accounts will not be traceable. The longer the period, the scrutiny will drag on for an illimitable time. How will planners plan and assess the situation?

The politicians and the Niti Ayog want a long rope for their performance. Given the dubious credibility of the political class, this kind of shifting of goal posts will not be in the interest of the poor in particular, and the public in general.

If planners and politicians are sincere, a five-year period is good enough to make a significant impact. – Onkar Singh

Missing papers

The article brings out the crisis in healthcare very well and I completely agree with the writer's analysis (“Why do Indian medical institutions produce so few research papers?”).

In such a privatised healthcare system, why would anyone want to publish anything? Certainly not to add to the body of knowledge, or even to share one’s findings or insights. It could only be for becoming a teacher in a public medical school, where I think it is essential to have some published papers in your CV.

I think this is not even a requirement for jobs in private medical schools. And if the number of teachers in publicly funded medical schools as a proportion of the total doctors in the country is calculated, it might tally with the publications made by Indian doctors.

The quality of medical journals published from India is also a reflection of this malaise. A lot of the articles, though not all, are of dubious quality. No wonder then that people like to submit their papers to international journals, even if they are in remote or obscure parts of the world.

About people working in public healthcare spaces outside teaching institutions, frankly it is difficult to get time to write, even if it is important to do so. – Yogesh Jain

Sikh identity

There is so much wrong with this article. It is remarkable how you have made these claims (“Nearly 10 million Sikhs have lost their religion because of this organisation”). The role of hair in Sikhism, in particular, irrespective of whether the first nine Sikh Gurus had kept uncut hair, is not a debate. It is a fact. Basic scholarly research would inform you of this.

You don’t seem to understand the meaning of “Sehajdari” Sikh. Bhai Kahn Singh’s book is very clear on this. You cannot be born in a Sikh family, decide to cut your hair/trim your beard, and then call yourself a Sehajdhari Sikh. This is preposterous.

Please keep your political opinions, in an attempt to cover up your own individual weaknesses, to yourself. – Ikjyot Singh Kohli


Your write-up differentiates between Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh ji. We see them as continuation of the same thought.

Also, it is up to every Sikh to become a SGPC voter. Neither the SGPC nor any government agency can deny anyone voting rights, unless of course they do not adhere to basic abstentions like tobacco and halal meat.

I think you need to research more on this topic and include the viewpoints of those who disagree with your views. Kiranjot Kaur


I feel very offended that the Badals will stoop so low for political and economic gains and intentionally destroy this vibrant community. We should have a parallel organisation called the Sahajdari SGPC and wrest control from them. Sid Sodhi


A nice and informative article. This fine thought process is out of reach for the ordinary Sikh. Educated and aware Sikhs do not adopt Sikh “rehatmaryada”.

Our institutions are not in right and sincere hands. – Dr Niranjan Kaur


I think SGPC should also keep in mind that a substantial number of Sikhs are also living outside Punjab. They come across so many questions from locals about such controversies.

In my opinion, there should be one definition of Sikh. Those who do not shave, do not cut hair, and those who wear turbans should only be called Sikh because this is our identity.

However, I agree with you that SGPC should circulate Sikh guidelines within the community rather than approaching the courts. Devendra Singh


I think your article is more divisive than binding. The Sikh elections and the elected bodies are running perfectly well. The Sehajdaris are not angry at all and work closely with the others.

If we include Sehajdaris in the voting process, you will see a lot of other unwanted people from other religions entering the Sikh body and that is what will actually divide the community. Gurmeet Singh