No laughing matter
Tanmay Bhatt is receiving a lot of hatred, at least some of which I imagine isn't directly reaching him because others have slyly uploaded the Sachin vs Lata Civil War video on YouTube (to garner some views for their own channels!) and a lot of vile comments have been expressed there (“The Daily Fix: Why is a comedian’s skit more offensive to Marathi pride than crippling drought?”).
Appallingly, the level of so-called righteous outrage on display gives one the notion that there are people who genuinely feel this is comparable to an act of treason against the country. Is there any point in discussing comedy, its forms and nuances when we, as a nation, clearly do not understand the concept of freedom of expression and the noisiest among us vie blood-thirstily to paint themselves in a saintly light? *Cough* Anupam Kher *cough* – George Paracka
I agree that people and politicians were over-the-top in their protest against Tanmay Bhatt’s video, but the reason the video was found offensive was not that it insulted Maharashtrian idols. Lataji and Sachinji are among the most loved and respected people in the country as a whole. Reducing this to a Marathi/non-Marathi debate reduces the gravity of Bhatt’s mistake. This is not because we have blind love for our icons, it is because insulting someone for their age or physical appearance is disdainful and not funny in the least.
The jokes about Sachin might have been funny had it not been for the fact that he epitomises modesty and humility. But to see Bhatt as Sachin utter profanities to Lataji was unacceptable. I love AIB despite the profanity in all their videos because some of their work is entertaining and thought-provoking. In this case, it was neither. – Mihir
I cannot emphasise the extent to which I agree with the article by Menaka Guruswamy (“Why India must end its official amnesia about the horrors of Partition”). I too was almost completely unaware of the senseless violence that had gripped the subcontinent in and around the summer of 1947. The fact that there is an eerie silence about all of this depressed me when I learnt of the events in later years. In my home city of Kolkata, which had witnessed the devastating Direct Action Day a year before Independence, not a single pledge or plaque commemorating this tragedy or vowing to prevent any such future events exists. I do not celebrate August 15 nowadays. Perhaps it represents a joyful day of independence from foreign rule, but to me, it also represents the greatest humanitarian disaster in this part of the world in the 20th century - Partition. – Sharbatanu Chatterjee
The Partition was a crime against humanity. Those who conceived of the plan to surgically divide India failed to comprehend its fatal consequences. They are indirectly responsible for the massacre of millions. It was undoubtedly a crime for which the perpetrators were never punished. Instead, they were rewarded with power and perks on both sides. The beneficiaries of Partition also created unending hostility between the two countries to block contact and normal neighbourly relations. The dirty power play and political game that are rooted in Partition continue till date – Saleem
India is turning into a nation of hatemongers ("Five arrested for attacks on African nationals in Delhi, after Sushma Swaraj meets Rajnath Singh"). We have failed to follow the ideal of Atithi Devo Bhava (a guest is like god). Intolerance of so-called outsiders can be seen in many cities. It's not just Africans, even Indians face discrimination when they go to other states and regions. These attacks will have deep impact on India's global ambitions.
They prove that our cities are not ready to deal with the cross-cultural migration that comes with globalisation. To counter this, Indian society needs a cultural renaissance. Moral lessons on tolerance and non-violence should be incorporated in school curricula. Policemen should be given special training on handling racial attacks. The intelligentsia, legislators and community leaders should come together to create an environment of tolerance and acceptance in their respective areas – Gaurav Singhal
Having spend some time in India in the ’80s (“A photographer trains his lens on the racism faced by Africans in India”), I was struck by the amazing contrast. On the one hand, I received better treatment than what I was used to in the US (I’m a black American). But on the other, I was repelled by the way poor people and those from lower castes were treated.
The poor treatment of blacks is prevalent throughout Asia, not just in India. Sadly, I feel that blacks will have to avoid these places if they value their safety. – Ricardo ThomasPolitics of religion
I fall under the category of people Professor Tariq described as Modi supporters but not BJP loyalists (“The social service wings of RSS played a big role in BJP's rise to power: Yale professor”). I think this article is very balanced, though I differ from Professor Tariq on some counts. One thing he’s missed is that Modi was a product of the pseudo-secularism practiced by most parties. When it comes to politics – and in management – the largest minority in a winner-takes-all situation wields the most power as it can swing the decision in the favour of one majority group. For far too long, the so-called secular parties have unfairly played minority politics. And the majority didn’t unite to counter this. But when the majority does unite, and sees power, they get emboldened. The best solution would be true secularism where religion is separated from politics. – Ganesan
The burning need to stoke Hindutva sentiment in the masses has seeped from the RSS into the ruling government. This is coupled with attempts to eradicate all connections to Muslim rulers and Islam not only from Indian history but even in contemporary media. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is an integral part of this strategic effort.
They have not even spared Hollywood! While watching an umpteenth rerun of Escape Plan, starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, I noticed that two scenes depicting Islam, one of which was integral to the plot, had been snipped – which wasn’t the case when the movie was screened on TV for the first time. How far are we going to take this anti-Islam and pro-Hindu rhetoric? – Naresh D’Mello
The government and the elite equate Urdu with Muslims (The literal cleansing of Urdu in India: Can a language be anti-national?). This has been a most unfortunate fallout of Partition. Why can't Urdu be taught as a third language in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal? – Vinay Tandon
Fact and fiction
The author of the news article seems to have Modi phobia (“Fact check: From claims on ration cards to gas connections, how Modi inflated the numbers”). Under the name “fact check” you have presented a biased viewpoint. For example India has time and again in recent months been recognised as the fastest growing large economy. How can you put Myanmar and Bhutan in the same basket? I would advise Scroll.in to focus on the white board and not the black spot! – Abhijit Karodes
Congratulations to Scroll.in for separating fact from the fiction. That Modi’s speeches are filled with hyperbole is common knowledge. After the recent Assembly elections, the BJP claimed that they had made inroads in the South. The fact is whatever mark they have made there is more to the credit of their strategic alliances. In Assam, too, Himanta Biswa Sarma’s defection played a huge role in the BJP’s victory. And in all states combined, the Congress polled more votes than the BJP.
This is not the first time that Modi and his party have exaggerated figures and manipulated facts. They have inflated figures when it comes to the scams under UPA, and then sweep allegations of corruption during their own rule under the carpet. The government claims that there have been no scams since they came to power – but we’ve seen the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh and the rice distribution scam in Chhatisgarh, to name a few. Plus, several media outlets are controlled by corporates whose heads are close to the BJP. So even where there are no scams, there’s plenty of quid pro quo! – Srinivasan N
I disagree on some counts with this article because Mumbai's auto and taxi drivers are killing their own livelihoods (“Unfair competition? How Uber and Ola are killing livelihoods of Mumbai's auto and taxi drivers”). Every day after work, I would struggle to get a cab for an 8 to 9-km distance. After that, I switched to Uber and Ola and was treated with due respect and given prompt, hassle-free service. My expenses, too, are the same, if not lesser. As a customer, why would I want to be left at the mercy of autos and taxis who won't even bother to refuse the fare in a polite manner? – Shishir
Perhaps it has to do with the lack of understanding of the Vedas by Hindus themselves (“Passport shame: What's really at the heart of the California textbook row on Hinduism”). Yes, we should not be made to have our religion defined and explained to us by American academics, but this is a folly that every non-Judeo Christian religion deals with in the US. The prism of religion, as they define it, simply does not capture the complexities and depth of non-Abrahamic religions. If you want to teach children about the dirty underbelly of Hinduism, and you should, also teach the philosophical heights to which the religion has reached. As every other human civilisation, we have a tremendous amount to be proud of as well as ashamed of. I want my Hindu son growing up in the US to understand and be proud of who he is – acknowledging that he will one day have to take on the mantle of correcting his forefathers' wrongs will only begin if he believes that Hinduism is something to be proud of and worth rectifying. – Rohini Shah
I am a huge fan of Salman Rushdie as well as a huge critic of all religions (“Watch: Islamic terrorism is linked to Islam, says Salman Rushdie, so why deny that?") I find this argument a little misleading, especially for Americans who do not know anything about Islam. The constant reference to Islamic terrorists makes them think that the majority of Islamic people are terrorists. And Rushdie, having grown up with Islamic relatives, should know only too well that the vast majority of Islamic people do not support terrorism.
He should also know how many terrorist activities are carried out in India in the name of Hinduism. But nobody goes around talking about Hindu terrorists. Americans somehow still live in the delusion that all Hindus are loving and enlightened beings from another world. We often use the term “Christian” to mean benevolent and loving. But we all know what Christianity has been responsible for over the past two millennia. Why do we not call it American terrorism every time the US government bombs thousands of innocent people in different parts of the world?
Yes, Islamic terrorists are Islamic. But it is not the fact that they are Islamic that we don’t like, it is the fact that they are terrorists. It is also not that being Islamic makes them terrorists, otherwise all Muslims would be terrorists. Just like it’s not that being Hindu, or Christian, or Buddhist or Shinto makes them terrorists. If we need to address the problems with Islam and violence, sexism, racism and homophobia, then let us also address the problems with Christianity, Hinduism and other religions that makes people violent, sexist, racist and homophobic. – Mario Vickram Sen
All of the writer’s arguments are flawed and do not deserve a point-by-point rebuttal (“#Modiversary: Harsh Mander on why he worries about the next three years of Modi government”). He should review all the work done by Congress since Independence and then analyse what they have done for the country (and what they haven’t) and the compare that with the good done by the current government in just two years. The government still has a few more years in its current tenure to fulfill its promises. To say that the BJP lost Bihar or won some states because of communal politics is false propaganda and an insult to the people in the country who voted for change from the UPA. The NDA has done no disservice to the country. – Pankaj Srivastava
It is very disheartening that media houses these days have become mercenary organisations with strong political views. While criticism is healthy in a democracy, one can’t take that to be a license to keep disparaging one person or party.
For quite some time, your esteemed writers have been berating and criticising Modi and the NDA. I don't know whether it's for vested interests or out of utter disgruntlement. Instead of highlighting and focussing on pro-people and welfare schemes of the government, you have been lambasting them, which will not change anything for the better.
I don't mean to demean Scroll.in or its editors, but I feel you ought to publish articles that reflect positivity rather than pessimism or attacks. – Nishant Arora
It is really good that someone has critically analysed what the government has said and done. It checks the government’s own inflated estimations. I wish the UPA government had such a provision during their tenure. It is obvious that if somebody has learned the alphabet, he will go for syntax. Similarly, running a govt is a process and it needs a progressive effort of all participants, so I believe that if a policy that failed under the UPA is repackaged and implemented with more vigour, it could work well.
If the UPA government had conducted coal and spectrum allocations with transparency, we could have seen them in power still. The only thing I disagree with the article on is the issue of intolerance or communal divisions. In December last year, I visited a Hindu friend's wedding, where the conductor of the band, the man leading the horse and even the driver was Muslim. A Muslim singer performed at the wedding. Don’t create an idea of a communal divide based on some events – that will only consolidate votes further and hurt us in the long run. – Pratibha Srivastava
I am very worried about what is going on in my country right now. I am not anti-government or anti-establishment as everyone who opposes the mainstream is labelled, but the events happening around us have been worrying me a lot. From the attacks on people from African countries to sexism to crimes against women and Hindu supremacy, does the country realise what it’s doing?This is not what I wanted to the 18th year of my life to be like.
What upsets me even more is that people have stopped supporting different points of view. Perhaps, this has been happening all along and it’s only now that I’m noticing all the negative things in the country. Or maybe, I worry too much and I’m confused by what I see, but such an environment can have a profound effect on people and can, potentially, bring out the worst in them.
What is even more depressing today is the hypocrisy – from racism to casteism to language discrimination – that so many people partake in. I saw strong religious discrimination for the first time when I went to Kota last year to study. Because I didn’t participate in it, I was often told I am not a “true Hindu.” Things really need to change, but I can’t see any signs of this happening. When will we start to worry about something real – like the turmoil in Central Asia, global warming, drought, natural disasters and above all creating friendships and forging ties? – CosmoSwas
Simply declaring something illegal is not going to make it disappear (“Jobs cleaning human excreta are illegal, so how do they persist in India?”). An alternative that fits within the available infrastructure and economic constraints has to be identified or developed and then implemented. Otherwise, you will have a law in the books which is toothless. Judiciary and legislature have to consider this before mandating something. – Venkat Lakshminarayanan