This perspective on the behaviour of passengers during the Emirates crash was heart-touching (“Emirates crash: When you don't own your liberty and property, your possessions become most important”).
Your description of life in the Gulf is superb – it moved me to tears.
It makes me wonder what the meaning of such an existence is – we lose our rights in the Gulf and when we come back home, our financial situation is still critical, and yet we send our children to the Gulf to fight the same battle. – Sanjar
Very true...what you said about the expat experience in the Gulf is correct and sincere. Thank you for your words and support. – Sandeep
Do the authorities in the Gulf realise that all their economies are running on expats – from labourers to white-collar professionals. So, they should be less dominating and discriminatory. – Uday S Gupta
Thank you for a very insightful article. When I first saw the video, I was appalled that passengers would take their time grabbing their carryon luggage following a plane crash instead of getting out as quickly as possible. It also made me angry that those passengers were hindering others from escaping by clogging up the aisles and blocking people.
After reading this article, however, I feel more sympathetic towards them and thank god everyone escaped safely. Your article said many people who work in the Gulf countries would not admit openly.
Congratulations to the writer for offering an insight into the possible answer for the million-dollar question on the minds of everyone who saw the video clip of what happened inside the aircraft after the crash. – Robert William
This is a ridiculous reasoning. It absolutely holds no good during an emergency evacuation, when every second matters. – Shyam Sunder
This piece is very beautifully written. It was important to show us the other side of things and a different point of view. Those who have never lived in such a structure, almost as bonded labour, won't be able to understand the psychology of those who are experiencing it. Thanks for this piece. – Sandeep Chamak
Though your reasoning does have merit, but it doesn’t seem to me the response of insecurity in a foreign land – rather, it’s the hazards of pursuing materialistic gains. It all seems fine, bearable and worth these injustices and risks in pursuit of the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow.
Many of our people, especially those with locally replaceable skill sets and experience, will have to introspect and learn to be more realistic in their financial aspirations. – George Kurian
I was one of the people who condemned the behaviour of those on the flight. But my blood boiled when I read about how a co-passenger described Indians as “rats”.
We Indians sure criticise each other, but when a third party does the same we unite and we fight it out together.
I really liked this article and was teary eyed towards the end, especially when I read about the driver who goes home only once in three years. – Rahul Pillai
This article mentions ABVP as the student wing of the BJP (“All eyes on Pondicherry varsity as Left and Right spar over ‘anti-national’ campus magazine”). The ABVP is a separate body far removed from politics. We do not do anything on the directions of the BJP, neither are we funded by them. – Manish
Words and action
I’m not sure what Ajaz Ashraf means when he says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should “walk the talk” on cow protection groups (“Cow calculus: What Modi stood to lose by keeping silent on gau rakshaks”).
I wish he had also stressed on the initial part of Modi’s speech, in which he spoke on fixing responsibility and accountability for incidents of vigilantism by so-called cow protectors. Given the jurisdictions of such cases, I hope that local law enforcement rises to the occasion and delivers justice to the aggrieved.
But beyond this, how else can the prime minister walk the talk? The phrase seems to be an insinuation that he controls all these events and is directly responsible for the acts. – Pankaj
Our words’ worth
I consider myself an avid reader (“The terrible things that will happen if we forget the art of reading carefully”). I read daily – I read essays, novels, the newspaper every morning and at least two magazines a month from cover to cover.
But I’m not a fan of writing that teases the reader with the use of fabulism or magic realism, mostly because it makes my brain hurt. But thanks to this article, I might give the genre a second shot. – Aditya Sringesh
On a TV debate about a school in Uttar Pradesh banning the national anthem, a panellist had insinuated that the step had something to with the Modi government at the Centre and that Muslims were objecting to singing the national anthem for this reason (“Allahabad school principal resigns after ban on national anthem ahead of Independence Day”). Is this even logical? Did Modi prescribe the national anthem for India? Did the BJP government write the lyrics?
India is supposedly a secular country – then shouldn’t national symbols prevail over religious sentiments? No other country will allow the disrespect of national symbols in the name of religion.
Incidents like this indicate to me that anti-India forces are inciting minorities to create problems and weaken the country. Our politicians care only about votes – not about the nation's image. But people outside our country will laugh at us if we allow such disrespect of national symbols go unpunished. – Vivadhan
As this article mentions, the school passed an order banning the playing of the national anthem on Independence Day because it contains the words “Bharata bhagya vidata,” which are against Islam because Allah is the “bhagya vidata”. What sort of idiocy is this?
Such thinking is a consequence of the lack of proper language education, and understanding of grammar.
Originally, Bharatabhagyavidhata was a compound word, or a samàsa – one word combining three words. One may also write this as "Bharata-bhagya-vidhata". What it means is that the Supreme One is the “bhagya vidhata” of Bharat.
The entire song is an ode to the Supreme One who makes Bharat glorious.
Our national leaders – from Subhash Chandra Bose to Jawahar Lal Nehru – chose this song as the national anthem because the words are intelligible to most Indians (including Dravidian speakers who have adopted these Sanskritic words in their languages) and because it resonates with all religious faiths and names the states of the undivided India.
To think that such an idiotic derivation has been made by people running educational institutions is frightening and is an indicator of the abysmal state of education in the country. – Debal Deb
Whether or not the GST is good for India, only time will tell, but I disagree with some of the points made in your article (“Don’t listen to the politicians. Here's why the GST might actually end up harming India.”)
You use examples of the EU and the US not considering such a tax to argue your point. However, in both regimes, there is a state-level income tax and a federal income tax (in the EU’s case, the governments pay it via their contribution to the EU, while in the U.S. it is directly paid at the time of filing taxes). Therefore, the states are economically independent and have to balance their budget. Having a GST would impinge on this independence and would be extremely unpopular.
In India, the states present their budget to the Centre, which funds a significant portion of it. Also, there is no state-level income tax, therefore, states are not economically independent in India. Even though states have their own indirect taxes, they still have to pass on a percentage of these to the Centre.
The current taxation regime is extremely complex and a headache for the Centre and leaves a lot of room for avoidance/manipulation at the state level. The GST gets rid of all of this.
In arguing that the GST, because it’s a destination tax, will not provide states and incentive to boost manufacturing, you fail to consider that manufacturing also creates jobs, results in infrastructural development and boosts standard of living. Therefore, even with the GST, there are enough incentives for states to attract manufacturing. – Rakesh Aaroraa
India needs a tax regime that speeds up distribution. State taxes come in the way of this and GST provides a solution. As you have argued, move away from tax at source to tax at destination is a sure to polarise economic growth as it leaves no incentive for the state to boost manufacturing.
However, should the national manufacturing plan actually kick in, with its promise for national waterways and proposed freight corridors, there is possibility of hyper localisation, at least regionally, and this augurs well for balanced growth of regions. Some back-of-the envelope calculations put the resultant gain at $ 200 billion at current cost levels.
GST should be implemented at two levels. After all the states agree on the taxation rate, Phase 1 of the roll out, spanning three-four years, should look at tightening the VAT regime both at the Centre and the states. The full GST roll out should take place in Phase 2, over one or years. – Abhijit Chaudhuri
From a distance, the GST seemed like a very good step forward (with bipartisan support). Your article, however, suggests otherwise.
You mention a loss of incentive when taxation is no longer run by the state but wouldn't the state still be able to adjust corporate taxation and more importantly, provide various subsidies, infrastructure spend and land reclamation help to attract investment? These have tended to be far bigger issues for manufacturers than tax breaks, in my experience. Also, can't states be encouraged to attract investment for the sake of employment – and on the basis of a skilled labour?
Like any change, there is a downside and it may not be the perfect tax but surely the upside is better than staying with the current system? – Krishan Singh
Making a racket
It’s very easy to blame the doctors (“How allegedly negligent doctors allowed the kidney transplant racket in Mumbai to occur”). If someone brings a woman along and claims she is his wife, why would a doctor not take it on face value?
Doctors are soft targets in such organ transplant rackets. – Gautama Ramakanthan
It’s hard to believe that Sardar Patel could have ordered or even agreed to the eviction of Muslims from their homes and lands in India (“Did Sardar Patel order the eviction of Muslims from Delhi villages?”).
However, we are forced to believe the words of Subhadra Joshi and Anis Kidwai and that of others like them who had seen and heard what happened during Partition – only they know what really happened behind the scenes. – KJ George
Partition was a very painful period of our history. I have friends who came from Pakistan and lived in Delhi under trees, having lost everything. I am sure lot of Muslims in North India lost everything too when they moved or were forced to move to Pakistan.
While I agree with the general drift of Anis Kidwai’s book and this article, there is no way to verify the correctness of the assertion.
It may as well be possible that politicians and Sardar Patel in particular tried to widen the communal divide – because such things happen everywhere.
However, there is no point in trying to rake up old wounds. Too much water has passed under the bridge.
We should have delayed Independence. It was not worth the cost. Given time, it would have worked out, I guess. But Congress and Muslim League leaders were in a hurry to grab power and enjoy all the fruits of it. – Ashok Bhagat
It is extremely unfortunate that Nitish Kumar, one of India's better politicians, has chosen moral policing and repression as a means to becoming a national leader (“Nitish Kumar admits prohibition hasn't worked – so he wants to punish people until it does”). Prohibition of alcohol, or anything else, has never worked. Its only consequence is bootlegging, smuggling, and corruption at all levels of the law enforcement.
When I lived in Mumbai in the late 1960s, I used to see garlanded portraits of Morarji Desai inside bootleggers huts in the working class chawls; they called him their annadata! After all, it was his relentless drive for prohibition that was their source of wealth. If Kumar is so concerned about dangers of alcohol to the health of the people of Bihar, he should ban tobacco first. – Vinod Mubayi
Crafting a perspective
Amid the din created by hashtags, we finally have an article on real issues (“#IWearHandloom: But why India’s women weavers don’t”). The patronising attitude towards handlooms has killed the industry.
I have been part of the study that the article quoted about the wages of weavers. I have dealt with many such groups who want to throw crumbs at the weavers for some great orders but start bargaining when they actually have to pay them.
The real people who are working with these women are behind the scenes. They are not on Facebook and do not create hashtags to get the world talking about them. Thanks for giving words to my feelings and restoring my faith that there are some conscientious opinions, people amd actions. – Vijaya Switha Grandhi
This is an honest effort to highlight the condition of handloom weavers in India. However, the article should have also spoken about Handloom Reservation Act, 1985, the adulteration of handloom fabric in market and subsidies given to powerloom sector as some of the main reasons for the state of handloom weavers.
Also, if you can cover some positive stories of how some organisations are working to reverse this, it would be great. Organisations like Desi, Chakara and Women’s Weave are working hard to improve the livelihoods of India’s women weavers. – Sharada Ganesh
It is a pleasure to hear that there is such a celebration as National Librarian’s Day (“How can India spread the joy of reading to all?”)
Vidya Valley in Pune, of which I am the principal, is a small school of 1,200 children. We celebrate reading every day! Every class from Kindergarten to Class 10 has an active library and reading programme.
Well-known authors and story tellers are invited for a day-long session. Parents are equal stakeholders in our library programme as library volunteers.
And next year on, we will also celebrate Librarian's Day! Thanks for the information about UNESCO Library Manifesto too. – Nalini Sengupta
I diligently follow your articles and usually agree with what they have to say – but this article was absolutely distressing for me (“A Pandit POV: Why the discussion on Jammu and Kashmir is half-baked and dishonest”). It is emotional, which is fine, but is not well researched. It gives a biased perspective on the complex issue.
We should not make this a religious issue. Being a Kashmiri doesn't make someone absolutely right about the politics of the place just like being an Indian doesn't make me know everything about India.
To ask why the discourse on Jammu and Kashmir focuses only on Kashmir is silly – it is known that most atrocities indeed happen in Kashmir, not Jammu or Ladakh. Plus, Ladakh is not under AFSPA!
Besides, it is absolutely ignorant and insensitive of the writer to say that violence by security personnel is justified because somebody protests. Dissent is a right, not a favour for the citizen of a democracy.
Yes! Azaadi is more of a Kashmiri aspiration, but that's because they live under constant trauma.
I am deeply saddened by this article. It gives people enough reasons to block their ears and not listen to the cries of Kashmiris. – Ayesha Verma
The West has overcome its tendency to be shaped and instructed by its old myths far more than the East (“How Indian sages viewed violence (and why western mythology has such different ideas about it”). Of course, the West has replaced its old myths with arrogating scientific and eco-centric frameworks and narratives, but those are also being critically analysed to make space for more deliberative, inclusive and sensitive modes of understanding and living together.
Meanwhile Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, in his The Better Angels of Our Nature, claims that the world has gradually become a less violent place, though he has acknowledges that the process happened in spurts.
In The Civilizing Process, German sociologist Norbert Elias argues that an important part of that process (of reducing violence) is that people become less impulsive and more constrained in their emotions and behaviour, which correlates with society becoming more centralised with regard to collecting taxes and monopolising violence.
His main point is that the structure of personality and the structure of society are two sides of the same coin and that any framework giving primacy of one over the other is bound to overlook and/or misunderstand many phenomena.
I think the writer of the article, Devdutt Pattanaik, comes down on the individualistic side of the coin as he strongly accentuates the role of the solitary sage reconditioning his mind or the enlightened hero engaging society, while downplaying the idea that laws or collective endeavours have any impact. What he seems to overlook is that solitary sages and engaged heroes are made possible, even are tacitly created, by a culture in which such attitudes and mindsets are already incorporated and promoted in its collectively shared narratives.
The point is that self-directed and self-monitoring members of society with a sense of internalised responsibility are both the carriers and reflection of a society in which authorities, institutions and laws are similarly structured.
The sense and structure of individuality into which we are acculturated as inner mind-space has its own history and possibly a locatable origin, as Nietzsche speculated and Jaynes proposed, in the breakdown of the bicameral mind, a mind which hears hallucinated commands experienced as coming from the gods though in reality the left part of the brain instructing the executive right part.
When society became too complex internally and exposed to too many variations of other cultures the more or less collective bicameral mind could hardly handle its function of keeping its members together and functionally organised, and little by little a different mind structure replaced it, one in which the mind talked to itself and reminded itself in a newly constituted single mind-space in the left hemisphere, self-directing what to do, though in moments of stress it would try to reactivate the commands by the gods through oracles and divination, which became increasingly difficult. – Govert Schuller