Stone’s throw

I live in the Middle East in a country with a nearly 100% Muslim population (“Pelters and ‘pelleters’: What Kashmir can learn from the stoning of the devil at the Haj”). I have never seen any stone pelting anywhere in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in the 16 years that I have been here, not even during the Bahrain protests of 2011.

I have serious doubts about the thesis that the Haj stone throwing is the inspiration behind Kashmiri youth.

The tactic of stone pelting is being copied is from the Palestinian example (against Israel).

Those in Kashmir well organised groups of stone throwers under professional leadership, used only to provoke an opposite response and escalate violence while blaming others. – Bhaskar Majumdar

Neighbourhood ties

The setback to Indian business will be temporary (“Think before you fall for #BoycottChina. Breaking trade ties will hurt Indian business”). In the long run, industry will flourish and there will be massive employment generation if we boycott China goods. It’s good business sense. – Ameet B Bhurariaa

On the edge

The people living in border near the Line of Control in Jammu division, in areas such as Dharati, Bharooti, Balakote and Dhari Dabbis Panchayats, appeal to the government to fulfil their various demands as they constantly live in danger (“'Get out, the Pakistanis are coming': For lakhs along the Punjab border, war has already begun”).

There is need to construct concrete bunkers for all families living in the war zone. These bunkers should be built at a place where people can live with safety and honour, and can transact their daily business.

The firing has not only caused immense hardship to people but also destroyed crops and houses. How long will the firing continue? One does not know.

At least marlas of land should be allotted to every family in a safe zone of the tehsil mendhar in Pooch district, preferably in village Gohald, Dharana, Kotian and Air or Galhutta. The healthcare facilities are also a prime concern to the locals as the non-resident medical authorities fail to perform their duties in tense situations. In this regard, the people have asked for the appointment of locals for pharmacist/staff nurse training so that the residents are facilitated on time.

The labour class in the areas have suffered heavily as they have been unable to venture out of their houses. The crops are also damaged. Residents have asked for free ration for a period of at least six months. There is poor electricity and people have asked for remittance of monthly rent from the authorities till the power is restored. At least four medical aid centres or sub-centres and ambulance facilities should be provided in villages Panjani, Ramlutta, Kanga, Datote while the sanctioned sub-centre Sohala should be made functional. A special care unit should be provided for Dheri village. – MS Nazki

Who created the Taliban and IS (“US vice-presidential debate: Candidates Tim Kaine, Mike Pence clash over immigration, Islamic State”)? It was the Republicans. Subsequenltly, millions have been displaced and as many lost their lives in the war on terror. Trillions of dollars have been lost.

Blame game

They could have avoided forming Taliban and IS by imposing severe sanctions. In the world, peace and prosperity would have been better. Tony Blair has apologised. But none of the Republicans have. – Mohamed Salahudeen

Love thy neighbour

Why would you say this, Javed Miandad and for what (“Pakistanis are waiting to give their lives in battle with India, says former cricketer Javed Miandad”)?

Why don’t you rationally think of the following:

Why did so many countries pull out of the SAARC meet, eventually prompting its cancellation? Don't you worry about the image of Pakistan in the world?

Second, is Kashmir becoming the road block for prosperity and development of Pakistan?

How long will this hatred, animosity and harsh mentality will continue with a neighbouring country?

As the almighty says, “love thy neighbour.” – Mohamed Salahudeen

A land divided

This is not just happening in Muzaffarnagar but in all of Western Uttar Pradesh – and even in other parts of India, I’m sure (“Muzaffarnagar riots: ‘We had been brothers until yesterday. Where did this hatred come from?'”).

Why is there so much hatred and animosity today between people who had been living together peacefully for centuries?

Who is sowing these seeds of hatred? And is there any way to root it out?

There are several questions, but no apparent answers. – Akhter Zaidi

Good reads

I want to thank for this fantastic, much-needed interview (“'India has been a sexual wasteland for two centuries': An interview with psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar”). I particularly liked the last question on the current Indian political climate. – Savio


Thanks for this interview. Please give us more interviews by scholars. – Sri Manjunath


Dear! Have you really understood what Sudhir Kakar wants to say? – Mujahid Jafri

In memoriam

I salute the late Ferdinand Marcos for ruling the Philippines with an iron fist and without fear or Western influence (“Former dictator Marcos might be buried as a hero in the Philippines, despite human rights abuses”).

As the chief executive officer of the country, he did what he felt was right and he gave direction that he wanted the republic of Philippines to follow as Filipinos.

I was young during his regime and I wish I had got a chance to meet him, so that he could share with me tips on leadership, governance and his vision for the Philippines for in future.

Marcos deserves a decent and national send-off and world leaders should be invited to witness a hero's burial. Rest in peace, Ferdinand Marcos. – Benson Kioko

Behind the scenes

Though I don't read articles on Bollywood too often, I must say that this is one of the most well-thought-out and researched pieces l have read (“To propel star kids into orbit in the Hindi film universe, positioning is everything”).

Talent management is the most important part of any industry and articles like this allow the general public to understand what goes on behind the scenes. – Sanjay Vadia

Castles in the sky

The very premise of the Rafale deal is the purported shortage in combat squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons (“The Rafale deal is a perfect case study in what is wrong with India's defence planning and purchases”).

But the fact is that we now have many missile squadrons. Missiles such as Agni, Prithvi and Brahmos replace the strike role of fighters and bombers. And Surface to Air Missiles such as Akash, replace fighters in the air defence role. Hence, the supposed shortage is a myth.

Each Rafale costs four times the Sukhoi 30. Add to this cost of infrastructure, inventory and training and it becomes much more expensive. Also, training pilots on the new aircraft is the costliest hidden cost of the Rafale deal. – J Thomas


While defence reporting in India remains shabby, your article reflects how little journalists know of defence.

I will correct all your flawed assumptions and hope you do a fact check at your end.

That Rafale and Su 30 MKI have the same capabilities is possible the most flawed statement in your article. Rafale is an aircraft that is currently the best 4++ generation fighter in the world and matches the capability of F- 15 strike eagle.

Why do we need such aircraft?

Because, the MKI, while being very powerful, cannot undertake deep penetration strikes and ground attack roles. This is because MKI has a very high radar cross-section which makes it easy for a SAM system to detect.

Rafale a very potent aircraft that can conduct suppression of enemy air defences or destruction of enemy air defences missions and will also be the only aircraft that can penetrate Chinese SAM systems for a deep strike

Also the contention that the Rafale will replace with MIG-21s is wrong. Both are different classes of aircraft.

MIG-21 can only be replaced by Tejas, which is a light but modernised aircraft.

I urge you to be responsible in defence reporting. – Varun


This article seems to peg a jet against onions.

Rafale is a much better jet than the Sukhoi. The official numbers show that two Sukhois are needed to tackle one F16 which Pakistan has. One Rafale can be tackled by two F16s.

Your article is silent on French investment in India, which forms a part of the deal. For Rs 58,000 crore you get the jets and a French industrial plant in India, which will get us employment and industrialisation.

Further, I understand that this industrialisation would be more in the defence sector. So you can understand the advantage. – Prakhar Pandey


The writer lacks foresight and his views are myopic. Our other sources for aircraft are the US and the Russians. Their strategic interests are not exactly aligned with ours.

Obviously, our goal is to achieve self sufficiency. The Russians have made attractive promises, but have delivered nothing. Our MIGs have turned into flying coffins. The Russians delayed the fitment of Soviet Aircraft Carrier Admiral Goskhov by years and charged us for the delay.

More importantly, their strategic interests are now aligning with those of China and Pakistan. So in the event of any hostility with either country, they can potentially stop deliveries of machines and spares.

The US’ strategic position, on the other hand, is simply that they put themselves first. Of late, they have been warming up to us more, but that, to some extent, is to contain China. So we cannot depend wholly on them either. With the shifting winds, their priorities can change.

In my opinion, France is a much better and more reliable partner for defence procurement. – JC Mehta


With all due respect to the writer of this piece (and several others like it I've read elsewhere), the analysis betrays his ignorance of factors determining defence procurement processes.

Defence aircraft purchases don’t work like an IT infrastructure tender - where there are a multiplicity of systems and the lowest bidder ones. In fact, thanks to the Bofors scandal 20 years ago, the procurement procedure has been more codified and is fairly rigorous. The Bofors gun, incidentally, excelled in field performance at Kargil.

To explain the procedure briefly, first, a technical competencies list is drawn up by the Air Force against which the bidders have to qualify. Five made the shortlist. This verification is done through actual flight tests and demonstration of strike capability, among other factors; it’s not just a paper review.

Then, the aircraft ideally need to be combat proven. This is no different from any hi-tech, hi-end devices. Some of the latest aircraft need not be combat tested, which poses a significant risk.

Splitting procurement reduces political risks or leverage of the kind that the US is known to exercise. It is well known that they sold downgraded F-16s to our neighbours.

Our problems with spares and supplies of MiGs have a lot do with the collapse of the Soviet Union. So splitting this is up is actually an advantage.

None of this is to deflect from the almost 15 years it has taken to arrive at this deal or the general tardy performance on defence procurement and supplies.

However, the article talks about this deal in the same tenor as it would about a road contract, which is disappointment. – Prasanna Srinivasan