Thinking Right

If you believe that Left thinkers are intellectual and have democratic values then let them have their space and let the public decide whom they support (“From social media to summits: How India’s right wing is trying to create its own intellectual space”). In a democracy, hegemony is not required. Spewing venom about our history you may get some awards in the West but that will go when you are gone. Help India set its history the right way. Don’t be so rattled by the rise of Right. – Amish Pandey


I can’t help but notice the sneering tone of the article. Is it the case that so-called left liberals are in some way god-ordained to hold narratives? India has a history of conquests and colonial rule. It needs to sort out the prejudices of the conquerors and regain lost intellectual space. Why do the baby steps bother your writer?

Rajiv Malhotra, by the way, is the author of half a dozen well-researched and passionate books. The writer of the article should be happy with the effort. – Bindu Tandon


In this article, you say that “This is a remarkable achievement for Malhotra, given that he has been caught plagiarising from other authors, an act Malhotra defends by arguing that his decision not to attribute material was driven by the fact that quotation marks were a Western convention not found in the Sanskrit language.” This is a completely dishonest claim and that is how the Left in India plays. Rajiv Malhotra has gone on record to say that he had given 32 references to the person whose statements he had quoted. Shame on you for not even having compunction for being honest. – Ravindra Koul


The author does not seem to have done due diligence while writing about Rajiv Malhotra. He claims that Malhotra was charged with plagiarism. In an earlier edition of his work Indra’s Net, Malhotra quoted Andrew Nicholson 35 times. At three places, the indentation was lost during copy editing, though the text attributes the quotes to Nicholson. How is this plagiarism? Should one not assume that the author is showing a religious bias? – Ashok Rajpal

Editor’s note: This tweet from Rajiv Malhotra contradicts the claims of these letter writers.


This is an interesting overview of the current academic thought. The point is that one can have different outlooks, but must establish their claims through logic and reason and certainly not mythology! – Suguna Pathy


It will be good if the author understood how Islam and Christianity have annihilated whom they did not like or forced them to convert. Even if it is agreed that 1% of doubts & fear the author expresses are true, the Indian right wing members identified by him are far less harmful. The author should not create unnecessary doubts and fears about the right wing. It has always been truly secular without modern-day preachers and pseudo intellectuals. Is it wrong to be proud of my religion? – KM Veerabhadra

Second innings

The younger generation is being fed with malarkey under the guise of development. (
“Has demonetisation marked the return of Manmohan Singh?”). Demonetisation was ostensibly done to eradicate black money but has taken different hues like digitalisation and cashless India. All this has made India crash land with the wind knocked out of its sails – the net result is more than 80 deaths, billions of productive man hours lost, daily wage earners losing their livelihood and driven to starvation. What have we let ourselves into, merely to satisfy the jingoism of an egoist? – Subbaiyer Mani


The author, as a result of the hallucinations or insanity induced by the impact of demonetisation, surmises the return of the most ineffective and selfish prime minister India ever had. Manmohan Singh is shameless to enter the public space after ruining the economy despite being an economist. Modi is struggling to cleanse the dirt accumulated by the inoperative Prime Minister Singh. – Somayajulu


This is a well-written and argued article. Ajaz Ashraj puts across his point in beautiful language and I congratulate him for this piece. However, nobody is going to pay heed to the arguments put forth in the article from the Modi establishment, or even to Manmohan Singh’s suggestions. Singh and Ashraf have done their duty towards the country, hats off to their sincerity! – SM Mallick

Prime-time noise

Initially I liked watching Arnab Goswami’s prime time show and it became a habit for me, but this year, it became increasingly clear that he controls the discussion and does not allow participants to respond. His constant shouting was improper. He would impose his views on others and not let them respond too. However, his asked brave questions and I wish him all the best. – Kailash Vyas


We are missing you Arnab Goswami and no anchor has been able to fill the void created by his exit. I have lost interest in watching English news. I hope he comes back to television soon.
Muralidhara S


Jargon deceives meaning
confuses and distorts
All talk and no listening
Babel of sorts only

Welcome to Heckle Hour
News anchors disrobing as panelists
Heckling all and sundry
Hardened party spokespersons masquerading as patriots
Nationalism becomes a refuge of scoundrels

Welcome to Heckle Hour
Discussion of issues or shrill rhetoric
High octane drama unfolding on channels
Finger-pointing anchors
Baying for monosyllabic reply
With polemist bullies around

Welcome to Heckle Hour
Subjective merit
lingers for inequality
Million mutinies

We the nation
turned to a fossil
Objectivity becomes
a cuss word
News is killed systematically

Welcome to Heckle Hour
Blinkered anchor-cum-news narcissist
out-shouting as judge and jury
burning or burying condemned
ones interests endogamous
or corporate run amok

Goodbye heckle hour! – Mahendra

Selling well

Baba Ramdev earned a dedicated following of more than two crore people through his yoga and his chikitsalaya (clinic), where people were given free consultations (“Out-Bransoning Branson: How Baba Ramdev built a uniquely elastic brand with Patanjali”). For other fast moving consumer goods to replicate this is virtually impossible. People like Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna are inspired and are hence able to inspire other people. This, I feel, is the secret to Patanjali’s success. – Raj Kumar Dham

Son rise

One wonders why Karunanidhi took so long to hand over more control of the DMK to Stalin (“Elevation for Stalin: In the DMK, the son may finally be set to rise”). It is true that Stalin did not seem like a match for Jayalalithaa when she made strides in the political landscape of Tamil Nadu.Even the most astute and Machiavellian Karunanidhi had to struggle a to make his presence felt when she ruled the roost, with the power of her eloquence and populist moves.

Any caring father would love to let his progeny take flight when the winds are favourable. Definitely, in the political vacuum created by Jayalalithaa’s demise, Stalin will be more comfortable, especially when a greenhorn Sasikala is poised to take over the leadership of AIDMK. But Stalin cannot however afford to take the challenge lightly as it is possible she had acquired sufficient skills to fight DMK in the political domain from her long association with Jayalalithaa. – Vijayachandran P

Caste reservations

This is a very sad story of caste-based discrimination (“When a Dalit sarpanch in Maharashtra won the chair, but lost the table”). Despite such stories, there is severe opposition to caste-based reservations among the urban elite. Such stories highlight the need for even more affirmative action like reservations today and much into the future.

The urban elite need to understand, as Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament last year, that reservations for scheduled castes and tribes are not about poverty but about social inequality and political and educational backwardness. The economic poverty of these classes is but the result of this oppression and backwardness. Hence, the validity of reservation (and similar measures) cannot be disputed. As such stories show, it would be selfish and foolish to oppose such efforts. – Rajratna Jadhav

Mythological connections

I am an avid reader of and have a deep interest in mythology and history and was therefore pleased to read such this beautiful article by Urmi Chanda-Vaz
(“What Greek myths have in common with Indian mythology (and why it matters)“). I was taken aback when I read in the article that “Nemo” means “nothing”, which means Finding Nemo really amounts to finding nothing! The author’s cross-disciplinary approach is truly laudable.

But surprisingly, I find that “Nemo” means “no one” or “nobody” in Latin, which means finding Nemo accounts to “finding no one” which I find more justifiable. We even find a Captain “Nemo” in the writings of the Jules Verne – and this second meaning of Nemo goes well with this character too.

Also, not just Greek names, but some Greek and Indian mythological stories also have striking similarities. For example, the there is much in common between Achilles from Iliad and our very own Duryodhan of the Mahabharata. Both are truly unbeatable in the war but have a weak point in their body that can lead to their defeat. Achilles was invincible in all of his body except for his heel, so the Duryodhan.

Lastly, I think as we are now almost certain that our own Sanskrit and Greek are derived from a the same mother language, called Proto-Indo-European, hence the similarities in our mythologies. – Sankhajyoti Maitra

Claiming space

This article propounds a senseless and baseless generalisation
(“Why can’t women be like men [especially when it helps them reclaim public spaces]?”). The so-called feminist writers are never bothered about the blatant misuse of gender- biased laws that have been put in place to seemingly protect women.

While commuting on public transport in India, one frequently sees women breaking the line, knowing that if any man protests, he can be silenced right away by citing the umpteen number of female safety laws. However, should a man dare to raise his voice against women, god save him.

In an extremely crowded bus or metro, if you, as a male passenger, happens to accidentally brush against a woman, you may have to face a verbal and/or physical assault of the worst kind even before you realise you did that. During informal chats with my female colleagues at work, I have often heard words of pity from them for the male population and how in such situations, the woman’s word is always given more credibility.

I don’t mean to imply that women are not at extreme pains on a daily basis in India, but the problem is way more pronounced in rural areas, where the long arm of law does not reach. For educated urban women, the situation is continuously improving. We as a society need to realise that by blindly victimising men, we are probably treading the reservation path. Women need to start fighting with their fathers, brothers and sons as forcefully as they would and should against any and every shameless molester. Maybe instead of fruitlessly victimising more innocent men, we may end up creating stronger women and lesser shameless men. Also, “manspreading “ may be due to more body mass of the male body and the ever-increasing reservation of seats for women in transportation. – Ashutosh Singh

Local trade

This article describing the informal financing system in Varanasi and the impact of demonetisation on it made for informative and interesting read (“Informal credit systems: Modi has crippled a very Indian way of doing business”).

The unintended outcome of demonetisation – the short-term pain for almost all cash-dependent transactions – has been well documented. However, if we view demonetisation in conjunction with certain other government initiatives, we may re-evaluate its impact on informal financing methods.

You have highlighted the problem of exclusion of small traders from the banking system because of lack of collateral and the consequent dependence on informal lending mechanisms. As your article correctly points out, moneylenders are a very important link in this eco system. They can be demonised and wished away, but that will not make things better.

Yet, we also need to factor in the cost – 3% per transaction is the “poverty penalty” for a low credit worthy individual, which, ironically, pushes them into more defaults.The movement of small and micro borrowers towards informal lending mechanism is certainly not a fall out of demonetisation. It has existed since long. It is to address this problem that the governement has created the Micro Unit Development Refinance Agency, which gives money to informal lenders. So it is not correct to say that informal lenders are targeted by demonetisation.

It might be a valid argument if one were to say that the structures are not yet in place and the government has hastened the cure before the patient was ready. To this, one only has to recognise that there is never a “right time” for measures such as these.

The other significant initiative is the differentiated banking licenses available on tap from the RBI. The concept of one large centralised banking system with cheques and demand drafts and collaterals is already getting substituted with smaller and nimble systems such as small banks and payment banks. These banks offer technology enabled solutions instead of “negotiable instrument” enabled solutions. Small banks and payment banks are already functional and are expanding across geographies. Bandhan Bank may be a good example of a small financial institution that lends to micro enterprises.

I put forth all of the above arguments not to belittle the suffering of the common man or the small trader, but just to put in perspective the efforts of the government in recognising and strengthening the informal lending systems in India. – Ranjani