Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: 'TM Krishna's article recognises the majoritarian desire for an Indian Napoleon'

Readers respond to a recent article on Scroll.in questioning why there is no widespread resistance to public oppression.

Democracy debate

This is a truly incisive and wonderfully introspective article (“Silent disquiet: What explains the lack of large-scale public anger in the face of oppression?”). It’s a masterful look at the connections across timescapes and mindscapes, and at the vast historical and cultural forces driving modern India’s divide. This is one of the few articles I have come across that recognises the deep majoritarian desire for an Indian Napoleon, a raja on a white horse. Well done. – Anant Narain


People are not speaking up because the urban middle class, who lends a voice to the poor, is not affected by demonetisation. Many of them even subscribe to the RSS view that India has, since 2004, witnessed an asset price bubble, with high-denomination notes aplenty and the consequent parallel economy hardly creating jobs. Notebandi has not cornered Modi. On the other hand, it has given him armour for the 2019 general elections. – Sumit Mitra


The writer seems to be unhappy about the absence of unrest, large scale protest, violence and police firing. I agree there is much to be unhappy about state of affairs but only those who have nothing to lose can have the luxury of unorganised protest. Organised and non-violent protest may be required but your article is not conducive to such a result. – R Venkat


Thank you, TM Krishna, for writing this. I salute your interpretation of our current predicament, your exquisite language and your wisdom. I couldn’t have put it any better. – Ashok


It appears as though TM Krishna had no takers for his weird logic and hence this piece.

No politician or leader has ever been perfect in history and Narendra Modi is no exception. Like others before him and even his contemporaries, he too has an agenda – or should we say, a vision. He must be credited for one thing - a clear-headed approach to tackling India’s perennial problems like corruption, sanitation and unemployment.

No leader worth their salt would achieve anything if they looked for approval from all and sundry.

Pleasing self-appointed and self-obsessed so-called Pundits like TM Krishna is impossible as no two experts think alike on any issue. The flaw in this and other such arguments is that they neither appreciate and approve what Modi is doing nor do they offer an alternative that is sanctioned by their fellow intellectuals.

Till such time, Modi is doing the right thing in his own way without bothering too much about what you think, Krishna. Don’t waste your time or ours. – Pankaj Kumar


Indians have long forgotten how to express public anger for matters outside the realm of cricket, Bollywood and social media. The intellectual and spiritual uprightness is long lost.

For decades, Indians have regarded a Western education as sure sign of success. This Indian value system has been deftly used to paralyse the herd and affirm the supremacy of people who aspire to have their picture in books of history for right or wrong reasons. – Chhanda Basu Mullick


Bravo, TM Krishna. Thank you for telling it like it is. Truth and justice are no longer concerns of most of those best equipped to strengthen them in India. The bullying majoritarianism is overwhelming those who feel the disquiet but are being worn down every day. If this becomes fascism, it will be that of Mussolini – all dressed up, and slipping deeper into the sludge. – Amardeep Assar


This article is pure unadulterated psychotic diarrhoea. Democracy has given its verdict. If you don’t like it – shut up and suck it up! – Ram Subrahmanian


This is a very well-written piece and drives home the fact that while we talk about inclusive growth in the form of “sabka saath, sab ka vikas”, we are actually living in some sort of animal farm in which “all animals are born equal but some are more equal than others”. In George Orwell’s novel, the animals started resembling humans at the end – in today’s reality, the reverse seems to be happening. – Manoj Joshi


Thank you, TM Krishna, for an intelligent and considered article! I think you are right when you say: “The psychological war unleashed by this government has effectively crushed response by instilling doubt.”

It is indeed nothing short of astonishing when I hear friends and colleagues at work – all well educated and well read – continuing to defend demonetisation even after it has been thoroughly discredited, both in terms of its economics as well as the collateral damage it has caused. It is almost as if it is immoral to oppose it because doing so makes you anti-national and blind to the greater good of the country!

There is a suspension of critical thought and questioning, a deliberate ignorance of ground realities and data, a meek acceptance of the infringement to our right to property – which one does not expect from the educated, connected, social media savvy class.

Is this how it used to be under Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Kim Jong-il, where the nation was embodied in the Supreme Leader and vice versa? If that’s the direction in which we are headed, I cannot think of a greater tragedy. – Arnab Basak


This article intrigued me, but I could not follow its theme. The author has displayed his vocabulary skills, but they don’ cut ice with the average reader like me. I am representative of a decent percentage of the educated masses, I request the author to convey his thoughts in simpler language. – Sujit


The writer has given words to my feelings. Something has gone terribly wrong with us as a nation. We have succumbed to the whims and fancies of one person. – Madhukar Dhiman


Thank you, TM Krishna, for a well-presented argument. I would like to see articles by you on how women, Dalits, adivasis and Muslims are being affected by policies being rolled out by the governments of the day. – Yogesh Kumar


I hope I have got the gist of what you said. It seems to have come from the heart, but I feel we should be specific rather than talking in general. We are a free- speaking nation. One proof of that is the amount that is written and spoken against Prime Minister Modi. The only time we did enjoy free speech was during Emergency.

With regard to demonetisation, I have seen a lot of condemnation and a lot of praise. Those on either side have their reasons and only time will tell whether the move was good or bad for the country.

From your write up, I get the impression that you are feeling suppressed to express yourself. But I think you have done a fine job of doing that! We are both well-meaning ordinary citizens of this country and we have the welfare of it in our hearts. – AK Luthra


This trend is alarming, to say the least. Hats off to TM Krishna for being bold and straightforward. This issue had been troubling our entire family and friends circle, compounded by the ineffective and poorly executed demonetisation drive of the government. Sridhar


This is a brilliant and extremely thought-provoking article. It raises many uncomfortable questions, the most important being, have we become a nation of slaves and cowards after 800 years of Mughal and 200 years of British rule?

It may sound harsh but if we introspect, we mind find it to be closer to the truth. – Manjeet


Please ask authors of such articles to convey their message in simple words. What is Machiavellian governance? Do you think everyone in India knows what it means?

I tried to Googling it too, but found no clear definitions. I request the author to please write a novel with this flowery language but not an article. It is a given you have a great vocabulary being a professional columnist but do you have to load every article with difficult words that need a Google search to understand? Such words limit readability for an audience like myself.

Please imagine yourself as a reader with just functional understanding of English and political science jargons. You complain of political and philosophical ignorance while you have been one of the gatekeepers
allowing only the get enlightened about these issues. – Jai


This is an insightful piece on the psyche of the common man. The way I see it, India is like a virgin forest with zillions of micro-economic ecosystems that have developed across the century. These have been created through enterprise and hard work, with no reliance on or support from the government. They have no dependency on the government and they all pay their fair share of indirect taxes. Modi & co. are in process of completely destroying these micro-ecosystems, which all collectively fuel the economy.

I live in Seattle, which is among the most prosperous cities in America. However, any regular city is not the same, one of the key reasons being lack of small businesses. America has destroyed its bedrock of small businesses by building a very rigid frame work of tax policies. Small business need zero government intervention, which was the case in India, and now the government is aping the West.

They will soon realise they have stifled a free-flowing economy that has very little reliance on the government, which is the way a true democracy should work.

The government should have rather focused on education, healthcare and tourism. These sectors need attention and can make a definitive change for every Indian. It’s very unfortunate what is going on and I hope my country will bounce back. – Qasim


This is a good and perceptive exposition. – Sumantra Nag


This article has nothing but a bunch of one-liners and some shallow criticism. Dear Scroll.in, lets get real and give us some quality.

Nobody cares for TM Krishna’s opinion on demonetisation and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is just like it never made a difference whether or not he sang at the Margazhi Mahotsavam.

I visit Scroll.in to read healthy criticism of the government and this piece is clearly not an example of that. – Sarayu Srinivasan


Here is an active prime minister, with no family ties in politics, trying to lead India pro-actively without being the puppet of many feudal lords, as was the case of many past prime ministers.

Here is a man who believes he has a vision and is leading by that with the help of an efficient team, whose service I have experienced at first hand when I needed support from the government of India.

And then we have the author, who derides the leader with vision without any substantial proof of corruption or unilateral decision-making. What else can we say about such writers? What is his grouse against people not revolting against the present government?

India has always arisen, whenever it was suppressed in authoritarian ways, as has demonstrated by history.

And if India is not protesting now, it only means one thing – that it is currently happy with their government and prime minister. – Raghunatha Ramaswamy


So what would you prefer, a disquiet which if widespread will send Modi packing, or a tumultuous and or riotous situation? – Satish HV

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

In a first, some of the finest Indian theatre can now be seen on your screen

A new cinematic production brings to life thought-provoking plays as digital video.

Though we are a country besotted with cinema, theatre remains an original source of provocative stories, great actors, and the many deeply rooted traditions of the dramatic arts across India. CinePlay is a new, ambitious experiment to bring the two forms together.

These plays, ‘filmed’ as digital video, span classic drama genre as well as more experimental dark comedy and are available on Hotstar premium, as part of Hotstar’s Originals bouquet. “We love breaking norms. And CinePlay is an example of us serving our consumer’s multi-dimensional personality and trusting them to enjoy better stories, those that not only entertain but also tease the mind”, says Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar.

The first collection of CinePlays feature stories from leading playwrights, like Vijay Tendulkar, Mahesh Dattani, Badal Sircar amongst others and directed by film directors like Santosh Sivan and Nagesh Kukunoor. They also star some of the most prolific names of the film and theatre world like Nandita Das, Shreyas Talpade, Saurabh Shukla, Mohan Agashe and Lillete Dubey.

The idea was conceptualised by Subodh Maskara and Nandita Das, the actor and director who had early experience with street theatre. “The conversation began with Subodh and me thinking how can we make theatre accessible to a lot more people” says Nandita Das. The philosophy is that ‘filmed’ theatre is a new form, not a replacement, and has the potential to reach millions instead of thousands of people. Hotstar takes the reach of these plays to theatre lovers across the country and also to newer audiences who may never have had access to quality theatre.

“CinePlay is merging the language of theatre and the language of cinema to create a third unique language” says Subodh. The technique for ‘filming’ plays has evolved after many iterations. Each play is shot over several days in a studio with multiple takes, and many angles just like cinema. Cinematic techniques such as light and sound effects are also used to enhance the drama. Since it combines the intimacy of theatre with the format of cinema, actors and directors have also had to adapt. “It was quite intimidating. Suddenly you have to take something that already exists, put some more creativity into it, some more of your own style, your own vision and not lose the essence” says Ritesh Menon who directed ‘Between the Lines’. Written by Nandita Das, the play is set in contemporary urban India with a lawyer couple as its protagonists. The couple ends up arguing on opposite sides of a criminal trial and the play delves into the tension it brings to their personal and professional lives.


The actors too adapted their performance from the demands of the theatre to the requirements of a studio. While in the theatre, performers have to project their voice to reach a thousand odd members in the live audience, they now had the flexibility of being more understated. Namit Das, a popular television actor, who acts in the CinePlay ‘Bombay Talkies’ says, “It’s actually a film but yet we keep the characteristics of the play alive. For the camera, I can say, I need to tone down a lot.” Vickram Kapadia’s ‘Bombay Talkies’ takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions as seven personal stories unravel through powerful monologues, touching poignant themes such as child abuse, ridicule from a spouse, sacrifice, disillusionment and regret.

The new format also brought many new opportunities. In the play “Sometimes”, a dark comedy about three stressful days in a young urban professional’s life, the entire stage was designed to resemble a clock. The director Akarsh Khurana, was able to effectively recreate the same effect with light and sound design, and enhance it for on-screen viewers. In another comedy “The Job”, presented earlier in theatre as “The Interview”, viewers get to intimately observe, as the camera zooms in, the sinister expressions of the interviewers of a young man interviewing for a coveted job.

Besides the advantages of cinematic techniques, many of the artists also believe it will add to the longevity of plays and breathe new life into theatre as a medium. Adhir Bhat, the writer of ‘Sometimes’ says, “You make something and do a certain amount of shows and after that it phases out, but with this it can remain there.”

This should be welcome news, even for traditionalists, because unlike mainstream media, theatre speaks in and for alternative voices. Many of the plays in the collection are by Vijay Tendulkar, the man whose ability to speak truth to power and society is something a whole generation of Indians have not had a chance to experience. That alone should be reason enough to cheer for the whole project.


Hotstar, India’s largest premium streaming platform, stands out with its Originals bouquet bringing completely new formats and stories, such as these plays, to its viewers. Twenty timeless stories from theatre will be available to its subscribers. Five CinePlays, “Between the lines”, “The Job”, “Sometimes”, “Bombay Talkies” and “Typecast”, are already available and a new one will release every week starting March. To watch these on Hotstar Premium, click here.

This article was produced on behalf of Hotstar by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.