Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: 'The decision to start the New Year with poetry brought much joy'

A selection of readers' opinions.

New beginnings

This decision to start the New Year with poetry has brought me much joy (“Why we are welcoming 2017 with a sonnet (and more poetry) instead of the news”). It was such a relief to read positive thoughts instead of news that depresses and dampens each day of late. Thank you and all the very best for the new year. May Scroll.in keep bringing us music and poetry. – Shenny

***

What a pleasure it was to see this wonderful collection of poems as our introduction to 2017. Thank you for setting us on a high and elevating path. – Lalita Ramdas

Looking back

Please don’t highlight only what you know, please don’t address only the corporate crowd and the media who carries all anti-Modi news (“A year of outrageous lies: From economic growth to job creation to demonetisation”). How many times you have visited rural India and written on the poverty and struggle of the people there?

Don’t assume that the average Indians has no brains. In a democracy, statistics are only meant for people like you and some corporate newspapers and media persons. People have many other scales to measure the success of the government. Continue your intolerant attitude along with your friends. Go watch a movie to see how people stand up for the national anthem. This will show you how mindsets have changed in the last two years. – Sarva Mangala

***

I was just reading your article and tried to find a good source for the 220 million job losses figure you have cited, but I couldn’t find one. Is this an estimate or a verified figure? – Vedant Lath

***

Let’s assume that Modi and the BJP messed up big time and let’s kick them out in the next elections and vote the Congress back to power. We don’t have the patience to wait for 2.5 more years but have waited for 60+ years under Congress, who is responsible for where we are. China was behind India in 1947. See where the Congress got us in 2016 and see where China is? Let’s blame that too on Modi, huh?

Let’s assume demonetisation is a one-dimensional thing and hence assume it has failed. So, what are the alternatives? To do nothing, like the Congress did, and make announcements when election are due?

The problem with folks like you is you probably paid for a write up so you would have articles written up both ways. Whatever is BJP or government position, just write a contrarian opinion and get paid by the masters.

Good thing is even though India media has sold their souls (world does not recognise Indian media), it has failed miserably to convince common people whom vote for and that’s what matters most. – Sanjeev Darftardar

Historical perspectives

Indians do not, in fact, need white saviours (“From Macaulay to Frawley, from Doniger to Elst: Why do many Indians need White saviours?”). Indian civilisation has thrown up a complete way of living that we call Hinduism. The greatest proponent of this State is Sri Aurobindo. His writings on India, particularly in his book The Renaissance in India, are inspiring and remind us of the great destiny that India embodies. We will do well to give him the attention he deserves and we will be inspired by his vision of India and her role in the world today. – BJ White

***
As we grow up, we soak in the influences around us – social, cultural and economical. To be detached from these at a later stage requires a conscious catharsis, which is painful.
As this article suggests, the way out is to grow intellectually to a realisation of the influence factors and know these for what they are and move forward from there. Of course, it is much easier at personal level than at collective one. – Mistry

***

An otherwise intelligent and well-read person, Devdutt Pattanaik seems to have written this article with Hindutva appeasement in mind.

The title of this piece is stupid. This thing about many Indians needing “white saviours” is such a tired and tiring cliché! It exposes the incurable inferiority complex of the critic – not of those being criticised.

One is free to admire and follow saviours of any colour one chooses.

Moreover, Macaulay did not impose English education, as erroneously stated here and in so many more articles over the years.

On the contrary, Rammohun Roy and Vidyasagar approached Macaulay and requested English education for Indians, to enable them to learn science and benefit from technical education.

Both of them thought that Indians deserved to get the benefits of a scientific education, instead of just learning Sanskrit or Arabic at the paathshalas and madrassas of the time. It was a progressive step for them and Macaulay acceded to their request. That’s how Hindu College et al were born.

I get this information from the writings of the late Braj Kachru, a well-known professor of English and linguistics. If I remember right, this is also mentioned in Sunil Gangopadhay’s Sei Din Sei Ratri.

I also disagree with Pattanaik about Sheldon Pollock. I had the good luck to listen to Pollock’s talk at the Jaipur Literature Festival and was completely bowled over by his intellect, learning and passion for not only Sanskrit but also the vernaculars and their classical versions! He was berating us for not knowing our classical languages.

Hindutvawadis need to overcome their inferiority complex vis-a-vis Western scholars. – Rina Sen

***

I applaud the candid analysis of Devdutt Pattanaik. By no means can science and religion be on the same page, given the myopia essential to the objectivity needed for scientific research that paradoxically overlooks subjectivity and consciousness.

The question “Why do many Indians need White saviours?” deserves in-depth scrutiny. Such a stage has come because the Indian educational system is grounded on English, alien to Indian Sanskriti, which is subservient to the Western way of thinking, reasoning and objectivity.

This has led to loss of the alternate metaphysics and original thinking that thrived on Dharmic traditions. This, no wonder, led to the origin and realisation of spirituality India, unlike the West. The recent history of India, dominated by invasions followed by colonisation, has hurt but could not break Dharmic traditions.

The British system of education was designed to serve the purpose of the colonisers to sustain the unsustainable in the cradle of civilisation. Given the situation, it is no surprise that most Indians got focused on studies of science, medicine, engineering, which permitted people to earn livelihoods.

But the studies of humanities could not develop on a borrowed British platform of education, alien to local culture. The missionaries found it a fertile field to achieve their objective of conversions to further deviate these people from their native heritage.

Unfortunately, the post-colonial India failed to focus on developing an educational system that had its origins in its own civilisational platform. The results are obvious that the West has engaged in greater research in Hindu philosophy and civilisation than the Indians themselves.

So, Indians are left with no choice but to look to the few Western academics, some of whom have developed a blurred understanding because of out-of-context understanding and optics intermingled with politics and social situations with many underlying causes.

To be fair, some Western academics did their best to understand but they were alien to Hindu civilisation or disconnected from it.

Unless India reclaims its rich civilisational heritage through institutional mechanisms, there is little hope that it will need to look to Western academics and survive at their whims, rightly or wrongly.

If India wants to be a contributor to the world of thought, it should establish universities and centres for advanced research and studies in Dharma, languages, Ayurveda, Sanskriti and the like. – Azad Kaushik

Russian winters

This piece is so well narrated and loaded with information (“USSR collapse: 25 years after the political spring of 1991, Russia is facing a long and dark winter”). I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas read. Such academic content is something that makes Scroll.in a preferred news portal for me. Keep it up! – Ranjib

Misunderstanding feminism

I had to read this article at least thrice to confirm that it was not ironic or satirical (“It’s not cool to say the F-word anymore. And feminists, you’re to blame for it”). People don’t call themselves to be feminists in order to be “cool”. Is that what people think it is about? So, is that why so many women have been fighting for their rights (including the right to vote) for so many years?

The narrative of man-hating written in this article is so old... this is probably being said for the thousandth time – feminism does not mean misandry. The enemy of feminism is patriarchy, and all forms of it.

Sure, I understand there are certain inherent issues in feminism as well, like lack of diversity or unexplored areas like caste-based issues faced by women, transphobia etc. But, these issues are not fixed by making anti-feminist statements; instead feminism should be made more inclusive.

And if, respecting all women and other genders and providing them with equal opportunities is labelled as man-hating, then you know where the actual problem lies. – Deekshitha Dinesan

***

The author meant this to be satirical, right? Otherwise it seemed like a mewling and puking baby. – Sreejata Roy

***

I must admit, I didn’t read the entire article – or rather, I couldn’t. The title itself is so preposterous that it made me cringe. But then, I have been a regular reader at Scroll.in and I hoped this was a parody, so I went back to read it. Oh, I have so much to say about definition and scope of feminism, but let’s just say that this article was indeed a parody. – Saee Bhosale

Serious note

I am not able to understand why the writer has taken the trouble to unearth these myths and then castigate them (“Twelve of the most ludicrous rumours about Chennai’s famed music season”). It is a poor attempt to laugh at Chennai or the people who benefit from the festival (including a few auto drivers). Instead, let us recognise the spirit of the occasion and the happiness it brings to music lovers. – S Natarajan

Flight of fantasy

If airlines are falling short of creative ideas to extort additional money, or should we say, punishing passengers for flying with them, here are few more things they can charge for: Use of the bus to get to aircraft, use of ladder to board the aircraft, stepping on the floor of the aircraft, storing of hand baggage in overhead bins or under seat (with time, they should charge for keeping the hand bag on the lap too), keeping personal belonging in the seat pocket, using the arm rest, using the loo and last but not the least, use of oxygen to breathe in the aircraft (“Passengers will now be charged extra to book even middle seats on domestic flights”)

All the airlines in India - go ahead and extort money, you have nothing to lose except passengers! – Dilip Paranjpe

***

I would expect Jayant Sinha, civil aviation minister, to be pro active and take decisive action in favour of passengers. I have not heard of any customer-friendly decisions taken by Sinha since he assumed the post. Time is running out. – Praveen

Cinema view

I enjoyed this piece about the movies of 2016 but I wish you had not counted Befikre among the better movies of the year (“Bollywood 2016: The year’s best, middling and worst movies”). It pandered to the worst perceptions that the West has about India and the lead couple had less chemistry than my Class 9 textbook. There are better ways to showcase modern romances and Aditya Chopra has a lot to learn.

On the other hand, Aligarh was hauntingly poignant and I wish more people had watched it. Most of the movie is just two people on screen and yet they deliver, and how!

I hope 2017 continues the trend of having movies on varied topics. – Tripta Roy

Digital dilemma

The author seems to have certain misconceptions about the government’s push for cashless payments (“Going digital: The way our government is implementing technology is an attack on our freedom”).

Attack on our freedom? Seriously? You think offline transactions where people can easily hide taxes and generate black money is not an attack on our freedom? When transactions are done online, there’s no scope to hide taxes since everything comes to the fore.

For your information, the government is not interested in getting inside your personal accounts or your private chats. Black money cripples the economy and if anything can be done to prevent this it is going cashless.

If you are worried that people are being forced to go cashless and that they don’t have a choice, you are mistaken. Has cash been completely removed from the economy? Is there anything like a totalitarian cashless society policy being implemented?

New notes are still in use and if you are so worried about the attack on your freedom, use cash instead. The government’s wants to promote a cashless economy is so that the public becomes aware of an easier and more reliable method of dealing in money.

As citizens of India, we have the right to get information on any government policy. If you want to find out more about anything, you are free to file for RTI. No one’s stopping you.

I don’t see us compromising any rights in exchange of our growth. How is going cashless related to compromising rights in any way? Cashless transactions are a reliable and more user-friendly.

Any major change requires a push. If there isn’t any urge to promote a cashless society, it’s not possible to achieve one. I agree that there are certain problems that people are facing like lack of cash, long queues, etc but, we must look at the big picture. To achieve a target is a long battle. It’s just like a baby learning how to walk. At times, the baby might fall and get bruises. But all these failures are just learning lessons.
Sankalp Srivastava

***

This is an interesting article. Is it okay for Reliance Jio to have access to your Aadhar details? They seem to have the entire database with them since they take your fingerprints and Aadhar no to verify and issue a SIM. Isn’t this an infringement of our privacy laws? Do other Telecom players also have access to our Aadhar profiles? If yes why aren’t civil rights groups taking this issue up? – Feroz Jinnah

History revisited

I have a theory that the “U” sign frequently seen on the Indus valley seals signifies Shiva, the male god, who is also represented by the shivling – an upturned “U” (“Mohenjo-daro’s ‘Dancing Girl’ is Hindu goddess Parvati, claims paper in ICHR journal: Indian Express”). The female goddess associated with him as “ma”, represented on the seals by a fish sign with a crown. Thus the U and ma together become Uma, a name of Parvati. Any takers for this theory? – Joysree Das

Crime and currency

Old notes have already been scrapped, as announced by the prime minister, so what is the need of this ordinance (“Centre considering ordinance banning possession of old currency notes over Rs 10,000 in value”)? The media should also write about the implications and benefits of it. – Santosh Kumar

Video star

George Michael was definitely a master of the music video (“Whatever you may think of his music, George Michael’s videos were always stylish, cool and cinematic”). We’ve lost so many artists this year. There’s a big void now. – Jane

A way out

No lasting solution can be found to the conflicts in Manipur and other Northeastern states without bringing all stakeholders on board (“This year’s stalemate in Manipur is a sequel to blockades past”). The multiple factions of the Naga and Meitei movements, the Kuki groups, smaller tribes demanding autonomy, the state government and civil society groups must all sit together and hammer out a solution. The home ministry would do well to take the lead as this cannot be termed a law and order situation. The non-inclusion of certain areas during the creation of Nagaland has ensured an enduring conflict. The cession of the Kabaw Valley to Myanmar has added to the Meitei anger. There is no easy solution. – Vivan Eyben

Past mistakes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in some ways similar to the 14th century Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq (“Modi’s theory of relativity: The 50-day deadline for demonetisation has been stretched indefinitely”). Both of them were intellectually blessed. Both of them have political power. And both of them lack the skill of proper planning and implementation.

Both rulers also aimed to change the economic system, by changing the means of currency exchange. While Tughlaq aimed at introducing token economy, Modi aimed at bringing about a cashless economy and ending corruption.

Tughlaq introduced copper coins and Modi demonetised 86% of the currency in circulation, introducing new notes.

These were definitely phenomenal ideas but weren’t executed well and therefore caused a lot of pain to the common man. When implemented, they almost seemed Utopian. With regard to Modi’s plan, a cashless economy will not work very well in a country with widespread illiteracy. Corruption will also make its way back unless stronger systems are implemented.

Token currency was a huge failure. The success or failure of demonetization is yet to be decided. All we can do now is hope that the leaders in the future learn from the past mistakes and think and plan properly before implementing anything. – Jennifer Hanna Charles

Group trouble

This rings so true and hits home (“Ties that blind: Strong views on demonetisation are threatening to disrupt family WhatsApp groups”). The impact of this move on family discussions is incredible. – Atul Kumar

Reinforcing stereotypes

I was disgusted by this headline, which implies that grown men don’t usually cry (“Indian sportsperson of the year #3: 2016 was the year in which Dipa Karmakar made grown men cry”). I expected Scroll.in to do better than reinforce patriarchal gender stereotypes.

I wonder how many of your readers read this without batting an eyelid at the headline. I am sure neither your writer nor your average reader considers them self sexist. But patriarchy and sexism are not always overt. Such subtle forms of patriarchy are all-pervasive and have been normalised.

Feminism is not about any one gender, but about freeing all from the gendered societal constructs that bind them. If we are to comprehensively tackle issues of gender equality, it is imperative to recognise this. Feminism needs its male allies, and I hope men can see feminism as an opportunity for male liberation also, rather than as an occasion for guilt. – Selva Swetha

Dowry laws

I normally hate to share my comments stealthily through email instead of on open forums, but your website does not allow comments, hence I am forced to write this (“Documentary attacking Section 498A rests on weak arguments and sweeping generalisations”). Your article says that the film is based on first-hand experiences of victims of the misuse of Dowry laws, but rues that it does not include the views of female complainants. In which feminist documentary on rape did you ever see the other point of view? All rape documentaries that have ever received any recognition are based on the one-sided views of survivors.

Based on such stories, these documentaries not only won national and international accolades and awards but also forced a change in laws. Many of those victim stories received accolades from your site, without raising concerns about the other side of the story. We know sold media like yours normally behaves this way.

What you speak of as unverified truth comes from NCRB data. I would have been happier to publish this comment publicly but this is probably why you have not enabled public comments on your articles, because no matter what rubbish you publish, people will still somehow read it and some will get influenced by your so-called intelligence. – Partha Sadhukhan

Identity project

Too much fuss is being made of privacy issue with Aadhar when the entire community is being spied on by private foreign entities like Google, and Facebook (“Aadhaar shows India’s governance is susceptible to poorly tested ideas pushed by powerful people”). Aadhar should be made a part of our all transactions irrespective of lone cries from the champions of “freedom”. – Baskaran S

Name row

This is the worst piece of tripe I have read in some time (“Counterview: Taimur’s actions were uniquely horrific in Indian history”).

The author assumes that “the actors’ decision to name their son Taimur, after a Turkic conqueror.”

Did the parents say that they are naming the child after the Turkic conqueror? I have not seen any such statement and perhaps the author has, so he should inform us.

Was the name Taimur not used before the blood-thirsty guy came to Hindustan? It was, in fact it was a very common Turkic name before and after. However, the folks who have nothing better to do, or are more anxious to get into print than simply live a decent life of ordinary worth, start jumping up and down and quoting history and demanding what two reasonable people satisfy the unreasonable demand of deeply troubled people – those who find the naming of a child more threatening to them and to their notion of nationalism than all the injustices that are happening around them. – CM Naim

***

Once, when Tamiur was in the middle of a war, one of his hands were cut off and he took cover in a cave. There, he saw an ant, climbing the wall of the cave. It fell over and over again, but didn’t give up.

And at last it was successful in climbing that wall. He got his inspiration that if such a small creature didn’t give up, how could he? Just when he was about to quit, he was inspired by an ant and emerged victorious.

This story had been etched in my mind ever since my childhood because I saw steel in Taimur.

There is no black and white in this world. Everything is grey.

Yes, Tamiur was an invader and a despot, but that has nothing to do with the meaning of his name, which means steel in Arabic. If parents name their son after Tamiur the man of steel and not Taimur the despot, that is their prerogative. – Naved Ahmed

Art attack

What authority does a political party have to dictate art and expression within a college campus (“‘Mockery of religious beliefs’: Shiv Sena forces IIT-B to remove Hanuman painting”). Does the Shiv Sena have any expertise in Hindu mythology sociology to comment on how Hanuman may or may not be represented? What gives them the authority to do this?

Most attendants of Mood Indigo are students with a science or humanities background who are open to accepting new ideas. It’s not a tourist attraction or even a pilgrimage spot. There is no reason for people to mistake IIT for a temple and then be appalled at the reinterpretation of Hanuman.

Second, what is so deeply disrespectful about showing that god can exist in the present day amongst us, that gods can reinvent themselves? Maybe it makes the deity friendly and accessible – something that prevents a certain group from declaring absolute authority over the interpretation of religion. What is sad is that a premier institution like IIT did not even put up a fight. – Romita Majumdar

Grey areas

Demonetisation can either be a success or a failure - there cannot be a middle ground for a policy that has been trumpeted with such fanfare yet caused massive collateral damage (“Reality check: For all the shifting of goalposts, demonetisation is an utter failure”).

While all objective analyses and hard numbers – as put forward in this and many other articles – point to it being a failure on all counts, then why are some noted economists and columnists still touting it as a success? Demonetisation cannot be both, so I confess I am more than a bit confused! – Arnab Basak

***

Another useless article by Mohan Guruswamy. Stop employing his services. – Neeraj

***

Your numbers don’t add up. The figures are just made up to suit your conclusion. You don’t access have to the numbers and neither do I. Therefore, I will stick to the long-term implications of this move.

This one act of demonetisation has sent shivers down the spines of everyone who earns in black. This will deter them in future. I use the word deter, not eliminate.

Even if Rs 1 lakh crores does not come back from Rs 15 lakh crores that has been extinguished, that is Rs 1 trillion.

That is a huge amount for money – our tax revenue is Rs 7 trillion.

This will increase our income tax base by somewhere between 50% and 200% – my figures – this from people who have tried to deposit black money in deposits or used others accounts. Salil Punoose

***

One glaring difference between the demonetisation of 1946, 1978 and 2016 is the narrative at play – Prime Minister Narendra Modi has twisted the sleazy corrupt image of black money that we have to mobilise a moral narrative for an economic problem.

Unfortunately, 50 days later, the economic problem continues to be non-diegetic to the moral dogma. While the actual motive behind demonetisation is still unknown, it seems the plan was to camouflage it as a campaign against black wealth to usher in a cashless economy.

The only problem is that the country lacks a holistic banking system to go completely cashless in such little time. – Ayan Acharya

Historical glimpse

Decades and decades ago there existed an aperture at the base of one side of the Rozabal (“At Srinagar’s ‘Tomb of Jesus’, this Christmas was just another indifferent day”). That hole offered a glimpse of the area underneath the Rozabal. In that area was a sarcophagus that faced the direction in which Jews bury their dead.

If you could find an old picture of the Rozabal, you might find that aperture, which has since been closed.

Apparently there is, or was, an open-space basement area. Unfortunately, that area of Kashmir experienced a lot of flooding over the years and unless the Indian government itself decides to take charge of the Rozabal and allow research here, no one will be able to do anything. – R Chism

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