Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: Arnab Goswami 'is a politician in the garb of a journalist'

A selection of readers' opinions.

Back with a bang

For Arnab Goswami, journalism is not a narration of facts (“’You and me together will save Indian journalism’: Arnab Goswami introduces his Republic”). He wants to be a Politician under the garb of a journalist.Manbir Singh

***

Unfounded and unsoundly defined nationalism will make prime time news again, with Arnab Goswami donning a new avatar. God save the Constitution and its world-class framework. – Anil Laad

No country for women

What’s happening in Chhattisgarh and other parts of India is a shame on us Indians (“Internal report confirms sexual harassment charges against Chhattisgarh IG, but no action taken yet”). We still have a male-dominated world but as history has shown us, if we need to move forward, we need women to be treated equally.

The incident concerning the internal report on sexual harassment against a senior officer speaks about how seniority works in the police department and how corrupt we are.
We cannot become a developed nation while such a scenario exists. – Sandip Sharma

Voice of the people

The sufferers are primarily the common people and the poor, who do not have the wherewithal to create riots (“Demonetisation should have triggered huge protests against Modi government. Why didn’t that happen?”). They do not have the time and resources as they are busy figuring out how to make ends meet.

Agitations are, necessarily, managed by an interested party with some motive. They need a guiding father figure. The poor who are suffering not have such a figure, hence there have been no organised activities or demonstrations. – Anil Laad

***

As always, Ajaz Ashraf’s piece on why there was no widespread protest against demonetisation was superb. I wish he would write about demonetisation, the generation of black money and the criminalisation of common citizens. – Aftab

***

I am not criticising demonetisation, it was a good step to curb corruption, black money and the like, but banks are not doing enough to save the public from inconvenience. The other day, I went to an SBI ATM near my house only to find that it did not have cash. This is one of the biggest banks in the country and should have replenished their ATMs so that the public at large does not suffer. The 50-day period cited by the prime minister to tolerate inconveniences is over. By now, the RBI would have dispatched sufficient notes. If they have not done so, it is their mistake. But the public suffers. – Ramachandran Menon

***

From day one of this government coming to power, citizens have been harassed in the name of ghar wapsi, gau raksha and now, demonetisation. Nothing much has been done to encourage patriotism or create employment.

From day one, Modi has been bluffing to the citizens of India.

Unable to get black money from abroad, he targeted Indians and painted every individual who spoke against the move as a black-money holder. Please save this sacred country from him. – Syed Amjad

Dress code

For the first time, I disagree with Ramchandra Guha (“When 11 young women took on Gandhi about a woman’s right to dress as she chooses”). Here, he misinterprets Gandhi’s words. It’s a well-known fact that taking any sentence out of its context, more often than not, gives it a different meaning. The same seems to be the case here also.

The sentence in question here, from Gandhi’s essay in Harijan’s 1938 issue is: “The modern girl dresses not to protect herself from wind, rain and sun but to attract attention.” Read like this, it indeed seems very “gratuitous”, as Guha sats. But if we read the complete last paragraph of the article “Student’s Shame”, we will why Gandhi said this.

The letter from the college girl, in response to which Gandhi wrote the Harijan piece, sought his advice on two grounds. It asked “(f)irst of all, tell (them) how, in the circumstances mentioned above, girls can apply the principle of ahimsa and save themselves. Secondly, what is the remedy for curing youth of the abominable habit of insulting womenfolk?”

The aforementioned quote was written, in response to the the first question. The girl was questioning Gandhi’s non-violence principle, because she had to throw her book on a man who hurled some inappropriate words at her since she was walking with a male companion. Throwing her book was an act of violence and she wanted to know how, in a situation like that, she could have acted non-violently.

In his article Gandhi replied that the act “of flinging her book at the cyclist, was quite correct”.

He then sets out to answer her queries about non-violent behaviour. He said that non-violence can be practiced by someone who does not indulge in material things, to highlight which he includes “dressing and...painting herself to look extraordinary.’ He then emphasise that “definite rules govern the development of the non-violent spirit in us. It is a strenuous effort. It marks a revolution in the way of thinking and living.”

According to him, one should dress “to protect oneself from wind, rain and sun” and that is the gender-neutral way of “thinking and living” for those who want to practice non-violence. This is no different from what is quoted in numerous religious texts and Gandhi himself practiced this.

So, here, he was talking about a certain way of life which has to be adopted if one wants to practice non-violence. It was not at all meant to indicate that women are insulted because they dress a certain way.

Moreover, he admits that even this might not solve the problem. He therefore urges that the womenfolk “must develop courage enough to die rather than yield to the brute in man”. Here he is talking about action as opposed to non-action, as non-violent is often taken to mean. – Aman Kumar

***

This problem regarding attitude towards women has to be addressed and pinpointed daily at the social and educational level. Sexual education must be included in school education. Additionally, ethics and humanity,
gender biology, medicine and equivalence has to be the course of education of the society. – Ranjit Bhardwaj

Religion and politics

Both the majority and minority opinions in the Abhiram Singh case on which the court passed a ruling on electoral speeches have their blindspots (“Not quite what it seems: Decoding the Supreme Court’s judgement on election speeches”). Gautam Bhatia, in this piece, has alluded to some of them, but the columnist, an otherwise astute analyst of legal matters and juridical developments, has been economical with his thinking when concluding this latest offering.

The last para reads: “Yet here’s a thought: if the Majority’s view was to be taken to its logical conclusion, then Dr Ambedkar would probably have been guilty of corrupt electoral practices while campaigning for the All India Scheduled Castes Federation in 1946. With respect to the four learned judges in the majority, perhaps we ought to be slightly skeptical of an interpretation that would lead us to such a conclusion.”

In his attempt to infuse some real-life anecdotal colour into the discourse on legalistic detail (what the judgment actually said and didn’t) and statute interpretation, Bhatia seems to have overlooked the fact that the Representation of the People Act is a 1951 statute that has no retrospective application to Dr Ambedkar’s admittedly caste-oriented election campaign conducted in 1946. – Shekhar Hattangadi

Gender bias

When any movie or blog raises its voice to demand more laws to protect women or shows us the abla naari, everyone starts sympathising with it (“Documentary attacking Section 498A rests on weak arguments and sweeping generalisations”). However, if there is any content in support of men, then people need strong arguments even for generalisation. Strange!

The demand is for gender-neutral laws, not those that favour men. – Kuldeep Kaushik

State of education

If Andhra Pradesh wants to tap into emerging talent in the realm of science in the state, it needs sincere efforts to regenerate its school, college and university education systems, especially private and open schooling (“First scientist from Andhra Pradesh to win Nobel Prize will get Rs 100 crore: Chandrababu Naidu”). It should look into how people are getting certificates and degrees after paying handsome money to the institutions. – Indrani Chakravarti

Balancing act

It’s good that a vocal leader has been chosen for the movement of sanitation workers but my humble request to Kanhaiyya Kumar is that he first complete his so-called doctorate and then venture into mainstream politics (“In Mumbai, Kanhaiya Kumar and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani give a boost to sanitation workers’ rally”). He cannot have best of both worlds. – Yogesh Bhide

Eye on UP

Comparing the Uttar Pradesh elections to what happened in Bihar is wrong (“Could an Akhilesh-led SP-Congress alliance actually win in UP?”) The voting pattern of the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections are also totally different.

All analysts are underestimating the Bahujan Samaj Party, which has a solid votebank of Dalits. If Muslims also switch to Mayawati’s party, she has a shot at becoming the next chief minister if Uttar Pradesh. But that possibility seems dim.
I have met few youngsters from Allahabad, all of them supported Akhilesh Yadav, though they had voted for the BJP during the general elections. One thing is certain, the party getting 30% of the vote share will be the winner.

A Samajwadi Party-Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance can cross that magic figure and in my opinion, will get around 32%-35% of the votes. BSP and BJP will get about 25%-30% of the vote share. – Pawan Agarwal

Fact and fiction

It is not a good idea to combine historical facts with hearsay and legend (“A visit to Pakistan’s Eimanabad, where Guru Nanak once stayed, throws new light on Babur’s legacy”). Babar (and not Babur) did go to Saidabad near Lahore. In his autobiography, he never described having imprisoned Guru Nanak or him seeing move the chakki without his hands. He never wanted to create a separate Muslim land – that is fabrication. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors and not create any Muslim state. His sons and grandson and others of his descendants all adopted the land and its culture. They made it a grand civilisation, an envy of the West. – Hasan Beg

Going, going gone

Thanks for the piece on Peter Sarsdedt and for noting his life and songs (“Watch: The Indian connections of Peter ‘Where Do You Go To My Lovely’ Sarstedt (1941 - 2017)”).

Where do you go ...” has always been one of my favourite songs. I miss listening to it as much as I used to. – Fazal Kamal

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

How music can help drive social change

Indian brands are creating music to inspire action for social good.

Music has the power to cut across age, class, geography and even language, a critical quality in a diverse and multi-lingual country like India. Through poetry and melodies, music can communicate complex messages and hard-hitting stories gently to a large audience. So it is not surprising that music is often used in advertising to create catchy jingles. But many brands with a sense of social responsibility have also used music to spread messages of social change. Some of these songs have even become a part of popular culture.

The ‘Doodh’ jingle, a public service message from the 1990s, is among the earliest Indian examples of music being used by brands to spread awareness. Sung by Kunal Ganjawala and composed by Leslie Lewis, it spoke of the benefits of drinking milk in a fun way. The jingle had a hummable tune and was one of the first to use a mixture of Hindi and English lyrics, making it distinct and unforgettable.

Brands have also turned the spotlight on social problems through music. Nestle has recreated the iconic song “School Chalein Hum” for its campaign to spread awareness about girl child education. The song was originally composed in 2006 in support of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a government programme to provide primary education for all. It has now been reinterpreted by Nestle in collaboration with Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy and features singers Anvita Dutt and Harshdeep Kaur along with young girls from the Nanhi Kali program. Its lyrics have been rewritten to show how education is the stepping stone to the dreams of young girls. The video captures the infectious enthusiasm of these girls. The song struck a chord on social media and was shared by several influential policy makers.

Play

Other brands have also employed music to reflect the unpleasant aspects of reality and build the desire for change. A part of Dove’s efforts to change the standards of beauty for women, the #changetherhyme campaign reflects beauty stereotypes imposed on young girls. It uses the nursery rhyme ‘Chubby cheeks, dimpled chin…’ sung by kindergarten kids and contrasts this with powerful imagery of Indian female athletes training, urging viewers to break unnecessary ideals imposed by society. The widely shared song has received over 6 million views on YouTube.

Play

Another example of music being used to depict social realities is Whistling Woods’ ‘Dekh Le’ campaign. After the horrific 2012 Nirbhaya rape, Whistling Woods commissioned some of its alumni to create a public service commercial against eve-teasing. The video shows women flashing mirrors or sunglasses at lecherous men to show them how ridiculous they look. This video was set to the song ‘Dekh Le’ composed by Ram Sampath and sung by Sona Mohapatra. It was enthusiastically shared on social media. It received over a million views in its first week and has over 6 million currently.

Play

At times, brands have also spread messages of positive change and optimism through music. In 2007, Times of India, with Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy and Gulzar created a song called ‘Tum chalo toh Hindustaan chalein’. A simple video with powerful lyrics, it calls on citizens to be the change they wish to see in the country. The song was created for its “Lead India” contest which invited people to nominate inspiring leaders they knew from everyday life. The video and song remains inspirational even today.

Music has the ability to amplify social messages, which is why Nestle has used the medium to create awareness about girl child education. Suresh Narayanan, Chairman and Managing Director, Nestlé India said, “Music is one of the most powerful and influential means of uniting people for a cause. As part of our corporate social initiative, #EducateTheGirlChild we decided to create further awareness about girl child education through a song. This song represents the collective societal objective to spread awareness and evangelize support for the cause.” Nestle has been working with Nanhi Kali, one of India’s largest NGOs, to improve the state of girl child education in India. To show support for this cause and increase awareness, Nestle even changed the packaging of 100 million packs of some of its most iconic brands to include a message about girl child education. On Social media, its #EducateTheGirlChild campaign has sparked a conversation through powerful films and stories about girls facing barriers to getting educated.

The state of girl child education in India has tremendous scope for improvement. While millions of girls are denied education, some have immensely benefited from focused initiatives and some have fought their own way through. To help India’s girls go to school, join the conversation.

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