Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: 'We Indians have a weird and twisted idea of nationalism'

A selection of readers' opinions.

Tricolour trouble

I am glad Anjali Mody laid bare the hollowness of this newfound so-called nationalism of this government and its abusive anonymous social media mafia (“Forget Amazon Canada. Who’s outraging against the daily insults to the national flag in India?”). We are desecrating the Indian flag everyday. Crooks of every hue – including ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, security forces, traders, businessmen, common people – indulge in various corrupt practices or unlawful activities under the shadow of our national flag, which is furled every morning in every government offices across the country. We Indians do have a weird and twisted idea of nationalism. Kujurbachchan

***

This is a wonderful view. We are enraged by the fact that our country flag has been used by Amazon to create a doormat. We got enraged when Aamir Khan spoke of intolerance in India. We get enraged by the fact that Modi’s demonetisation has caused loss of lives.

On January 26 and August 15, we put up posts saying: “I’m proud to be an Indian.” I want to ask: Are you really proud to be an Indian? If you are, then why are you not helping India develop? Are you worried that you cannot bring the change? It takes one person to start a revolution. Why can’t that one person be you?

We have a lot of people in India, whose idea in life is to go abroad, do higher studies, get a job there and earn money. If all of us leave India, who will stay here?

I’m proud of India’s great heritage. But I’m not proud of India. I’m not proud of the way it has become. I’m not proud of the country we have turned it into. It’s time we start the change. It’s time we start reviving India.

This is just my view. I am not anti-nationalist. I am just fed up with the various things around me and I am working on various things that would help change the system – at least its worth a shot. – Surya Teja

***

We Indians seem to have become extremely sensitive, more so in current times, when hyper nationalism is in fashion. The world must be laughing at us, more so because a union minister chose to intervene in this matter, and that too on Twitter! Michael Douglas’ final speech in The American President lays out the stark contrast between the American concept of freedom in the context of the national flag and ours. – Arnab Basak

***

Things that are taboo in a particular society may be perfectly normal in another (“The Daily Fix: Sushma Swaraj threat to Amazon shows how governance is becoming a social media event”). The concern of the minister may have been genuine but the response was inappropriate. Social media may have played a role in her being reactive. Reasoning gets diminished in such circumstances, or even dismissed outright. –Karthik

On the front

The government and military personnel will definitely try and find faults with the soldier (“Lost in the din of a BSF constable’s viral videos – a serious breach of service rules”). If he was so much trouble and had so many issues, why was he still in the forces?

Can our country be defended by people with psychological problems? Who are the armed forces trying to fool, now that the truth is out? We have to accept that there is corruption. Governments are only interested in winning elections by promising people the world. Once elected, however, they conveniently forget those promises. There is absolute no political will to do any good. The soldier is asking the State to fulfill his basic needs, not for gold or silver. Kudos to him for being brave and bold. – Dorothy Mascarenhas

***

It is true that armed forces need to maintain discipline. However to ill-treat jawans, using them as personal servants, not giving them their due – which includes proper nutrition – is highly condemnable. –Sanjeev

Marooned state

The Manipur chief minister has failed on all counts (“Imphal impasse: Manipur has quietly completed 70 days of blockade, with no end in sight”). Militants outfits are his vote bank and they have managed to keep him in his position by gun power and threatening the innocent.

Corruption, extortion and crime are every where. Manipur needs to be revolutionised. The Kukis got what they asked. The Naga demand should also be met. Without it, Manipuris will suffer. The Centre is not going to care because Manipur does not contribute to the economy of India. So it’s better for Manipuris to listen to the Naga demand. Only then will peace prevail in the North East. – Prem George!

Women’s safety

I think society at large is as to blamed for what happened on New Year’s Eve in Bengaluru (“Was it mass molestation? Debate rages over what happened in Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve”). Fault lies in the mentality of the people who think they can molest and rape women, in the government for not having strict laws to deal with such cases and with local authorities in not ensuring safety.

What happened in Kamanahalli is well known. Kamanahalli is one of the happening places in the city, with a host of restaurants. It also happens to be a sophisticated residential area. But most of the roads do not have street lights they are not used. I don’t know why.

Though darkness is not a reason to molest anyone, a brightly lit area will make people feel safer. I hope the local authorities start putting up more street lights and everyone works towards reducing such incidents by trying to change the mentality of people. – Jennifer Hanna Charles

***

Instead of blaming upbringing, education and the like, let us analyse the situation. There were 1,500 policemen and 50,000 revellers more than half of them with a blood alcohol concentration of around 0.10-0.125. What happens at this level? Loss of good judgement, impaired motor coordination, slurred speech as well as impaired balance, vision and hearing. Is there a rule against getting drunk? No. Can a bartender refuse refuse drinks? No. With this blood alcohol concentration, revellers become Bollywood heroes. So blame drinks and Bollywood, nobody else. – Shanthi Chandrasekhara

Overlooked crime

It is outrageous and shocking that the state and civil society turns a blind eye to this kind of violence against women (“Chhattisgarh must identify and prosecute policemen who raped 16 women, demand activists”). The perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to book and shamed. Adivasi land and culture need to be protected from such inhuman onslaughts. Thank you Scroll.in for consistently covering this issue. – Shikha Bhattacharji

Master of contradictions

Modi is the master of doing the undoable (“First Person: ‘I voted for Modi for change but not for hatred’”). If you say don’t keep corrupt ministers, he’ll confirm them. If you say don’t demonetise without having full knowledge of it, he’ll implement the move. If you ask him not to be hasty in presenting the budget after so much damage has been done by demonetisation, he’ll relish doing that. He’s the master of contradictions.

Mythology revisited

Kavita Kane has added a feminist perspective to the study of Indian mythology by reimagining the women of traditional mythology: Laxmana’s wife Urmila in Sita’s Sister, Uruvi in Karna’s Wife, Menaka in Menaka’s Choice, and presently Surpanakha, in The Princess of Lanka, as a woman with the strength of intellect and emotion (“Ramayana reimagined: Was Ravan actually in love with Sita?”). In her works, these characters appear in a new light, quite different from the way they were presented in the original texts. Kavita Kane gifts them voices of their own. – Joysree Das

Old-school

I respect your concern and interest in publishing the article regarding the Mantra Mangalya, professed by the great Kannada poet Kuvempu (“Why I chose a green wedding, recommended by a Kannada writer in 1966”). However, according to my knowledge, a lot of things the couple here claims to have done, like finding an auspicious day, time and place, were in fact opposed by Kuvempu and were some of the reasons why he professed this method. I might sound like a purist, but this particular example might be counter productive to what Kuvempu intended to do. So it would be better in the future if you could please consult respected scholars before publishing such region- and culture-specific articles. – Sathwik NN

Taking the stage

I found Rahul Gandhi’s speech calmly inspiring (“Playing the mimic: Rahul Gandhi just took a leaf out of Narendra Modi’s book”). I especially liked the part (that the Scroll.in article forgets to highlight) where he outlined the difference of ideology between the Congress and the Sangh Parivar (fear not vs frighten all).

And no, it isn’t anything like Modi’s speech. Modi mixes half-truths with crude and loud language to ridicule people. Rarely is there anything intellectually appealing in any of his speeches. Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, rarely directly attack other politicians until there is real cause. The sarcastic comments on Modi were justified, because he not only bungled up the whole demonestisation exercise but has also tried to fudge the truth about it. – Shabeer

***

We were all trembling at the very thought of Rahul Gandhi causing an earthquake – but what we got instead was a taste of a budding stand-up comic! – Raghavendra Pattabhi

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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Some of the worst decisions made in history

From the boardroom to the battlefield, bad decisions have been a recipe for disaster

On New Year’s Day, 1962, Dick Rowe, the official talent scout for Decca Records, went to office, little realising that this was to become one of the most notorious days in music history. He and producer Mike Smith had to audition bands and decide if any were good enough to be signed on to the record label. At 11:00 am, either Rowe or Smith, history is not sure who, listened a group of 4 boys who had driven for over 10 hours through a snowstorm from Liverpool, play 15 songs. After a long day spent listening to other bands, the Rowe-Smith duo signed on a local group that would be more cost effective. The band they rejected went on to become one of the greatest acts in musical history – The Beatles. However, in 1962, they were allegedly dismissed with the statement “Guitar groups are on the way out”.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Decca’s decision is a classic example of deciding based on biases and poor information. History is full of examples of poor decisions that have had far reaching and often disastrous consequences.

In the world of business, where decisions are usually made after much analysis, bad decisions have wiped out successful giants. Take the example of Kodak – a company that made a devastating wrong decision despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Everyone knows that Kodak couldn’t survive as digital photography replaced film. What is so ironic that Alanis Morissette could have sung about it, is that the digital camera was first invented by an engineer at Kodak as early as 1975. In 1981, an extensive study commissioned by Kodak showed that digital was likely to replace Kodak’s film camera business in about 10 years. Astonishingly, Kodak did not use this time to capitalise on their invention of digital cameras – rather they focused on making their film cameras even better. In 1996, they released a combined camera – the Advantix, which let users preview their shots digitally to decide which ones to print. Quite understandably, no one wanted to spend on printing when they could view, store and share photos digitally. The Advantix failed, but the company’s unwillingness to shift focus to digital technology continued. Kodak went from a 90% market share in US camera sales in 1976 to less than 10% in 2012, when it filed for bankruptcy. It sold off many of its biggest businesses and patents and is now a shell of its former self.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few military blunders are as monumental as Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. The military genius had conquered most of modern day Europe. However, Britain remained out of his grasp and so, he imposed a trade blockade against the island nation. But the Russia’s Czar Alexander I refused to comply due to its effect on Russian trade. To teach the Russians a lesson, Napolean assembled his Grand Armée – one of the largest forces to ever march on war. Estimates put it between 450,000 to 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon had been so successful because his army could live off the land i.e. forage and scavenge extensively to survive. This was successful in agriculture-rich and densely populated central Europe. The vast, barren lands of Russia were a different story altogether. The Russian army kept retreating further and further inland burning crops, cities and other resources in their wake to keep these from falling into French hands. A game of cat and mouse ensued with the French losing soldiers to disease, starvation and exhaustion. The first standoff between armies was the bloody Battle of Borodino which resulted in almost 70,000 casualties. Seven days later Napoleon marched into a Moscow that was a mere shell, burned and stripped of any supplies. No Russian delegation came to formally surrender. Faced with no provisions, diminished troops and a Russian force that refused to play by the rules, Napolean began the long retreat, back to France. His miseries hadn’t ended - his troops were attacked by fresh Russian forces and had to deal with the onset of an early winter. According to some, only 22,000 French troops made it back to France after the disastrous campaign.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to sports, few long time Indian cricket fans can remember the AustralAsia Cup final of 1986 without wincing. The stakes were extremely high – Pakistan had never won a major cricket tournament, the atmosphere at the Sharjah stadium was electric, the India-Pakistan rivalry at its height. Pakistan had one wicket in hand, with four runs required off one ball. And then the unthinkable happened – Chetan Sharma decided to bowl a Yorker. This is an extremely difficult ball to bowl, many of the best bowlers shy away from it especially in high pressure situations. A badly timed Yorker can morph into a full toss ball that can be easily played by the batsman. For Sharma who was then just 18 years old, this was an ambitious plan that went wrong. The ball emerged as a low full toss which Miandad smashed for a six, taking Pakistan to victory. Almost 30 years later, this ball is still the first thing Chetan Sharma is asked about when anyone meets him.

So, what leads to bad decisions? While these examples show the role of personal biases, inertia, imperfect information and overconfidence, bad advice can also lead to bad decisions. One of the worst things you can do when making an important decision is to make it on instinct or merely on someone’s suggestion, without arming yourself with the right information. That’s why Aegon Life puts the power in your hands, so you have all you need when choosing something as important as life insurance. The Aegon Life portal has enough information to help someone unfamiliar with insurance become an expert. So empower yourself with information today and avoid decisions based on bad advice. For more information on the iDecide campaign, see here.

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