Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: 'The stars are aligning for India to advance rapidly'

A selection of readers' opinions.

Victory seized

I am not at all surprised to see these preaching and opinions (“Power play: What the BJP’s deals in Goa and Manipur should teach the Congress”). I hope you have taken note of the percentage of votes polled by the major parties in both states.

Now kindly recall that you have switched between using vote share and number of seats as your yardstick to suit your arguments and support whatever dirty game the Congress played. You also seem to forget the number of times the Congress, with the support of opinion creators like you, destroyed government after government that was democratically elected.– Raveendra

***

I hold Mr Sardesai in high regard both for his intellect and his principles. But I am saddened by the opinion expressed in this piece. While not endorsing horse trading, he seems to suggest that the Congress should learn from the BJP and both should get out of their moral perch. So we must reconcile with the bitter truth that morality is not for rajneeti and that self interest should govern our actions.

He points out that this game was earlier played by the Congress. But as he has often said, the Congress has been punished for it. Now, instead of asking BJP not to repeat Congress’ mistake, he is suggesting that the Congress should learn power play from the BJP.

If people like him, in his enthusiasm for the prime minister’s aggressive approach, are ready to sacrifice principles, that spells trouble for the nation that was founded upon the ethical and truthful principles of Gandhi, Nehru and Patel. – Hema Raghavan

***

The BJP is simply reusing the technique that the Congress used in its hey days. Himanta Biswa Sarma is prime minister material. The Congress in North East is no match for him. – GKS Bharali

Winning formula

This strategy of the BJP has inherent flaws and contradictions (“From identity to economics: How the BJP is changing Indian politics”). If social justice will be denied to the marginalised and weaker groups for long, then there is bound to be unrest and reverse polarisation against BJP in the future.

India being a vast country with great diversity, it will be nearly impossible for the party to satisfy all these groups on promises alone, as economic upliftment takes time.
The party has promised too much and stitched a narrative around Modi’s superhuman capabilities, without revealing a roadmap. I doubt it even has one. The BJP is master in political marketing and its real work is not government running but only electoral politics. –Vishal Jindal

***

This is very clearly an anti-BJP view. Having conch and a chariot doesn’t make one anti secularism. – Venkatachalam

Saffron surge

The next five years offer an unprecedented opportunity to Muslims all over India to sort their problems and live peacefully and productively (“Omar Abdullah says no party can hope to beat the BJP until 2024”). Leaders of all stripes and parties have to show that they care for the common people and their happiness.

Pragmatism, progress in all facets of life, equality of all, uniform civil code, a model code of behaviour arrived at by all political leaders’ consensus (to preserve and promote social harmony), absolute freedom of movement within the country for all Indians, decent behaviour in Parliament (to show respect to the person holding the floor by not interrupting them and absolute respect for the Speaker): these are the important advances needed.

The stars are aligning for India to advance rapidly in the right direction. The leaders of all parties have the crucial responsibility to not divide people, communities and states and to not undermine the cherished Constitutional ideals.

Can you imagine what the Indian leaders can contribute to world politics if they all come together just like the Constituent Assembly to design a Model Code of Behaviour for all public figures?

Is this too idealistic? Not at all. Our history is proof that we have overcome greater challenges. The key is to seize the opportune moment. Modi’s towering leadership and goodwill for all sectors of Indian society should be harnessed for the greater good of a united, strong and prosperous India. – Nanduri Rao

Representation politics

I agree a political party should have representatives from all sections of society, rich and poor, educated and not educated, sophisticated and non sophisticated, urban and rural and across castes and religions, so in that regard it is not correct that the BJP did not field a single Mulsim in Uttar Pradesh (“The Daily Fix: The BJP’s failure to field even a single Muslim candidate in UP is a troubling sign”). But did it have any Christian, Parsee, Budhist or Jain or non religious people and atheist?

Even if the BJP had fielded someone from the minority communitiy, wouldn’t voters call that candidate a stooge? Will any non-Hindu vote for the BJP? These are some peculiar problems in this country. – R Venkat

Letting her down

It is so sad that Irom Sharmila’s struggle is acknowledged by the entire country and even globally, but not by people for whom she fought (“Manipur results 2017: After getting only 90 votes, Irom Sharmila says she will quit politics”). To get AFSPA revoked, she will need the support of the people. – Sriram Saikrishna

Matters of faith

This piece on Reza Aslan’s show by Devdutt Pattanaik was an example of unnecessary outrage and I wish to counter it (“CNN’s Believer: Reza Aslan’s show on Hindu mendicants is bigoted no matter how you lutook at it”).

The anger of many in American Hindu community to the show too is ridiculous. These people, who have left India, are outraged by the unflinching portrayal of the Aghoris. The understanding of these people, many of whom have never set foot on Indian soil, of Hinduism and India is largely based on what they have learned from Western thought and education. They have no understanding, no context and no perspective.

But resident Indians should know better; they should be aware of complexities and diversities of India. People who know about how human sacrifice is still practiced on occasion in even Metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru. This outrage is ridiculous and they seem to be interpreting Indian culture as though they are western scholars with an Orientalist approach with Abhrahamic value systems. This is quite senseless.

My ancestors were tribals who performed human sacrifice, which was prevalent even at the beginning of the 20th century. Yet, I am not ashamed of my ancestry or their practices. I would, of course, never follow their practices but I can understand that it was a part of my heritage. No one should be ashamed of their heritage.

Today I maybe atheist, but I still feel pride in my heritage. I understand that these practices do not fit into the modern world and values change across place and time.

So, leave the faux outrage to Indians who have never set foot in India or do not understand it. – Leon Kharkongor

***

If Aslan has the guts, he should report on beheadings imposed on infidels and triple talaq, just to name a few! Then he will have a Fatwa placed on his head. – Lavi

***

Hinduism is an extremely complicated way of life and set of beliefs. Had there been no influence of Islam and the British, the religion would have been unbelievably bizarre. – Veena Khaleque

***

Thank you for this article that allows us Indians to articulate things that we repress for cultural reasons. He omitted the most important part of understanding India and Hinduism (really a collection of South Asian Pagan & Dharmic religions): how the relgiion developed from a primitive Pagan animal sacrificing religion to a Dharmic religion focused on Karma, Ahimsa, Samsara and Nirvana. He omitted the phenomenal fact of how all these levels of development exist side by side, because, unlike proselytising religions like Islam and Christianity, Pagan and Dharmic iterations did not feel a need to kill off the competition.

To understand South Asian religious development, one needs to go back to the ways of worship of cavemen, to worship of the mother in the Indus Civilizations, to the Aryan gods and worship of nature, to Vedas, Upanishad, Mahabaratha, Ramayana, the Geeta and Manu Smriti and onward to the turning point of Hinduism, a crucial development of teachings and philosophies by Buddhists and Jains, that sought replacing animal sacrifice to compassion for all beings. This finally culminating in the idea that becoming a better person is the way to god – through meditation, Yoga, practicing dharma and vegetarianism. – Maha

***

Why are you waking upto Reza Aslan’s bigotry now? When many cried out that FGM is actively practiced in Islamic societies, the media let Aslan and his tribe get away with a sweeping half-lie that FGM is an African practice.
We conveniently ignored the truth, geography and history just so as not to be labelled “Islamophobes”. Most of us genuinely do not care how the rest of the world suffers as long as our image as liberal-intellectuals stays intact. Aslan always has been a closet Islamist.
Everyday people like me can see it instantly. People who live in their academic word bubbles cannot.
You let him lie his way through before, about Islam. Now he has turned his fabrication machine to other religions. The moral of the story is that when it comes to religion, one should take the word only of atheists. Practicing Muslims or Hindus or Christians or those from other faiths will always carry an inherent bias. – Sridevi

Hypocrisy much?

Reza Aslan’s depiction of Aghoris is indeed Orientalist and factually wrong, but Hindu American Foundation, American Hindus Against Defamation and Shalabh Kumar’s Republican Hindu Coalition have all been implicated in the rewriting of California’s textbooks in relation to Hinduism, wanting to erase mention of the caste system, Indo-Aryan migration Theory and the subordinate role of women in Hinduism (“Videos: This is why Indian-American groups (and others) are opposing CNN’s series featuring Indians”). Secondly, considering that these groups are affiliated to Hindutva organisations in India who are currently actively distorting history, this would be a good case of the pot calling the kettle black. – Ranjani

Pledging peace

This wonderful speech comes at a time when America is witnessing racial discrimination and murders by White American terrorists (“Why this Sikh-American activist’s inspirational anti-hate speech matters today”).

Killing innocent people without any cause is also an act of terrorism whether in US, Syria, Afghan or in Paris. America is going to be isolated from other countries in this world. Its big brother attitude will not be accepted by the peace loving nations any more. The US’ image will be spoiled by this hate speech and crime. – Varismohideen Varis

Shades of violence

The RSS should not be banned again, it should be banned and dismantled for ever (“With two RSS members convicted for bombing Ajmer shrine, should the organisation be banned again?”). They are a set of outlaws more dangerous than terrorist groups. They are damaging the democratic and secular fabric of India.

Different rules

This is a most poignant statement on the state of affairs in our country (“A letter to Jaitley: Why do students get jailed but RSS leaders who issue vile threats walk freely?”). The fabric of our beautiful democracy has been threatened by religious fanaticism and non-inclusiveness. This cannot and should not go unchecked. I salute the spirit and courage of the writer. – Vijay H

***

It is great to see our intellectuals being more vocal and fearless, calling a spade a spade! Kudos to Kiran Nagarkar. I hope many other intellectuals become more vocal and decry the destroyers of our Constitution before they sell this land to crony capitalists or invite trouble from the neighbouring country that is anxiously waiting for the opportunity to capture this great nation. – Jagdish Mahajan

River saviour

This man’s story is proof of what Modi said about hard work being better than Harvard (“A 96-year-old’s long fight to protect the Tamil Nadu river at the heart of row over Coke and Pepsi”). You may ask, how has he won? It took more than 100 years for India to gain Independence, through the hard work of many. The same way, the struggle he initiated will be carried forward by others over time. The only difference is that in this modern era, many consider it to be below their dignity to participate in such struggles, even if the river flows next to his house. – Mani

***

This is a wonderful write up. Setting up desalination plants to use sea water for industrial purposes is a wonderful suggestion. The government should also desilt water bodies and rejuvenate the river. The cold drink giants should pitch in and contribute to the cost. Hariharan

Health first

No matter how “cool” an ad may be, perhaps people should consider its health implications first (“Watch: The cool cola advertisement they will never run in India (because it will offend morals)“)? If I had consumed only healthy drinks so far, I can guarantee my bone density much higher than it is now. It was not until I was 33 that my dietician friend explained the effect of fizzy drinks on bone health that I finally put the soda down.

I just wish that only healthy products were permitted to be advertised. I would have certainly appreciated some clear education about the permanent, long term effects of junk food intake long before I accessed any! – Meghna Kotak

Credit due

Microfinance has come a long way since it gained a popularity and fame as a policy tool (“How microfinance reduces gender inequality in developing countries”). But has it really made the kind of impact that economists like Quanda Zhang and Alberto Posso are claiming in this article? Does manipulation of the data with some fancy economic models tell the whole story?

In India, we have seen a number of farmer suicides because micro-credit providers have been acting like regular commercial banks, using intimidation and threats if loans are not repaid on time. How can you push for it as a tool for gender equality when it is taking people’s lives? The intention of microfinance is very pure and realistic, but over the years it has become a part of one big system called capitalism, which only serves the elite. – Rinzin Ngodup

Voting trends

If you visit places like Dhubri in Assam, you’ll find that people even buy new clothes for polling day (“Election trends: Why India’s North Eastern states witness huge voter turnouts”). There are melas near the polling stations where one can shop, eat and dance. – Dibyajyoti Bora

Controversial conviction

The court has convicted this professor of the heinous crime of helping Maoists in their terrorists activity that kills hundreds of innocent citizens (“The Daily Fix: A chilling judgment sentences Delhi academician GN Saibaba to life in prison”). For him, the use of violence is a legitimate weapon in democratic India. So why is he complaining about violence by the state?He has been actively conspiring with those who have been killing humans. There is no romance in armed revolution.

In jail, he should read works of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vivekanand and the like. He can then persuade young Adivasis to join mainstream.

***

Crime of thinking

The case of Kobad Ghandy who was jailed for years as an alleged Maoist, is also worth examining. He was imprisoned for years in Tihar jail, where the cases against him lingered, and was told he could not leave Delhi to face trial in Telengana/Andhra Pradesh until all the cases in the capital were over (“Saibaba conviction: How a draconian law has turned mere thought into crime”). In the end he was exonerated in all cases. – Kamal Chenoy

Slow and steady

This is a nice article on a great Test match (“The Bengaluru experience and the joys of watching Test cricket in the Twenty20 age”)! If ODIs and T20s as the writer said, are like breaking news Test matches are like long New York Times’ reads. They tell a unique and mesmerising story, with moments of brilliance, where rich and nourishing experiences can be drawn from a session, a spell, a day, an innings or two and maybe just from the sheer brevity and grit on players part to continue trying new ways to alter the course of game.

A Test match is like a laboratory where each player can experiment, observe, draw conclusions and improvise – which ODIs and T20 tournaments don’t leave room for.

Thanks for the great content you guys put up on The Field. It’s become my favorite sports feed. – Smriti

Divided we stand

This article is biased and reflects your mentality (“Jinnah must be laughing in his grave over what Modi and Shah said about qabristans and Kasab”). A lot of things have happened between Hindus and Muslims in India but we have also learnt how to live together with our differences. But has any Muslim leader in the country who ever said that the demolition of thousands of temples by Aurangzeb and atrocities by other Mulsim invaders and the Jizya Tax were wrong? No.

For several centuries, Hindu communities paid most of their overall income to Mughal rules as tax, while Muslims would pay just a fraction of it. The fact that Hindus still exist as the majority shows their dedication to their culture and tradition.

Mulsims boast of the brutal deeds of Islamic kings saying they they did it to spread Islam. They seeks peace, democracy and prosperity wherever they are in minority and Islamic law where they are in majority. – Ravi Shankar Pandey

***

...And Jinnah must also be ruing in his grave Gandhi’s decision to decline his proposal for complete exchange of population on religious lines when Pakistan was formed. – Rajesh Pande

Garrisoned university

Security deployment in Banaras Hindu University is a justified demand because the university is cherished glorious culture and traditions and unruly, disgruntled forces can not be allowed to hold the university to ransom for their ulterior motives (“Banaras Hindu University asks Centre for a permanent paramilitary force on its campus: The Telegraph”). The University is large and it also has a hospital where thousands of patients.

Students put undue pressure to give special favours to many patients. Many of them are touts and extort money from innocent, poor and relatively illiterate patients.

All this leads to scuffles and serious law and order problems. These rowdy elements misbehave with resident doctors and other hospital staff, including nurses, resulting in hospital strikes. Such events are not infrequent. – Om Prakash Upadhyay

Maternity leave

My company has implemented the amendment passed by Lok Sabha that says maternity leave for six months to employees from January 1, 2017 (“Women in India will now get 26 weeks of maternity leave instead of just 12”).

I have been working here for more than six years and gave birth to my first child in December, so I will not be entitled to six months leave. The police should have been applied to employees currently under maternity leave too. This worries me because it means I cannot breast feed my child for six months. – Divya

Forgotten leaders

I enjoyed Dinyar Patel’s informative article on the great Parsi, Navrozji Fardunji (“Navrozji Fardunji, 19th-century reformer and the ‘great son’ whom India forgot too soon”). Thank you for reminding us about his contribution to our community and to the people of India. – Maneck Bhujwala

Intolerant India

I hope and believe that we shall never choose to be deaf and mute (“The TM Krishna column: Whose India is it anyway? Only of those who toe the establishment line”). The future of our nation, mor than before, is the hands of the young – they are less burdened by the biases that accentuate divisions in our society, are more likely to dissent openly and less inclined to be cowed down by repression of dissent.

The recent protests by university students against the suppression of free speech should give us hope. It is a tragedy that most of the Hindu middle class as well as the mainstream media has bought into the narrative that aggressive Hindutva-powered nationalism is the sole criteria for patriotism, and every thought or opinion that disagrees with it is anti national. – Arnab Basak

***

This is a rubbish article. If he is claiming rights to sedition, others have rights to to protect Indian interests. – Kumar Kunnavakkam

Barbaric practice

Thank you to the writer for this informative article on femal gential mutilation. (“Female genital cutting in India: Three women share their chilling stories of khatna”). I remember first hearing about this practice as a little girl, almost 30 years ago, and thinking it was barbaric even then. I cannot believe more organisations haven’t collaborated and put more effort into stopping this atrocity. Why is that? Who needs to be affected in order for this to come to light and be stopped.

I was sick to my stomach and heartbroken hearing their tales. I thank you and the ladies who spoke. It needs to come to light, it needs to be spoken about to prompt people to try and change it. – Katherine

***

I’m glad Scroll.in published this story, but the subject is sorrowful. I believe women should come forward to spread awareness about it. The government must do something about it, but they won’t care until it comes into the mainstream. – Anuj Sharma

Drone danger

This is a great idea but leaving drones out in the open might be hazardous for more than one reasons (“Watch: Bees are dying. Will drones take over their job of pollinating plants?”). First, they may interfere with whatever bee population we have left. Second, a lot of pollen could get wasted while collecting, because there are no pollen baskets like in case of the bees. Third, the glue on the hair on the drone might not let release the pollen easily on the stigma of the flowers. Also, drones might be helpful only in plants with a complete flower.

Moreover, drones might be attacked by birds or small reptiles, which in turn may get injured. And at present, the technology is too costly. It would therefore be in the interest of mankind to protect bees. On the whole though, this is a novel attempt. – Anil Karalamangala

Playing on

This is a beautiful write up on my favourite composer, Khayyam Saheb (“‘God has made Khayyam special’: At 90, the Hindi film music composer isn’t done yet”). The writer could have (and probably wanted to) covered a lot considerably more ground, but space should have been the constraint.

We recognise great and gifted personalities after they have achieved fame and glory. Rarely do we get to learn of their struggles and how they fought extremely difficult odds. I have often pondered over how they must have faced life when they knew not how things will turn out for them. Such articles are eye openers.

I am 81. I have followed Bollywood music from the tender age of five. My considered belief is that Khayyam Saheb is the most accomplished, gifted and thinking Bollywood composer. The fact that he did not bag many awards should only be viewed in juxtaposition with Shankar-Jaikishan who won many awards but left everyone feeling that others who had achieved more were discriminated against.

This article also helped clear up something that had me puzzled all these years. I was under the mistaken impression that despite his talent and genius, Khayyam Saheb was somewhat neglected by Bollywood. It was a pleasure to learn that it was his own discretion that resulted in his relatively low output.

I have been searching for a book on his life and music but did not find any. This capsule article has fulfilled some of that search. – NS Rajan

Debating texts

In the article titled “How a translation mistake ended up making India a part of the Bible”, the author tells about Barlaam and Josaphat, who are supposedly preaching the teachings of the disciple of Lord Jesus, Saint Thomas, and that their biographies were read throughout Europe. As per the author himself, such incidents are not recorded in the Bible but were perhaps in different books circulated in Europe. However, he title of the article indicates that these incidents were recorded in the Bible, which is not the case.

The author points out that India was mistranslated in Jerome’s latin Bible in the Book of Job Chapter 26: verse 16. This, however, was not the case with the King James’ Bible (which is the most circulated version of the Bible all over the world, including Europe and India since AD 1611).

The author seems to have missed mentioning that the Bible, in the Book of Esther Chapter 1 verse 1 mentions India as a part of the kingdom of King Xerxes. The Archaeological Survey of India that Xerxes’ Empire indeed included part of Western India (Now in Pakistan).

The author has also conviniently missed out the portions that are not mistranslated and have ascribed to the Bible books that aren’t recorded in the holy text. Kindly, do publish a clarification for the much apparent fallacies as given in the article. – Peter D Nathanael

***

This article certainly has relevance to the cultural history regarding Roman Catholic perceptions of India, but has very little relevance to the Bible. Most people in the world are entirely unfamiliar with Jerome’s translation into Latin.

The Bible translations that most people in the world are familiar with, whether in English or in any other of the world’s languages, would have told them nothing about any possible reference to India in the Book of Job.

The Bible translations (authorised by the Roman Church or accepted by any of the other churches) will all tell them that it is in the very short Book of Esther that India is referred to - twice – as one of the 127 “provinces” which were ruled by the emperor Ahasuerus. – Prabhu Guptara

Tempered narrative

I was quite surprised that the film did not even hint at the purported special relationship
between Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, which many Pakistanis maintain
heavily influenced the accession of Jammu and Kashmir (“Gurinder Chadha defends Partition drama ‘Viceroy’s House’: ‘I was not making a movie for experts’”).

In fact, the fate of the Princely States are not even mentioned, a shocking omission given that Kashmir has been the bone of contention between India and Pakistan for 70 years. Incidentally the map of Pakistan that Churchill approved in 1945 shows Kashmir as part of Pakistan! – Ghazala Akbar

Standing together

Dear brother Shaikh, Allah will bless you with great rewards hereon (“Acquitted of terror charges, Mumbai man pens book on what to do if you are arrested in a false case”). I will pray for you and your efforts to get other innocent Muslim brothers acquitted. Picking up young Muslims on false charges has become routine. – Imran Khan

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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