Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: Why is the rise of Modi pinching intellectuals?

A selection of readers' opinions.

Modi magic

Why is the rise of Modi pinching intellectuals (“Modi is a magician who could even give Houdini a run for his money”)? Their superiority complex forces them to think that the masses who vote for Modi are poor and less-educated aam aadmis, who can be easily swayed.

Yes, the common man has been hypnotised for the last 60-odd years, first by the charisma of the Gandhis and now Modi. They cannot think for themselves because the intellectual brigade is working selflessly, wearing khadi from Fab India sipping coffee in Madras Coffee Houses across the country selflessly. They discuss Marx and Che Guevera and think that the poor people are zoo animals. But they forget that it is these very common people who have brought revolution in the rest of the world and can do so in India too. Because when the mindless showcase of liberalism exceeds social realities, the society fights back. – Abhishek Mohanty

***

I am no admirer of Narendra Modi and I disagree with his party’s ideology. I think we let him off lightly with regard to the Gujarat riots and that his achievements are overblown at worst and debatable at best.

I think of him like a celluloid hero – unreal, puffed up, mouthing some nifty lines and being shamelessly promoted by a pliant media. What I fail to understand is why this man has so entranced and captured the imagination of a chunk of the Hindu middle and upper class.

Granted that his competition is utterly unimpressive, but that cannot be a reason to hero worship someone unquestioningly and bestow on him the status of a demigod. Are we Nazi Germany, or North Korea? Modi is an escape artist because we have allowed him those escapes . I am not saying we should not support him or vote him, but we must also always hold him accountable for his words and actions. Otherwise, we are doing ourselves and our democracy a grave injustice. – Arnab Basak

Government for all

I am very impressed with this article as it is objective and well-written, based on accurate and tangible facts along with intangible perception (“The fear of Hindu Rashtra: Should Muslims keep away from electoral politics?”). I feel that democracy is about giving representation to each and every section of society. If a party says it is running for a democratic election, they should very well keep this basic principal of our Constitution in mind.

I do not agree with parties when they say that winnability should be the only criteria for selecting candidates. An election is not a war, even if they have can’t find a candidate from a particular section of the society with high probability of winning, they should give them at least some representation. This will not only uphold our Constitutional principles but will also re-assure that community that their well being is looked after. – Shakti S

***

I have never given much thought to, let alone written about religious issues in India. However, this article enticed me to do so for the first and hopefully, last time.
I am not clear on what your article wanted to accomplish except to say that Muslims are living in fear and thereby instill more fear. Doesn’t Owaisi already do enough of that? Fear leads to hate and hate leads to violence.

I am an IIT graduate and have had a few Muslim friends for years. There are news items that get published that gets a common Hindu worried.

Muslims have special privileges not granted to Hindus in the same way for similar purposes. Muslims will maintain a high birthrate so they can take over the country by sheer force of population. The numbers floating around are; average Hindu birthrate is 1.8/1000; average Muslim birthrate is 8.3/1000.

Second, the proclaimed belief (I do not know by whom) is that Muslims want to convert the world to Islam. Third, Muslim girls and boys are offered a reward for marrying a Hindu and converting them to Islam. Grants are given for pilgrimage to Mecca but not to Hindus for their pilgrimages. There are poor Hindus too who wish to go on a pilgrimage.

There may be others I have not encountered. Why don’t Muslim leaders do something to eradicate such fears from Hindu minds? Let me know if I have made any errors in any of my statements above and as a popular Muslim writer, guide us Hindus on how to help this integration happen Kind regards and best wishes in helping create a harmonious Bharat, not Hindu-sthan. – Harish Dalal

***

I am a resident of secular India. From your article, I am guessing you are Indian too. Have you ever come across any “Hindu” MP, chief minister, prime minister or other leader saying anything as cruel as “we hate Muslims?”

Since you stress so much on the word secular, I suggest you Google it once to check its meaning. As far as I know, Muslims are a privileged class that enjoy the “minority” tag and get reserved seats in colleges and government (who needs merit, right?). This hampers the notion of being secular. A general category person has to let go of their seat for a minority who is way below him in merit.

The one who implemented this system may have had the same thinking as you. They must have feared a “Hindu Rashtra”. – Shreya HR

***

I have been a regular reader of your website. How much more biased can you be? Don’t you respect the concept of democracy or social norms? Does the BJP have no right to win elections at all? Why does everything have to be looked at in terms of a Hindu-Muslim divide?

A common Hindu/Muslim/Christian is just a human being who wants to be left alone to carry out their activities. There are many instances incidents where people help each other without even bothering to know the religion of the beneficiary.

It is the irresponsible media and politicians who create frenzy about religion and thrive on negative outcomes. I hope realise that the Congress has not been gifted this country to rule forever. If you can call one party in India secular, then the others are too. – Raveendra US

***

Muslims chose to stay in India even though Pakistan was created for them. They have no right to demand a share of seats. But they have the right to bring their problems to the attention of their MPs, MLAs of councillors. This will no doubt create harmonious relationship between Hindus and Muslims. Also, maulanas must keep away from politics and shape a multicultural , multi religious community that lives in India and enjoys their Hindu heritage. – Swani Kumar Maharaj

***

I think this story offers outstanding insights and I believe this is the way forward.

At the same time, I doubt our self-centred political leaders and so-called religious leaders will understand this. There self-interest and aspirations of minting money will prevent them from ever thinking about serving the community and the nation.

They will keep on fooling the masses through rhetoric, which will only widen the rift with majority community. – Mohammed Shehber

Fickle leaders

Vijai Sardesai’s explanation for why he extended support to a Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government in Goa is not plausible (“‘Congress has ditched me twice before’: Vijai Sardesai of Goa Forward explains why he has backed BJP”).

Sardesai was a member of the Congress till 2012. Then, when he was denied candidature, he contested as an Independent. Whatever popular support and public goodwill Sardesai enjoyed was solely due to his commendable role as an Opposition leader in the Assembly. Sardesai left no stone unturned to attack the policies of the BJP government, first under Parrikar and later, under Laxmikant Parsekar.

During the campaign for 2017 polls, Sardesai referred to Parrikar as a “dalal” and categorically stated that he would never ever engage in an alliance with the BJP. Sardesai, who claims to be a secular leader, should answer whether he had consulted his supporters like the eminent surgeon Dr Francisco Colaco before taking the step. The fact that his party’s President Prabhakar Timble resigned speaks volumes. Sardesai has betrayed his supporters and has shown that he too is a power-hungry politician. – KB Dessai

Assault on democracy

What has happened in Goa and Manipur is an assault on our democracy (“Goa floor test: BJP didn’t just win the trust vote – the Congress lost an MLA”). The judiciary, by not intervening, as shown itself to be naive. It does not understand how dirty Indian politics is. Judges are bound to uphold democratic principles – not a mob-like system where the early bird gets the prize. This is not a rat race.

The judgment ordering a floor test in Goa, which Manohar Parrikar won, is an open invitation for future political horse-trading in a primitive system. Goa has the misfortune of having a subservient BJP stooge as a governor (the situation in Manipur is the same).

This election has also seen a fair share of money power being used to get votes. I am no supporter of the Congress, but their leaders cannot be blamed. We pride ourselves in being a mature democracy, but the judge should have insisted that the governor call the party with the largest share of elected representatives to form the government and prove their majority. Goans now have a failed defence minister as chief minister. I call on all concerned Goans to protest in large numbers. Crooks have to be shown the door.

***

What happened in Goa is nothing but a disgrace to democracy. Had they formed a pre-poll alliance, nobody would have questioned the BJP! But for parties to get votes on an anti-BJP plank and then, when the chance comes, aligning with the very party you opposed, shows how low politicians can stoop. When the “party with a difference” decides to capture power by hook or by crook and when partisan governors are in place to co-operate with BJP’s shameless power-grabbing attitude, then democracy is the victim! – Ramalingam Rajipillai

***

Dear Rahul Gandhi,

I wonder how you lost the plot in Manipur and Goa. Is the Congress really so short of money or competence? This is a major opportunity lost and doesn’t behove the party well.

Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered ad the Congress has done all this in past, but the problem is with the BJP’s ideology and the apparent threat to the idea of India. Thus I have to reach out to you. You have to pull up your socks and ensure the BJP is cornered.

You have to be more hungry and better prepared. You must do away with old Congress hands and their sons, even the blue-blooded ones. You must import performers from smaller parties, from the BJP too. That would send a great message.

Also pick your battle, you can’t be a king and a kingmaker at the same time. Mohan Bhagwat is not Narendra Modi and vice versa. Trust me, you have enough friends. It is just that you have to look outside your coterie and reach to them. There are several leaders from regional parties and other natinal parties who can deliver. When was the last time you called them? Appoint Congress presidents these states to work with these friends. Keep a direct line of communication open. Play the tactics well.Reach out.

Select competent, young, fresh and eloquent people for party posts and try to deliberately do away with blue blood generation. Do better PR, reach out to celebrities, address college and other forums, reach out to the international diaspora to build the right image. Do this 24x7.

We now need maximum Opposition unity. You carry the Gandhi surname – this is a fight between Gandhi and Godse. Don’t let Gandhi’s India lose. – Abhishek Kumar Preetam

Number cruncher

This article was extremely frustrating to read because the numbers presented were often without context – only longitudinal trends and no comparative metrics, either to other states and geographies or to the general population
(“Uttar Pradesh 2017: These 13 charts examine the BJP’s surge in India’s heartland”).

For example, you say “there is a significant rise in the representation of Thakurs and Bania”. Now, that is a fascinating data point. But what does it mean? Are Thakurs/Banias over-represented versus their population in Uttar Pradesh? Are they typically over-represented
everywhere – a community that is more likely to be active in politics or to see more electoral success? Is their “strike rate”, to use your term elsewhere, better than that of other communities, and if so, who is voting for them disproportionately?

Also, instead of just pasting static graphs as pictures, interactive graphs would be useful for understanding the data better as well as analysis. – A Gari

Slow death

This is one of the best analyses on the current political situation I have come across (“Elections 2017: It is time to write an obituary for ideals like socialism, secularism and justice”). Despite the Congress government’s good performance with regard to implementation of reforms in Uttarakhand which has also recorded high growth, it was wiped out.

The Opposition needs to seriously introspect and reassess their way of thinking. Communication is an area they need to work on. It need not be strident rhetoric and word play, but they have to get better at honestly presenting what their success and vision. – Zarina Bazliel

***

I have been following Scroll.in for quite sometime now and have enjoyed your articles for their wit, insight and variety. But these days, I have that the articles are beginning to take on a political flavour. I believe it is my duty (for I wish to enjoy more articles from you), to remind you of what I desire.

When I read political articles, I expect a certain percentage of the article to contain unbiased factual content. This article in particular made me realise that you have become repetitive, and I dare say, boring. The article did not add to my knowledge in any way, nor did it offer any insight. The writer, a well-read nomad, seems to throw around words with impunity.

I request you to stop publishing articles that promote a political agenda. Even if it does highlight one, please make sure it possesses actual, factual content. – Karthikeya

Tomorrow’s India

Here are some points for the author to consider (“Why India is unlikely to become a Hindu Pakistan”). The reference to 125 crore Indians is not new. He had made that point during the campaign in 2013-’14. As Gujarat chief minister, he always referred to six crore Gujaratis.

The notion that RSS Hindutva philosophy is a mirror image of Jinnah’s two-nation theory shows a poor understanding of Hindutva. Savarkar, who coined the term Hindutva was an atheist. The notion of Hindutva is connected to the land Hind rather than the religion Hindu.

At a time that Gandhiji was supporting the khilafat movement – which would imply that the Muslims of India would owe their loyalty to a far away Caliph or Khalifa, Savarkar posited that no matter how one worshiped today, one must acknowledge their roots to the motherland Hindustan and be loyal to her.

It may surprise the author that Savarkar, the author of Hindutva philosophy, strongly supported one person one vote, regardless of caste or religion. This was in contrast to Jinnah, who wanted a disproportionate representation for Muslims who were former rulers. While Jinnah believed in the two-nation theory, the RSS and Hindutva were proponents of Akhand Bharat.

Also, the author may be interested in knowing that it was Ambedkar who proposed a population exchange in response to Jinnah’s two-nation theory. The RSS opposed Partition tooth and nail, which means they were not trying to get rid of Muslims from India. A little more research in future would be appreciated. – Gaurav Pal

***

It’s a bit perplexing to see Samar Halarnkar juxtaposing facts with hope and assumptions!
Also, is Pakistan to be our benchmark when guaging how we have evolved? – Hrushikesh M

***

The commentary on Narendra Modi appears prejudiced, as though the author is more focused on trying to prove him wrong than on analysing his achievements. – Subbarayan Ramasethu

Tharoor for PM

He is very well educated and articulate but to do politics in India, you will have to be fluent in Hindi speaker and a mass leader, which neither he nor Chidambaram, though qualified, is (“Thousands sign petition for Shashi Tharoor to be Congress’ 2019 PM candidate”).

The Congress should, however, immediately remove Gandhi/Nehru clan from the top. Instead of Rahul, they can try young guns like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia or old horse like Divijaya Singh and Kapil Sibal. – Mohmd Ilyas

***

Shashi Tharoor will be a good choice as the Congress’ prime ministerial candidate. He has what it takes – he is knowledge about domestic and foreign affairs, articulate and also knows the ground realities of electoral politics, having been elected to the Lok Sabha twice. Other things peculiar to politics in India he will undoubtedly learn fast. He will be an asset to the Congress and could turn things around for them. – Suresh Chandra Ojha

***

The petition should be for Tharoor to leave the Congress and join the BJP, so that he becomes foreign minister under Modi. His rich experience will be useful to the nation. What’s the point of leading a dead party? – S Ramachandra Prasad

***

Shashi Tharoor should leave the Congress and join the BJP. His calibre is wasted in the Congress. He should think over it. – Krunal

***

Shashi Tharoor is a gentleman and a good orator who is abreast with world policies. He is eligible as a prime ministerial candidate but the party he belongs to is the worst party of all time. He cannot correct a party with the likes of Kamal Nath, Tytler, Singhvi and Digvijay. So we will not be voting for the Congress. – Ravishankar

Illusion or reality?

The very fact that Modi resorts to personal attacks and rhetoric over logic speaks volumes about the present situation. People are disenchanted by decades of corruption and bad governance in India (“Readers’ comments: Modi’s comment on hard work and Harvard has been taken out of context”). Modi’s supporters see him as the light. Unfortunately, he is delivering more of the same, wrapped in a different package. Critics point this out and supporters shoot them down as anti-national. They are just doing themselves and the country harm by behaving this way. They can have any amount of affection for Modi, but please use data, logic and common sense while debating on his behalf.

With regard to demonetisation, its flaws were apparent, you don’t need economists, leave alone Nobel Laureates to point them out. Corrupt people are too smart to let their ill-gotten wealth pile up in cash and just sit there, collecting dust and not increasing in value.

So who actually holds cash? Wage workers, small traders – these were the people worst affected by the exercise. Plus, data clearly shows that nothing changed with regard to corruption, fake notes, terrorism.

At the same time, BJP ministers like Janardhan Reddy and Arun Jaitley are spending crores on their children’s weddings. Any anti-corruption leader will foremost, in his first month of office target the obviously rich people, and make sure all their dealings are cleaned up. Instead, Modi making hard-working honest people sacrifice, and is able to pull it off so well. One has to congratulate him for that! – Sam R

Incomplete picture

I strongly agree with what the government is saying about data not reflecting the ground reality. There have been many developments observed on this front in Mizoram (“Why has infant mortality risen in Mizoram even as it has fallen everywhere else?”). Of course, it has been difficult to take action in case of data collection for various programmes as the southern part of the state has a human resources crunch and poor connectivity. Double entry may also have contributed to the increase in mortality rate. The numbers are not giving the complete picture. – ZaraJan Mawia

Rough ride

The government agencies should be more responsible (“Watch: Is this biker pulling off the new ‘Dhoom’ stunt or avoiding a fine?”). If the bike needed to be towed away and the biker wasn’t cooperating, they could have taken legal action, instead of putting forcibly towing the bike with the rider on it, putting his life at risk.

The law enforcers and the other government bureaucracies should be taught to serve people and value human life. Unfortunately, in India, government employees become authoritarian and exercise powers without caring for the common man. – Jagdish Varma K

No alternative

It is true the collegium system is not fool proof. (“Justice Karnan is a standing monument to the failure of the collegium system, claims former judge”). I too am a victim of this system. But there is no viable alternative to it, so I don’t complain. Politicians and the executive are keen to change collegium system , but at the cost of independence of judiciary. That shouldn’t happen. Favoritism and nepotism is rampant and the judiciary necessarily needs to be kept away from political interference. So, we should continue with the present system even though it’s not perfect. – Prakash

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