Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘AAP today is not what it set out to be’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Party without direction

The Aam Aadmi Party is likely to lose the upcoming municipal election in Delhi, but what is more alarming is the complete loss of vision and direction (“AAP will revoke residential house tax if voted to power in Delhi civic polls, says Arvind Kejriwal”). I used to be an avid fan and like the rest of Delhi, voted them to power on the basis of promised good governance, accountability and transparency. Unlike other parties, the AAP’s manifesto wasn’t populist and promised a new wave of ground-oriented leaders, a breath of fresh air for the national capital.

However, the AAP failed to fulfill many of its promises, some due to its failings and others because of political interference from the Centre. But that is not why one is disillusioned by the party.

The party had absolute control over roads, education, and health, and performance in those departments can be a measure of their success.

The AAP, however, is fighting the municipal election on one ground only: the abolition of property tax. They argue that the process of collection is ridden with corruption and the tax should thus be abolished. This is the party that once spoke about decentralised power through Area Sabhas. This is the party that was led by a confident leader.

Municipalities are the backbone of local governance and are intended to allow for localised decision making, or people’s participation. I thought that the AAP would be the party to finally grant municipalities the space they are entitled to, but today, they’re so desperate to win and so under-confident, that they’re willing to starve the body of its only independent source of revenue, without a care for the already cash-strapped corporations.

If corruption was their main concern, that is what they should have tackled. The AAP today is not what it had set out to be. Much like the others, it now thinks of victory only –good governance is second priority. – Sukrit Nagpal

Everyday racism

Yes, we South Indians are the worst offenders (“The TM Krishna column: News flash, Tarun Vijay critics – we South Indians are racist too”).

Dark girls are told they will have trouble finding a match. In our films, we always get our heroines from North India or relatively fairer women from other South Indian states. Will any director of Tamil dare have a dark heroine in his or her films? – R Venkat


This is an excellent and very well-written article. TM Krishna has articulated his opinions lucidly and has justified his stance in his own inimitable manner. I love the style, language and the tone. – Jayashree Lakshmanan

River rescue

The National Green Tribunal has proved that it is not a competitive body (“Art of Living destroyed Yamuna floodplains and it will take 10 years, Rs 13 crore to fix it: Panel”). They are now giving lame excuses like they were not given enough time to inspect before the Art of Living event. The polluted rivers and lakes across the country are evidence of the efficiency and green this tribunal is.

They should see how active, efficient and committed the volunteers of Art of living are in maintaining and reviving water bodies. The Vrishabhavathi river project they took up is an example. Let Yamuna river revival project to be taken up by Art of Living volunteers. They will show the NGT how to clean it and maintain. – Ram Mohan


The actuall damage is not Rs 13 crore, as your report says, but Rs 42 crore. Also, that will only be the restoration cost. No value can be ascribed to the loss of the ecology and biosystem. One quantifiable loss is that of the ground water recharge capacity of the flood plain, Assuming an average of 30 inches of annual rainfall in Delhi, a an absorption rate of 30%-50% of the rainfall, an area of 200 hectare and a cost
of 15 paise for water, the loss amounts to Rs 9 crore a year, which for 10 years works out to be Rs 90 crore. – Anand Arya

Dating in Beijing

This is a wonderful piece and is very relatable (“An Indian woman’s notes on dating in Beijing: It’s a confusing, dreadful adventure”). I live in China and have had the same experiences. If the author is ever in Shanghai, I’d love to show her around! – Tanvi Arora

EVM controversy

Most of the articles on your website somehow seem to have an anti-Modi bias, but for once, I came across an article on your platform that tries to address the fake news and doubts being spread by so-called liberal politicians like Arvind Kejriwal and Mayawati about EVM tampering (“Dholpur bye-poll: One more report of EVMs favouring the BJP falls apart under scrutiny”). Keep it up. This will gain you more supporters from apolitical Indians like me who are fed-up with the obvious biases in mainstream supposedly liberal media reporting. – Ram Garikipati

Higher education crisis

The plight of JNU students makes me sad (“‘Is this the end of the road?’: JNU’s MA students face a crisis as MPhil and PhD seats are slashed”). The government’s ignorance towards higher education has brought us to this pass. I do not understand what UGC is up to. The University is tight-fisted about opening up MA English courses in colleges. Such a discrepancy in higher education discrepancy prompts me to think why I or many students like me opted for academics given that chances of finding a job even after a NET, PhD of Junior Research Fellowship. – Vishakha Sen

False alarm

The hue and cry about the Aadhaar card being useless and anti-people has been manufactured by so-called intellectuals and activists who do not know the first thing about how the unique identity number works (“Aadhaar trouble: How a woman’s wages under MGNREGA were transferred to someone else’s account”).

Yes, there will be teething problems and some people will try to cheat the system, but all such problems will eventually be sorted out and Aadhaar will help create transparent systems.

Essentially Aaadhar just provides you a unique number and authenticates it with your biometric details. Once you have the unique ID, no one can take it away from you or fake it.
Two people may have identical names and impersonate each other but once Aadhar based systems evolve and the authentication is available on all counters, then fraud will become difficult and will become a thing of the UPA days.

Journalists and politicians who are trying to implant false stories and create fear about Aadhar have either not researched well enough or miss the days when corruption was easy to get away with. – A Nagesh

Off court

This is a nice write-up on the growing popularity of PV Sindhu and badminton (“The jam-packed stands for PV Sindhu’s India Open final proved how Indian sport is changing”). It is an incredibly exciting sport and more courts should be opened so that it can become more widely played.

The fact that the venue for this match was jam packed shouldn’t be a surprise given the fact that we’re talking about the second most populous nation on the planet.

India has the potential to go the China way in this sport by making a concerted effort to tap into local talent. The sport should also be made more lucrative.

Why is badminton yet to catch up to tennis, cricket or football? That cannot be the case for a sport so engaging and galvanising. The speed, reflexes, power, touch and movement required in badminton are unmatched. It’s the one sport that calls for a high level of athleticism, acrobatics and guile, not to mention physical and mental tenacity. – Maureen Singh

Derby spirit

It was nice to see the derby sentiment find reflection in an article after long (“How the Kolkata derby became a pillar of Bengali identity and why it’s losing its significance”). It should be considered a refresher for all Bengalis and even Indians at large. But to say that the derby spirit has died down over the years is wrong. The sentiment is still strong, as you would have noticed during the Calcutta Football League. The commercialisation aspect, although relevant, is true for most Indian sports.

It is believed that Bengalis are born as either East Bengal supporters or Mohun Bagan supporters. But the commercialisation of one of the biggest sporting rivalries in Asia is definitely federation’s fault. – Krishnendu Banerjee

Spoiler alert

This is with regard to the article titled “What happened to the Pakistani submarine that inspired the movie ‘The Ghazi Attack’?” I sincerely feel such articles should not be encouraged since they colour the audience’s perspective before the movie is released. We ought to be more responsible and try and promote such films, which are few and far between. I personally enjoyed the movie and had no problem with the liberties it took with the fact. After all, it is a movie based on a historical incident, not a documentary. – Shataparna Banerjee

Divisive remark

What kind of person is this man (“If we were racist, why would we live with South Indians, black people around us: BJP’s Tarun Vijay”)? Is he even educated? We south Indians are noted for our culture tolerance and extreme intelligence. What has colour got to do with all this? What a disgusting and racist statement. It is hateful. – Abishek Thomas

Life on the street

I have great respect and admiration for you, Harsh Mander sir (“What a tribunal that blamed a man sleeping on the road for his death should know about homelessness”). I wish I had your courage and your motivation. If only we could see them as fellow humans worthy of love and effort. – Vashti Suantak


This article on Russia leads me to two possible conclusions (“How the West has failed to get Russia right”). Either our media is obsessed with all the mainstream sources in the US and hence unquestioningly accept their narrative of US hegemony, or they are deliberately neglecting what is really going on in the world. Secondly, as the US has shifted her alliance just for geopolitical reason, our narrative has to be in line with the newly formed alliance.

Crimea was never invaded; rather a peaceful referendum was held by the people to go with Russia. As it has a strategic important naval base which opens into the Mediterranean Sea, the US is furious and has promoted it as an invasion.

Sanctions imposed by the US and EU have hurt Europe most as their economies are in a disarray despite Russia.

This is the first time in the history of mankind that the masses have awakened to what is really going on in this planet. Truth will prevail in coming days. – Junaid Ahmad

Epic row

Kamal Haasan should not have commented on the Mahabharata (Despite columnist’s gaffe, Kamal Haasan wasn’t born Muslim – his original name was Parthasaraty”). This led to him being fooled by people like the one who commented on his personal life. Avoid hurting the sentiments of the common man. – Ramachandran Vengadapuram Velappan

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

Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.


During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.