Boundaries of secularism

I agree with the writer’s views on the unequal application of laws in this country (“Sonu Nigam is right – blaring azaan is ‘forced religiousness’. And it doesn’t stop there”). I believe this is primarily because of the passivity of citizens at the receiving end. That could also be in part because of the cynicism about the system being corrupt and indifference on part of citizens and the state. It’s tough for a prudent human being to pick up cudgles with the authorities regarding anything that doesn’t directly and significantly affect them or their personal rights.

Whether it’s a mandir or a gurudwara, a jagrata or a party, the laws should apply equally to every situation. I am a Hindu and I too get disturbed not only by azaan but also the aarti in the adjacent mandir or the bhajans and patriotic songs blaring all the time.
It’s absolutely beyond me why a democratic country that has given all its citizens the freedom to practice the religion of their choice has anti-beef laws. I also fail to understand why the Supreme Court does not do something about this. – Archana


This is a great write up and I agree with the writer, but I wish he had included instances where Christianity is persecuted as well. Twitter is exploding with reactions after Sonu Nigam’s comment, but just a few days ago, when Modi had declared Good Friday as Digital India day, or when he sought to celebrate Good Governance Day on Christmas, no one said much about it. I don’t see you passionately covering that aspect at all. A journalist’s primary rule is to be objective and report the news. – RR


In this country, while the use of loudspeakers by masjids, gurudwaras and may be even temples may be curbed, the noisy celebrations of the Ganesh festival, which can overpower a hundred azaans, will never be banned.

Every year, during visarjan, dozens of mandals with Ganesh idols pass by my house, their speakers blaring and dhols pounding. The old, infirm and infants are the worst affected. Even with all our doors and windows shut tight, we cannot hear each other for that entire period.

Why not have a few big pandals in the city and do away with all smaller ones? – Sophie Johari

Bald truth

I agree with Professor Naim’s comments but I also wish Sonu Nigam had chosen better words to describe his feelings
(“The bald truth needs to be spoken out loud and clear: Sonu Nigam is right on misuse of loud speakers”). The word “goondagiri” is totally inappropriate, unacceptable, offensive and uncalled for and I blame him only for this. Other than that, he has a right to express his views. – Usman Madha


Sonu Nigam is absolutely correct. Noise pollution is a greater menace than air pollution, be it from a mandir, gurudwara or masjid. This must be controlled strictly, particularly near residential areas, offices and hospitals. – P Mtra

Zooming in on the Valley

There is no denying that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has deteriorated since the BJP and PDP came to power (“Democracy was India’s trump card against Pakistan in Kashmir. What changed under Modi’s BJP?”). The blow-hot-blow-cold approach with Pakistan has not helped either. That the big promises they made during the state elections proved meaningless is typical of the NDA government. Amit Shah’s confidence of getting power in 95% of the States seems to be based on a sinister plan. Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim-dominated state and the BJP certainly doesn’t inspire any confidence from the people. – SN Iyer


This article was quite insightful. I hope the government at the Centre hears the cries from Kashmir and heeds to their request. Only yesterday, MLA Tarigami from Jammu and Kashmir gave an emotional appeal in Jaipur. He mentioned also that at the time of Partition, the Hindu Pandits and Muslims of the Valley continued to live amicably. Gandhi would refer to that and say that Kashmir was the ideal he sought for India’s future. – Rosamma Thomas


Rajdeep Sardesai on Kashmir

Today, Kashmir is filled with blood, anger and guns (“Discussing Kashmir, I almost felt like an ‘anti national’ speaking for Jewish rights in Nazi Germany”). I haven’t seen such chaos in Kashmir ever before.

someone should question Indian government on what they have gained by their policy of force.

The military can help us control the land but will never win the hearts of the people. – Sidharath


I’m sorry Rajdeep, your bias is so apparent that nobody takes you seriously, even when you’re right. – Asit Desai


It’s not that we don’t want to watch news about farmers, we watch what people show us. If we can’t trust them, who can we trust? I prefer the print media but newspapers are too opinionated. It’s hard to believe that Kashmir and religious intolerance are the only topics we come across on TV news. What about development, river-linking, or the state of the Indian economy? – J Sashi Bhushan


Kashmiris are, no doubt, Indians. So why should they pelt stones on the Indian Army? Even with military presence, terrorists from Pakistan are causing havoc in the state. So how things improve if the Army is withdrawn? We have enough of facile views like those of Sardesai. Let him specify what it is the government should do, step by step. Talks with separatists will not bear any result. – Krishnan

Misreading Ambedkar

I would like to thank the author of this piece for taking the time to put together facts that would challenge and lay bare the truth of the Swarajya article that it rebuts (“‘The Ambedkar they don’t want you to know about’ is a man who never actually existed”). I didn’t even think of reading the article which this purports to rebut, as I knew from experience what the piece is going to be and the falsehoood it wants to propagate.

Apart from Ambedkar, there are hundreds of other figures that the Rightwing is trying to appropriate. Karthik Gunjal


This only shows that like the Upanishads, Ambedkar’s speeches and writings can be interpreted in many ways. But everyone, including Neelakantan or Guha, is convinced that only they knows what Ambedkar was really thinking. So, do not read the interpretations of others, make your own. – R Venkat

Kapur, Kapoor and Crockery

This article rings a bell because I too am a Kapur and when I got married in 1953, I shopped for crockery in the Hitkari shop in Connaught Place (“Kapur and Kapoor: Two friends survived Partition and changed the way Indians drank tea and coffee”). The dinner plates were used by us till the mid-’80s. Why didn’t you mention the tiny coffee cups that were a decorative status symbol for our generation?

Long live the entrepreneurial spirit of the Punjabi refugees. – K Ahuja

Meat of the matter

I am really shocked to read the misleading descriptions you have given in this article on meat-eating in India (“From Ramayana to the scriptures, it’s clear India has a long history of eating meat”). It is just speculation and shows author’s ignorance about the sacrifices mentioned in Vedas.

The purpose of any sacrifice is to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. To this end, different yagnas or sacrifices were mentioned. Animals were not sacrificed for eating, but to give a new body to the sacrificed creature, thereby testing the power of Vedic Mantras and the purity of the Brahmans taking part in it.

Moreover, animal sacrifices are already banned in the present age of Kaliyuga (according to Vedic scriptures). The only sacrifice recommended is chanting the name of god.

And it is most foolish when you say, Lord Rama ate meat! Surely, you are unaware of scriptures like Srimad Bhagvatam, where meat-eating is described as one of the four pillars of sinful life and avoided by any sincere Vaishnava. I request you not to mislead the general populace with your invented knowledge in such articles. – Achyuta Naam Das

Songs of lamentation

It is great to read the offbeat stories like this (“Meet the lawyer whose musical rendition of an old elegy to Imam Husain is leaving Indians teary-eyed”). While the article itself well-written and highlights the importance of soz khwani to Indian culture in general and the Shia community in particular, there are a few errors, both factual as well as interpretive.

It would have been great if the word “caliph” had not been used against name of Yazid. The whole point of battle of Karbala was in terms of not recognizing Yazid as the caliph of Muslims. Even today, almost all Muslims in world look at Yazid as a tyrant and not as a king, leave aside as a caliph. This could have been avoided.

Secondly, across the article, “Moharram” has been referred to as a “season”. This, to the uninitiated, would mean some arbitrary time of the year. Moharram is the first month of Islamic calendar and 10th day of this month, The Ashura, is the day of martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Hence, it holds special place in the Islamic calendar.

Further, across article, the word “sing” could have been replaced by “recite”. – Juzer Stationwala


The author of this article seems to have been carried away and does not seem to have found out much about soz khwani. While the lawyer’s efforts are praiseworthy, it is not fair to compare his work with that of Fayyaz Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, who, the writer says, found the form “tough”. On YouTube, one can find tracks of Begum Akhtar doing reciting soz khwani – as do various other people who are much more competent than Askari Naqvi.

The late Sibtey Jafar of Karachi was, in my view , the most prolific and competent sozkhwan of our time. During the first 10 days of Moharram, many Muslim musicians, recite sozkhwani and marsiyakhwani, without as much as touching their musical instruments.

I have seen the whole Dagar family gather in their ancestoral home in Jaipur and observe Moharram with, among other things, sozkhwani. – Jyoti Pande

Environmental toll

At the very first glance, this article proves to be biased (“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s dismissal of expert report reflects India’s challenges protecting its rivers”). The author conveniently forgot to mention several details. For instance, the Art of Living volunteers had prepared and poured 5000 liters of a natural enzyme made from fruits waste, called garbage enzyme, which helped clean up the Yamuna a little. All this was done just before the World Cultural Festival, so that the stink in the area could be reduced. Imagine, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar decided to hold such a prestigious global event on the banks of a stinking gutter. But the writer, Bharti Chaturvedi, cunningly does not mention this.

In this article, Chaturvedi talks about cleaning rivers: is she aware that volunteers from the Art of Living have revived more that 17 rivers till now? Their project in Latur also helped farmers cope with drought.

As a reader of, I wish to read unbiased articles that show both sides of the coin. I hope completes the picture by inviting an author from the Art of Living Foundation to give a response to this article. – Sandeep Karande


It is a shame that we are letting these self-styled god men and gurus destroy our environment and violate nature in ways that affects millions of people. Rivers have held a a special place in our culture and mythology and we cannot celebrate our civilisation by destroying them. – Sanjoy Malik


I am so disappointed that published this article. The Art of Living Foundation has worked to revive rivers, has cleaned up the Yamuna, and so much more. Yet there is no mention of this in your article.

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that World Culture Festival caused damage to Yamuna flood plains. I have no trust in articles on – Amit Nair


The author of this article did not bother to establish facts. She simply put together a commentary based on what the NGT and Art of Living foundation said. A true environmentalist would go deeper. If she even analysed all the information put forth by Art of Living in its rebuttal, lot of things would be clear.

The Art of Living foundaiton has rejuvenated more than 20 rivers in Maharashtra and Karnataka. For some reason, none of these environmentalist can see that. It conducted a Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna event about four years ago where it gathered 20,000 people to clean up the river and raise awareness about its pollution. No environmentalist could either participate or comment at that time. This attitude of shedding crocodile tears and supporting these kind of activities by is deplorable! hope there will be genuine investigative journalism in India that will establish facts. – JP

High table

This article is vague and the writer has oversimplified the issue of membership to the United Nations Security Council (“Second-rate ambitions: It is time for India to get over its UN obsession”). Agreed, the UN is losing credibility, but what other option does India have? We simply cannot ignore the global framework. –Nimesh Vaghela

Urban clutter

Bengaluru is not the best city to work in, especially for IT professionals (“Why Bengaluru could be the best Indian city to work in (at least for IT professionals)”). But because of stupid, baseless articles such as this, people flock to this city and it keeps expanding. Consequently, problems such as water shortage worsen, which also affects neighbouring cities and states. As more families come here to settle down, the pressure on the infrastructure increases, which in turn leads to a reduction in tree cover. If you don’t recognize this problem then please stop writing. Let other cities develop, grow, let it even out. Bengaluru, needs to stop growing now, before it takes the entire southern delta down with its demise. – Nandan Kulkarni

A village votes

I am writing to thank for the “A Village Votes series in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh elections. I teach about the history and contemporary political issues of India and the series has been very insightful for me, giving me a perception of Indian politics from the ground level and in rural India. I have even suggested these texts for my students and colleagues to read. – Krzysztof Iwanek