Humanity lost

Felicitating the Army officer who used a man as a human shield doesn’t only raise concerns with regard to human rights but also proves that they do not consider Kashmir as an Indian state or as one of them (“Army honours officer accused of using civilian as human shield in Jammu & Kashmir”). – Sabeeha Shaheen


The Armed Forces are trained to work in volatile situations, in times of natural disasters, and other emergencies. During the recent debate on the human shield issue, many have argued that security personnel are human too – and of course, they are – but one can argue that about anyone. The point is that the armed forces are trained to work in exceptional situations; that is the very nature of their job.

There is only one person here whose rights were violated in the “human shield” controversy and that man appears to have been an ordinary artisan and citizen of India. Unlike another 20-somethings killed for waging war against the Indian state, like Burhan Wani, this man had participated in the democratic process, being one of the few who voted in the recent bye-polls in Kashmir. One would have thought that in a strife-torn area where a large section of the youth are alienated, the Indian state would have lauded such a citizen. And yet, it seems that Kashmiris can only choose between terrorism (like Wani) or humiliation like Farooq Dar.

The message that Kashmiri youth then get is, this is how you’re rewarded for voting in elections: you’re stripped of your rights as a citizen, humiliated by being tied to the front of an army jeep and paraded across multiple villages. This spectacle of humiliation is then viewed by us all on your screens and the army tells us that it is an exception and orders a probe. But before the investigation is concluded, the misdeed is honoured. Farooq Dar should have received an apology, at the very least, and yet Major Gogoi is being felicitated.

The ISI does not need to brainwash Kashmiri youth because a certain section of the Indian media and, it seems even the Indian army, is only too happy to collude and do their job for them. And the only humanity the public wishes acknowledge in this case is that of the army man. The “human” in the human shield has no rights. – Jayshree


The title of this article is not only pretentious but also assumes that the author and other arm-chair critics like him know more than experts on the field (“The Army’s unprecedented moves fuel fears of fresh resentment and violence in Kashmir”). The policy of patience has failed and the morale of the military forces has been eroded by the decades-long so-called secular rule. It’s time to rethink and change the strategy by punishing and even eliminating stone-pelting mobs to give Kashmir back to its original inhabitants, the Pandits. – Sesha

Modi at three

This is an excellent analysis which is also terrifyingly depressing (“Shiv Visvanathan: Four ways I was wrong about Narendra Modi three years ago”). I would like to ask what Shiv Vishwanathan, a social scientist, thinks the Modi-Shah duo portend for our country in near and long term. I worry if India can survive as a truly liberal democratic nation if BJP comes back to power in 2019 . Apart from the demagoguery and megalomania, I also feel there is a cruel streak in the two top party leaders. – Kanchan Mukherjee


After a long time, I have read such an astute critique by Indian intelligentsia of Modi, especially of how jingoistic fervor is overshadowing any political setup of the day. However I am curious to know what kind of disaster you apprehend he is subjecting India to and on what historical basis you came to this conclusion. – Avnesh Reddy


I have been an avid reader of but in the last few months, I have observed that your pieces on the current dispensation have become increasingly toxic. Fair criticism is the essence of journalistic ethos and is welcome but opinions like this are reflective of downright hatred towards Modi. I suggest you allow moderate views on your website. – Chaitanya


If the situation is like this, why is he still winning elections (“‘We’re in an even deeper malaise’: Many of Modi’s right-wing liberal supporters are now disappointed”)? – Dhiraj Borker

Fire without fuel

There seems to be a conspiracy by media outlets who are trying to spread these riots to other districts (“UP: One person killed in fresh violence between Dalits and Thakurs in Saharanpur district”). Till now, the incidents have been sporadic and localised. I say this because I live in Saharanpur city and till now, the clashes have not affected life here or in other parts of Saharanpur district. People are moving around freely everywhere, without fear . In fact, all we hear of these riots is from the news. So, it seems to be that media houses are publicising these riots just to enhance Yogi Adityanath’s image as a tough guy, to teach one community a lesson. – Preeti Jindal

Debating Aurangzeb

Hired armies of trolls and other deluded though sincere people have and will continue to attack Truschke (“‘Some of the hate mail is chilling’: Historian Audrey Truschke on the backlash to her Aurangzeb book”). But she and other genuine researchers should rest assured that all fair-minded people in India support their work and that of others who seek to unravel the truth. What Truschke is doing is important as a historian. Moving away from emotions and prejudice to focus on the truth is essential for India to survive and prosper. Truschke’s bravery and long-suffering can only be hugely admired. – Prabhu Guptara


Whether Aurangzeb was saint or Satan is relevant to no one today except historians. This controversy teaches me nothing. All I know is that Shivaji fought Aurangzeb. You may argue that Shivaji was not a saint, but everyone has their likes and dislikes. History is nothing but a culmination of the likes and prejudices of those who wrote it. – R Venkat


Well done Audrey, that was a bold effort. Although I do not agree with many of your conclusions, your work is grounded on authentic contemporary sources, in which that period is rich. – Wajahat Habibullah

Staged encounters

This is not the first case, but one among thousands (“Army and police conducted fake encounter in Assam, alleges CRPF inspector general”). But no one raised their voice. One of the two so-called militants was my childhood friend. I was in my hostel in town when I heard the news. In the report, he was named as David Islary, but we call him Dayud in my village. When I came to know that he had been killed, I thought of abandoning my IIT preparations.

Innumerable people have been killed by security forces by branding them as NDFB militants. They beat our youth and then the youth take up militancy. I’m sure no one can stop us from fighting for homeland. I want to visit supreme Court to give witness. We need to stop fake encounters or India will be broken into 1,000 pieces. – Narzary

King of fruits

Thank you for publishing Vivek Menezes’ lyrical ode to the Goan mango (“Goan mangoes are the best in the world – history proves so, too”). I was born in upper Assam and brought up in Shillong, so the mango did not play a prominent role in my growing years. It’s only when I left the Northeast for Mumbai and then Delhi that I realised the Indian obsession for the fruit. Menezes gave a colourful account on the importance of the fruit, while showeiring the reader with anecdots on how mango season affects the lives of Goans.

This also reminds me about how passionate people in the Northeast are about pineapple season. The pineapple does have the same status as Goa’s famous mangoes, but it still causes heartburn and few fights across the hills and valleys of our region. We cannot agree on where the best pineapples are grown. Some say they are best in the Garo hills, while others swear by the ones that are grown around Medziphema. Then again, there are our indefatigable friends from Tripura who are offended by such suggestions, since they claim we have not tasted the pineapples from Jampui hills. Thus, our fruity attempts at pineapple politics come to naught.

Perhaps Menezes can travel our way soon and sample our humble pineapple and settle this peculiar Northeast feud. – Xonzoi (Sanjay) Barbora


Being a mango maniac, I was delighted to read such an entertaining article. Any article, or even a rant, written in the praise of the king of fruits makes me go mangoes! But to get an enlightening insight into the historical influence of this king and the literature it inspired was amazing. I congratulate the writer for such a fine piece and applaud him for undertaking such extensive research for this article. – Eshna Gupta


Vivek Menezes’ article is absolutely splendid, top drawer stuff. The research is exhaustive and enlightening. I am making a beeline for the Margao fruit market now! – Rahul Chandawarkar

Man of words

Thank you for sharing Ruskin Bond’s story (“Ruskin Bond is 83 today. He reveals where he found the novels he wrote”). He has a serene exterior and his statements are equally peaceful. There seems to be no bitterness, no regrets and no attitude. Happy Birthday, Ruskin Bond! – Dilip

What’s new?

This article on celebrities on Instagram seems to me like paid news (“Instagram is helping Bollywood stars take charge of their public selves like never before”). If it is, a disclaimer should have issued. If not, you’re probably looking at your analytics to decide what should be highlighted. What you’re talking about is too insignificant to be pegged as a cover story. Also, what you say about Instagram holds true for YouTube, Twitter, WordPress and many other websites too. All of these have given stars direct access to their fans. – Akshay Madan

Society off track

It’s a shame that we have people like this among us (“Tejas Express vandalised: Why are Indians incapable of preserving public goods?”). The Tejas Express could have been pride of Konkan, thanks to Suresh Prabhu. But some people just don’t deserve anything good. Judging from the prices, I thought the train would only be used by educated people. If this is their handiwork, it’s despicable. It shakes my belief in the Indian society. – Milind Tamhane


Many of us have a poor mentality, even the educated lot. Counselling and awareness as well as harsher punishments may bring about some change. – Sasanka Mahapatra

Modern slavery

I am dead against modern slavery (“Watch: Half of India is susceptible to modern slavery and it’s time we did something about it”). It is obnoxious, outrageous and must definitely be eradicated. However, our insensitivity and selfish material aspirations have made us blind to our conscience, so knowingly or unknowingly, we continue to promote it. Strong measures are needed, especially with regard to child labour and child abuse. This could also be done by encouraging adoption instead of surrogacy. – Bina Singh


I appreciate this description of slavery. There are plenty who undergo such inhuman experiences. There are various sectors where people are suffering, crying and fighting, but to no avail. The tormentors are rich, powerful, cunning and inhuman. The plight of those in military services is the worst, as people join to serve the nation but end up serving their higher ups. We need to talk about ways to stop this. – M Kchanchal Chanchal


It’s sad to know about modern slavery in India. I was not aware that it had been happening at such a large scale and in so many sectors. Forced marriage is slavery as well and I never thought of it like that. Thanks for such a good article. Hopefully the government or some NGOs will work towards improving the situation. – Saurabh Soni

Lady courage

As long as there are courageous and honest people like Varsha Dongre standing up against torture and for human rights, there is hope for us (“Meet Chhattisgarh jailer Varsha Dongre: Suspended for exposing torture and sexual abuse of Adivasis”). I used your case for a law exam in our law school. Young aspiring lawyers must learn from it. Thanks! – Gerd Ferdinand Kirchhoff


Varsha Dongre is facing a problem because we in India still believe that the boss is always right. She brought to light the corruption in public service commission. There are many inept wards of high-ranking officials working at higher levels who got into the administration through manipulation. No action is being taken against them and instead, whistle-blowers are being targeted. It is high time the Supreme Court take notice of the matter and remove unwanted people. – Ashwini Kumar Sood