Tough decisions

It is easy to form an opinion from a distance but it’s a whole other thing on the ground (“The TM Krishna column: The human shield incident is a regrettable stain on the Indian Army”). Please put yourself in the place of Major Gogoi and the situation at the time and ask yourself what action you would have taken if you were the field commander tasked with the safety of the men and material under your command. Men placed under the command are like children and a commander protects them like his own. Please re-evaluate your stance after putting yourself in the Army officer’s shoes. As a veteran, I salute Major Gogoi’s decision. – SC Jain


Just imagine yourself in that situation. Visit Kashmir, witness a live encounter and only then comment on it. A philosopher like you will not be able to understand what it’s like fighting with extremists in your own area with no support. If you cant do anything for the country, please avoid cursing the Armed Forces as they are not doing this by choice. – Ali


What exactly is TM Krishna suggesting? The Army would be glad to exit Kashmir; they don’t want this thankless job of controlling militancy while also quelling the anger of the civilians and protecting their lives, all the while being reviled in the process. But is it feasible to pull them out? It’s easy to pontificate on the action and deplore. – Shaili Khanna


I consider this article biased. If you are so disturbed by this incident, you should have protested even louder when grave atrocities were committed against our fellow Kashmiri Pandits. I hope in your heart of hearts you abhor your hypocrisy but the lure of money has forced you to sell your soul. – Ashok Kumar Samastipur


This is a prejudiced and one-sided article. What were the options facing the Army officer? He could have fired at the stone pelters, killing some in the process; or he could have gotten killed in the process. The third option was to use a man as a human shield, save lives and escape to safety. He took the pragmatic choice. He took the only possible solution that came to his mind and in my opinion, it was a stroke of genius and saved many lives.

Why is that the government and the Army are always questioned, and not the stone-pelters? Why is Pakistan not questioned? And why the comparison to Palestine? Unlike in Palestine, India has not occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, the unrest is only in Kashmir, not Ladakh and Jammu. And even in the Valley, the writer is giving the impression that the youth of Kashmir as a whole are not with India, which is a generalisation. – Prashanth


The statement made by General Rawat is not in consonance with our Constitution. He refers to the man used as a shield, Farooq Dar, as an enemy claims the Army is fighting a “war”. He makes it worse when he says that the Army should be feared. The role of the Rashtriya Rifles, as explained by a senior general initially connected with this force, was to support the local police to maintain law and order – not to fight a war.

What General Rawat said would be accurate if Army officers were fighting militants from Pakistan at the Line of Control – then it could be war – but this was an Indian citizen who, according to many reports, was innocent.

The Army Chief’s statement, coupled with those of the Defence Minister and Amit Shah, can empower the Army to play by their own rules.

The main intention is to check the volatile situation and bring peace. But this shows that the Army is acting on the government’s instructions and support. The politicisation of the Army is a dangerous trend. – SN Iyer


Jammu and Kashmir is not the responsibility of just one person. Many efforts by locals as well as outsiders are institgating ignorant people to behave in an anti-national manner. The police and the Army are meant to enforce law and order.

As far as General Bipin Rawant is concerned, he is the highest authority in the Army – he wasn’t born yesterday. I have served the in Indian Air Force for 20 years. Because of my experience there, I am very clear that the press should go all out to approse people of the stark realities of the region. The General has to keep his subordinates in high spirits. The solutions he endorses comes from his 40 years of service to the Army. To editorialise on his statements would be to being instability to the Army, which the national cannot afford. Kindly stop this anti-Army propaganda. – Purushothama Nayak


While it is very important to understand that the Armed Forces should always be under civilian leadership, the situation in Kashmir really cannot be compared with those that MacArthur, Montgomery and the others experienced (“Dealing with protests in Kashmir: The army chief has spoken. Why is the prime minister silent?”). Any sane individual with an iota of knowledge of military history would vouch for that. Kashmir and the proxy war going on in the Valley shouldn’t be debated by arm-chair intellectuals of the kind who wrote this article. – Writankar Kundu


Jammu and Kashmir is a cauldron of geopolitics as well as national and local politics with dashes of religious, cultural, social & economic issues. These are all routinely stirred by terrorism, law and order, and security threats. Faced with a multi-pronged problem, one would expect the Centre to wield every tool and weapon at its disposal. Yet, going by the statements of BJP leaders over the past year, it seems they believe that the Army is the solution to all of the Valley’s ills.

As should be obvious to anyone with functioning neurons, the Army cannot solve issues of geopolitics, national politics, local politics, religion, culture, society and economics. The Centre would do well to read the works of Chanakya – the wily statesman whom many Indian leaders claim to revere. The army (and other security forces) are only some of the many tools of statecraft a government can wield.

Sadly, as Saikat Datta notes in his analysis, the government does not seem to realise this. The Army chief, far from being a calm head in the war room, has allowed his men to become a political and PR tools.
It is time to call out the Modi government for its grand failure in Kashmir: It lacks an end goal and a coherent, multi-pronged strategy. Worse, through its words and deeds, it is now alienating Kashmir and Kashmiris from the rest of India. – Pierre Mario Fitter

Magic man

This reads like the Tamil version of Dhoom 3! the same mobile number shared by two brothers, in the name of their father P James (“Appearing trick: P James, the mystery magician who painted his ads across Chennai, reveals himself”). It also reminds me of the movie Dot to Dot, where the protagonist depicts the past of Hong Kong through mysterious graffiti near subway stations. “Gilli Gilli!” – Malathi Ramanathan


I had employed P James in 1995. He was in his sixties that time. More than magic, his catchphrase, like “Gilli Gilli”, were amusing. – HV Bhat


I remember meeting the older P James in Pondicherry in the late 70s or 80s. He was performing at a government event that I was a part of. He was around 50 at the time; I still have his visiting card somewhere. I visited Chennai frequently and was surprised to see those painted ads in odd spots all over the city. He was definitely more than an urban myth. – Grahame Dowling

Cattle politics is largely biased and has not expressed an iota of regret over what is going on in various parts of the country in the form of beef festivals (“‘This is dictatorial’: In Kerala, Bengal and North East, new cattle rules meet with opposition”). It is tantamount to condoning the cruelty being carried out in public. I hate my self for reading your absurd utterances for a pretty long time without understanding your ulterior motives and hereby promising to correct myself. – Shashidhara Shetty Kenjoor

Right way

There are several problems in this article but I shall confine myself to the ones that I have the expertise to speak on (“‘We’re in an even deeper malaise’: Many of Modi’s right-wing liberal supporters are now disappointed”). People like Gurcharan Das want a libertarian state with virtually no bureaucracy, which is a pipe dream. Capitalism needs to be regulated – where and to what extent is a matter of debate. There is a lot of work to be done by the states, not the Centre, and the critics either do not know or care.

I had commissioned a whole lot of reports on changes in laws to liberalise the economy in the early 90s by experts. Little has been done as few are aware of it. Demonetisation has broken a large number of links in the connected edifice of black money, real estate, benami ownership and shell companies. As things begin to unravel, we will see a lot of benefits. Unfortunately, conventional economics has become increasingly rigorous also irrelevant to the real economy.

As I have learnt over four decades, government data has to be treated with much caution, but inflation has indeed come down. – Srirangachary Varadachary

No help

We do not get the increments and bonus the way domestic workers demand every year (“‘Unity is power’: Residents of Mumbai gated complex sack domestic workers who protested ‘rate card’”). No bank will give them loans the way we do. We work in one place for seven hours a day, but they work in 10 houses over seven hours. We go to work even on festivals but they don’t come to work even when they are fasting, which is very often. We pop pills and go to office when we have fever, but they don’t show up. And in office, we cannot refuse even if we are asked to do something extra, but they will not even take the dustbin and put it outside the house when we are not well.

If some companies provide us reliable domestic workers at the rates mentioned then these people can be fixed because their demands are increasing by the day. – Bilimoria

Wrongful protest

The Centre’s new rules banning sale of cattle for slaughter definitely need a relook, but the Kerala Youth Congress workers’ act of slaughtering a cow in public as a protest is a new low in Indian politics (“Kerala: 3 Youth Congress workers suspended for allegedly killing calf during beef festival”). The actions of the Youth Congress will benefit the BJP in Kerala too, as the episode will be seen as an attempt to hurt people’s sentiments. It could also lea to disturbances. What happened in Kerala is an example of cruelty towards animals and must be punished. A civilised and sane form of political protest is needed, not an unlawful act. – KB Dessai


Disgraceful and barbaric. These morons behaved worse than beasts. – Malini Gunda

Lacking power

If the author’s intention was to make a comparison (as seems to be the case) between the UPA and NDA governments’ track record on rural electrification, a little more rigour was required in the interest of fairness (“Three years of BJP: Of the 13,523 villages electrified, only 8% have power in all homes”). The more than 50% fall year-on-year in the number of villages electrified during the last three years of the Congress-led UPA and the subsequent turn-around during the first three years of the BJP-led NDA is commendable. Also, the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana under the Congress connected 108,280 villages to the grid between 2005-’06 and 2013-’14. How many of the villages have 100% household connectivity? What is the geographical spread? – P Raghavendra

Top cop

Politicians and their cohorts will give credit to KPS Gill for eradicating terrorism in Punjab, but the credit actually goes to the people of the state (“KPS Gill (1934-2017): The man who finished Khalistani terrorism in Punjab”). They were at the receiving end of violence from the police as well as the so-called terrorists. It is when the people turned against both that normalcy returned to Punjab. Like Bastar policeman Kalluri, Gill sponsored state terrorism. If he was such a super cop, how did the Nellie massacre take place in Assam under him? He also failed in countering Naxalism in central India. – Onkar Singh

Home truths

Thank you for this excerpt (“Meena Kandasamy’s novel lifts the veil on the beating and brutality in many Indian marriages”). It was powerful, beautiful and tragic. – Sandy Tatham

Books lessons

While one agrees with the broader point Philip Steer is making, his understanding of what Amitav Ghosh says in The Great Derangement is flawed (“What classic novels tell us about climate change (quite a lot)”). Steer is talking about localised environmental impacts; these are a completely different order of things from climate change.

It is important understand here that environmental changes are not the same thing as anthropogenic climate change. This is a global occurence that has affected phenomena like the deep ocean currents and stratospheric winds. These have never before been affected by human impacts. No one could have written about anthropogenic climate change before 1990 because the global earth system impacts were not known before then. In fact Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide is a contemporary novel that addresses both aspects: environmental change with the sailinisation of sweet water due to the impact of cyclones and climate change raising the level of the sea to bury islands forever.
None of this however takes away from Steer’s analysis of what the classic novels tell us about the environmental changes that have indeed come to pass. – Shernaz Italia

Coaching classes

Whoever wrote this article must know that there is a difference between freedom of speech and whimsical imagination (“Greg Chappell 2.0? Indian players unhappy with coach Anil Kumble, say reports”). Second, you seem to have more insight into the Indian team’s dressing room than any of the news channels or media houses. Stop spreading around such rumours and show some respect for the legend that Kumbe is.

If there is any truth to your claim of players being unhappy with Kumble, then I think they need to learn to be more disciplined and obedient, because a fighter like Kumble would do nothing wrong to anyone. – Gajendra

Asian rivals

Congratulations to China for having produced their first domestic commercial jet, assuming of course they have made it themselves (“Forget One Belt One Road, India should worry that China’s competitor to Boeing, Airbus has taken off”). The article does concede that it comprises imported technology and components. China’s contribution is finance and labour. No doubt they will benefit from some rub-off or transfer of technology – but to imply that China has thereby ascended to the pinnacle of sophisticated technological leadership over India, who must now cower and admit to what the author calls a damning “...indictment of its development strategy!” is a bit over the top.

And the author ties all this into the OBOR issue. It is difficult to see how jumping onto the Chinese OBOR wagon will help us build our own commercial domestic jet! That is, assuming we want to reinvent the wheel, considering we already have at least two excellent and established, world-class players to buy it from whenever we chose!

And if I’m not mistaken, while we haven’t built our own jet liner, we have done a few things in space technology – largely without imported technology or components? – NJ Cama

Wheel deal

Just like Swaminathan, I too started tinkering with bicycles at the age of 13, when my father bought a second-hand Sen Raleigh bicycle in Pune for his daily commute to office (“Swami and Friends: Meet the 70-year-old who spends his days restoring British bikes in Kerala”).

I used to keep it in such good condition that my father would say that he does not even have to pedal – it just glides. He used to cover 16 km on it daily and in those days, the cycle was our neighbours’ envy.

As years went by, after working for three years, I bought my first motorcycle, a Royal Enfield. Most Sundays wwere spent dismantling parts of the bike and I graduated to touch its heart, the engine. The unique thing about those British bikes was that the engine assembly had three sub-assemblies, namely engine, clutch and gear box . It’s no longer the case with modern bikes. Through such activities, I grew confident to repair any two-wheeler. And thanks to that, I have never purchased a new motor cycle or a new car – I have about 20 used ones. – JMar J

Power challenge

Thank you for publishing this interesting article (“India’s electricity companies have surplus power – and that’s a big challenge”). I am an energy and climate change expert currently living and working in Beijing and thus was wondering if the cheep Chinese investments in coal power plants might have something to do with the problem. I am also thinking about this in the light of the Road and Belt Initiative which, among other things, pledges to invest heavily in energy infrastructure in India and neighbouring countries. Therefore, this may be limiting the opportunity for India to sell excess electricity capacity as a counter measure. – Diana Parusheva-Lowery