Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: One nation, one tax is acceptable, but one language is not

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Language politics

You are absolutely right, Hindi is not our national language (“Hindi in passports is yet another step towards imposing a single language on a multilingual India”). Besides, each state in North speaks different kind of Hindi. In most cases, for railway reservations or bank forms, most prefer English over Hindi. – Talak Shah

***

One nation one tax is acceptable, but one language is not. Bharathvajan Subbarao

Tense Bengal

It’s high time President’s rule were imposed on West Bengal (“No one believes a Class 12 student could have created Facebook image that sparked violence in Bengal”). Mamata and her Trinamool Congress are sure to cause many more problems for the state and the country and also create trouble with the Bangladesh government. – MN Rao

Water crisis

It is unfortunate that the government does not have the courage to accept its failure in implementing austerity measures to mitigate the drinking water scarcity (“Tamil Nadu government says there is no water scarcity problem in the state”). If the monsoon fails, we will need alternate-day supply and mobile water supply which can be done with proper planning and implementation, but all this has been cast aside in the power struggle at the state. – Arumugam PK

Taxing times

The media is creating more problems for Modiji than those who have no clue about GST (“Upset by GST provisions, will small traders finally lose their ardour for the BJP?”). I live in Australia and our government implemented the GST in 2000, which everyone seems to like because they pay a fair amount of tax. – Neil Somaya

***

I am not a fan of the BJP or Modi but GST is the right step even for small traders. I help run a pharma industry and we have been often stymied by the need to get road permits and other clearances for inter-state supply. Under the GST regime, there are no such trade barriers within the country.

One can legitimately argue that the preparations before the GST roll out should have been better, that there will be chaos initially and that there should have been lower and fewer tax brackets. But the tax per se is not bad. – S Srinivasan

Temple dispute

As Uttar Pradesh is under BJP rule, the creation of a mandi at the disputed site where the Babri Masjid once stood in Ayodhya will be in the media glare for the months to come (“Ayodhya dispute: VHP brings in three more truckfuls of stones to construct Ram Temple”). The new government has indicated that it will use administrative powers, though covertly, to facilitate the creation of a temple in disputed territory. Voices from the Muslim camp and political opposition will prove meaningless. The judiciary of the country also may not be able to see this issue in a proper light. – Bilal Ahmed Mir

Economy watch

Why do you always see it as a glass half empty (“‘6% GDP is disappointing’: Noted economist Paul Krugman blames demonetisation and RBI policies”)? If loose monetary policy had led to higher inflation, the poor would suffer more and you would be out there complaining. A growth rate of 6.9% growth is very good when you look at the rest of the world, and the GDP growth is expected to increase to 7.2% in 2017-’18 and further accelerate to 7.7% in 2018-’19. And the rating agencies expect the recent introduction of GST or goods and tax regime to boost India’s growth. Try to be more balanced in your coverage. – Amit Sheth

Medium of education

With regard to your views on teaching in the mother tongue, I’d like to share my experiences as a teacher and father of a school-going child in West Bengal (“Switching medium of instruction in schools from local languages to English is not educational reform”). The problem is not so much about the medium of instruction as in the quality of education in Bengali-medium government schools versus CBSE and ICSE schools. There is a difference in the curriculum as well, which is why I’m unsure of where to send my son. – Monojit Hazra

Running on fumes

The environment ministry is the most important ministry in any country (“Lab notes: A 10 microgram rise in air pollution particles can cut a life short by 10 years”). The radio, TV and every known resource should be used to make their work public. Schools are the starting point of learning. Countries have to cut budgets and spend on cleaning the air. Along with this, we also need solutions to make the water and soil clean. Fossil fuel use needs to stop.

The air is so polluted that children may soon not be able to play outdoors. Ultimately, untimely deaths will rise if the situation is not corrected. – Venu Advani

New friendships

Why do you want favours from Israel (“The Delhi-Tel Aviv relationship is all hard cash and Israeli guile, so let us not lose our cunning”)? Would they do it for, say, China or Pakistan? You get what you pay for. We are not beggars. The “favour” they are doing is creating a credible relationship in a dangerous world. – Ajit Joshi

Strong words

This speech must be circulated to one and all in India (“‘Are you vigilant enough, proactively, to save the basic tenets of our country?’: Pranab Mukherjee”). The younger generation must ponder over it, think of where we stand today and what’s in store for our future generations. This also seems a bit like a farewell speech from the president I wish Pranab Mukherjee all the best. – Philipose Panicker

Off court

This article is wrong (“It’s anybody’s Wimbledon: Women’s tennis has a problem of nameless, faceless champions”). As a long-time tennis fan, I do not miss Sharapova. Sharapova beat Serena Williams twice in 2004, at a time Serena returned from injury, so where is the competition between the two? Viewers tune in for Serena Williams. Sharapova is overrated, constantly given easy draws at majors and propped-up by the sports commentators and media! Women’s tennis is just fine. – Connie C Reshard

Puducherry turf war

This is a clear violation of the sanctity of the Constitution of India by the governor (“In latest tussle, Puducherry chief minister accuses Lt Gov Bedi of violating convention on MLA picks”). Kiran Bedi has shown bias towards her party, the BJP. Modi and his team seem to be hell bent on destroying Constitutional institutions. – Mosimon

Sikkim face-off

This is one of the more balanced pieces on the India-China tussle that I’ve come across (“True, India and China are not the same as they were in 1962 – which is why the squabbles must stop”). The comment about “strategic experts” in particular made me smile. – Tushar Sikand

Battle-ready?

This website has a very critical approach to the BJP, Modi and his policies (“Two-and-a-half wars? The Indian Air Force doesn’t have the squadron strength to fight even one”). I agree that you have the right to criticise and the right to free speech, but criticising the Indian military on a public forum in this way makes India more vulnerable to attacks from neighbouring countries. Indian liberals and Leftists did nothing for the country for 60 years. Defence procurement did not happen. The condition in Jammu and Kashmir is clear to see. Let the Indian military take care of their failures and successes themselves. – Beena Chothani

Making the cut

I completely disagree. The sex, violence form an integral part of the story line and provide an accurate description of the patriarchy and savageness that existed at the time period that Game of Thrones depicts (“Why the censored ‘Game of Thrones’ on Indian television is so much better than you think”). Most of the scenes play a crucial role either in developing the story line or a particular character. Remove these scenes and you have mixed feelings for Joffrey, Peter Baelish and the like. – Rohan Samal

***

Sure, the nudity is a bit much, the censored version seems more like a teaser for the show. The violence is what drives the series. The actual plot, mindset and the psychopathic tendencies are best conveyed through violence only. – Ashish Kumar

***

The violence and the sex scenes are what make Game of Thrones great. And some of these scenes are crucial to the storyline. Many say that India is progressing but we’re still really narrow minded. And the censor board overdoes it – they’re even cutting out the kissing scenes. – JD

***

You seem to be in favour of censorship. Good for you. I bet you are also in favour of cutting out scenes depicting women with bare arms or legs exposed. While we are at it, let’s also ban women travelling alone, or wearing provocative clothing in public. Game of Thrones with all its sex and violence is really boring. Lets have a re-run of Mahabharat or let’s simply stick to documentaries on Doordarshan. – BP

Sporting spirit

Dhoni and Kohli’s relationship and the mutual respect they share is something I’ve been discussing with friends and colleagues very often (“The unique relationship between captain Virat Kohli and keeper MS Dhoni is one India should cherish”). This piece articulates it excellently. I’m an admirer of Dhoni and I’ve been a keen observer. I’ve noticed that he chooses not to interfere in Kohli’s discussions on the field and gives him space. Letting go to this extent obviously very difficult for someone who’s been in command for so long. I wish the larger public gets to read this article and realises that cricket, for an international player, is much more than coming out and scoring at a 100% strike rate. Thank you very much for this article. It made my day. – Pranav Buch

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.