Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘It’s a thoughtful suggestion to reserve a day to mark Partition of India’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Torn apart

It is a most thoughtful suggestion to have a remembrance day to mark the deaths of lakhs of people on both sides (“Confronting Partition: Why we should mark August 17 as the Day of Mourning”). The date also marks the martyrdom of Madan Lal Dhingra, who was hanged in London on August 17, 1909. It will also be a day of sharing our common heritage, which has enriched our common past. – Jagmohan Singh

***

Thank you for this timely article. Now, more than ever, we need to confront the demons of the past and ensure that such atrocities never happen again, that nobody divides us on the basis of caste and religion in the future. – Sushil Joseph

Looking ahead

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and the writer’s description of middle-class life till the 1970s revived many memories (“It’s time for another freedom struggle: A Midnight’s Child looks back on India’s 70-year journey”). But history teaches us that no society remains static. The ideas of socialism and secularism that we were brought up on were superficial. We now know that our hero, Jawaharlal Nehru, did many things wrong. Without understanding China or its Communust leadership, he was the first to accept Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. He asked for the permanent seat in the Security Council that was offered to us, to be given to China. He allowed Krishna Menon to ruin our defence preparedness and its leadership. There are many other instances of his flawed judgement. But he did nurture the institutions that held our democracy together.

It is easy to denounce a non-Congress and non-Nehru family leader like Modi, who is not cast like Vajpayee was in Nehru’s mould. But Modi has been better at preventing high level government corruption and in getting foreign acclaim for India. I think that like his predecessors he is handling “Maoists” and Kashmiris very badly. He has not moved swiftly against cow protectors, lynchings or violence against Dalits. But we have had many mass killings under earlier governments as well. We have to accept these rebels and do what we can to get them on our side.

The do-gooders who want to protect the public sector are damaging the economy. Lax regulation of health services and education and fear of making labour laws flexible are characteristic of all our governments. In my old age, I can see us reverting for some decades to majoritarianism, like the US did for long. Our governments have failed us, especially in dealing with Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits, even women. Mere legislation is not enough. Administrators must change mind sets. A lot more must be spent on education and health, and to create many more skilled teachers at all levels, and medical practitioners.

Let us not keep demonising governments that people voted for. Give nostalgia a rest. Let us instead look at how we can deal with the present and how we can change. – Surendra L Rao

Conversion conundrum

I am not a fanatic who says that only my religion is correct (“Outlawing apostasy? Jharkhand’s anti-conversion bill is a body blow to freedom of religion in India”). Nor do I belong to the camp that says India should be a Hindu Rashtra and that other religions should be sidelined or given secondary status. I prefer the coexistence of multiple religions in a way that is respectful to one other and allows cultural exchange. I also do not believe that rituals allow us to go to heaven or higher transcendental states, but they do act as reminders of our past

However, I feel very disturbed about the issue of religious conversions for the following reasons. One, the religion to which a person may opt to convert often portrays itself as the only true religion, thereby indicating that other religions are untrue and demeaning them without having valid grounds. Second, the process of conversion is considered a mission (hence the word missionaries), an active pursuit, instead of allowing an individual to study and introspect and then convert if they wish to. Moreover, there is enough evidence to show that monetary and other inducements are used to encourage conversions and its not just about escaping oppression they experience in their current religion.

Religion (which is expected to develop one’s spirituality quotient) should be an individual’s personal matter. But due to these three reasons it has become the target of an organised institution. For this reason, I support anti-proselytisation laws I however would like such laws to permit conversions based on individual choice. – Hrushikesh

***

India needs strong anti-conversion law. Conversion creates social conflict and one religion claims superiority over another, which is unconstitutional. Conversion kills diversity. It is misnomer that anti-conversion laws are against religious freedom. Religious freedom is the freedom to worship the way you want, not conversion. You should not misguide people with such propaganda against the government. – Shyam

‘Love Jihad’?

If this same logic were followed in other democratic countries, say in the US, then their Supreme Court should order a FBI probe as to how Richard Gere, a top American actor, converted to Buddhism, how the boxing legend Mohamed Ali (formerly Cassius Clay) converted to Islam, how one of the Beatles members, George Harrison, converted to Hinduism and thousands of others converted from Christianity to other faiths (“The Daily Fix: Why should the National Investigation Agency probe a case of religious conversion?”). – R Joseph

***

When people of different faiths marry, why is it necessary one person to convert to the other’s religion? What is the wrong if both spouse keep their religion (or no faith). Their children can choose their religion when they turn 18. – R Venkat

Musical memories

Pishima was not only a great singer but also a very refined and gentle human being (“Remembering singer Parul Ghosh, one of Hindi cinema’s quietest trailblazers”). I am proud of you Rudradeep for having written this article on her life. It brought back sweet childhood memories of days spent with them at their Malad house, soaking in their love and caring. – Anuradha Karnik

Dragon rising

Not only India, even the US is concerned (“Watch: Why is China taking over a port in Sri Lanka (and should India be worried)?”)! Likely there maybe another Cuban Missile Crisis in the future. But India has also to be aware that if not for their support of the LTTE in the late ‘70s and early 80s, this nation would not have gone the way it has. – Kumar Soysa

Fact check

I liked both your analyses on Modi’s speech (“Fact check: From LPG subsidies to maternity leave, comparing Modi’s I-Day claims with the data” and “Fact check: What Modi said about demonetisation in his I-Day speech and what the data shows”). Pretty good groundwork and pretty quick too. However, you could keep the language neutral, it continues to tend towards bias. – Seema Kandar

***

Congress has ruled for 60 years but did nothing for the poor. They took votes in the name of religion but took no action. This is the first time a government is doing something for the poor. l know progress is slow, but it is on track. – Kumar Chandra

***

It appears that this administration is bent upon turning facts into fiction and vice a versa, where mythologies are turned into historical facts. – Prashant Rakshit

***

These facts are unknown to the common people of India. Press and electronic media have mostly functioned as spokespersons for the government. I am apprehensive about a public outcry if the Opposition parties continue being ineffective and mismanaged. And that is not going to be a healthy situation for our democracy. – Tapan KR Ray

***

If you are so sure of your fact check, why don’t you file a court case against the prime minister for making false declarations and cheating the country and its people? Since you are the Press, you have more proximity to data centres and other resources to validate your arguments, unlike the ordinary citizens. – Smaran Shiva

Censored CM

Freedom of speech does not mean that you say anything (“Full text of Tripura chief minister’s I-Day speech that he says was blacked out by Doordarshan, AIR”). One should at least respect the occasion. In my view, Doordarshan and AIR were right. – Jyoti Loomba

Counter point

Ram Madhav wrote a simplistic article that stretched the truth and did a poor job in making his point (“Counterpoint: BJP’s Ram Madhav wants a pure India – mirroring an idea the British wanted to impose”). Somehow Madhavi Menon wrote an even less truthful rebuttal and inadvertently proved his point better than he did.

It was pretty clear from reading Madhav’s article that his point about the “non-Congress ideology” did not “surely mean ‘Hindu’”, as Menon erroneously concludes. The thesis of Madhav’s article was not “Hindu” vs “non-Hindu” but rather “Westernised elitist” vs “Indian”. This explains the contrast he attempted to draw between Nehru and Gandhi.

Madhav and the BJP sees Congress as a Nehruvian, elitist party that sought to replace quintessentially Indian ideas “rooted in religio-social institutions” as Madhav states, with foreign Western ideas. This, and not religious prejudice, is the fundamentally animating impetus behind their desire for a “Congress-mukt Bharat”.

Failing to see this fairly obvious point, Menon takes off on a tangent about how past leaders like Akbar and Shivaji were influenced by members of different religions and convinces herself of all kinds of fanciful ideas, ranging from “Hindutva parties not joining in the freedom struggle” (as if the Quit India movement was the beginning and end of the freedom struggle), to the implication that Nehruvian Westernisation is the only path to pluralism (as if the “quintessentially Indian genius” that Madhav extols does not have room for its own form of pluralism).

But the icing on the cake is certainly Menon’s invocation of that colonial brainchild, the Aryan Invasion theory, to suggest the completely unsupportable and originally colonial idea that underlies the Indian Left’s way of thinking: that Hinduism is not native to India, and therefore it has no more of a claim to the subcontinent than the ways of life and beliefs that the invaders brought.

In doing so, she inadvertently makes Madhav’s point clearer than he did. For what is more out of touch and elitist than to tell 90 crore people who trace their own origins nowhere else in the world that because of some inconclusive linguistic and genetic evidence of an alleged 3,500-year-old event, they are actually invaders? What is more divisive and less pluralist than to decide, no matter how many swastika tablets and padmasana carvings are dug up at the Indus Valley sites, that Hinduism must be an invader culture imposed on the native subalterns, rather than the syncretic product of groups (irrespective of their long-since-forgotten origins) who have called this land home for thousands of years?

Those schooled in Western thought encountered this inherently pluralistic civilisation and saw a divided society of oppressive invaders and subjugated subalterns, rather than the product of a society that has been culturally, genetically, and hierarchically fluid for thousands of years. Whether or not he is correct in describing the current government’s mindset, Madhav is accusing Nehru of perpetuating these Western half-truths and celebrating the demise of this limited way of thinking. Menon’s feeble rebuttal shows that this line of thinking, though wholly rejected by the Indian electorate, still clings to life. – Sandeep S

Gorakhpur tragedy

Thank you for Girish Shahane’s beautifully-written and well-argued piece (“Vande Mataram in Gorakhpur: There’s a chasm between dreams of Indian nation, reality of Indian state”). However, he says: “Corruption at the highest levels of the central government is by all accounts lower than it was under Manmohan Singh.” Did he perhaps mean that corruption at the highest levels is more centralised, better hidden and more taboo to investigate and publicise? – Prabhu Guptara

Enterprising India

These figures reflect the potential success of NDA’s “Start-Up India” programme, aimed at promoting bank financing for start-up ventures to boost entrepreneurship and encourage job creation
(“Enterprising nation: India has the most workers ready to quit jobs and strike out on their own”). Notably, India has improved its ranking on the ease of doing business front too, thanks to the host of legislative and administrative reforms - like GST, insolvency and bankruptcy code, to name a few. Now, India must target an ambitious jump in the World Bank’s Doing Business survey. And it calls for multi-pronged strategy coupled with stakeholders’ feedback on steps being taken and review progress at the ground level. A better ranking would give momentum to Make In India and help the country become a global manufacturing hub. – Akash Kumar

Blinkers on

I am extremely disappointed with your supposed interview with Rajeev Chandrashekhar (“‘It’s all about market share’: Arnab Goswami’s funder Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Republic TV and more”). I was looking for information and found the treatment terribly biased. The obvious agenda of the interview is to run him down, defend Wire (tangentially, if at all), and generally carp about Republic.

I have no issue with your agenda except that you shouldn’t be carrying out it so openly. You have painted a picture of the man in your mind, with strands like Arnab Goswami, Republic, BJP, Right wing etc and then have gone on to fill his quotes in the blanks. Try to be less prejudiced. – Seema Kandar

Sports science

I liked what Gopichand said in his interview and fully agree with his suggestions (“P Gopichand interview: Great infrastructure doesn’t produce great results, great coaches do”). The fact that there is no recognition for coaches who work at the grassroots level is something that needs special attention. Coaches with an aptitude for coaching rather than just getting a stamp of qualification needs attention too. As I always say, sports is now a science, having coaches or people into sports who don’t look at it with this perspective are a misfit and will do no good.

I say all the above as a former sportsman who, in 1984, took the first ever Special Olympics Indian team to Louisiana in the US as a coach. We cam back with two golds, one silver and a bronze. But we never got any recognition for this, except for an article in the Reader’s Digest. – Jagdish Singh Rana

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