Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘Mumbai’s relentless spirit seems to be allowing its civic body to become lax’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Mumbai under water

This is a timely analysis by Darryl D’Monte on how mismanagement and neglect of crucial civic issues has choked Mumbai repeatedly (“A state-made disaster: How Mumbai’s civic body let the rain swallow the city (yet again)”). The fact that the spirit of Mumbai is indeed undaunting and individuals and NGOs go out of their way to help out in every way possible perhaps allows the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to become complacent and believe that people will continue to tolerate its laments and excuses. The question that faces Mumbaiites now is: what can be done to awaken this sleeping giant that has allowed the industrious and hardworking people of Mumbai feel so helpless. – Hema Gobindram

Mighty fall

I was pained to see this sensationalised piece on Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s adopted daughter (“Who is Honeypreet Insan, the woman with Ram Rahim in the helicopter image that went viral?”). It would have been more in line with journalistic ethics to talk about the inhuman practices that the Baba indulged in instead of speculating on his successor.

The pain of the women whom the Dera chief raped and whose trust he broke doesn’t reflect anywhere in the mainstream media. The media, instead, seems intoxicated by his cocktail of money and power.

This so-called dera must be disbanded and its properties seized to pay for the damage to public property and life in the violence that broke out in Panchkula after the sentencing. Ram Rahim must not be glamourised. He is a rapist and an alleged murderer. He must face the courts and get due punishment. – Jiya Mukherjee

***

I wish our people would wake up and stop supporting such babas who make slaves of them (“Opinion: By keeping silent on Ram Rahim’s rape conviction, Modi failed to uphold his Raj Dharma”). I salute the judges for the verdict. Modi and the BJP won’t utter a word; that’s how vote bank politics works. But citizens will soon forget this. – Monika Natrajan

Growth of gurus

The citation of the Art of Living Foundation’s World Culture Festival is in bad taste (“Not just mob frenzy: What is common between followers of Ram Rahim and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?”). The attitude of green tribunal was objectionable throughout. Let’s look beyond ourselves and do good for society. – Bipin Verma

***

You are not well informed about Art of Living. Please put down all facts and figures instead of reproducing hearsay. – Lakshmi S

***

Absolutely true. In Art of Living, what is promised is not what is delivered. Any shortfall is blamed on one’s past karma. You are forced to pay in the name of donations. Once you sign up, you are also compelled to enrol for courses and are told that if you stop, you will experience bad health. You are encouraged not to use your brain much and follow the guru blindly to get the most benefits of the course. – Jayita Banerjee

***

This article makes some important points. But I would like to add to it. I believe a guru is one who himself lives a life free of various worldly desires. A person who lives life in this way has the power to convince others to follow the right path. So, we need a guru who has the attributes of a saint. People can seek a lot of inspiration from the lives of such people. A guru who is pure himself can make his devotees pure and lead a good life. – Ashesh Joshi

Health coverage

This is a good decision by the Karnataka government (“Karnataka government to give all citizens health cover from November 1”). But since it is meant to cover all citizens, why has the government created categories A and B, with the latter being charged an annual premium? Can our government learn to think of and treat its citizens as one? – Shivanand Hombal

***

This is a very good decision. It will help people access the best medical care as they will not have to think about the huge costs involved. – Rama Dixit

Queen of the court

Saina Nehwal is an inspiration for Indians of all ages and will be an evergreen idol (“She’s back: Sindhu’s silver is special, but Saina Nehwal’s bronze is just as brilliant”). The fact that she reached the top once again so soon after a knee surgery shows her talent and grit. – Ramesh Babu Ghanta

***

Saina Nehwal’s and Pullela Gopichand deserve all the credit for taking the Indian badminton to where it is today. But one wishes that Nehwal take her triumphs and failures in the same stride, instead of citing extraneous factors when she loses.

She and her coach complained about the scheduling of matches, something every player suffers from. If PV Sindhu got an additional five hours rest, like her opponent in the final got, that would have possibly made a great difference in the energy sapping, stamina-draining final of 110 minutes. But neither Sindhu nor her coach complained. Nehwal too must take failures with grace and humility, then she will be remembered not just as a great player, but as a great sports person. –Tatineni Prem Kumar

Goa gone?

I read this article with interest as well as concern, but I feel that it requires a rethink (“A Goa that feels like UP: This is what India’s future is likely to be”). The numbers cited in the article are correct, but not enough analysis has gone into deriving the conclusion.Goa has become a magnet, for not just for wealthy young professionals from across the country but also for the destitute and poor migrants, particularly from Purvanchal.

Goa’s development indicators are thus skewed and the migration factor needs to be taken into account. The data used in the article holds clues to this. For instance, the urban sex ratio in Goa is significantly lower than the rural numbers, which indicates significant migration.

Obesity may be an issue in some prosperous areas, but it is still not significant enough to influence larger data sets at the national or state level or even district level. – Vijayalakshmi Balakrishnan

***

The author of this article seems to be out of touch with the ground realities and the real issues that India faces. He seems to be influenced by the elite English journalists who never tire of casting aspersions at the BJP as a whole and Modi in particular. He may well be part of that coterie of journalists that is arrogant and out of touch.

While he relies heavily on statistics, he fails to take into account any initiative being taken by the state and central governments. He also fails to consider the steps being taken to strengthen the security of the country and concerted approach to end terrorism. He also doesn’t see any benefit of building affordable homes or making the country clean. The impression at grassroots is the opposite. For the first time since independence we have a government that is actually inclusive and does not pander to vote banks.

The author also doesn’t see any value in the huge efforts being made to digitise the financial world and monetary transactions. Nor does he seem to have any understanding of the policies that are targeting the black economy like never before. – Rakesh Shah

Moral burden

Adivasis have their own socio-cultural norms that are attuned to nature (“Counterpoint: Jaggi Vasudev is wrong to say that Indian culture lacks moral sense”). From time to time, truth seekers evolve and put forth a though process that is liberating in some ways. I believe human beings like the idea of equality, justice and brotherhood largely and have thus flocked to such philosophies. At the same time, no body wants to give up their own comfort and security for long, so we alter the philosophy to justify our deeds and cater to our lifestyles. – Shaila Wagh

Time for change

We give power to these clerics when we declare without any evidence that they have far reaching influence over Indian Muslims (“By refusing to honour talaq verdict, India’s most influential Islamic body is harming Muslims”). Just because Maulana Madani is someone’s son and the head of a group that was politically important (not religiously) at one time, we should not think he has any influence on millions. The many millions live their lives in their own varying ways. The ruling of the court will have much greater influence than is being recognised. The next step should be a registration of all marriages, for that will be effective in solving issues of property sharing and ownership. – CM Naim

***

While I congratulate the Supreme Court for striking down the 1,400-year- old practice of instant triple talaq, such a verdict is not the panacea to all their social and psychological ailments. As a socio-economic situation analyst carrying out various surveys on related subjects across West Bengal and Odisha, I find that the Supreme Court will have to go many more miles to accomplish the stupendous task of liberating our womenfolk.

In recent years, while working in some villages in Malda, Murshibad, parts of the North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts in West Bengal and parts of Cuttack in Orissa, I met scores of Muslim women who were barred from giving the Pulse Polio vaccine to their babies or infants by their husbands and other male relatives and were even threatened with instant talaq if they do not comply with their diktats. In one village, some males even asked me to leave their village or stop “preaching pulse polio” as I was violating their religion. Some Hindu men also objected to my presence in their village to conduct surveys and build awareness about pulse polio.

Moreover, I found that child marriage was still rampant in these states.

At Kaliachak, Malda, I saw girls being humiliated for not wearing “civilised’ school uniforms by influential fundamentalists who carried on vandalism outside the schools’ gates. When since India has turned into a Taliban country? Talaq or no talaq, physical and mental torture has become a part of the lives of village women across India. – Asim Mukhopadhyay

All-rounders

This is the best data-driven cricket article I have read in recent times (“Numbers game: How the best all-rounders of each generation measure up to Garry Sobers”). But a glaring omission is that of Bangaldesh’s Shakib Al Hassan, a modern-day great .He qualifies as among the top 12 all-rounders according to the criteria stated her, yet he has been. – Prasad Shetty

Expensive medicines

There are many good and affordable drugs that have a ceiling price that leaves for no margin for marketing the drug (“Government proposes a new drugs policy that would give it greater control over medicine pricing”). Therefore, most companies have stopped manufacturing these drugs. There are more than 79 such drugs that have had a fixed price for the last 20 years and manufacturing them has now become unviable. That’s a pity, because many of them are economical alternatives to expensive drugs. – Usha Chopra

***

The new draft pharmaceutical policy could be a game-changer. With more control going to the Union government over the prices of medicines, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority is set to lose substantial powers. Nonetheless, patients seem to be the clear winners as the draft seeks to bring down the unreasonable trade margins offered by stockists in the form of out-of-pocket expenditure. Plus, the current systemic inefficiencies need to be corrected by alternative health mechanisms in order to give a practical shape to the dream of Right to Health. – Akash Kumar

Poetic praise

Nabanita Kanungo is one of the finest poets we have today (“How misogyny and rejections shape this poet’s approach to her art (and to her audience)”). I first read her poetry in 2008-’09. Like her, I too was born and raised in Shillong. I have always followed her work and hope she continues to write beautiful verse always. – Nabanipa Bhattacharjee

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.