Black money gamble

The government is illogically trying to crackdown on ill-gotten wealth which has existed since time immemorial and will continue to do so, no matter how complicated our laws and systems get (“Suspicious banking transactions rose by three lakh in 2016-17, says RBI report”). It is the inherent nature of man to circumvent every barrier that comes in the way of their wants.

The Government needs to stop harping on demonetisation and must put in its efforts to improve other areas of administration. Perception management has gone too far and will not pay any political dividends in the future. – Karthik G


Demonetisation does not seem to have been a fruitful excercise. On November 8, along with announcing the currency ban, the government should have also extended the Income Tax Voluntary Declation Scheme. Instead, it said there would be no scrutiny on deposits up to Rs 2.5 lakh. So people started depositing this amount in savings bank accounts. Also bankers in some cases helped people deposit black money. And now, small people are being harassed by the income tax department, while the big fish have managed to go scot-free. – Vinod Desai

Hadiya’s journey

If two people are in love and wish to get married, why should any of them have to convert (“Love jihad bogey: Hadiya committed no crime. Why has she been in confinement for a year now?”)? Can’t they both renounce religion? And in Hadiya’s case, are the authors suggesting that the courts should not have looked into any suspicious activity by the man? Instead of being apologist for all perceived discrimination let law take its own course. The authors can’t claim to know more than the judges. – Shyam Nediyanchath


Why can’t an adult independently decide whom to marry? Can’t an Indian convert to another religion without such scrutiny? Why is the girl being denied her freedoms? – Manimala Malla

Debating morality

Girish Shahane makes some important points in this article, but what he presents is not the full story (“Counterpoint: Jaggi Vasudev is wrong to say that Indian culture lacks moral sense”). Hinduism doesn’t have absolute dos and don’ts as it has no founder nor a central religious text. Morality implies that violation is a sin punishable by god. No allowance is made for contingent circumstances or mitigating factors. So in religions that have an absolute understanding of morality, stealing is sin, period. But is there no difference between a hungry child stealing a piece of bread and a cashier in a bank stealing Rs 10?

The overarching concept in Hinduism is Dharma. Dharma is subtle (sukshma) as Gurucharan Das ably shows in his book The Difficulty of Being Good. For a king to chop off the head of a spy is dharma, but it’s murder if a common man does it. In Hinduism all virtues – charity, kindness, honesty, etc are qualified, not absolute.

For instance, charity to the undeserving is considered worse than lack of charity to the deserving. Or, when a lie could save an innocent life, telling the truth is wrong. The burden of deciding what is right or good is on the individual. That’s a big responsibility for the common man. Hence, the reliance on gurus and swamis. As everywhere, some are genuine and some are charlatans.

Also, Hinduism is replete with stories (Mahabharata, Panchatanta, etc.) which tell us how people acted in similar circumstances and what befell them. Hinduism has no concept of heaven or hell as in Abrahamic religions. Yes, there is a pleasant place or dreadful place where a soul spends a short or long time before next birth depending upon accumulation of good deeds (punya karma) or bad deeds (papa karma) since it is impossible for any one to be absolutely virtuous or absolutely evil. This period may be considered equivalent to auditing and finalisation of accounts.

Karma is another basic concept in Hinduism. Karma is not fate or destiny, as is commonly understood. It has three components: the first is Prarabdha Karma – where and when and to whom one is born, sex and date of death. These are unalterable. The second is Sanchitha Karma – personality traits, predilections and proclivities. These can be altered with some effort. The third component is Agama Karma – the future. The future can be shaped as one wishes by exercise of free will, in spite of his Sanchitha Karma. For instance, if one is borne with quick temper, one can learn to control one’s anger by determination and perseverance. – Prasura


It is painful to read Girish Shahane arguing against Jaggi Vasudev’s analysis. To bring the caste system, Buddhism and Jainism to criticise Hinduism is rubbish.These two offshoots didn’t find too much acceptance in India because they are impractical and many of their adherents end up making compromises. And the caste systems rigidity was a defense mechanism against the onslaught of the Muslim invaders. Division of labour is the basis of the caste system and no society can exist without this. – Mahesh Nayak

Cult appeal

Historically, religion has always been a powerful influence on people, which has made kings and rulers nervous (“Of vice and godmen: What explains the popularity of cults in India and the world?”). The fact that someone has power because of their spirituality is not wrong, but how one handles that power is what makes them right or wrong. With power comes immense responsibility. In this regard, equating Jerry Falwell and Jim Bakker with Billy Graham as televangelists is not right. While Billy Graham has been a statesman, using his influence for good, Jerry Falwell’s use of his influence has been questionable. The same misuse of power is seen in Jim Bakker.

Billy Graham has spoken against segragation and some of the negative policies in the US. He has drawn a minimal salary and lived a moderate life. He has been an epitome of Jesus’ teaching on Leadership. Unfortunately, his example has been rare in all walks of life. – Prem Kumar Lee

Manipur’s grand old man

The dominant Metei community made him chief minister to serve their vested interests and Rishang Keishing remained chief minister for very long at the cost of his own people, the Tangkhul Nagas, in Manipur, who were deprived of everything (“Rishang Keishing (1920-2017): Understanding the legacy of Manipur’s longest serving chief minister”). – Jack

Paradise lost

This is a good article but the sharp disparity in indicators between rural and urban Goa could also be explained by the growing migration in the cities (“A Goa that feels like UP: This is what India’s future is likely to be”). This needs to be examined before concluding that urban Goa is indeed getting worse on the indicatort. – Vinay Upponi

Medical seats vacant

The faulty counselling method is the most important reason for the vacant seats in deemed universities (“5,226 medical college vacancies, and the reasons range from central seat allotment to demonetisation”). Unlike the counselling process for engineering, where all students are given the option to upgrade to a different college in every round, for medical courses this option has not been given to second round allottees. Given a choice, many applicants could have opted for a college closer to where they stay. It doesn’t make sense to force a student to go to his 40th choice of college while seats in his preferred institutes lie vacant. The basis of this allotment can be disputed in court. Extending the last date of admission will definitely not solve the crisis. –Sharmi Guha


The real reason for medical or dental seats going vacant is not the demonetisation or the central counselling system but the wrong process followed by Medical Counselling Committee. If a candidate makes a mistake and accidentally chooses the wrong college and is given a seat in the second round, all hell breaks loose on them and they are out of the counselling process. They are not given the chance to correct the mistake by retaining the seat for improvement in the next round. In many cases, mediocre students got good colleges and the brilliant ones were punished. I know, nobody will make good the loss I suffered, though my child has a decent score in NEET. The Directorate General of Health Services should see how the decisions of people at the helm of affairs is affecting our brilliant boys and girls. – Brahmananda Sahoo


Who says seats are vacant? We have been running from one place to another to try and get a seat for my daughter, but have been unsuccessful. The only possible reason that seats are lying vacant is that top rankers have been allowed to apply everywhere and are then holding on to multiple eats. Only exhorbitantly priced seats are vacant.

If NEET is followed, counseling should also be centralised for the state as well as Centre. Students should be allowed to apply either to either state or central universities instead of blocking seats across the country.

There are students who live in states that do not have a domicile criteria or whose parents are in transferable jobs and have hence not stayed in one place for too long. That needs to be taken into account. – Rohini Kumar


The process should be centralised all the way. Secondly, deemed universities should have autonomy only to run the colleges of their rules. Third, there should be one central exam for all colleges, private as well as government ones. Then, there will be no need for the EXIT exams. The main reason for vacant seats is the cost of medical education in India. Most private and deemed colleges are unaffordable. – Amisha Gandhi


If many medical colleges have empty seats, why don’t they offer them up as general category seats at a reasonable fee? Why convert all the of them into management seats? – Padma Ram


Seats are vacant because tours and agents are blocking them. As a result, deserving students are not getting seats and there are vacancies even in topmost colleges. These empty seats are then given out at double the charge. – Ajay Kale


Money runs the game. There’s no doubt about that.

It was my childhood dream to become a doctor and I prepared for entrance for two years. Now, I got into a government dental college through the merit list. I’m happy that I got into a government college, but my dream was to become a paediatric specialist.

I could have opted for private colleges but did not, because they are too expensive. But if I was wealthy, I would have been able to get an MBBS degree from a private institute. But I’m not rich, so I have to settle for BDS. .

Money has more value than ranks or scores. – Mohammed Shebin

Raag time

This a very authoritative article written with great sensitivity and interest in the nuances of classical music (“When (and how) did Hindustani ragas become ascribed to different times of the day?”). Perhaps the author could write a similar piece on the scope of emotions or rasas in Hindustani classical music. – Sharif Awan


The author does not seem to know the difference between morning and night ragas. Music is aural, it cannot only be dissected intellectually. Trying to prove the provenance of the time theory is missing the point ad is irrelevant. – Shailaja Khanna