No direction home

The plight of the Rohingya is certainly pitiable, but a Google search disproves a claim in this article that public religious celebrations are not allowed in Myanmar for Hindus and Muslims (“Forgotten history: Like the Rohingya, Indians too were once driven out of Myanmar”). There are other predominantly Muslim groups such as the Panthay in Myanmar who operate mosques in the major Burmese cities. This shows that this is fundamentally a ethnicity-based conflict, not a religious-based one. Media coverage of the Rohingya crisis has unduly focused on the religious difference instead of the ethnic one, when the evidence indicates that ethnic prejudices resulting from historical events (such as the Rohingya-led massacres of the Arakanese people during World War II and their attempt to join East Pakistan in 1947) is the driver of this crisis.

As far as India shunning the Rohingya is concerned, it is one thing to show sympathy and another to disregard India’s own internal concerns. Others have spoken in more detail about the delicate considerations India faces in resettling Rohingya refugees. No doubt there is a more humanitarian solution than deporting these people to their homeland, but that does not mean the prudent solution is to settle them in India either. – Sandeep S


India is obligated to help the Rohingya because Myanmar is virtually controlled by the military. – Grace Chow


This article brings back to my memory the Burma Bazaar in Chennai, which exists even today. This was established by Tamilians who were driven out of Burma. Today, the world should stand united to convince Burma to accept the Rohingya people as citizens and India and Bangladesh should send back all the refugees after getting assurance from Myanmar that they will be accepted and will be safe. – Bala Sugavanam


The Indian government’s first and foremost responsibility is towards the safety and security of their own citizens. The decision to deport Rohingya refugees from India has nothing to do with religious discrimination, it has been taken in the interest of law enforcement in Indian territory.

The Indian government is not obliged to settle illegal immigrants because it never made any such commitments to the international community. The decision is absolutely Constitutional. – Shubham Gupta


Why doesn’t the author do some research on the plight of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh? The relentless state-sponsored persecution of Hindus in these two countries over decades has not been written about. There is not a word from any quarter about that. Their populations in both countries have come down drastically. Their women are forced to marry against their will, their properties are snatched and in many cases they are forcibly converted. A pogrom of sorts has been going on for years and the Indian government, civil society and intelligentsia have been surprisingly silent. – SN Bhat

Editor’s note: has reported extensively on the conditions of Hindus and other minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Some of pieces can be read here, here and here.


Unlike the Rohingya, Indians did not take up arms to cope with their misery. Take the case of the Gulf countries. Many Indians are working there. Will anyone get citizenship in that country? No. They also face racial discrimination and are not allowed to practice their religion freely. – Parameswaran TK


Words cannot do justice to the kind of barbarity invariably associated with, inspired by or directly stemming from religious differences. – Harish Datta

Not so NEET

I am surprised that a publication of repute has allowed such a blatantly misleading and false narrative to be published (“The TM Krishna column: It was not just NEET that drove Anitha to suicide, we all did”). Although his blind, visceral hatred towards upper castes is well known, I am completely surprised at the antagonistic position taken by him towards NEET.

Firstly, does the author impute that the CBSE model (which forms the framework of NEET) is so difficult and out of this world that a non-CBSE student would find impossible to attempt NEET? If a student does not meet a minimum standard, does he or she deserve to be a doctor?

Secondly, even under NEET, the reservation policy on admissions for the underprivileged castes has not been done away with! There is a 15% all-India reservation, and the balance 85% is allocated as per each state’s own prevailing reservation policy. So his tirade against the upper castes is wholly churlish and irrelevant.

Thirdly, vested interests seem to be behind this entire episode, starting from Anitha’s petition in the Supreme Court against NEET and the street protests we are witnessing today in Tamil Nadu.

Finally, what about the students of the upper castes who are economically backward? What head start is the author talking about? Do they and their children and grand-children also have to pay for the accident of birth? Does merit have absolutely no bearing on nation-building? – P Raghavendra


I teach chemistry for NEET and I feel that the syllabus should be halved. It is too vast. They should also get rid of the option pattern and allot 150 marks to theory and 50 marks for practicals, separately. – Srikant Thakur


Is Tamil Nadu the only state with a state board? Are upper castes not human? Where I come from, most Brahmins do not have the money even for three square meals. Why does Tamil Nadu object to most central plans? – Alok Pandey


Absolutely, NEET needs to change. I’m also from the state board but NEET examiners ask questions from NCERT textbooks, which is really unfair for students educated in state boards. The Supreme Court is not doing anything about this. – Mohammad Pardawala


The author has articulated with a fair amount of objectivity how a poor innocent girl was “trapped between an incompetent state, an uncaring Supreme Court and a bullying central government”. There is hardly any debate on NEET examination as the right and only way of identifying the best candidates for medical courses. How far NEET would ensure that only quality students are being admitted in medical courses is a million dollar question. – Anandaraj R


In schools and colleges we still do not have practical courses that teach us how to deal with reality. We need a lesson on how to live. We feel that at the age of 25, we must be settled, else we are unfit to live. Also, government teachers are well paid but without sensitivity towards life and the future of India, they will fail to do their duty towards children time and again. – Malkraj Periasamy


Support for Vellore college

Congratulations to the Christian Medical College in Vellore for taking this firm stand (“NEET effect: Why Vellore’s Christian Medical College is leaving 99 of its 100 MBBS seats vacant”). The medical students graduating from Vellore are one of the best in the country and most dedicated towards the profession. Many of them working in mission hospitals located in remote rural areas earning far below their counterparts. This is embedded into their minds during their course in the medical college that upholds the Christian values of serving our less fortunate brothers and sisters. – Ashok Joel


All those who are directly or indirectly connected with this mission should not leave it half way. This is our chance to do our best for this Christian medical institution. – Rajeev Shrivastava


It is surprising that institutions like CMC Vellore, which were priding themselves as champions of social justice so far now, do not want to support a system that ushers in greater social justice coupled with merit. Such institutions have had a free run all these years, allotting seats as per their whims and fancies. – Krishnamurthy V


Many children had been dreaming about studying in CMC and the last-minute decision by management is very bad. It amounts to killing the dreams of a hundred children. This also reflects the poor administration of government and the Supreme Court. If the Court had taken up the case earlier and given proper guidance to colleges, this may not have happened. This is a huge loss for students, but nobody seems to be bothered about them. – Ren Su

Rising in the East?

What exactly are you trying to depict (“In Manipur, cynicism abounds over surrender of 68 militants – and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s role in it”)? Did Sri Sri Ravi Shankar play a role in the surrender of militants? If not, then why are only his efforts being highlighted not that of other organisations? – Kshitiz Kamal Jain


This article says that the Art of Living was fined by the NGT. But a panel of government officials recently said that there was no damage at the site. Have some ethics. – Vignesh Ganesh

Editor’s note: The Art of Living Foundation paid the Delhi Development Authority Rs 4.75 crores in June 2016, after paying an initial amount of Rs 25 lakhs.


The tone in which article has been written makes it clear that the author is irritated with Sri Sri and The Art of Living, for reasons of which I am not aware. This reads less like a news article and more like biased and spiteful talk. – Radha Shaw


The author, though belonging to Assam, does not seem to be aware of the good work done by the Art of Living in that state. He must travel more, especially in Upper Assam. – Parashuram Naik

Press freedom

Vartha Bharathi believes in honest journalism, is a respectable newspaper and the reporter would have been questioned by the editor-in-chief if he had indeed made a wrong report regarding this sensitive issue (“In coastal Karnataka, arrest of journalist for ‘false report’ leads to claims of police vendetta”). To avoid religious tension in the Bantwal area, I request the district superintendent of police to conduct an independent inquiry into the matter. – Malika A

Note ban bane

I am surprised that the government still maintains that demonetisation was a tough decision taken to unearth black money and reduce terrorism instead of apologising to the nation for the hardship it caused and for bringing down the GDP (“Revisiting demonetisation: ‘If the notes have come back, why not the lost jobs?’”). Manmohan Singh was right when he called demonetisation an “organised loot”. – Vikram Khanna

Ugly truth

The writer’s focus seems to be on the religion aspect and not on the problem of lynching or murdering people irrespective of religion (“This photograph of two murdered teens should disturb an India that has normalised hate”). The media is to blame for encouraging such thinking. – Mohanakumaran Nair

Holier than thou

Our diplomats seem to be as intolerant as our politicians (“India lodges diplomatic protest with Australia over advertisement that shows Ganesha eating meat”). And we as a whole are intolerant nation. And we are lazy. Why else would we shy away from taking real action to make our country a better place? Instead, we derive sadistic joy from defending what is beyond us and eternal. If the gods are what they are revered to be, they would need no defence from mere mortals. – Darshan Kaarki

Two sides

The Right Wing is questioning why people have become insensitive to the killings of RSS people (“Readers’ comments: ‘Why has TM Krishna become insensitive to the killing of RSS workers?’”). Why has the Right Wing become insensitive to the killings of Left workers and innocent Dalits and Muslims on suspicions of beef eating or smuggling cows? – Tatineni Prem Kumar


Can anybody name any other political group who feeds their followers with hatred and violence? All violence is condemnable but for some groups, it is an article of faith. Their very ideology is grounded is inherently violent and grounded and sanctified by the belief that something has been done wrong historically to the so-called majority community. Retributive violence is as bad. The RSS-BJP not only indulge in political violence but also allegedly use covert methods to eliminate a string of ideological opponents. The Sangh and their pseudo-nationalism and their dubious championing of Hinduism which is a cover for their thirst for power to serve the interest of the savarnas. – Chandrasekaran S

Many faiths

The headline of this story is misleading to begin as the US is not a monarchy and just because she styled herself to be a countess does not entitled her to be called one (“How an American countess became a Buddhist nun and helped spread feminism in Sri Lanka”). Besides, she wasn’t a Buddhist for long either. It appears that every time she came across something new, she’d convert. From being a Christian, she became a Buddhist, then a Baha’i and died a Hindu. – Usman Madha

Food for thought

This is another measure to attack the poor, by snatching their food (“Replacing hot cooked meals with packaged food mixes will affect children’s health, say nutritionists”). Many children come to school in the morning without food, only for their hunger and nutrition needs being met by packaged food. Already, in our country, corruption, red-tape and adulteration come in the way of healthy food for children. – Dinesh Y

Different strokes

Isn’t the BJP trying to insult the people of North East by focusing on food habits rather than the cultures and customs of the people (“BJP assures its North East allies it won’t interfere in food habits in the region: NDTV”)? Don’t all national parties try to control the region and its people without considering their differences?

Is there any way to let the North East people and the region be and not dream of exploiting their resources? – Akoijam Surjit


Not just North East, the BJP should respect the food habits of people irrespective of region. The way they expect people of other faith to respect their culture and tradition, so also they should do the same. – Shinobi Suantak

Unholy men?

This deplorable article about Swami Nithyananda and the Akhara Parishad gives the impression that it was only the Mahanirvani Akhada that supported the Swami, and if not for their support, Nithyananda’s name would be on the list of fake babas (“‘Fake babas’: Why rape-accused Swami Nithyanand is not on the apex sadhu body’s blacklist”). This is stupid, and wrong. Let me give you the evidence. When the head of Akhara Parishad and members of two of the top akharas revere Swami as divine, how is it possible that his name was ever considered for that list?

Narendra Giri, the head of Akhara Parishad, had visited Nithyanand’s ashram and spoke in glowing terms about the Swami. He said:

“I am the head of 13 akharas, but today I am so happy to be with such a great Saint – Paramahamsa Nithyananda! When the media came and asked me, I said, ‘Swamiji is the backbone of Hinduism!’ The media people asked me, ‘You have made such a huge statement! How are you able to say that Paramahamsa Nithyananda is the backbone of Hinduism?’ I said, ‘Paramahamsa Nithyananda Swami has not only done the work of Hinduism here, but he has taken the respect and honour of Hinduism all over the world. A human being cannot go forward or achieve big things in his life without tests and without hard work. Swamiji was put under so many attacks, but still he is untouched and is established in enlightenment. One day Paramahamsa Nithyananda is going to be the Guru for the whole world!”

Oh, and he is from Niranjani Akhara, not the Mahanirvani. – Mukthananda


Narendra Giri from Niranjani Akhara spoke highly of Swami Nithyananda and said that “one day Paramahamsa Nithyananda is going to be the Guru for the whole world!” – Ananda Sharva

Game of life

This is a good article on the Blue Whale challenge hype (“In our anxiety about the Blue Whale Challenge, are we missing the elephant in the room?”) It is said that children want their parents to be models rather than critics.

Many parents are critical about their children’s actions and behaviours, instead of setting an example of themselves. Another theory says an individual 50% a product of nature and the other half is determined by nurture. Self worth can not be achieved by excelling in studies or comparing ourselves with others. No blue whale or any other game could influence children if they have this self worth. Listening empathically and speaking kind words and appreciation can increase the emotional health of children. – Sakthi S


This is a well-thought-out and reasoned article. It should put an end to the myth-making and fear-mongering and assuage regarding this game and assuage some of the concerns. – Zahid Hussain