Citizenship debate

No prior permission was sought from the local tribesmen before Chakma refugees from East Pakistan were settled in the North-East Frontier Agency area (which is Arunachal Pradesh today) (“Open letter: Dear Rajnath Singh, the ‘limited citizenship’ for Chakmas is too little, too late”). The decision was made and bulldozed by the government of India. Despite this, it was accepted by locals on humanitarian grounds, but how long a host can entertain a guest who has overstayed ?

Now, after all these years, the refugees have grown at several times the rate of the local tribesmen. The hosts have become a minority in their own house. Chakmas also control the economy and major land holdings in places like Diyun, Bordumsa, Miao. The only thing that is giving breathing space and a fighting chance to the local tribes, like Tangsa and Singhpo, is the power to chose their local representative, as many of Chakmas don’t have the voting right (because of refugee status.) If they are given the citizenship and subsequently the voting rights, the local tribal communities will become voiceless.

Even after being giving citizenship, Chakmas should be treated as any other Indian, which means that they cannot have land rights in Arunachal and will have to get am inner line permit to visit the state.

As for the granting of scheduled tribes status to Chakmas, the Supreme Court, in various rulings, has said that a community classified as a scheduled tribe in a particular state cannot necessarily claim the same rights in another state.

We don’t have any problem with granting citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs but once they are given citizenship rights, but they should be treated on a par with fellow Indians who live outside Arunachal. – Tammo Dadda


This letter is nothing but an attempt to emotionally blackmail the Centre and Indian citizens. A democratic government is by the people and for the people. These Chakma and Hajong refugees were settled by the Centre in erstwhile NEFA, 1200 km from their home in erstwhile East Pakistan, as the writer himself claims. In these times, NEFA was under the control of Ministry of External Affairs. People of Arunachal Pradesh lived in there since time immemorial. Most of us did not even know the definition of a country in those times, let alone the feeling of being Indian. We did not have any political representation at the government at Centre so we had no say in the decision to resettle the refugees here.

The land of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to its indigenous people. Had they been resettled here with the consent of our elders, things could have been different. Arunachal Pradesh has never bee ruled by any one. The choice of being Indian is also ours, and it needs be honoured and respected. Instead of fighting with the indigenous tribal people, the Chakmas and Hajongs should request the Indian government to settle them elsewhere. – Bengia Pada


Settling Chakmas in Arunachal region and other parts of the Northeast is the Union government’s responsibility because before August 15, 1947, Bangladesh was a part of India (“What does ‘limited citizenship’ mean for Chakma refugees in Arunachal Pradesh?”). This also explains why the Indian government, in its Citizenship Bill 2016, allowed Hindus and other non-Muslim communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan eligibility for citizenship in India, as mostly non-Muslims are being persecuted in those countries. – Shubham Gupta

Capital concerns

Thank you for this article. You have written it beautifully, diplomatically, with utmost transparency and clarity (“How Chandrababu Naidu’s new capital Amaravati has turned into a train wreck”). One comes across such articles that are factual rather than attention-seeking very rarely. – Vivarna Vijay Kumar


You have wasted both your time and mine on this article on the Andhra Pradesh state capital, Amaravati. You seem to have never visited Andhra and seen the overall development here over the last three years. – Bhaskar PVN


Chandrababu Naidu thinks of himself as a monarch and his capital as the Rajaprasadam. He doesn’t think that his is just one state among many others. His plans could bring the state to ruin. – Bhanuprasad Nuthakki

No meat here

I’m a Hindu from Pune, a vegetarian and a follower of Ganesh and yet, I thought the Australian advertising featuring him was done tastefully and humorously (“Australian advertising watchdog dismisses pleas to ban a commercial that shows Ganesha eating meat”). The sight of all religious figures sitting around a table was amazing. Also, the god in question was not shown eating the meat, he just poked a little and sitting around a table with what we can call his friends. This is literally every single friend group in India with the vegetarian ordering palak paneer and one of the non-veg eaters pestering him or her on how chicken is like paneer.

People who have way too much time on their hands are usually the ones who get offended by such things. I can only imagine the positive effect such energy would have, if actually applied to issues which matter. – Abhijit Chaudhari

Palate pleaser

Thanks for this piece that enriched my knowledge of Garhwali culture and habits (“This Instagram account is proof that Garhwali food should be on more Indian restaurant menus”). Though I come from that region, I was not aware of all this. – Krishna Rawat


I liked the article on Garhwali food. Garhwali cuisine is also quite healthy, which many people may not know. – Dutt Bhairav

Atypical perspective

Why is Hogan’s piracy made to seem to be threatened by British authorities.Who but Britain issued his pirate’s license (“The Irish slave trader and sea captain who founded the town of Bombay – in New York”)? Ditto regarding his slave-trading. From page 32 of Ireland 1845-1850: the Perfect Holocaust, and Who Kept it “Perfect”, a book I authored: “1662: The Royal Company of Adventurers was founded in England by Charles II. The British Royal family including the Queen Dowager and the Duke of York contracted to supply the West Indies with 3,000 slaves annually. This company was later sold for 34,000 pounds and replaced by The Royal African Company, also chartered by Charles II. (Ellen Irene Diggs. Black Chronology From 4000 BC to Abolition of the Slave Trade. GK Hall 1983)

And that was just the start. Not long thereafter, Britain became the world’s main slave-trading nation by taking over Holland’s slave-trade by military force. Why would Britain be presented as a threat to Hogan’s slave-trading other than as a competitor? It continued its own slave-trading until abolishing it subsequent to Hogan’s era? lists another book about slavery – about a slave-trader from Holland. An Indian company promoting books about Irish and Dutch slavers? How different from the writer Madhusree Mukerjee with whom, on Dublin radio, I discussed the genocides perpetrated by Britain in Ireland and India.

Oliver Cromwell founded the island of Jamaica as a slave colony with shiploads of survivors of his 1649-’52 genocidal rampage across Ireland. – Christopher Fogarty

Intellectual India

Your piece is highly partisan. Kanhaiya Kumar and Omar Khalid are idolised by Indian intellectuals (“India’s current anti-intellectual climate echoes McCarthy-era attacks on writers, scholars in the US”). Do you think such intellectuals should not be criticised? Our intellectuals never criticised people who were responsible for throwing out all Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir valley. Indian judicial system might be very slow, but when the Supreme Court gives its decision, that is definitely fair and just. But these intellectuals would question even that when the judgement goes against a terrorist or terror conspirator.

Do you think that such intellectuals should not be criticised? These intellectuals knock at the Supreme Courts judge’s door at midnight after the presidential reprieve has been denied and even the appeal against that had been rejected by the Supreme Court against a terrorist conspirator. And that conspiracy was to blow out our Indian parliament along with all a it’s MPs. Do you think that such intellectuals should not be criticised? These intellectuals do not want any progressive measure like uniform civil code, uniform birth control laws etc.

When a terrorist who is a muslim commits an act of terror, these intellectuals will rightly say “terrorists have no religion”. But when the alleged person is a Hindu, the same intellectual would name it as “Hindu Terrorism”. Is this intellectualism? You do not understand India or Indians at all. – Suman Kumar

Invisible heroes

It’s true, angawadi workers really do work hard (“India takes its anganwadi, frontline women health workers for granted – at great cost to itself”). They could be called the backbone of society but, unfortunately, they don’t have a fair pay scales. The government should think about this. It reflects the status of women in the country. – Renu Sodhi

Rising prices

Development happened in 2011 as well and the issue here is, could reduction in prices be a stumbling block to development (“The Centre could provide relief from rising fuel prices by cutting taxes, but here’s why it may not”)? The answer is no. In 2011, there was development despite high levels of corruption. The 2011 prices also had a high margin of taxes. So fuel prices now have to be balanced with tax reductions. In the current pattern, there are additional taxes that were implemented when crude prices were low, to stablise the market. So the extra taxes collection should be temporary. Otherwise at this rate, the price of petrol could go up to Rs 200 a litre.

Which this, there will be a significant reduction in consumption. Surely, the petroleum minister would be aware of this! But if prices are reduced, consumption shall reach its original level and there will be no effective difference in tax collection, neither will development be affected. – Ashokan S

Suspicious timing

The timing of arrest is to mold public opinion from humanity to terrorism (“Delhi police claim to have caught an Al Qaeda man linked to Rohingya. How strong is the evidence?”). The reporter takes a bold step to speak out the truth. It’s a torch shining in the dark. – Suhail Ahmad

In their footsteps

I am so glad that is acknowledging the immense contribution of the Gangani family to the performing arts (“Nearly every male kathak dancer in the world is connected to this family of performers in Karol Bagh”). I grew up as part of Gangani family and take great pride in it. I knew the late Guru Kundanlalji very well. He was teaching in Vadodara at the university just as Guru Sundarlalji did. I took some classes from Kundanlalji. He left Vadodara to join Kathak Kendra to teach.

I am so so happy to read this article and so excited that one of their daughters performed recently, this is a first for the family.
In Vadodara, the tradition continues. My Guruji’s sons and grand sons are carrying on the tradition. Dr Jagadish Gangani is the head of the department of dance at the MS University and his elder brother, Harish, is also teaching at there. Younger brother Bhupesh concentrates on Tabla and tours different countries supporting singers and dancers and teaches in major schools.
Jagadish’s son Durgesh is finding his place as a great performer by dancing at various festivals in India. He has finished his MA in Kathak at the university. Harish’s son is teaching tabla in Surat and Bhupesh’s son is starting to perform.

I have been in the US for 50 years, carrying on the Jaipur Gharana tradition of Kathak of the Gangani Family. I have a Kathak dance school in Los Angeles. I am blessed to have received several awards for choreography from The National Endowments for Arts and other arts council, and the highest honor in the US for traditional arts, the National Heritage Fellowship, becoming first the Indian classical dance artist to receive this award. – Anjani Ambegaokar

Strings attached

Freedom of speech presumably does not mean the license to hurt, deride or condemn others in the name of dissent (“Gauri Lankesh (1962-2017): Journalist who raged like a fire as she championed just causes”). Everyone, including the so-called dissenters, should introspect why they are taking a certain position. If you want to bring change in society, it should be inclusive and not antagonistic to the majority. – Ashok Kambi

Forced to flee

Rohingya Muslims have been living in Myanmar for the last 300 years but are still not recognised as citizens (“Religion is not the only reason Rohingyas are being forced out of Myanmar”). Why has State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi stayed silent on the persecution of Rohingyas? I request all humanitarian heads of state to speak up in favour of citizenship of Rohingya Muslims in the UN General Assembly. – Mohammad Sahabuddin

Bitter pill

The economists missed a key point, that the Indian economy largely depends on agriculture, which is in a dire state (“What can be done to revive India’s sluggish economic growth? Here’s what five economists prescribe”). Public consumption cannot be enhanced unless agriculture is taken care of through required policy interventions. Attention to the urban areas and industry alone will not help.

Secondly, the informal sector is a key contributor to the GDP, which had saved our economy from a global slowdown in 2009-’10. But demonetisation and GST have destroyed and demoralised that sector. No wonder, in Surat, cloth merchants are agitating. Can the government ensured its informal nature and keep the sector out of the GST net? Can they, without further delay, address the gaps in the GST framework and work towards an easy and single-rate approach?

First and foremost, the government should accept the situation and the wrong measures that have brought us to the present situation. – Shailendra Awale