Taxing times

Small exporters of services are also suffering (“No tax refund, no working capital: How GST is hurting Indian exporters”). For example, a supplier providing a one-time export service of Rs 1 lakh needs to furnish bond and bank guarantee. He has to spend about Rs 7,000 by way of consultancy charges to GST professionals in order to save Rs 18,000 in tax. There should be a threshhold limit for nil-rated supply without bond or bank gaurantee. – Sunanda Parvatikar


Thanks for addressing this big issue. My company exports goods and services and before July, we did not have any VAT and Excise duty burden. With the GST, all our projects will have to pay 28% of our local purchase price for the goods that we export. This is going to be a significant amount of our cash flow that will be stuck.

We have our own bad experiences while waiting for refunds from the excise department too and we are afraid that it will be as hard or even harder to get our own money back under the new sytem.

We formed the company to be part of the “Make In India” initiative sponsored by the prime minister’s office. We have been bringing considerable business here in India, which could have been executed else where. We believe that GST could sound the death knell for Make In India, if the problems are not addressed soon. Exporters cannot afford to give up such a large amount with no clarity and assurance of the refund process. We will suffer with the cash flow issues and with the danger of looing competitiveness with the international market. – Sandeep Shah

Take a stand

“The contours of the debate are the same,” says Rohan Venkataramakrishnan, while comparing the NFL players kneeling for the US anthem to debates over the anthem and Vande Mataram in India (“Trump is using the national anthem as a distraction – just like Hindutva supporters in India do”). Leave aside that the author glosses over the fact that the Supreme Court, not some elected Hindutva partisan, raked up the anthem issue with their highly suspect court order, the contours of the debate are never the same when comparing social issues in the US to those in India. The former is a coloniser nation that has built itself upon the exploitation of a racialised underclass for 400 years, whereas in India, the population was on the receiving end of subjugation for most of the last millennium.

Jingoism anywhere is worthy of criticism, but the Indian secularist’s pathological desire to equate the BJP with Western Right Wingers is belied by the starkly different histories of the two regions. The centuries-old history of entrenched, structural white aggression that Colin Kaepernick protests has no analogue in the history of Hindu relations with their coreligionists. – Sandeep S

Chaos at BHU

I am a student of the faculty of social sciences at the Benaras Hindu University and I know that this protest is not going to fetch any results (“Molestation on Benaras Hindu University campus shows policing women does not keep them safe”). The Vice-Chancellor’s office, the proctor board and the local police are not taking any interest in the protest and neither are they taking any step action against the molesters. – Priyanshu Giri


I am student of IIT BHU. Not just girls but even boys of IIT are not safe because of arts students in one of the hostels. They often threaten us, fight with us and even rob us if they catch us on our way back to our hostel after 10 pm. The administration knows about this, but even they are too afraid to act against these students. – Prabhat Kumar Kaushik


I strongly, condemn the use of force by the police in BHU, where India’s daughters were demanding their safety. Students must be assured of safety. I hope that justice is served. – Taha Jaunpuri


The goings on at BHU show the real face of the Narendra Modi-led Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government of Adityanath. Are peaceful protests banned in a democracy? If yes, the government should clearly state that no one can agitate against any illegal acts of government officials. Filing FIRs against thousands of students shows that an Emergency-like situation exists. Modi’s actions are very much in line with those of Indira Gandhi. – Umashanker Patwa

Pujo row

In this article, while Shoaib Daniyal’s arguments are generally correct, they are very partial and reflect what may called the elitist view of the issue (“The Daily Fix: Calcutta HC’s scrapping of Durga immersion restrictions is a wake up call for Mamata”). At the ground level in small town and rural Bengal, there is a real apprehension about further riots and clashes, especially because of many recent statements and diktas by local and national BJP leaders. Given her strong grassroots contacts and extensive rural administrative tours, Mamata Banerjee is aware of this and knows that it is not a peripheral issue but a central administrative concern.

The obvious attempts of the BJP’s social media wing to divide communities on largely spurious charges and its constant character assasination remind many people about very similar campaigns conducted against reformers and liberals like Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar and Michael Madhusudhan in the 1850s. This is reflected in editorials in even the main Bengali papers in Calcutta, including the most Right-Wing ones. The chief minister is aware of this and realises that there is a growing groundswell of anger against the BJP’s divisive and unethical politics. So one can also argue that, rather than being hamfisted, her actions were designed to harness that anger. – Sudipto Roy Choudhury

Satire shot

I am a resident of CR Park, and I endorse the author’s views on the Kolkata pujo crowd (“Why you should avoid Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park during Pujo”). This is a very perceptive and hilarious article. – Amitabha Basu


This tongue in cheek write up bringing out the stereotypes of the community is proof that Bengalis are capable of laughing at themselves the way no other community can, except with the honourable exception of Sikhs. – Kanchan Mukherjee


I don’t know about CR Park but I do know the Bengalis of Kolkata. I appreciate the author’s attempt at infusing humour while drawing a picture of Bengalis as lazy, incompetent, gelusil-munching unfashionable people. I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder. The author obviously missed that quintessential Bengali characteristic of showing off with their general knowledge or arguing about the mundane at Pujo pandals. There alone he could have found a lot of fodder for humour without having to put anyone down. – Mita Tagore


I am a resident of CR Park. I liked this article but there is another side to the story. When we were young, Pujo meant meeting people, sitting and eating with friends and relatives in the Pandal, watching our favourite orchestra till late night and then going home only do this all over again the next day. Now, Pujo is a time when you cannot take the car to office as it is doubtful whether at all you will reach home on a four-wheeler. Even if you go out to buy bread or eggs, the policeman looks at you doubtfully. You can’t enter the Pandal even if you are a resident as the entry line is a mile long. If you are lucky enough to enter, you will never get a place to sit. Food is there but no space to enjoy it other than if you get it packed and go home. Residents are virtually under house arrest. – Uttara Mazumdar

Southern ties

This research seems to be based on assumptions that are simply not true (“What the relationship between the Palghat Iyers and Malayalis tells us about Kerala (and Tamils)”). I am from a family of Palaghat Iyers and have been settled in Maharashtra for about 350 years now. We are Shaiva but my Kuladaivat is Tirupati Balaji. So this attempt to create discord falls flat on its face. The author also claims that “A Brahmin from Uttar Pradesh would never have heard of Palghat Iyers.” This statement is false. A sizeable part of our family is settled in Varanasi. The entire book seems to be based on distortions of the truth. – Milind Dravid


This review gets the title of the book wrong. It’s not Kalapathy, instead of Kalpathy. I am yet to read the book but it is not out of place here to mention the reference to Kalpathy as “Kasiyil pakuthi Kalpthi”, which means with Kalpathi river and the adjoining Viswanatha swami temple, Kalpathi is at least half as sacred as Kashi or Varanasi. In Mumbai, migrants from Kalpathy are referred to as Kalpathikars while the reality is we are neither Keralites, nor Tamilians or Maharashtrians. – Guruvayurappan Krishnan


The details are incorrect. Palakkad Iyer’s are not incharge of temple rituals, though they were supporting the religious activities. Recently I came to know that a microscopic minority of Temple rituals are done by Palakkad Iyers. Regarding Namboodris, they are the most pious, God fearing people and they don’t interfere in anybody’s matters. Pitting both type of Brahmins is mere gossip and Kerala people are not anti Brahmin. – Pichappa K


This was an interesting article on Palgahat Iyers. It says that Iyers worship Shiva and Iyengars worship Vishnu. While the latter is correct as far as the more orthodox Iyengars are concerned, it is not a universal trend. As an Iyengar, I have visited all Hindu temples and some churches at Goa and Velankanni.

Iyers are often mistaken for Shaivas, which they are not! Shaivas do not worship any other deity other than Shiva, whereas Iyers ( more properly to be called Smarthas ) visit all Hindu temples and their Kula Daivam may vary across their sub castes and region wise too. – S Srihari

Colonial legacy

We have to view the author of this piece, Vijay Prashad, as a hypocrite (“Third World Quarterly row: Why some western intellectuals are trying to debrutalise colonialism”). He lives in the West. Why not return to Kolkata and make his case from there than from the secured position of a much-coveted tenured chair in an American university? Countries undergo multiple experiences over centuries and colonialism was just one of them. It has to be viewed and studied as that, not with so much emotion. Prashad’s arguments are just opinions. Niall Ferguson’s works make much greater sense and are works of fine scholarship. Ferguson is also equally critical of the depredations of colonialism, but he tries to make sense of the events of the past instead of just raging against them. – Uday Balakrishnan


We need many, many more articles like this one. You should also publish excerpts from a book written by an Indian author on the Bengal Famine of and Winston Churchill’s rotten statement asking why the famine, if it was really that severe, had not killed Gandhi. – Mahesh Nayak

Political debut

Kamal Hasan’s foray into politics is great news (“I am entering politics, I want to be CM for the people of Tamil Nadu: Kamal Haasan”). People of Tamil Nadu need a reformer, someone who can cleanse the system of corruption and heavy handedness. We render our full support to him. – Maheswari Sivakumar

Going green

India’s electric car programme seems to be just big talk and little action, like many other plans we’ve heard from other departments of this government (“India is about to embark on the most ambitious electric-car transformation in the world”). The reality of the market place is that electric and hybrid vehicles beyond the reach of the average mid-segment car buyer. Personal mobility accounts for a small part of the environmental degradation as compared to goods carriers and transporters. Yet there is no perceptible impetus towards implementing environmentally friendly solutions for goods carriers.

Moreover, instead of prioritising the development of mass transit programmes such as the metros and buses the government chooses to focus on highly questionable and climate unfriendly initiatives, like the coastal road in Mumbai. – Chetan Fernandes

Fantasy ride

It’s unbelievable that even 70 years after freedom, despite the problems of poverty, superstition, lack of education and corruption that plague the country, our leaders still just want to show the world a fantasy (“Watch: PM Modi’s 2013 speech reveals the real reasons behind launching the high-speed Bullet Train”). It is said that hope is the last to die. And so, we continue to live in hope, though it is dying a slow and painful death. – Jairaj Singh

Understanding Vivekananda

There is nothing wrong in putting one’s own religion at the peak as long as one is not not denying the existence of others (“Role model: How Vivekananda laid the foundation for India’s politics of sectarianism”). So yes, as a Henotheistic religion, Hinduism definitely taught the world tolerance and if every religion were Henotheistic, the world would be a much better place.

It is actually the greatness of Hindu religion that it is able to accept, accommodate other religions, without fearing its own survival or seeking to convert people. But this article actually holds it against Vivekananda for highlighting the greatness of Hindu religion before the world. That clearly shows the author’s bias.

The rise of Hindutva is an effect and not a cause in itself. This article mixes up cause and effect by wrongly accusing Vivekananda of being a sectarian and as having sown the seed of intolerance. Nothing can be further from the truth.

His mixing up science with religion may have been over the top though. – Chakra Sowmy

Breaking taboo

Thank you for taking the courage to publish this article (“Everything you always wanted to know about women’s sexual pain disorders (but were afraid to ask)”). It comes as a relief to many of us who understand the contours of the problems this talks about but did not take them up in the ways suggested. Somewhere, we did not exhibit the scientific temper expected at least out the urban, educated, liberal and progressive among us. This information it will help us better deal with these condition which affects both people involved in the relationship. – Avijit