Angel or demon?

It’s interesting what Ruchika Sharma chooses to write about Ala-ud-din Khalji and more interesting still is how she chooses not to buttress her views (“Ala-ud-din Khalji: Why the ‘people’s king’ was made out to be a monster by 16th century chroniclers”). She makes Khalji out to be a cuddly do-good sultan. I wish she had taken the time to point out how he killed his uncle and father-in-law and took away the women of of defeated kings and kingdoms to include in his harem or marry off to his sons or other courtiers. What about the destruction of Hindu temple and places of worship? This is not academically correct. – Anuj Joshi


Ala-ud-din Khalji is said to have killed his uncle to usurp the power in the vanquished land of India. He looted and marauded the lands he passed by, killed or enslaved people through his army of barbaric forces and destroyed temples across India, including the famous Shiva Temple in Siddhpur and the Belur Halebid complex. He was rightly hated by the local population. – Krishna Srivastava


Why does always glorify such vicious rulers who killed countless people in their time? Why are we still patronising them and making them into heroes? Khalji did what he needed at the time but he was barbaric. – Abhinav Shukla


The article is based on many assumptions, one of them being that Khalji was disliked by Sufis. Also, there are no concrete facts to suggest that he was considered the “people’s king”. On the contrary there are numerous accounts of his persecution of Hindus. The article is poor history, similar to fabricated stories written by court poets, both Hindus and Muslims, to idolise their patrons. – Devendra Sharma


This is a well researched piece. History needs to be revisited in an rational and impartial manner. – Amit Dorugade


Good work, Ruchika.In these days of hypocrisy, people like you are very rare. Please keep up the good work. – Junaid Muhammad


In the enthusiasm to prove Khalji as a hero, the author has conveniently forgotten to mention his atrocities on Hindus. Khalji looted India and Indians in a barbaric and cruel manner. He was so daring that could not hide his lust for Padmavati, a Rajput queen. – Suresh Kumar Sharma


Khalji may have introduced a novel taxation method but if, on the other hand, he coveted someone else’s wife, how is his character moral? Because of him, Rani Padmavati had to kill herself. Is this not enough to make people’s blood boil?

I mean no offence to the writer. I just hope to see more coverage like the story a couple in a Maharashtra village who dedicated their life to the betterment of farmers, than such contentious topics. We start becoming what we feed our minds. Together, we can change the nation and bring it the glory that has been denied to her. – Nishant Sinha


When the author says that “historian, Irfan Habib, quotes an 18th century source as noting that before the advent of Muslim rule in India, the rajas “whose descendants are called Rajputs” used to collect the land tax from cultivators”, is she implying that Rajputs were a class of tax collectors!! That’s ridiculous. The population of Rajputs alone in those times in Rajasthan was more than a million and a majority of them belonged to the arming occupation. Why is it that people just don’t want to believe that there could have been such brave people who would fought to defend their honour even when they were outnumbered?

Besides, Khalji may have been a a smart man but he was also very cruel. – Ajaysinh Zala


The author is all praise for Khalji’s reforms even as she mentions in a line that the taxation system was heavy and regressive. If the Hindu Right is wrong to depict everything that Muslim rulers as wrong, the Left liberals are guilty of not carrying out a judicious assesment of the rulers and only presenting their shiny parts.These types of articles are devoid of scholarly research and only have an agenda turn counter the Right. – Abhay Kher


This is a well-written article that brings forth some facts about Ala-ud-din Khalji that were ignored in popular writings. However, instances of his barbarism cannot be denied, like the time he killed his own uncle to become a sultan. He also destroyed the southern kingdoms. The article, though well-researched is one sided. – Nitin Bhat


The article brings out some of Khalji’s great deeds but is also biased. As per the article, Khalji was painted as a villain by Rajputs to protect their pride. If that is the case, why aren’t many other rulers depicted as equally barbaric and villainous? Also, the article does not mention Malik Kafur, who was originally a Hindu but when caught by Khali’s soldiers, he was castrated and made the sultan’s slave.

I am not saying that Rajputs were heroes but if Khalji was a good warrior and a clever ruler, he had a dark side too. – Niraj Patil


This is a nice article. Events should be presented as they they happened. If you add to or remove from them, they cease to be the truth. We have had many rulers from many different religions over the tears. When we write about them, we must cover all aspects of their rule and personalities. A distorted version spells disaster. – Awaise Ahmed


I could not believe my eyes when I read this piece. Do you even know history? Have you ever read about what Khalji has done?

Please find out who destroyed Nalanda University, who sent his armies to kill Hindus and destroy their temples and who forced many to convert to Islam. So many women and children were sold as slaves, raped killed. How can you write such a piece on a tyrant? I am sure my comments will fall on deaf ears, but as an citizen and patriot I cannot be quiet after reading such a piece. – Harsh Saha

Name and shame

While it is completely fine that the editorial board has decided to publish Kavita Krishnan’s views in such excruciating detail, it would be great if you guys could publish a piece by Raya Sarkar too (“‘It’s like blackening faces’: Why I am uneasy with the name and shame list of sexual harassers”). I understand Krishnan’s reservations, although they do not seem pertinent to me. This issue requires debate, meaning we need Sarkar’s side too.

By publishing only Krishnan’s perspective, the editorial board seems to be trying to convince the readers of one side of the story while completely ignoring the counter-narrative, which, on close investigation and some introspection, might not seem all that bizarre to the readership that now endorses Krishnan’s views.

I have always lauded for its relatively unbiased reporting and crisp journalism. Publishing op-eds such as this goes against that spirit. If so many women have decided to speak out against these men in such positions of power, the person representing them should be given a pedestal too.

It is an impassioned plea on my part that you try and publish something from the other side of this debate. Because I am a student at Jadavpur University, two of those named on the list are senior professors in my department, and it makes my blood curdle to think that I attended their classes and held them in high regard at some point, despite having heard rumours about their misconduct.

And as long as senior feminists in our country keep belittling the endeavours of rising feminists in vulnerable positions, the larger movement will keep suffering. Elders are supposed to guide the younger generation, but this is clearly not the case in India. – Ujani Bhattacharya


This is a well-thought-out and well-written article on the name and shame list. It was much needed. – Lehar Malhotra


Thanks for an excellent piece. I agree entirely with what the Kavita Krishnan said. We often get carried away. – Jeroo Mulla

Education matters

All Indian universities should stop teaching courses on Shakespeare, Western Philosophy, Western Sciences or Western subject (“‘It is a closed place’: Why students are quitting Nalanda University”). No Indian can possibly teach anything non-Indian. All Indians teaching non-Indian stuff in Europe, Australia, and the United States should be sent home, for they can’t possibly do their work adequately. That is, unless they are a part of a Government of India conspiracy to sabotage intellectual work in the West. – CM Naim

Son rise

So, Rahul Gandhi is making news once again
(“As Rahul Gandhi readies to take charge of Congress, he assures old guard they will not be sidelined”). For the media, he is a supplier of the bytes and they seems to be quite happy with the arrangement. Since his suit-boot remarks, we find in him a new-found confidence, consistency and earnest engagement.

Modi’s personal attacks on the Gandhi family made Rahul Gandhi a formidable foe. The Congress vice president’s remarks are resonating with the people, while the media likes that he is being able to take on the government in ways that they no longer do. – Shailendra Awale

Lost in translation

The remarkable thing about the 10 translators who cite untranslatable words and phrases is that they do in fact provide very resourceful translations for them, making the words and phrases intelligible (and very interesting) to readers who do not share their knowledge of the Indian languages (“What is untranslatable? Ten translators from Indian languages list their candidates”).

What seems untranslatable possibly appears as such only because the translators may be assuming a particular idea of what translation is and does, what I call an instrumental notion of translation. Here, translation is understood as reproducing or transferring some invariant contained in or caused by the source text, an invariant of form, meaning, or effect. The invariant is viewed as an essence, unchanging, ultimately metaphysical, but we know that any text can support multiple and conflicting interpretations, that change is one of the marvelous things about reading, keeping texts alive for different audiences in different times and places.

Suppose, then, we consider translation an interpretive act that inevitably changes the form, meaning, and effect of the source text, even if translators can at the same time establish a semantic correspondence and stylistic approximation to it. The translators’ very comments show that translation may be more profitably viewed according this hermeneutic notion. Their brilliant interpretations can lead to some highly inventive translations! – Lawrence Venuti

Right note

I enjoyed the music by AR Rahman and even though he did not say a word about Modi’s policies such as demonetisation and GST, I do hope those in the BJP will get the message (“AR Rahman has just produced a criticism-proof 19-minute comment on demonetisation”). – Joseph Christie

Funny man

We all love Shyam Rangeela’s humour. There is nothing wrong in what he is doing (“After mimicking Narendra Modi, comedian Shyam Rangeela is working on a new target – Adityanath”). He must continue being creative and funny. Best wishes to him. – Sandhya K

Dirty air

The industry cannot be penalised for the government’s failure to control air pollution and finalise emission standards (“Supreme Court bans use of petroleum coke, furnace oil in Delhi-NCR to combat pollution”). The Rs 2 lakh penalty on the environment ministry is also a joke, the money is going to come from the tax payer and not the defaulter.

The industry has agreed to follow the norms set by the government and the Central Pollution Control Board, but the time given to them arrange for an alternative is not enough. Lakhs of people who are involved directly or indirectly in the business of pet coke and furnace oil. Thousands of industries will have to shut shop or become noncompetitive, thereby living thousands unemployed.

Have the powers that be taken into account the impact of this decision on refineries? Have the stakes of trader community for petcoke and furnace oil been kept in mind? This is a dictatorial decision and us unconvincing. – Sanjay Jain