Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: Even if the BJP wins Gujarat and Himachal, things can change by 2019

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Poll predictions

Even going by the exit polls, Amit Shah has lost as he expected to get 150 seats but the party is just managing over 100 (“Gujarat exit polls suggest the Congress surge has fizzled out – or was never actually there”). The fact that the prime minister spent so much time in Gujarat is a sign that they were not so confident of their chances. He used the Gujarati asmita and pro-Hindu factor besides personal attacks based on falsehoods, which the gullible have swallowed. The general feeling was that BJP would win for various reasons such as booth management and possibly other types of persuasion.

The Congress’ predicted loss in Himachal Pradesh does not come as a surprise as the state has alternated between the two parties for two decades now. Plus, there has been growing discontent against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh over corruption charges. So even though the BJP win was expected, the next two years will be critical for the party. If the Opposition pulls itself up, things could change as the economy is in quite fragile. – SN Iyer

Over protection

I fail to understand how the advertisements for use of a condom, a common contraceptive and the only one that also protects against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, will inculcate unhealthy practices among children (“Condom advertisements to only be aired between 10 pm and 6 am after Centre issues advisory”). It is not as though they do not view other TV shows with parents, or online content apart from social media, that is far more explicit and damaging to their minds. Additionally, they access information from multiple sources including books and friends, and not only TV advertisements. I would tell the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to stop being so prudish and immature. – Ramani Atkuri

Same coin

The BJP is making a loud noise on Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to Congress president, calling it the continuation of the dynasty rule (“Narendra Modi says Rahul Gandhi’s reign as Congress president will be like ‘Aurangzeb raj’”). But the saffron party too nurtures scions of the Nehru-Gandhi family. There’s not much difference between the two parties on many other counts too. But out of insecurity, the BJP is politicising the Congress’ internal elections. – Shashidhar Vuppala

Communal campaign

There has been constant threat to peace in Coimbatore as well as Tirupur by Hindu outfits (“Tamil Nadu: BJP leader, 3 others arrested for allegedly vandalising prayer hall, says report”). To counter them, Muslim and Christians minorities retaliate. In the process, citizens feel panicked. Unless, these outfits are controlled and disciplined, there will be no peace in Tamil Nadu. As Dravidian parties have failed keep to the movement alive, these elements are finding space. – Veeramani Rajangam

***

If India is a secular country and every person has the right to practice the religion of their choice, then why are Christians places of worship being targeted? It’s very disheartening. – Shiji George

***

It is highly undemocratic of the Coimbatore district administrator to order the closure of several Christian prayer halls because Hindu outfits had raised objections. As president of the Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights, I condemn this. – C Bhaskara Rao

Murder in Rajasthan

If the prime accused in this hate crime is not formally attached to Hindutva groups, it’s all the more a cause for a concern (“Rajasthan hate crime: Police looking for motive – no leads for links with Hindutva groups so far”). This only means that the vicious hate campaign unleashed by Sangh Parivar has seeped into the mental make-up of even those who are not attached to it. Project Hindutva, seeded so diligently, is now bearing fruit without any formal structure or organisation. What more can a movement ask for? – AM Roshan

Mandatorily voluntary

This article is both timely and pertinent, yet the Supreme Court seems to be unduly cautious (“Opinion: It is time for judiciary to call out the Indian government’s lie on ‘voluntary Aadhaar’”). The government’s complete disregard of the Supreme Court’s repeated orders clearly amounts to contempt. During the demolition of the Babri Masjid the then Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh had sworn to the Supreme Court that all measures would be taken to protect the structure – but what happened next has gone down as a bloody chapter in Indian history. Still, Singh was sentenced to one day’s imprisonment for allowing a 500-year-old place of worship to be demolished. The very foundation of our republic, that is, the rule of law, stands challenged. – R Joseph

***

There may be a case for linking Aadhar to bank accounts for schemes where benefits such as direct payments of subsidies are credited directly into the accounts, but what is the use of linking it to a mobile phone, or for those who have voluntarily given up LPG subsidy? KYC details of such people are already with the gas company or the service provider. And if they are tax payers, their Aadhaar and PAN cards are already linked. There appears to be no justification for the move. – Kamala Devi Subrahmanyan

Rohingya question

Bertil Lintner completely missed the atrocities committed by successive Burmese governments against Rohingyas (“Rohingya refugee crisis: It’s not Muslims versus Buddhists, says writer Bertil Lintner”). And as for the claim that the Rohingya identity is a relatively recent one and became popular only in the ’90s, what explains the fact that a Radio programme in the Rohingya language was aired by National Broadcasting Corporation of Burma from 1958 to 1964. In the Burmese Encyclopedia Volume 9, it was written that those living in Arakan north are call “Rohingya”. Lintner also says that U Nu popularised the name Rohingya for votes. But in reality, U Nu’s party never won in the region. And why should we be given our name by others? What about Nwe Win’s 1982 citizenship law written just to get rid of our citizenship rights? Lintner does not seem to know much about Rohingyas. I never found him interesting and noteworthy. – Tayub Uddin

***

This is an excellent analysis on the Rohingya and the refugee crisis. We Bangladeshis are going to face a big crisis. We are an overpopulated nation with little land, struggling to overcome poverty. The government of Myanmar as well as China must come forward to help resolve this crisis. – Mosharrof Hossain

***

Thank you for your interview with Bertil Lintner. Despite clear and well informed questions, one was troubled to read such troubling answers from a journalist so long embedded in the region. Despite Myanmar’s apartheid policies of ethnic cleansing and displacement, Lintner certainly does not frame his analysis around human rights or international rights. He over-emphasises the security frame used by both elites in Indian and Myanmar governments to divide and control their diverse populations. One problem with this narrative is that it actually makes the problem worse.

Lintner fails to address root causes in a focused way, and projects scepticism regarding Rohingya identity, suggesting it is largely manufactured. A better approach to solving the current crisis for Myanmar would be de-link ethnicity and citizenship entirely and eliminate the root causes of radicalisation and mass suffering.

We should also take Lintner’s assertions about the scope of the ARSA militia with a grain of salt, since his various claims lack proof and too neatly appeal to Islamophobic perspectives so widespread today. While a Rohingya militia is indeed counter productive, it is important to bear in mind that most large ethnic minorities in Myanmar have had militias to resist the Tatmadaw and its abuses. These other militias have killed many more times the number of Tatmadaw soldiers than ARSA, but these groups care not demonized as terrorists. Security messaging is deeply, essentially politicised.

Regarding India’s record towards Rohingya refugees – it is not very good. Before the latest crisis, the official plan had to been to expel them all. Threats by a local Chamber of Commerce leader this summer resulted in a Rohingya refugee camp in Jammu being burnt to the ground. Sad to say, one of the Rohingya family groups that choose to escape that experience ended up in Sri Lanka, where they were again attacked! But, to be fair, Rohingya refugees and forced migrants in Muslim nations are also not granted full rights and remain effectively stateless.

Given that important context, not to mention international law, it is really inappropriate of Lintner to promote the idea of third country settlement instead of proper Rohingya repatriation. However, he is right that the current plan appears to be repatriation theatre. Still, the United Nations and others should be allowed to build a multi-lateral mechanism to enforce a meaningful process of integration and coexistence. And people with some access and influence like Lintner can try to prevail on Daw Suu Kyi to do more, as he suggests.

And finally, India must stop selling arms to the brutal Tatmadaw. And so should Pakistan, Russia, China and Israel. – P Adem Carroll

Money wasted

It is a matter of deep concern for nationalists that in a country like ours, where hundreds die of starvation and malnutrition, where there is unimaginable poverty and crores of people in the workforce are sitting idle, the government is spending so much on ads (“Centre has spent Rs 3,755 crore on publicity campaigns till October 2017: Report”). The amount exceeds the annual budget of some departments. If the government were doing its job, it would not feel the need for such publicity. Propoganda and advertisements are required where nothing is to show. – BC Sinha

Pakistan tangle

If the Prime Minister has given us enough information that the Opposition was colluding with Pakistan to win a local Assembly election in Gujarat, someone should just go ahead and file an FIR with the local police station (“Gujarat elections: Mani Shankar Aiyar held secret meetings with Pakistan, claims Modi in Palanpur”). After all, the prime minister should be a credible source. It is would be worth everybody’s time to file a sedition case against all those concerned, which will force some investigations to be made. Or was the prime minister over playing his hand? – Pradeesh R

Labour of love

This is a gruesome, sad and true account of the goings on in a country that boasts of being among the largest democracies of the world (“A Rajasthan reminder: The targets of hate are not just Muslims and Dalits, but also vulnerable women”)! Are we citizens so helpless, unmoved and indifferent? Are these issues being adequately discussed? We the people should come together and take up as every case of atrocity and injustice we come across. We need to take a stand and punish or at least ostracise the guilty. Let us be the conscience keepers of our country. – Salma Bala

Capital concerns

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel may not hurt the Palestinian cause much and it would be wise for India not to interfere (“India says its stance on Palestine is independent, after US recognises Jerusalem as Israeli Capital”). Too much interference will only complicate the matter further, with no tangible benefit to the Palestinian cause.

More than half a century wars with Israel have not brought any gains to Palestine. Though Trump’s stand cannot solve the issue immediately, it has the initiating a rethink on the issue by all stakeholders. – Panduranga Rao

Right note

I love the developing music culture of Goa
(“Portuguese fado: Songs of love, longing and the sea are making a comeback in Goa”). Years ago, when I asked around about Fado in Goa, very few people knew anything. Finally, someone pointed me to fadista Sonia Shirshat. I was at her first big concert in Panjim and her performance stirred many, including me, to tears. Thanks to Sonia and others like her who have revival of this music in Goa. I live in Norway but am always searching for good Fado. – Reidun Eikeland

Harder to breathe

The risk for babies is getting higher with each passing day in these polluted times (“12 million babies in South Asia are exposed to air pollution six times the safe limit: Unicef report”). And don’t forget senior citizens. No one is taking the issue seriously enough, Everyone expects someone else to clean up. God’s other creations too are silently disappearing. This is the time to act. – Venu Advani

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