Much ado about Modi

Prime Minister Modi is not the first politician to make tall promises to the people and will not be the last. However hardly any leader before him had been the subject of a media witch-hunt (“Losing touch: Whatever happened to Narendra Modi’s optimism?”). It was left for the people to decide if a leader was effective or not.

Indira Gandhi epitomised strength and robust leadership and yet, the seeds of most of the separatist movements that are plaguing India today were sown during her tenure. Rajiv Gandhi promised clean government and was later shown the door on a scam charge that singed him much more directly than a series of scams at a later period would do Monmohan Singh. VP Singh occupied the public imagination as an epitome of virtue but soon was exposed as a manipulator.

Why then is Modi hounded by the media?

Another narrative runs parallel to this: one that claims the media has sold out to Modi. The reason for this is mainly two. First of all most of the criticisms, if not all, are coming from the English media and given their leaning towards the Left, Modi was never their choice and rose to power in spite of their virulent protests and propaganda to prevent the same.

Secondly, you can see today that not unlike the Indian polity, the Indian media is also a bipolar world as far as the prime minister is concerned. If half of them hate him, the other half thinks that he can do no wrong. Also, in today’s world news is just another commodity to sell and right now nothing sells like Modi right now.

Modi will certainly not get everything right you must appreciate that he is a hardworking person who means well and is running a corruption-free government for more than three years. The media should give him a wider berth and leave the task of rewarding or punishing him to voters. – Suprakash Chattopadhyay


A flair for the dramatic and lacking in substance, that is how I would describe’s assessment of Modi and Gujarat (“In 2018, your social media feed will become more toxic. Modi can take some blame”).

The picture being painted is that all of a sudden, some kind of fascism is creeping in and soon we will see concentration camps. Your banal Aristotelian logic does not take into account material conditions. It is a generalisation that accrues out of prejudice.

The article portends an apocalyptic future by drawing analogies with other countries that have nothing in common with the goings on in India.

Analogy is a weak argument even according to Nyaya, a philosophy that accepts analogy as a valid mode of truth. In Buddhism and Jainism it is rejected altogether.

None of the analogous countries have maintained free press as a byproduct of a mindset. The Hindu mindset is based on plurality: Jain Anekantavada preaches the concept of partial truths. In India, individual liberty was not a byproduct of politics, it was the other way round. In the West secularism is a consequence of the French Reign of Terror and thinkers like Robespierre, Danton and others. It was not a part of the people’s psyche. – Arun Jetli

New beginnings

Rahul Gandhi as president should invest more in strengthening the party organisation so that workers can warm up for 2019 (“Rahul Gandhi has shed the persona of an angry (not-so-) young man. Will this image makeover help?”). Elections cannot be one only by wooing crowds and abusing the opponent: a strong organisation is needed. Also, decision making should become more decentralised; the high command culture should go. – Prem Tiwari

Bailing out banks

This legislation comes as a brutal shock (“Expert’s view: Contentious Bill doesn’t allow depositors’ money to be arbitrarily used to save banks”). Old people who depend on interest accumulating on their savings have already been affected by the periodical reduction of interest. Now if the security of the principle with banks and fixed deposits is at stake, everyone will undergo great hardship. – G Kannan


One one hand, the BJP proposes a bill that practically declares the deposits of the common man unworthy and on the other hand, it seeks the same citizens’ support in the Assembly elections. How does the BJP expect to woo voters after creating a situation where they are insecure about their bank deposits? The party has to do better. – Gauri Bansal


Prime Minister Modi is anti-common man, anti-unorganised sector of people, anti-below poverty people and anti-small traders. Demonetisation proved that. The GST proved that. And now the FRDI regulation is further proof. Modi is pro- corporate. – Paul Dhanasekaran


As he is from an interested party as a man involved in drafting the bill, it is hard to be sure that he has given the correct view. In the public sector banks, the fixed deposits of senior citizens should be guaranteed, as for years, senior citizens have collected their retirement savings there. – Swroop N Mathur


The author appears very knowledgeable. But the following points need clarification: As we have seen with the Lehman Brothers, the decline can be swift. Overnight, the financial system was crippled. Is there any specified period given before the Resolution Corporation takes over the financial firm, which is publicly announced? If yes, obviously during this period depositors shall queue to take back their deposits. This at least gives them protection. The problem is depositors are caught unawares.

If both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha has majority of one party, any Bill can be technically passed be it a report of report from the Resolution Corporation recommends the bail -in process. Unless changed to a 3/4th majority, this is not enough protection. Also, Do the current savings and non-resident external rupee accounts have bail-in type of consent? The banks would introduce this in fine print for very soon. What is view for NRE depositors? Won’t it trigger flight of capital and pressure on rupee? – Shalabh Agrawal


As one of its draftees, it is natural that the author is biased towards the Bill. The points raised talk about law and provisions that would be normally applicable if governments did not take arbitrary and unilateral actions using special ordinances and fiat as a means to governance. The government nationalised banks in 1969 under the guise of needing banks that are pro-growth and pro-poor. The end result is super banks that care neither for economic growth or for the poor. What has ensued is corruption in banks and the lending based on political influence.

The entire NPA situation is one that has been precipitated by governments who have been negligent in their fiduciary responsibilities. While the idea of privatisation for growth is time-tested, the way this government is going about it is by holding a gun to the head of the electorate and taxpayer and allowing back door entry to corporations. That has been the way Modi conducted affairs in Gujarat too.

In the developed world, governments don’t own banks and after 2008 do not want to be pushed to bailout banks who lent indiscriminately or brought products to market that were untenable. Hence the bail-in idea: pass the buck to the depositors and force them to bail the bank.

In India it’s the opposite. Here, the government chose to be the last-resort lender through ownership of banks and is now in a fix, with poor economic growth rate and fiscal spending being restrained. The author also fails to take into account that conservative investors and retirees tend to depend on the banks which they expect to be rock solid, as opposed to stock markets and other financial instruments.
Please remember that it’s the government who, due to lack of transparency and communication, has brought upon itself what the author claims are misgivings in the public’s space about the regulation. Modi and the BJP need to change their way of communication.

The Modi government needs to understand that the strategic transformation of a vast country like India needs a buy in from the people not just fancy ideas concocted in Delhi! There are many aspects of the Bill that need to be revisited and revised to suit the country. Failure to do so will be reflected in the further slowing down of economic growth and rise in unemployment. – Natesan Ramesh

Damage beyond measure

It is ironic that the author of this journalistic piece talks about a massacre that occurred on the holiest day of the year for the Sikhs (Basakhi) without even once mentioning the word Sikh (Why India should not bother to ask Britain to apologise for Jallianwalla Bagh”). The Sikhs in Britain most definitely do not want an apology from the British. For the Sikhs in Britain, the real irony is how Indians are calling for an apology from Britain for something their great-grandparents did a century ago whilst the living-breathing perpetrators of a genocide of Sikhs in Delhi 1984 are not only free to roam but sometimes even rewarded for their actions. There is something really quite sinister and morally decrepit in the way Indians find it so easy to ignore the ugly realities of itself today and go looking for apologies from foreign powers for things that happened a century ago. So sure, the Sikhs do want an apology. But they don’t want one from the UK. They want one from India. Jasbir Dosanjh

Still strong

This is not true, Modi retains his stature in Gujarat (“No matter who wins, Modi is no longer larger than life in Gujarat”). The fact that Modi is no longer the chief minister of the state demotivates its people. He had done so much during his tenure that no forthcoming chief minister can replicate. For Gujarat, it was not BJP, it was Modi who was their leader. Gujarat has been the most peaceful place and we still do not want Congress. Believe it or not Congress has only been playing religion and caste-level politics, which leads Modi to do the same. – Sunny Pandya

Love ban

I am surprised at the school management’s decision. Is it crime to marry (“Jammu and Kashmir: Teacher couple sacked on wedding day, school says ‘romance bad for students’”)? And what is wrong if they were romantically involved before marriage? To love is human. Their positions must be restored. – MR Saiyad


If the teachers were in love and got married with their family’s consent, what problem does the school management have? I studied in the school where both husband and wife taught me different subjects. They should not be sacked. As a Jammu and Kashmir resident, I feel this is irrelevant. Is it 1980? Grow up guys! – Nishant Sharma


The couple is not at fault. The school administration must apologise for their actions and reappoint them. Else, the school’s affiliation should be cancelled. – Pankaj Choudhary


The school administration needs to change their mentality. If the administration knew that both the teachers were romantically involved, they should have warned them earlier. But that was probably not the case, the marriage was arranged, as the couple has claimed. Firing them was the worse decision. As students, we read many of Shakespeare’s romantic works and Pablo Neruda’s poems on love, but that did not shape our decisions. The couple could be a right example of love but the administration would never understand. – Moupriya Dev

Misogyny in cinema

Parvathy has shown great maturity (“Actress Parvathy abused for pointing out misogyny in Mammootty film, hits back at trolls”). She is one of the best actresses right now. From the very start, she has chosen important roles. I support her not just because she is a fine actress but because Kasaba disappointment my family and me. We are all of the opinion that Mammootty should not have used such foul language. His acting too was not great. He should refrain from acting in such movies. A big hand for Parvathy. Geetha Nair


Parvathy did not target Mammootty, she only expressed her views on the Kasaba dialogue. Mammootty is a legend and is just doing his job. But his die-hard fans who think of him as a role model may be influenced by the characters he essays and such sub-standard lines. – Beena Pp

Colourful tales

Chandamama was a delight, no doubt (“If not for ‘Chandamama’, my generation may have never realised the beauty of age-old Indian tales”). It was colourful and entertaining for children. But let us not forget that it was also a medium through which a conservative upper caste Hindu world view as well as prejudices and stereotypes were impressed upon young minds. – Gangadhar Hiremath


Mrinal Pande, in her inimitable style, tells a story many of us may want to write. My love for the Chandamama was no less than hers. Vikram aur Betal and Paropkari Pannalal were some of my favourites. – Parasuram


In the 1970, when we were staying in the airport quarters in then Madras, the first of every month would be a much awaited day for me, then a young boy. On that day, my father would bring a box of sweets, Amarchitra Katha comics and a Bancroft Classics book. This ritual lasted till he retired Thank you for rekindling fond memories. – Suresh Padmanabhan

Children at risk

Such incidents cannot be tolerated any longer (“Six-year-old girl raped and murdered in Haryana’s Hisar district, local residents protest”). Almost daily, we come across a case of child rape. The system is not being able to control this. The police and the government need to take more steps to ensure the protection of children. Poor people and the homeless are most vulnerable and needed protection. – Preety

From the artists

Thank you for the kind words,! The Stranger Things cover has an interesting backstory (“Watch: The ‘Stranger Things’ theme played on a santoor and a tabla is an even stranger thing”). A close friend requested that we do the cover. Being fans of the show, we thought it was a great idea. But there was one problem: Kamaljeet was nine months pregnant and due any moment. We decided to go ahead anyway. Those familiar with the santoor will know that it’s played while sitting cross legged and rests on the lap, close to the body. This is very difficult for someone who is nine months pregnant. We set the cameras up to hide that she was pregnant by getting closeups of the instruments. We shot the video on October 26 evening. By the time we finished the shoot, worked on the audio, edited the video and uploaded it, the time was 1. 15 am. We patted ourselves on the back and headed for bed. Just a short while later, at 2 am, Kamaljeet went into labor. We headed straight for the hospital and our son was born early in the morning! – Jas Ahluwalia

Mark his words

I have been moved by Kazuo Ishiguro’s eloquent words as a writer but above all, as in this remarkably personal speech, his humanity (“‘What should we choose to remember?’: Read Nobel Prize for Literature winner Kazuo Ishiguro’s speech”). I am a product of an community in exile and I too went to live in a country where I have grown up and thrived. As a child, I experienced what I call, the “land I left behind” through my parents’ construction of the place we had all left behind, Cuba. Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize speech, like his works, is perfect for our times. Bravo. – Margarita J Aguilar

Medical practice

Some gynaecologists seem to believe that they can do anything to women’s bodies, by right, and that women who get upset by this are creating an unnecessary fuss (“She said ‘no’ to an episiotomy during childbirth. Her doctor cut her anyway”). It’s a feeling of power and arrogance in subjugating women. Also, how is it acceptable to have male gynecologists? Are women in their most private and vulnerable moments, when they are naked, stretched out and bound, to be comfortable with men examining them, probing them or cutting them? – Radhakrishnan Raghavan

Forgotten princess

This is a revelation. A stunning story (“The tragic tale of Krishna Kumari of Mewar – and why it isn’t told as much as Rani Padmini’s”). Thanks for writing and publishing it. I hope someone makes a movie on her. – Krishna Sen