Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: Was the portrayal of Allaudin Khilji in ‘Padmaavat’ Islamophobic?

A selection of readers’ opinions.

At the movies

I appreciate that the author has pointed out the prejudice in Pakistan against Hindus. However when he says that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has painted an Islamophobic picture, it seems that he is not immune to prejudice either (“View from Pakistan: ‘Padmaavat’ puts together every stereotype of Muslims in India”).

Even if not barbaric, the real Allauddin Khilji was definitely not a kind man. He is said to have killed the uncle who raised him after his father’s death to ascend the throne. He looted numerous Indian kingdoms. After plundering the Devgiri kingdom, he staked claim on the king’s daughter.

Though according to historical accounts, Allauddin’s first wife was arrogant and conspiratorial, Bhansali projected her as a kind person. In the movie, she warns Khilji that Padmavati is a married woman and that it would be a sin to go after her. Despite knowing the consequences, she goes against her husband’s will and provides a safe passage to Padmavati and her husband. Does that not show Muslim women as strong and righteous? The scene where Padmavati enters the tunnel and looks back at Khilji’s wife and thanks her brings tears to one’s eyes.

Padmavati was portrayed as an independent woman who could roam in a jungle. Did you see any other Rajput woman in the movie doing that? Ratan Singh did not want his wife to stand in front of a mirror and reveal herself to Khilji. Further, even the commander did not want the queen to go to Delhi and present herself to the Sultan. But Padmavati still does so, because she was wise, intelligent and practical. Does this look like a regressive portrayal?

The movie is set in the 13th century, a time when the society was very different from what it is today. So comparing it with the societal values of today would be immature. The movie is definitely not a glorification of sati. It shows that a women are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect their honour. Can the author suggest an alternative ending to the movie that does not include the mass immolation?

In order to avoid jauhar, would it be fine to show Padmavati eventually getting captured by Khilji? I would like to request every one to rise above the politics of religion and see the movie as a fable. A sufi saint (himself was a Muslim) wrote the poem Padmavat to present a story with a moral. For me, this is a cautionary tale of how the desires of one person can destroy the lives of many. – Vikrant Desai

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This is an accurate analysis. Things shown in the movie are quite regressive. Kudos to the analyst. – Batu Rath

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Haroon Khalid should have checked the vast gulf that exists between jauhar and sati before writing this piece. He should understand that Padmavati was exercising her free will to commit suicide instead of being a sex slave. It is Khalid who seems guilty of misogyny by suggesting otherwise. – Subhasis Ghosh

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I wish this article had more substance. The thoughts were not well fleshed out. The author chose the wrong ingredients. The potrayal of Khilji was not that of a Muslim but of someone unhinged. Everyone entering the cinema hall was aware of this. So maybe the cross-border perspective has a role to play in the author’s perspective. – Jignesh Rajgor

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It is not sati that Padmavati and other women commit but jauhar, an act of self immolation by Rajput princesses and married royal women of Rajputana, along with wives of darbaris,commanders and soldiers. Jauhar was done during war, when the death of Rajput soldiers and kings was certain. It is considered an act of valour by Rajputs. – Deepakshi Jolly

***

Firstly, Padmaavat is a movie and not the final word on history. Second, the movie does not glorify jauhar. It only shows that helpless women had no choice but to die in order to protect themselves if their husbands were killed at war. As for the portrayal of Muslims, in the historical context, rulers were not Hindu or Muslim. They were just rulers and a religion unto themselves. Moreover, they had harmed not just present-day India but also areas that now fall under Pakistan. – Prateek Kumar

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I read Haroon Khalid’s columns with eagerness, for his is a kind voice that seeks to understand before it judges and values all that is deserving both in his own country and across the border. Ever since this miserable film made landfall, I have found myself at a loss before Muslim friends and colleagues, and before those who see nothing wrong with a film that, supposedly, merely depicts the institutionalised oppression of women.

Is it really so hard to understand that human beings do not “merely depict” anything unless they are writing manuals? I mentioned Leni Riefenstahl’s work to my students to bolster this argument. Even as I did so, I had a gnawing feeling that in the present circumstances, such comparisons would simply not be understood.

As an educator, I didn’t know whether to be delighted or appalled by the manic and erroneous public reaction to Swara Bhaskar’s piece in The Wire. So, while Khalid is right to be pained by the foolish portrayal of one of the great sultans of Hindustan, I fear that the rot it represents is far deeper than he would like to know.

Today, we are incapable of thinking straight. Comprehension of others and empathy are qualities that cannot flourish in the absence of an ability to reflect calmly upon things. I sincerely hope that our society is not altogether bereft of the kind of Hindus that Khalid discovered through Indian films. I also hope that we have enough spirit left to do battle with the ideological forces that seek to break our polity.

In any case, I am not going to watch Padmaavat. I guess I would have watched it if the filmmaker had portrayed a Padmini terrified of committing jauhar. I think that’s a fair requirement a 150 years (or so) after the abolition of sati. – Indrani Bhattacharjee

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I was fascinated by the views put forth in this article. However, I would like to point out that it contains spoilers for the film and this was not indicated at the beginning of the article. It would be helpful if reviews or opinion pieces on works of literature that reveal elements of the plot contain a disclaimer at the beginning. – Ajinkya Kokandakar

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Why must you consider portrayal of Alauddin Khilji as that of a Muslim king and not of a ruthless individual? Where is religion mentioned in the film? With your rich imagination, you probably go too far in your review. – Tarun Gupta

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This article was an eye opener for me. I’m a 53-year-old Hindu male who has been raised in an urban area of India but is still surrounded with lot of anti-Muslim bias that exists across society. The author has made an excellent point about how a movie like this could be interpreted by an already biased society, especially the youth, and how the director had a choice to depict it differently.

I have to admit that even I had a bias (and may be still have) about Muslims, though the logical part of me completely rejects it. Some of the Pakistani TV serials that I recently watched made me understand that people living there are no different than us and it is such stereotypical presentation of people that clouds our thinking.

Kudos to the author for giving a viewpoint that, even if understood 10% by the Indian community, will make our relations with Pakistan much better and prevent such stereotypical interpretations of Muslim characters in the future. – Sailesh T

Khilji show

This is by far the best commentary I have come across on the film Padmaavat (Opinion: In ‘Padmaavat’, Sanjay Leela Bhansali displays his sympathy for the devil”). While I have been unable to watch the film, the storyline definitely reeked of misogyny and more importantly, misplaced regard. However, since this is the vision of a filmmaker and not a documentary, I can live with that.

However, Girish Shahane offers an excellent academic take on a pop-culture piece that has not only occupied the minds of Bollywood fans around the world but has also put India on the major international news platforms because of the terrorism on the part of the protesting groups. Great work! – Tilottama Biswas

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This is a good article that objectively analyses all components of the movie. Padmaavat is not Bhansali’s best work by a long shot. He has been associated with several grand films, but this one lacked authenticity and vision.​ It could easily have been named Khilji, and the story would have stayed the same.

With so much hue and cry about how this is a movie that honours women, the actresses in the movie hardly have any screen time or dialogue. They exist as display models for what seems like an extended jewellery advertisement.

I would really like to see a close adaptation of Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Padmavat or even recreation of historic events. – Shilpi Sinha

Simultaneous elections

There are many problems in our electoral system (“If simultaneous elections become a reality, India will turn into a ‘managed democracy’”). Its immediate outcome is a compromised legislative and executive power of elected representatives. We have a one-third democracy, as the executive and legislative power are concentrated in the hands of the majority party, not independently elected people’s representatives. This breeds instability. The executive can also drive the legislature to make laws to suit itself or the party and not necessarily aligned with people’s interests. Thus, people’s representatives must be separated from executives and be assigned to make laws, control and supervise executives.

Funnily, we have an elaborate system to impeach the president, who has no real power, while the real holder of power, the prime minister, can function with relative impunity. The supervision of the executive should be the primary responsibility of elected representatives. This can happen by removing the unnecessary condition that a minister needs to be the part of House. – Bijendra Singh Bhadoria

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The pros of having simultaneous elections outweigh the cons. The paranoia of the government unleashing their might on everyone is far-fetched in this age where journalism and social media are so widespread. This is absolute naivety on part of the writer.

The thought of being sidelined seems to lie heavy on his mind and he does not seem willing to introspect on the abyss his party finds itself in. The reasons for one’s political journey lie within one’s own work, so instead of harping on what could happen, it will do the writer some good if he starts doing development work in Delhi.

The electorate in India is smart enough to understand what is good for the nation and it does not need to be patronised. The electorate will answer when the time comes.

So, in conclusion, I hope the writer and his ilk do not waste people’s time with such articles. People want to focus on work. How can they, if elections are always round the corner? – Siddharth

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There are many reasons for the underdevelopment of the country and holding elections every now and then is not one among them. Both the major national parties have negligible presence in almost half the country and simultaneous elections will only reduce the role of national parties. – Karthik G

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The author mentioned in this article that if no party gets a majority in a state, the Centre will rule the state for five years until the next elections are held. I think this is misinformation or a false assumption. Even in the current system, president can call for re-election if no party gets majority even after giving them time to prove majority in the house. So, calling for a president rule for five years seems to be a bit of an exaggeration. – Chirayu Rao

Selfie trouble

Jimmy Kimmel has, over the years, given us some truly great moments in entertainment (“Watch: Jimmy Kimmel laughs at Indian man who nearly died trying to take a selfie in front of a train”). But what he has done with regard to the Hyderabad incident is shameful, insensitive and disrespectful to the victim as well as his audience in India.

T Shiva is a human being and a member of society with the right to live with dignity and not be made fun of on an international platform. I am positive that his actions were not wholly intentional and for that he should be offered support and sympathy rather than be laughed at.

Kimmel should issue a formal apology to Shiva, his family, and to all the viewers in India. Kimmel makes fun of Donald Trump all the time but even Trump wouldn’t stoop so low as to make fun of a helpless man. – Rahul Saxena

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This article is rubbish. It is because of media outlets like yours that comedians have to think before making jokes. Do you really believe that it isn’t even a little funny that people have died because of selfies? Jim Kimmel is a comedian – his job is literally to make fun of things. You just took everything out of context and made a man who makes people laugh look like a bad person. – Shubhi Shanker

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What was the purpose of this article? We all know that T Shiva did something absolutely crazy. Secondly, he survived and did not sustain any serious injuries. So what’s wrong in mocking him a little? Jimmy Kimmel did not make fun of India, right? And even if he did, that’s not a new thing either. You guys just need random material to provoke intolerant people here. Hoping the best for you. – Sahil Yadav

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I watch each episode of Jimmy Kimmel’s show and unfortunately saw this one too, though I abandoned it half way. Sure, the show offers a funny way of keeping abreast of important news, but that does not give the host or the network the right to play with the emotions of a person who has suffered such trauma. Kimmel’s show has viewers across the world and he should try to act sympathetic for his viewers’ sake, if not his own. Kimmel, don’t be the guy who asks a drowning man what his feelings about death are. We all know the media today is heading that way. He should call the victim’s family and personally apologise to them for making his accident a laughing matter. – Sanjay Mahato

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This was by no way a tragic incident. It was a stupid thing to do and Kimmel was right to make fun of it. Anything can be made fun of, unless it punches down. – Abhishek

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I’m not a Jimmy Kimmel fan. He is one of the most boring, stuck up and obnoxious talk show hosts. That being said, this incident is not worth getting offended over because while you term it as an unfortunate thing, the fact is this man, T Shiva, was trying his best to show off for social media attention . He should be made fun of for his stupidity.

It is not as though he endangered his life while trying to rescue someone. He was doing an extremely stupid thing and was lucky to walk away with his life. Please don’t pretend to get offended by things in the quest for content. – Vikram Vinod

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It is not wrong to laugh at the sheer and unbelievable stupidity shown by this person. Standing in the way of a train to take a selfie? How can anyone with half a brain cell feel any sympathy for such a person? Pity, maybe. But sympathy? No way. – Amanpreet Singh

‘Padmaavat’ row

The role of both the BJP and the Congress in this affair has been questionable (“Opinion: Karni Sena isn’t a ‘fringe group’ – it is intimately linked to India’s centres of power”). For electoral gains Rahul Gandhi, obviously misguided like his father by wrong advisers, played the soft Hindutva card in the recent Gujarat elections. The Congress is adopting a similar attitude in Rajasthan over the Padmaavat row.

On another note, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was only driven by the profit motive to make a movie on a sensitive subject and in a manner not substantiated by history. If he had to give a social message like Raj Kapoor in most of his earlier films, he could have made a film on the actual historical event of Sati in Rajastan in 1980s and condemned the heinous social evil. – Chandrabhal Tripathi

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Finally, a writer who says what needs to be said. Thank you. There may be some light under the banana leaves of this Republic. – Sameer Hafiz

Being woman

I am a PhD student at IIT-Bombay and have spent about four years in this institute (““Three toxic lessons IIT-Bombay gives women: sexism, chauvinism and moral policing”). I follow stories on Scroll.in for their extensive research and unbiased reporting. But this recent story by Maitreyi Shukla is very disappointing. It is appalling to know that you would be willing to pick up a very opinionated post and put it up as a story on your portal. The least I would expect as a reader is some background check and research. That Scroll.in has not done that raises questions about everything I have read on your website.

I am going to painstakingly describe what it is actually like to be a student in IIT-Bombay and the valuable lessons we learn here. Unlike you, I have done some homework and have spoken to female undergraduates, postgraduates, the staff and a few faculty members, before writing this. I am not going to comment on the activities of the women’s cell because I have nevet been associated with them or approached them with a problem; I never had to. But I will comment on the safety in this institute.

I have never felt unsafe, or felt like a victim of sexism. It is a male-dominated campus, like every other engineering college in this country, but not once have I felt that I am in a toxic environment that is nurturing sexism. This is not an ideal world, there have been cases of sexism that my colleagues and friends must have faced. But we are actively encouraged to speak up about them. In IIT if we have a problem, we speak up, approach different people and fix it. Never has it happened that my words have been ignored and my complaint left unresolved.

I would very strongly disagree with Shukla’s point about ingrained sexism. I think IIT-Bombay provides so much liberty and freedom to all its students. Men and women are allowed in each other’s hostels, no security guard has snickered at us or any of the people I know. It is a very normal thing to visit your friends or your beloved in their hostels. This is one campus that lets me formally train in football and play without having other men comment on how it is not meant for me. This is one campus where I can ask someone to shut up if they’re being sexist. I can have a sane discussion on someone’s sexist philosophies and there will be several others to work on changing this behavior. This is a male-dominated campus, but not once have I felt like I was a deer in a pack of hungry lions.

As much as Shukla would like to rant about this ingrained sexism, lack of unicorns and cotton candy, I urge Scroll.in to cross-check facts, do a quick study on what the situation actually is like and then report on it. Please stop reporting opinionated and biased pieces of information.

I would like to invite you to my campus to spend some time with us, observe how we operate and live and I would like you to decide for yourselves the toxic lessons that IIT is trying to teach its students. – Aparna Prasad

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There is a war in my head against the sexist system in the country. I wake up with the dream of going to the best IIT in the country, and then I read this. Are we really just commodities? Because we face sexism everyday, be it at school or on the roads! It is time to change. It is time for men to get a taste of their own medicine. – Ananya Jain

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IIT is an institution for technical studies and the kind of sexism you are pointing to is because of the number of men in proportion to women at the institute. The problem is not linked to the culture of the institution.

No women fight gender inequality to get into college. They have to pass IIT-JEE. If more women would want to spend their time building things instead of complaining about jokes men crack among themselves, there might be a better sex ratio in technical colleges.

Only weak women take the support of feminism to unfairly take advantage of the fact that they are women. If you want equality, don’t cherry pick. If you want to be treated the way a man is treated, then don’t accuse someone of not knowing how to talk to women, for instance.

We’re engineers and we put life into non-living things. There’s god, then doctors and then us. So please show a little respect for the way one of India’s top institutes is run. – Riteekesh Dutta

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The author is absolutely right. BIT Mesra has 10 boys hostels and two girls hostels. Boys get single room accommodation where as girls get shared accommodation for the entire course. India’s education is highly anti-women. – Sanjeeb Goswami

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While it is a matter of concern, the problem is not limited to any institution but is cultural in nature – and demonstrates unity in diversity, unfortunately. In most Hindi films, a man virtually stalks a woman to woo her. Popular songs indicate that no means yes. So what does one do with such a mindset? Boys have grown up in a culture with entrenched patriarchy. So should IITs be any different? Well, they are supposed to work hard to be different, and better. After all, we should expect education to lead the society, and not the other way around. – Sudhir Raniwala

Other side

I was one of the protestors at Maibang, Assam, on January 25 (“Assam: Two killed in police firing in Dima Hasao after violent protests against RSS leader’s remarks”). It is a mere allegation that we attacked the train passengers. We did resort to pelting stones at the police when they threatened us, and this happened only after the district magistrate allowed his security to try and attack us. We had already spoken to the local sub-divisional officer, telling them we will be holding a peaceful protest till 5 pm, the time set by us for the bandh.

The army was also sent, which is mentioned nowhere. Are we militants that we needed to be surrounded and fired at directly? They shot right at our heads and chests, couldn’t they shoot at least on the ground? Couldn’t they use rubber bullets?

The national media are painting us as the miscreants, the District Chief Executive Member gave a statement saying the opposition got us drunk, and brainwashed us into protesting. It was not a political protest, it was a public protest for our homeland. But when we are the deemed “pahadis”, the “junglis”, the “illiterates”, who’s going to give voice to our story? We are under forced curfew, and cannot even step out of our gates without a cop flinging their stick in our faces. Are we to keep silent, while the paid media maligns us? Hoping to find one unbiased media outlet. – Sohini Rajiyung

Eye on the prize

Shoaib Daniyal seems to have made no new point in suggesting that the business summit in Kolkata earlier this month was held with one eye on the next Lok Sabha polls (“West Bengal’s economy is picking up. But is it enough to attract big industry?”). Conclaves of this sort organised by state governments anywhere in India are always held keeping in mind the likely political mileage that can be derived from such initiatives during elections.

It is also quite well known that businessmen, particularly those running huge conglomerates, often attend these meetings to keep their political connections happy and say the right things. Any investment decisions announced at these events are in the nature of expressions of interest, which may or may not fructify later depending on several external and internal factors.

However, there is no denying that such summits serve the purpose of getting the message across to key stakeholders, including India’s vibrant start-up community, about the business-friendly environment in the state.

At the end of the day, a state needs investments and job opportunities for its youth. Rather than nit-picking about the likely gains from the recently concluded summit, one should compliment Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for making a concerted pitch for investments in the state which, despite all that detractors may suggest, still offers plenty of potential for new technology-driven businesses, where human capital is the most precious resource. – Sumali Moitra

Ineffective opposition

What about morality? What about the rule of law (“Why Congress is reluctant to support Yechury’s move to impeach Chief Justice Dipak Misra”)? What if Justice Misra is truly a corrupt judge and is adjudicating cases based on what would be good politics for the BJP?

If this is the response of the main Opposition party then only god can save democracy in this country. The Congress is likely hand-in-glove with the BJP. – Ahmad Shahroz

Opposition agenda

This coming together of Opposition netas is another chapter of the drama being played to harass Prime Minister Modi (“Mumbai: Top Opposition leaders participate in the ‘Save the Constitution’ rally”). The prime minister is targeting all sources of untamed corruption and loot. The Constitution is very safe in the hands of Modi. His mission of wiping out the menace of benami property and assets as well as tax evasion is a big threat to the Opposition politicians, one they need to neutralise by any means. It is a question of survival for them.

Their strategies are clear: 1) Create fear and uncertainty by constantly spreading rumours and misrepresenting facts; 2) Use NGOs even well-known anti-nationals to harass the government of the day in whichever way; 3) Induce the disgruntled influential lot cultivated by the United Progressive Alliance, including intellectuals, former diplomats, former judiciary and mediapersons to rubbish every political decision taken by Modi; 4) Orchestrate riots and bandhs in sensitive situations; and 6) Denigrate Constitutional institutions through wild allegations and innuendos, such as the election commission, the Supreme Court, the National Intelligence Agency, Central Bureau of Investigation and others.

Internationally, Modi has successfully worked to attract investments and create jobs in India, Opposition leaders are extremely busy competing among themselves to prove to the world that this country is not fit to invest in. If this is not anti-national, what is? The so-called fourth pillar is also part of this game, as is evident from the daily haranguing and exaggerations of events on various TV channels.

The achievements of each one of these self-serving politicians is well known. When they were in power in the past, they did nothing substantial to help the sections of the society whose names they keep chanting, such as farmers, Dalits, Other Backward Classes, minority and poor families. Compared to their record, prime minister Modi is far ahead and is consistently succeeding with a never-seen- before energy and vision.

It is time for the National Democratic Alliance to pull out all stops to fulfil the promise of holding accountable all political goons who have amassed wealth through crooked means. – Anil Nirodi

Caste colour

This was an unscrupulous and unwanted comment by The Indian Express (‘Unfair and insulting’: ‘Dalit outreach’ headline on Ilaiyaraaja’s Padma Vibhushan causes outrage”). Why give a caste colour to the achievement of a most deserving person? – Manavalan Ka

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This is ridiculous. Ilaiyaraaja personifies melody and nothing else. – Jash Sen

No-fail policy

The research finding that the no-detention policy in junior and middle schools does not have an adverse impact on learning levels is very interesting (“Criticism of no-fail policy in schools has little empirical evidence, says IIM study”). It will encourage retention of children in schools, but measures have to be taken to improve learning. Regular tests and report cards sent to parents are necessary so that required corrective action can be taken. – Sujata Madhok

City of bad dreams

Thank you for a very well researched and illustrated write up on Bengaluru, the city in which I have lived for more than 80 of my 93 years (“Charting Bengaluru’s descent into urban chaos through 14 neighbourhood maps”). I love that place, although it was once a serene and tranquil area that could be covered by foot has now become a nightmare. Cycling was a pleasure in those days and traffic accidents were rare. As for the climate, gone are the winter nights in which one needed one or even two woolen rugs! – Mysore Murthy

Strategic moves

Kudos to Anita Katyal for her thoroughly researched piece (“Congress may not declare CM candidates for Rajasthan, MP as its leaders jostle for top job”). Indeed Rajasthan offers a bright opportunity to the Congress party for a comeback, provided infighting among the top leaders does not spoil their chances. Going by public opinion, Ashok Gehlot is the best bet, but it is up to the Congress President Rahul Gandhi to devise a strategy to project him as the chief ministerial face while also keeping other senior leaders like CP Joshi, Jitendra Singh and Sachin Pilot in good humour.

There is a new twist to Rajasthan politics of late. The Rajput community, the BJP’s large and crucial votebank, are up in arms against the BJP . So, should the Congress offer them an olive branch, they’re very likely to take it. The Rajput community is also harbouring the ambition of seeing a man from their community as the chief minister of Rajasthan and this could perhaps be a way to defuse tension between the warring factions of Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. A Rajput Royal and Former Union Minister Jitendra Singh could be the ideal and consensus choice. – Manohar Lal Yadav

Old school

Thank you for this article that takes me down memory lane (“Grandma’s way: Indians are switching back to cast-iron and earthen cookware”). I am a North Indian, but I was very fortunate to have spent most of my childhood and youth in South India. And that is why, these traditional food utensils were definitely a part of the kitchens of many of my friends, and I used to spend several happy hours looking at their grandmothers or their cooks grinding the masalas on the flat stones. As I grew up, living a peripatetic life, traveling all over India, I was, well used to seeing these foods being cooked in traditional cooking potson open fires in villages and small towns.

Unfortunately, all these traditional cooking utensils, especially those used by my grandmother, were given away after her death to the local gurudwara. This was my father’s decision and naturally, his kids never forgave him for that! Especially because the 100-year-old utensils, which are now priceless, cannot be found anywhere today! Nevertheless, I am so grateful that India is coming back to its 7,000-year-old Ayurveda heritage and when I came to north India, I was so happy to see that clay utensils are still being used for cooking, and naturally, I got them from my local potters and seasoned them myself. I boil milk in a milk clay pot. I make yogurt in a dahi handi. I cook spinach, dal and meat in a dum handi. More power to you. – Dueep Jyot Singh

Early elections

The present regime could advance the general elections because of firming up of crude oil price and difficulty to rein in fiscal deficit. These two spikes in the economy can result in rapid inflation (“Is Narendra Modi planning to call for early Lok Sabha elections this year?”). So it would be better to hold elections early and reduce the impact of inflationary trend. Moral of the story: if you cannot make profit, reduce losses. Monsoon vagaries are another factor that may sway this decision. After two consecutive good monsoons, the coming year will likely see deficient rainfall, which would further impact the inflationary trend. There is simmering discontent in the masses be it farmers, MSME entrepreneurs, job seekers and the masses at large. Time is running out and the alliance partners will leave the National Democratic Alliance if it becomes a sinking ship, There is internal dissent within the BJP that could explode any minute. All this portends early elections. – Savita Padukone

Standing issue

It is no wonder that Scroll.in is trolled because at an earlier occasion, the publication has objected to compelling people to stand up for the national anthem (“Kanchi Mutt’s junior Sankaracharya faces backlash after video shows him sitting through Tamil anthem”). But that is not an excuse for the action of Vijayendra Saraswati. It is a common protocol to stand for the national or state anthem, unless the person is a dissenter. Had that been the case, Vijayendra should have found out whether the state anthem would be sung and if so, he should have avoided the function. Orthodox Hindus should avoid defending Vijayendra or making excuses for his action. – R Venkat

In remembrance

Tamils abroad are so sad that an exceptional figure committed to seeking social justice disappeared so early. I hope the seeds thrown by him will produce fruit in a great number of Tamil youth worldwide (“Remembering Gnani Sankaran (1954-2018): Playwright, journalist, and tireless fighter for justice”). – M Gobalakichenane

Aadhaar question

My 89 year old mother passed away on November 27 in a hospital in Mangalore (“The Daily Fix: Government must take its head out of the sand and acknowledge Aadhaar’s safety flaws”). When I approached the city corporation office for a certificate of her death, we were asked to fill a form that carried a note saying it should be accompanied by her Aadhaar number, which she did not have. She had tried thrice to get one made, but failed each time because of problems at the Aadhaar centre.

It took me a lot of time and effort to persuade corporation officials to accept her Voter’s ID and issue her death certificate. Was she not a lawful citizen of the country because she did not have an Aadhaar card?

I was working in a public sector bank for more than three decades. My salary was being paid through a savings bank account till my retirement in December 2009. I continue to maintain that account even now, but bank has threatened to freeze my account if I do not have an Aadhaar card. Do I lose my identity after 42 years?

I took a postpaid mobile connection from BSNL in 2006. All the formalities were met before taking the connection, including a certificate that I was employed in a public sector unit. BSNL now insists that I need to produce an Aadhar number, failing which my connection will be terminated. Is a 12-year dealing not sufficient to prove my identity?

After 89 years in the country as a law abiding citizen my mother lost her identity; after 38 years of service in a government undertaking I have no may lose my identity in the view of government departments. I must congratulate Nandan Nilekani and our elected representatives. – TR Bhat

Supreme crisis

The four dissenting judges have alleged wrong doing on the part of the Chief Justice of India without being specific (“Supreme Court: No breakthrough in sight as four dissident judges want problems acknowledged openly”). Why should the chief justice of India publicly acknowledge and engage in, what would undoubtedly be, a public slanging match? On what scale of measure should one rate the importance of one case from another? Just as the dissenting judges themselves agree that the chief justice of India is the Master of the Roster, the four have to acknowledge that there are 20 other judges who are also their equal. This brings us to a fundamental problem – who will judge the judges? – P Raghavendra

Mughal-era memories

This article enumerates the number of actors at play for the Mughal throne and the bloody battles that ensued (“The Ravi river has run dry in Lahore. But this monument stands as a reminder of its Mughal past”). The monument stands as a poignant memory to man’s desire to carve a niche for himself in history. Time waits for no one and the years roll by, with nary a thought for the giants who ruled then. The saddest aspect of all: the willful and deliberate choking of the Ravi, a river that once found mention in the literature of yore and which is now reduced to a trickle. One small nagging thing was the grammar. A bit of tight editing would’ve helped. – Rosen John

Haunting words

Bravo, Arup Chatterjee. You deserve a standing ovation for such a ghost-friendly article (“Haunted trains and railway stations have a long history in Bengal – and its literature”). It is a beautiful piece of writing. I have spent nights at all the places that you have mentioned here, and many more dak bungalows. I wish we had crossed paths when I was living in Kolkata and hunting for scary television shows. – Indranil Goswami

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