Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: The government must place details of the Rafale deal in the open

A selection of readers’ opinions.

India-France aircraft deal

Doesn’t this government know that any agreement shrouded in secrecy or that which prevents the details of the deal from being placed in Parliament is fishy and against the principles of transparency, which this government thinks it stands to uphold (“Watch Sitharaman in 2017 saying difference between Congress and BJP on Rafale is ‘transparency’”)? Stop the loose talk and place the entire agreement before Parliament or accept that there is no difference between you and the Manmohan Singh government. – PD Amarnath

***

The government must not sign a deal where key terms would have to be kept hidden from the country. This is not a $1-million deal. I think the government should seek and get the approval of the supplier to disclose key terms in all such deals. Else, the government should at least get the Public Accounts Committee to examine such past deals on priority basis and get all-clear certificates from it. – Siddhartha Roy

***

As there are serious allegations of a scam by Rahul Gandhi and his party, the government must show the details of the deal to select, responsible leaders of the Congress. After all, they were in power earlier and may be in future also. – Gopalarathnam Radhakrishnan

***

All said and done, even if the deal price has gone up by 200%, it’s a needle in a haystack in comparision to the previous government. They have robbed the nation for the last 60 years. – Jagannatha Hosadurgm

***

The BJP has very conveniently changed its narrative from the time it was in the Opposition, and even after it came to power. For Modi and his ministers, everything they say is a jumla. – Nawaz Ahmed

Ramdev and cancer conference

Science is open to examining all kinds of views and ideas, and some of these could be revolutionary (“US research facility backs out of IIT-Madras event on cancer after Ramdev is named chief guest”). Why not listen to new ideas? If one listens to Elon Musk’s ideas, they may appear outlandish and not feasible at the current level of technology, but he is brilliant in conceptualisation and thinking out of the box. Similarly, Ramdev would have shared his experience on how yoga has helped cancer patients to a degree and its area of benefits, including case studies over a period of time. Take into consideration the mental condition of terminally ill cancer patients, the agony and the desperation they face. The best of science and technology have been unable to help them. Then why stop another line of thinking from giving an alternative answer? – Rajkishore Mahapatra

***

Research on cancer reveals that there are more people – mainly cancer researchers – living off cancer than dying of it. These researchers are afraid Ramdev will expose them by speaking the truth. That is why they have run away rather than face Ramdev. These cancer research scamsters do not want to find a cure because there is more money in continuing with this research perpetually. If they find and declare a cure, then who would fund their research? – Vimal Sehgal

***

Accummulated sins could be percieved as accummulated toxicity within the body over generations, genetically. And yes, if chemotherapy and radiation is not done or given, cancer can be contained in the short term and reversed in the long term by yoga and correct herbs. Ramdev is right in this perspective. The problem with the likes of MD Anderson is that they want to say health issues are very complex so that complex solutions can be suggested. This would add to the personal and sectoral growth of their economies. – Vaidyaraj Anil Dogra

***

It is really unfortunate to see such melodrama over social cause-based events. Cancer is now being dealt with high quality research universally. We should all foster care and efforts to ensure we get cancer sorted out completely. – Arun V

***

Your article headline is quite misleading and makes it seem like Ramdev being named chief guest was the reason the MD Anderson Cancer Centre backed out. It seems to me the two events have no correlation whatsoever but have been deliberately misrepresented by you to make it seem like one is the cause for the other. This isn’t a one-off and I have observed a number of times you have twisted news articles to misrepresent facts and lead people to incorrect conclusions. These are condemnable journalistic practices. – Anant Nayak

Modi on Congress rule

Mr Prime Minister, the whole nation knows what the Congress did or did not do when they were in power (“Congress wants the India of Bofors and chopper scams, says Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha”). That is why the nation has elected you and your party, hoping that you will walk the talk. Unfortunately, you keep talking of the past and wasting the five years given to you. Please tell me what you have done and what you are planning to do? What happened to Swachh Bharat, Make in India, Skill India, and the black money unearthed from the demonetisation fiasco? Demonetisation killed the MSME sector, ruined many farmers’ lives and the country paid a heavy price for it. Who is accountable for these misadventures?

The people don’t find any long-term strategy or plan rolled out by your government in these last four years. Everything is an adhoc measure keeping in mind electoral gains in states where elections are held.

The country has paid a heavy price for the misdeeds of the Congress by electing you to power on a no-choice basis. This is unfortunate. – Parthasarathi BNV

Modi on Kashmir

India’s downfall started much before Independence (“If Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the first PM, all of Kashmir would have been ours: Modi in Lok Sabha”). It was extremely difficult to lift the country from poverty, superstition, filth and lack of basic infrastructure, and the distressing situation in education. One cannot denigrate the efforts made by political leaders and say some other prime minister would have done a better job. Nehru was highly educated, erudite and polite and he was calm and collected in difficult situations. No doubt, he came from a sophisticated family. He contributed to the development of science and technology and to several urban development projects, hospitals, IITs, IIMs, space research programmes. He encouraged many a young scientist to come up in life.

One cannot always blame the Congress for all present failures. Overpopulation, underproduction, corruption at the grassroots level, women’s education, their protection from unscrupulous elements of society are some of the major issues facing Indian society, along with lack of employment, inefficient facilities and negligence in hospitals. I feel that we should forget about the past and strive towards a better future and that our political parties should cooperate with each other. – Geetha

***

Yes Prime Minister Modi. And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Get over it. Ask the Kashmiris what they want. – Daryl Wayne Atamanyk

Aadhaar and privacy

Aadhar is nothing but data (“Aadhaar hearing: A law cannot be declared unconstitutional because of fear of misuse, says SC”). Data is precious. What the government will do with this data is unknown. If there is a leak of data, what will be the punishment? Why does the government want my data?

By the way, how many sitting MPs and MLAs have Aadhaar numbers? The government ought to come out with this data. Do all the judges have Aadhaar numbers or are they exempt from this? My privacy and my right to live a normal, peaceful life without an eye on me, watching my every step, should not be compromised with whatsoever.

Aadhaar will be a tool for blackmail and highhandedness resulting in harassment and corruption. Why Aadhaar? – Connie

***

Being an Indian citizen and a free man, do I have a right to live in India without Aadhaar enrolment? Or has the government of India and the Supreme Court decided to make every Indian citizen a slave to this system? – Gurupreet Singh Gogia

India’s public intellectuals

There are serious omissions in Dhruva Jaishankar’s piece on India’s five most important public intellectuals (“India’s 5 most important public intellectuals – and what this list says about our national discourse”). I want to point out two big misses: “social science nomad” Shiv Visvanathan and historian Sunil Khilnani.

No public intellectual in India is as prolific as Visvanathan has been in recent years. Sometimes he write five articles in a week. But spontaneous writing does not mean he is a prodigal or shallow. He contextualises everything that is going on in the theatre of public life. He is authentic, often defies both Right and Left. His writing is fresh and fluid. Be it the rise of Modi or the fall of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Shiv Visvanathan has something unique to offer.

And I strongly believe that Sunil Khilnani’s The Idea of India is a classic and will remain so in the years to come. It is not a magnum opus, but a masterpiece. In analytical acumen, it is better than India after Gandhi.

Nowadays it has become fashionable for editors and list-takers to squeeze in some Right-wing, pro-Sangh individuals who have no relevance other than their political loyalty. So, Outlook puts Ramachandra Guha’s patriotism essay on its cover and balances it with Sangh writers like R Balashankar and Saji Narayanan. Same is the case with Ashok Malik. His ideas have no uniqueness. No one knows him outside Delhi and Mumbai. Favouritism is a sin. A deadly sin in writing. – Bijeesh Balakrishnan

***

It is an interesting exercise this, trying to build this sort of list. There is even an element of self-criticism in the piece – the absence of minorities, women or people writing in regional languages from the list is something the writer has consciously mentioned. But that self-criticism does not factor in caste… Given that the Padmaavat issue is very much alive, the writer is sure to have noticed that caste matters in India. Yet, there is no mention of caste in the self-criticism. Even more damning, no Kancha Ilaiah or Anand Teltumbde figures in the list. A serious gap in thinking that calls into question the construction of the list itself. – Karthik Venkatesh

In praise of Rahul Dravid

The more that can be said about this guy, the less it is (“‘Mr Dravid, it’s not possible for us to respect you any more than we already do’: Social media wrap”)! My salute to a “misfit” in today’s world! – PK Sinha

***

Rahul Dravid is one of a rare breed of people who think of the good of others before himself – be it for the uplift of cricket or refusing an honorary degree. India could do with more people like him who together can take the country to greater heights. – Rajesh Gupta

Odisha rape and suicide

Why have these jawans not been arrested and charged for their crime against this Dalit child (“Odisha rape victim suicide: How the police and state government failed a 14-year-old schoolgirl”)? The Odisha government and the law enforcers have proved useless and trying to buy this little girl’s honour for Rs 90,000 is shameful and disgusting. Where are the activists and the federal government who should be working to bring an end to such crimes. Scroll.in, please do not give up on this sad story and expose the culprits and the Odisha politicians and law enforcers. God help the poor, the family and all such victims. What about human rights? This little angel is at peace in heaven. India cannot be so unjust. – Ahamed

Who will be PM in 2019?

So, the Congress recognises – or is willing to talk about – the possibility of the BJP forming the government at the Centre in 2019 (“Congress believes Modi won’t stay on as prime minister even if BJP retains power in 2019. Here’s why”)! Where do they move on from here? – BS

Happiness curriculum

Children are by nature happy, and it is adults who take away this happiness by pressuring them to write and learn when they are supposed to be playing and enjoying themselves (“Starting April, Delhi government schools will teach children how to be happy”).We introduce curriculum that takes children away from their natural curiosity and their own environment, and makes them machines that vomit what is taught. Now we introduce a curriculum on happiness after removing that happiness from their lives in the name of education. What a pity that we do not realise the actual problem that must be tackled in the field of education. – Annie Jacob

UP exam absentees

Well done, Adityanath (“Over 1.8 lakh students absent on the first day of the Uttar Pradesh board examinations”). Continue your tirade against the copying menace. Let the students who do not appear for the exams suffer. The final result of such measures will be encouraging. – Shashi Bhushan

Back to nature

A very informative and educative article (“An ancient rainforest in Kerala teaches us what we’re losing out on in our lonely cities of concrete”). I am very happy to know that there are people in India who work for the benefit of humanity. In this manner, we need to educate and make our younger generation take an interest in nature. My suggestion to the author is to start a membership campaign and allow interested people to visit the rainforest, just like people visit wildlife sanctuaries. – Saadathunnisa Imaduddin

Indian World War pilots

In your article, you have mistakenly mentioned that Indian World War II pilots were the first to score air-to-air victories (“Setting the record straight: Who was the first Indian pilot to shoot down an enemy plane in WWII?”). However, in World War I, there were four Indian pilots, one of whom was an ace with 11 air-to-air victories. His name was Indra Lal Roy. I hope you would take note of the same. – Pulkit Sharma

Ilaiyaraaja album

I am a little puzzled by the headline “This album shows that Ilaiyaraaja has never walked the straight and narrow path in his career” (“This album shows that Ilaiyaraaja has never walked the straight and narrow path in his career”). Isn’t straight and narrow supposed to mean honest and upright? The headline seems to suggest Ilaiyaraaja used dishonest or unscrupulous means to be successful in his career. I am pretty sure that is not what the story means to convey. – Aditi Krishnan

‘Padmaavat’ review

I have great regard for Haroon Khalid’s clear-eyed views and writing (“View from Pakistan: ‘Padmaavat’ puts together every stereotype of Muslims in India”). I have seen this movie and I am very clear that the craven nastiness being depicted is directed to Khilji’s character and not to Muslims in general. I think in this specific instance Mr Khalid is wearing his sensitivity on his sleeve. – Ragvinder Rekhi

Owaisi’s recommendation

India is an independent country that strongly believes in democracy through Parliament (“Make calling Indian Muslims ‘Pakistanis’ punishable, says MP Asaduddin Owaisi”). Unfortunately, we all (be it Hindu, Muslim, Christian or any other religion) vote our caste rather than cast our vote. And this is not our country’s fault, it is ours. We forget that we are Indians first, then Hindu or Brahmin. I support this Bill and I would also like to appeal for the removal of the religion/caste column in all government-related documentation. – Prasad Inamdar

Syrian Christian recipe book

Thank you editors of Scroll.in and Anisha Rachel Oommen for this article (“This recipe book is still a Bible for Syrian Christian cooks, 44 years after it was first published”). I am not a Syrian Christian but am married to one and I love their cooking. I wish to buy this book but it is not available in any online store. I would be grateful if you could tell me where I can get it. I know family members who have the Malayalam version but again, I am handicapped in not knowing the language. – Nuzhath Joeman Thomas

Delhi sealing drive

Just for votes and bribes, the authorities are playing with the health of people (“Delhi sealing drive: SC criticises civic bodies, says authorities are waiting for disaster to happen”). Law-abiding people are suffering. I live in Janakpuri near the main road on a residential plot allotted by the DDA. I can barely sleep because there are eight to 10 banquet halls nearby that cause a great deal of air, water and noise pollution. The people running these banquet halls pay bribes to the authorities. Delhi has become a gas chamber. Let us hope for justice from the apex court. – TR Gandhi

Indo-Anglians

A very well-written, thoughtful article reflecting the emerging demographics in the country (“Indo-Anglians: The newest and fastest-growing caste in India”). It resonates with my thoughts and observations on Indian society. I am happy to say that organisations like Whitefield Rising have taken huge steps to ensure that the “Indo-Anglians” do vote.

Kudos to Sajit Pai for putting on paper that which was just a nebulous thought in many citizens and residents of India. – Sakhina M Sridharan

Exam warriors

The content of the article really leaves me baffled (“Nation of mugoos: Modi’s book for students isn’t about gaining knowledge – it’s about cracking exams”). Do we as a nation have the compulsion to criticise everything that has the name Modi attached to it? Anyone even remotely attached to the education system will vouch for the fact that the month or fornight before the exam is not meant for merely gaining knowledge but for exam-oriented studies where we need to solve past papers in a time-bound manner, appear for mock tests and try to gauge the paper patterns. Studying for the joy of learning and for the sake of knowledge should happen for the initial 11 months of the academic session. After all, a student cannot forget the importance of scoring well in the board exams because his admission to the next course depends on this score. That is the bitter truth and Modi has surely not got anything to do with this system. Sound knowledge will surely bring in a good score but exam-oriented studies are of utmost necessity in the last 15 days to 20 days before the exam.

And as far as the reference to Nehru’s letters to a daughter is concerned, yes it is articulate and a good read, which speaks volumes of his command over the English language and his vision. But I sincerely believe that instead of doing everything that promotes the man himself and his family, and trying to show off is aura, India would have been better placed had it not been for Nehru sowing the seeds of dynastic rule in India. It is a shame that even the most suitable and most eligible Congress leader cannot become the party’s leader. The only criterion required for this post is the surname Gandhi, irrespective of his/her eligibility. A mockery of democracy. – Mitra Som Saha

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Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.