Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: Army chief has the right to talk about anything concerning national security

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Controversial comment

It is indeed the prerogative of the Army Chief to talk about the security of the nation (“Why Army chief Rawat’s comments about Assam party should worry all Indians who care about democracy”). After all, he is the most respectable figure, a man in uniform and commander of the armed forces. He has every right to highlight his apprehension about the illegal influx of Bangladeshis into Assam, which can change the demography of the state. But the statement on the regional party’s growth in Assam could have been avoided. Since this reflects a political view, leaders from both sides will make a mountain out of a molehill. The army will be dragged into controversy unnecessary. To my mind he is much higher than politics, let him enjoy the uniform with grace in this beautiful country. – Najib Khatee

***

What the Army Chief is true to some extent. There are lot of illegal Bangladeshis who have come to India in search of a livelihood. They are able to get voter IDs and BPL cards by paying a small amount. There are a lot of illegal immigrants in Assam and Meghalaya. If the government was really concerned about tackling this issue, they could have done a more thorough and regular document check, but they are being used vote bank politics. The Assam government’s initiative of the National Register of Citizens is a great step. – Marak Styles

Strange bedfellows

It is too early to judge how far Jignesh Mevani will go (“Red vs blue: Why Jignesh Mevani’s politics has spawned disquiet among Dalits”). He may be the rising star in Indian politics, particularly in Dalit politics. There is potential in him. But it is too early to say much, it’s better to wait a couple of years.

Regarding the collaboration between Dalits and Leftists, I am not in favour of it. Leftists, after the failure of Soviet Union and the rise of China as a pragmatic nation, have become more of a bourgeois party. They may talk about neo-liberalism and class war, but their influence has reduced considerably, because the workers themselves are from the bourgeois.

Secondly, collaborating with religious minority parties will also dilute the Dalit cause, which is specific to Hinduism alone. It has not much in common with the problems of other minorities. Dalits should form a cohesive party, which is partly social and partly political. Only for electoral purposes there can be loose collaboration with like-minded non-Dalit political parties (but definitely not those with a corrupt leadership). – R Venkat

***

Dr Ambedkar had asserted that only after annihilation of caste would the revolution succeed. Caste can’t be discussed without critical analysis of religion as an institution. Caste has been legitimised by Dharmashastras, which are sacrosanct to Vedic Hinduism. There is no doubt that the caste is notional as well as material. Distribution of wealth is primarily based on caste hierarchy, leaving majority of those belonging to the scheduled castes landless. This has to be seen from cultural angle. If one has to denounce caste, one has to denounce religion too. I think our comrade friends need to take clear stance on this issue. It is also necessary to make clear the stance on Marxist cultural agenda.

There is no doubt that Marx talks about unity of oppressed. The Dalits are natural allies of all revolutionary forces. But when they are determined about the annihilation of caste, then this agenda must not be overlooked. – Vijay Maknikar

***

There is no Red versus Blue, it is Red and Blue versus Saffron. There could be differenent perceptions in the Left and Dalit movements on socio-economic and political questions, but they are not irreconcilable, unlike the case with Saffron politics. The Left has never been anti-Dalit.

Politics is not a social movement, it about capturing power, which in turn crucial to the economic development of ones constituency and to strengthen and promote social movements.

A Dalit in the Saffron side gets limited chances to out his political power use to effect social change. Today, the only way to wrest power from the Saffron parties is through a strong alliance between Dalits, Muslims, other minorities, the working class and the Left. – KS Parthasarathy

***

The fact that a young leader is emerging through divisive politics disappoints me. Do we still need identity politics? Has this kind of politics made the impact which we needed over the last 70 years? I’m no expert on this, but to my mind, the life of the common man started to improve with the improvement in economy, which in turn happened when the private sector was given freedom.

The private sector in general does not discriminate, it just wants the best person to do their job. Hence, it encourages us to improve, rather than hide behind a birth certificate. And that in my experience so far has actually helped bridge that social gap.

Where I work, most of the people don’t care what the surname of our colleague is. All we care is what responsibility the person has and if he is fulfilling it, because we trust that person was chosen for what he can do and not what group he belonged to by birth. People can quote the historical social gap and competitive disadvantage certain groups had because of that. But has reverse discrimination helped bridge that gap in last 70 years? If not, then do we need it, and if yes, then do we still need it? All it is doing is sowing discontent and keeping the society divided.

I don’t want to see a future leader to be selected on grounds that he can get a few people some extra seats in some jobs. I don’t want our leaders to encourage people to not give their best performance. I want our leaders to be able to handle public works without corruption, to have good plans for infrastructure development, to voice legislation for easing the burden on common mass. If we stop putting labels on people and separating them from others, in two generations, people will forget discrimination like a bad dream it was. – Vikash K Thakur

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