Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Syria-Ayodhya remarks have been taken out of context

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Sri Sri’s remarks

The Ayodhya issue is a serious national concern and has piqued emotions (“Ayodhya dispute: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar booked for ‘provocative’ remarks against Muslims”). In such a situation many things can happen leading to total chaos. This has been seen in the past too, when the Babri Masjid demolition and other inter-community issues, where there has been anarchy and loss of lives and property. No well-meaning Indian would like such things to happen. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a respected Indian, wants to solve a messy problem through an appeal. It is ridiculous to ridicule his intentions when it is clear to everybody that his efforts are for the good of our country. – Rajkishore Mahapatra


One must go through the whole interview of Sri Sri to understand what he actually said. He has been seeking a permanent solution to the Ayodhya conflict and what he has suggested will not only be a win-win situation for all but will also help achieve long-lasting peace between the communities. – Dharmesh Kumar


I would like to draw your attention towards what Sri Sri said in the interview. He said that the country may have a Syria-like situation if this issue is not resolved at the earliest, and if the Supreme Court gives a verdict in favour of any community, the other will feel bad. This may lead to a civil war in the country in the future and widen the rift between these two communities. If you have any doubts, please first review the video. You should have the courage to publish what is being said without adding masala to it. Please do that and gain people’s faith. You don’t have to join every Tom Dick and Harry who is here just to make money and provoke people. – Akash Soni


You have published a modified or manipulated report. Only half of Sri Sri’s statements find mention. A few statements from the whole interview may sound instigating but they do not reflect what he meant to say. Half knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge. – Ruchi Bhalla


When this matter is pending before the highest court and the parties concerned have not shown any interest in resolving the dispute through talks, the spiritual leader should not take have waded into the issue. He should avoid getting into any controversy by saying something that may be misunderstood. – Rajiv Mehta


It is really painful that entities like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar risk breaking the Indian society with such comments. He does not need such cheap publicity. I come nowhere near him in stature but his words were not in the interest of Indians. – Swapan Burman


Why can’t the majority community have a view? Is this a right given only to the minority? – SK Manjunath


Any one who has participated in the happiness course of the Art Of Living institute will opine that the two FIRs [First Information Reports] are intimidatory in nature or a political conspiracy to defame Sri Sri. Legal processes will of course deal with the issue, but I could not hold myself from sharing my view. Journalists are all out to spread views rather than news. Only god can save this country of extra intelligent people who do things at the cost of future of the country where their own children will face consequences of their deeds. – Shivajee Pandeya


The words used by an experienced leader like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are unfair and unacceptable. A religious person like him should keep away from such politics. We, the followers of Islam, believe in good relationships between the communities. We are the one who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our Hindu brothers to free this country from British rule. As far as the Ram Mandir and Babri Masjid issue is concerned, the case is in court. Let the law take its course. – Ashiqali Mohibali Nathani


Salahuddin Affan filed a complaint keeping in mind the possibility that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s statements could prompt some disturbance. He does this with a responsibility for his countrymen. In the same way, Ravi Shankar is doing his best to avoid any possible escalation of the Ram Janmabhoomi and Babri Masjid issue. It is the duty of a guru to come out and take steps in time to avert any possible mishap to society as a whole.

It is a guru’s dharma and all spiritual leaders of all communities must take proactive steps towards establishing good will. It is the basic duty of any leader in any field. If Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has sensed any possible danger even in the remotest future, then he must work for a peaceful way out. For that is what makes a leader. – Ankit Kumar

Statue wars

Now that Lenin’s statue has been removed in Tripura, there will be those crying about it (“Toppled statue in Tripura and a warning to Supreme Court from Sri Sri in Ayodhya: Is this Achhe Din?”). These folks will do well to read up on Lenin and his views on terror and violence. This is Gandhi’s country – supporters of violence and terror cannot be immortalised by statues here. – Vishnu Ranade

Periyar’s legacy

Vinita Govindarajan in “What explains the BJP’s animosity towards Periyar and his statues?” has been appropriately respectful towards the person Dravidian nationalists refer to as the Great Man. In the meantime, she has also exposed (inadvertently) the god-like devotion that he inspires in his fellow nationalists. However in a 1,000 word article on statues, the author did not find one opportunity to point out how Periyar’s followers used to celebrate the breaking of Ganesha idols. If encouragement to violate Periyar’s staute is considered as hate speech then it is dereliction of duty to [not] point out that hate only begets hate. – Sid Duttagupta


Although I am not too fond of Periyar’s philosophy that wore the garb of rationalism (and was aimed at Hindus alone while Christianity followed almost similar rituals clandestinely), I am appalled by the irresponsible comments advocating the removal of his statue. It is such a shame a well-educated and respected Hindu leader talks like Dravidian leaders or their henchmen. – Saikumar C Krishnamurthy


Periyar was hypocritical. He had no problem with the oppressive structures in other religions. His followers had broken statues of religious idols, thus hurting the entire Hindu community. – Kavya Vijay

Mohammad Shami row

Congratulations to Vinayakk Mohanarangan for writing an incredible article (“Stop the outrage: BCCI’s call to keep Mohammad Shami out of central contracts is correct”). It does everything from defending women’s rights to criticising the criticisers of the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India]. Most importantly, the article does not take any sides. Now, coming to the BCCI’s decision, I, as a responsible citizen of India, say that the BCCI’s decision was justified and a step in the right direction. The decision to leave Shami’s name out of the contracts for the time being not only makes the body neutral in this very public spat but also serves as warning to the public, that no matter how big you are, allegations of physical assault or torture will not be taken lightly. – Soham Roy


So now we have Vinayakk Mohanarangan shedding tears for Shami’s wife. Of course, this should not come as a surprise in today’s climate where any allegation is considered true unless proved otherwise. The BCCI of course must have taken their stance in order to deflect possible (rather, certain) criticism from women’s groups. Let us assume that the allegations are true and Mohammad Shami is convicted. Does that mean he should not play cricket for India? Why? And if there is no truth in the allegations, how is the damage to his reputation going to be repaired? If a wife files a complaint against her husband for harassment, should his employer suspend or dismiss him? To what length do we, as a society, want to take these things? – Ajey Hardeekar


Banning Shami over the charges by his wife is not correct as that can spoil his career. The BCCI should take any step only after a thorough investigation. I hope the action is reversed. – Sunny Sodhi


Shami is a celebrity so he has a moral obligation to prove his innocence. This is a wise decision by the BCCI as including Shami in the contracts would have suggested insensitivity towards domestic violence. – Vikas Mishra

Remembering Madhubala

Madhubala was a beautiful woman with natural grace (“‘The New York Times’ obituary of Madhubala notes her tragic life, compares her to Marilyn Monroe”). Her dancing was scintillating. Her image adorns many homes and even workplaces. When I asked a shopkeeper why he had only Madhubala’s photo on the wall, he answered, “There never was any like her”. – Anand Isher


As an artist Madhubala was far superior to others and more so as a beauty. In her personal life, she was unfairly denied love by a few. – Harihara

Small victory

Credit for these wins goes to Sachin Pilot for his hard work (“Rajasthan: Congress wins 20 out of 32 seats in local body elections, BJP just 11”). The only way forward for the Congress is to make dynamic leaders in charge of the campaigns in each state. Those leaders should be based full time in their assigned states and work with the same zeal as RSS [Rashtriya Swayamesvak Sangh] pracharaks, albeit promoting values of the Constitution instead of toxic and divisive messages. Frustrated and self-seeking old hands in the party should be told to fall in line or else sit at home – they care only about what they can get even at this stage of their lives and not about the greater good of the party! That is the tragedy of the Congress party. The dead weight and responsibility for campaigning and electioneering falls on Rahul Gandhi. – Rajan Sehgal

Education institute crisis

We have been agitating for a regular director for the last four years but despite assurances and promises, we have been granted nothing (“Arunachal Pradesh: Technology institute shuts down after protests over non-appointment of director”). Moreover, various politicians and leaders have been playing a political game with us. Many of our friends are sitting on hunger strike also, but still nothing has been done. I hope that through this platform, more and more people may learn of this. – Yagyaj Kakan

Scam season

The information mentioned in this article is all in public domain but the presentation makes the article very readable and informative (“From Karti Chidambaram to Economic Offenders Bill: Can BJP change the Nirav Modi scam narrative?”). There is now a scope for continuity and more research on many observations made. Karti Chidambaram’s arrest has many facets, which suggest that the investigation needed custodial interrogation. The time was also ripe to take him through the tiers of documentation created to separate himself from tainted companies. Also, it could have been elucidated why the Bills are not constitutional. – Shantonu Sen

Jayendra Saraswathi’s legacy

What kind of redefining are we talking from someone who got away with murder (“Jayendra Saraswathi redefined Kanchi Mutt’s role – but did not earn the stature of his predecessor”) Please spare a thought for Sankararaman and his family. The swami’s clout with the powers that be was so great that witnesses turned hostile and he was acquitted. No government had the courage to pursue a further appeal. He was staunch follower of Hindutva ideology as propagated by Sangh Parivar. I am dismayed at this article coming from TM Krishna, whom I thought to be above caste and religion. – Poornapragna


I do not quite agree that Maha Periyavar was not happy with Jayendra Saraswathi’s activities. Maha Periyavar himself was a great social reformer. To recount a famous incident, a section of Brahmins once requested Maha Periyavar to prevent a mosque from being built near the Kanchi Mutt, to which he responded, “Why, what happened? That also is a temple, right ?” – Krishnaprasad Somashiandan


Contentious headline

Smitha Nair’s headline appears motivated (“Video: The most controversial seer of the Kanchi mutt, Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi dies”). The world knows that he was falsely implicated and exonerated. Such unethical headlines should not be published. – R Subramanian


I am no fan or follower of the Kanchi Mutt or Jayendra Saraswati, but I found the heading of the video offensive and the coverage inadequate. Jayendra Saraswati headed a traditional orthodox Hindu mutt with a limited following. This mutt came into prominence in the 1950s because of its previous pontiff, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, who had a global following, with many foreign scholars and royalty among his devotees or admirers. His qualities were recognised and admired widely, and this led to enormous publicity. This became a source of irritation for other sectarian mutts in the state. But they could do nothing in his lifetime.Their opportunity came when Jayendra Saraswati took over.

He did some unusual things for the head of an orthodox mutt for which he earned the ire of many. The publicity surrounding the mutt and the missionary-like activities of Jayendra Saraswati prompted former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to foist a false murder case on him and arrest him. The charged political atmosphere can be gauged by the fact that the lawyers of the state, who are all affiliated to the two Dravidian parties, opposed the court granting him bail. The Supreme Court granted him bail, observing that there was no evidence against him in the papers submitted! It took 10 years for the final judgement acquitting him. Thus he did not create or enter into any controversy on his own. – R Nanjappa

Mother tongue

Punjabi is our ancestral, indigenous mother tongue, with its own script, that has come down from generations (“Punjab, the Urdu literary hub of Pakistan, is slowly waking up to its lost Punjabi identity”). Be proud of it. Don’t allow other languages to be promoted at its expense. Punjabi bolo, Punjabi suno, Punjabi likho, Punjabi socho speak, hear, write and think Punjabi. This language can unite people of all faiths in Punjab. – Harbir Singh Bhalla


This is a good and informative article. The writer described how languages that had no roots in Punjab have been imposed on Punjabis over the years. The tragedy is that Punjabis have till now been unable to free themselves of this stigma. This is true on both sides of the border. The ruling classes have no interest in nurturing this ancient language. People in general are more interested in promoting English nowadays. But some intellectuals are fighting to establish Punjabi as the official language in the region and they are getting support too. I hope these efforts will bear fruit. – Kanwaldip Kaur

English ways

The video on what the cosmopolitan youth thinks about English vis-a-vis Indian languages is an eye-opener (“Watch: Mumbai residents were asked what they think about English. Some answers were surprising”). It should have also included statistics on the percentage of India’s English-speaking population. Secondly, unless youth from smaller cities and towns are also represented such an analysis is incomplete. – Anup Sethi

Last page

I remember the good old days of the Strand Bookshop (“The Strand Book Stall is closing but it leaves behind thousands of readers connected by its books”). My mother loved it. She had thousands of books and said you could find any title there. In recent years, when I went to look for something, the man at the shop seemed not to know what they had, was uninterested in finding out and indifferent to whether I bought from him or somewhere else.

If you want to run a bookshop these days with online competition, you have to know your books and take an interest in your customers. I had stopped goin to Strand and went to Kitab Khana instead. There too the staff was not much more helpful, but they have a better selection of books and they look their titles up or order those that they don’t have if you persist. –Umi Sinha

Capital row

How can a General alone win the battle when all the soldiers are against the war (“Bureaucrats face far worse than the slapping incident in Delhi, says IAS officer Ashok Khemka”)? The system is so corrupt that it is like a huge old tree rooted so deeply that it cannot not be uprooted and has to be axed instead, which is not not possible. Only revolution can bring about a changes. Destiny will will play its own role. The law of nature will take its due course. – Govind


These IAS officers are subjected to heaps of insults daily, but they keep mum because many of them are feeding on bribes and progressing at the mercy of politicians. In case of the AAP, they are trying to subvert that regime because they perceive it as a major hurdle to the bribery and undue benefits they get. – Kamal Nigam

Exam warriors

What a waste of time it was to read both the author’s argument and his premise (“Laughter, rote-learning, dreaming: How Narendra Modi wants junior Janardans to prepare for exams”). It is neither sarcasm nor parody. It is just uninteresting verbiage. – Ravi Kotru

Reservation debate

The government’s decision to calculate reservations in teaching posts per department instead of across the university is a good step (“UGC’s new formula for reservation in teaching posts may affect SC/ST and OBC recruitment”). Because of the reservation system, in some cases the meritorious are denied good posts. How long can this continue? It has been in place for decades already though it is supposed to be a temporary step. The policy has affected the development of the nation. – Bhuvyanka Datta

Poor decision

After reading this rather lame article, I was horrified and disheartened (“Why an Indian girl chose to become an American woman”). Not by the title and definitely not by the debate of whether my country has let me down or not. Abuse of any kind is against human spirit and existence. I have immediate family and hordes of relatives and friends living as legal immigrants or citizens in other countries. By no means is anyone compelled to stay put in their homeland. It is a personal choice and the reasons for opting to live in a different country for the rest of their lives are varied.

But I was pretty troubled by the disparaging attitude of the author of this particular piece. The moorings of the said writer seemed escapist to me. The author even finds various and desperate ways to stay away from her homeland, hunts for ways to stay put in a land that has restrictions in place from having more of her kind move there. Yet when the author volunteers to serve the Army of the country she immigrated to, by which I feel she has grossly let down her country of origin, she is offered citizenship! Such a travesty. I also wonder why is there so much awe and celebration of such people when they actually are so relentless to escape the realities back home. I wonder how a publication like Scroll.in even put this up. – Shruthi

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