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Unemployment and underemployment are the largest issues faced by India’s unskilled and semi-skilled workers (“Three cities, 36 workers, the same story: Even daily jobs are now hard to find”). Demonetisation has ruined the unorganised sector of the economy and the poor and complex imlementation of GST has further magnified it. Thanks to rising India and its star Modi. – Brij Kishore Singh
North, Centre and South
Siddaramaiah and his other southern colleagues are presenting a twisted understanding of union tax benefits (“Full text: South India pays more taxes than it gets in return, says Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah”). Southern states are forgetting that for years, the Union government’s policies favoured the coastal states in the West and South for industrialisation, at the expense of the North and East. This bias created an imbalance in development between these regions. Also, the tendency of the southern states to view their relationship with the Centre from the narrow prism of tax is deeply flawed. Investment in territorial defence, foreign relations and other intangible benefits of being part of the Union are being ignored. This a very dangerous thought process. – Zeeshan Ali
I have been following the change in history in India and it is indeed shocking (“By rewriting history, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh are threatening the very identity of their people”). This article indicates that the problem is not confined to India alone. It becomes the duty of all non-partisan and independent historians to make efforts to conserve history in its pure form as much as we can. – Aijaz Siddiqui
The actions of the judiciary and the executive have been most insensitive to the needs of the poor (“Supreme Court’s Aadhaar deadline extension is a relief – but not for those who need it most”). India must never sink into a state where people may be tempted, by the insensitivity and inability of the government to protect individual freedoms, to snap the social contract that legitimises authority. The judiciary should not have done the bidding of the executive. – Rakesh Katarey
All this information that is coming out about Adhaar must be reproduced before the Supreme Court bench (“French researcher claims he found details of 20,000 Aadhaar cards in public domain in 3 hours”). In the future, the free availability of such sensitive data online can lead to a nightmarish situation. Poor people have no access to rations, senior citizens are not being able to get their biometrics verified – how long can this continue? At a time when prices of essential commodities are sky rocketing and unemployment levels are increasing rapidly, is this project a priority? – Subramanya Rama Rao
It is unclear whether the teachers cited in the report have more of a problem with the educational institutions they work at introducing “biometric attendance systems” and are using privacy concerns under Aadhaar as a bogey to hide their real fears (“‘We will be constantly tracked’: Why university teachers are uneasy about submitting Aadhaar numbers”). Biometric attendance systems that have no connection with Aadhaar are already operational at many organisations across India.
On the “surveillance” point made by some teachers, surely, they have not lost sight of the fact that with PAN numbers being linked to Aadhaar, the state, if it wishes to, can easily obtain an individual’s Aadhaar number at any point. – Sumali Moitra
The election result is an eye-opener for the BJP (“Video: What the loss of the Gorakhpur seat means for the BJP ahead of 2019 general elections”). The present government has neglected the interests of a big constituent of government employees, defence personnel, farmers and of course, the minorities. – George Meethal
Journalism and politics
I had been listening to Kumar Ketkar’s views on TV debates and could see his bias in his arguments (“The journalist as neta: Rajdeep Sardesai on Kumar Ketkar accepting a Rajya Sabha nomination”). His Rajya Sabha selection confirms his services towards his political masters. We hardly get to see any independent views from any journalist – all are either biased towards or against the Modi government. Not a single journalist can claim to be impartial. Many think independent journalism is speaking against the government. – Amit Banka
Long ago, I had cancelled my subscription to Loksatta after reading Kumar Ketkar’s editorials. Ketkar was never an independent journalist and his bias against RSS and BJP was never secret. His pen has brought him that Rajya Sabha seat. Today, nobody save Ketkar can pump life into the Congress party. – Madhav Joshi
I wonder why these actors, sportsmen, industrialists and the like are nominated to the Rajya Sabha. None of them did any service for public. Has any party ever nominated a common man to the Upper House? – Suri Babu
This is a hard-hitting article. I too respect Kumar Ketkar a lot, but now I am sceptical if he will be able to continue as a free-thinking fearless journalist as he used to be all these years. – Hemant Deshpande
This article really moved me and brought memories of my mother, who we lost a year ago, flooding back (“Why my grandfather has been writing the same phrase in Tamil over and over for the past 31 years”). I don’t remember what it was she wrote, but the company diaries were what she used too. However, I remember a time when she did write Rama’s name. This was when a Rama temple was being planned in New Delhi, in the early 1970s, and there was a call for people to donate these written sheets of Ramajayam, which would then be buried under the planned sanctum. Notebooks with small squares were distributed. My mother was a housewife, fairly young at the time, and I can remember her filling the pages at any free moment she had. – Sita Naik
I salute the Thatha for what he does. I had an aunt, Athhai, who did exactly this and she too answered the same way when I asked her why. – Ramana Rajgopaul
That is truly phenomenal and very inspirational! Such writing is an automatic process that is conducted by the divine energy within us. I had written several such journals over the years. Each page was covered with the name of the wondrous lord, Waheguru. These books were stored in large, thin cardboard box in a wooden cupboard that was kept in the prayer room of a mansion. A fierce fire broke out in the middle of the night on October 16, 2015. The entire house was burnt to the ground. Each piece of furniture was reduced to ashes. However the hand-written prayer journals remained unharmed even though the roof was completely destroyed and lots of water was poured to extinguish the fire. The holy scriptures and pictures of gurus were untouched. – Jagjeet Dang
Your eyes have a unique window through which you see Kolkata in a different way from an ordinary walker on the street (“Kolkata’s charming street life finds an inspired chronicler in a young illustrator”). The women in your sketches reflect this, through their larger-than-usual eyes that can see things that others don’t. I request you to always see right, not wrong. – Soumyendu
Rahul Gandhi in Singapore
I am no economist, but what is clear is that as with lawyers and doctors, when two of them meet, you get three decisions. The confrontation between Prasenjit K Basu and Rahul Gandhi, is one from the classical tradition of game theory, and both players are well matched (“Is it true India’s income growth beat the world average only when Nehru-Gandhis were not in power?”). While we may be privileged to be entertained by this debate, we have forgotten the millions of poor people who suffer because of the inequalities created by the neo-liberal policies of this government.
Is there any difference between the two parties or is it that the party that comes power proves that it can manage capitalism better? Whatever happened to the Constitutional status of India, that of a Socialist Republic? Should governments that propagate neo-liberal, anti-socialist policies, be asked to resign or be impeached?
The middle classes seem to be coerced into an economic system, which they contribute to through taxes, while the rich individuals and corporates pay no tax, and the poor receive a few crumbs from the table of the rich. – John Fernandes
I think Abhinanda Bhattacharyya’s opinion was worth publishing because it does underline a lot of things migrant Indians and specially migrant Indian women feel (“The Readers’ Editor writes: Was this story of a woman’s decision to leave India worth publishing?”).
I too am an Indian migrant. I first left India in 2010 to work for a few years in New York and then again in 2014, after marriage, when I moved to the UK. When Nirbhaya happened in late 2012, I was in New York. I was horrified about what happened to Nirbhaya but pleased to see the change it evoked as it awakened the conscience of the nation, seen seen in the form of protests, conversations and debates.
Over the years, I have never stopped thinking about that incident, even more so now that I am a mother of a little girl. I have to admit, what happened to Nirbhaya has become one of my worst nightmares. I did relate to a few things that Abhinanda said and I sympathise with her.
I come from a very modest background. Unlike the author, I have never really felt unsafe in my country before or after Nirbhaya and before or after having lived abroad. That’s because as a girl, I was always taught to do things to be safe: I used to wear modest clothes, hide my bosom appropriately, tie my hair in a tight braid. I used to keep to my books and was not very friendly with boys. Stepping alone out of the house after dark was out of question. I followed these rules all through my childhood and well into adulthood. It took me 25 years and a long flight journey to find out what it really means to be independent and free. Only after landing in the US did I learn that I could wear jeans or shorts and not be ogled at, or stay out much after sun down and not feel vulnerable. I can have relationships, drink, eat meat and no-one will judge me and it is okay even if they did because it is nobody’s business but mine.
Crimes against women are not exclusive to India. Women are oppressed, assaulted, discriminated against and treated unfairly all over the world. But in the US, UK or some other developed nations, people respect and fear the law. That is something I cannot say about India. If I something happens to me in the US, god forbid, I can immediately dial 911 and the police will come and hear me out, register a case, and drop me home. I will not be made to wait for hours in a dingy station or asked inappropriate questions, or plainly dismissed. There will not be victim-blaming.
And this is where I sympathise with this author. These were the acts and emotions of a 23-year-old running from place to place, trying to settle in a foreign country and probably feeling guilty about doing so. She decided she wasn’t safe in her own country anymore and did everything in her power to settle elsewhere and succeeded. It is not easy to settle in America as an Indian! So I give kudos to her for making it happen. In our country, the value of life is not much, particularly a woman’s. So I don’t blame her for feeling unsafe or critcising her country. – Surbhi Bhati Arya
The vile and repulsive footage of these elephants has gone viral around the world, prompting outrage (“Watch: Playing polo on elephants may seem exotic, but this video reveals the abuse behind the scenes”). It’s not just one handler – the films show several mahouts beating the elephants at different times, one 15 times on the head of one elephant. One elephant was left in a field of water for no apparent reason – one beaten as he tried to get a drink of water. These mahouts are cowards – unless they are imprisoned and taken out of society, Thailand will never get any respect from the rest of the world. – Jean Patmore
The topic that Deepa N chose is unique and worth giving a thought to (“Indian women have been taught to distrust one another. This is preventing real change”). It made me take out a few minutes and ponder over the relationship I share with many women in my life. My sincere, unbiased description of myself is that I let myself flow with the thoughts any woman shares with me. I see myself as an empathetic listener. I also feel that I have been getting an extremely positive response from them. In fact, I feel that they opened up about many aspects of their lives.
Maybe, as a female doctor, I offer them a different frame of mind. I am almost always in a ‘let me help you’ frame, because I love to help. I am also lucky to have different groups of women friends with whom I feel connected as there are no expectations in our friendship. – Divya Mithel
The disputed land belongs to Mizoram (“Tension along Assam-Mizoram border: Mizo journalists accuse Assam police of assault”). So we, the Mizo people, have the right to built a house. Assam people are trying to take the land by force. See how they attacked Mizo journalists even after they had showed their identity cards. As we all know, the coward person is the one who first picks up guns. Action should be taken against the Assam police. – Lallawmzuali Khawlhring
A friend, in his Instagram post titled “My Hills, My Home 3, wrote “The forefathers of the Mizo’s dare to stand up against all external forces who encroached their land.” He further highlight, in brief, the conversation between Lalburha, one of the Mizo chiefs, and a British army:
“Why did you shoot at us…. Nobody ever defeated us…” questioned the Britisher.“Why should we not shoot you, we are at war! Had we won, we shall chase you till London,” replied Chief Lalburha.
This was the spirit of the Mizo chiefs defending their land.
Mizo Zirlai Pawl took the initiative of constructing a shed at Zophai, the land that belongs to Pu Ch Chhunga, the first Chief Minister of Mizoram. Earlier, his wife had attempted to construct the same as the land legally and rightfully belongs to the family. It is said she had valid documents to prove her ownership. She even paid tax for the land to Mizoram government. As her attempt failed due to the dismantling of the shed by Assam police, she signed an agreement with Mizo Zirlai Pawl, giving the student body her approval of constructing a shed named “Zofate Chawlhbuk.”
The Mizo Zirlai Pawl had set out on March 7 this year towards Zophai, in the Kolasib District of Mizoram, with the sole aim of constructing “Zofate Chawlhbuk.” They were joined the next day by the president and other members of the student organisation. Upon hearing the news of Mizo Zirlai Pawl’s initiative, the Assam government deployed hundreds of armed police personnel to the site to deter the organisation. A scuffle broke out between the two. Assam police lathi-charged and fired at unarmed Mizo students. They even attacked Mizo journalists, a female reporter among them, despite the journalists showing their ID cards.
The Assam administration had on March 7 clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC with immediate effect. Such prohibitory order shall remain invalid as Zophai is beyond the jurisdiction of the district magistrate of Hailakandi District, Assam. No district magistrate is empowered to impose such order beyond their jurisdiction. Assam government, what is the logic of stopping a person or organisation from constructing a shed in a land that legally belongs to them? What is the logic of imposing section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in a region beyond your border? – Zawna Lalro
The name of the disputed area is Zophai, though most national media reported it as Zopui. The word Zo is related to Mizo people, not Assamese or Bengali, and hence the disputed area clearly belongs to Mizoram. Let your conscience decide whether it should favour the sons of the soil. – MNB Hmar
The incidents mentioned here offer broad insight into the difficulties faced by the author (“First-hand account: This is how farmers in India are cheated at every stage”). The saddest part is that if the author underwent all this despite being educated, god knows how the rest the illiterate among the farmers were fooled by the corrupt. The author should be complimented for penning down his experience in a book. I hope his words reach the corridors of power, where they can make a difference. – Ranjit Ravindran
The information in this article points prima facie to negligence of the medical hospital (“In a tea garden in Assam, 19 deaths in one month leave workers scared and confused”). Doctors saying that this was a natural death ridiculous. How can they assume that it’s natural death without proper investigation or a post mortem? Nineteen people dying suddenly cannot be natural.
It has been observed that doctors at government hospitals can be very careless regarding poor people. District hospitals are not equipped for medical emergencies. Serious patients have to be sent to Jorhat and Dibrugarh even when they need immediate medical attention and often die on the way. It’s a shame that the government has failed to provide a good multispeciality hospital in every district. – Adity Gogoi
I wonder of there is a final judgement yet or if this monster of a father will be back home soon and will torture his children again (“Rajasthan: Police arrest man for brutally beating his son and daughter in Rajsamand district”). Ever since I saw that video, I have not been able to sleep and have been crying a lot. I have a four-year-old son and it hurts so much to see such cruelty towards children. I cannot find any further information in the internet on this case and I am afraid that the world has already forgotten about it. When this father gets out of jail he will be very angry and it will be almost impossible for his kids to escape. Scroll.in should follow-up on this story and keep it in the news. – Anett Brinkmann