Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘On foreign policy, Modi has delivered and remained not-out’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

India-China ties

This is a pure negative essay on Modi’s foreign policy (“On foreign policy front, Modi is like a stylish batsman who consistently fails to deliver big scores”). Girish Shahane whines about many things like the string of pearls strategy, the Air Force’s weak fire power. But he makes a fool out of himself by not mentioning the resolution of the Doklam crisis and how India pressured China on exports. Also, the headline talks about foreign policy but the article focuses only on China. During the Qatar crisis, India’s flights were allowed in UAE’s airspace. Recently, India started sending flights to Israel through Saudi Arabia’s airspace. The article just mentioned the recent Scandinavian and England tours as if the prime minister spent the common man’s money to travel to these places. Why is the author silent on the Indo-UK trade partnership agreements and the FDI agreements? The article just wants to make the Indian citizens feel that China is still the fire-spitting dragon that could eat us anytime. But it hides the reality that India has grown from an Asian elephant to a mammoth that is well aware about its strength and has a Schwarzenegger-like mahout, whereas China is just a dragon fly.

Recently, India put pressure on Nepal and said we wouldn’t buy electricity from the dam that China builds there. India is soft when dealing with soft issues and is very hard when dealing with tough situations. – Krishna Kumar

***

In this article, the author writes: “It might be time to accept the man’s technique is fatally flawed, and drop him from the national team.” If so, then unfortunately, each politician from India has to be dropped from the national team. Tell me, who is a better leader in India today? – M Jayaraman

***

As you mentioned, Modi is like a stylish batsman of whom much is expected but who consistently fails to deliver big scores. Four years on, he’s put far too few runs on the board while Xi’s been on a century-making spree. That’s because Xi doesn’t have a foolish Opposition and biased media like you. – Naresh M Salde

***

What has the Nehru family done but mess up centuries of friendship with China, documented through the ages? Jawaharlal Nehru destroyed it as did Indira Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi did better, but too much damage had already been done. Nehru allowed Pakistan to be the epicentre of global terror, he did not allow others in his government to work. – PK Goteti

***

He is delivering something and remained not out, whereas others have returned to the pavilion with a big zero. – Rameshkumar Rout

***

By demeaning Modi, you are demeaning and discrediting yourself. People are observing your prejudices. – Manish Bhatnagar

***

A player’s success in a regional team does not automatically mean that he will repeat the feat on the national team as well. It is a totally different ball game. In the national team, he would not even be qualified as a 12th man. His batting skills have been exposed against super-fast world-class bowlers. – Fazal Ahmed

***

The author is right, to an extent. The prime minister’s foreign policy lacks vision and the Rafale deal is problematic. But the prime minister is better than his predecessor. Yes, Manmohan Singh may have struck the Indo-US nuclear, deal but that was when times were different and China wasn’t as powerful as it is now. Singh’s deal came at the cost of our relations with Russia, the impact of which continues. Modi took power at a time of great change. he is doing the best and doing what no one in the past was able to do. The prime minister is, as you said, a flashy batsman who has scored very less, but we can’t compare him with Xi Jinping. Modi is doing the best he can and as citizens of this country, we should support his mission of peace with our neighbour. – Shivaraj

***

This article falls in the Modi-bashing zone. The author hasn’t shown how India’s ties with West Asia and other countries have been since the BJP came into power. Yes, China is miles ahead of us but we are its biggest market. So if we don’t support Make in India domestically, we shouldn’t talk about the foreign policy front. There were similar number of cease fire violations in Manmohan Singh’s government too. Also, the economic slowdown is not only Modi’s fault but is also a consequence of the policies of the previous government. – Ravi Devarakonda

Seeking justice

I am very surprised to know that Dr Khan was imprisoned for attempted murder (“Gorakhpur hospital tragedy: Allahabad HC grants bail to doctor, says chargesheet already filed”). He should be released immediately and honoured by the government and other organisations. Nowadays the media is playing an irresponsible role and are functioning like agents of political parties. We have to raise our voices against such actions of the police, government or judiciary. Honest people are a rare species nowadays in India and after such incidents, may become even fewer in number. – Pradeep K Chauhan

Frosty ties

The Pakistani scientist’s article on Nehru is utter nonsense (“As Modi undermines Nehru, India is becoming Pakistan’s mirror image”). First, Nehru and Gandhi were instrumental in creating Pakistan. That was the only way to make Nehru the first prime minister of India. Second, Pakistanis are mortally afraid of Modi, who exposed Pakistan in front of the international community as the prime exporter of terror. Shame on Scroll.in for shady journalism and for Nehru who did incalculable damage to India through numerous blunders, including the Kashmir issue, silence on Tibet and the 1962 Sino-Indian debacle. – Sat Sharma

Internet Mahabharata

The country is spending the limited resources allocated to science on myth-making and discourses on ancient India’s contributions to modern science (“Tripura CM’s claims about internet in Mahabharat era inspires hilarious memes on ancient Indian tech”). Nobel Prize winner Venkataraman Ramakrishnan was correct when he said that in India, science, politics and mythology get mixed. For all the flaws attributed to the late Prime Minister Nehru, he truly believed that science was the key if India was to progress. China is the second-largest spender on scientific research after the US. Regrettably, in our country, we have leaders denying established and proven scientific theories. It will not surprise anyone if we join a Flat Earth society, cut our space and satellite programmes or question gravity, vaccination or the moon landing. The onslaught on scientific knowledge by the political class of our country is a matter of grave concern. Is India on this trajectory to utilise science and technology or are we on a different track of myths and unproven claims? – HN Ramakrishna

Social evils

I commend the reverend bishop for boldly addressing the elephant in the room (“Is the caste system deep-rooted among Christians in India? A Kerala bishop stirs up a hornet’s nest”). It takes a lot of courage to point out flaws in a system that has been traditionally passed down over the centuries. It is shameful to know that the caste system or something equivalent to it prevails in South Indian churches. As per basic Biblical doctrine, which every Christian should be aware of, each Christian is equal.

It is equally disgusting and depressing to note the prevalence of the hideous caste structure in Christian communities that should, as per Christian teachings, be free of it. Hope your article will be the catalyst responsible for causing the community to introspect where we went wrong, and what measures will we take to correct this grave mistake. – Justin Ebby

***

It’s true that we have caste system among the Christians in Kerala. The people from Kerala are at higher position and converted Adivasis from other states are in lower posts. The converted Dalits also work with Christian missionaries and their schools as peons, drivers, security guards or domestic helps and cooks. – Amit Kumar Bose

***

Being a Syrian Christian, l can say that the Bishop’s statement is true. Many in the community are racist and hypocritical. Their faith is superfluous, they are bombastic and pretentious and their gentle demeanour very successfully masks their greedy souls. Above all, they lack an intellect and thrive on emotionalism. They talk about St Thomas’ legacy to show-off and not because of their love or regard for the apostle. – Kuriakose Chembumukku

***

This report is well written and offers an in-depth analysis of what’s brewing within Christian communities in South India. However, I fail to understand how a Hindu Dalit is still referred to as Dalit even after they are converted to a religion that does not have a caste system. Is it because the politicians want this discrimination for their own gains, or do Dalits want to retain their caste status to access affirmative action? I don’t mean to discriminate, but why isn’t a Dalit able to find salvation in the religion they choose, whether it’s Buddhism, Christianity or any other? No one seems to have a permanent solution to this and Ambedkar’s ideology has been conveniently ignored. – CR Shetty

Wrong move

Amazon has done a cowardly thing by giving in to those who protested against Swara Bhasker (“Amazon India deletes actor Swara Bhasker’s tweet endorsing the company after Twitter outrage”). It’s a pity that the company has such low moral standards. I would boycott Amazon for not standing up for what is right. – Beulah Caleb

India-Israel ties

This article misleads readers (“Indian delegation allegedly not allowed into Palestinian territory by Israel, writes to PM Modi”). There is a conflict between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel. In this conflict, dozens of Palestinians who tried to cross the border into Israel were killed. The Indian delegation could easily reach Gaza via the Egyptian border. Israel does not control this border. For some reason, the delegation decided to enter the Palestinian Authority, which is in open defence cooperation with Israel, and also has no border with Gaza. For those who do not remember, the Human Rights Watch rightly accused Hamas of throwing Palestinian Authority members off high-rise apartment buildings. That is how Hamas seized power in Gaza a decade ago. Palestinian Authority never forgave them for this.

It is very difficult to blame the Israeli government for thinking that reaching the Palestinian Authority was a provocation.
To put it mildly, I am also not sure that the Indian prime minister identifies more with the Indian delegation than with the Israeli concern. He might have acted in the same way if an Israeli delegation would have acted in sensitive areas in India, in the way the Indian delegation behaved in the border between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. – Meera Mor

Sporting spirit

I fully agree with Anil Swarup’s objections to the inclusion of this game, introduced by our colonial masters as a pastime, in school history books (“Interview: ‘Cricket has a place in textbooks because history is not only about the past’”). Now, thanks to the market economy, the sport holds sway not only in urban but also in in rural India. If we wish to make our curriculum attractive to kids, it may be advisable to introduce chapters on hockey, kabaddi and other sports in which we excelled earlier. – Salman Sultan

History politics

The article is as biased as it is presumptive (“India’s fundamentalist government is rewriting history (but it has a millions-of-years-old problem)”). Please support the claims with evidence from even one history textbook. What is being taught today is so very apologetic about our past and does not reflect the truth of the colonial plunder. If this is not based on biased ideology, then what is? I just hope the author reflected upon the bias in the prevailing text books with equal enthusiasm and stopped fear-mongering over what is yet to come. – Amit Agarwal

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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:

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