Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘Sad that a firm can adopt Red Fort for just double the cost of IPL players’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Heritage adoption

It clearly is a sign of the times that a five-year heritage “adoption” arrangement, at Rs 25 crore, is worth just double the amount that Rajasthan Royals, one of the franchisees of the cash-rich Indian Premier League, shelled out for Indian left-arm medium-fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat at the 2018 IPL auction (“Mughal branding in Hindutva India: Why does a private company want to adopt the Red Fort?”).

Going by the Red Fort precedent, it would seem that for corporate groups, there is more “value for money” marketing in adopting iconic heritage properties. What is even more surprising about the Red Fort deal is the fact that the contract was handed over to Dalmia Bharat without any financial bid – only a “vision bid” – going by the press release issued by the Ministry of Tourism.

The private sector’s involvement with preservation of famed historical facilities is quite common worldwide (notably in the United Kingdom, for example, where Merlin Entertainments does a fine job of maintaining the medieval Warwick Castle). However, inviting financial bids from all those who expressed an interest in adopting the Red Fort under the Adopt a Heritage initiative may have fetched more money than the Rs 25 crore that Dalmia Bharat has committed to the project.

The government should issue a clarification on why no financial bids were invited from companies that expressed an interest in adopting the Red Fort as that could have resulted in greater money being allocated to this initiative by the private sector. – Sumali Moitra

***

Whenever someone comes out with an out-of-the-box idea, we immediately pounce on it and declare it to be horrible (“Dalmia-Red Fort debate: These are the questions we really should be asking about the deal”). This Adopt a Heritage scheme is a good one. Let us wait for at least a year or so before we a verdict. Give the scheme a fair chance. – Padmanabha Acharya

India today

This article is just a play on words aimed only at spreading malice against someone who’s honestly and selflessly trying hard to do something good for our nation (“Traditional India meets Aspirational India: The unintended consequences of an unholy alliance”). I don’t know why so many so-called thinkers continuously criticise Modi, who’s doing something so unique for India. Give him adequate time, at least 10 years, for us to see the change. – Amita Joshi

Capital culture

To begin with, your title is highly exaggerated and insulting to the rich cultural heritage of Delhi that existed before VC Maudgalya arrived (“Delhi was a cultural wasteland before this man took classical music to its middle classes”). I have no doubts about the contribution of Maudgalya, but the city didn’t start in 1960s. Also, culture doesn’t comprise only of classical music, which caters only to the elite. Has the author never heard of a place called Shahjahanabad which had over four centuries of rich culture of all sorts? I don’t want to go into the details, but I am sure enough information is easily available about the great musicians and listeners of Delhi.

There may be debates about what is called the Dilli gharana, but there were hundreds of classical musicians in Shahjahanabad who flourished under the patronage of Mughal kings. Until as late as 1980s, traditional mehfils were held in havelis of Delhi with poetry, music and other cultural forms being performed. And ironically, almost all musicians described by the author in this article had connections with Dilli musicians like Chand Khan, Ramzan Khan, and Iqbal Ahmed Khan who lived in Mausiqi manzil (Suiwalan of old Delhi). Many current musicians learnt from Chand Khan.

Gandharv Mahavidyalaya and Delhi university’s music department also had many experts (especially tabla players) from the Dilli gharana. Ex-president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed created institutions like the Ghalib Institute where music and poetry gatherings were common since 1960s. This article also doesn’t talk about the contribution of All India Radio and the musicians who came from Lahore side after partition and how a vacuum was created in Delhi as a large number of local Muslim musicians had migrated to Pakistan. I appreciate the contribution of Maudgalya but to call the Delhi a cultural wasteland and scrubland is really unfortunate. If this article was only about him, it could have been titled more appropriately. – Yousuf Saeed

***

It’s a pity the author chose condescending words like “wasteland” and “scrubland” to describe the absence of classical music in Delhi. The genre of classical music has traditionally been elitist and limited to the elite sections of society who were almost always the upper castes. To use demeaning words to describe the absence of this elitist genre among the subalterns is outright arrogant and comes naturally to those who belong to the social elite. The sense of the inferior is taken for granted and the lower classes are treated as the other, who are below the privileged and sophisticated “us”. In a land that has a long history of social segregation and oppression, the author’s choice of such words is simply irresponsible. – Rajratna Jadhav

***

I loved this piece. It opened my eyes to the seminal work of an individual and his mission to institutionalised classical music in Delhi. – Ram Badrinathan

Loveless days

I’m disappointed in the way these attitudes and values are being represented in the article as intrinsic to an entire, vast and diverse country (“In the mood for love? In heartless India, don’t you dare”). It amounts to irresponsible journalism. It also obfuscates and de-emphasises the real issue of the backward mentality encouraged by the current government and the urgent need to boot them out. I certainly didn’t come across such attitudes while growing up in India in the 1970s. – Sona Prakash

Shadow cabinet

It’s a thought-provoking idea and could strengthen the function of the government (“Seventeen civilian ‘ministers’ take oath as Kerala’s first shadow cabinet”). It should serve as a watch dog for the cabinet, monitoring effective implementation of the government’s decisions. Politicians will then work towards the progress of the society and use public funds for the betterment of people. All the very best to the office bearers. – Varghese Bekliph

***

I am very pleased to hear that a shadow cabinet has been formed with intellectuals from all communities as members. All the very best wishes to the team. They must not allow either the CPI(M) or the Congress interfere in their activities as they will spoil the game. – Subu Subramanian

***

This is a very good step and an effective mechanism to monitor and audit our political system. I request the members to please stay on course. – Basanta Deka

Forgotten history

This is a superb initiative (“A hunt for Bengaluru’s forgotten inscription stones is tracing the history of Kannada and the city”). Without this, generation next would be studying only that history of Bengaluru that is routinely changed according to the whims and fancies of every politician and sponsored journalist or historian. Maybe they should talk to genuine historians. For their information, on Sampuge Road, Malleswaram, about 500 yards from Mantri Mall, in front of a Woodland showroom, a stone with some inscription lies ignored on the footpath. It could be worth documenting. – Sreekanteswaran Suryanarayan

***

Tamil inscriptions in Bengaluru came from the Sri Vaishnavas Brahmins (Ramanuja) who fled Chola prosecution and came to South Karnataka. Though they were a small minority, they held administrative positions especially in temples and continued to use Tamil in inscriptions. Tamil inscription are often incorrectly attributed to Cholas (1004 to 1118 AD) who were primarily in Channapatna and to some extent in Nelamangla and Hoskote. In Bengaluru there is only one Chola inscription, BN108, located in Kengeri. The period prior to the fifth century brought Telugu influence due to the Satavahanas. Interestingly, the villages in Bengaluru are all Telugu-Kannada speaking and representative of the ethnic people of the city, while the urban space has migrants of various linguistic groups. – Sudhir C

Past lessons

DN Jha’s efforts to bring about the truth of the past are too late (“Opinion: Why it’s essential for school students to learn about religious violence in ancient India”). Four generations after Independence, they were taught about nothing but wars as history. In other parts of the world, history is a chronicle of the evaluation of civilisation. The Right-Wing forces grabbed this sloppiness or lack of courage to tell the truth as an opportunity to poison young minds. – Shareef Hafeez

***

Though I’m strongly against the Hindutva ideology, I find the author’s latching on to Jha’s book absurd. Jha has written critically and pointedly about the conflicts of Brahmanism with Sharmana and violence involved therein. However, this violence is clearly political, there is no religious or scriptural support for it. – Atul Chandra

Taking stock

This is an excellent and timely article by Samark Halarnkar (“How India reacts to the Kathua perversion will determine if the nation’s moral slide can be arrested”). I am sure a sizeable number of right-thinking elite citizens are deeply concerned but do not know how or do not have the avenues of conveying their dismay and anxieties. Can the media find ways of giving them a voice? – AV Krishnan

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