Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: Should namaaz be offered in public spaces?

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Prayer policies

Why should these retired officers indulge in criticism (“Retired IAS officers urge Haryana government to ensure those offering Friday namaaz are not attacked”)? Years back, namaaz was being read inside mosques or at home but in recent years, it is increasingly being offered in open spaces with huge numbers in attendance. Sometimes, this blocks traffic and causes inconvenience to the general public. There are objections to similar celebrations by other communities, but those do not take place every week, just on specific days of the year. And even those should be restricted.

This is not about a particular community, it is a matter that should be resolved in a cordial way to maintain peace in the country. – CB Bairathi

***

I wonder what these retired officers are trying to do. They are behaving like political agents. If they really want to be useful, they should offer a solution to the problem.

We all respect all religions. We want our Muslim brothers to have the space to offer their prayers and at the same time, no inconvenience to be caused to anyone. But some people see this as an opportunity to turn a simple matter into a religious dispute and to blame Hindus. – Bhumesh Chander

***

Thank you IAS officers. God bless you and your families. We need conscientious people to speak up to preserve our democratic country. – Paulraj Isaiah

***

Public property should not be used for religious purposes. Retired IAS officers should go back to enjoying their retirement. – Rajender Malik

***

Muslims should have the freedom to offer namaaz anywhere. – Ali

***

This is the first time I have heard government officials speak up in this manner. I request the Indian media also to represent the truth, but for that you need courage. – Kazi Ali Akbar

Double dynasty

This article is biased against Piyush Goyal (“His father’s son: Piyush Goyal is no kaamgar – he is as much a dynast as Rahul Gandhi”). The fact that someone has come from an advantageous background does not make them less deserving for a position. The question is whether he has merit or not. While Goyal can be called naamdar because of his background, at least he has certain qualifications necessary to call himself a kaamdar, some of which have been mentioned by the author as well.

People like Rahul Gandhi symbolise the dark side of the dynasty culture. It has been proven time and again and reiterated even by some Congress leaders that Gandhi does not deserve his post. Had Congress brought in a more able leader than Gandhi, the Opposition would not have been in such a hapless condition. And it is not that they don’t have deserving leaders. Even among dynasts, Sachin Pilot has proved his mettle. But he still has to stay in the shadow of the Gandhis. With such biased reporting from you, no wonder BJP leaders, including Goyal, are so happy targeting Rahul Gandhi. – Srijan Acharya

***

This article says “studying as a CA in India costs money”. That is wrong. Please be careful of what you publish. In my case, earning a Chartered Accountancy qualification came with a net financial gain because the articleship stipend easily meets all the incidental expenses. Also Piyush Goyal is a Gold medalist CA which is a very very big achievement (even clearing the test is a big deal). So he is definitely a kaamgar. – Aditya Ghatage

Crimes against women

It is very devastating to learn of rape cases every day across the country (“Uttar Pradesh: Two men allegedly rape woman in a moving car after throwing out her toddler”). But the government is maintaining its silence on most of them and has failed to take concrete action. People who are elected to Parliament have the power to make laws but have failed to enact stringent legislation. We live in a country where the government can change the currency overnight, but not rape laws. I appeal to our country’s citizens to come on to the streets every day in protest till change is effect and not only when a heinous crime comes to light. Question our netas till things get done. – Shashidhar Vuppala

Temple row

The idea of taking over of the famous Sri Venkateswara temple and its affiliates by the Archaeological Survey of India is not a new one (“Archaeological Survey of India withdraws letter proposing to take over management of Tirumala temple”). It dates back to 2011 and IYR Krishna Rao, then the executive officer of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. Everybody knows the ASI is meant to look after ancient, abandoned historical structures and not this evergreen, popular, ever-growing sacred place.

Pages of memory

It gave me pleasure to read the article on the famous and popular Urdu magazine Biswi Sadi (‘Biswin Sadi’: How I came of age in the 1960s with long-gone Urdu magazines and books of the time”). It used to contain works by writers of great standing. I fail to understand why its publication has ceased. Even other popular magazines like Shama and Khilona, among others, simply vanished. Some of my non-Muslim friends would insist that their offpsring learn Urdu so that they could enjoy these beautiful literally works. – Aslam Malik

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This delightful article makes old-timers nostalgic for the good old days of Urdu magazines and, at the same time, gives youngsters a guided tour of a fascinating era. These magazines catered to all age-groups, genders and varied interests and boasted of a loyal readership. Those fond of Urdu poetry eagerly looked forward to these magazines in the hope of reading the latest literary creations of their favourite poets.

But the magazines soon began to lose ground thanks to the hostility of successive governments. Urdu found itself pitted against its twin sister Hindi. It was targeted by communalists and subjected to step-motherly treatment. Its powerful opponents conspired for its systematic liquidation.

There is now a hugely powerful lobby in the Indian literary circle that, pretending to be deeply anxious for the future of Urdu, keeps clamouring for the replacement of the current Urdu script with Devnagri. Those making this demand are, in fact, playing the role of accomplices in the planned destruction of Urdu.

All speakers and genuine lovers of Urdu must combat the designs of the powerful anti-Urdu lobby. – Samiul Quadri

Race for Karnataka

This is the best news I have heard I ever since the lying machines of the RSS and their fake news factory went into overdrive (“Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah sends defamation notice to Narendra Modi over corruption claims”). It is time somebody challenged the post-truth world of the RSS and Modi to tell them that there are limits to make-believe and false claims. – George Karuvelil

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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:

Play

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