Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘Atul Kochhar’s fall from grace should be a wake-up call for celebrities’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Twitter storm

Atul Kochhar’s rapid fall from grace should serve as a wake-up call for all motor-mouth celebrities holding exalted positions in society due to their association with famous brands (“Anti-Muslim tweet: How Michelin-star chef Atul Kochhar learned bigotry is bad for business”). They need to show greater discretion while posting comments on social media about sensitive issues on which they are not experts. Holding an exalted position in society brings with it some responsibilities, not least of which is the understanding of what should and should not be said. Those who forget this golden principle have to bear the consequences of their indiscretions. – Sumali Moitra


I do not directly blame Atul Kochhar as we in India are now quite used to hearing such comments on a daily basis from all kinds of people including public personalities and politicians, with the tacit patronage of the government. Kochhar could have just as well become a hero on Indian television and social media for such comments. But the mistake he made was to air his views on an international platform. The international community has a stronger voice than the suppressed Muslims of India so he had to face repercussions he did not expect. – Manoj Prasad


Atul Kochhar’s tweet reflected Islamophobia and stupidity. He does not know that Islam did not exist 2,000 years ago. In addition, he and others like him should know that Priyanka Chopra is an actor who is paid to utter the words written by screenwriters. Why should she be blamed for acting out someone else’s script?

Since when have Hindus’ hands been clean of blood? In the so-called secular India of today, Hindus are killing Dalits, Muslims and Christians with impunity, thereby inflicting terror on minorities. After realising his stupidity and the financial repercussions of his words, Kochhar hypocritically apologised for his action. Too little, too late. – U Madha

Teaching teachers

Many self-motivated teachers have done good PhD work under the UGC’s Faculty Improvement Programme (“PhD mandatory for direct recruitment of college teachers from 2021, says HRD ministry”). In many reputed universities in the US and Europe, publication in standard academic journals is a must. Many inventions are the result of in-house researches by faculty members. Attending good refresher and orientation programmes should also be criteria for promotion. – PM Mathew


The National Eligibility Test should be considered more important than a PhD because doctorate selection criteria are not genuine and impartial. Why is the BJP trying to change the basic principles of the education system of India? Instead, the ministers should focus on unemployment and social services. – Sasikant Jena

Assam lynching

I am very sorry to note this highly condemnable and most barbaric act by humans (“‘We have killed the boy’: Assam lynching victims’ families and friends recall a night of horror”). The villagers in question seem to lack discipline and guidance. My condolences to the bereaved families. May the two young souls rest in peace. The media must help spread messages of peace so that such things do not happen again, anywhere in the world. – Lobsang Lhendup

Indian migrant labour

This is a sad story of torture and ill-treatment of our unprotected maids working in Gulf states (“Indian maids in Gulf back in focus as Kerala woman jumps off second floor of employer’s home in Oman”). These maids are truly the lifelines of well-to-do people. It is a shame that these vulnerable Indians go elsewhere to seek a living while the Indian government is unable or unwilling to create jobs for them. The government’s decision to do away with the deposits that employers were required to make as guarantees at the Indian Embassies in Gulf states reveals a callous attitude towards these immigrants. Their employers seem to be living in the Stone Age as they try to enslave and mistreat the maids who suffer untold misery in silence.

Sushma Swaraj has a moral duty to take action against the mistreatment and ensure that the inhuman employers are punished. The Indian government should provide financial help to [enable such workers] to return to the country. Otherwise, this could become a human rights issue. – Ahamed

Keezhadi excavation

The government’s attitude over the Archaeological Survey of India official Amarnath Ramakrishna is highly condemnable and appears to be mean (“ASI refuses to allow excavator of Tamil Nadu’s Sangam-era Keezhadi site to lecture in USA”). The government may think they have succeeded by stopping his lectures but time will expose their intentions.
D Gnanasekaran


This is the most absurd thing the government can do. However, the ASI has been suppressing these things for a long time. I am a student of archaeology and when I attended Amarnath Ramakrishna’s and other lectures, they were sure that the Keezhadi site would push back historical dates and would make the world look up to the Sangam-era site. – Shamili Lord

Secularism debate

Otherwise an excellent and thought-provoking article, it wrongly defines inter-faith iftar parties as “neo-Gandhian” (“Let’s get over the idea that true secularism lies beyond iftar parties and Hindus in skull caps”). Gandhi never held iftar parties. For that matter, he visited Vishwanath temple in Varanasi only once and criticised lack of cleanliness and prevalence of greed for money there. He seems never to have visited Dwarka, which is very close to his birth place, Porbandar, or Rajkot where he grew up. At the same time, he had apprehensions about his eldest son Harilal’s conversion to Islam.

Gandhi knew religion as a sociological force, a subjective choice and not as a set of rituals. What is happening now is certainly misplaced. The “Hindu-in-skull-cap” is unGandhian, it is pure politics. As rightly pointed out, a real Hindu meets a real Muslim in real day-to-day life. We have lost our way there and that is why we think that symbolism can do what cannot be achieved – Constitutional secularism in real life. – Dipak Dholakia


I do not believe that non-Muslims need to wear caps to Muslim religious festivals, which is as absurd as expecting Muslims to wear vibhuti or kumkum when they wish their Hindu friends during Dusshera or Diwali. Let each religion have the full right to follow their festivals without any problems, subject to the laws of the land. – R Venkat

Shillong violence

It is highly unfortunate that even in the 21st century we are clashing in the name of religion, region and ethnicity (“Meghalaya: Mobile internet services restored in Shillong, Khasi and Jaintia Hills”). The Sikh community is largely peaceful and contributes immensely to the growth and development of the region in which its members settle. Minorities are being treated very badly in our country. This state of distrust and intolerance is alarming and only people can cure it because no political leader or party is interested in this issue. Instead, they try to instigate trouble and take advantage of the divide. – Shakir Najfi

Name game

We Hindus, clearly need a reality check (“Renaming Mughal Sarai: Not only Aurangzeb – all Muslim rulers are suspect in Hindutva India”). First of all, Hindu is a very general word for the inhabitants of this land who originated from Indus Valley very long ago. We mixed with Muslims and people from the South and are now totally different from original Hindus. The BJP/RSS should know that they cannot impose the original Hindutva concept as the inhabitants of this land are very different today. – Sudhir Goel

Rape laws

The problem with trying to bring rape into the sphere of the law is the simple fact that we are trying to mold emotions; often very intense ones, into a crucible fit enough to be defined into a legal format (“Radical reform: Do harsh rape laws deter justice for some victims?”). Emotions are subjective and laws are not. What is wrong for one person is taken to be wrong for all persons who live under that particular legal system.

Often consent is a very grey area and on top of that there is a another human being with his own subjective interpretation armed by the system called a judge, most often having no reference case laws to base his judgement on, as all rape cases are unique. Mere accusation as you have said in the article cannot be the gospel as far as justice is concerned, however lenient the punishment. It is unfair to the accused and not to mention how several sections of the Indian Penal Code have been misused by women on the grounds of personal vindictiveness.

Harsh punishment under the law is a deterrent and all children should grow up with the view of rape as one does with fire; that if one touches it ones hand will burn. To find an answer legally as to what constitutes consent is always going to be a very difficult problem, because it is a gray area of emotions. – Shomu C

Teacher trouble

Yes the interviews should be held with immediate effect for ad-hoc positions before the academic session begins (“Political leaders call for ordinance against UGC’s new formula on reservation in teaching posts”). This can be followed by regular appointment based on the previous roster system. Otherwise, the future of ad-hoc teachers will be bleak. – Kamna Srivastava

Musical note

The series on raag Saarang by Aneesh Pradhan is very insightful and offers a quick but valuable peek into the intricacies of the raag (“Explore the complex Gaud Saarang raag through performances by Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and more”). Without doubt, Pradhan, being an accomplished musician himself, has done a great job. His choice of accompanying audio clips are educative as well as entertaining. I hope Scroll.in will continue publishing such articles and cover all the thaats in Hindustani classical music. – Vilas M Kowjalgi

Football fever

I have been an Arsenal fan and have really wanted to support football in India as well (“‘Scream at us, but come watch us’: Indian captain Sunil Chhetri makes heartfelt plea to fans”). I started following Churchill Brothers SC. But as time passed, I lost track of this club as their matches were rarely aired and couldn’t be followed online.

Then, suddenly Indian Super League began, and now there are 10 more teams from the same cities. For football, we still have two leagues – Indian Super League and I-League. What’s the point of having two leagues? Hardly anyone watches Indian Super League online. This is not fair for football in India. Big brands and actors are looting the sport.

When we have legendary teams like Mohun Bagan AC, Bengaluru FC, Churchill Brothers SC and Dempo SC, what’s the point of having Indian Super League? – Akshay Chan

Mughal women

While a great number of works have been produced on Mughal emperors and their grand achievements, more light needs to be shined on the women of that era (“How the women of the Mughal Empire ruled without being monarchs”). Ardent students of history are always curious to know about Mughal women, but experience shows that a rigorous search in the library often ends in disappointment. Rules about purdah notwithstanding, women in the Mughal era played a pivotal role in the history of our land. They excelled in horsemanship and enjoyed numerous arts. Hamida Banu Begum, the adolescent girl who married Humayun when he was in exile, grew up a wise woman who provided advice to her husband and stood by him through thick and thin. Her son, Akbar, also sought her advice time to time.

Humayun’s sister, Gulbadan Begum, was a historian par excellence who produced Humayun Namah at Akbar’s request. Mehr-un-nisa charmed her husband Emperor Jahangir so much that she, styled as Nur Jahan and Badshah Begum, came to wield unprecedented influence over the Mughal court. She acted with extraordinary wisdom in the rebellion of Mahabat Khan. The daughters of Shah Jahan enjoyed enormous power in the Mughal state and the role that they played in the War of Succession among their brothers is known to history buffs. One hopes that Ira Mukhoti’s Daughters of the Sun informs and entertain scholars and laymen alike and points them to every nook and corner of the Mughal harem. – Samiul Hassan Quadri

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

People who fall through the gaps in road safety campaigns

Helmet and road safety campaigns might have been neglecting a sizeable chunk of the public at risk.

City police, across the country, have been running a long-drawn campaign on helmet safety. In a recent initiative by the Bengaluru Police, a cop dressed-up as ‘Lord Ganesha’ offered helmets and roses to two-wheeler riders. Earlier this year, a 12ft high and 9ft wide helmet was installed in Kota as a memorial to the victims of road accidents. As for the social media leg of the campaign, the Mumbai Police made a pop-culture reference to drive the message of road safety through their Twitter handle.

But, just for the sake of conversation, how much safety do helmets provide anyway?

Lack of physical protections put two-wheeler riders at high risk on the road. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are ‘vulnerable road users’ – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the Indian transport ministry, about 28 two-wheeler riders died daily on Indian roads in 2016 for not wearing helmets.

The WHO states that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%. The components of a helmet are designed to reduce impact of a force collision to the head. A rigid outer shell distributes the impact over a large surface area, while the soft lining absorbs the impact.

However, getting two-wheeler riders to wear protective headgear has always been an uphill battle, one that has intensified through the years owing to the lives lost due on the road. Communication tactics are generating awareness about the consequences of riding without a helmet and changing behaviour that the law couldn’t on its own. But amidst all the tag-lines, slogans and get-ups that reach out to the rider, the safety of the one on the passenger seat is being ignored.

Pillion rider safety has always been second in priority. While several state governments are making helmets for pillion riders mandatory, the lack of awareness about its importance runs deep. In Mumbai itself, only 1% of the 20 lakh pillion riders wear helmets. There seems to be this perception that while two-wheeler riders are safer wearing a helmet, their passengers don’t necessarily need one. Statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in Hyderabad, the Cyberabad traffic police reported that 1 of every 3 two-wheeler deaths was that of a pillion rider. DGP Chander, Goa, stressed that 71% of fatalities in road accidents in 2017 were of two-wheeler rider and pillion riders of which 66% deaths were due to head injury.

Despite the alarming statistics, pillion riders, who are as vulnerable as front riders to head-injuries, have never been the focus of helmet awareness and safety drives. To fill-up that communication gap, Reliance General Insurance has engineered a campaign, titled #FaceThePace, that focusses solely on pillion rider safety. The campaign film tells a relatable story of a father taking his son for cricket practice on a motorbike. It then uses cricket to bring our attention to a simple flaw in the way we think about pillion rider safety – using a helmet to play a sport makes sense, but somehow, protecting your head while riding on a two-wheeler isn’t considered.

This road safety initiative by Reliance General Insurance has taken the lead in addressing the helmet issue as a whole — pillion or front, helmets are crucial for two-wheeler riders. The film ensures that we realise how selective our worry about head injury is by comparing the statistics of children deaths due to road accidents to fatal accidents on a cricket ground. Message delivered. Watch the video to see how the story pans out.


To know more about Reliance general insurance policies, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Reliance General Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.