How can one compare Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi? (“Data check: How often does Narendra Modi travel – and how much of it is on BJP work?”). The former was more a bureaucrat than a prime minister. – Susanta Majumdar


Such comparisons serve no purpose between a performing prime minister and rubber stamping non-performer. – Mukteshwar


For a complete analysis, we would also need to assess the following details: How many countries did both prime ministers visit, and over how many days? How many days were spent in each country? What was the size of their delegation. How many working days did they have in a year, and hours in a day? Were these trips necessary? How much was spent on each trip? How useful did the trips prove for the Congress, or the BJP, as the case may be? How widely accepted where the leaders internationally? How much success did these trips have, based on financial benefits, image-building, bilateral ties and other points of view? – Pramod


If Singh had travelled less, it was because he avoided talking. Singh was not the chosen leader, he was forced on the Indian public. His rallies abroad and India went unnoticed. Modi is the opposite. He is strong, enthusiastic. His worldview is accepted by the people. No wonder it has paid rich dividends. BJP has an all-India presence and has made Congress irrelevant. – Vishwas Wadekar

Baby talk

I have been living in India for eight years now (“Many Indians are deciding not to bring children into this overpopulated, unkind world”). Apart from corruption, overpopulation seems to be India’s biggest scourge, if I was to believe Indian friends. There is no scientific way to tell when a country has exceeded a sustainable population size. I’d like to ask all these doomsayers whether India was a better country when, say, only 500 million people lived here. Certainly not! Take any indicator, economic, social, health or education, and you’ll see that India today is better off than it was in 1966. There is no correlation between population size and well-being! Children are something wonderful and forgoing that joy to protect the environment is does not make sense (there are other valid reasons to forgo children however, it is a very personal decision).

More important from a societal point of view is knowledge. If there are more people living in India, there are more people contributing to solving the country’s biggest challenges. Imagine if the parents of Alexander Fleming, Albert Einstein or Mahatma Gandhi had decided that there are too many humans in this world and that they should therefore not give birth to another. The world would have been a poorer place.

The solution is not to stop bringing children into the world but to enable the children that live on this planet to use their potential. That requires good education and health care. These are the areas where the government has failed, the government has not failed, however, in fighting overpopulation.

And don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to say that Indians should procreate like rabbits. Fast population growth is after all a challenge. India’s population grows at 1.1% a year however (lower than the global average or the growth rate of Ireland or Sweden for example). That is pretty much a manageable level and it will keep falling anyway, the fertility rate of Indian women is about to touch the level at which population in the long-run is stable. I mean to say however, that Scroll, as a responsible media outlet, should be careful to not air opinions like the one presented in this article (of not having babies at all) without a counter or a comment. – Frank Hoffman


This is a very interesting and thought-provoking article. My wife and I have been waiting for years to become grandparents. My son has been happily married for 10 years, but no children. We have been delicately and I suppose indelicately prodding them on this issue. I am not convinced about the angle taken by the author, maybe because we are of the old guard brought up to think that a family is incomplete without children. But her writing has triggered a thought that there is another way of looking at this matter, especially where the new generation is concerned. It is more important for them to be happy with their decision. – Sanjaya Varma


This is a well-identified and well-articulated problem, which is often ignored. I too have decided not to marry or raise my own child. The reason differs from yours. I believe that nature has its own way out of problems of environment and population so that is not a reason for not having a child. Parenting is an important role. Many parents in India don’t know what parenting entails. I have heard many children asking their parents why they were brought into this world if they couldn’t be raised well. Parenting is a major responsibility but most couples have no idea how to go about it. – Prashant Sheshpure


In absence of any reference to study or statistics in the article, it was premature for author Reem Khokhar to conclude that “many Indians” have decided not to have kids. You cannot provide example of five people out of population of 1.3 billion. – Rahul M


No human being has the choice of coming into this world. That’s why we are grateful to our parents and that’s why mothers are celebrated so much. Saying that one does not wish to bring a child into this world without their consent is shying away from responsibility. By bringing the environment into the picture, they are mixing issues. The only take away from this article is ‘the decision of not having a child is a personal one and should be accepted by Indian society, which is clearly not happening now.’ – Gandhali Malgaonkar

Higher education

This institute is functioning on the hard-earned money of Indian taxpayers (“Shimla research centre’s proposed collaboration with US-based Hindutva group has scholars worried”). If the scholars and fellows are paid to get their bread and butter while also disregarding and disrespecting India, then we all have reason to worry. It’s called the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and “Indian” is not just a word but also an idea. The research work that has been going on so far at the institute dismantles and deplores idea of Indianness. Shame on these fellows and scholars who are agitating when getting exposed. – Ravinder Singh


Being a premier institute of India, IIAS is supposed to call on Indian scholarship to respond the global issues. The Indian schools of knowledge, including the country’s religious and classical knowledge systems, should be incorporated in the selection of projects and method of analysis. We are supposed to respond the global knowledge system not merely by imitating them but also interrogating extend them with our epistemological traditions. – Gurpal Singh Sandhu

Reflections on death

This is one of the finest pieces of writing I have come across in recent years (“He tried to kill himself. She found out. They talked: A dialogue between an artist and a writer”). It is still taboo in our society to talk about death even in a rational manner. This conversation, between a person who wants to end his life and a spectator who tries her best to offer a rational explanation to live. The language is lucid and some trivial things are conveyed in a delicate manner. It’s one of the best reads on – Soniya Shanediwan

Art world

In one of the first major sales of Tyeb Mehta’s work, which created a world record for Indian Art, the collector shared 50% of the sale proceedings with the artist’s family (“Rs 26 crore for the painting, Rs 0 for the painter. The Indian art world is riven by a deep divide”) . The artist refused when the collector called him, but his family called back and said they could do with the money and the same was sent. It’s the trademark of the collector not to have spoken about this.

While Maddox’s article is absolutely correct in it’s premise, the fact is that Tyeb was supported in his last days by at least one committed patron. Those in the art business who know this should speak up. While this is an exception more than the norm, I only speak up since the article conveys the impression that Tyeb was completely unsupported in his last days. – Pramod Kumar KG

Coaching concerns

I lived in Kota for two years and felt that the place needed many improvements to make it student-friendly (“Documentary ‘An Engineered Dream’ lays bare Kota’s cruel coaching class culture”). Students experience depression and anxiety and feel immense pressure just by being here. Everybody aims to get into IIT, but not everyone can make it. Many get frustrated, therefore, and are trapped in a vicious cycle. I have seen this firsthand. – Princy Jain


This article was very nice initially but towards the second half, it started seeming biased, because only the negatives were pointed out. I do agree that the model Gaba is pointing to is a harsh but at the same time, I hope you do agree that the competition is tough and can only be countered through focus and determination, which this monotonous routine develops. Also, parents should help understand that not getting into a college of their choice is not the end of the road. The high expectations of parents sometimes force kids to take extreme steps. – Chinmoy Goswami


You only talk about one side of the story. What about t he gains for the country from this system, one that allows a person to gain insight into their weaknesses and correct them as soon as they can? That’s simply the art of war. Results come with time. No doubt there are negatives, but this is biased. The system teaches students discipline and to focus. Here students live only to study, it teaches them self control. The pressure is created so that students don’t get too distracted. Once one has the necessary qualities, they can be succeed anywhere. – Rishabh Baronia

Ideological divide

The author claims to have been a radical liberal in his youth but now that he has won his rights, he has chosen to abandon other peoples’ demands for justice, while equating them to illiberal demagogues bent on destroying liberalism (“Why I no longer identify with the West’s liberal Left (It is as frightening as India’s Hindu Right)”). As an artist, one would have expected moral clarity from him.

The Charlie Hebdo attack, for this author, is an opportunity to condemn left-liberals who examine the socio-political circumstances under which it happened. He says this amounts to justifying the terror attacks. Any criticism of irresponsible, hateful statements(or frankly, racist cartoons of Charlie Hebdo) is being equated with calling into question the very principle of free speech.

The term “Regressive Left”, is often used by those with transparent Right-Wing agendas to discredit the Left’s demands for basic recognition of the human rights of refugees, immigrants, demonised minorities, excluded ethnic groups and sexual minorities among others. A large number of refugees who came to Europe were invited by a Chancellor of a Conservative government in Germany, Angela Merkel, who was not carried away by visions of ‘borderless societies’ or an excess of humanitarian love. At no stage of the refugee, crisis was the liberal-left in a dominant position to influence the direction of the refugee policy.

The author talks about “European culture” as if it is being contaminated by outside influences. He claims that a rich continent like Europe with a population of 700 million, is unable to take in more than the approximately three million refugees it now has, and doing so would undermine the very foundations of Western societies. Is this not fear mongering and conspiracy theory peddling, a language that is the preserve of the far-right?

The most dishonest part of this screed by the author is the equation of the Left and liberal-Left as displaying the same intolerance as actual fascist or authoritarian parties which are thriving in Europe and India. Where is the violence against Dalits and Muslims, the censorship under the current regime, being replicated by any “Western Left” worth its name in Europe, on any social group?

He minimises the gravity of Trump administration’s cruel approach to undocumented immigrants, the separation of children from their families, militarisation of the Mexico border and the Muslim ban as “embarrassing antics”, while exaggerating any response to it, be it the women’s march, the protest against the Muslim ban, child separation policies among many others as “the activist Left’s ever shriller strain of mob mentality”.

The author laments that “People of European descent” have been “forced to repetitively atone for the ‘original sin of whiteness’”. There is hardly any visible ‘atonement’, for the centuries of colonialism and loot that Western societies have unquestioningly benefitted from, and their continued colonial adventures and interventions, to the present day. The author doesn’t concern himself with these issues and is content with misrepresenting and fighting imaginary enemies on the Liberal side and the “Regressive Left”. – Shreyas Raghuram

NEET mess

Forty-nine questions in NEET were apparently mistranslated (“Madras High Court asks CBSE to award 196 marks to candidates who wrote NEET exam in Tamil”). Between them, the exam organisers, the courts and the rest of the country could perhaps do a PhD thesis on how grace marks should be calculated. But the fundamental question that is not being asked is how the translation went so wrong. What is the process of translation? Who is responsible for it? Who does the actual translation and who decides that it is correct? I remember a mistranslation issue a while back in another exam. There, putting English questions through Google translate and blindly pasting the output had been considered sufficient work for translating a crucial question paper.

Unfortunately, bad translations are not a one-off issue. In literary circles, people debate a lot about the challenges of translations and what’s lost in translation. But the matter doesn’t get discussed enough outside of literature. The result is that a lot of documents, manuals, websites and instructions are translated poorly every day. Typically, these translation jobs will go to some agencies claiming expertise in all languages and a fast turnaround time at a reasonable cost. They would hire any graduate who would claim an understanding of the two languages. Most of these “experts” have never bothered to really study the nuances of the languages they work in; they seem to have no notion of the complications involved in a good translation, and nobody ever asks about the target group for a translation job that should matter a lot in how something is translated.

Bad translations are so prevalent that nobody seems to care. If you don’t believe me, try listening carefully to the announcements in your mother tongue in the airports or metros. Notice the awkward sentence constructions, weird phrases, and laughable words. Without realising it, we are in a translation apocalypse. – Jaya Jha