Controversial comment

I am deeply offended by the Dalai Lama’s insinuation that Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for India’s Partition and his remarks on Nehru’s self centeredness (“The Dalai Lama apologises for remarks on Jawaharlal Nehru”). The Buddhist leader does not know the history of India and what led to Partition. Lacking this knowledge, he should not have made such a comments and then offer routine apology. What is more troubling is that it was Nehru who gave asylum to the Dalai Lama and his followers in India. However great a person he may be, he should have checked the facts before making such an objectionable remark. – Mani Seshadri


The Dalai Lama should not comment on India’s internal matters. He was not in the country in those days. This is a very irresponsible statement from such a versatile person. – Manoj Sharma

Agents of change

It is regrettable that the IITs, reputed to be India’s premiere academic institutions, have browbeaten one of their own professors who found lacunae in their admission system (“This professor’s campaign reformed the opaque IIT admission system. So why was he suspended?”). Adding insult to injury, they tried to keep these lacunae a secret and worse, victimised him for his whistle-blowing efforts. Despite the harassment and threats, he single-handedly persisted over several years. The authorities went to the extent of trying to take away his position in another institution that he wished to join. If this is the state of affairs at the IITs, one can only guess the extent of the rot in other academic institutions. No wonder the highest international academic ranking given to an Indian institution is not to an IIT but to the IISc Bangalore, an organisation that was founded by CV Raman. How many Rajeev Kumars will sacrificed at the altar of self-serving academicians out to carve fiefdoms for their own aggrandisement at the cost of academic honesty, freedom and excellence? – Chandra Shekhar AK


This article is really interesting and the author must have worked hard to gather all that information. This is one of the few articles in recent times that I have read in its entirety. Kudos to the writer. – Pavan Koushik Potlapally


Such articles are much needed in today’s time. Our media has forgotten how to offer positive articles. Everyday we read about something bad and every article is about wrongdoing. Criticism is must, but bringing out something positive is also necessary. – Kamal Jeet


Thank you for highlighting people who are fighting to change the system. I enjoy reading and look forward to such articles that are investigative and give visibility to daily superheroes. Great work! – Kamalan Chandran

Media and the mass

I think the press has not been able to shake off the ideology of the previous government and grasp that of the current regime (“Rajdeep Sardesai: Why are India’s political leaders unwilling to be held accountable to the press?”). Therefore it is evaluating the current government with the same lens as it did the previous one, even though its functioning and ideology are starkly different. To view this regime with the ideological curtain of the past is an injustice to the government and the people. This may also be why the media increasingly seems to be losing touch with people. In addition, a weak Opposition is not able to frame a rhetoric that would help citizens. As such, the government has no option but to define it’s own narrative. And they are masters at that. – Sanjay Parekh

IKEA in India

IKEA’s furniture is good from afar, but far from good (“Why is there such a fuss over IKEA Hyderabad? A walk through the store provides answers (and doubts)”). It is a good substitute for people who need to set up a home in a hurry without spending too much. We must remember that good things in life don’t come cheap. But one good thing about IKEA is that it makes a lot of things affordable. – Iqbal Raja

Insensitive remark

Shashi Tharoor’s remarks on Narendra Modi are childish (“BJP criticises Shashi Tharoor for his comment against PM Narendra Modi’s ‘outlandish headgear’”). Wearing headgear that represents the culture of a region has nothing to do with religion and is akin to honouring a way of life. Tharoor must know that a man is judged by his morality and his love for nation, not by his clothes. – Arun Chate

Summing it up

I am 76 years old and have been teaching mathematics for 53 years. I heartily welcome David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee’s initiative (“Meet Agnijo Banerjee, the 17-year-old prodigy determined to make mathematics cool with his book”). I agree with what Banerjee says about why so many students are scared of maths. I think that if a student works on the subject, he or she will be conversant in it. Another thing is that a student should not think an example to be totally unique or isolated. One should always try to make connections with past formulae. Maths can never be hard if one does not think it to be hard. Take it casually. – Prabir Ray

Payments banks

The subject of payments banks is very topical but this article does not do justice to it (“Payments banks were supposed to be the next big thing in Indian banking – but they’re fizzling out”). Banks around the world are highly leveraged entities working on wafer-thin margins and are able to generate profits by resorting to “economies of scope”. That is, they use the same set of available assets (investment in branches, information systems, people) to offer a wide variety of related services, on each of which they make small amounts of money. These services include deposits, loans and advances, money transfer services, payment services, investment advisory along with third-party sales of investment products such as mutual funds and insurance.

Payment banks by definition and as per their licence conditions are precluded or restricted from a offering a whole lot of these services, making their operations sub-optimal. Inspite of this congenital draw-back, it was necessary to introduce this innovation in Indian financial markets, since they bring skills and technology that will help bring down transaction costs. Traditional banks not only lack this technology but are by experience or temperament hesitant in adopting it.

The question here is how bringing down transaction costs would help. Consider a simple Jan Dhan Yojana Account. The government has pushed these accounts and lap-dog banks have fallen all over themselves to fulfill their quotas of opening such accounts. But then why are there so little operations in these accounts? Why do such a large number of Jan Dhan accounts have virtually zero balance? Because it is very expensive to operate these accounts! A poor worker would have to lose a day’s earning to go to the branch to deposit or withdraw funds, or do any transaction. The time, effort, and money spent in going to the bank and the opportunity cost of income foregone are all part of the customer’s transactions costs. Similarly, these small value accounts add more to transaction costs of the banks than to their revenue and as rational entities they have no incentive to promote them.

Now, technology is available that would substantially bring down such transaction costs. Many of us are already benefiting from it. The trick is to take it to the masses. The way the market for shampoos and cell phones exploded in India when Rs 5 sachets and
lifetime free incoming calls were introduced, the banking market too is very likely to explode with a reduction in transaction costs. And this explosion will take the real economy along with it on a sustainable growth path, after which there would be no need to cook up GDP figures. And such innovations are rarely brought about by existing players.

Over time, payment banks have only two options – to be bought out by traditional commercial banks or to build up a customer base large enough to enable them buy out one of the existing banks. Soon, they will have plenty of such options. – Sushil Prasad

Citizenship exercise

This article makes its point powerfully. Does living in a country for 45 years mean nothing (“NRC debate: Why Assam’s handling of the exercise will have repercussions for the rest of India”)? Why choose an arbitrary date like March 24, 1971? Why this humongous and meaningless exercise? India needs to close its porous borders. Why has illegal immigration been allowed? Who has been responsible for letting some many undocumented migrants into Assam? The state has failed and wants to make vulnerable people the targets. – Jaydeep Biswas


There will definitely be people who are Indian by birth, but would find it difficult to produce documentary evidence. There are so many illiterate people – how will they know or have documents to prove their citizenship? If these are the people who are declared persons non grata, it would be a miscarriage of justice. Those in power need view this from a humane perspective and take appropriate measures to see that no injustice is done. – Iqbal Ahmed


I am disappointed with this article (“NRC debate: How the 1947 Sylhet partition led to Assam’s politics of the foreigner”). His is a red herring argument, or even a straw man argument, a favourite technique for politicians who have to come up with debating points on the fly. To see it employed by a thinking journalist on a serious subject like the NRC is disappointing. Let me point out that the partition tales about Sylhet district and the political debates around state reorganisation based on linguistic communities have no bearing on the issue at hand of illegal and surreptitious migration across international borders into India and specifically, Assam, and the requirement of a sovereign to protect its borders. – Rajiv Baruah

Art vs life

Rana Safvi, thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions (“Why I cried while watching ‘Mulk’: I finally know what it means to be a Muslim in India”). I grew up in free India and could never grasp the true impact of Partition on the two countries. I now realise how it has been bearing on our souls for more than 70 years. This article gives me a little more clarity. I grew up in Bhopal with many Muslim friends and my family had old friends who were like family. As I grew older I realised how this invisible wall of fear and distrust stands between two communities. And eventually, we all drift apart, not able to handle that uncomfortable feeling always lingering in our hearts.

On certain levels in education and jobs, I see there is not much discrimination. My Muslim friends did very well in engineering college and other fields, some went on to have a very successful career in India. But I know there are lots of poor Muslims who are suffering and must be helped by the community. – Amitabh Mittal


This is a very moving article. I am 43 years old. I feel that the gap between Indians has widened more today. In my childhood, there wasn’t any difference between people from different relegions, all were viewed as Indians first. But in the last two decades, things have been changing very fast and some elements from society are espousing divisive propaganda. – Amar Landge

Kashmir question

As a third-generation Kashmiri, I agree with the author (“Supreme Court hearings on Article 35A come at crucial juncture for Kashmir politics”). It is a sentiment shared by the youth of the Valley that if this Article is tinkered with, all remaining links between New Delhi and Kashmir will be lost. Kashmiris understand the tricks played by the government. Everyday I meet people who are disgusted with the state and Centre alike. They are alienated from the mainstream. The resentment is spreading like wildfire. I sincerely feel that such a shared dislike was not there before. – Abdullah Shahnawaz