The events of the past week at Sabarimala drive one to the conclusion that we are living in an uncivilised, uncouth society stuck in the medieval period (“Sabarimala violence: In battle of republic vs orthodoxy, Supreme Court’s authority is being debased”). We have neither respect nor regard for our Constitution or for our highest temple of justice, the Supreme Court. We have no fear of the law of the land. In the name of religion, we can commit the most heinous of crimes. We can even damage the very core of our religion. The most politicised issues in our country are religious ones. The most exploited are religious feelings of the people. Our politics thrives most on religion. We are idle – we can waste days of our precious time protesting against matters that in no way contribute to improving our lives. Lastly, the shows that religious spaces are not places of worship for all but the personal property of a few, symbolic of their power and pelf. One wonders if one is living in a free, democratic, aspirational India which hopes to become a world leader. – Lalita Jagmohan Singh
The BJP stands exposed on the issue of women’s empowerment and rights. When the Centre enacted the law on triple talaq through an ordinance, it was projected as being essential to protect the rights of Muslim women. Now, when the Supreme Court has allowed women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, the BJP, the RSS and various affiliated groups are protesting so that the administration does not allow women of menstruating ages years to enter. The question that arises is, will the Supreme Court be rendered powerless? – Narendra Agarwal
Will someone tell Mohan Bhagwat that the fact that thousands of women don’t want to visit the temple does not mean that thousands of others shouldn’t (“Supreme Court didn’t consider traditions while delivering Sabarimala verdict, says RSS chief”). – Pankaj Butalia
Voices on #MeToo
I am so proud of the author’s wife for stepping forward (“My wife faces a union minister, his 97 lawyers. It takes special courage to do that”). I can fathom what is happening in their home behind close doors and when they lie on their bed before sleep and the tiredness of the fight takes over. May they both stand strong and proud. There are still thousands more women who don’t have the power that Priya Ramani has.
She must remember that she is fighting a battle for the next generation of girls in our country. I stand with them both because I know what stigma is, having gone through it in 1984 with a broken marriage. God bless both in their fight. I am very proud of them. – Rachel Thomas, Padma Shri, India’s first woman skydiver
A big salute to the author for supporting Priya Ramani in her brave fight. Many women chose not to share their experience of sexual harassment fearing repercussions and further harassment. It may be an uphill task for Ramani, but many will agree that she has already won the war. – Tejashree Marfatia
With the recent #MeToo wave and the numerous revelations of how respected men in positions of power have misused their authority to make ufavourable approaches towards women, it is time for men to start accepting that they have crossed a line.
I work in the NGO sector and am in the ‘business’ of working for social change, with a strong focus on the marginalised sections of society, which have been defined as women, Dalits, Adivasis, the poor, and more. In my two decades of work I have slowly built a connection with the feminist movement, and count myself as a part of it. This is not a common phenomenon as very few men associate with the women’s movement, because of its pro-active stand with women, and negation of men’s privileges. For historical reasons, men are seen as perpetrators, and women victims. Maybe quite rightly so, for most of the incidents of violence against women.
It cannot be denied that in a majority of work environments, men hold greater power. Digital means of communication and increased women’s empowerment has resulted in more #MeToo cases emerging. Women have realised that when one is raped or sexually harassed, there is no loss of honour, but a physical and emotional trauma that can be overcome.
The language of rights is also now more known to people, with penetration of international human rights standards. This transnational global closeness is helping spread the movement.
Men have to make a conscious effort to break patriarchal values, behaviours or privilege. It is through this internal struggle that men will get liberated from patriarchy. For, patriarchal chains have harmed men too – they can’t cry or express love to children the way mothers are able to and are forced to follow the division of labour where men have to earn and women to look after household, they are forced to be protective, and much more.
It’s time for men to apologise to women and girls as a community and give way to their expression and rights journey. – Praveer Peter
The behaviour of the predators seems to break all boundaries of decency (“‘Accused are sitting in office, weathering out the storm’: Has #MeToo changed much in advertising?”). What is more shocking is they violate trust even when cohabiting with a partner consensually. A person who indulges in an abominable act like “stealthing” is definitely betraying his gullible partner. Consent exists only when there is mutual attraction and trust. If these guys are not even capable of trust they are not worthy of having any kind of relationship and put people near and dear to them at risk. – P Vijayachandran
I do not know all the facts of the allegations against Vinod Dua and hence I’m not in position to come to a conclusion on his guilt or innocence, but what I do know is that through his work, he has taken on powerful people, including the “pradhan sevak” (“‘Male and on the lookout’: A journalist remembers Vinod Dua and entitled Indian men in the 1980s”). He has, obviously, made powerful enemies, who have been baying for his blood for some time. Let the truth prevail. – R Joseph
It is ridiculous for The Wire to entertain a complaint against Dua over an incident that allegedly happened in 1989 (“#MeToo: ‘The Wire’ apologises for Vinod Dua’s response to allegations”). The Wire should ask the complainant to approach some other lawful agency since Dua was not associated with that publication at the time of the alleged incident. The media should not hype complaints without proof. It amounts character assassination and it could happen over a personal grudge or for some political favour. The Wire should ponder over these facts and allow Dua to continue Jan Gan Ki Baath. – Liaquath Ali
Free speech row
Reliance group is slapping defamation suits on those questioning the improprieties in the Rafale deal (“Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group sues NDTV for Rs 10,000 crore over coverage of Rafale jet deal”). It is a paramount duty of the press and the Opposition to ask questions. If Reliance has any sense of public interest, they should answer them point by point, instead of approaching courts. – Ramachandra Raju DS
I don’t understand why NDTV is so irritated.They have the right to publish whatever they think is right. But anybody who thinks that the report is fabricated and intended to malign them may seek legal remedy. Let the the court decide who is correct. No one has the exclusive right of projecting truth in a democracy. A news channel definitely has the right to bthe ring truth to the public but it should be without any bias. – Tapan Sarkar
India, even after 70 years of Independence, is not able to solve the burning issues affecting 70 % of its population. In this context we have to carefully re-examine whether our democracy is becoming a mobocracy because of the unrestricted freedom given to any Tom, Dick or Harry to engage in any discussion in the guise of free expression, which is proving costly for the downtrodden. In the last 30 years, the country has suffered a lot because of political instability. Every constituent is pulling the string of administration to their advantage and ignoring national interest.
The Press is now feeling the heat because they had a field day during those 30 years. Definitely there should be a degree of freedom for all and one should realise their duty and responsibility before right to free expression. Otherwise our country will go to the dogs and utter chaos and confusion will reign, which is the ultimate goal of the Indian press. They do not know what is relevant and only go after sensational news to increase their ratings and profitablity while mortgaging the interest of the motherland. – Menon Kurupath
NDTV often telecasts anti-government news. So sedition charges may be the ultimate option to contain them. Being loyal will help them get advertisements and run their business well. – Surajit Misra
It is widely known that the influx of undocumented migrants in Tripura has turned its indigenous people into a much smaller number (“After Assam, will Tripura be the next state to get a National Register of Citizens?”). The NRC may help them against becoming a minority. – CK Boro
Bihar politicians are not speaking up because they are accomplices to the crime (“‘They have no solution’: Why Bihar’s politicians aren’t speaking up on migrant exodus from Gujarat”). Even seven decades after Independence, Bihar doesn’t have much industry, good education infrastructure or employment opportunities. Nitish Kumar is ruling the state for the past 13 years but has not done much to improve the existing infrastructure, create more jobs and bring about rural development. The current crisis of large-scale exodus of migrant workers from Gujarat is a classic example of the collective failure of the government of the state in protecting the interest of poor people within and outside their state of residence. The election rhetoric of development and chest thumping has no limit, but the tolerance has a limit. No state would welcome people from other places at the cost of their own livelihood. – Rehan Ansar
It is surprising that despite there being video clips showing Alpesh Thakor’s speech, the government has not taken any action against ihm (“Gujarat migrant exodus: In district that was epicentre of attacks, anger about outsiders taking jobs”). From a baby’s alleged rape, the issue has become an outsider versus insider debate and no one is inquiring about the fate of the child. The Congress is adding fuel to the fire. Shame on netas of Congress who are playing this dirty game. – Nandakumar Pisharody
Man in command
The essence of the author’s argument is contained in the sentences “the Cabinet Secretary, the chiefs of the military staffs, the Reserve Bank of India governor and more will all have to report to Doval” and “...this makes him the most powerful bureaucrat in 20 years” (“The Daily Fix: Does NSA Ajit Doval deserve to get a promotion and more powers?”).
The first sentence is nonsense. Chairmanship of a committee or group does not mean that the members “report” to the chairman. Of course, the chairman has a more senior role, but reporting relationships of the members remain within their respective organisations.
The second sentence invites the response “so what?” Someone has to be most powerful bureaucrat at any time. If Doval is the man at this juncture, then what is the problem? After all, he has been head of both our intelligence agencies and is senior to all the fellows currently in service.
The basic problem (an inconsequential one, in the scheme of things) is that the sarkari babudom of Delhi that is obsessed with hierarchy, rank, back-biting and so forth cannot stomach the fact that one of their former numbers is so close to the prime minister and exercises so much power and influence over matters as diverse as foreign policy, intelligence, defense and so on. It is natural that these matters concern the NSA – the raison d’être of the position – but the ivory tower theorists and pen pushers who have spent their careers kowtowing to the political masters and enjoying the cushy comforts of office have always been irked by Doval.
He is a rough and ready fellow who has earned his spurs by risking his neck for decades in the most inhospitable and dangerous battle grounds, and built a practical, hard-nosed and realistic understanding of the security challenges confronting India.
Modi and Doval are doing as good a job on national security as can be expected. From standing up to China in Doklam, to isolating Pakistan in international fora and in the region and bringing Gilgit, Baltistan and Baluchistan into the frame when it comes to Pakistan, they are doing well. It is a good thing that the prime minister and the NSA operate so well together. Petty bureaucratic jealousies will continue to exist. – Ajay Singh
Change of guard
As the new Chief Justice of India takes over, here are some suggestions (“Ranjan Gogoi had raised important questions about Supreme Court. It’s time to address those concerns”). The Supreme Court should restrict itself to important legal issues and not things like potholes or how lions die. The allotment of cases, the roster, bench composition and the like should be automated, at random and computerised. We should presume that all judges are equally competent. Then, there should be ceiling on the length of judgment. All reasoning and citations should be in annexure, which litigants will see only if required. The names of judges should be not mentioned as part of judgment. This prevents the clamour for visibility and publicity. Accountability should be fixed where there is repeat reversal of judgments. Lastly, the number of levels for appeal should be reduced. – TR Shastri
The Supreme Court suffered during Dipak Misra’s period. Not only credibility, the dispensation of justice also suffered. Ranjan Gogoi should strive to bring in the element of transparency that has been missing all along. Hope he succeeds. – PD Amarnath
Women in science
I liked your article regarding attitude of Indian Institute of Science towards women in its early days (“When CV Raman denied a student admission in IISc because she was a woman”). Perhaps this continues to be true in many institutes even now and in the corporate world too. I think we should stop celebrating Women’s Day because it has just become a token celebration and people in reality still do not respect women.
The author has done a great job in bringing out aspect of a prestigious institute. – Gauri Prasad
Eighteenth-century Mughal Delhi was truly a tolerant society in which poets and men of letters, free from fear, could compose literary works that subjected both the king and clergy to lampoon (“Subversive in verse: How Delhi’s Urdu poets once challenged emperors and clerics”). Contrast this to so-called modern times of our democracy when intellectuals and writers who dare to open their mouths to ask questions to and to be critical of the dispensation are routinely hounded, vilified, or have a variety of incentives hurled at them, anti-national and urban Naxal being the choicest ones. The rulers of Delhi could draw a lesson or two from the 18th-century kings and people of this great city. – Samiul Hassan Quadri