Election countdown

The upcoming Lok Sabha election is probably more important than any other that Independent India has seen as this will lay the foundation of the idea of India that we want (“The Election Fix: Kargil to Balakot, do Indians vote with national security in mind?”). Let us first look at the idea of India as enshrined in our constitution. We are a secular, socialist, democratic republic. Now let us dissect each word here.

Mob lynchings, National Citizenship Registers, non-entry of refugees of certain religions go against the word “secular”. Now, we can pretend that all this is fine considering the present context or take serious objection to it. The fact that the genesis of certain political parties is anchored in division by religion is also a fact that we choose to ignore.

Then, we all seem comfortable with the fact that rich-poor gulf is ever widening. Today, the top 1% of the population holds 73% of the wealth, the most that this segment ever has had. So much for socialism.

Let’s go to “democratic”. We can call the Opposition’s president “pappu” and call “liberal” news channels “pseudo” but try doing that to the ruling party and you will face consequences. That way, the USA is a far more democratic country than we are. One can actually make fun of the president and get likes, not trolls.

So, we are all not abiding by the foundations of the Constitution. Does that make all of us “anti-national”? And is this brand of anti-national acceptable?

Which brings me to the second point: the definition of nationalism. Samuel Johnson famously proclaimed that “Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel”. Now, we are seem to have imbibed this scoundrel. Right from playing our national anthem in theatres to our national song being sung before sessions in state assemblies, politicians from across party-lines love to play the patriot card. Yes, nationalism was a great idea to unite a newly independent India but are we not playing into divisive hands by singing this tune today? We have read enough European history to realise that both World Wars and all man-made disasters have been a direct consequence of extreme nationalism. But maybe we have forgotten all this. – Mohit Ahuja

Chowkidar politics

The entire article is in very bad taste, though one cannot expect good articles from you (“‘I would not want anyone to be a chowkidar’: Watchmen across India respond to Modi’s campaign”). “Chowkidar” means guardian. It may be a security guard, but here, it means guard against corruption. Therefore, even your journalists can be termed “chowkidar” if they guard against corruption. Therefore interviews with security guards is nothing but waste of time and it shows the perverse motive of criticising the government. – Ramasubramanian Venkatraman


Stop your nuisance negative propaganda against the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign. How much you have received from Congress or ISI for spreading lies? Don’t you feel ashamed? – Abhijit Kundu


Rahul Gandhi has been shouting “chor, chor” and also wants others to say the same. He should know the chowkidar is not a chor. Chowkidars work day and night and Modi is one of them. Congress and their masters are the real chors who looted the public exchequer throughout their decades-long rule. Rahul Gandhi should first look at his own and his party’s track record with the National Herald case, Coalgate, the 2G scam, the Commonwealth Games scam and many others. Those who are siding with him may be in the same category. I am proud to say that I am also chowkidar of this country. Let him label us as a chor. – G Upadhyay


I am proud to be a chowkidar for protecting my family There is no shame in it. Being a retired military person, I safeguard my family and our motherland. Every Indian is a proud chowkidar. – Ramnath Sharma


You seem to be totally out of sync with the ground situation here in India. Catching a few people to create headline that suits your agenda is irrelevant. We are very proud to have a great leader like Modi heading country and will support him always. And for the record, mai bhi chowkidar. – Manish Kulkarni


Did your publication really undestand the connotation of Narendra Modi’s chowkidar? He was not referring to being a chowkidar at an ATM or a restaurant. When he said desh ka chowkidar, I am sure learned minds understood what he meant. – Shavan Bhattacharjee


We respect Modi as our prime minister and not our chowkidar. He is entrusted with the defence of our country. Events like the Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama attacks are serious violations of our country’s borders which put the lives of our soldiers on the line and point to intelligence failures. It smacks of sheer servility that all his ministers with bigger priorities decide to join in and call themselves chowkidars. – SN Iyer

26/11 response

It seems that the Indian govt was more concerned about other countries’ perception instead of the sentiments and lives of its own (“Insider account: Why India didn’t attack Pakistan after 26/11”). It was understood that the Indian government was weak. The article gives the impression that the government made up their minds first not to respond out of fear and then a decision was taken. – Jatin Malik


It simply appears to be a lame explanation for the cowardice of the UPA government. Shivshankar Menon is trying very hard to defend the indefensible. Such thinking by successive Congress governments has turned India into a soft state. – Salil Khare

Ethnic tensions

At a time when the Inner Line Permit could not be enacted because of the contentions of our tribal brothers, and with the looming implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, future of the Meeteis looks to be precarious (“Why Manipur’s dominant Meitei community wants Scheduled Tribe status”). Our tribal brethren are expressing their apprehension of dividing the quota with us and fears of us snatching their land. Their intellectuals too are expressing this view and are unable to look ahead and see the impending demographic alteration. If that were to happen, they too won’t be spared from the tragedy. They are short sighted. As for their anxiety about disturbance of their existing scheduled tribe quota, an arrangement to prevent that can be proposed but not in central government. – Somorendro Koijam


It’s a shame that the Meiteis, who until a few years ago took pride in their so-called general status, are now demanding schedueed tribe status. As someone from the schedule tribe, I cannot but question the motive behind this demand.

With the empowered schedule tribes holding posts everywhere, they are losing their monopoly. Their insecurities have riled up so much that they are willing to adopt a new identity. The identity of the people they have derided and mocked for generations. The derogatory term used for tribal by the Meiteis is “hao” loosely translated untouchable. This word is still in use today and reflects the discriminatory attitude of the Meiteis. Yambem Laba who is a well known figure must be lauded for his hypocrisy. Besides his journalism and activism, he is equally known for his discriminatory attitude towards the tribals. They have no right to demand scheduled tribe status. – Shinobi Suantak

Tradition and change

Polyamory is an absolutely farcical concept. People who are getting attracted to it are day-dreamers (“The truth about polyamory in India – ‘it isn’t about sex and fun’”). They seem not to know about the affection in traditional families. These days, absurdities and abnormalities are getting normal. Be it anti-natalism or polymamorous relationship, they have origins in a society that doesn’t have any regard for culture and values. – Rehan Ansar

Aadhaar concerns

What’s wrong in linking Aadhaar with EPIC (“Scroll Investigation: How your Voter ID was linked to Aadhaar without your knowledge or consent”)? The ghost voter names get removed from the voters list. Only cheaters and ill-minded crooked people only will oppose such linking. – Shubha Nayak Sirsi


Why does India have so many identity cards such as voter ID, Aadhaar, PAN card and ration card, if everything needs to be linked to Aadhaar?

With regard to linking of Aaadhar to voter ID, it is a good concept because it allows easy verification. Also, why should we have to apply for a voter ID, when the government has records. When it comes to securing data, if it is centralised, data security can be increased. – Harsha Vardhan Koppunur

Facets of discrimination

The article points out the neurodevelopmental deficits that are characteristic of Down Syndrome, but fails to mention that functional outcomes of children with Down Syndrome have dramatically improved over the last few decades (“Calcutta High Court turns down woman’s plea to terminate 26-week-old foetus with Down Syndrome”). A growing body of research shows that children with Down Syndrome lead happy lives. It is quite shocking that in a society that struggles with female foeticide, we continue to discriminate based on genetic identity.

Just as female-sex-selective abortion is a form of misogyny and oppression, terminating foetuses with Down Syndrome solely because of the fact that they have that condition is, intentionally or otherwise, a form of ableism and oppression. The case may be made that the numbers that were cited previously were specific to the US, because there is better access to medical technology and therapy services. And this may be true. However, foetuses with Down Syndrome continue to be terminated at rates as high as 85% even in the US.

The fundamental issue is not necessarily the existence of medical technology. Rather it is twofold: the lack of clear and balanced educational and counseling material provided to couples after they receive a Down Syndrome diagnosis and the historical and cultural ableism that is rampant in Indian society. If the latter is addressed, then the political will needed for the former will be easily generated.

The medical community itself is to blame for much of this ableism. Fortunately, much work is being done by disability rights advocates to educate doctors and laypersons on this. I would recommend readers of this article and parents who have received a Down Syndrome diagnosis to reach out to the Down Syndrome Federation of India, which is doing amazing and pioneering work in advocacy and education on Down Syndrome. As a society that struggles with all kinds of discrimination ranging from casteism to sexism, we can try our best to reduce our discrimination against our brothers and sisters with Down Syndrome. – Aaron S

Reader feedback

With all due respect to the officer and I appreciate her work from the bottom of my heart, why on earth would I want to know about anyone’s tattoos (“In eight months and three matches, Lt Anuradha takes a big leap from Navy to Shooting World Cup”)? If it were a way of introducing the officer’s passions, the writer could have used another metaphor. It pains me as a reader that the story of such brilliant officers are written with a zeal that’s misplaced and misdirected. – Rajashekhar Konapurkar

Music corner

The writer did a marvelous job of bringing to life through the pen all the nuances of Kishoritai’s contribution to music (“What made Kishori Amonkar’s music sublime, complex and radical? Her foremost disciple explains”). Words can’t express the joy I felt on reading this article. I sincerely hope and pray that Kishoritai’s early music will be made available to the public soon. – Shobha Dravid