Road ahead

Harsh Mander’s letter represents the voice of the anti-Modi group (“Harsh Mander’s open letter on 2019 results: A savage summer, a merciless drought”). The majority of voters opted for Modi. Who else was there? Rahul Gandhi, who believes he has a birth right to the seat, ran an abusive campaign and had to apologise to the Supreme Court for being illogical? Akhilesh, who let his father down for power? Mayawati, who uses her caste to add to personal assets? Mamata, the regional volcano? Chandra Babu who lost his post?

The Indian people could not have voted Harsh Mander or me as their prime minister.

Hindu fanatics in several places have attacked Muslims. Now, the state police have to take action. The courts have to punish them. No one can blame Modi for the Hindu-Muslim fights in India. There are as many or more fights among Hindus on caste lines and among Muslims on sectarian differences. Also, there are tussles over land, money and many issues. All conflicts are not on religious grounds. But those against Modi are painting all these as religious conflicts and Modi is made responsible for these.

Democracy is the acceptance of popular will. Harsh Mander and I cannot pretend to be wiser than the people. We do not know how many Muslims voted for him, especially women. In his first meeting with his party leaders, he said that the fears of minorities must be eradicated by ensuring equality. Let us hope Harsh Mander’s fears are all misplaced. – Radhakrishnan Pattath


This is an utterly disgusting, one-sided and worthless article. The author’s hypocrisy is evident in the first paragraph itself, when he says that he couldn’t believe the massive mandate for Modi. – Harish Kulkarni


Thank you for writing this letter. You have expressed all that I have been feeling over the past few days: anguish, despair, crushing disappointment in my fellow Indian citizens. But I too want to stand and fight for my country. We cannot allow the hate to win. We have to stand up for those who are discriminated against – which, as a Christian, could be me one day. But how do we do this? The people who support Modi do not listen. They are so convinced that they are not open to any debate or compromise. What can we do? If a man is lynched in Uttar Pradesh, what must I do? How do I protest this? I want Harsh Mander to know that if he is standing up in protest, there are many of us with him who are ready to do what needs to be done. This open letter gives me hope. Rosemary


What’s puzzling to me is the writer’s portrayal of the current era as a dystopia. I wonder where he comes from. We don’t want falsities. Narendra Modi won on his own merit and this will be the best times for India. Do respect India and her people’s mandate. Such journalism is appalling. – Aayushii Chawla


Harsh Mander is refusing to see the truth. He still thinks his brand of secularism is the only genuine brand. He still thinks that the Modi wave is based on Hindutva alone.

Let me share some anecdotes. I spoke to a watchman in Pune who had gone to his village in Allahabad, where everyone seemed to have voted for Modi. The reason was that they had never had proper, but that changed when the BJP came to power. There used to be no electricity, now they have it. Toilets have been built, improving women’s safety.

Another man said his village had not gained much in the past five years, but he was happy about the construction of toilets and the ouster of goons and thugs.

A vegetable seller from Maharashtra and a carpenter for Karnataka said that their Lok Sabha candidates were good for nothing, but they still voted for Modi, because the village now has water in the summer.

An artist who had volunteered to do some work for the BJP was sent to Amethi and Varanasi at her own expense. Her job included to make a lotus on women’s hands with mehendi. She said she was met many Muslim women who said they would vote for the BJP because of the construction of toilets and the outlawing of triple talaq. At Varanasi, she found people who were overwhelmed by the changes in the city. In a village, Bhojpuri-speaking women told her they don’t want Congress’s NYAY minimum income guarantee because their husbands would spend the money on alcohol. In general, Hindutva did not factor into the conversations. – Dileep Paranjpye


Until and unless you remove these pseudo-secularists, you will be scrolled completely. Where was he when Pandits had to flee Kashmir? Why is there no protest when Hindus are assaulted? When Muslims are attacked, the award-wapsi gang comes out. Where was he when some people were praising another country and seeking revenge against their own country? Such journalism is not good for democracy. – Sankaraprasad BL


The primary analysis of this election is that Congress was washed out because of its ego and haughtiness that came from years of ruling India unopposed. Second, the party’s idea of democracy is wrapped in and twisted with feudalism. It is not easy to fool the public now. – Rajesh Jain


I read with interest this article on the 2019 election results. Many reasons can be attributed to the strong showing of the BJP. Going forward, since the BJP has seized upon Hindutva, it will continue to prevail in the years to come primarily because the Hindu-majority country will vote time and time again for someone who portrays secularism as being minority appeasement.

The bogey of terrorism will always mean that the minorities will be a threat to the majority, even though this is far from the truth. What we saw in the 2019 elections was caste distinctions vanish and each sub-caste reasserting themselves as Hindu first. We saw an increase in the number of seats won by the BJP and this trend will continue till 80% of the seats are won based on religion.

The Opposition has nothing in its tool box to fight this trend, because even the Opposition is predominantly Hindu. There is no ideology that can overcome this affinity for one’s religion. There is only one solution, and that is to prove without a shadow of doubt that the voters confidence Hinduism and Hindutva is grossly misplaced. If one were to set about proving this, it has to be done through reason. Is anyone up for such a debate? – Eugene Pinto


Thank you, Harsh Mander, for the humane analysis of the present situation and the endearing appeal to all conscientious citizens. The more difficult the scenario, the more challenging is the task before all of us. One point you did not dwell on is the tampering of EVMs, allegations of which I think held true in some select constituencies. In Jharkhand, for example, there were such instances and the parties concerned have taken the matter to the state election commission. Why no action was taken is another matter. Hoping the Opposition parties will take this up through street protests as well as legal avenues. – Stan Swamy


The author is completely blinded by cognitive bias. Let me present a different thought, of an aspirational India where the citizen realises that money feeds mouths, not ideology or religion. Muslims voted for Modi so did Dalits.
A million new job entrants a month need sustenance. India will rise to the challenge and will be anchored by a powerful leader who will stand up to caste driven politics and global competition. The author should believe and let go of flowery prose. – Narendra Kini


Never before did I feel that politics or parties ruling India could affect my day-to-day life. However, the changing faces of the country has changed my thought. The increasing violence and disruption in society in the name of religion has forced me to think that if we don’t intervene now, it will be too late. The nation is backsliding into practices and beliefs that had been abolished years back.

I feel hopeful when I read that there are still journalists there who do justice to their profession rather than propagating agendas of political parties. I hope to see India as a developed country rather than a downtrodden one.
Keep up the good work! – Leeba Thomas

Modi 2.0

What Narendra Modi said in his post-election speech is nothing new (“‘There has been a pro-incumbency wave this year,’ says Modi after being elected leader of NDA”). It was all theatrics meant for international community. Rather than asking Muslims to come out of a fear that he implies is delusional, he should accept the ground reality. What he is preaching after the elections cannot be put in to practice by him as he is ridding the lion. Getting down can be very dangerous for him and his party. – Surti Sultan

Justice delayed

It is crystal clear that the government is using different standards in the Ishrat Jahan and Pragya Thakur cases (“Two women, two policemen: The Ishrat Jahan and Pragya Thakur cases are a study in contrast”). It seems that since Ishrat was Muslim, she was declared a terrorist and killed, while Pragya, being Hindu, could not be a terrorist. It is very very strange.

At the same time, cops who killed innocent people of a particular community are given gallantry awards while those who laid down their lives are insulted.

India and Indians are groping in the dark. Under the present government, the future of India is bleak and very dark. – Salahuddin Kadri


Every word in this piece deserves an applause. As citizens of this country, we should be ashamed to call ourselves patriotic, as we are just power driven. It is sad for democracy and the Constitution that a police officer is lauded just because he had killed a supposed “Muslim terrorist” and a deceased policeman is looked down upon because he dared to investigate charges against a so-called Hindutva leader who has gone on to become an MP. But people like the author, Kavita Krishnan, give us hope. – Sushanta Upadhaya

Dynasty politics

My question to Rahul Gandhi is, how did he get to be Congress president in the first place (“Rahul Gandhi accuses three senior Congress leaders of placing their sons above party: Reports”)? It happened because his mother did the same by putting her son above the party. The rot began at the top long ago. The fate of the Congress is analogous to the fable of the boiling frog who is unaware of the danger till its too late. High time the soul-searching in the party begin right at the top. There is no easy way out. – George Kunnath


It is true to a great extent that the Congress has turned into a party of leaders and their hangers-on, but very few genuine party workers (“Congress is directionless, Rahul Gandhi’s personality does not attract people: Shiv Sena”). This is the result of a long and continuous stint in power. If new workers are to be recruited, they must be people with fire inside them, those with passion for some ideological goals. And they should be given some freedom. As for Rahul, it is a pity the media was biased against him. He has drawbacks, but he is willing to learn. And where was the Modi wave when, under Rahul’s leadership, the Congress won in three states? So it was not a normal type of election. – Hiren Gohain


This is an excellent article with clearly articulated arguments and analysis of ground realities (“The Daily Fix: It is time the Congress stood for a political idea rather than a political family”). The Congress needs to introspect. Though I am regular reader of, I don’t like the stance of all your writers on politics, but I do read them to know of different viewpoints. But this one stands out from other largely anti-BJP articles on the website. – Iyer Shiva

Elections 2019

Regarding Rohan Venkataramakrishnan’s piece “2019 results: BJP is no longer a ‘Hindi heartland’ party (except for Tamil Nadu and Andhra)”, I’m afraid the facts suggest otherwise. Section 2 of the The Official Language Rules divides India into three regions for the purposes of linguistic governance: “”Region A” means the States of Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territories of Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands; “Region B” means the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli; “Region C” means the States and the Union Territories other than those referred to in clauses (f) and (g).””

If you look at the vote shares of the BJP in these three regions, it is 53% in Region A, 33% in Region B and 26% in Region C.
The decline in the BJP’s performance as we leave the so-called “heartland” is precipitous, notwithstanding substantial gains in Bengal, Odisha, and Karnataka. The BJP’s tally of 70 of 220 seats in Region C has doubled from 2014 and yet the vote share is half of what it is in Region A. Even in Region B, its success appears to have been as a result of a divided opposition in Maharashtra: Gujarat is a long-standing base while it got only two seats in Punjab.

Region C accounts for 35% of India’s population, a very substantial minority that rarely gets discussed in our North-India-centric idea of India. It is a region where less than 1 in 10 Indians voted for the BJP. As with 2014, this election has illustrated the North-west Indian hegemony over the South and East both in fact and in our imaginations. The deafening silence around this point is testimony to how deep this hegemony is. – Anush Kapadia


Your views on West Bengal are not a reflection of reality (“Amar saffron Bangla: Five reasons for the BJP’s surge in Bengal”). The shift of Left votes were because of the rampant corruption and tremendous hostility of the ruling party towards Left and Congress supporters. A careful analysis of the voting pattern in the constituencies will reveal that the Left votes in the Hindu population shifted towards the BJP but most of the Muslim Left votes went to the Trinamool Congress. The Trinamool, on the other hand, despite losing a considerable amount of Hindu votes, has consolidated nearly all of Muslim votes in its favour. It appears that the Left supporters have voted tactically. But it’s not a straight line from Left to the BJP, as proposed by the article. – Sandip Dey


Wing and prayer

Time and again we come across such grave blunders that threaten to destroy heritage places and natural resources (“Bye, bye birdie: As plans for Pune metro speed up, a bird sanctuary risks becoming collateral damage”). It’s high time that someone educate those at the helm of the Pune Metro about the damage they are about to do in the name of development.

Dr Salim Ali, popularly known as the “Birdman of India”, spend a lifetime studying winged species across the length and breadth of the country.
The bird park in Pune is home to hundreds of species of birds, some of which are rare and in the danger of extinction. This park is a haven for such birds. Its destruction will cause serious damage to the ecosystem. I appeal to the authorities concerned to look for viable alternatives that will not hurt the bird park. – Krishna Kumar

Coastal road project

I absolutely fail to understand the government’s thinking on the transport system in Mumbai and the insistence on wasting so much money on a coastal road that will benefit only a fraction of the commuters in the city (“‘Destructive futility’: 10 reasons why Mumbai’s Coastal Road Project should be scrapped”). I also fail to understand the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the High Court’s stay order on further construction. Why has the decision left so much room for confusion? Are the judges not bothered or are they under political pressure to make decisions that are obviously harmful for the public and disastrous for the environment? Why are we all sleeping while our city is being ruined? – Uma Ranganathan

Banking crisis

There is mayhem the banking sector and certain non banking financial institutions under the evil indulgent eyes of the government and regulators like SEBI (“Fixed maturity plan crisis may be just the tip of the iceberg for debt mutual funds in India”).

Credit rating of corporate bonds had been in jeopardy for long. Such information is not disclosed to the investors so that the reputation of the fund house can be saved for as long as possible. The huge burden of non performing assets that the banks and financial institutions are carrying forward and adding to unabashedly with the indirect approval of those in power amounts to organised fraud in the financial sector in India and will eventually have a ripple effect not only on the debt market but also on the equity market.

My India is great. Here, the regulators, under the nose of the government and the state, are robbing the nation. It’s a failed state by all counts. – C Basu Mullick

Preserving the old

I really liked this article. The condition of museums in India is pitiable (“Why are most Indian museums so bad at preserving history? A conservation expert explains”). There is a shortage of experts, infrastructure, resources, equipment and so on. Anupam Sah explains in the article that the tender system of governments and agencies only worsens the situation. It’s strange that we are a country of such rich history, culture and heritage but we don’t have enough hands to safeguard that. The reason for this is not the dearth of talent and vision in the country, it’s that the wrong people are placed in coveted positions, which is evident in government-aided museums and organisations. What we need are more non-profit organisations devoted to conversation. Policy makers need to support the growth and funding of such organisations. – Harish Benjwal

Historical fiction

I have a Masters in History and am I very particular about teaching the subject properly (“Historical fiction has more readers than ever but for its authors, the genre can be a minefield”). I am an avid historical fiction reader and I think it is a shame that people get offended by such novels if they “contradict” historical fact. I enjoy the fiction and don’t get offended because it is fiction. I really appreciate your article and was a little disappointed to see that there is no comment section, but I also understand why. – Tim

CJI case

It is rather strange that the report of the in-house committee in the sexual harassment allegations against the Chief Justice of India has not been made public citing the Supreme Court judgment in the 2003 Indira Jaising v Supreme Court of India case (“CJI sexual harassment case: Inquiry panel found ‘no substance’ in accusations against Gogoi, says SC”). The said judgment was passed prior to the enactment of the Right to Information Act in 2005. Now, the decision regarding the disclosure of the report to the public needs to be taken in the light of the transparency law and not with regard to the judgment of the Supreme Court in a different time and under a different circumstance. – C Ramesh


This detailed interview with the women victimised by our system, particularly the Supreme Court, is incredible (“Interview: ‘I’ve lost everything. Financially, mentally, everything,’ says ex-SC staffer in CJI case”). Her fight for justice and dignity is remarkable. Your interview explains the depth of this case and the many dimensions of failures – human, legal, institutional, procedural, gender-related and more – at the highest court of our supposedly independent judiciary.

Fundamentally our institutions have been designed to protect the privileged, in this case the Chief Justice of India. Even if someone assumes that the CJI is innocent, the Supreme Court committee has done great damage to itself, the nation and the process of justice. How can they protect the constitution if they can’t protect a women from a fellow judge!
I want to share my sincere appreciation for such a sensitive, balanced and professional interview with the women betrayed by highest court. – Biksham Gujja

Musical note

This is regarding the piece titled “Nostalgia king: How Tamil filmmakers are keeping Ilaiyaraaja’s musical legacy alive”. I was intrigued by James Vasanthan’s comment: “Before he arrived, composers like KV Mahadevan and MS Viswanathan were following a set structure of a repeating pallavi followed by very short interludes before the charanams – a kind of 1-2-1 structure.”

This comment only reveals his ignorance about MS Viswanathan’s music. In his long and illustrious career, MS Viswanathan has gone far beyond the “1-2-1 structure” and “very short interludes” in songs too numerous to recount here. Certainly one expects better from a modern day film music composer. – R Ravi