Against police brutality

The police in India are not under civic management, but under the home department of the government (George Floyd: Minneapolis police department to be dismantled, Trump withdraws National Guard troops). Instead of that arrangement making for a more sensitive and accountable internal security force, it has been time and again accused to cater to the narrow political interests of whichever party is in power. This is regarded as a colonial inheritance and thought to prop up by force any ruling power that gives short shrift to ideas of justice and rule of law.

Is it now time that there is a country-wide clamour for police reform when the police appear to follow blindly dictates of autocrats in government? There is scandalous lack of application of mind in cases where victims of violence are charged with being perpetrators of violence. And any protest against the government is twisted into a case of sedition and criminal violence against the state. Police officers of integrity and conscience often feel frustrated at the state of things.

The courts have often castigated the police though that seems to rub off on the force without any effect. Widespread and sustained public condemnation could be the only course of action to bring the force into a sense of its own true role and responsibility. – Hiren Gohain


Such height of anarchy! What a kind of an outpour of anger and revolt against authoritarianism! (George Floyd death: Donald Trump took shelter in White House bunker as protests raged, say reports). The issue is a grim reminder that oppression leads to revolt. One cannot hold a spring compressed for too long. The moment it is released, it rises back with renewed energy.

To quote Martin Luther King Jr, “A riot is a language of the unheard.” Let us not forget that discrimination of all kinds is detrimental to democratic dictums. Undoubtedly what Floyd did is wrong but the treatment meted out to him is inhuman. The incident has had deep-seated roots in the overall failures in the management of the pandemic and the repercussions thereof. The big boss hiding himself in a bunker reveals the extent of fury and might of the protest.

As if to adds fuel to fire, threatening to unleash vicious dogs and ominous weapons on the agitators and calling them “thugs” would unduly disturb a conciliatory path for peace, especially at a time when the country is fighting with an unprecedented health crisis. – Ramana Gove


Lockdown and its impact

The opinion of a group of experts that the lockdown was of no use is incorrect in my opinion (Full Text: Draconian lockdown, incoherent strategies led to India paying a heavy price, say experts). It ensured that the numbers of cases remained low and occurred over a longer period of time. This allowed the government to mobilise medical resources and people to habituate themselves with the importance of avoiding various social activities.

A resource-poor country like ours could not have dealt with the kind of overwhelming experience of USA and European countries. Who is to say that the case numbers predicted by the modellers would not have happened without the lockdown? The way forward remains cautious, with restricted opening up of important economic activities.

The government should liberalise testing and provide more kits for common citizens to get tested with ease. No doubt, the lives of many have been disrupted and lost, but could it have been better without the lockdown? I personally don’t think so. The hospitals would have been filled up with Covid-19 cases, keeping healthcare workers engaged, and patients with other diseases would not have gotten any treatment even in that situation.

At least today our Covid-19 death rate is not anywhere close to countries with similar number of positive cases. – SK Gupta


A scientific study says that every week’s delay in lockdown adds to the number of lives lost (No, Mr Home Minister, migrant workers did not start walking home because they ‘lost patience’). If the lockdown was announced earlier, more lives would have been saved. Even in war, an operation is called off if the casualties are to be heavy. This is the crunch point. It’s a difficult decision.

Our bureaucracy is not all that efficient to make arrangements quickly if lockdown had been delayed. This is evident by the manner in which migrants are being handled. Just to list out the names of those who want to go home by trains will take ages. Earlier, it would have compelled the government to divert their already-meagre resources at that time for this purpose. Meanwhile, Covid-19 would not have waited for administrative arrangements.

Rail and bus services would have been used even by non-migrants resulting in more confusion and spread of Covid-19. But was there need to rush to the bus and rail stations without confirmation? Why did the government, politicians, bureaucracy and union leaders not make efforts to sort out the confusion once the migrants decided to rush like this? Why were the migrants not told that staying back would not cost them their lives because the mortality rate is less than 5%? The migrants will come back once the work commences. No one will give them jobs where they are. – Sudhir Jatar


Miscellaneous comments

Honestly speaking, do you folks have nothing better to do? Can you not see entertainment for the sake of entertainment? Must you seek to politicise everything and make everything into a conspiracy? (Pakistan is obsessed with a Turkish drama that glorifies the sword and distorts Islamic history). Have you considered that people may enjoyed this series because of its production quality or because they are tired of misogynist Pakistani dramas that are mostly about absolute nonsense?

Instead of belittling someone’s efforts to portray their vision on screen, maybe the scribe could teach Pakistani producers and writers how to bring some quality entertainment. People may watch the show for entertainment and so they learn something useful. Have you thought that maybe you are biased and unflattering? Or do you consider all Pakistanis mindless drones who only deserve to watch the senseless content we are used to watching? – Syed Talha Salman


I am an atheist in the USA and I love this programme (Pakistan is obsessed with a Turkish drama that glorifies the sword and distorts Islamic history). I understand that the series is only loosely based on historical figures and events. I don’t mind that a lot of the combat scenes are preposterous. They are exciting to watch.

The religious views of the characters are not important to me. I enjoyed similar series and films about the Roman empire, the Vikings, King Arthur and his knights, and the Tudor dynasty. That the characters worshipped Jupiter, Odin, Jesus, or whoever did not matter. It’s the stories and performances that drive my interest. The exploits of Ertugrul and his tribe are very exciting. After three years of living under a president who is a bigoted, hateful, corrupt, incompetent, and a morally bankrupt liar, watching a brave, honest and caring leader fight tyranny and corruption is a pleasant fantasy. – Mark Murphy


It was so healing to read Vinod Mehta’s piece on Vajpayee (Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): A poet among bigots). In the midst of this euphoria over him, he was deeply blemished man, but climbed to the top as so many corrupt and megalomaniac men have. It is sad for India, which is a remarkable nation full of worthy, bright and idealistic people.

Vajpayee’s oratory got him accolades and indeed to watch him deliver a speech was truly seductive. But while he is no worse than many of our leaders and prime ministers, he certainly does not deserve the overarching praise and respect that we see pouring out. I prefer leaders like Karunanidhi or Jayalalitha. In fact, an aspect that I notice and abhor is the North Indianness of this sycophancy. I wish the idea of the South as a separate nation could have taken off. We would have been less myopic. – Devaki Jain


I would like to make a very quick point about the article on Sadhguru (Opinion: The disturbing irrationalism of Jaggi Vasudev). It is poorly put together and biased. And for some reason there is no mention of the person who wrote the article – maybe out of fear of receiving flak. I think you can do a much better job writing an article that communicates your guru-phobia from an objective standpoint.

You’re just another religion – that of blind rationality – trying to profess your beliefs. Others communicate through sermon, you do it with the pen. You are not invoking an objective outlook or even simple critical thinking. Instead of presenting the facts in absolute objectivity, you’re only making sure they lean on your side by twisting the facts and presenting them as you want. I hope to see less hypocrisy from you and more objectivity with a thirst to deliver truth. – Dilip Kandangath