This refers to your cover story Swadeshi Movement Part 2 (October 12). According to the writer, some see PM Narendra Modi’s Aatma Nirbhar Bharat as a 21st-century version of Gandhi’s call to embrace swadeshi, an intoxicating cocktail of nationalism, capitalism and globalisation. Others look at it as a magical melting pot for patriotism, self-confidence and national ambition. It turns out to be a chaotic and confusing blend of beliefs. However, Land of Billion Entrypreneurs in the same package significantly states that a crucial aspect is to fan the business of ideas so that more goods are manufactured in India for Indian consumers and the rest of the world.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to One Plus One Equals Five (October 12), your story on Jammu and Kashmir’s new language policy. Because of popular demand, the government has decided to add Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi to Urdu and English in the list of J&K’s official languages. There is now a demand to include Punjabi as well. Will Kashmiris have to learn all these languages? Decisions about languages cannot be forced on people in a multilingual society with its historically complex culture and tradition. Only non-Hindi-speaking people have to bear the burden of three or, in this instance, more than three languages. English and the regional language can more than meet the aspirational needs of citizens. Language chauvinism is counterproductive.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
This refers to A Fierce-Eyed Mob, As Gods Wore Blinkers (October 12) on the Supreme Court’s verdict on the demolition of Babri Masjid. As no one killed Jessica Lal, so no one razed Babri Masjid. It perhaps crumbled on account of the movement of tectonic plates, a tornado or a tsunami. Addressing a public gathering in Lucknow the day before the demolition, Atal Behari Vajpayee said the ground had to be levelled for kar seva to be performed. A battery of top leaders made rabble-rousing speeches to instigate the fanatics to bring down the mosque. The then UP CM Kalyan Singh ordered police not to open fire, come what may. It seems he anticipated a situation that would necessitate firing. It is a unique case where a heinous crime was witnessed, photographed and video-graphed, and yet the court said here was no evidence to prove guilt. If there was no prosecutable evidence, the CBI should have filed a closure report or, if the CBI still filed a chargesheet, the court should have discharged the accused persons holding that no prima facie case was made out rather than acquitting them after a meandering trial lasting three decades.
Nitin M. Majmudar, Lucknow
This refers to Rape, a Caste Continuum (October 12). Rape is a grim pointer to how a situation can get out of control when parochial sentiments are left untouched. Rape is almost culturally sanctioned in India. The unspeakable brutality of the gang rape of the 19-year old Dalit girl in Hathras in UP is a symbol of the rot in our system, and a fallout of the collective indifference of the law-enforcing machinery that has engulfed society. What was more horrifying was the manner in which the police cremated the body at midnight in haste without the consent of family members. This is unpardonable by any yardstick. Denying the victim dignity in death and then not allowing family members to have a last look at her body is a crime beyond comprehension.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
The way the UP government and a section of the media are treating the Hathras atrocity is condemnable. A terrible tragedy is made into an opportunity to spin a narrative that suits the ruling dispensation and divert people’s attention away from the dire economic situation in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. It is sad but true that an all-out attempt is being made to blame the rape victim and her family for the cruel fate that befell them. Canards are being peddled to make it appear that the family brought it upon itself. It is clear that the victim and her family are being slandered to thwart the course of justice. The attempt to malign the family in grief exemplifies the extent to which human depravity can descend. Such is the power of caste that the mere fact of the victim being Dalit disqualifies her as a candidate for justice! The ill-concealed alignment of the administration with the privileged caste explains the flat denial of the caste angle to the atrocity and the prompt criminalisation of the protests that followed, despite the vulnerability of Dalit women and the long tradition of the use of rape as a weapon of caste oppression. The introduction of an angle of personal and family rivalry cannot obscure the caste angle. Caste is a daily lived reality in India and cannot be dismissed lightly.
David Milton, Kanyakumari
This refers to your cover story So Shall They Reap (October 5). Strong proponents of the new agriculture sector laws say they will transform agriculture and double farmers’ income. But opposition parties and farmers’ organisations cry foul, raising concerns about the dangers farmers may face from the corporate sector. Indeed, the new laws leave a lot to be desired. With negotiated prices not linked to MSPs, corporates developing their own cartels, open market prices not legally pegged to MSPs and absence of a guarantee for retaining MSPs, middle and small farmers are worried that they may be shortchanged by powerful corporates. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana believe that the Centre would gradually abolish the MSP regime, leaving them at the mercy of large corporate houses. However, the Union agriculture minister has assured that MSPs will continue. While the Congress could not provide MSP for commodities other than paddy and wheat, the BJP has provided it for 20-23 farm products, says the finance minister. The prime minister, who called the new farm laws “historic”, must launch a massive awareness campaign for convincing farmers that the new laws will enable them to sell their products at remunerative prices.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to Andhra Pradesh CM Requests Bharat Ratna for S.P. Balasubrahmanyam (September 28). To paraphrase Einstein’s encomiums unto Gandhi would be to sum up S.P. Balasubrahmanyam (SPB), the legendary singer who left us all recently: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in voice and words walked through the Indian film industry.” Such was the many-splendoured personality that this singing sensation from the Telugu land was! Forty thousand songs in multiple languages, dubbing, compering, mimicking to music direction and production spans his unparalleled and prodigious oeuvre, delivered with elan! Will we ever see such a protean artiste again? Never wouldn’t be a hyperbole! For, the flow of eternal time offers only occasionally its choicest of gifts to delight mankind, of which SPB was one, released on the canvas of arts, but withdrawn in 2020, as good things cannot last forever. His exhilaratingly vibrant and stunningly ever-youthful voice and sparkling personality—comprising a cheerful mien, dignified conduct, witty and sensible speech, philanthropic sensitivity towards various causes and, above all, an extraordinary capacity to take everyone along for 50 years in an industry where professional longevity and relationships are generally short—are something only a singularly blessed soul can achieve in his lifetime! The Gaana-Gaandharva richly deserves a Bharat Ratna!
C.V. Krishna Manoj, Hyderabad
This refers to A Leap Over the Wall’ (October 5). With its humongous population, the nation was a sitting duck to COVID-19. Almost nine months have gone by. We are still groping for effective treatment options and a vaccine hasn’t emerged. The only option is to religiously deny the virus entry into our bodies by stringently following social distancing, wearing masks and observing hand hygiene.
George Jacob, Kochi
In the story Casteaways in our October 19, 2020 edition, an inadvertent mistake was made while referring to RLD leader Ajit Singh. We regret the error.