This refers to the cover story on Delhi Police (The Case Diary, March 8). It is inappropriate to find all fault with the police. The lead photograph showing two policemen begging for mercy as they are cornered by rioters during the Red Fort siege on January 26 shows the other side. Former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro is right when he says most of our police forces are now being dictated by their political bosses, and find it difficult not to comply with their master’s orders. The police system needs major reforms. In 1996, former top cop Prakash Singh filed a public interest litigation petition in the Supreme Court, listing some significant areas that need to change, such as archaic structure, abuse of authority, political interference and inefficient functioning. The Supreme Court’s landmark verdict came in 2006. Realising the gravity of the matter, the court issued certain directions to the central and state governments, which have to be implemented until they draft a law to carry out structural changes in the police for insulating it from extraneous pressures and making it accountable to people. Thereafter, the central and state governments were required to file an affidavit of compliance. The Centre constituted various committees to study the gaps in the police system and submit their recommendations. However, things remained more or less the same, and the major problem of the police system is still its politicisation and partisan utilisation by those in power.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to your story on disengagement in Ladakh and the future of Sino-India ties (In a High, Cold Plateau, March 8). India’s relationship with China has always been like a roller-coaster ride due to frequent incursions by Chinese troops into Indian territory. It has plummeted further in 2020 due to clashes between Indian and Chinese troops ending in casualties. Moreover, with COVID-19 originating from China and spreading across India, India took the harsh decision of banning almost everything made in China. In the midst of strained ties, however, the recent talks at various levels between the two countries have been fruitful in terms of leading to the opening up of trade and investment. This also makes it clear that both China and India cannot ignore trading activities for too long. The diplomatic initiative taken to defuse tension and narrow down the differences for resumption of trade between the two Asian giants also affirms that both countries cannot afford to do away with each other by exhibiting a Cold War type of hostility. The latest talks ending in China agreeing to withdraw its troops from the Pangong border is, in fact, a win-win situation for India. As a sequel, India opening up trade and investment by easing restrictions for Chinese companies in India, with a rider that the FDI will be vetted in certain vital areas, is a step in the right direction. However, like in the past, China cannot be fully trusted to honour its commitments. India, therefore, needs to keep a close vigil at the borders.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
It is time for sober optimism. Trust between the two sides is at such a low ebb that India cannot afford to drop its guard.
Lal Singh, Amritsar
This refers to your story on fuel prices going through the roof (Touch a Painfuel Point, March 8). The central and state governments are responsible for the rise in prices as both are levying very high taxes and milking the common man. Rising prices of petrol and diesel always impact transport cost and are a big cause of inflation, particularly in the price of food. The central and state governments should sit together and sort out this issue. The Centre must take the initiative to reduce the prices as the onus lies with it. At present, there may not be any loud protest against rising fuel prices, but there is a silent protest brewing.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
This refers to the interview of Dr E. Sreedharan, who led Delhi’s metro railway project (‘Majority against beef, love jihad’ in Poliglot, March 8). Many were surprised by the reputed 88-year-old technocrat joining active politics in support of ascending authoritarianism and diminishing democracy. But Sreedharan himself may get surprised by the election results, which would likely enable him to spend his remaining years in peace. The argumentative, knowledgeable, broad-minded and self-respecting Keralites may not be fooled by empty rhetoric. Sreedharan’ss assertion of being against beef eating and ‘love jihad’ reveals his commitment to Hindu nationalism. He appears to be unaware of the great gap between the theory and practice of politics. In the BJP’s Modi era, as the cases of LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi indicate, there is an expiry date for political dreaming. But age is of no consequence in the evergreen Sreedharan’s case. Age has not toned down his ambition of doing something for the betterment of everyone, including himself.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)
This refers to Life Lessons Unlearnt in Poliglot (March 8). Saint Thiruvalluvar wrote the Thirukkural in the 7th century and it is unwise to judge the ethos of that time by the standards of today’s turbulent Hindutva politics. Thiruvalluvar’s writings strongly suggest that he belonged to Hinduism. Tamil words like adi (ancient), bhagavan (God) or ulagu (world) used in the first couplet were derived from Sanskrit. The impression that he wore only white robes devoid of religious marks was fostered by the DMK’s secular brigade and there is no evidence to prove it. No one knows exactly the colour of clothes that other celebrated poets wore when they penned their Tamil classics. Indeed, wearing of saffron robes, rudraksha beads or vibhuti has traditionally been associated with Hindu saints since Vedic times. It is surprising, however, that the DMK has not seen the depiction of Vasuki in a green saree in the textbook as a reflection of the late J. Jayalalitha’s fondness for green sarees! Despite all the hullaballoo over Thiruvalluvar’s sartorial style, Hindu sadhus attending the Kumbh mela in the North or Mahamaham in the South are seen only in saffron robes.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
Coming from the pens of past judges who know much of dark and strange happenings that occur behind the high-pedestal benches, your cover story How Political Is Our Judiciary? (March 1) makes interesting reading. Justice J. Chelameswar’s political affiliation is well known. Till his name was recommended by the then Andhra Pradesh CM N.T. Rama Rao for the post of high court judge, he was a member of the Telugu Desam Party. There could be similar political proximities of judges from other states. This was an open secret, but Outlook has opened its eyes just now and self-labelled it as an initiative. This, however, doesn’t make the cover story less timely. The questio—“Free or Fettered?”— posed by the editor should have been reframed as “Was the judiciary in India ever independent?” For some reason, Outlook and many other media outlets wish us to believe that everything undemocratic started happening only after Narendra Modi came to power. Had the founder editor, the late Vinod Mehta, ever cared to be critical of the Nehru-dynasty’s rule, I am sure it would have helped shape Indian democracy in a better way. After this excellent dissection of the Indian judiciary, as an vivid follower of Outlook since its inaugural issue, I hope the editor will come out with a cover story titled “How independent is our Indian media?”
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijayawada