This refers to your cover story on what should or shouldn’t be taught in schools, colleges and universities (Out of Syllabus, October 11). What is the need to tinker with curricula when the ‘idea of India’ and our national interest were never in danger due to what was taught to students?
George Jacob, Kochi
I felt sad reading how the Delhi University syllabus is being played with, to gel with the thinking of the ruling few. The dropping of Mahasweta Devi’s short story Draupadi and other topics related to open thought and debates on injustices is shocking. Surely, we do not practise what we preach. On one hand, we gloat over being the biggest democracy of the world, and on the other, we deny our children the right to think and talk freely! Why are we serving them only a limited menu? Why are we trying to channelise their thoughts along a particular line? Let our children, the country’s future leaders, grow up with minds without bias or fear. Let our youngsters think beyond self and respect our cultural and religious diversity.
R.D. Singh, On E-Mail
This refers to the column by Devdutt Pattanaik in your cover package (What Stories Should We Share with Our Children?, October 11). Children have the most sensitive and impressionable minds that must not be exposed to such stories as a father’s murder by his son due the son’s loyalty to his mother. Such exposure can disturb their faith in humanity.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)
This refers to your story Friends with Many Benefits (October 11). PM Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US is historic in every sense. His constructive talks on all issues with President Joe Biden was not only fruitful, but also heralded a new phase in relations between India and the US. Besides stressing the need to ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific, Biden also invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s values of tolerance. The bonhomie and confident body language exhibited by the two leaders confirm that the India-US partnership was always rooted in democratic values and shared responsibility.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This refers to the column by G. Arunima (At Heart of Arts Is ‘Second Best’, September 27). What I miss in discussions on the humanities is the mention of philosophy and mathematics. Mathematics is not founded upon ‘facts‘, but based on contemplative truths. For Plato, a vigorous study of mathematics was a prerequisite for the more arduous engagement with philosophy. Its truths are contemplative too, and in solving a philosophical problem, the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place as aesthetically as a mathematical solution. But philosophy is not mathematics. It takes off from and questions the starting point of mathematics—the axioms. This brings me to mention another discipline for which mathematics is a prerequisite—physics. Though a natural science, physics shares one feature with philosophy, namely the ability to question ‘unquestionable’ truths. Had Newton not asked himself why the apple falls to the ground, he would not have discovered the law of gravity. But the ability to wonder and see things taken for granted in a new light is like describing the fresh naivety of a childlike temperament. This means: For India to become the “world’s class” in education, give her academic freedom. More philosophy, more critical thinking, less interference. We need not forget that India, which boasts of an upanishadic tradition, has equally nurtured the Lokayata school, which radically challenged all ideas of reincarnation and God. Should one be punished for that?
Dr Kiran Desai-Breun, Freiburg (Germany)