The Godhra carnage is easily the most gruesome massacre modern India has seen (200+ on the Human Richter, March 11). Yet, the reaction of our Opposition parties was astonishing. While all hue and cry was raised over the torching of one Graham Staines, here we had 58 people, most of them women and children, burnt alive and our "secular" parties have been hesitant even in condemning the incident.
Shubham Sooden, Kanpur
It’s time Narendra Modi stopped beating around the bush and accepted responsibility for not handling the situation in a correct, impartial and satisfying manner. In Delhi after the 1984 riots, the LG and the police commissioner were dismissed within 72 hours; we are yet to see any such action in Gujarat.
Asif Sultan, on e-mail
Thy Hand, Great Anarch (March 18) is another article that attempts to stoke the embers. Blaming the Hindus only is not the answer. In any conflict, there are at least two parties involved. To shift responsibility only to one is in itself biased and discriminatory. Please do not report opinions and feelings. It causes wounds to fester.
Jai Padmanabhan, Boston, Massachusetts
If only somebody like the Kanchi Shankaracharya could lead us and not a pack of buffoons (The Sage of Reason, March 18). I was brought up to believe that Hinduism was a peace-loving, spiritual credo and never ever a fundamentalist religion. And it shames me no end today to see my religion, in which I have always found great solace and answers, reduced to a mere matter of temples and other symbols by a bunch of hooligans who claim to be the representatives of this great religion.
Pradeep Bhargava, on e-mail
Many nations in the world have differences-oriented conflicts every once in a while. But in India these are becoming a routine somewhere or the other at some time or another. This is because there is enough regionalism, religionism, fanaticism, casteism and groupism in the country but not enough nationalism.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
How come there were no first-hand accounts or graphic details from the Hindus on the train that the Muslim mobs attacked? Is the press ashamed to address the reality? Or is it just a case of racial profiling?
Shekhar Naik, on e-mail
Fresh reports are indicative of isi (via Dawood Ibrahim perhaps) involvement in the Sabarmati Express incident at Godhra. And Indian Muslims are only instruments in Pakistan’s designs while Indian Hindus are only misdirecting their anger, thereby weakening their own social fabric to the categoric advantage of their primary enemy.
Pranawa C. Deshmukh, Atlanta, Georgia
The Gujarat carnage has once again proved that we are a fairweather secular state. More often than not, you are fatally helpless if you are known by the ‘wrong’ name in an extreme situation. The Modi government, by conniving with the "lesson-teaching" murderous hordes, has only reinforced this perception.
Mohammed Zaheer Basha, on e-mail
The only problem I have with your editorial (Is India Rwanda?, March 18) Mr Mehta, is the reference to Rwanda. There was no need for you to flog another suffering and poor country to tell Indians how to behave. It may be a politically correct comparison for the wretchedness, but why do we need the comparison in the first place? Rwanda is suffering already. Why should we add insult to its injuries?
Uma Iyer, on e-mail
Mr Mehta, I won’t lie that I wasn’t in tears after reading your editorial.
Subhash, on e-mail
Apropos Saba Naqvi Bhaumik’s The Mark of Hindutva (March 18). Just because the Muslims are a minority in India does not give irresponsible dorks in media the right to whitewash the brutal and violent behaviour of Muslim groups, while highlighting the retaliation of Hindu groups who have had to take the law into their own hands since the so-called secular parties have come up short in providing solutions. And why the hell should we care about what the West thinks of us and act accordingly?
Barani R., on e-mail
These are confusing times for me. And I represent thousands of moderate Hindus scattered across the world who are from affluent middle-class families, have had access to the best of education and are doing well professionally. A chill went down my spine when I saw a Sumo burning in which eight members of a Muslim family were burnt alive on a Gujarat highway. I hate to see such disregard for human values. But then I was reminded of gleeful Muslims on the streets of Palestine, post September 11, of the vandalism at Bamiyan, of burnt bodies in the train at Godhra. The media has expressed surprise that the rioting this time has moved to affluent areas and that the rioters weren’t jobless youth from UP and Bihar. Would I have done the same were I in their place? Why is the whole of Europe finding that while Jews and Hindus find it easy to mix with native populations, Muslims tend to be ghettoised and unwilling to benefit from the opportunities given to them? And these are not my views alone, they are the views of a majority of the Indians on this campus. Our conscience is torn between basic dignity for human values and the feeling that Muslims in this world need to be shown their place, need to be taught a lesson. Tell us we are wrong. And that would require something more than an absurd theory. It would also require some proof from the Islamic world.
Vikas Chowdhury, University of Illinois
Even the isi propaganda wing would be proud of your ill-researched, totally one-sided article, ‘Just Like Hindustan-Pakistan’ (March 18).
Manu, on e-mail
Richard Lariviere of the University of Texas at Austin remarked on pbs that the phenomenon of communalism in India is a sort of societal cancer the same way as racism is in the US. From time to time there are remissions and one even hopes these cancers are being cured, but then some awful event rips open the new wounds. Indians today have a choice to make. They can either stay stuck in the grooves of divisive issues that polarise them or forge a path ahead echewing the bitterness of the past.
Deepanker Baderia, Fremont, California
How come the Indian press uses the term ‘crime’ for the Godhra carnage and ‘genocide’ for crimes elsewhere in Gujarat?
Srikanth Ramamurthy, on e- mail
Words can’t express the anger, sadness and despair that I feel over the situation in Gujarat. And to think that the bjp, vhp and the rss are killing innocent children in the name of my religious identity when I am no part of it.
Neera M. Singh, on e-mail
It’s shocking that the Indian government is being dictated to by a fringe element like the vhp which is in no way representative of Hindu sentiments. More disturbing still is the talk of "rewarding" the vhp for respecting the law of the land.
Rishabh Bhandari, Oxford, UK
There seems to be a slight misunderstanding in Soft Saffron’s Litmus Test (March 11). The Sabarmati Express was running from Delhi to Ahmedabad and it stopped at Godhra, thereafter proceeding to Vadodara. The fracas between kar sevaks and Muslim vendors therefore could not have occurred at Vadodara, as stated by Prem Shankar Jha, but probably at some station before Godhra.
Manjari Meghani, on e-mail
Is Narendra Modi India’s Slobodan Milosevic?
Suja Nambiar, Karaikal
How come I see great outpourings of patriotism whenever there is a Kargil, a Pokhran or a cricket match but never in our daily dealings with fellow Indians. Whenever we have a slight edge over anyone, we think nothing of being rude and extorting money from them—or burning them alive.
David Albuquerque, on e-mail
The last thing the nation and the people need at this moment is to apportion blame. What journalists and intellectuals need to do instead is to focus media attention on the deficiencies in our response so that pressure is brought to bear on our administration to act in the right vein. We do not want them to speak the language of politicians.
Shubhranshu Patnaik, on e- mail
The recent riots here in Gujarat have further rent the fragile Hindu-Muslim relations. What’s puzzling about this episode is the fact it started exactly after the bjp lost the assembly elections miserably in UP and decided very meekly to sit in the Opposition. Here in Ahmedabad, the vhp is assuming the position of the Shiv Sena in Mumbai and as Mumbaikars are repenting posting them into power, so it could happen in Gujarat.
Krishna Kumar, Ahmedabad
Narendra Modi’s announcement that compensation of Rs 1 lakh would be paid to the victims of communal violence in comparison to the Rs 2 lakh being paid to the kar sevaks killed on the Sabarmati Express has killed the victims of the Gujarat riots twice and has ripped the facade of secularism apart. The entire nation, barring a few noble souls, has been mute spectator to this pogrom.
Tariq Sheikh, New Delhi
A 16-year-old, I think that nobody in my generation honestly cares whether Ayodhya has a mosque or a temple. It’s not because I’m an atheist, irreligious or ignorant, but because I don’t see it as a reason to waste all this time, money, resources and human lives. Whether Allah should have a masjid or Ram should have a mandir is not the issue when what India needs are schools, hospitals, libraries and houses.
Nishita Jha, New Delhi
I do not condone the killing of any of us who belong to any faith nor emphasise the superiority of one religion over another. But I am definitely not a pseudo-secularist like Outlook which can trivialise gruesome deaths or mass aspirations just because they are Hindu.
Ramesh Shukla, on e-mail
Isn’t it ironic that the world community should condemn Pakistan on state-sponsored terrorism against us to settle political issues between the two countries and we should resort to violence in our own country to settle issues.
Saurabh Katial, Chandigarh
Both sides—Hindu or Muslim—are the ultimate losers in any communal violence. Restoration of peace and harmony is the need of the hour.
Ashok Buch, Ahmedabad
How is it that our media can write reams about Hindu fundamentalism, but do not ask Muslims questions on the kind of religion they practice which is at odds with the Hindus in India, the Serbs in Bosnia, the Jews in Israel, the Russians in Chechnya, the Communists in Sinkiang or the Christians in the Western world?
Sandeep Shouche, Pune
As the majority community, Hindus have a moral and legal obligation not to take the law in their hands; they also have the responsibility of creating an atmosphere of safety and security for the minority communities living in our country. Only then will Hinduism and Hindutva have any relevance.
K.V. Raghuram, Wayanad, Kerala
I do understand Vishnu Kant Shastri’s predicament of trying to reconcile the claims of more than one party in UP, but I fail to understand the governor’s logic in taking over governance himself. Is this a precedent for the future in states which return a fractured verdict? It reminds me of Aesop’s fable of the cunning fox where it was asked to mediate between two monkeys for an equal share of a bun where the fox ended up eating the entire bun himself.
Suresh Prabhu, Calcutta
Apropos Small Things Matter (March 18), if the Supreme Court can initiate suo motu proceedings against Arundhati Roy, what stops it from doing the same against vhp members who are openly saying they will not abide by the court verdict in the Ayodhya case?
Raghav Venkatesh, Gulbarga
Arundhati’s arrest has exposed the double standards of the Indian judiciary. The very day she was arrested for her crime—writing a truth which according to the apex court undermined its dignity—a senior vhp leader defiantly made an open statement that they are not bound by the court verdict and will do whatever they wished. Though the vhp took a U-turn the next day, the question does arise that if the ego and dignity of our judiciary is fragile enough to be hurt by the genuine and logical criticism of a writer, why does it turn a deaf ear to offending statements by top leaders of a communal organisation?
Neeraj Gill, Bangalore
These days even if you sneeze before the Supreme Court without covering your nose with a handkerchief, you’re liable to be hauled up for contempt of court. By sentencing Arundhati Roy on a trumped-up contempt case, the ‘mighty’ judges have done immense harm to the reputation of the Supreme Court itself. Arundhati herself got a free sightseeing tour of Tihar and attracted more attention for the Narmada cause.
Dr Leo Rebello, Mumbai
In this age of judicial corruption, "sanctity of courts" is but a rhetoric. Never mind Arundhati Roy, it’s high time the judiciary was made as accountable (for it’s as fallible) as you and I.
Wishwdeep Singh Dhillon, Ludhiana
The Indian hockey team’s dismal performance in Kuala Lumpur calls for some serious introspection on the part of the Indian Hockey Federation (Wrong End of the Stick, March 18). Indian hockey had reached its nadir under K.P.S. Gill, packed as the ihf is with ips officials. It’s high time the Union ministry of sports stepped in and got rid of this coterie which is the bane of this game.
Amitabh Agarwal, Lucknow
Madhu Trehan deserves praise for her plain words on her own profession (Wag the Watchdog, March 11). One national newspaper ran a series of highly-critical pieces on the directorate of enforcement, at a time when it had targeted one of the management’s top brass. To avoid this, a journalist must disclose any connection with, or interest in, the subject of his piece. Every journal can publish its own code of ethics. And if the Press Council is willing, it can attempt a system of test audits by respected outsiders with reference to that journal’s code.
S. Venkatesan, Mumbai
According to advertising virtuoso Andy Berlin, "Reality, two hundred years ago, was the Church. Fifty years ago, it was Physics. Today, it’s the Media." If that is so, then media has failed all the more miserably in its responsibilities. Today, it is just another business proposition driven by profit-loss equations; the truth being an utterly negotiable priority. One can only hope it relinquishes its avatar as a huge PR tool and stands up for itself.
Sumant Bhattacharya, Noida, UP
It was heartening to read S. Anand’s piece on the mansions in Madras (Live Life. Mansion Size., March 11). I too have lived at Select Ali Mansion for a year. So it was great fun reading about it. I too remember a Murugan, Murthy and a Raman and other characters like the ones in the story.
Binoy Prabhakar, on e-mail
Apropos Ending the Glut of Hunger (March 11), it’s worth remembering that C. Subramanian was instrumental in bringing about India’s Green Revolution. No doubt it was the scientists who made the dream come true but Subramanian was the political brain behind the concept. He was the minister for steel in Nehru’s government and it was Lal Bahadur Shastri who realised the potential of this cerebral soul.
Sriram Iyer, on e-mail
Vinod Mehta in his column, Blackwill’s Round Table (March 11) has made a fundamental error. The new world order initiated by the United States and replicated by the US Ambassador Robert Blackwill at his round table in Delhi is based on the principle of one, not many, voices. To be heard, to expect a debate and discussion is naive. The Indian government’s eagerness to get into bed with Uncle Sam and follow at his dictates establishes that India does not even want equal time. Don’t you remember the alacrity with which Jaswant Singh offered India as military base for the US to use to prosecute its war against the Taliban?
However, there is one ray of hope. Ambassador Blackwill represents the Bush administration rather than the American people. There are many thoughtful individuals in the US who have a different concept of the new world order. They believe that while the US must lead the free world, it should lead through consensus, listening sympathetically to countries who might have a different perspective. Listening is not a sign of weakness.
Shyam Chona, New Delhi