Given the increasing number of cries against EVMs, it’s high time the Election Commission found a way that would restore voters’ confidence in the country’s voting system once and for all (Symptom of Transitional Hiccup, Is it?, Apr 17).
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
The ‘ugly Indians’ are powerful politicians (The Feudal Republic of India, April 10). Power gives them an adrenaline rush. You must have seen how they hold up traffic, trains and flights, leaving us, the people who elected them, helpless. We have a former MP who was given loans despite low credit-worthiness and is now out of the country after defaulting on taxes and debt repayment. For ordinary citizens, delay in paying service tax leads to arrest and salaried employees defaulting on loans often get threatened by recovery agents of the banks. A Shiv Sena leader once hit a woman constable because she pulled him up for speaking on the phone while driving. You must have observed how it is mostly cars sporting flags of one or the other political party that break rules on the road. We must stop this VIP culture. MPs and MLAs should respect people, not power.
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai
It takes only a peek at Indian films or television serials to sense the intensity of racism in the country (Brewing Racism Blows Up, Apr 10). The heroes and heroines are extraordinarily fair while the black person is always the villain or, at best, the domestic help. Going by the recent comments of a BJP ex-parliamentarian, his dusky-skinned compatriots should be thankful to the fair-complexioned to be still belonging to the nation. Such insensitive remarks from a leader who also happens to be erudite—at least going by the fact that he was the editor of a magazine! No wonder his BJP is struggling to get a foothold in the Deccan, where people are increasingly angry with the NDA government’s consistent moves to impose Hindu/Hindiness on anything and everything around.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Michigan
This refers to your story on the drought in Tamil Nadu (There Isn’t Even a Straw Left, April 10). Farmers from the southern state protesting in New Delhi for the past one month have failed to prick the conscience of the nation. The relief offered is a pittance. Clutching skulls and ropes, the farmers’ protest makes for TV spectacle, but nothing stops the authorities from looking the other way. The politicians are only interested in photo-ops to project themselves as being sympathetic to the farmers. The larger issue is that the farmers allowed the two Dravidian parties to rule them for decades, and all that the parties did was talk big and dole out freebies. During election time, the voters got their quota of liquor, money, sarees and so on. The sincere, visionary leaders are no longer around. That is why there is no comprehensive agriculture policy that covers the farmer for crop failure, ensures remunerative prices for their crops and gets rid of middlemen. Not just the state government but also the Centre is to blame for this situation.
Rangarajan, On E-Mail
It was saddening to read about the plight of farmers across the country. It made me feel guilty to be sitting in the national capital and getting subsidised water and power. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has done good work on health and education, but why should they promote this subsidy culture, which others may emulate?
S.K., On E-Mail
The number of letters on China and the UN—the last one being from P.S. Kaur (letters, Apr 17)—prompts me to write this. K.R. Narayanan, on a visit to Nepal as India’s president, revealed that late US president John F. Kennedy (who was a great admirer of Jawaharlal Nehru even before he became the first Indian prime minister) had offered to give India a permanent seat in the world body’s Security Council. This was the time when nationalist China had lost all legitimacy, having been confined to Formosa (Taiwan) for over a decade, and it was a decade before the US badly mauled Communist China in Vietnam. Narayanan was not only our president, he was earlier an illustrious diplomat. What he said was reported widely by the press at the time.
P.V. Iyer, Bangalore
China looks like the proverbial cat on the hot tin roof as far as the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh is concerned (The Monk Who Stung A Hornet, April 17). The furore raised by it over the spiritual leader’s trip to the northeastern state is unwarranted, it actually amounts to Beijing meddling in the internal affairs of India. The Chinese foreign ministry’s veiled threat that the visit will cause “serious damage” to the bilateral ties is, without doubt, an attempt to put pressure on India. The Dalai Lama is an honoured guest in India and his presence enriches the socio-cultural-spirutal ethos of this country. China’s baiting of the Lama, whom it calls a “dangerous separatist” does not befit its global stature.
Meghana A., New South Wales
Former top executive J.S. Bhargava reminds us that a government employee, even of the IAS cadre, has to be politically neutral (Boardroom Diary, Apr 3). But is it anymore so today? We live in times where accomplished bureaucrats themselves publish articles that hail Prime Minister Narendra Modi even as it simply goes against the conduct rules of public servants. The times are such that anything spoken against the rulers is termed anti-national! Those holding high constitutional posts are supposed not to own gifts from the public (as they are given to the office they hold and not the individual). That way, they are not supposed to take them home after retirement either. But then, in our feudal bureaucratic structure, who cares to stick to such principles!
J. Ravindranath, Hyderabad
This is with reference to your cover story, The Ugly Indian (April 10). I would like to say, as a school master and head of a few residential schools for more than four decades, that rowdy MPs and other discourteous and rude people are not so much to blame as their parents and teachers, who probably failed to teach them respect towards fellow human beings and good manners. I taught my children and pupils these basic things all my life and they are a credit to me, but more so, they are assets to their alma mater, their families and to our country at large. That particular MP, involved in the rowdy incident, should ask himself what concept of freedom is it that leaves him free to be selfish, lawless and a brute.
Vijay Bhatnagar, Gurgaon
By standing up for Air India’s sixty-year-old employee, who was assaulted by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, the airline has sent a firm massage that such behaviour will be met with zero tolerance (The Boss Who Stood Up). The person responsible for ‘grounding’ the rowdy politician (Gaikwad was barred from flying altogether, the decision was only revoked after he apologised) is AI chairman Ashwani Lohani. It was impressive to read that despite being entitled to several privileges at AI, Lohani chooses to stick to the rules meant for all other people. It is commendable that the civil aviation minister has also stood by Lohani’s action in the Gaikwad case. This is not the first time that politicians have exhibited such behaviour and it is time that certain ‘guidelines’ are framed to keep the entitled rowdies in check.
H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana, Mysore
Kudos to Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani who had the rare spine to stand up against Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Gaikwad, whose ‘slipper attack’ on an AI official showcased the typical audacity that stems from unbridled power and its trappings. India badly needs more people like Lohani to put people like Gaikwad in place.
George Jacob, Kochi
MP Ravindra Gaikwad’s brazen act of assaulting an Air India employee and justifying it on camera may have shocked the country, but not his party, the Shiv Sena, which is standing by its MP. The hardline party is claiming that Gaikwad ‘stood’up’ to the ‘misbehaviour’ of the airline staff and Sena functionaries in the MP’s home district even called for a one-day bandh to protest ‘injustice’ against their leader. The matter should not be allowed to rest here in my opinion. Gaikwad needs to be made to face the consequences of his gross behaviour.
Padmini Raghavendra, Secunderabad
Outlook’s cover story, with Shiv Visvanathan leading the brigade of writers, came as a tirade against our feudalistic administration that makes our democracy seem like a joke at times. L’etat C’est Moi (I myself am the nation) is the tenor of all public servants in government undertakings. As they say, with power should come responsibility, but here, with power only nuisance value seems to come. Asking the high-on-power bureaucrats and politicians for humility and honesty has become an exercise in futility. They can only be exposed for what they are to the public at large, which your cover story does.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
Shiv Visvanathan’s column does a fine job of picking out the DNA of Indian VIPs’ appalling behaviour (The Republic’s Pet Gourmands, Apr 10). VIP culture is demeaning in that it creates a ‘superior’ class, where a small section enjoys special privileges. So-called VIPs have taken over our aircraft, airports, sports arenas and bodies, luggage limits, temples and all public places. Sirens and beacon lights of the ‘siren Brahmins’ descend on our roads with amazing regularity. Left to their own, the elite will always do what they can to safeguard and protect their own sectional interests, at the expense of everyone else.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Fairfax, Virginia
I would like to state that the Air India incident involving Ravindra Gaikwad thrashing an official is somewhat unprecedented. It is wholly unbecoming of a parliamentarian in a democratic country. More shocking is that the political party to which the MP belongs has neither condemned the act nor regretted the same. On the contrary, another Sena MP sought support for the act in the Lok Sabha. It is high time the people’s representatives behaved so as to uphold the sanctity of their positions. It is also time for newly elected MPs and MLAs to undergo some sort of briefing about their responsibilities and expectations of them.
Lt Col Ranjit Sinha (retd), New Delhi
Power is known to corrupt people. Apparently, it makes them dumb too. Ravindra Gaikwad’s barbaric assault of an Air India staffer should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his party, the Shiv Sena. Remember, this MP had also found himself in the eye of the storm back in 2014 as part of a group of Sena MPs who tried to force-feed a Muslim employee at the Maharashtra Sadan over the issue of the quality of food served in the canteen. The people of this country, majority of whom are poor, are literally paying for the upkeep of the parliamentarians (their salary, allowances etc). But no law seems to apply to the representatives of the people.
J. Akshay, On E-mail
The cover story is reflective of the inherently ugly and power-hungry ways Indians of any prominence have taken recourse to. There will always be top dogs and underdogs, and Gaikwad of Shiv Sena thought he could get away with anything. No one these days seems to value restraint. At times, many women, themselves the target of high-handedness almost every day, feel they can be rude to men. Power can corrupt just about anybody. And isn’t the writer of the article, so punishingly scathing about entitled men acting badly, keeping himself safely away from the line of fire? It seems he is quite a rude person himself!
Aditya Mookerjee, Belgaum
Had Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad been disciplined after his involvement in the sordid 2014 Maharashtra Sadan incident, perhaps he would not have behaved the way he did after landing in New Delhi on March 23. The solidarity shown by private airlines to Air India in boycotting the Sena bully is commendable. Imagine what kind of laws such lawmakers would be wishing to make for the people! People’s representatives should always treat people with dignity so that the people respect them and the legislative bodies. Let’s hope Gaikwad and the Sena leadership understand this basic principle.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
It seems power has gone right into the Shiv Sena MP’s head. Political leaders are expected to behave cordially with everyone, wherever they go and at all times. But they often think of themselves as monarchs and feudal lords even though the days of monarchs are long gone. They take pride in being revered as demi-gods and are happy when party workers clean their boots. Their tribe is growing by the day.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
Politicians who hijack power rather than winning people’s hearts, often create nuisance.
D. Kumar, On E-Mail
I write in response to the thoughtful editorial note—on society’s double standards on ownership of one’s bodies on the basis of gender—by Rajesh Ramachandran (Whose womb is it? Apr 10). When a pregnant woman is compelled by law to deliver a child with Down’s Syndrome, or any other problem, for that matter, on the plea that the foetus is older than 20 weeks, the government should take full responsibility of catering to the child’s special needs. Indeed, if it can dictate on this sensitive matter, it should rise up to look after such people—born of their intransigence—all their lives.
Parshuram Gautampurkar, Sawai Madhopur
Since the country was under colonial rule for a long time, colonial traditions are embedded in our military organisations. The sahayak system is one such tradition (Where Only Brother Officers Close Ranks). The army should have embraced modernity with the changing times and got rid of such traditions. After all, good relations between officers and men are key to an army’s fighting prowess.
R.S., On e-mail
Rajeev Dhavan condemns Justice C.S. Karnan for his “unbecoming conduct” (Let The Gavel Fall Softly, Apr 10), but till today one hasn’t come across a write-up that probes the veracity of the remarks by the controversial judge. How much of truth exists in his claims that his status as a Dalit has earned him insult from fellow judges? And, are the judges of high courts and the SC corrupt? An investigation into such claims by the judge can make a significant difference in the way the public perceives the issue.
Augusto Pinto, Bardez (Goa)
Most of us feel the Justice Karnan issue could have been handled in a refined manner. India is no banana republic; we have a great Constitution. An impeachment (of a judge) could well have been a saner option, but it would be painfully tedious. English statesman Warren Hastings (1732-1818), when acquitted of all charges in a case, remarked sarcastically, “I would have been better off had I pleaded guilty.” But our Parliament completed impeachment proceedings (in August 2011) against Justice Soumitra Sen in three days in the upper house. For now, it’s a legal burlesque going on in the apex court.
Col C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad
It is a cruel irony that J. Jayalalitha won the last Tamil Nadu assembly elections only to eventually let her aide rule the state—though from outside its geographical borders (Frozen Leaves in Search of a New Spring, Apr 10). Chinnamma would continue with Amma canteens; we’re told that even Karnataka wants to run them with “better quality”. Tamil Nadu seems set to introduce more welfare schemes in Jayalalitha’s name. Overall, the Jaya legacy is set to last for long.
N.S. Raghavendra, Mysore
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