• Oct 28, 2019

    This refers to your cover story Are You Prepared for Future Jobs? (October 14). People who prepared for acchhe din are yet to see it. And now they are being asked to prepare for future jobs too!

    Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun

    Millions of job-seekers would affirmatively answer the question “Are you prepared for future jobs?” But they will also ask: “How near is the future?”

    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

  • Oct 28, 2019

    This refers to your story on Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s feedback-based staff cleanup initiative (My Sarkar Sacks, October 14). The plan deserves to be given a big hand. It is high time we said ‘enough is enough’ and ‘perform or perish’ to government officials and put in place a mechanism that makes proper assessment of their performance. In this age of advanced technology, the Raj-era system of annual confidential reports based on assessment by seniors is inadequate. Naveen’s ambitious 5T (team work, technology, transparency, transformation and time limit) plan to judge the performance of officials and projects involves taking feedback from people on the quality and timeliness of the services, and then rewarding or punishing the officials on that basis. The main reason behind the rush for government jobs is that salary is guaranteed regardless of performance. Such initiatives and even a hire-and-fire policy are needed to free the system of non-performers and make them accountable. The culture of job-security must end.

    M. Chandra, On E-Mail

  • Oct 28, 2019

    This refers to The Sine Theta (October 14). Histori­cally, Sino-Indian dialogues have been stuck in a quagmire due to unreasonable muscle-flexing by China. This has been primarily due to the ‘Pakistan factor’. It is about time India stood up to China.

    George Jacob, Kochi

  • Oct 28, 2019

    This refers to Message from an Oil Massage (October 14). The way the Uttar Pradesh police lost no time in arresting the woman who accused former BJP minister Chinmayananda of rape and blackmail suggests they would leave no stone unturned to defend the offender and penalise the victim, who survived the alleged rape only to find the might of law turned against her. The special investigation team formed by the Yogi Adityanath government has shown unusual alacrity in probing the extortion charges against the complainant, a law student, even though she had already handed over to the probe team video clips recorded by a secret camera embedded in her spectacles as proof of her allegation that the former minister was sexually exploiting her. It is not the first time that the UP government is under fire for shielding him. Last year, the CM had ordered the withdrawal of a rape and kidnapping case against Chinmaya­n­anda lodged by the manager of the Mumukushu Ashram run by him. A Shahjahanpur court stayed the order when the victim raised a hue and cry. Although Chinmayanand has reportedly admitted his guilt, such is his clout that efforts are being made to turn the victim into an accused. Chinmayanand has been charged with “sexual intercourse not amounting to rape”, whatever that means—a charge that invites a lesser sentence than the more serious charge of rape. The police should probe the extortion charges against the complainant, but not at the cost of sweeping the former minister’s alleged crime under the carpet. How the case is handled will be closely watched.

    L.J.S. Panesar, On E-Mail

  • One-Liner
    Oct 28, 2019

    Tell the jobless they aren’t fit to earn enough for living well, and must work on themselves!

    Parsuram Patel, Indore

  • Oct 28, 2019

    This refers to your cover story Gandhi & Dissent (October 7). The magazine on Gandhi is a treasure, which I wish to preserve. Some of the discourse suggests that Gandhi stands dethroned in the pantheon of revered figures, while his critics like V.D. Savarkar and B.R. Ambedkar are being resurrected and idolised. This is incorrect. Some analysts acknowledge that it was the activities of persons like Subhas Bose and Bhagat Singh that had rocked the foundations of British Raj. Divide and rule was the policy of the Raj, which acknowledged Gandhi’s contribution and debunked that of others. Gandhi was neither a saint like Swami Vivekananda nor a social reformer like Vinoba Bhave. Though he accepted no position of power, he remained a kingmaker. He saw to it that his protege Jawaharlal Nehru was anointed the first PM of independent India, instead of contenders like Patel. But it was due to Patel’s efforts that 600-odd big and small princely states could be integrated with India.

    J. Akshobhya, Mysore

    Civil disobedience, satyagraha and fasting were the ways through which Gandhi achieved his goals, including India’s independence. In a letter to Gandhi in 1931, Einstein expressed his great admiration for his methods, which showed it was possible to succeed without violence even against those who have not discarded the method of violence. Later, in 1950, Einstein praised Gandhi, saying his views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. Gandhi and his ways will always be relevant. In fact, they are even more relevant in the present scenario. In 1946, when over-enthusiastic patriots insisted that people they met on the street should shout Jai Hind, Gandhi had said: “Inasmuch as a single person is compelled to shout Jai Hind or any other popular slogan, a nail is driven into the coffin of Swaraj, in terms of the dumb millions of India.” It was his ability to deal with dissent that made a Mahatma of him. Gandhi’s dissenters were famous people and their dissent was mainly with his political or ideological stand on particular matters. However, his son Harilal’s letter to him (A Son’s Jeremiad) was virtually a chargesheet against Gandhi, which threw light on quite a different aspect of the Mahatma’s life—dissent and deep differences within his own family.

    M. Joshy, On E-Mail

  • Oct 28, 2019

    This refers to A Great Dissenter Throws Light (October 7) by Douglas Allen. The philosophy of truth, non-violence and brotherhood preached by Gandhi ­is relevant even today. The freedom we enjoy in a ­democracy is invaluable, but it also demands a great ­measure of discipline and ­humility from us. Gandhi valued democracy, but knew it could be abused. He also knew this could be mitigated only if acquisition of authority by a few were ­balanced by the development of everyone’s ­capacity to resist the abuse of ­authority. This could be achieved only by ­educating the masses about their power to regulate and control authority. However, contrary to the inclusive, people-­centred and non-aggrandising nationalism that drove our anti-­colonial struggle until 1947, the prevailing concept of nationalism in India is based on the European ­paradigm of nation-state—a form of supreme ­authority standing above all other collectives formed by communities in the course of ­social life. This supremacy often demands the identification of ­‘enemies within’ as a powerful means for rallying people across the country behind the State. The ­philosophy Gandhi lived and propagated is an antidote to this toxic nationalism. No wonder Albert Einstein, who called nationalism an “infantile disease”, said of Gandhi that “generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”. If we imbibe Gandhi’s ideas of peaceful ­co-existence and unflinching ­commitment to democracy, it will be a real tribute to the messiah of peace and one of the greatest figures of Indian history.

    Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi

  • Oct 28, 2019

    One swallow does not make a summer (Numbers Don’t Tell the Story, October 7). Just because the economy is doing badly in a single quarter, it does not mean it is on a deepening trajectory of slowdown. The columnist points out that 5.3 per cent growth in Q4 of 2013-14 was immediately followed by 8 per cent in Q1 of 2014-15. It is equally fallacious to argue that overall industrial production has gone down and people’s purchasing power has declined. The production of cellphones went up 10 per cent in the last quarter. People have not stopped buying gold just because the price is up. In Q1 of 2013, during UPA rule, the GDP had plunged to a mere 4.31 per cent, inflation hit 15 per cent and fiscal deficit headed towards 5 per cent. But fiscal deficit during Q1 of 2019-20 has been contained within 4 per cent, inflation is low at 3.5 per cent. While the average GDP over the past five years has been 7 per cent, it had never touched that level during 2004-14. The production of automobiles has declined sharply not only in India, but throughout the world. Germany saw 0.1 per cent growth in the last quarter and Europe posted a dismal 0.5 per cent. Markets have thus been facing headwinds from both global and country-specific factors. However, the stock market is responding well to the Centre’s announcement of a massive tax break for industry.

    Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai

  • Oct 21, 2019

    This ­refers to your cover story on Gandhi & Dissent (October 7). In his essay, The Man Who Saw Mahatma’s Fangs, Aakash Singh Rathore takes a long, hard look at Mahatma Gandhi’s relationship with Dr B.R. Ambedkar. There were ­irreconcilable differences between Gandhi and Ambedkar—two of the major makers of modern India—both in their goals and in their methods. The most fundamental of the differences were over what untouchability really means, its place in the caste system and how it can be eradicated. It was perhaps their different backgrounds and ­commitments that took them on ­different paths in the struggle against internal and external oppression.

    Gandhi was a champion of inherited Hindu traditions, including caste as the key organising principle of social life, and believed it was possible to overcome untouchability, which he saw as a sin, without carrying out what Ambedkar called “the annihilation of caste”. Although Ambedkar had initially sought a place of religious and social equality within the Hindu fold for his people—India’s most oppressed people, the Dalits—two decades of struggle convinced him that there can never equality among Hindus as ­inequality is the foundation of Hinduism, which cannot exist without the caste system. Hence the chairperson of the drafting committee of the Constitution of India went on to ­embrace Buddhism, not long before he died. More than six decades later, Hindu society remains caste-bound and Dalits are brutalised across the country, even lynched with impunity. Ambedkar’s call for social justice has a lot more takers today, and many more would say that his idea of a society based on liberty, equality and fraternity is more relevant today than ever before.

    The tragedy from Ambedkar’s point of view was that as a political opponent of Gandhi and the Congress, he had to make common cause with the British in order to fight for his people. This gave many non-Dalits who wanted to protect their caste privileges a point to make for vilifying the great fighter of the oppressed. All said and done, both Gandhi and Ambedkar would be ­forever immortal in Indian minds as father figures of the country and ­commemorated for their contributions to making India what it is today.

    Sripad Rao, Bangalore

    Pre- and post-1947 Indian history is rather replete with inaccuracies. The British being adept at this is understandable, but the legacy being carried forward by Indian historians is galling. Democracy and dissent were alien to the Indian National Congress, and it’s the same even today. Even before we learn our alphabet, we are thoroughly brainwashed to believe that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were the main, if not the only, architects of our freedom. Pooh-poohing this belief, Clement Attlee, the then British PM, had stated that his government was forced to grant independence to India as the Indian Army anticipated retribution from the people at the end of World War II, besides the threat posed by the Indian National Army led by Subhas Chandra Bose. The older Winston Churchill was contemptuous and ­described Gandhi’s modus operandi as mere blackmail and humbug. What could have happened if Gandhi had lived another 5-10 years? Well, with his fasts as a formidable weapon and his trusted lieutenant as PM, the ­balkanisation of the country was a ­distinct possibility. To cite one ­example, the Nizam’s Hyderabad would perhaps have been redesignated as South Pakistan.

    Ashok Raipet, Secunderabad

    Your issue commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi is marvellous and deserves to be preserved as a ­collector’s item. You have brought out varied aspects of Gandhi’s principles and philosophy as well as his relationships with his comrades as well as his own children. With regard the title “Mahatma”, legend has it that Rabindranath Tagore was so deeply ­influenced by Gandhi’s ideas during the early 1910s that he decided the man must be a great soul, and used the word Mahatma to publicly praise him on March 6, 1915. It is believed that Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915 at the request of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. His contribution to the Indian freedom movement cannot be measured in words. Along with other freedom fighters, he compelled the British to leave India. His words and thought-provoking ideas were the source of inspiration for millions of Indians. That’s why we call him “Father of the Nation”, though there is no evidence to show that the title was ever officially conferred on him. It is an honorific given to a person considered to be the driving force behind the ­establishment of a nation. According to some sources, Subhas Chandra Bose used this term for Gandhi in a radio address from Singapore in 1944. And, while announcing his assassination, Jawaharlal Nehru said, “The father of the nation…is no more.”

    S.R. Kaundinya, Bangalore

    Dissent, free speech and the freedom to criticise, or choose, with confidence and without fear are all under strain in India today. In the name of democracy, we are being subjected to majoritarian tyranny. In his autobiography, Gandhi wrote, “In judging myself, I shall try to be as harsh as truth, as I want others also to be.” Many of India’s mis­information campaigns are run by ­political parties with their nationwide cyber-armies; they target not only ­political opponents, but also religious minorities and dissenting individuals, with propaganda rooted in domestic divisions and prejudices. The consequences of such targeted misinformation are extreme, from death threats to actual murders. In the context of the altered perceptions in this “New India”, our opinions on who are the heroes and who the villains are ­imprecise. Suppressing criticism or discouraging dissent is like living in a Potemkin world in which the only ­people who prosper are sycophants. The protracted skirmishes in Hong Kong, for example, is one of the results of China’s efforts to build a “model ­society” where criticism of the ­government or its acts is not tolerated, while majoritarian homogeneity is ­encouraged. Surely, we do not want our nation to follow such a model.

    H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore

    The Gandhi@150 is a ­collector’s delight, a treasure trove of vintage stuff on the man considered to be the greatest since Buddha. It also presents a narrative that should be ­devoutly treasured. Today we live in an atmosphere that very unpleasantly takes us to the text of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. A note of ­dissent is seen as seditious these days. How would Gandhiji have reacted to the ­citizenship amendment bill if he were alive today?

    Dharamshala Lalit Mohan Sharma

    In his essay Periyar, an Acolyte to Antagonist (October 7), P.A. Krishnan suggests that there is no scholarly biography of EVR. In fact, there are quite a few: E.V. Ramasamy Naicker: A Study of the Influence of a Personality in Contemporary South India by Anita Diehl, 1977; The Political Career of E.V. Ramasamy Naicker by E.S. Viswanthan, 1983; The Non-Brahmin Millennium by V. Geeta and S.V. Rajadurai, 1998; and The Political Biography of E.V. Ramasamy by Bala Jayaraman, 2013. There are ­biographies in Tamil too, which I am not listing.

    S. Theodore Baskaran, Bangalore

  • One-liner
    Oct 21, 2019

    Higher fines could really make our roads safer if every traffic cop found inspiration in Gandhi.

    Santosh Kumar Bisht, Saharanpur

  • Oct 21, 2019

    I salute Dorris Francis (‘Only the Poor Will Suffer, Not the Rich’, September 30). What a spirited way to pay homage to a departed soul! Just so that her daughter’s soul may rest in peace, Dorris Francis has chosen to bear the vehicular cacophony, chaos and pollution by volunteering to work at the very spot where her child was killed in a road ­accident. Not many examples are found where, in the face of ­inconsolable grief, one embraces service to mankind.

    Vimal Thaker, On E-Mail

  • Oct 21, 2019

    This refers to your cover story The Signal Turns an Angry Red (September 30). All the boxed interviews were against hike in fines. The increase in fines has led to riders suddenly abiding by traffic laws and getting proper papers from the RTO. If a single death is prevented, is it not worth it? How can we ­sym­pathise with a poor drunk driver on a ­vehicle costing Rs 10,000 if he hurts any one, rich or poor? A hefty fine is a permanent deterrent and will go a long way in ­reducing traffic ­accidents and casualties.

    S.K. Tyagi, Meerut

    The public is groaning under the numerous taxes that the rapacious government has imposed on them. Every year, some new unheard-of tax under some lame section is imposed. No wonder people try to evade it as far as possible. Now it has come to light that the ­government is paying the income taxes of ministers and certain high-flying ­secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh from the public exchequer thanks to insidious laws laid down by these states. This is an absolute ­travesty of justice and amounts to ­looting of the public’s money. They are the real blood-sucking parasites of the nation and they being subsidised by the public of India. How is it that the highest authorities like the President, Supreme Court and others in the corridors of power are turning a blind eye to such blatant illegalities? In the light of such skulduggery, it is time to review the Constitution and make sure that such misdeeds are not done under the guise of democracy. Media should also highlight this blatant thievery.

    Shanmugam Mudaliar, Pune

  • Oct 14, 2019

    This refers to your cover story The Signal Turns an Angry Red (September 30). Sterner penalty for traffic violations is a good corrective measure to reduce the traffic mess and road accidents. It is harsh, but necessary. This will not only be heavy on the pocket, but also instill fear of jail in people. Unfortu­nately, our people understand this ­language better. The aim should be to improve traffic discipline and not to make money—and that’s the real test for policemen. If they fail this test, then the new law will fail. Any policeman found taking bribe from traffic ­defaulters should be suspended. Also, the heavy fines will be accepted by ­people only if we provide them well-maintained roads and effective traffic management. It cannot be a one-sided affair of punishing people. We also need to reduce vehicle density on the roads by improving the public transport system, and by building a ­cycling culture in the country.

    R.D. Singh, Ambala Cantt

    The new ­traffic rules may serve to quell the death dance on Indian roads to an ­extent. But the conditions of the roads are also despicable in the first place, especially after the monsoon, contributing to ghastly accidents and traffic snarls. The government ought to have proposed the new traffic regulations only after doing a good job of providing citizens with safe surfaces to drive on.

    George Jacob, Kochi

    As is clearly ­evident from long queues for pollution checks and a sudden spurt in helmet sales, we don’t understand any ­language other than that of the stick. But even some BJP-ruled states have either not accepted the new traffic rules and fines, or are avoiding ­implementation. The number of road accidents puts us in an embarrassing position, and we collectively need to change our behaviour to change this. The government and local admini­stration of every city must ensure that the roads are in good condition and traffic is managed well.

    Bal Govind, Noida

    Overspeeding and negligent ­driving have increased, leading to fatal ­accidents frequently in cities. This has been causing an alarm despite ­imposition of stiff penalties by the law-enforcing agencies. Breaking road rules without fear of law has been ­posing a huge risk to people. As safety on roads has taken a beating due to the menace of aggressive driving, ­giving more teeth to the traffic police ­infrastructure by way of ­enhanced fines is a step in the right ­direction. This will instil fear in drivers, helping them ­understand the need to drive with great caution. Maintaining discipline on the road is paramount for our safety.

    K.R. Sriniva­san, Secunderabad

  • Oct 14, 2019

    Your story on traffic woes in Bangalore (This City Never Moves, September 30) has missed some issues. There have been record sales of two-wheelers in the past five years, and car sales too had seen an upswing until last year. The current dip in car sales is thanks to Ola, Uber and the Metro, which have made commuting in the city more ­convenient and less time-cosuming. The problem lies in the indiscipline of those who flout traffic rules. They should be punished.

    Rangarajan T.S., Bangalore

  • Oct 14, 2019

    This ­refers to your cover story on deepfakes (What the Fake!, September 23). Mobile phones are extremely helpful—we just need to use them correctly. Social media helps us connect with people in a few seconds. At the same time, it can create panic and spread fake news, which has led to violence and deaths. The need of the hour is more awareness regarding fake news and stricter vigilance. Social media ­offers a wealth of information, but we have to use our judgement to see how reliable and true the information is.

    Kamal Kapadia, Mumbai

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