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This refers to your cover story, Politics of Policing (Dec 4). I appreciate your bold attempt to expose the corrupt and casteist nature of the Indian Police Force in these times of fear. It’s a shame for the Indian democracy that the police are as regressive and unjust as they were under the British. But what is to be expected in a country where a large number of ministers have a criminal background? If a democracy’s leaders are corrupt and criminal, how can we expect any justice from the police? Your article highlights a basic logistical problem—that of the severe lack of personnel in the force. However, without drastic changes in the training and recruitment processes, it would not be advisable to simply jump up the number of cops to deal with this systemic problem.
P.A. Jacob, Oman
The police, like any other public service body, are expected to be people-friendly and impartial in their approach to crimes and criminals, irrespective of their religion, faith, conviction, caste, creed and status. But the police in India are another story altogether. Leave aside prompt and fair action, policemen are known to collude with netas and criminals for selfish interests. People have begun to lose confidence in the police and suspect their credibility and honesty. The examples of their incompetence and criminality are abundant—be it the haphazard handling of Vyapam murders, the Arushi Talwar case, the recent goof up in the Ryan International school murder or the general apathy in tracking and nailing those who are involved in a series of cases of lynching in the name of Gau Raksha.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
The story of Padmavati is mythic. But if we look at our society, it is myth that gives meaning to our life and not reason. The Ramayana, which says that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya, is also a mythical epic. If tomorrow, a film-maker like Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes a film on Ramayana showing that Ram was born somewhere else, or showing an affair between Ravana and Sita, what do you suppose the people will do? For that matter, if Bhansali makes a romantic on the life of Prophet Muhammad, will people let it go?
Ramesh Raghuvanshi, Pune
The Madhya Pradesh CM has, without any hesitation, plunged headlong into the Padmavati issue. He didn’t bat an eyelid before banning this movie ahead of its release and clearance by censor board and went on to capitalise on the situation by appeasing with rhetoric the potentially violent protesters. It should not come as a surprise because MP is going to polls next year after Gujarat, and both these BJP-run states have a sizeable Rajput population. It is a rare state CM who will take on an electoral group when it is in clear violation of law, although that is what a good leader should be like, but Chouhan is not clearly that chief minister.
Mrs M.S. Khokhar, On E-Mail
A film is a creative product…it is art. Padmavati must be screened all over India with police protection and those indulging in violence must be taken to task. It is for the Central Board of Film Certification to decide what is fit for public viewing and what is not. People might have objections to a movie, but resorting to violence cannot be the solution. Given how politicians and the media play together in these layered times, the controversy may be created just to divert the attention of the public from other important things such as the Gujarat elections.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
Who will bell the khaki cats? Surely not the politicians of this country since they are the ones who control the police. No government institution can improve until the quality of elected representatives improves. And for that to happen, a revolution is needed.
J N Bhartiya, Hyderabad
Protests by fringe groups over films are nothing new but the endorsement of these protests by state governments definitely is. It is deplorable that some state governments have put a blanket ban on a movie merely on hearsay. Deepika Padkone, whose attractive nose carries a reward of Rs 5 crore (or has it escalated to 10 by now!) for portraying the role of Rani Padmini, did the right thing by standing up to the nuisance-mongers and saying that we are regressing as a nation vis-à-vis the attacks on freedom of expression.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
There is no denying the fact that the police personnel across the country have become corrupt, apathetic and anarchist. However, the root cause of this degeneration of the police lies in the rotten legislature. A large number of MPs and MLAs have criminal cases pending against them and the figure has been steadily climbing. Such criminals cannot be the role models for public and public servants. Under the influence of such putrid elected representatives, even the honest few among the police tend to become eventually demotivated. The ensuing nexus between corrupt politicians and complicit police officers creates a situation where maintaining law and order is put on the back burner, pleasing the crooks in power being the topmost priority. The natural consequence of this nexus is that law abiding citizens get the raw deal. Whether it is the Congress or the BJP, tainted politicians of all hues and lineages are the real culprits and the present law-less regime their collective creation. Instead of blaming the police, we the voters should help cleanse the system by voting such politicians out of power.
Shailendra Dasari, Ballary
Over the past month, the controversy over Padmavati has become our national pastime and a constant source of entertainment. No filmmaker is obliged to appease the sentiments of a billion-plus population. Instead of providing safe passage to the release of Padmavati, several states have joined hands with self-appointed custodians of culture and history to ban the film.
K.S. Padmanabhan, Chennai
In the case of the Padmavati controversy, the UP government has unabashedly expressed that its release might disrupt the law and order of the state. Governments are expected to enforce law and order, not buckle down in the face of threat. The protesters have accused Bhansali of distorting history that might hurt Rajput sentiment. But is there any question of distorting history where there is no history at all? There is no historical evidence that there was a queen named Padmavati in Chittor when it was besieged. The tale is nothing but a literary artefact. Sufi poet Malik Mohammad Jayasi composed Padmavat in 1540-41, about two-and-a-half centuries after the Chittor invasion by Alauddin Khilji. There is no mention of Padmavati in Khazain ul-Futuh written by Amir Khusrau who accompanied Khilji on the Chittor expedition. According to Khusrau, Ratan Sen and his family were spared after the conquest of the fort. Other chroniclers like Barani and Isami also shared the view. Besides, the Padmini palace at Chittor is a relatively modern structure. British writer James Tod’s endeavour to present Padmini as a historical figure is not considered to be reliable. Besides, during the 19th century, Indian nationalist writers like Ireland-born Sister Nivedita and Abanindranath Tagore portrayed and popularised Padmini as a historical figure without strong historic evidences. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s previous extravaganza, Bajirao Mastani, also ran into trouble with the descendants of Peshwa Bajirao-I. They criticised the liberties taken by the director in the name of artistic license.
Buddhadev Nandi, On E-Mail
The Padmavati controversy has improved our knowledge of Rajput ‘mystery’ manifold.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
This refers to Uplifting Empathy (In and Around, Nov 20). Dr Omkar Hota’s arduous 10-km trek carrying on a cot a heavily bleeding mother immediately after she delivered a baby, with the help of her husband, is awe-inspiring and unimaginable in an otherwise cruel world. Before going for the digital push by forcing Aadhaar down the throats of millions of poor, illiterate, homeless and undernourished people, the government should have taken the initiative to improve their lives by providing public health centres in every village and within easy reach. Had it been so, perhaps the doctor would not have to carry ‘the cross’ on foot for three long hours to reach the nearest PHC. Kudos to Dr. Hota for saving the lives of the mother and her newborn.
K.P., On E-Mail
This is in response to Sudha Pai’s column on Sonia, Rahul and the need to revitalise the Congress (The Memory of a Kingdom, Dec 4). The Congress’s move to hand over power again to a scion of the dynasty is proof of the utter illiteracy of the leadership and its inability to change. As the party’s hold over Indians weakens, there has to be somebody from outside the charmed circle who can bring it out of the current rut. That’s what the party needs, other than a complete crackdown on corruption.
Ramachandran Nair, Muscat
In the past two years Rahul has been in charge of the party due to Sonia’s not keeping well, and he looks to be elected unopposed. Recently Rahul’s stars are on the ascendant. But he and his party shouldn’t see his burgeoning following on Twitter as a sign of him being approved by the masses or that of a revival of the Congress. In today’s world, when politics is a 24x7 job, Rahul has been found wanting and has not been able to generate confidence amongst Indians. The Congress has to go beyond surface waves and start from the grassroots level to recreate a connect with common people.
Bal Govind, Noida
This is just a well-written article full of lies to cover up the dynasty and its design to remain in power. Rahul Gandhi has done precious little for gaining trust among people. And his ‘election’ as party chief is also an eyewash. A Congress leader from Maharashtra has had the last say on this. He questioned how Rahul could be MP in one year, general secretary in three years, vice-president in six years and president in eight years, while he as a party worker could only rise to become a state-level leader after decades.
Balasubramaniam Kapila, On E-Mail
I thought Outlook’s Congress leanings were over with the passing of Vinod Mehta, but I was proved wrong. Rahul’s elevation, an event of insignificance outside the party, was taken up by Outlook with gusto. The future of the Congress might be uncertain, but the position of Rahul Gandhi is never in doubt.
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijaywada
This is about the graphic detailing Sonia Gandhi’s tenure as Congress president (End of the Longest Regency, Dec 4). It’s a nice summary, but where are all the scams? The Congress certainly didn’t fall to a low of 44 Lok Sabha seats just because of Modi! That happened because of the corruption within the party.
Avinash Dharne, On E-Mail
This is about S.Y. Quraishi’s review of Raja Sekhar Vundru’s book Ambedkar, Gandhi and Patel (He Rode At The Head of Sixty Million, Dec 4). I thought I needed to mention that the Indian Constitution was mostly a copy of British laws. Most members of the Constituent Assembly did not work hard and frame a body of laws fit for Indians. Ambedkar, of course, was the exception here. He was against this copy-pasting and did whatever he could to add to the sacred book of democracy.
R.R., On E-Mail
“Life for us was an honest, open book. Uncomplicated, steeped in mutual trust. No house had doors in the front or back. Neither did the women wear purdah.” Hats off to Muthukoya (Lakshadweep Diary, Dec 4). I was moved with what I read. Many won’t able to understand those times.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
This is in reference to a section of the Bollywood special (1992-2017: 25 Music Makers Who Made A Difference, December 4). Film music songs in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and even the ’80s always had meaningful lyrics with melodious and lilting music. One never tires of listening to them as there was a poetic quality to film songs! The lyrics were at the forefront and music in the background. But words are no longer important and film music can no longer be understood. In most songs there are no rhymes, not even a tukbandi. Remember that song from the Dev Anand starrer Love Marriage (1959), “Tin kanastar peet peet kar gala phad kar chillana...yeh gana hai na bajana hai (Banging on tin drums and shouting is neither song nor music).”
Mahesh Kapasi, New Delhi
This refers to your editorial comment Padmini and the Elite (Dec 4). The Hindutva project is succeeding not only because the liberal elite do not have a counter-narrative to the ultra nationalists, but also because the Left is complicit in airbrushing the history and current state of militant Islam. My advice to the Left: Be bold and take on the Islamists.
Girish T.V.M, On E-Mail
You write Sanjay Leela Bhansali is “generating all this heat simply to ensure a good first day collection at the box office”. Even the Supreme Court asked “people holding public office to desist from reacting on Padmavati”. The politics of Padmavati can’t be dismissed just because the government has become unable or unwilling to resist pressure from a chauvinist, fringe group.
C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad Col (retd)
While V. Maithreyan laments that he and other senior leaders of his faction are being sidelined after the merger, he must admit that their popularity has declined. (Deep throat, Minds Apart, Dec 4). O. Pannerselvam had promised both Maithreyan and Thambidurai that the AIADMK would join the Modi government after the merger, and that suitable portfolios would be found for them in the central cabinet. But that was not to be. Post-merger, OPS thought that he could emerge as a key player in party affairs, but by projecting himself as the party’s deputy coordinator EPS has thrown a spanner in the works. Amidst simmering resentment among cadres of the OPS faction, it is unclear how they are going to coordinate with the EPS faction in fighting the RK Nagar by-poll. However, with three MPs returning to the parent party from the beleaguered Dinakaran camp, the EPS-OPS coalition seems well set to clinch the R.K Nagar by-poll.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan,Chennai
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