the fully loaded magazine
This refers to An Object To Own, your cover story on the policing of women’s bodies in our society (Feb 26). Only the law has the capacity to keep a check on the feudal and patriarchal attitudes of our society when it comes to women. In recent times, a case has offered the most interesting picture on the issue of women’s independence—the Hadiya case. The Supreme Court finally stated in clear terms that as an adult, Hadiya had the right to choose her religion and her husband and that no one, not even the National Investigative Agency, could take that right away from her. Prior to the SC’s order, the Kerala High Court had faltered—it had annulled her marriage with a Muslim man and she was confined to her parents’s home against her wishes, but the apex court made sure that justice prevailed in the end. All this encroachment upon Hadiya’s freedom was made possible because of the bogey of love jehad which has been floated by politicians and patriarchs in order to play on the fears of people. Hadiya’s case had become a test to see whether our system could deliver justice to a woman who wants to take the decisions in her life. Thankfully, the SC’s final order saved the day for democracy.
L.J.S. Panesar, On E-Mail
From ‘progressive’ Bengal to ‘backward’ Haryana, patriarchy looms large in a country that has placed women behind the line that a character in an epic drew for another—the Lakshman rekha.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Women have long been treated as second-class citizens in India. Not even the so-called progressive political parties, nor the middle and upper classes, have given them enough space. As long as the nexus between the political parties and hierarchies based on religion and caste rules the nation, nothing will change.
P.A. Jacob, Muscat
A few days back, the unfortunate case of Ankit Saxena, the youth who was killed for love, allegedly by his lover’s family, was splashed all over the news and social media. But the hue and cry around it was not merely to demand justice for the victim’s family or as a debate over the law and order situation in Delhi. A large section of people were pushing this tragedy so that they could demonise the Muslim community. Ankit’s case gave the right wing an opportunity to make the most of the situation by spreading chaos and hate. Like in cases of terrorism, here too, Muslim figures were being provoked with pressure to condemn the incident—as if it is their responsibility to do so.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
This refers to An Open Affair With Freedom. Sex outside marriage may not be illegal, it may even be justifiable if you invoke the‘right to freedom’, but it is bound to ruin relationships. Can you imagine the impact extra-marital relationships have on the children of married couples? If married people start acting irresponsibly in the name of freedom, it will lead to a trail of broken homes.
D.R. Srinivasan, Bangalore
This refers to Marriage is a Box of Chocolates (Feb 26). I am married and have been living with my spouse for the past 40 years. I have never had the moment described in your article, “Being able to go off on one’s own path without fear of repercussions…” Such ideas are alright in fantasy, but not in real life. Let marriage remain a chocolate box.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
Lakshman Rekha has been redefined; it was for ‘protection’ first, but now it’s for ‘confinement’.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
My commiserations to Rajesh Ramachandran for not being good at taking and gaming loans, being a contemporary of Nirav Modi (Nirav Modi, Feb 26). I venture to say that as an octogenarian who has had the experience of auditing banks in the 1960s (I migrated to the state civil service via a short stint in the Ministry of Defence), the looming danger of corruption in banks is not as simple as the handiwork of a few lowly officers. The conspiracy of multiple agencies at multiple levels cannot be ruled out. Is it not a matter of shame that small defaulters of agricultural loans are hounded and forced to commit suicide while the fat cats make hay?
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
I refer to the inboxed letter of Mr Kanwar Pal Singh on the cover story titled Panth and a Foreign Hand (Feb 12). Any move by a section of the people to disintegrate India stands self-condemned. The writer speaks of the sovereign character of the Sikh people, but he forgets that many communities showed traits of sovereignty, historically speaking, before the modern nation state was formed, so many can make that claim. It would be inaccurate to say that the Sikhs have been continuously striving for self-rule since 1859. The bottom line is that India cannot be broken into smaller bits.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
The interview with the Maldivian ambassador was quite candid (‘We don’t need nudges and pushes’, Feb 26). As the political crisis plays out in the Maldives, a quiet tug of war is taking place around it, with heavyweights India and China vying for strategic dominance in the picturesque Indian Ocean region. At first glance, both China and India want no part in the domestic issue, issuing diplomatic statements to that effect. But in reality, both have strategic interests to safeguard. While China will challenge India’s primacy in the Indian Ocean, the ambassador was frank in saying that “we will be fools to jeopardise our own security.” With the extension of the emergency in Maldives, the crisis has reason to simmer on.
Col C.V. Venugopalan (retd), Palakkad
Apropos ‘We don’t need nudges and pushes’ (Feb 26). If the Indian army were to interfere in the crisis taking place in the Maldives, it would have been disastrous for the region. We are all well aware of the history of military interventions and how counter-productive they have proved to be. It is, nevertheless, interesting how at the very mention of Indian military intervention, China sprung up with a sharp response, which sounded more like a warning to India. Later, China modified its stance by saying it is in the ‘common interest’ of India and China to maintain stability in the Maldives. China’s reactions are telling; they can be read as acknowledgements of India’s influence in region. The China of now is very different from what it was in 1988, when former PM Rajiv Gandhi interfered in the matters of the Maldives. Some have even raised the fact of India’s military intervention in the Maldives in 1988, but the situations are different, as China is now a major power in the region. Then, thirty years ago, India intervened to stop a coup by mercenaries, but the current picture in the island country is not so black and white.
Lal Singh, Amritsar
I write in response to the leader comment on the Nirav Modi scam (Feb 26). Indira Gandhi’s decision to nationalise banks in the ’70s was supposed to have benefited the public, who were thitherto deprived of banking and loan facilities. But, over the years, only smart and politically connected business houses kept on deriving the optimal advantages from PSU banks in the form of loans without repaying. The banks continued to write off such loans as NPAs, thus closing avenues for recovery. The banks do have autonomy, but do they work without political meddling? The bad loans go on, offenders flee the country, NPAs inflate and the government may bless banks with recapitalisation. So the circle continues and Indians watch on helplessly.
Pramod Srivastava, On E-Mail
The PNB-Nirav Modi fraud is just the tip of the iceberg. It is fallacious to see it only as a current malaise in the Indian banking system. The system, of course, still hasn’t learnt its lessons from the Harshad Mehta scam that is already a quarter century old. But today’s scamsters have learnt a lesson from Harshad Mehta—they flee the country before their crime gets uncovered. Mallya is well-ensconced in the UK, while Nirav Modi is said to be cooling his heels in Switzerland. Anyway, the important point is: Is the government so dumb that it cannot learn from past mistakes? Scams take place under one political regime and scamsters flee the country under the other. Therefore, both the incumbent and the predecessor lack any political will to thoroughly investigate these scams.
Thanks to both the UPA government and the present dispensation, frauds like Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and others are allowed to loot public money and clear off with impunity. Now, leaders of both BJP and Congress have kickstarted the blame game. The pile of bad loans and NPAs aren’t just the legacy of the UPA years. In four years, the NDA has done little to remedy the terrible situation within our banks. The thing responsible for the mess isn’t hard to find—crony capitalism. The bankers-borrowers-politician-nexus must be cracked down. Otherwise, scams like the PNB one (and many banks are neck-deep in similar fiascos) may open a Pandora’s Box, leading to the collapse of our banking system. As always, the common man is left with a cross to bear. The draconian FRDI Bill, which is waiting to be passed and aims at minimising the failure of financial institutions in case of insolvency by providing measures like a bail-in option, has already created a wave of fear among depositors.
Buddhadev Nandi, On E-Mail
The government of the day declares that looters as well as their booty will be brought back, but everyone knows that this is beyond the capability of the government.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
PM Modi has perhaps forgotten his words: ‘Na khaunga na khane doonga’ (Neither will I take bribe, nor let anyone else take). It’s not known whether he himself is a beneficiary, but he is allowing others to graze freely on the green, which has been watered by the hard-earned money of the taxpayers.
Ram P., On E-Mail
When it comes to something as essential as food, there must be no imposition of tax—GST or whatever (Tall Pile-up Of Worries, Feb 26). Or, there must be a statute that mandates that prices of hotel items be inclusive of taxes or service charges whatsoever. You can’t add them to the prices shown on the menu. Any malpractice related to this must invite heavy punishment.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
When terrorists across the border attack Indian army posts, it adds to the misery of the people living in the Valley (No Sermon of Serenity at the Arch of Terror, Feb 26). The shelling and shooting in Kashmir is something that has been going on since Independence. A nascent India at least had a few leaders who actually tried to settle this issue, but their successors today in the government are out to only complicate matters for the worse. I wonder how the common people of Kashmir have been coping with decades of ill-governance.
Lt Col (Retd) Ranjit Sinha, Calcutta
After the Uri attack, the Philip Campose committee spelt out, in scathing detail, the vulnerabilities in the security of military camps. It took the Sunjuwan attack to stir the defence ministry to take note of that report. Since May 2014, the defence ministry has been poorly led. Politicisation of national security has been packaged as an answer to the country’s defence. This is no service to the nation. The Modi government needs to match its aggressive statements with administrative competence.
Apropos of No Laws Yet in Search of Profits (Feb 26), this is indeed a huge blow to Google. And it is the second time in the past two years that Google has been fined by a competition regulator; this indicates a serious flaw in the firm’s practices. The fact that Google does not share revenue with content generators means that it is taking advantage of its market position; this is unfair practice and needs to be stopped.
Bal Govind, Noida
With reference to Scoring With A Scoop (Feb 26), the state has been renamed from Orissa to Odisha. Please take care of some basic things!
Sumit Pattnaik, On E-Mail
This refers to the cover Will The Cow Moo For BJP Again? (Feb 19). The triple blow to the BJP in Rajasthan comes as a warning that the 2019 polls will not be a cakewalk for it. But this isn’t to say that the Congress is in any good shape. Since the BJP came to power at the Centre, it has been in constant campaign mode. In every election, from the UP municipal polls, a mere eight months after the BJP had swept the state, to Rajasthan’s three by-polls, the party has been giving all it has. The Congress needs to massively rebuild, and in limited time. And this revival can only happen on the back of strong regional leadership.
Prakash Hanspaul, On E-Mail
This refers to Red Response to White Flag (Feb 19). The article on the sorry state of the CPI(M) and its allies on the Left should be an eye-opener to party bosses, especially those in Kerala, a state that is witnessing unprecedented violence, exploitation of natural resources and police intimidation of social activists, Dalits and intellectuals. In the latest incident a young Congressman was murdered in Kannur, and the police don’t have a clue about the crime. Yet, everyone knows the Communists have a hand in it. The cycles of violence perpetrated by the Communists and the RSS need to stop. And the chief minister keeps mum, not heeding the erosion of democracy under his watch. If this goes on, the Kerala Left will suffer the same fate as that of its counterpart in Bengal.
K. Aravindakshan, On E-Mail