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This is with reference to Arrogant Aadmi Party, your Cover Story on AAP (March 12). AAP may be thought of as a disruptor by some sections of the media and the opposition. Yes, it is a disruptor of the status quo in Indian politics. The party has succeeded in making a difference to the poor quality of government education and public hospitals in Delhi. However, the complicated administrative structure of Delhi and the AAP’s conflict with the Centre have made Kejriwal’s job difficult. The resulting frustration has led to his constant run-ins with the Centre and the bureaucracy. Having to manage among such tensions, the Delhi CM has actually become politically sharper. He knows the pulse of Delhi’s voters. It will take more than President’s rule to dislodge the party from the mind space of Delhiites.
Vijai Pant, On E-mail
The cover heading Arrogant Aadmi Party could very well have been ‘Arrogant Arvind Party’ too. The citizens of Delhi had reposed a lot of faith in AAP, expecting from it corruption-free governance. But, three years down the line, the CM’s house is in disorder. The latest alleged physical attack on the chief secretary has only added fuel to the fire. Kejriwal and associates are expected to make things workable between the party and the bureaucracy, but sadly they have always chosen confrontation with all the related agencies vital for effective governance.
Pramod Srivastava, New Delhi
This refers to Immovable And Rusted Objects. Despite its flip-flops, AAP is still the only alternative to the two most corrupt parties of India—the Congress and the BJP. They need the support of the people and the media to stand up to these two goliaths of Indian politics. From what your story indicates, AAP and its leaders will end up as martyrs in the dustbin of history.
Nasar Ahmed, On E-mail
The recent episode involving two AAP legislators allegedly manhandling Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash reveals that streak of intolerance that the party always seemed to possess. Such aggressive behaviour by legislators has to be suppressed with an iron hand since it could be a symptom of a larger, more dangerous disease. The long rope given by Kejriwal to his party leaders is the reason behind such acts of high-handedness. Kejriwal’s silence is a clear indicator that his party’s legislators have done something wrong.
K.R. Srinivasan, Hyderabad
In the last three years we have seen enough of AAP’s ‘alternative politics’, which is nothing but the politics of confrontation. I am surprised that Ashis Nandy termed Kejriwal’s expulsion of the party’s founding stalwarts as his political skill. The party was floated on an anti-corruption platform with the pledge of clean politics and people’s participation in the process of governance. But all went wrong when stalwarts like Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Anand Kumar et al were expelled from the party for objecting to “Kejriwal’s autocratic ways”. Yadav had described it as: “The kangaroo trials, expulsions, witch-hunts, character assassination, rumour campaigns and emotional theatre to justify such macabre acts…” AAP’s conflict with the Centre, the LG and the bureaucrats was often used as an excuse by Kejriwal to not perform promised tasks. The alleged midnight beating of the chief secretary by AAP MLAs in Kejriwal’s presence at his residence is perhaps the last straw. Whatever happened within closed doors, it laid bare the bizarre working style of the party. When Delhi’s bureaucrats were protesting, Kejriwal went to Madurai to participate in the launch of Kamalahaasan’s political party. Nandy says that Kejriwal’s appeal is intact. That may be true. No opinion poll has been conducted and presented. Kejriwal still has two years at his disposal—a very long time in politics.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
The evidence in the public domain so far of the alleged assault on the chief secretary at the Delhi CM’s residence is too shaky to stand the test of law. It may not be surprising that once the episode is forgotten, it turns out to be a stunt of lies to somehow knock AAP out of power. It is rather well-known that certain bureaucrats demonstrate ‘loyalty’ to politicians in power for post-retirement perks. Unfortunately, perceptions matter more than the truth.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
It’s easy to be the figure of honesty when on the outside, and then you slowly become a CM.
Anil S., Pune
If Sridevi was a terrific actress who had the right mix of method and spontaneity, Kamalahaasan had a huge role to play in grooming her talent—in the initial days (Where Lightning Fell, March 12). Before finally shifting her base to the Hindi film industry, she had as many as 50 films with southern super stars Rajnikanth and Kamal. She was someone who started acting at the young age of four and later became the sole breadwinner for her family. From 1985 to ’92, Sridevi was the highest paid Bollywood actress. She is not being referred to as the first female superstar of Hindi cinema for nothing. She commanded respect and money from the producers because of her sheer talent and stardom. And like all superstars, all her movies, even the relatively unsuccessful ones, are etched in the memory of her admirers.
Bal Govind, Noida
Just as the untimely and premature passing away of Sridevi left the country shell-shocked, the insensitive press indulged in rank sensationalism by autopsying the tragedy most distastefully, ignoring the grief around the news. Surely the bubbly queen of histrionics who reigned over the silver screen for years didn’t deserve this shabby treatment.
George Jacob, Kochi
Her two comeback films in recent times show Sridevi’s wide range as an actress. In the 2017 thriller Mom, she plays an avenging mother who is out to get her daughter’s rapists, while in her comeback movie in 2012, English Vinglish, she is seen as a docile housewife who battles negative attitudes by learning English, and eventually develops a passion for it. Her daughter Janhvi’s debut in a Karan Johar film would have made her a star-mom too. For our generation of movie-lovers, Sridevi was and will always be pure electricity, a bonafide bijli, who, at her best, lit up the screen.
Meghana A., New South Wales
Sridevi came into Bollywood at a time when there were no publicists and stylists surrounding a star. Also, the film press in those days was not as adulatory as it is today. She was not fluent in English and spoke very little Hindi. I remember her Bollywood film Julie, where she had a small role—as sister of the leading actress, Lakshmi. Later, the success in Himmatwala made her a star in the rest of India (she was already one in the south). If stardom is to be judged by mass appeal, then there’s no other Indian actress who had the kind of reach that Sridevi had. From the late ’70s to the late ’90s, she was the reigning superstar of the Hindi and southern film industry, with legions of fans across the country. It is unlikely that we will get an encore of the combination of beauty, grace and all-round talent that Sridevi was.
Padmini Raghavendra, On E-Mail
You noted it right: “Her movies are still remembered as ‘Sridevi’ movies, not those of her co-stars, however big they might have been.”
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad
God’s own country holds many of its people to be the children of a lesser god (Hunger, Bloodthirst, Murder, March 12). The lynching of Madhu, an adivasi youth, defies parallel in its savagery and crudity—and goes to show that adivasis are among Kerala’s Untermenschen. It also goes to show that a mob—be it of any political or religious affiliation—is a mob: violent and savage.
Kerala, obviously, is far from alone in its treatment of the underprivileged. The increasingly unabashed nature of attacks against marginalised people all over the country is truly frightening. If at all, this lynching seems to have derived its sense of impunity from other lynchings in the country. It’s clear that the culprits fear punishment no longer; their actions enjoy the State’s tacit approval. This killing and others contribute directly to the establishment of a society in which the norms are set according to a distinctly majoritarian agenda. Civil society must zealously resist the normalisation of such criminal behaviour.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
In your editorial comment The Tamil Country (March 12), you write, “For me, Tamil Nadu is the most fascinating place in the country.” And coincidently, I am reading this sitting in a flat in Madurai, hot wind blowing in through the windows. My host says this is the fourth consecutive year since a full monsoon last visited them. In this arid climate, there is still the smell of jasmine. There are many contradictions in Tamil Nadu: rich politicians and the poorest of the poor voters; villages where people quarrel over water early in the morning. The poor are happy about ‘freebies’ offered by politicians—and that pink Gandhi note in exchange of their vote. Also, let me point out one error: it’s komannam (loincloth) in Tamil, not konakam.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
The English media is notoriously ostrich-like in its grasp of Tamil Nadu. At best, it makes sense of Tamilians like a visually challenged person would do with an elephant. Like the ‘national parties’, the English media never knows (or bothers to know) what Tamilness is. Karti Chidambaram and the Kanchi seer are lightweights in Tamil Nadu, but they have access to big media. That’s your problem, not ours. Also, our villages are relatively well-off. Your visit during the 2004 general elections happened in peak summer. I welcome you for another visit now. As for corrupt politicians: they are everywhere, why single out Tamil Nadu? That ‘corruptness’ ensures some intangibles and is unlikely to be traded off.
J. Joseph, On E-Mail
This is with reference to the story on how the sons and daughters of cricketers have also taken up the game and harbour ambitions of playing for India (The Blues Beckon, Mar 12). So, after the legal, medical, business professions, along with politics and the armed forces, cricket in India is also about to go the dynastic way! Another bastion that is to be devoid of meritocracy.
G. Natarajan, On E-Mail
Dynastic continuity is acceptable in every field, provided that the offspring prove their worth. It is widely observed that successful parents want their children to continue in the same profession since they already have an established foothold in it. It’s alright as well, since they are not really doing anything wrong per se by doing so. These kids grow up in their parents’ world after all. And it’s not really a cakewalk; think about it, failure is liable to hurt them a lot more since expectations from star kids are sky high as the world is watching.
Mahesh Kapasi, Delhi
With the Tamil superstars’ headlong plunge into politics, it is once again proved that the latter is more lucrative and rewarding than working in tinsel town (Two Heroes, Twin Roles, March 12). But I don’t think an idealist like Kamalahaasan, who venerates former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will be able to hold his head high above the cesspool of politics.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
I read the article on Bangladesh with keen interest (Balancing The Wheel, March 12). BNP leader and former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia’s incarceration on graft charges closes a chapter in the country, but opens a new one. It raises questions on the future of her party that has been unable to mount a serious agitation in response. It’s obvious that with a weakening BNP the beneficiary will be Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League.
P.L. Singh, On E-Mail
The column on corruption by A.K. Biswas (Our Very Own Nadir Shahs, Mar 12), is quite wonderful and aptly timed. It talks about little-known bank scams in India’s history and how they were entangled with religion. Actually, nebulous concepts like ‘morality’, ‘ethics’ and ‘value’ can all be twisted out of shape. We now have to stress cast-iron things like accountability, scientific approach and the rule of law.
Chhanda Sarkar, On e-mail
Actually, there is no reason why the BJP’s landslide victory in Tripura should baffle the Left (From Bud To Flower, Feb 26). Actually, top CPI(M) leaders are to blame for the state the party is in. They have miserably failed to follow the examples of their past great leaders and surely lost the plot. It is apparent that there was something wrong in the Manik Sarkar government that forced supporters to leave the party and the common people to repose their trust in the BJP, an ‘outsider’ party. Unless the CPI(M) retraces its legacy, ideals and ideology, this might just be the end for it as a national entity.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
This is about the review of Sanjay Manjrekar’s autobiography (Honour In Imperfection, Feb 19). When Manjrekar suddenly retired at 33, it was whispered that Sachin Tendulkar was behind his early exit. Is this there in his book? If so, the review doesn’t mention it.
B.N. Roy, On E-Mail
S. Venkatesan: I have come to learn that a few facts mentioned in my homage to Mr S. Manikandan, A Forest Warbler’s Tale (March 19), which appeared in your magazine recently, are not correct. I wrote that Mr Manikandan was the last person in the file to oversee the burnt area but the fact is that he was accompanied by many other people, including fire watchers. Secondly, I wrote that Mr Manikandan was wearing a cream colour shirt when the incident took place. Now, I have learnt that he wore a camouflaged shirt when the incident took place. I tender my apologies for these mistakes.
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