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This refers to your cover story on the great Indian telly soaps, Telly Hypnotists (Sep 17). Our overall socio-economic condition and IQ would have been better if we didn’t stare at the idiot box so much. We would have had more time to think and act, making better use of the present knowledge explosion in all spheres of life. Most of these serials you write about perpetuate and fortify the old feudalistic, ritualistic, superstitious and hypocritical culture on the gullible masses. The producers’ sole motto with the format is to earn more by improving their TRP ratings. Rare exceptions, like Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, that provides light humorous family entertainment, also exist.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah is a great comedy show (...A Superpower’s Guiding Taarak Mehta). I want all members of the Taarak Mehta team to know that we are not at all bored with the show, carry on folks. It’s a true family entertainer. From the eight-year-old kid to the octogenarians of my family and friends are in love with TMKOC. This show must go on. It makes us roar in laughter multiple times a day and we are able to get rid of the stress and strain of day-to-day life. Otherwise, I prefer to see news channels, but saffronisation of news channels has become the order of the day. I wish even CID to continue, the ACP’s reassuringly repetitive gestures are endearing.
Ashim Kumar Chakraborty, Guwahati
Refer to You Can’t Box This Idiot. There are several categories among idiot box couch potatoes, according to a survey in Britain in the early 2000s. Some are channel-hoppers and some are restless button-pushers who keep changing channels without viewing any programme fully. Others are insomniacs, who watch television at the cost of their sleep. Then there are those who wake up with television and have it on during the entire length of the day. But I wonder what clicks with these different species of telly potatoes!
Mahesh Kapasi, On E-Mail
This refers to your cover story on the RSS (HQ Nagpur, September 10). Buoyed by the success of its political wing, the BJP, in cleverly leveraging social media to build a strong brand. The Sangh seems keen on replicating the same strategy for a quick image makeover. “If you are going to be two-faced, at least make one of them pretty,” yesteryears Hollywood celebrity Marilyn Monroe had said, and that’s exactly what the Sangh is currently preoccupied with. Inviting a former President, industry tycoons and, if the rumours are to be believed, even the Congress president, for its sessions is aimed at beautifying one of the faces. Unfortunately, the other face is so dreadful and its negative traits so deeply entrenched in public memory that it won’t be easy for the Sangh to change perceptions. If the Sangh is sincere about its perceived role in rebuilding the nation post the prolonged dynastic rule of the Congress, it should have the courage to own up to its long list of mistakes, including its second sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar’s offensive comments in the book Bunch of Thoughts branding “Muslims, Christians and Communists” as “enemies of the nation”, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination by one of its fringe bodies, and the recent spate of mob-lynchings by cow vigilantes.
Shailendra Dasari, Bellary
RSS is the ideological fountainhead of India’s ruling party, the BJP. The goal of this dispensation is to create a Hindu Rashtra, following the idea of Hindutva developed by V.D. Savarkar, K.B. Hedgewar and Deendayal Upadhyaya—a clear and present threat to the plural and all-accepting culture of India. Hindutva is the ideology of militant Hinduism and its political manifestation. Inward-looking to the core, Hindutva accords a secondary position to all non-Hindu faiths. We are experiencing a total onslaught by Hindutva on India’s liberal ethos, since the BJP-led government was voted to power in New Delhi in 2014, creating an atmosphere of all-pervasive fear and intimidation.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
The RSS was started as a socio-cultural organisation in 1925, and eventually become one of the most powerful and richest non-governmental organisation in the world. It is also the only NGO to have ever ruled India, which it does through its political arm, the BJP. If we have to understand the Sangh’s narrative and strategy, we have to take stock of the evolution of some of the political parties that emerged before and after India’s independence in quick succession. Had you included some of that, your markedly contemporary analysis of the Sangh would also have got a stronger historical basis.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
This is about the cover story on the RSS (HQ, Nagpur, Sep 10), prompted no doubt by the utterances of the ignoramus, yet amusingly aggressive, Rahul Gandhi. The comparison of the RSS with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ISIS show the superficiality of his knowledge and the depths to which he is misinformed. He might claim that he has a knack of bringing about tremors with his pronouncements, but, alas, tectonic plates don’t move so easily—a disappointment, no doubt, to him and his coterie. The RSS preaches patriotism and builds persons with impeccable character, with high moral integrity. Just a glance at the public conduct of its sarsanghchalaks will tell you that. RSS also serves the destitute at the bottom of the social pyramid. Indeed, such baseless charges can fit into the adage: ‘the opposition is there to oppose’. Indians are not the citizens they had been decades back, open to the machinations of politicians. In today’s digital age, everyone is fairly well-informed, with a cache of reliable information quite literally at their fingertips.
Indu S. Dube, Varanasi
Life often unfolds slowly and predictably in the living room, just like the 1,000-plus soap sagas.
V. Sreeraj, Hyderabad
This refers to Telly Hypnotists (Sep 17). It is sheer arrogance of producers like Ekta Kapoor to say “instead of hashtagging #endYHM stop watching it! All stories will not go as you wish as an audience…’ In the age of social media, favourable and unfavourable opinions will come your way whether you like them or not. You can’t dictate the viewers on their rightful hashtags! Except the two initial mega serials—Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (1,833 episodes) and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii (1,661 episodes), I and my family lost patience and stopped somewhere midway the saas-bahu sagas revolving around the same theme of family conspiracies and revenge. We skipped most of them. In the new trend of irrational and supernatural serials, Balaji’s Naagin is reported to be number one, but our household couldn’t even bear a single episode of it. We didn’t even watch Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, left watching Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai somewhere midway and even lost patience with the unending Baalika Badhu. Song and dance reality shows have taken over our Saturday-Sunday evenings and we enjoy them, strictly barring from that list Khatron ke Khiladi, Comedy Nights With Kapil, and Big Boss.
In the good old days, when Doordarshan was the only channel, serials had only around thirteen weekly episodes and most of them were extremely popular with viewers. Hum Log was officially the first soap, telecast on Doordarshan in 1984. It had just 154 episodes and ended in 1985. But it was quality content. The narration on the show was done by the legendary actor Ashok Kumar! Then came Buniyaad, a 105-episode serial aired in May 1986, that ended in May 1987, followed by the elaborate epic portrayals Ramayan, which was aired in 78 episodes, and Mahabharat, that ran for 94 episodes. The unforgettable opening ‘Main samay hun’ narration in Mahabharat was done by voice artist Harish Bhimani. What a time it was! We are nostalgic about these DD serials and do not forget to watch them whenever there is a repeat telecast on any channel. As for the unending serials of the satellite age, you can’t bear to watch those insufferables again. Also, don’t think any channel is interested in replaying those disposables.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
DMK president M.K. Stalin is on the horns of a dilemma (Turn On A Thousand Lights, Sep 10). In his acceptance speech, he exhorted his cadre to “teach a lesson to the Narendra Modi government”. This surprised many, as not only did Stalin attend Vajpayee’s funeral in Delhi, he also paid homage to his ashes in Chennai. The Congress, communists and other fringe groups will drop Stalin like a hot potato if he aligns himself with the BJP. The latter’s strategy is to split the Dravidian majors to gain political ascendancy in Tamil Nadu.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
Refer to Lower Base to Higher Growth (Sep 17). On the back of excellent manufacturing growth, our GDP grew by a nine-quarter high of 8.2 per cent. This speaks volumes about India’s potential, as our finance minister rightly put it, amid a global slowdown. There is no doubt that the low base had its role in this high growth, as the economy had shrunk following the introduction of GST and demonetisation. What is also encouraging is that manufacturing, agriculture and construction all contributed to this growth—only services fell back. Now, the million-dollar question is whether we will be able to sustain such high growth in the coming quarters. Although the government is driving investment and growth in infrastructure, private sector investment on the whole is still not upbeat due to under-utilised capacity and leveraged balance sheets. But going forward, we will not have the luxury of a low base, so it is going to be all the more Herculean a task to achieve similar growth.
Bal Govind, Noida