the fully loaded magazine
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
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
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
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
Tell the jobless they aren’t fit to earn enough for living well, and must work on themselves!
Parsuram Patel, Indore
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
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
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