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This refers to the cover story The Muslims (February 20). As we struggle with the dangerously divisive projects of CAA and NRC, we face the prospect of widespread civil disobedience. As spontaneous protests break out across the country, India seems to be on the cusp of a new epoch. In a spectacular assertion of popular will, people have found a collective vocabulary. Slowly but surely, we see the gulf between ‘us’ and ‘them’ diminishing. The last one year has seen our foundational morality being questioned like never before, creating confusion and chaos. But in a strange, twisted way, disorder is giving way to order. At Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere, we see Hindus and Muslims airing their worries under a shared sky, reminding us of Rahi Masoom Raza’s iconic story Topi Shukla, a simple tale of friendship between two boys, one Hindu and one Muslim. They play together, dream together and are inseparable, not knowing or understanding what separates them. Its theme resonates now more than ever. Indians today need to reaffirm Rahi’s faith that India is not a piece of land—it is a home for ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Sangeeta Kampani, New Delhi
In the early ’90s, Kashmiri Pandits were driven out from the Valley, rendering them destitute in their motherland. The shameless pseudoseculars and biased media, which now includes the third-rate Outlook, maintained total silence. Outlook has been spinelessly kowtowing to Muslim goons. Did you publish any article against Mamata Banerjee when she trampled upon democracy? The pseudosecular media plays politics even in death—while the lynching of Akhlaq in Dadri is an issue, the murders of RSS workers in Kerala are a non-issue. Shame on such yellow rags!
Hemanth Pai, Bangalore
I had a Muslim friend in Lucknow in the ’60s. We used to visit each other, especially on festive occasions. His mother invited my mother—a very orthodox old lady—for lunch on Eid, but it was difficult to convince her to accept the invite. My friend’s mother, a retired principal of a government girls’ degree college, came personally to take my mother to her place to show her the preparations for Eid festivities. My mother was astonished to find that Hindu priests were conducting pooja and havan in the courtyard to purify and sanctify it, after which Hindu cooks prepared delicacies for the devout Hindus. She immediately apologised for initially refusing to accept the invite and spent the day at my friend’s. Many other such memories haunt me. Alas, the times stand poisoned. There are no occasions to cherish such sweet memories. Muslims feel fully isolated, frustrated and pushed to the wall.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim
This refers to the column The Burden Of An Unheroic Hero (February 17). Why did the author try to drive a wedge between people who adore A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and those who don’t? While Outlook produces great writing, this particular article is slightly inflammatory and no different from what we read in some other magazines. Columns shouldn’t be misused to mislead, however well-concealed.
G.V. Subramanyam, On E-Mail
The ruling dispensation has virtually termed Muslims as traitors who must be shot. Alas, the new India is one of binaries—rich versus poor, men vs women, liberal vs conservative, Ram vs Allah, urban vs rural, bhakts vs intelligent, police vs people and most dangerously, state vs citizens!
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
The editorial Us And Them is balanced and articulate. If protestors in Delhi have mastered a unique language that transcends religious divide, I wish they could effectively revive the chorus chanting of the bhajan Ishwar Allah tere nam, sub ko sanmati de bhagwan—not as a rhetoric or diplomacy , but to evoke a unifying force. Of course, they should distance themselves from parties and sects with narrow, vested interests and congregate at a site that does not hinder traffic.
A.R.M. Ramesh, Madurai
There is a ‘Muslim’ community living mostly in Gujarat and Mumbai, which has never complained of being relegated to second class-citizens. They are uncomfortable being referred to as Muslims and prefer to be called Ismailis. While they unquestionably believe in the kalma, they do not perform the namaz in mosques, but they have prayer halls; they do not observe fasts during Ramzan and do not perform Haj. They are sincere and generous about zakat, which goes to Aga Khan, their religious head. Their second or third name is generally Hindu and they settle their personal, business, property and inheritance disputes not according to the Sharia, but Mitakshari law of Manusmruti. Such a community cannot have an objection to a uniform civil code. Peaceful, friendly and prosperous, they live in harmony with their Hindu brethren. Azim Premji, Abdul Shamji, Faisal Devji and Zafar Sareshwala are well-known names from this community. Ismailis could be a role model for other Muslim communities.
Nitin M. Majmudar, Lucknow
It seems Shaheen Bagh is going to prove a turning point in our politics. We ignore here the point that it is a ‘staged-managed’ protest silently assisted by vested interests. It also emboldens the anti-system people to come out vociferously as they have an issue to mobilise the public. This has given them a legitimate issue that can be safely used to turn the tide against the government. We need a more cohesive social atmosphere for peace.
Harish Pandey, New Delhi
For millions across India, the anti-CAA/NRC protests are a new signpost. When and in which manner will the protests end, nobody can foretell. Around 20 crore Muslims of India may have many reasons to fear for their safety and security, but there is no reason to fear for their Indian citizenship, which cannot be taken away by any government.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to the story on the Budget (Long Talk, Short Take, February 17). As usual, this year’s Budget can at best be called a popular one, giving cheer to the salaried class and pensioners. The reduction in corporate tax is certain to give a big boost to production, while increase in tax on select items and custom duties would go a long way in clamping down on “non-essential” imports. Overall, it is conservative and inclusive Budget, which will help spur the economy.
Srinivasan Ramaswamy, Secunderabad
The Budget was not received well by investors as the Sensex tanked by a huge 988 points. This reflects the disappointment in business circles over the absence of a game plan to pull the economy out of the slowdown that has gripped it. The disappointment was all the more because of the anticipation that had built up. This Budget does not have a grand design because Modi government has no economic expert in its ranks who can think out of the box. Besides, the choice for the tax payer—opt for the old IT slab or adopt the exemption-less regime—has caused confusion.
Lal Singh, Amritsar
The stability of the nation is governed by capital investment, quality production, favourable trade balance and net growth of the economy. PM Modi’s fiscal firepower is limited by our large deficit and a bevy of overly indebted state-owned companies. His own advisors have warned that without major reforms, India could face a structural slowdown that will keep long-term growth rate far below the 8 per cent that India needs. The FM has presented a Budget that will hopefully boost people’s purchasing power.
Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda
E=MC^2 Excerpts of telegram to sculptor Noguchi, who couldn’t recall Einstein’s formula