the fully loaded magazine
This refers to your cover story on Manoj Bajpayee (Method Hero, September 6). Bajpayee is indeed a great actor. The two seasons of The Family Man streaming on Amazon Prime, have made him the No. 1 actor on OTT platforms. He is also very popular on the silver screen. Starting with small roles in movies and television, he made quite a sensation as the gangster Bhiku Mhatre in Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (1998). It is surprising that this was followed by a lean period during which he got no worthwhile role to play. Then came Prakash Jha’s multistarrer Rajneeti (2010), which catapulted him back to the big league. His role was appreciated by critics and the audience alike. Since then he has not looked back. This year, The Family Man, Silence…Can You Hear It? and Dial 100 have made him a household name. A down-to-earth actor, he does not hestitate to admit that he still calls various directors for work. Because of his qualities, he is liked by people of all age groups.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
Manoj Bajpayee dutifully walked the path of method acting laid down by the great late Dilip Saab in Hindi cinema.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Alisha Dutta does a remarkable job in pointing out the growing antipathy of Calcutta’s petty bourgeoisie to the working class (A City Learns to Backpedal, September 6). It is only natural that the traditional means of transport for the working class will be banned on roads like Park Street and Free School Street. As the police officer points out in the story, “VIPs travel on these roads.” By consecrating bits of imperial stone, the Calcutta elite surreptitiously seeks to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of workers. When the present dispensation came to power in the state in 2011, they announced that they wanted to convert Calcutta into London. This ban, first announced in 2014, is a realisation of CM Mamata Banerjee’s plan to further disempower the already reeling proletariat of the city. Dutta’s exposition of this oft-ignored issue is timely and articulate. Significantly, she highlights the fact that even the concept of biking lanes has the potential for exclusivism. The authorities need to frame policies specifically for the creaky, dreary old bicycle, the lifeblood of the Calcutta economy, not the modern, sleek bicycle whose riders often sport colourful helmets. In a city where brazen governmental corruption is accompanied by the increasing disenfranchisement of the ‘petty pleb’, there is little one can really do except voting wisely in the upcoming municipal elections.
Aahir Ghosh, On E-Mail
This refers to First Ask the Students (September 6). With the US-led NATO forces having beaten a hasty retreat from what’s left of Afghanistan, the Taliban recaptured power on the sly, rendering the war-torn country a playing ground for Pakistan, Iran and China, each one trying to extricate the bone they are interested in. While the utmost priority of Pakistan and China would be anti-India operations by ‘cooking terror’ in Afghan ‘kitchens’ with the help of Taliban chefs and Islamic State masterchefs imported from elsewhere, India must take part in the ‘feast’ with great circumspection and diplomatic mettle, and to a great extent, cunning.
George Jacob, Kochi
This refers to your interview with geostrategy expert and former intelligence officer Anand Arni (‘India Shouldn’t Be in a Hurry to Do Business with Taliban’, September 6). A few days after Taliban took control of Kabul, key members of the group issued a statement that they will not do any trade with India. But within days, Taliban changed its mind and expressed keen interest to do trade and business with India through Pakistan. The rider “through Pakistan” has raised doubts about its sincerity. As the move appeared sinister with an ulterior motive, the offer was simply unacceptable to India. Taliban’s top leadership in Doha also said India is an important country and that they want to have friendly relations, thereby hinting that they value India’s contribution in development projects over the past two decades. Even though Taliban’s warm gesture towards India after taking full control of Kabul should be appreciated, India need to adopt a wait-and-watch approach by first studying the pros and cons in depth before arriving at any decision. As resumption of trade ties with Kabul is directly linked to recognition of the Taliban regime, New Delhi cannot take a hasty decision and repent later. It needs to keep a close watch on the situation as it unfolds and then take a conscious decision in the larger interest of the nation.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This refers to the column Great Wall to Leap Over (August 30) by Michael Kugelman. For China, the void created with the exit of the US from Afghanistan is an attractive prospect, largely because it can give access to an estimated $1 trillion untapped mineral deposits, including metals such as lithium, iron, copper and cobalt. China could focus on investing in infrastructure projects like the Belt Road Initiative or to develop a copper mine in Afghanistan. It could even sign a multibillion-dollar deal with Iran. But it will face an extremely insecure and volatile environment even if it gets Taliban’s support for its projects. History tell us that no single group has ever been in full control of the entire territory of Afghanistan. Can that change now? It’s unlikely.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
This refers to Curious Case of Caste Census (September 6). What we need the most is accurate and timely household data. We have not had a proper estimate of poverty in many years, and policies are being based on a rather old database. Improving the existing database is more crucial than a caste census. Poor data hurts efforts to design welfare programmes. If caste is related to deprivation, counting the really deprived is more important than identifying everyone’s caste.
Lal Singh, Amritsar
In Beware of the Victor’s Lies (September 13), Kerala Legislative Assembly speaker M.B. Rajesh’s column on the Malabar rebellion of 1921, it was wrongly mentioned that Variamkunnath Haji, a popular leader of the revolt, declared his vision of Malayala Rajyam in a letter to the editor of The Hindu. In that letter, which is in the public domain, Haji wrote about Hindu-Muslim amity. The error is regretted.