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Letters | Jun 20, 2005
Sacred Cows, Their Horns
For Faith, Not Fanaticism
Jun 20, 2005
Our intolerance (Sacred Cows, Their Horns, June 6) arises from the fact that we as a nation and its people are in a deep identity crisis. Apart from individual feats, we can’t boast of any achievement in any field worth its name, not at least in our recent history. Our only claim to fame remains our sacred (?) past, which we cling on to desperately.
Rahul Gaur, Gurgaon
If our conservative, uptight censor board can certify the film, how can anyone else have an objection to the film?
Y.N.I. Anand, Mysore
How is it that you have asked for comments on the issue from Arya Samajis, academics and even people from other religions but not from the people concerned in the controversy—that is, the Gursikhs?
Gaganpreet Singh, Bangalore
The whole controversy over Jo Bole So Nihaal has been blown out of proportion. There is nothing in the film that hurts Sikh sentiments. True that the Sikh war cry is used often, but it is only to nab an international terrorist in the film that the hero, a rustic Sikh, mouths the words— for divine inspiration! As for his cavorting with scantily-clad women, films are a mirror of society; women today dress the way they wish to, not how their religion wants them to. It’s just some right-wing Sikh extremists wishing to exploit the situation.
Joseph Kunnirickal, Kochi
Talking of sacred cows, perhaps we could take a few pointers here from the ‘confession’ box. Even criminals guilty of the seven deadly sins and more are forgiven after a ‘confession’ to a priest. They can trespass the ten commandments, fall from His grace but a man of the cloth can give him absolution. The idea, of course, is ‘out of the box’ and before its time—for even the faith in question is hardly the liberal sort. Still, transplant the priest’s robes for the common man’s whites and we may find it in ourselves to forgive and forget. We may even find it an occasion to laugh at ourselves.
R.R. Sami, Tiruvannamalai
So, Khushwant Singh and Outlook make a case for our ancient religious slogans to be seen as secular ‘war cries’. Sadly for you, desi Indians, of whatever faith, don’t want to be rechristened to your brand of secularism. Instead of questioning the wisdom of titling a filthy commercial movie with a sacred slogan of the Sikhs, these secular fundamentalists come out in defence of the offenders. Khushwant’s pen goes dry and Outlook falls short of space when Muslims protest against M.F. Husain’s movie or Rushdie’s book.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
The Sikhs as a people have taught the rest of India to work hard and party harder. So it’s even more disconcerting to see their protests over a petty issue like this. More shocking: the vehement protests by some of our renowned ‘culturati’. Sikhs are a great race—and their one great trait is the ability to laugh at themselves.
Madhu Singh, Ambala Cantt (Haryana)
Rev Valson Thampu says "there’s an inherent problem in defining your identity in external symbols". This isn’t exactly an educated judgement for in all faiths (religions—if you’d prefer) anywhere on the globe, external symbols certainly have a very important role in defining one’s identity with a creed/belief system of a group of followers. Oxford historian Arnold J. Toynbee terms this as "dressage originally instilled by the Founder". Toynbee’s view is perhaps ‘secular’ with no spiritual significance attached to these ‘codes’. It is a view that makes sense, because there is no better ‘rationalist’ explanation for the staggering array of practices/rituals all of humanity is engaged in for aeons. The significance of external symbols ("Baahya Deeksha" for the Hindu ‘Fundamentalist’) is a case of Reason vs Faith. Reason is weak and Faith wins; always. Our rationalist/ pseudo-secular preferences have no place in these matters.
B. Krishnamoorthy, Chennai
It’s a sign of the times. Creativity is dead, so controversy of some sort becomes essential. To an extent, it also serves the media’s purpose, since it’s fodder for your lack of imagination.
Arvind K. Pandey, Allahabad
Our self-appointed custodians thrive on our fears of the unknown. They consider doubts, questioning and rational thought as threats to their existence. Without their religion, these custodians cannot eke out a living.
R. Venkatesan Iyengar, Hyderabad
The growing trend among subcontinental religious communities of making a public display of their "hurt religious sentiments" is very dangerous indeed. Let us not forget the reasons for Bhindranwale’s ascendancy in Punjab politics in the late 1970s or the Babri Masjid antics of the Hindu ‘revivalists’. It all points to one thing: when sentiment replaces sanity, catastrophe is the result.
Rajat Ghai, Vadodara
Religion is a ‘holy cow’ mostly for politicians and priests, for it’s they who perpetually milk it.
Manu Rajan, Bangalore
Now, To Fill A Void
Jun 20, 2005
I read your report Now, To Fill a Void (June 6) with interest. There are some Congressmen who are in the party only to weaken it, almost as though they’ve been planted there by the opposition. These Trojan-horse Congressmen are the ones who hijack internal party matters and hence you have nasty politicians like Nirupam being welcomed without long-term loyalists like Dutt being consulted. That said, I feel Dutt should never have gone to Bal Thackeray to bail son Sanjay out after the March 1993 bomb blasts case. Yes, Sharad Pawar must have been behind the police going after Sanjay’s blood, but Dutt Sr’s going to Thackeray was a grave compromise. The best thing for him to do would have been to stay off Thackeray, leave the Congress and stand as an independent. He would have stood a good chance of winning.
Samir Thakkar, Mumbai
Heroes In Search Of A Plaque
Jun 20, 2005
Apropos Heroes in Search of a Plaque (June 6), every country treats its freedom fighters with great respect. The French honours those who fought in the Resistance, the Irish practically worship the original Sinn Fein and China lavishes special privileges on those who participated in the Long March. In India, ina soldiers have to fight to claim a nominal pension from the government. Historians are agreed that the influence of the ina and the ina trials was the immediate cause that drove the last nail in the coffin of the British government, not just in India but in the entire Afro-Asian world of British Imperialism. The 3-million-strong British Indian army, the backbone of British imperialism, started questioning their loyalty to the King Emperor, hastening the demise of the greatest empire on earth. Those brave soldiers responsible for this revolution deserve better.
Dipankar Das, New Delhi
You highlight the plight of ina heroes. What about the plight of the soldiers who revolted against British authority after the war? The saga of the mutiny by the soldiers of the Indian Signal Corps that took place at Jabalpur in February 1946 is known to very few Indians. It is well known that most soldiers who joined ina did so to escape Japanese torture and hard labour rather than patriotic fervour. If the latter was true, they’d have left the army or mutinied much earlier rather than wait till they were captured. In any case, the leaders heading the freedom movement had taken a decision to support the British government during the war, so was their action justified?
Maj Gen V.K. Singh, Gurgaon, Haryana
Take Before You Give
Jun 20, 2005
Since fdi in retailing is a question of when, not if, let’s allow 49 per cent to begin with. For that too, India should fiercely negotiate market access through riders like time-bound export obligations. Based on that performance, we should further open up to 74 per cent, before the final 100 per cent.
At Chappell's Altar
Jun 20, 2005
It’s nice that Greg Chappell is going about business-like to train the Indian cricket team (At Chappell’s Altar, June 6). But his habit of calling a spade a spade may prove detrimental to the morale of the team in the long run. He also needs to build a second line of young cricketers to replace the existing ones crossing their prime.
H. Parshuram, Mumbai
A Mentality Besieged
Much Maligned Man
Jun 20, 2005
Bhanu Pratap Mehta’s review of Arun Shourie’s book (A Mentality Besieged, June 6) is downright honest. Mehta admits that "his (Shourie’s) arguments need to be censored, otherwise they’ll go unchallenged", but he fails to do so. Instead, he indulges in name-calling and brands the writing as "a simple-minded politics of paranoia and sheer misanthropy". His suggestion that migration of Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh is "a product of a very complex political economy" does not explain the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan and the depletion of the Hindu population from 30 per cent to 10 per cent in Bangladesh.
D.P. Sinha, Noida, UP
A perfect case of verbal diarrhoea. Forget Shourie; somebody needs to gift Mehta a software that cleanses all redundant adjectives and deletes convoluted sentences to make his pieces readable. But then the software will probably delete the entire essay.
Sudarshan Bengani, Calcutta
Heroes In Search Of A Plaque
Trough Of A Nehruvian Lapse
Jun 20, 2005
I was appalled to read the plight of those featured in your article Heroes in Search of a Plaque (June 6). It’s a sad comment on the nationalist credentials of the Indian State. But perhaps the most diabolical role in this whole episode was played by Jawaharlal Nehru. When he and the Congress realised the popularity of the ina, they quickly set up a panel to defend it, to get a bit of the attention being showered on the ina. However, when the frenzy around the ina trials died down, Nehru forgot the ina soldiers completely and allowed himself to be persuaded by Gen Cariappa not to accept them back into the Indian army, without demoting most of them. Worse, the ina soldiers were not even conferred the status of freedom fighters in Nehru’s lifetime. It’s time the government undid this terrible injustice.
Mandira Dev, Gwalior
'When We Sold It, I Assumed He Would Resell It'
Jun 20, 2005
In his interview to Outlook (May 23), Arun Shourie says he was misquoted, he actually said, "Assume he would sell it. So what?" Also, the credit for pictures on Pp 25 and 26 (Stains of Blood, June 6) should read P. Sainath/The Hindu.
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