The Hindutva school

Print edition : November 21, 1998

The BJP-led Government's attempt to saffronise education in the name of Indianising, nationalising and spiritualising education only reveals the hidden agenda of the BJP ("Taking Hindutva to school," November 20). The fundamentalist elements in the BJP refuse to see reason and recognise the fact that India has always been a multi-religious, multi-cultural society. Even if we accept the argument that Hindutva is a way of life, why should anyone be compelled to follow a particular way of life?

There can be no restriction on learning Sanskrit or the Vedas. But why should it be imposed? While there is strong opposition to the imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking people, how could one think of imposing Sanskrit? Trying to dominate any section of people through language, religion or caste will only create divisions and lead to an atmosphere of hatred.

A. Jacob Sahayam Vellore, Tamil Nadu * * *

The Indian Constitution allows religious education in institutions run by the minorities. But the same freedom is denied to educational institutions run by the majority community. What is wrong in the BJP trying to remedy the situation?

L. Sitalakshmi Tirupathur, Tamil Nadu M.A. Chidambaram

The article on M.A. Chidambaram was interesting ("A multi-faceted industrialist", November 20). His contributions to charitable activities and the promotion of sports have been brought out well. At his instance the MAC Sports Foundation has been established to train talented youngsters in spin bowling, under the guidance of the well-known spinner V.V. Kumar. About 20 boys are undergoing training now. Recently the Foundation invited Gary Sobers to give them specialised coaching for three weeks.

N.R. Krishnaswami Chennai * * *

The multi-faceted industrialist has won friends in various fields. His success in industry is attributed to his "worker-friendly" attitude. He did not forget to share the joyous occasion of his 80th birthday with the president and general secretary of the SPIC employees' union.

S. Vijayan Baroda The judiciary

The advisory opinion given by the nine-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has broken the impasse over the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary ("A judicial clarification," November 20).

The verdict makes the Chief Justice first among equals in the matter of appointment of Judges. The judiciary will be greatly benefited by appointments made on the basis of the opinion of the Chief Justice and four seniormost Judges of the Supreme Court. It will also promote transparency in the functioning of the judiciary, help avoid conflicts between the judiciary and the Law Ministry, speed up the procedure of appointment of new Judges and, most important, enhance the faith of the people in the judiciary.

Rahul Jain Cardiff, United Kingdom Palestine accord

The United States-brokered land-for-security accord between Israel and the Palestinians ("A cautious step forward," November 20) will only help the U.S. to expand its hegemony in the world. The Central Intelligence Agency, which has been permitted to oversee the implementation of the accord, will now have free access to the secrets of Palestine and Israel.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala South Africa's victory

It was a well-deserved victory for South Africans at the Wills International Cup in Dhaka ("A South African victory," November 20). I expected an Australia vs South Africa final. But, to my surprise, the Indian team defeated Australia. India's defeat at the hands of the West Indies was unexpected. India should learn a lot from South Africa in fielding and bowling.

K.S. Rama Iyer Pondicherry Amartya Sen

As an Indian I feel proud of Amartya Sen. Deviating from the beaten track, the Swedish Academy has honoured a more-than-brilliant economist from a Third World country.

I must thank you for your glowing tributes to the Nobel laureate. Praful Bidwai has rightly said that Amartya Sen is the economist's economist, the philosopher's philosopher. I am also glad to know about your magazine's long association with Sen. But what surprised me was that the issue which featured Sen on the cover did not carry an editorial on the epoch-making event of his winning the Nobel Prize. Are your editorials primarily meant to be on political topics?

Amit Kanti Jana Calcutta ISKCON

The article on ISKCON ("Owning up mistakes," November 6) was timely. The orthodox section of the Hare Krishna faith or for that matter any other cult must realise the fact that blind faith leads to disaster. There are many followers of the Hare Krishna faith in our Institute. It was indeed sad to see the way many of them reacted when photocopies of the article were put up on the notice boards: in no time they were torn off. One strong devotee warned us that he would commit suicide if we did not stop putting up the copies on the notice board.

We cannot understand one thing: if coming to terms with the truth is so bad, then great discoverers must be mere culprits in the eyes of conservatives.

Arjun Prasad Singh and friends Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

Nuclear issues

It is sad that a person of N. Ram's statur advocates non-deployment of nuclear weapons ("Getting off the Tiger," October 9). To quote him: "The real issue is weaponisation - national policy must be made to commit itself, first, to non-deployment of the nuclear warheads in hand, then to a pledge of non-weaponisation of fissile material stocks, and as soon as feasible and in tandem or cooperation with Pakistan, the dismantling of the nuclear weapons in the small armoury."

Does he have an answer to Chinese designs in the northeastern states, the deployment of nuclear weapons at our doorstep in the Indian Ocean, or the illegal acquisition of missiles by Pakistan, which is incidentally ahead of India in missile technology? I think it is an opinion influenced by Gandhi and his misguided principles of peace. If India is to be a great power economically in the 21st century, not prone to pressures and nuclear blackmail by the major powers, the only way is to declare its nuclear capability and deploy nuclear weapons.

Chandra Mouli Florida, United States Sino-Indian ties

Your Cover Story ("India and China: What lies ahead?", September 25) is a testimony to the strong desire of the people of China and India to forge strong ties in all sectors. Sino-Indian ties have existed since time immemorial. The travel records of Chinese scholars such as Hsuan-tsang and Fa Hien, who visited India, are significant sources of information on the history of India. Tamil Nadu had advanced commercial ties with ancient China dating back to the Chola period.

It is indeed sad to witness the rapid deterioration in India's relationship with China since India conducted its nuclear tests in May. India's dispute with its northern neighbour is a colonial legacy. Compared to India's problems with Pakistan, the chances of a mutually acceptable settlement with China seem brighter. A little flexibility on both sides can bring about substantial progress.

K. Sabesan Madurai From Chile

He was not kidnapped by the repressive mechanism that detained us. He was not tortured in front of his children; nor was electric current put through his body. He was not beaten, and no bandages covered his eyes. There were no unceasing interrogations. He was not tortured as we were. He was not submitted to lengthy days of silence, to the defencelessness of only seeing your captors, or to the uncertainty of whether you would die or you would survive as we were. He has not been ridiculed in the public arena, now he is a poor old man; in Chile he

Surely, for one reason or another he will be allowed to go free and will not be imprisoned for years as we are. With scepticism we watched the detention of the dictator in London. We have learnt, without a doubt, not to believe in the justice of the courts, but to live in a climate of impunity. Years ago we learnt of the deals of the "concertation parties", the military and the right wing; we knew of the unreasonableness of the army with its worthy general, we knew them as untouchables. But it was really not so. A foreign country dared and toda

The dictatorship has been uncovered: its sinister goings-on, the men who headed the terrible practice of 17 years, travel around the world, refreshing our memory. Here nobody says that Pinochet is innocent, only that he should enjoy the impunity of old age. A transition process that sold out has been uncovered: with happiness we watch the right-wing's anger, the diplomatic option taken by the army, the ambiguous and shameful discourse of the "concertation parties", and Frei, the Chilean President, speaking as if this was only a country in trans

Today, there is talk of human rights. The right-wing speaks about it. Those who have always violated human rights, for those whom other people's human rights have never existed, are so human and much more today and have rights. And where are the rights of the downtrodden and the marginalised of yesterday and today? Where are the human rights of the miners of Lota, or the saltpetre workers, or of the children who labour? Where are the rights of the thousands who have disappeared and who were murdered and tortured - those of us who constantly suf

We do not know where the general will end up. As far as we are concerned, he can die. For now, we will rejoice at his despair (even for a while); we will rejoice at the discomfort being felt by the general, the army, the right wing, and the "concertation parties" (even for a while). From this jail we say to all of them: GO TO ENGLAND and remain forever there!

Women political prisoners High Security Prison, Santiago

Corrections: In the first part of the review of the book, The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb: Science, Secrecy and the Postcolonial State (November 6), the date of the issue of Asian Survey which carried the reviewer's article "India's Quest for a Nuclear Guarantee" should read July 1966.

In the same issue, in "Breaking the identity barrier" the reference to Chitpur print-makers should read: "...the Chitpur print-makers have inspired Picasso's portraits..."

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