Much ado about nothing

Published : Aug 01, 2008 00:00 IST

WHAT is wrong with the statement "`No Religion' for Jeevan" in the textbook that became the object of such violent agitations in Kerala? My wife's family is Sikh, my father was a Hindu, and I am an atheist. I named our adopted daughter, whose origin is completely unknown to us, Shweta Naseem, a combination of Buddhist and Islamic names. When her schoolteachers ask her about her religion, she says she does not know. As in the textbook in question, I always say, "When she grows up, she can choose the religion of her own choice" or opt to be a non-believer. My daughter is now in the Standard VII, the class for which the textbook had been prescribed.

Nuclear deal

HISTORY will judge the outcome of the nuclear deal. What is immediately evident is that apart from the energy security that the deal will supposedly provide India, it will generate business worth billions of dollars for a handful of developed countries led by the United States and that India will become a strategic partner of the U.S.

Our Prime Minister has found a friend in a person who invaded Iraq on the pretext of the presence of weapons of mass destruction, who holds Indians responsible for the rise in food prices, and who blames the developing world for the rising prices of fuel.

The world has also seen the nature of the freedom that the U.S. has gifted to the people of Iraq. There are many Indians who are literate enough to have understood the real intentions of the U.S. Presidents foreign policy from his actions worldwide. Not many statesmen of the world would like to walk shoulder to shoulder with such a person or feel happy in his friendship.

The foremost thought in the common mans mind now is how to get two meals a day.

The people of India would have been served better if the Prime Minister sought food security and addressed the problem of inflation with the enthusiasm that he shows in trying to achieve energy security.

Monojit Chakraborty Guwahati* * *

IS the withdrawal of the Lefts support to the government enough to make it stop pushing through the nuclear deal? Not at all. Indeed, even without the Lefts support, the government may well survive with the help of the Samajwadi Party.

The Left parties should declare that if the United Progressive Alliance government goes ahead with the controversial deal, they will not support a Congress government after the Lok Sabha elections.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala* * *

M. VEERAPPA MOILY says the nuclear agreement must be signed because the Prime Ministers prestige is at stake. Is the prestige of an individual more important to the Congress than the future of the nation? It is spineless for the government to ally with the U.S. The Congress should understand that the real issue for the common man is the run-away inflation.

M.S. Jose Hubli, KarnatakaJ&K politics

DESPITE loud claims of adherence to the secular values of Kashmiriyat, the politics of Jammu and Kashmir, dominated by trends in the Valley, remains starkly communal.

The cleansing of the Kashmir Valley, which began with jehadis forcing Kashmiri Pandits to flee their ancestral land, is an ongoing project. In a secular and democratic polity, pandering to the forces of minority separatism is unacceptable.

J.S. Acharya HyderabadIntolerance

BHASKAR GHOSE, in his column Worst of times (July 18), raises the issue that Robert Kennedy had raised about extremists: What is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant.

It has also been strongly iterated by the prominent Turkish diplomat and politician Ilter Turkemen, who says: A characteristic of religious fundamentalism is to perceive the world as an arena of continuous battle and to nourish it with anger and the desire for revenge. This trend is dangerous and makes those who believe in a more liberal and moderate world view shudder.

I will end with a quote by the American journalist Henry Louis Mencken: Try to imagine a Shakespeare beset by fundamentalism, or a Goethe trying to work with the Ku Klux Klan roaring under his door.

Amitabh Thakur LucknowKerala textbook

THIS is with reference to the article A lesson to learn (July 18). I was in Kerala when the agitations against the Standard VII Social Science textbook were raging. So I made it a point to read the textbook. As your article implies, the textbook is in tune with the guidelines of the National Curriculum Framework (2005). It provides a highly innovative way of teaching history. It throws interesting questions and challenges at both the teacher and the pupil.

The effort of the textbook committee to make learning an interesting process needs to be commended.

What the protesters are not able to digest is the radical approach to the topics under discussion. Such an approach is opposed to the vested interests of religion-based organisations and political parties. It poses a strong challenge to the ideologies that sustain such organisations and parties.

It is also to be noted that the vehement protests against the textbook came at a time when more urgent problems such as price rise and inflation were pressing.

Tomichan Matheikal New Delhi* * *

THE article exposes the agenda hidden behind the violent agitation stoked by groups with vested religious, communal and economic interests in Kerala.

One need not be an expert to understand that the lesson on Jeevan is well-intentioned and would only help students think critically about matters such as religion and communal disharmony and segregation.

Ironically, however, the agitation, politically motivated as it was, only served to give the lesson wide publicity. Now the book is being read all over Kerala.

V.K. Sathyavan Kottayam, KeralaMuslim League

A.G. NOORANI discusses the Congress ministries formed in 1937 in his review Turning point (July 4). The Muslim League refused to accept the legitimacy of Congress provincial governments in six provinces barely three months after they took office.

A Muslim League resolution passed in October 1937 stated: This meeting of the All-India Muslim League deprecates and protests against the formation of Ministries in certain Provinces by Congress Parties in flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the Government of India Act, 1935, and the instrument of instructions, and condemns the Governors for their failure to enforce the special powers entrusted to them for the safeguard of interests of the Musalmans and other important minorities.

In 1938, a Muslim League resolution discussed the Congress agitations for representative institutions in the princely states: [The Congress] main objective in championing the cause of the States people is only to secure the establishment in the Indian State of an elective system enabling their representatives to be returned to the Federal Legislature, irrespective of anything else, in the hope that it might get a majority.

R.J. Moore quotes the Aga Khan in 1940: the sugar had all come off the [federation] pill the moment the States representatives were to be elected by the States peoples rather than nominated by the Rulers, for under such an arrangement the Muslims would not get from the States in the Central Legislature the support they required to balance the Congress votes.

The Muslim League was thus one among various factions refusing to accept the legitimacy of an elected Congress majority whether in the provinces or at the Centre. The Pakistan movement was a logical outcome of such a refusal.

Sadhana Gupta ThiruvananthapuramConflict zone

THIS is in reference to the article Truce and promise (July 18). I am saddened by its view of the present situation between Israel and the Palestinians. The assertion that the Israel Defence Forces is attacking civilians is incorrect.

The IDF makes an effort not to attack civilians, but since the rebels live among civilians, the latter also come under IDF fire.

The report does not mention any of the terrorist attacks by Palestinians. The deliberate attacks of Palestinians on Israeli civilians are in sharp contrast to the non-deliberate attack on Palestinian civilians by the IDF. Fewer Israeli civilians die only because of the better alarms of the Israelis.

Israel and Israelis live to survive; it is not unusual for a young Israeli to leave the country (usually for the United States) just to live a safe life. If the bold character of Israel comes out in the form of sudden attacks in response to enemy action, it is out of fear of being thrown out of the land.

To live in a small piece of land surrounded by enemy nations induces a certain fear in the minds of Israelis, and they would do anything to save themselves from getting killed.

Jimmy Philip Haifa, IsraelNeed for techies

I DO not seem to have made myself clear about engineer-trainees at the National Police Academy in my column Training minds (July 4).

Akash Mohuns letter in the July 18 issue said: I was baffled by his comment that one positive feature of the IPS academy is that nearly 40 per cent of the trainees are engineers. Does that mean the remaining 60 per cent are not fit to become IPS officers?

What I had in my mind was that in these days of technology-driven policing the world over, it would be useful to have a strong corps of engineers in the Indian Police Service who can adapt themselves to the need for more technology, quicker than the non-techies in the forces.

My intention was not to decry non-engineers, having myself been just an Arts graduate!

R.K. Raghavan ChennaiANNOUNCEMENT

Letters, whether by surface mail or e-mail, must carry the full postal address and the full name, or the name with initials.

Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment