THE Cover Story (January 13) was an unambiguous SWOT analysis of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). It has revealed itself to be a truant party: whenever it faces problems or is confronted by decisive moments, it goes silent and later comes back like Rip Van Winkle. It is willing to strike but afraid to wound on many social and political issues. If a government does not do anything for the common good, then what is it for? Bragging and pomposity cannot replace performance.
The AAP came to power in Delhi promising a clean government. It lacks vision and an ideological plank and has its finger in too many pies. It found fault with other parties, but like them, it suffers from autocracy and political opportunism. People are the ultimate sufferers in the political game. The AAP is a show horse and not a workhorse that can be relied on in the face of political chaos.
AS the AAP is unburdened by the weight of ideology and with its supremo exhibiting streaks of authoritarianism, one wonders whether the party can survive on the basis of some welfarist measures alone and whether it can become a dependable alternative to the Congress given its not-so-soft Hindutva posturing.
If the effect of the Bharat Jodo Yatra on Congress cadres is any indication, it can hopefully experience a resurgence and upset the AAP’s apple cart. As it is said, “The new broom [pun intended] sweeps clean, but the old broom knows the corners.” Of course, nothing succeeds like success, and the AAP’s fine performance in Punjab, Gujarat, and the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections makes it count in the country’s political scene.
THE Cover Story articles gave one insight into the growth and development of the AAP. The party impressed one and all with its performance in the Assembly elections in Delhi and Punjab on its debut and with its promise to be a much needed alternative to the Congress and the BJP. Despite its poor showing in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the party has announced its arrival on the national stage.
While the BJP continues to expand its footprint across the nation election after election, the AAP is the only party growing at the regional level, as the article rightly said. Despite the Congress’ plummeting electoral fortunes, at present it remains the only opposition party to have a well-defined State leadership and an organisational set-up on a pan-India basis that is still capable of taking on the ruling dispensation, both of which the AAP lacks. This is its biggest disadvantage. And although Kejriwal has show-cased the Delhi/Punjab model of governance and promised to replicate the same at the Centre and the States if voted to power, it will be a Herculean task to halt the juggernaut of the BJP’s well-oiled election machinery.
B. Suresh Kumar
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Death in custody
THE sudden death of Lalan Sheikh in the toilet of the CBI’s camp’s office in Rampurhat, West Bengal, has put it in the witness box (“A death in CBI custody”, January 13). The death raises questions about the possibility of a conspiracy. The Central agencies have cornered the Trinamool Congress in multiple corruption cases, and this is an opportunity for the party to train its guns on the CBI itself. The CBI claimed it was suicide, while Sheikh’s family insisted it was murder. The government has to get to the bottom of the matter.
WITHIN the span of 10 years, the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB) has emerged as a major international exhibition of contemporary arts, thanks to the overwhelming support of artists, art enthusiasts, the government, and private organisations (“Biennale blues”, January 13). However, the KMB Foundation struggles to keep to the declared schedule. Among the many issues it faces, the perennial one is the lack of a permanent venue. It is high time the foundation explored alternative venues that can be used without much modification.
For instance, Willingdon Island has many heritage buildings such as the old Harbour Terminus. Apart from easing the pressure on Fort Kochi, this will be a major fillip to the tourism potential of Willingdon Island, India’s largest man-made island. There are regular ferry services between Fort Kochi and the island.
It is worth recalling here that in 2008 Willingdon island hosted in a commendable way the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race.
IN this technology-driven world, a lot of things are going missing (“No place to call home”, January 13). South Asia once was once densely populated with tribal communities and people. As a schoolboy in the early 1990s, I was often astounded by the natural charm, physique, and language style of the tribal communities whose members I often used to see on the streets, selling their skills or wares. These people are nowhere in sight now.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai
A jarring aspect in the otherwise illuminating article “Cobwebs in the galleries” (December 30) was the author’s intellectual hijacking of a museum of textiles in Delhi to expand on his anti-colonial bias in a workshop that he conducted. He cites this as an example for “transforming museums into forums... to re-contextualise museum objects within this space of a wider... social, political, and semiotic context, thereby redefining the role of the museum itself”. This is nothing but desecrating museum pieces, whether they be textiles or archaeological objects d’art, by politicising them.
Each such museum expert will lend his own subjective interpretation to displays and in the process detract from the beauty and purity of the object itself. Museums should be insulated from such distracting exercises and their studies and forums be restricted to their artistic and historic studies.
Museums are repositories of the past, enabling people to look into and connect with the past (“Why museums matter”, December 30). But some museums are found in an as-is-where-is condition without being updated, upgraded, or modernised and without any effort to keep them relevant so that they continue to appeal to future generations.
The British looted several objects during colonial rule and either preserved them in their museums or sold them in open auction for huge sums of money. India is doing nothing to get back these precious objects. There is an urgent need to take immediate action in that direction and also to take proper care of each museum in the country by upgrading them and keeping them tidy and clean so that they do not look like abandoned buildings. Every museum has hundreds of stories to tell through the objects preserved there, but it is unfortunate that many people do not visit them.
THE recent firing incident at the Assam-Meghalaya border is a matter of great concern (“Border on the boil”, December 30). The Narendra Modi government deserves credit for taking steps to resolve the issue: the first boundary pact between Assam and Meghalaya was signed earlier this year to deal with disputes in certain areas. That goodwill must be taken forward, and steps must be taken to resolve the remaining issues as well. Peace and stability is crucial if the region is to develop.
Vidhya B. Ragunath
Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
IT is correct to say that the job of universities is to give students the intellectual tools to test concepts and ideas (“Meditation time”, December 30). But some universities believe that because the Central government is propagating Hindutva, it has dumped Art of Living meditation and yoga on college students. This is nothing but a negative thought. Yoga and meditation are necessary for good health. Therefore, the universities should take this step in the right spirit. Looking at the health hazards that everyone is exposed to, such as poor air quality and the non-clearance of garbage, the Ministry of Education should strongly recommend the introduction of meditation and exercises/yoga in all schools for students, teachers, and staff and also make these a part of the syllabus.
Postal departments must organise yearly stamp design contests on different themes throughout the country to get new and interesting ideas for stamps (“Stamping out policies”, December 30). Stamps are important because they inform people about geography, history, culture, and art besides commemorating important things and events. Private stamp museums must be set up in all Indian cities and towns to popularise the hobby of philately, and exhibitions must be held every year to increase people’s love for postage stamps. This is the importance of postage stamps.