Now that the euphoria and hype over the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya is over, the question uppermost in everyone’s mind is whether this is a prelude to a much larger agenda with political ramifications (Cover Story, February 9). The 2024 election will be fought between an all-powerful BJP and a Congress grappling with uncertainty and confusion in keeping the INDIA bloc united in the post-Ayodhya scenario. The electoral battle will be on communal planks, with Ram Lalla occupying centre stage. This does not augur well for India as a modern democracy.
To set the record straight, let me point out that West Bengal was not the only State that managed to keep communal violence in check in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition. Kerala, which has a sizeable population of Muslims, showed the civility and high civic sense to refrain from indulging in any kind of communal riots too. As things stand today, the post-Ayodhya promise of future peace lies in tatters, as can be seen in Mathura and Kashi.
For me, the most engrossing article was “Why the centre cannot hold” by B. Jeyamohan, who explained in unequivocal terms how structures with mighty centres collapse the soonest. The beauty of his stand is that he does it on Hindu philosophical terms. Even from a Vedantic perspective, the fact of how a regression towards a religious state will lead to the annihilation of Hinduism is well established in his article.
I am a long-time reader of Frontline, but I do not recall reading any issue which begins with a “Special Focus” segment instead of the Cover Story. Most of the articles are merely a few columns of reportage, forcing the writer to summarise instead of analyse, which I do not think befits the magazine.
Popular articles are found everywhere in the age of social media, and I do not deny their relevance. But they should force us to critically engage with popular culture and not just reiterate what we already know or can google.
Frontline used to be a magazine for serious readers, with a focus on rigour. Lately I think it is trying too hard to convey that such a readership is no longer the future or that young people do not want to read serious write-ups. For glitz and quick reads, people do have cheaper and glossier magazines. Frontline should be more about research and curiosity, provoking readers to think. Sadly, it has lost its focus and forte. Or perhaps readers like us are getting older.
The Special Focus pages were a sponsored feature, as stated clearly in the Contents page, and not a part of editorial content. —Editor
Better late than never
The 2024 election is the last opportunity for the Congress to declutch Indian democracy from the snare of bigots (“Congress’ time is now”, February 9). Even as it continues to be plagued by leadership crises, lack of vision, and continuing power struggles in the States where it is in power, the grand old party must learn from the drubbing it received in the recent Assembly elections. As they say, a fox is not taken twice in the same snare.
As the BJP turns mythological incarnations to its undue advantage, the Congress should intelligently align with other parties to fell the Hindutva chauvinists in the interest of the nation. It is “better late than never” for the Congress to seize the opportunity to reconcile within and with other political parties and regain the trust of voters who desperately seek solace from divisive politics.
Biological Diversity Act
It is distressing to read that the non-payment of Access Benefit Sharing will take the money away from the tribal communities who have, all along, been the conservators of bio-resources in forests (“Putting profits over people”, January 26). In the name of “ease of doing business”, the amendment to the Biological Diversity Act 2023 only helps corporates grow more. It has removed the criminal penalties for violations and has replaced them with fines, thus reducing accountability as well.
The preserving of hundreds of herbal plants and trees, which tribal communities have been doing as their traditional profession, will be an acute challenge once the amended Act comes into effect.