The Year of Challenges
The Editor’s Note (January 12 issue) fabulously summarised the incidents, issues, and problems that haunted us in 2023 not in spite of the government but because of it. Challenges may arise from personal, social, and political reasons but devastate people and institutions collectively. Dedicating this collector’s issue to the Frontline team was a fitting tribute to honest journalism.
The Congress and Rahul Gandhi must smarten up enough to galvanise all the forces of the opposition to defeat the Narendra Modi government and protect democracy. The public, too, must show this autocratic regime the door.
India’s foreign policy has long since gone out of the groove of the greater common good, human rights, and against our own unequivocal stand on global issues. India has been used as a pawn in the Quad and cuts a sorry figure within the SAARC, with Canada and the US, and on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Russia-Ukraine war.
I write this letter after reading many pieces in the January 12 issue. Your magazine plays the role of an opposition, delving into matters for which we need an alternative perspective.
With a dysfunctional Parliament and an ineffective opposition party, our democracy exists only nominally. Reading about the breakdown of our institutions at many levels is worrying. We must credit the ruling party for its adroit handling of elections and its reading of the people’s pulse. Thank you for enlightening us!
If the Indian Constitution is colonial and outdated and now being vociferously questioned and challenged, everything around us—such as the legislature, legislation, the judiciary, court proceedings, the executive, governance, administration, the appointment of IAS and IPS officers along the lines of ICS officers appointed by the British—is colonial too (“Emerging challenge to the Constitution”, January 12).
Even allowing the President of India and Governors to continue to occupy the mammoth palatial buildings earlier occupied by Governor Generals and Viceroys in pre-Independence days is colonial, and should be dispensed with forthwith. There is an imperative need to disband and change all traditions, conventions, and practices followed by the British and to overhaul the entire system to thoroughly Indianise them, instead of blindly toeing the line of British.
The argument of Bibek Debroy calling for the rewriting the Constitution is myopic and unwarranted. The Constitution, drafted with great care and caution, has withstood the test of time for 73 years without any hitch and does not need to be rewritten. There is a provision to amend the Constitution under Article 368 by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total combined strength of lawmakers without tinkering with the basic structure of the Constitution, but there is no provision to rewrite it.
The anti-defection law under the Tenth Schedule needs further amendment, giving it more teeth to compel elected representatives to be loyal to the party under whose ticket they were elected until the end of the term and prevent them from shifting their loyalty at the drop of the hat to another party in search of greener pastures, betraying both the parent party and the voters who elected them.
India in space
What made the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 stand apart from any other moon mission by any other country are ISRO’s humongous efforts to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones (“Shooting for the stars with feet of clay”, January 12).
Among its many “firsts”, the most remarkable one is its continuous delivery of high science in India’s 60-year-old space programme on shoestring budgets. It is the right mix of dedication and hard work by scientists and political will that helped ISRO succeed. The successful mission has explored India’s potential in the global space economy and is bound to translate into international collaborations for which it needs government support.
ISRO needs to expand its manpower strength. The successful mission will not only encourage more students to study science and pursue PhDs but also inculcate scientific temper in students’ minds across the country. It is really a chak de moment for India not only in science but also on the social and economic fronts.
Jangipur, West Bengal
The article was uncharitably critical and biased against the Modi government. The allegation that the Modi government lacks a clear policy for the space sector has been levelled without basis as there have been more space missions during the present regime than under all the previous governments put together. Since its inception in 1969, ISRO has carried out a total of 89 satellite launch missions into space, 47 of which were carried out under the Modi government alone.
The years 2014-24 can be described as “India’s stellar decade” in space. We created a world record by launching 104 satellites on board PSLV C-3 in 2017. India’s space budget soared from Rs.5,615 crore in 2013-14 to a whopping Rs.12,543 crore in 2023-24, resulting in a 123 per cent increase, which reaffirms the commitment of the Modi regime to encouraging, developing, and promoting space missions. The Modi government has also facilitated the entry of private players/sector into space technology in ISRO. India has also entered into several agreements with several global nations in developing space technologies during the past decade.
The successful launch of the Chandrayaan-3 and the Aditya L-1 missions have conclusively demonstrated that Indian scientists are second to none in the world. India has well and truly emerged as one of the major superpowers of the 21st century in astrophysics and space technology as envisioned by former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
B. Suresh Kumar
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
The concerns of contemporary Indian writers in a fast-changing literary firmament made for interesting reading (“Always a good fight”, January 12). It was indeed a variegated collage of opinions strung together by a common thread of apprehension and aspiration.
What struck me most were the candid views expressed by Perumal Murugan, himself a victim of casteism, and his quandary of how to write without mentioning caste or religion. A few years back, the noted Malayalam novelist S. Hareesh came under attack by Hindu fundamentalists, who cited parts of his critically acclaimed Malayalam novel Meesha (“Moustache”) as objectionable. In India today, where an unholy nexus exists between religion and politics, free expression and creative writing have been sacrificed at the altar of fanaticism.
Nice guys finish second. “If it can reset, as it has shown tiny signs of doing, it need not be dismissed as a pushover in 2024 just yet”—These lines hit the nail on the head of the Congress party’s pluses and the minuses (Editor’s Note, December 29).
Insofar as the elections in the three heartland States are concerned, the BJP has won hands down, but the Congress has no reason to throw up its hands in desperation since it secured a respectable share of the people’s mandate. The historic win in Telangana can, by no means, be undervalued as just a consolation prize for the Congress. It shows that with the right push-ups and warm-ups, their stamina could be bolstered to bombard the rival’s goalposts.