The controversy was fuelled by Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s accusation that Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed supported the students’ agitation. The Narendra Modi dispensation’s intolerance towards any sort of dissent has created unnecessary problems for the country. Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leaders’ idea of nationalism is imbued with their Hindutva ideology. The government is not interested in upholding the true spirit of democracy and freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution.
When Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, is celebrated at a function in Meerut, it is considered a patriotic deed. However, the government dedicates the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to Gandhi on his birthday. The Sangh Parivar is in dilemma about its choice of national heroes. Actually, the RSS has nothing much to be proud of vis-a-vis the freedom struggle. Its hypocrisy is evident again in the BJP trying to form a government in alliance with the PDP, which had raised objections to the hanging of Afzal Guru.
Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur, West Bengal
THE JNU episode must be seen as a part of the agenda of the Sangh Parivar and the NDA government to hijack liberal spaces in the country. We must thank the academic fraternity in India and abroad for their valuable support against this unfortunate attempt. Their idea of Hindu nationalism cannot be imposed on the people of a liberal democratic country like India. Every responsible citizen should know how to oppose such nefarious agendas of governments and protect freedom of speech and expression.
Neeraj Kumar Jha, Hariharpur, Bihar
IT is a matter of grave concern that these so-called nationalists have neither read the Vedas nor have any idea of real Hinduism. If they had at least tried to go through and understand the meaning of the core books of Hinduism (the Vedas and the Gita), they would have understood their religion better and would have a more tolerant view of nationalism.
Blind and bigoted nationalism can have a long-term detrimental impact on our society. Satyajit Ray showed us in “Hirak Rajar Deshe” (In the Land of the Diamond King) how the powerful try to brainwash the common man. It is high time we, the common people, woke up and raised our voice.
Rahul Chakraborty, Kolkata
THE stringent action taken against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, the JNU student leaders, brings to mind an incident which took place 50-odd years ago. A young man had cleared the civil service examination and the subsequent interview. But his police report said that as a student he had been associated with a student union affiliated to the Communist Party. Then, as now, that party was not in the good books of the government. So his name was not cleared. The young man then approached Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister. After hearing the student, Nehru called up the officials concerned, reprimanded them and said that a student’s sociopolitical activities should not be held against him. The young man was selected and joined the IFS/IAS.
In those days, leaders had an open mind and were not obsessed with demonstrative patriotism as they are at present.
Shridhar P. Shukla, Thane, Maharashtra
WHAT happened in JNU can happen any time in any neighbourhood. Mass hysteria can be induced by branding someone a “terrorist”, an “anti-national” or a “traitor”. It is a dangerous trend. The real profiles of the student leaders brought out the fact that they are no less patriotic than anyone else.
M. Archana, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
THE first article in the Cover Story opened with lines from Agha Shahid Ali’s book “The Country without a Post Office” and the first paragraph after that talked about a postman’s song about a home that is “buried in the debris” or “abandoned”. It very cleverly avoided the question of whose home. In all likelihood, it is the home of a Kashmiri pandit who was either driven out or who was killed. It talked of JNU being one of India’s finest universities even though the institution does not feature in the Times Higher Education rankings of India.
The article also claimed that the brouhaha was over an event marking Afzal Guru’s death, and thereby misled the reader. The angered response to JNU was not because it was holding an event on a terrorist. As Frontline rightly said, many people have hosted similar events before. The outrage was because of the disgusting slogans that were raised at the event. These protesters have received unprecedented support from “people all over the world” because Indian intellectuals are not bothered about what the Indian majority thinks and are merely concerned with convincing foreign correspondents of their viewpoints.
What is outrageous is that Frontline has used the word anti-nationals in inverted commas as if supporting Afzal Guru was not anti-national and only purported to be so. The slogans chanted by the ABVP were benign and even patriotic in the face of the vitriolic slogans uttered by the other side. Even if these vitriolic slogans were raised by “outsiders”, it is true that Umar Khalid et al. were present at the scene and did not do a thing to capture them and hand them over to the police. This shows that Khalid & co. are complicit in the raising of slogans even if they are not directly culpable.
I found the profiles of the protesters (“Profiles, real and concocted”) ridiculous. There are many children in India whose mothers earn less than Rs.3,000 a month. They have only one aim in life and that is to climb the socio-economic ladder. None of them will talk of becoming historians or sociologists and rather talk of becoming engineers, doctors and lawyers. Kanhaiya Kumar is nearing 30 and should by now have been contributing to his family financially instead of crying over his paltry income. Which ideology prevents him from getting a job and supporting his parents and siblings?
Ritvik C., New Delhi
THE Jats’ agitation demanding reservation was marked by relentless violence, brutal killings, massive arson, rampant looting, and gang rapes, creating havoc among different sections of people (“Caste calculations”, March 18). What started as a fight for aarakshan (reservation) slowly turned into anarchy, with youth roaming the streets wielding swords, iron rods, country-made pistols, lathis and firebombs, destroying the cities of Haryana.
Are the announcements of compensation being made by the government sufficient to provide relief to the victims who are thinking of emigrating from the State? Does the government have any remedy for the thousands of injured and the children traumatised by the violence? Winning back their trust in society is a task that should go beyond vote-bank politics. It needs honest, selfless and dedicated public-spirited people.
Pramod Gouri, Rohtak, Haryana
THE LIGO-India project will certainly rekindle an interest among Indian students to study science (“A vision vindicated”, March 18). The study of the cosmos sounds fascinating. When India launched the Mars Orbiter, the entire country was proud of ISRO’s achievement. A number of Indian scientists work abroad, in NASA and elsewhere. The software for digging the surface of Mars was developed by an Indian scientist. The Indian scientist community is making a vital contribution to the study of gravitational waves. The LIGO-India project should materialise soon, and budgetary constraints should not come in its way. The government should put this project on a fast track.
Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai
THE famous Michelson-Morley light interference experiments of the 19th century showed no fringe shifts whatsoever (null results). Einstein’s theory of general relativity was formulated to explain this. Now LIGO experiments claim to show occasional small transient shifts. If confirmed as real, it is back to mysterious stuff (a la Lorentz contraction) like expansion and contraction of space. And Einstein’s own gravitational waves, advocated half-heartedly, cannot be expected to prevent a revival of philosophical confusion over the relative and the absolute.
T.M. Jayaraman, Palakkad, Kerala
TERRORISM poses a danger to the international community and is a stumbling block to all spheres of human activity (“Reconnaissance man”, March 18). Then why has terrorism not been eliminated?
All the countries should together work out effective strategies to fight this menace.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai, Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu
His foray into the cinema field as a lyricist did not diminish his stature as a poet but only raised the standard of Malayalam film songs. When he was asked to differentiate between poetry and film lyrics, he unapologetically explained that film songs were applied poetry.
Ayyasseri Raveendranath, Aranmula, Kerala
TRAINS in India are not very fast and take a long time to reach their destinations (“Risky route”, March 4). Thus, the introduction of high-speed bullet trains is welcome. But what happens if tickets are not available in times of emergency? In India, the number of train passengers far exceeds the number of accommodations available. Tatkal tickets are too expensive for many citizens and there is no concession for senior citizens. The scheme should be abolished.
The quality of service in trains is often poor. Trains are dirty, notwithstanding the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Train travel should be made hassle-free. Platforms and toilets should be kept clean.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
The rock-cut temples and sandstone cave temples, rich in exquisite carvings, are still extant even though they were built between the third and fifth centuries. These temples are monuments to the amazing technology that Indian artisans of bygone eras possessed. It is sad to learn that some of the temples are in a dilapidated condition.
N.C. Sreedharan, Kannur, Kerala