Letters to the Editor

Print edition : May 13, 2016


I WAS shocked to read about the atrocities perpetrated on Adivasis and journalists in Chhattisgarh (Cover Story, April 29). Bastar has always been in the news for the wrong reasons. However, we will end up hearing only one side of the story because journalists and social workers are being arrested or driven out from Bastar. It is shocking to see how institutions of the state are making a persistent effort to gag independent journalism. No wonder India is ranked 133 in the World Press Freedom Index listing 180 countries. The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act must be repealed and the Home Ministry must initiate an impartial and time-bound investigation to bring those responsible to justice, especially the perpetrators of the atrocities in Nendra village.

Rudrangshu Ghatak, Asansol, West Bengal

THE Chhattisgarh government should act swiftly to prevent the atrocities being committed against the tribal people in Bastar. Immense patience and effort are needed for long-term peace. It cannot be achieved through state violence. A state of war suits both the government and the Maoists as both exploit tribal people. The state should use its resources to uplift people, not suppress them.

Aravindaswamy N., Tharamangalam, Tamil Nadu

Panama Papers

THE Bofors scandal, involving just Rs.64 crore, is in public memory even after two decades, but it pales into significance when compared with the scale of tax evasions, at least $2 trillion, exposed by the Panama Papers (“The Panama connection”, April 29). The Panama Papers trail is only the tip of the iceberg as there are scores of other tax havens all over the world. The expose has already claimed a victim, with Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson temporarily stepping down. Indians named in the papers include film stars, senior advocates, businessmen and other professionals. The government has set up a multi-nodal agency to investigate the massive scam. All the accounts named may not be illegitimate, as the Reserve Bank of India has liberalised the flow of funds abroad.

Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai

Caste system

THE Government of India’s attitude towards Dalit issues in the recent meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations is atrocious (“Global gaze on caste”, April 29). It is shocking that India’s permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, Ajit Kumar, has dismissed the report submitted by Rita Izsak-Ndiaye titled “Report of the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues”. The report has rightly pointed out that the caste system prevailing in India goes against the principles of human dignity, equality and non-discrimination.

The Indian government will be doing justice to the Dalit community, which forms nearly 20 per cent of the population, only if it honestly admits the existence of a caste hierarchy and discrimination in India. Ajit Kumar’s response only reiterates India’s prejudiced stand on the Dalit issue in the World Conference against Racism, held in Durban in 2001. Prime Minister Narendra Modi swears by B.R. Ambedkar and waxes eloquent while speaking on Dalit-related issues in India. But his silence on caste discrimination is condemnable.

P. Vijayakumar, Karisalkulam, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Vijay Mallya

VIJAY MALLYA is not the only defaulter in Indian corporate history, but he is facing some heat because of his flamboyant lifestyle (“Truant at large”, April 29). His lenders turned down his settlement of Rs.4,000 crore. This means he was trying as much as possible to negotiate with his lenders and had serious intention to repay. Hopefully, the suspension of his passport will be the last nail in the coffin and will force him to come back to India as he cannot keep evading the Enforcement Directorate’s summons forever.

Bal Govind, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

Nationalism vs Hindutva

IN a vibrant democracy such as ours, we have the right to dissent, and the state cannot dictate our thoughts or muffle our voices (“Nationalism vs Hindutva”, April 29). It is disquieting to note that the ruling dispensation’s ideologues do not believe in the concept of “unity in diversity” or in the secular nationalism enshrined in the Constitution. It was obvious that when BJP president Amit Shah portrayed Narendra Modi as a true Hindu nationalist and proclaimed that those do not chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai” were anti-nationals, he had an eye on the Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. Modi has maintained a stoic silence on many important issues. It would be appreciated if he tendered a formal apology to the Muslim community for the genocide in Gujarat in 2002, as the Canadian Prime Minister recently did for the Komagata Maru incident of 1914 and German Chancellor Willy Brandt did in 1970 for the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

N.C. Sreedharan, Kannur, Kerala

T.M. Krishna

THE interview with T.M. Krishna, the maverick Carnatic music exponent, was outstanding (“Reshaping the contours of Carnatic music”, April 29). A musical genius that he is, his quest to widen the appeal of Carnatic music is palpable in his words.

Ayyasseri Raveendranath, Aranmula, Kerala

THIS is with reference to the statement “The world of Carnatic music has increasingly become Brahminised” in the interview with T.M. Krishna. Carnatic music has been introduced in all parts of the world to the masses. Though Carnatic music is not the realm of Brahmins alone, its current prominence is because of the nature and the nurture of Brahmins. If Carnatic music is staple entertainment today, not just pure art, it is because many Brahmins have contributed to modernising it without changing its traditions. We have to be thankful to Brahmins for preserving and propagating this ancient exquisite art. The efforts of T.M. Krishna to involve other communities in the practice of Carnatic music should be appreciated.

A.J. Rangarajan, Edison, New Jersey, U.S.


THE haste with which the Aadhaar project was implemented by the United Progressive Alliance government and the hurried manner in which the new Aadhaar Bill was passed in the current Lok Sabha by the present National Democratic Alliance government in the guise of a “money Bill” clearly suggest that the parties in power know that the project is riddled with inherent technical flaws and legal issues and that it would neither stand up to critical scrutiny nor an informed discussion.

The unreliability of fingerprints for authentication in the case of those above 6o and below 12 has already been reported to the Unique Identification Authority of India by one of its consultants. Studies have revealed how this problem has resulted in non-payment of wages to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and non-delivery of rations and pensions to eligible households in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Thus, far from empowering the poor, the Aadhaar project has taken away even what is legitimately due to them.

K. Natarajan, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

ALTHOUGH Aadhaar is useful for the distribution of old age pension and the payment of MGNREGS wages, it violates privacy and does not ensure the eradication of poverty. Those in power are more concerned about the transformation of the government’s role in the social sector than the welfare of marginalised people.

Anas K., Malappuram, Kerala

Interpreting Marx

THE interesting comments by the scholar Marcello Musto outlines how Marx’s thought deteriorated into a doctrinaire system in the hands of its interpreters (“Marx in a new light”, April 15). The reduction of Marx’s ideas to a doctrinaire system, a ready-made scheme of ideas applicable universally to all times and places, and the elimination of the crucial role of revolutionary praxis in the short-term practical interest of a party are relevant and important points as far as they go. But they are not enough to delineate the outlines of a theory that serves the ends of revolutionary practice. For, while it is beyond doubt that “Marx's method” was “based on scrupulous and coherent theoretical criteria”, he was no less insistent that the theory be applied to revolutionary transformation of given, concrete societies. The finer nuances of the theoretical position might have to be consciously overlooked without compromising the fundamental approach at critical moments.

As Lenin argued in his April Theses, there was no question of surrendering power, within reach of the revolutionary proletariat, to a weak and compromising bourgeoisie if the latter would not do away with feudalism. The resulting scenario was unlikely to follow the classical pathway of bourgeois democratic revolution. Of course, that will necessitate a careful and scrupulous study of the historically unprecedented situation. If the Russian Revolution failed to do so, resulting in subsequent distortions, its failure also requires a close study. Ignoring the lessons of the Russian Revolution because its later leaders succumbed to a dogmatic determinism and established an abstract schema as the answer to unresolved questions would take us into ethereal regions of abstract thought with no practical lessons at all.

Hiren Gohain, Guwahati

World Culture Festival

THIS is with reference to the article “Against all norms” (April 1). The matter is still sub judice. A ruling has not been given yet, and only an “environmental compensation” was sought by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for reparations post the event. When the issue of the media claiming that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had been “fined” came up before the Tribunal, Justice Swatanter Kumar specifically clarified in his order: “We make it clear that we have imposed a sum of Rs.5 crore initially as an environmental compensation in exercise of our jurisdiction in term of Section 15 and 17 of the NGT Act and not a penalty in term of Section 26 of the NGT Act.” Yet, the article pronounced a judgment, saying that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had made a mockery of environmental concerns and brazenly flouted rules and regulations. Even the NGT has not said this much.

The event was not “patronised by the Prime Minister and his colleagues” as the article said. It was attended by them along with dignitaries and other heads of states from 175 countries. The article talked about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar “thumbing his nose at environmentalists who pleaded with him to change the venue....” Sri Sri Ravishankar did not behave with environmentalists in the manner suggested in the article.

Another misleading statement in the article was about how the government had gone out of its way to facilitate a private programme. The World Culture Festival was a public programme, open to the public and the government did not facilitate it.

We would like to state once and for all that it was not The Art of Living Foundation that decided to build the pontoon bridges nor did we call the Army to build them. Wherever there is such a huge public gathering, the government has to step in and take necessary steps to avert any eventuality, such as a stampede. The Delhi government called in the Army to build the pontoon bridges. They were a safety measure as there was going to be a gathering of more than 3.5 million people. This has happened earlier too, for other large gatherings as well as for the Kumbh Mela and the Yanni concert.

Fire clearances were procured as they always are, on the day of the event. The Art of Living Foundation was given full permission to hold the event on the Yamuna floodplains with rules that were strictly adhered to. No objection was raised as it was going to erect a temporary structure, which is currently being dismantled.

Raji Swaminathan, Art of Living Centre, Bengaluru