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Letters to the Editor

Print edition : November 10, 2017

Policy failures

THE slump in industry and in the rural sector is so palpable that the RSS, through its Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, had to call for a course correction, giving the Narendra Modi government jitters (Cover Story, October 27). The fact that the RSS is fully satisfied with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP)agenda of targeting minorities, particularly Muslims, should be noted.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has proved to be disastrous, with the traditional supporters of the BJP openly expressing their dismay. The demonetisation drive was a failure. That the Modi government is dancing to the tune of corporates is a well-known fact.

With the Assembly elections in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan round the corner, there is nervousness in the BJP camp, particularly in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, because of vociferous protests by the farming community. Two senior BJP leaders, Yashwant Sinha and Subramanian Swamy, have openly suggested the need for a rethink on economic policies.

Failure to effect course correction will affect the BJP’s electoral chances in the Assembly elections and possibly the 2019 Lok Sabha election too.

S. Murali, Vellore, Tamil Nadu

MODI firmly believes that he knows everything about the problems facing the country, that he has solutions for them and that he need not consult either Parliament or the public at large. He must have learnt a bitter lesson from the failure of two of his programmes, demonetisation and GST. Parliament is the supreme body where all national issues should be discussed threadbare so that the government can take appropriate decisions. It is distressing to note that important matters like education, employment, health and public welfare do not receive the attention they deserve. It is sad to see that Modi has distanced himself from the ordinary citizen as no other Prime Minister has done before.

S.S. Rajagopalan, Chennai

Mumbai tragedy

IT is heartbreaking to note that 23 people were killed and many more injured in the tragic stampede on the foot overbridge at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai (“Crumbling structure”, October 27). The pain of travelling by Mumbai’s local trains, especially during rush hour, cannot be explained in words. Congestion, overcrowded trains and lack of facilities make it a horrendous experience. The Maharashtra government and the Central government need to seriously think about improving the public transport infrastructure in the city.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai, Mumbai

THE stampede could have been avoided if the Railway Ministry had not ignored the warnings of a CAG report which declared that the foot overbridge was not only structurally weak but had been constructed in violation of rules. Despite a clear indication that the narrow bridge could collapse any moment, the local railway officials did nothing to have a new bridge constructed to ease the movement of people, citing paucity of funds.

One wonders why the Railways turned a blind eye to citizens’ campaigns pointing out that the bridge was ill-equipped to handle a heavy rush. Lack of effective safety measures, zero priority for crowd management and the indifferent attitude of station officials have all contributed to the stampede. It should serve as an eye-opener to the Railways to improve the infrastructure, instead of indulging in routine blame games, and order a probe to satisfy the opposition and protesters.

K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad, Telangana

THE government should concentrate on providing basic railway amenities rather than buying Shinkansen from Japan.

Vidhya Balasubramanian, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu

Darjeeling hills

PEACE has returned to the Darjeeling hills but not before claiming 11 lives (“Uneasy calm in Darjeeling”, October 27). The people in the hills left no stone unturned to make the movement for statehood successful. But, in the absence of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung, dissident leaders betrayed the hopes of millions of Gorkhas. It must be a huge relief for the State and the Centre, particularly the BJP, that the agitation ended without any genuine efforts being put forward by them to solve the issue. Once again the people in the hills have to live with a temporary compromise proposed by indifferent State and Central governments.

Janga Bahadur Sunuwar, Bagrakote, West Bengal

Tom Alter

TOM ALTER, an actor of American descent who was fluent in Hindi and Urdu and was a Padma Shri awardee, will always be remembered for his roles in films such as “Shatranj Ke Khiladi” and “Ram Teri Ganga Maili” (“Doyen of dignity”, October 27). On the stage too, his portrayals of Sahir Ludhianvi, Mirza Ghalib and Bahadur Shah Zafar were unforgettable. He had a unique presence in all his films and plays. The void created by his death cannot be filled. There is no one to match his acting calibre. May his soul rest in peace.

Mahesh Kapasi, New Delhi

Las Vegas attack

THE bloody attack by Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas, which killed 58 and injured hundreds, the worst mass shooting incident in the United States, once again underscores the dangers of the country’s gun laws (“Bloodbath in Las Vegas”, October 27). The 64-year-old lone-wolf attacker was armed with 23 rifles, including some automatic weapons. Former U.S. President Barack Obama had made a serious attempt to make the gun laws foolproof by expanding background checks for gun owners. But lone-wolf attacks persist.

It has been estimated that civilians in the U.S. own about 300 million firearms and nearly 40 per cent of the households in the country have at least one gun. Gun rights supporters endorse firearm possession for self-defence, hunting, sporting activities and as security against tyranny. They also claim that firearm ownership by law-abiding citizens reduces crime. But where is the need for a government if citizens are allowed to carry firearms for their protection?

Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur, West Bengal

Bullet train

THE bullet train is just a showpiece (“Style over substance”, October 13). Modi has said that China only exhibits Shanghai to outsiders. Modi has now visited China as Prime Minister on three occasions and has been to Xian, Beijing and Shanghai (2015); Hangzhou (2016); and Xiamen recently in September 2017. Will Modi even now say that China shows only Shanghai to guests? Other cities of China are also equally beautiful and well maintained.

Biswanath Roy, Nagpur, Maharashtra

Labour laws

THE National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government promised to overhaul labour laws and initiate wide-ranging reforms (“Dismantling protection”, October 13). In its view, the absence of labour reforms was the biggest roadblock to development. But after assuming power at the Centre, it has only been introducing policies and laws such as demonetisation and GST. The government’s plans to weaken labour laws did not succeed initially owing to resistance from all central trade unions. But it has not given up because it has the numbers in the Lok Sabha.

NABEEL SIDHEEQ, Kozhikode, Kerala

Mata Amritanandamayi

FROM a biblical perspective, one can say that God sends savants and prophets at particular points in time to save humanity from degradation (“Brand Amrita”, October 13). The life and achievements of Mata Amritanandamayi can be best understood from the point of view of Hindu religion, culture and civilisation. Mata Amritanandamayi’s achievements so far reveal the presence of the divine, and one must sincerely live according to her preaching.

THOMAS EDMUNDS, CHENNAI

Modi and Ansari

BIDDING farewell to Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari in the Rajya Sabha on August 10, Prime Minister Modi’s words that Ansari now had the opportunity to “work, think and speak” according to his “core beliefs” lacked grace and exposed his sense of superiority (“Ansari & Modi”, September 29). I wish our Prime Minister observed better etiquette on formal occasions.

Mahendra Nath Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim, Goa



RESPONSE:

The Art of Living International Centre, Bengaluru

This is with reference to the article “Panacea at a price” (October 13). It makes serious allegations of land-grabbing, financial irregularities, nepotism,political patronage, pressure on volunteers, and so on against the Art of Living Foundation without any evidence.

It is written without understanding even the basic facts of the subject and unfairly maligns the reputation of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his organisations.

We want to convey that all the allegations made in the article are without any foundation. It quotes a rationalist to pass judgment on sudarshan kriya while completely ignoring the extensive research on the breathing techniques done by over 60 independent bodies, including doctors from premier institutes such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). It also talks about the Art of Living causing “irreparable damage” to the Yamuna floodplains. You ought to be aware that the National Green Tribunal is still hearing the matter and we have presented it documents proving scientifically that we have not caused any damage.

We assume that being a prominent magazine, you would also be aware of the scope and depth of the work being carried out by Gurudev and his organisations in India and around the world.

Our social initiatives such as river rejuvenation and conservation of water bodies, light-a-home, natural farming, youth leadership training programme and several others are improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The Art of Living runs 435 free schools in rural and tribal areas, educating over 58,000 children. As many as 760 villages have been electrified through renewable energy in remote parts of India and Nepal.

Gurudev spearheads an unparalleled global movement for a stress-free, violence-free society that has empowered, equipped and transformed millions of people to tackle challenges at the global, national, community and individual levels.

His interventions in the cause of peace are a phenomenon in itself. His contribution to the transition of the dreaded Colombian rebel group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which had been waging a guerilla war for five decades that claimed over 220,000 lives and displaced over seven million people, into a political party adopting the Gandhian philosophy of ahimsha is widely acknowledged. From Kashmir, Assam, Bihar and the north-eastern region of India to Kosovo and Iraq to Cote d’Ivoire, Sri Sri’s interventions have had the impact of thousands of militants and violent groups giving up arms to pursue peace and conflict resolution.

The sheer breadth of the impact of Gurudev’s social interventions are hard to capture in numbers. Just to give an idea, sample the following:

Across India:

58,000+ children given free education in 435 schools in rural and tribal areas of India.

33 rivers and thousands of water bodies across India are being revived, bringing groundwater levels higher, benefiting millions of villagers.

40,500 cleanlinessdrives, 52,466 hygiene camps, 27,427 medical campsand 165,000 stress-relief camps benefiting 5.6 million people.

16,550 toilets, 3,819 homes, 1,200 borewells and 1,000 bio-gas plants built.

27,000 youths trained in vocational and entrepreneurship skills.

760 villages electrified through renewable energy in remote parts of India and Nepal.

More than 2,03,220 rural youths have been trained in leadership programmes, who have reached out with various development projects in 40,212 villages.

4,500 armed insurgents from extremist-affected regions of India deradicalised, renouncing violence and reintegrating into mainstream society.

More than 2.2 million farmers and youths from 22 States have been trained in natural farming practices.

In Iraq, 50,000 people have been provided with life skills and trauma relief programmes. As many as 4,307 Iraqi women have been provided with vocational training. More than 200 peace ambassadors have been trained to provide trauma relief to those affected; AOL has collected and air-dropped 110 tonnes of food, winter aid, tents and clothing for Yazidi refugees on Sinjar mountains in the Iraq-Syria border.

More than 1,50,000 war survivors, including child soldiers, in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, the Balkans and Afghanistan have benefited from trauma relief programmes.

In the United States,1,586 veterans and family members have benefited through yoga, sudarshan kriya and meditation workshops conducted through the Project Welcome Home Troops programme, a restorative mind-body resilience programme for veterans and military members, giving them tools to reduce chronic and post-traumatic stress.



A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

The COVID-19-induced lockdown and the absolute necessity for human beings to maintain a physical distance from one another in order to contain the pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. The print medium all over the world is no exception.

As the distribution of printed copies is unlikely to resume any time soon, Frontline will come to you only through the digital platform until the return of normality. The resources needed to keep up the good work that Frontline has been doing for the past 35 years and more are immense. It is a long journey indeed. Readers who have been part of this journey are our source of strength.

Subscribing to the online edition, I am confident, will make it mutually beneficial.

Sincerely,

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

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