Print edition : February 22, 2013


THE analysis provided in the Cover Story article “Remembering Vivekananda” (February 8) was erudite and gave one insight into Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy and immense compassion for the poor and the downtrodden. I intend to keep this issue as a collector’s copy.

N.C. Sreedharan

Kannur, Kerala

THE articles brought out all aspects of the patriot sanyasi that Vivekananda was. It was neither purely critical nor overtly deifying. The observation that Vivekananda was a precursor to Mahatma Gandhi is true. They are two sides of the same coin. Vivekananda consciously kept out of politics but mixed religion with patriotism. Gandhi mixed religion with politics, which by his time had become synonymous with patriotism.

Kasturi Murali Krishna


THAT Vivekananda was not a fossilised Vedantist is evident in his lofty vision of India in the 20th century and beyond.

Alkesh Khatri

Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

ONE wonders why Vivekananda’s birthday or samadhi day is not a national holiday when the birthdays of B.R. Ambedkar and Sree Narayana Guru are declared holidays.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu

Alappuzha, Kerala

WITH moral and ethical values going down day by day, Vivekananda’s teachings and message to society, the youth in particular, have become all the more relevant. He raised interfaith awareness and brought Hinduism to the status of a major world religion.

Those who have read Vivekananda’s “Complete Works” will find that he had the rare talent of merging modernity with traditional values and spiritualism while explaining the importance of the Vedas in everyday life in a simple manner. This issue is a collector’s item.

S. Balakrishnan

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

IT is unfortunate that most Indians know little about Vivekananda’s life, which was full of suffering and struggles. He suffered from many ailments and was often forced to starve for days, particularly when travelling alone. Soon after his father died in 1884, his relatives tried to throw him, his siblings and his mother out of his father’s house. Vivekananda was fighting the case in court until his death. Two days before his death, he had to pay money to his relatives to settle it. He was torn between his sanyas and the welfare of his mother and siblings.

He was rational and astonishingly modern. For example, one follower complained that many prostitutes were coming to the great annual gathering at the holy Dakshineswar. Vivekananda rebuked him and said that was the precise purpose of such gatherings. It was for sinners, not saints.

Surajit Som

Dwarka, Gujarat

THE Cover Story brought out the excellent work the RSS did in building a great memorial to Vivekananda in Kanyakumari. However, it failed to mention that the work was started during the prime ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru and that Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister when it was inaugurated.

So both Congress leaders were associated with work initiated by the RSS, and contributions for the project came from all States, which were, of course, ruled by the Congress. So why is the BJP labelled as the only party that has a connection with the RSS?

Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao

Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

THE articles on Vivekananda gave one the real picture of the legend. They clearly elaborated the attempts by the RSS to appropriate his legacy for itself. The Sangh Parivar has misinterpreted and misused Vivekananda’s idea of Hindutva. But it has also elevated his position in Indian minds.

Gautam D. Ryan


POLITICIANS of various hues vie with one another to “iconise” Vivekananda, eulogising him as the first global Indian spiritual leader. Frontline joins the hoopla with a view to showing a convergence between Vivekananda’s spiritual praxis and Marxian praxis. The exclusive focus on the spiritual side leaves one with a tempting question: what original ideas do you have apart from this metaphorical talk of universal brotherhood based on hackneyed ideas of Advaita (non-duality) and religion (Hinduism is the ultimate religion), which cannot be tested by contemporary science.

The Cover Story totally failed to live up to the expectations of an objective assessment. Your “critical reappraisal” was a misnomer.

A. Kanthamani

Kozhikode, Kerala

India & Pakistan

AFTER the border skirmish on the LoC in which two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated, the two governments have turned hostile towards each other (“Border flare-up”, February 8). The immediate casualty seems to be the ceasefire agreement. This is not the first such violation since the agreement was inked, but if cultural relations are made to suffer every time, it is citizens who stand to lose. Moreover, the sending back of Pakistani hockey players was in bad taste and reflects the administration’s immaturity.

India is surrounded by adversaries and neither its geography nor its history permits it to be violent and aggressive. Being stern is one thing and being violent is another. Barring a few exceptions, India has always shown restraint in international relations. Suspending talks or resorting to violence may, at best, bring only short-term gains. But going on with talks is the only long-term solution.

Ritvik Chaturvedi

New Delhi


DMK president M. Karunanidhi has time and again declared that the party is not a religious order or a Sankara mutt where the presiding pontiff chooses his heir, but his preference for his son Stalin as successor goes to show that lineage matters more in politics than merit (“Apparent heir”, February 8). Keeping the DMK flock together is going to be a Herculean task for Stalin in the future. We need leaders who have creative abilities and the capacity to lead. Dynastic politics is pernicious. However, discrimination in any form against Stalin just because he is the DMK supremo’s son would be unfair because he rose from the ranks. With dissent already existing in the party, he must prove himself as an able leader to his partymen to ward off threats from groups owing allegiance to M.K. Alagiri or any other leader.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

KARUNANIDHI’S decision to project Stalin as his successor in the party is a right move made at the right time.

With his younger brother enjoying the lion’s share of cadre support, Alagiri has no option but to accept Karunanidhi’s choice. It should not be forgotten that Stalin has worked hard to gain recognition from one and all in the party.

J. Anantha Padmanabhan

Srirangam, Tamil Nadu

KARUNANIDHI cannot contemplate retirement owing to the rivalry between Stalin and Alagiri. The assertion that Stalin would be his successor in the DMK will no doubt create political ripples in his family and in the party and may further aggravate the rivalry.

Ettirankandath Krishnadas

Palakkad, Kerala

KARUNANIDHI’S claim that the DMK is a party of democratic values is hardly tenable as any revisiting of the history of the DMK would show. All along, the democratic views of party leaders at different rungs in the DMK after C.N. Annadurai have been stifled. As of now, the DMK is completely devoid of democratic values. In the contemporary scene, objective and committed DMK workers are very disgusted with the overpowering demeanour of Alagiri, Stalin and Kanimozhi.

B. Rajasekaran


The media

THE article “On ‘mediacracy’ and intellectuals” (February 8) was very interesting. However, it called upon intellectuals to abide by their duty “…and resist being co-opted by television channels”. This is an idealistic view, one that presumes that intellectuals are guided by a sense of “duty”.

Arjun Chatterjee

Gurgaon, Haryana


THE political turmoil in Jharkhand is disappointing (“Coalition collapse”, February). The worsening political situation shows the utter lack of ethics among politicians, their disrespect for democracy and their negligence of the welfare of the State and its people. Power-grabbing and corruption seem to be the only motives in politics. The national parties must not get involved in any sort of “cheap” politics.

Anchit Mathur

New Delhi

Oil companies

FUEL is the driving force of the growth of the country (“Evidence of cartelisation”, The Nation, February 8). Therefore, it is important to deal with the volatile turns fuel prices often take in the market. Since supply fails to keep pace with increased demand, crude oil prices keep going up. Developing countries like China and India should take bold and timely measures to ensure that crude oil prices do not come in the way of their growth.

Sometime ago India’s biggest private company closed all its fuel outlets after incurring heavy losses owing to government-mandated prices of petrol and diesel and rising crude oil prices. So, the government should come to terms with the ground reality and take all the possible steps to support the oil companies.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai

Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu

National shame

THE brave soul who was gang-raped in Delhi in December passed away in silence but her death left a deep scar on India’s patriarchal society (Cover Story, “Prisoners of patriarchy”, January 25). Let us hope her sacrifice and the subsequent courageous public anger will bring about judicial reforms.

Janga Bahadur Sunuwar

Bagrakote, West Bengal

THE state and the so-called leaders of the nation have no right to prevent women from pursuing their aspirations and dreams. In a democracy, every life should be protected. To save the nation, we should send only honest and responsible people to Parliament. The police and the administration should be reformed from top to bottom. Politicians should not use the police to achieve their political goals.

Uttam K. Bhowmik,

Tamluk, West Bengal

I WAS shocked when I read the article “State of the nation”. On the pretext of discussing the Delhi rape episode, the author condemned the Indian government and India.

She objects to the Bharat Mata phrase. That phrase has been in use for a long time, certainly much before the birth of Pakistan, and means the homeland of the people who reside in India. When the Pakistan Army and tribal militia armed by Pakistan attacked Kashmir soon after the Maharaja of Kashmir had acceded to India, many Kashmiri Hindus were murdered. The Hindus of Kashmir were persecuted thereafter and forced out of Kashmir. Hardly any Hindu family lives in the Valley now.

This is a paradox: Kashmir is a legal part of India but no Hindus or Sikhs are allowed to live there, while Kashmiris are spread across India. Yet the author spewed venom against the Indian Army posted in Kashmir and other troubled parts of India.

Prem Kumar

Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh

Tree man

“MARAM” THANGASAMY (“Tree man”, January 11) belongs to a select band of environmental warriors who are engaged in crusades against environmental degradation, deforestation, annihilation of biodiversity and the contamination of fresh water sources.

To name some others in this band: P. Abdul Karim of Kasaragod district, Kerala (who converted a fallow land of 30 acres into a thick jungle by planting thousands of saplings); Joseph of Idukki district (who is a saviour to thousands of bats roosting on trees in his plot); Krishnankutty of Thiruvananthapuram district (who single-handedly engaged in greening the village market environs); and Bal Pandian, the noted “birdman” of Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu (who saves hundreds of chicks falling from bird nests).

These men serve nature, and their efforts go largely unnoticed and unacknowledged. Highlighting such efforts will encourage like-minded persons to embark on similar endeavours.

K.B. Sanjayan