Letters

Print edition : March 08, 2013

Politics

RAHUL GANDHI’S speech after he was made vice-president of the Congress party was well scripted but was largely emotional and lacked substance (Cover Story, February 22). He failed to deal with the issues plaguing the nation such as price rise. The point that Rahul Gandhi made about people with knowledge not being recognised because they did not hold any position was true, but it remains to be seen whether sycophants will continue to hold positions in the Congress or suitable persons will be appointed.

Rahul said that the Congress party had now become his life, but only time will tell whether he can take on the big guns in his party and deal with regional heavyweights, which will be necessary in this era of coalition politics.

S. Balakrishnan

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

IN Tamil Nadu, the Congress lost power in 1967 and since then it has not been in power on its own. The people of the State have successively given their mandate to the Dravidian parties. The Tamil Nadu phenomenon is only the tip of the iceberg. So, the Congress should shed the shackles of nationalism and switch to regionalism if it wants to meet the voters’ expectations.

If the BJP wants to win the coming elections, its agenda should include policies for the welfare of the people and the growth of the country. Only then can it become a player at the national level.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai

Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu

‘Viswaroopam’

THE ban of the film “Viswaroopam” in Tamil Nadu after the Censor Board had certified it for public viewing is nothing short of compromising freedom of expression in the country and also shows that Kamal Haasan was hounded for no reason at all (“More to it than meets the eye”, February 22). The Chief Minister’s contention that going ahead with the release would have created a law and order problem did not seem to cut much ice with a cross section of people because of the vendetta politics that is practised by politicians in Tamil Nadu. Banning the film in the State for two weeks was inappropriate and will only embolden fringe groups to exert pressure on the state on flimsy issues in the future. The Centre should make suitable amendments to the Cinematograph Act to prevent unofficial censorship by protesters.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

THE government and political parties under the pretext of avoiding turmoil resort to cutting scenes from films or rejecting pages from books. Is this not treachery against artistic freedom and values? The government and politicians play this game to win votes.

Religion is supposed to open the door to new thoughts and expand one’s heart and mind. But in reality it is stagnant and promotes stereotyped ideas. A true democracy should not be held hostage by a narrow-minded few, and rights of freedom and choices should be protected. Film directors, writers or artists do not fight with swords but with opinion. Why should a superpower feel threatened when an imaginative interpretation is screened?

Uttam K. Bhowmik

Tamluk, West Bengal

Oil sector

THE deregulation of the price of diesel shows that policymakers have become willing victims of their own inelastic mindset, which holds that all the ills of the economy germinate from subsidies (“Austerity’s pain”, February 22). The government’s repeated wrong moves in the economic sphere will impede the social growth of the weaker sections. There needs to be a more integrated approach to nation-building.

B. Rajasekaran

Bangalore

The Quran

THE article “The Quran & modernity” (February 22) showed the importance of the role of writers and commentators in society.

Saquib Faruque Ali

Malda, West Bengal

Vivekananda

ALL the Cover Story articles on Swami Vivekananda (February 8) with their rare photographs and snippets of information about his life will be a handy reference for future generations.

When I notice how we have developed in terms of technology but deteriorated in terms of values, I am reminded me of what Vivekananda once said when he was in England. Someone laughed at his saffron robe and turban and said, “Though you know how to speak English, you do not look like a gentleman.” Vivekananda’s retort was: “My dear friend, in your country, a tailor makes a gentleman, but in my country, character makes one.”

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee

Faridabad, Haryana

THE scholarly articles on Vivekananda were timely and highly informative. I will preserve this copy. I have always identified with Vivekananda’s views on nation-building but found it difficult to comprehend the Hindutva brigade’s attempts to appropriate him. Pralay Kanungo’s article (“Attempts at appropriation”) cleared up this important issue for me.

Bharath J.

Hyderabad

VIVEKANANDA’S unique personality and his inspiring speech in Chicago brought international status and recognition to Indian culture and tradition. He was the country’s cultural patriot. Many foreign intellectuals surrendered to his wisdom, but we Indians have forgotten his teachings, to our detriment.

Y. Abhimanya

Nakrekal, Andhra Pradesh

ANANTANAND RAMBACHAN’S plea for energetic and enriching dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity is unimpeachable (“Engagement with Christianity”, February 8). But why should this be dovetailed only to Vivekananda’s approach? According to the writer, Vivekananda tried to validate Hinduism only on what he called the “rational claims” of Advaita. But Advaita alone is not the soul of Hinduism, and Sri Sankara, however brilliant he may have been, is not the sole spokesperson for Hinduism.

It is true that“crypto-Christian” onslaught did not allow much space in constructive discourse between Hinduism and Christianity. But, for Vivekananda to have taken up the cudgels against kerygma, or the essence of Christian gospel, was very negative. For Vivekananda to have expressed abhorrence at the ideas of salvation, original sin, atonement or the shedding of Jesus’ blood is metaphysically not sound. There have been sincere efforts on the part of several Indian Christian theologians in earlier as well as recent times to offer corrective insights. In a country like India, where “blood”, or the “purity”, of it seems to determine everything on almost every issue (I mean, the cancer of caste), what is abhorrent about the claim that the blood of Jesus Christ washes away all our sins?

As the author concluded, more “mutual learning” is what one should seek to promote. This endeavour would also enhance the understanding and processing of faith. Incidentally, the Unitarian Church where Vivekananda gave a speech in February 1894 is not, strictly speaking, a Christian congregation at all. Its tradition of presenting God is contrary to the teaching of the main-line faith community.

Rev. Philip K. Mulley

Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu

VIVEKANANDA’S creative engagement with Christian teachings, albeit from a Hindu perspective, was truly exemplary. It might have laid the foundation for the discipline of comparative religion in India, but, sadly, that was not to be. Facile homilies or strident rejection remains the extent of Hinduism’s engagement with other religions. One feels that Vivekananda’s impact was a function of his times. Under imperial rule, he engaged on equal terms with the West in impeccable English, while proudly propagating his culture and religion. It must have been a revelation to the educated youth of the time.

Prashanth Kamath M.

Bangalore

THE French Nobel Prize-winner Romain Rolland in a tribute brought out the legacy of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. He said of them: “The two spiritual heroes have won my regard because with incomparable charm and power, they have realised this splendid symphony of the Universal Soul. They are, if one may say so, its Mozart and its Beethoven—Pater Seraphicus and Jove the Thunderer—Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.”

In his address to the Parliament of Religions, Vivekananda showed the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possession of one church in the world and that every system had produced men and women of exalted character.

H.N. Ramakrishna

Bangalore

MY thanks to Frontline for bringing out the special issue on Vivekananda. The articles were both inspiring and thought-provoking. Vivekananda’s teachings are more relevant in these times, when moral and spiritual degradation have reached their nadir and corruption is rampant, than ever before.

B. Suresh Kumar

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

THE cover photograph impressed me a lot. All the photographs, in one way or other touched the heart. All the articles were informative and gave readers a chance to see things through Vivekananda’s eyes.

B. Jambulingam

Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Savarkar

IN his article “The BJP and Nathuram Godse” (February 8), A.G. Noorani once again exposed Hindutva, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, V.D. Savarkar, M.S. Golwalkar and the deceit perpetrated on an unsuspecting public by L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi. Noorani needs to be read and commended.

H. Pattabhirama Somayaji

Mangalore, Karnataka

I AM not a votary of the Sangh Parivar, but as one who has been teaching the history of the freedom struggle for over three decades, Noorani's remarks against Savarkar were nauseating, to say the least. Why do we not accept that the man was just one of the many actors of the freedom struggle who played his part according to the dictates of his conscience and the prevailing situation, had his moments of glory (and shame?), and subsequently faded into oblivion. If being connected (overtly or covertly) with assassinations of British officers is deplorable, why do we count Rash Behari Bose, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh and Khudiram Bose among our pantheon of freedom fighters?

Even if Noorani’s extensive research proves that Godse’s heinous crime had Savarkar’s tacit approval, one fact that can never be effaced from history is that Savarkar took on the might of the British Empire almost single-handedly and was incarcerated for that in the Andaman’s Cellular Jail (a “luxury” which was not extended even to the greats like Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru). Savarkar’s fixation with the Hindu Rashtra may be anathema to liberal-minded Indians, but his indomitable courage and patriotism cannot be doubted.

Noorani has overshot the mark with his sweeping indictment of Savarkar and his assertion that in the entire history of freedom struggles all over the world no (read abominable) person like Savarkar ever existed. There have been even more diabolical characters but it is not possible to enumerate them here.

Prof. Anil Joshi

Head, Department of History, Kumaun University

Nainital, Uttarakhand

The media

THE article “On ‘mediacracy’ and intellectuals” (February 8) was interesting. It looks like putting words in the mouths of academic experts and officials or causing some political party or other embarrassment is what is needed to become a successful media anchor.

S.M. Jirlimath

Tukkanatti, Karnataka

Gold

THE article “The gold rush” (February 8) made it abundantly clear that while well-off Indians habitually hoard gold, thus locking away capital sorely needed for the nation’s development, it was the small savings of “average” Indians that greased the wheels of the Indian economy. Such “uneconomic” behaviour on the part of India’s well-off, and presumably well-educated, needs to be checked. I agree with the author that it is imperative for India to return to a workable type of gold control.

B.P. Nailwal

Dehradun, Uttarakhand

A letter from the Editor


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