Sunday, January 31, 2016

'Students today are a misinformed lot and Modi is banking on their short attention spans'

Letters to the editor

A selection of readers' opinions over the past week.

Scroll · Today · 04:30 pm

Photo Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP

Caste politics

While I agree with the piece in general (and mourn the past), might I add that these are not the 1990s (“Could the Dalit students’ agitation be Modi’s Mandal moment?”). With all the sources of information at their disposal, students today are a misinformed lot and Narendra Modi is banking on their short attention spans.

Like everything else, the suicide and the agitation shall be forgotten in a month or two. This is not a Mandal moment, just a fashionable intermezzo before the next new atrocity erupts. Life goes on, sadly. Kishore Tejaswi


Narendra Modi was never the leader of the backward classes and Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes. Although he got a fair share of their vote that swung the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in his favour, he knows that these groups will not stick with him and will return to their parent parties.

That’s why he is not acting in this case because it will be futile for him to act and displease his core base supporters – upper-caste Hindus. He knows that they are behind him and if he does something wrong, then they will ditch him as well. Vishal Jindal

Patriarchal perspective

This was the danger which I discussed with my friends when this government came to power in 2014 (“First Chennai, now Hyderabad: Has the government decided that all dissent is anti-national?”). Those who have read RSS and BJP ideology know that they believe in a patriarchal system of society in which elders and most importantly upper castes are always right, and those who are on the receiving end – namely youngsters and lower castes should obey their masters dutifully.

It is their firm belief that no student or children (for them a person is child as long as his/her elders are alive) can question elders in a family and in society. We should see all these student-government clashes from this perspective.

They also believe that any criticism, debate or discussion will raise doubts on their governing ability and so they crush any such attempts.

The BJP’s problem is that it sees everything through the prism of “us vs them”. But this will lead to their downfall. Vishal Jindal

Caste considerations

It’s true that reservations have nothing to do with the development of common Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but only creates a slavery system for SCs, STs, MLAs and MPs (“Despite having 40 Dalit MPs, why has the BJP ignored Dalit complaints? Dr Ambedkar has the answer”).

This is the reason why with the support of slaves, the ruling parties are removing reservation in various places of government through privatisation, and rejecting reservation in higher education and rejecting reservation in promotions through government orders.

Now it’s time to demand that the government scrap reservations in politics. Sivaji A

Credibility in doubt

I’m writing in to let you know that I’m deeply saddened by this article and that it is well written (“Love, justice and stardust: A requiem for Rohith Vemula”). However, the author makes a claim that reserved students are discriminated against in IITs. As a student of IIT Madras I can say this isn’t true, at least over here. Nobody knows or even asks each other’s JEE rank, let alone category. They most certainly aren’t segregated in hostels. They don’t even get unique roll numbers in class and the teachers here never discriminate between students based on caste. Everyone is treated the same.

This one sentence in the article makes me doubt the knowledge of the author and I wonder how many of the other claims made in the article are false or poorly researched. Please do provide the sources of your information in your articles. It will help readers decide what and what not to believe. Vaibhav Nayel

Minister's mess

I feel the onus lies with Smriti Irani, our HRD minister (“So who exactly is politicising Rohith Vemula’s suicide?”). I don’t understand why on earth she is getting embroiled in such controversies. On many previous occasions, she has made a fool of herself by speaking prematurely. Her presser just after Rohith Vemula’s suicide says a lot about her ignorance. Now she has to eat humble pie because the prime minister has spoken belatedly to clear the air, indirectly putting the blame on the HRD minister. Ravindra Arakeri

Evident bias

Good try, Akash Banerjee (“As Modi completes 20 months in office, 20 numbers he should keep in mind going ahead”). We wish you had removed your blinkers while writing the piece. You can become prime minister for six months and try to rectify the shortcomings. You forget the role of the Opposition in creating all possible hurdles after losing power. Writers need to be rational and unbiased while writing about our country. Ravindra Krishna

Hidden atrocities

I take the report as true, without any investigation. The story has entered the public domain – this in itself is proof of it being true (“Déjà vu: Chhattisgarh’s security forces accused of large-scale sexual violence yet again”). The Indian psyche and politics never allows such atrocities inflicted on tribals and destitute to surface in the mainstream media. Shouldn’t we take pride in having defeated ISIS in their odious game? After all, we run with handicaps like democracy, free media, welfare state, among others. Farooque Shahab

Skewed perspective

The use of Shivaji as a symbol of a Hindu king waging war against Muslim Mughals is a complete parody of history (“Why BR Ambedkar’s three warnings in his last speech to the Constituent Assembly resonate even today”). Shivaji did not fight for Hindus and Mughals did not fight against Hindus – both fought for their respective empires. The writer’s judgement is biased and religiously motivated. Dhruv Badolia

Meaningless freedom

This really was a very shocking story of rape victims. It looks like we are still far away from independence (“In Muzaffarnagar, rape videos herald death, judgement and communal incitement”).

Your article only mentions victims from one community. But there have been reports of rape in the Muslim community as well, forcing them to flee their homes and leave behind their landholdings. I think the writer is ill-informed or she has only described the pain of one community.

These were the worst communal riots in the history of Muzaffarnagar for which the political parties were responsible. I feel our respected freedom fighters devoted themselves to the country but our leaders have sucked the peace and harmony from India today. Mohd Zuhaib

Claiming a legacy

I am not supporting any of the so-called special efforts by the rightist brigade to claim credit or ownership of any lineage (“Photoshopping history: Fake Nehru letter aside, here’s why BJP wants to lay claim to Netaji’s legacy”). However, I am very curious to know how come almost all of your articles are bereft of even an iota of criticism of the much lauded “Nehru Gandhi family”.

If a legitimately elected government is proposing some other point of view, can’t it be given a bit of space? Do only Nehrus and Gandhis hold all the intellectual capacity of the country? Much nepotism and corruption has taken place in their presence and indirectly or directly been promoted by them. At least now your eyes should open a bit to newer realities. Vilas Kulkarni

Question time

This article made for a very interesting read (“A question for Indian quizzers: Where are the women?”). Quiz is perceived as a “battle of the mind sport” and an “intellectual activity” among the general public. The lack of women participants in corporate events stems from the lack of diversity in Indian companies.

Schools these days have a healthy mix of male and female students. The same cannot be said for Indian corporates.

Globally, the notion of women quizzers is much more accepted. Where there is a strong culture of pub quizzes in places such as UK, US and Australia, the same gets translated to the corporate world.

While gender auditing and stereotypical questions continue to attract the mainstream, it is important to strike the right balance between “entertainment” and “information”. While quizzes can have Sunny Leone dancing to bring the entertainment factor in place, there is also the informative angle to it by highlighting her achievements as an animal rights campaigner. Such questions are both entertaining and educative – important hallmarks of a great quiz.

A Women’s Day quiz at companies, where we celebrate the achievements and spirits of famous women across all boundaries, may be the starting point to bring about this cultural shift. Daksha Ballal

Alarmist notion

I think the writer is overreacting (“Another Republic Day, another compromise on nuclear safety?”). India needs more energy, and solar power can’t supply all of it. Providing compensation to project affected people is the government’s responsibility and some cost to the environment is inevitable in generating more energy and improving the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Nishant Kale

EPW's identity

I enjoyed reading this write-up (“The legend of EPW: How a weekly magazine became an institution”). While EPW will certainly survive, its corporatisation, and by implication commodification, of the precious EPW knowledge system began after C Rammanohar Reddy became its editor.

The EPW archives are accessible only to subscribers, which means even past contributors have no access to EPW back issues. EPW was conceived and developed as an everyman’s weekly. Alas, it is no more so.

There are any number of EPW readers who may not have institutional affiliation or subscription to EPW. Reddy deprived many of these readers their free access to EPW. I wonder whether Krishna Raj would have gone for such wholesale commercialisation of EPW, and also wonder whether the new editor, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, will undo the damage. P Radhakrishnan

Remembering Ramanujan

A simple fact that is often deliberately understated and not mentioned at all is that GH Hardy was a Marxist (“What English mathematicians thought of the ‘Hindoo calculator’”). 

The man who knew infinity offers an interesting insight into the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century. Though colonialism has ended, we still have to take a glimpse at one of the world’s greatest mathematicians through the lens of the colonial power relationship.

Of course, one should qualify this statement with the caveat that British and US academia always had an open door for talent, though often regarding such talent as mildly exotic social species. Prof Subho Basu

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