Sir — In the article, “Nation on a hill” (Dec 31), Rudrangshu Mukherjee contrasts urban, educated and affluent India with underprivileged and oppressed Bharat. His analysis provides a holistic view of the economic factors that separate India and Bharat, and the role of the State in all this. However, given the backdrop of the ongoing protests in Delhi, we must also look at the sociological aspects of the divide. The divide is most stark in the value systems of the educated urban population and those of the rural or small-town populations. Country-to-city migration on a large scale inevitably leads to a clash of values and cultures.
It must be understood in this context that everyone in the rural areas is not underprivileged or oppressed. The countryside has received a large amount of government subsidies and pays minimal taxes. There is also a divide within rural Bharat between the rich beneficiaries who wield power and the poor. But the culture here is essentially feudal, and social power structures are guided by it. As a result, a derogatory attitude towards women prevails in society. Moreover, torture and oppression of women are supported by social institutions such as the khap panchayats. With migration, this feudal value system is transferred to the urban space. Further, political representation of the urban population has not kept pace with its increasing size. Rural Bharat still dominates political representation. So we should not be surprised at the feudal attitude of the political class and all that goes with it, including a discriminatory view of women. This is the reason behind India not being able to adopt constructive reforms that would help resolve its crises.
Bhaskar Majumdar, Kuwait
Sir — Hats off to The Telegraph for the well-timed editorial, “No harm if the slip shows” (Dec 29). It condemns a politician’s remarks, which, to say the least, are preposterous and outrageous. The attacks and counter-attacks among rival political parties across the country point to a shameful degradation of values. This phenomenon is most starkly evident in West Bengal, where politicians seem to be engaged in a mud-slinging frenzy.
It is simply unthinkable that the son of the president of the country — who is supposed to be an educated young member of parliament — could make a hideous remark about the women protesting against rape. He described the women in the street protests as “dented and painted.” This does not seem to be a mere slip of tongue. One is tempted to believe that he made the comment intentionally, perhaps because he wanted to gain publicity.
The same can be said about the sexist comment made by a prominent leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Anisur Rahman. Rahman made a filthy jibe at the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, on the pretext of raising an objection to the recurrent incidents of rape in West Bengal. By doing this, Rahman has followed in the footsteps of CPI(M) leaders like Anil Basu, Benoy Konar and Sushanta Ghosh, who had made defamatory remarks in the past and were severely criticized for that.
The editorial has rightly said that such distasteful behaviour has almost become institutionalized in this state. That both Abhijit Mukherjee and Rahman accepted their fault and tendered an apology do not take away from the fact that the socio-political ambience of Bengal has become extremely polluted. This must not be condoned.
The system needs an immediate cleansing. For a start, the chief minister must herself desist from making untoward remarks in attacking her political opponents.
P.B. Saha, Calcutta
Sir — The comment made by Abhijit Mukherjee about the women who participated in the street protests at India Gate against the gang-rape of a student is shameful. The way in which he described the women as “sundari” (beautiful) and as being “dented and painted” is extremely offensive. It proves that our patriarchal society continues to view a woman as an object.
It is disgusting when a civilized and educated young man holding a responsible post in the administration makes such an undignified comment about women. The Congress MP from Jangipur must realize the extent to which he has hurt the sentiments of the women in his constituency.
Indrani Sengupta, Jalpaiguri
Sir — Indian society is now in a grave crisis. The Delhi rape case brings forth crucial questions about the security of women. Today, rape is not only a brutal assault on the rights and freedoms of women but a political weapon as well. Political parties constantly indulge in bitter squabbles over this issue instead of offering constructive solutions to the problem. Passing insulting remarks about female protestors and making indecent comments about the chief minister are ignominious acts. They show the vulgar side of political witticism. The situation has worsened because of the volatile ethics of the political class. It is revolting that our leaders use sensitive issues to their own advantage.
The leaders should learn to handle rape cases in a more sensible manner. They must strive to eradicate violence against women from society. Politicians cutting across party lines must work together to achieve this goal. And they should not politicize the matter. Formal apologies are meaningless until and unless our leaders are truly repentant about their attitude.
Soumya Bhattacharya, Calcutta