Sir — It is painful to realize that most women, regardless of how educated and independent they may be, are still considered a ‘burden’ by society. It is paradoxical that this same society also waxes eloquent about gender equality, progressiveness and empowerment of women. I was having a conversation with a friend who is looking at the prospect of an arranged marriage. She shared an anecdote that spoke volumes about a society ridden by ‘mistaken modernity’, as described by the noted sociologist, Dipankar Gupta.
My friend’s mother received a call from the father of a prospective groom, who wanted to talk about the possible alliance. My friend’s mother happened to be busy at that point, and she requested the prospective groom’s father to call her a little later. The proud father, before disconnecting the call, said, “Kanyadaaye kintu apnader.” (It is you who bears the ‘burden’ of getting your daughter married off). The shocking comment made me wonder if my friend’s parents had ever considered her a ‘burden’.
While writing this letter, I tried in vain to find an English synonym for the Bengali word, ‘kanyadaygrasta’ (one who is burdened with the responsibility of a daughter). I was pained and worried that I needed to look for such a derogatory word that should have long been obliterated from our vocabulary had our society ‘progressed’ in the true sense.
Debayani Bose, Calcutta
Sir — Narendra Modi has won accolades following the recently concluded Vibrant Gujarat summit. He has also silenced his detractors with a resounding victory in the assembly election for the third time in a row. Ashok Mitra thus sees high chances of Modi becoming the next prime minister of India (“A suitable prime minister”, Jan 25). Mitra is correct in his analysis, since nothing succeeds like success. He has expressed his doubts about the “general acceptability” of Modi across the nation, especially in the east and the south after the supposed “aberration” in 2002. However, one is forced to admit that there is hardly any match for Modi in the run-up to the 2014 polls.
Modi has prevented Maoist inroads in a state with a considerable tribal population. He has also ushered in industrial renaissance in Gujarat . However, Mitra hints that if Modi becomes the prime minister of the country, he would have to be a puppet in the hands of the United States of America. This particular opinion undermines the voice of the electorate.
Indranil Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — India is in need of a leader who will champion development. The Congress seems to have lost its confidence in ruling the country. It has been pointed out by Ashok Mitra that Narendra Modi could make amends for the blemishes of 2002. Mitra has aptly stated that after Mahatma Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel, Modi can be called the “third son of Gujarat”. Modi is perhaps the only chief minister who has brought in all-round development. He has been instrumental in making resources available for progress, and has not blamed the Central government all the time. Among the faces in the fray for the post, he appears to be the fittest candidate.
Sumitra De, Calcutta
Sir — The fact that Ashok Mitra, in spite of being a leftist, has projected Narendra Modi as prime minister of India is a reflection of ground realities. Mitra has also pointed out that Modi “has performed in the December 2012 state poll about as well as the Congress in constituencies where the minority community predominates. Does this not suggest that, as far as Modi is concerned, Muslims themselves have made up their mind to forgive and forget; why should others therefore nurse any contrary feeling?” Mitra has correctly suggested that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate “must be someone the administration of the United States of America feels reasonably comfortable with”. After the fall of the erstwhile Soviet Union, it is clear that no nation can afford to ignore the US. One hopes that Modi, as India’s prime minister, will give the required boost to the economy.
Mihir Kanungo, Calcutta
In Kanwal Sibal’s article, “Friendly handshake” (Jan 29), information technology professionals were mistakenly referred to as income tax professionals. The error is regretted.
— The Editor