As indifferent as thou
Sir — The question that Mamata Banerjee needed to ask herself in her guest column, “Blackout after body blow” (Sept 11), is not whether “she” would have “done any better” as the railway minister, but whether Indian Railways would have done any better had she been in Nitish Kumar’s seat. But probably Banerjee knew the answer to that question — no. The reason why trains in India tumble down bridges with an alarming regularity is because politicos like Banerjee or Kumar never bother to think about actually making a difference to the services they head when they are trying to push each other from their gaddis. To refresh Banerjee’s memory. Did she not say, much in the same vein as Kumar, when a train rammed into another at Sarai Banjara in December 2000, that she suspected sabotage although rail officials pleaded metal fatigue' If she is more sensitive than Kumar, why was she criticized for taking 22 hours to visit the accident site that December'
J. Sen, Calcutta
Sir — For obvious reasons, a Jewish American friend has quite often tried to attract my attention to the use (or misuse) of the swastika in India. I have always tried to convince him that this symbol, unlike in Nazi Germany, stood for peace in India. However, the editorial, “Hindu Swastika” (Sept 7), points to the dangerous misuse of the symbol by some powerful zealots in the country. This section is all set to strangle people’s freedom of choice and cause immense damage to the democratic fabric of the nation. The most frightful trend is the nurturing of fascist elements by this group. The other dangerous trend is the weakening of the federal structure of government. This, in the long run, could prove damaging to India’s future. Given its widespread poverty and illiteracy, India cannot afford another holocaust like Gujarat at this juncture. Let us draw our lessons from history. Fascists and Nazis do not wither away automatically. Society has to deny them their existence.
Mandira Sanyal, Canberra
Sir — The editorial, “Hindu Swastika”, has shaken my beliefs. The Gujarat carnage was unbearable anyway, and now, instead of applying a balm that will heal the wounds of the victims, the Ashok Singhals, Narendra Modis and their sangh parivar brethren go about justifying their actions and repeating their war cries.
Kashmira, via email
Sir — It is regrettable that no attempt is being made to understand the feelings of Hindus, both in India and abroad. It is true that India is a pluralistic society, but so are most other nations. Unfortunately, it seems as if India alone has an obligation to live up to its pluralism. In the decades since independence, there have been alarming changes in the demographic pattern of India, particularly in the border areas. This has had far-reaching implications for our national security. But if we persevere with our current approach to this problem, we will probably be handing over to our progeny a moth-eaten country with several Kashmirs.
Given their inability to articulate their feelings, Hindus are a persecuted community today — be it in Afghanis-tan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh or Indonesia. Even in India, much of the violence in Kashmir, the Northeast as also in “peaceful” states like Goa, Kerala and Mizoram, is directed against Hindus.
It is unfortunate that, disregarding the letter and spirit of the Constitution, secularism is still used as a handle to placate minorities. Many state governments have full-fledged departments for the welfare of minorities. Government funds and machinery are used in the construction and maintenance of religious institutions for the minorities. The amount of patronage that Urdu or English receives is much more than that granted to regional languages like Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Nepali or Sanskrit. Hindus are against discrimination, but not against secularism or pluralism.
Sunita Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — First the English language press was said to be biased against Narendra Modi. Then came the National Human Rights Commission report, which was alleged to be safeguarding the interests of minorities in Gujarat. Then came J.M. Lyngdoh and his Election Commission and they were immediately declared to have a natural bias against Modi’s Gujarat. Finally, there was the Supreme Court’s interim order. Modi has not passed any adverse comment on it, partly because of his party’s censure and partly for fear of contempt of court. But he has kept on saying that he has the backing of the majority community. Adolf Hitler also had the support of the German majority. What happened to him is a bit of history which Modi seems to have neglected in school.
Abdaal Akhtar, Bhubaneswar
Get your facts right
Sir — The trend these days seems to be that if nothing works, then one can easily resort to the “nationality” factor. That is precisely what Shashilal Nair, director of the controversial film, Ek Chhotisi Love Story, has done by claiming himself to be a “son of the soil” and alleging that Manisha Koirala is a “foreign national” (“Manisha ‘nationality’ card to woo Sena”, Sept 10). As Koirala points out, a woman’s dignity is in peril here and hence the issue of the actress’s nationality is irrelevant. Perhaps Nair has not noticed that the Gorkha Regiment of the Indian army also consists of Nepalis, who, by Nair’s logic, cannot be said to be Indians.
Purnima Vasudeva, Calcutta
Sir — As a nation, we make a mockery of our judiciary (“Love Story rivals at Thackeray court”, Sept 11). When the matter is being decided in court, why should the parties take it to the Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray' Besides, who is he' Is Thackeray the law in Mumbai'
Bijor Ranjan Dey, Tinsukia
Sir — Manisha Koirala is part of an industry for which obscenity, foul language, double entendres are par for the course. Why then complain and make it a political issue involving the Shiv Sena'
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
Sir — The entire film, Ek Chhotisi Love Story”, is lifted from Krzysztof Kieslowski’s well-known film, A Short Film About Love. Why call it an original work, Shashilal Nair'
Asit M. Kaushik, Calcutta