Sir — It was murder most foul when Swapna Sapra drove her scissors into her husband in a fit of rage (“Murder she prescribed”, July 20), yet one cannot miss out the social angle of this sordid tale of a “divorced” woman killing a “thrice-married” man. It was apparently her decision to “stick it out” with her abusive husband that had led to the calamitous night in a Chandigarh five-star hotel. “People say that a woman is at fault if she goes in for a second divorce”, is how a policeman tried to explain Swapna’s mental turmoil. Dr Swapna Sapra, a successful dentist, moving freely in the elite Delhi circles, was also a victim of the same social attitude that castigates a woman for everything that goes wrong with a marriage. It doesn’t matter if the woman feels outraged by her husband’s alcoholism or his extra-marital dalliances. So Swapna, apart from bearing the burden of her crime, has also to take the blame for her failed marriage and the doomed future of her 12-year old son.
K. Chatterjee, Calcutta
All for the family
Sir — As the editorial, “Pseudo saffron” (July 15), rightly surmises, it is not surprising that the deputy prime minister has refused to abide by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s demand that there be legislation in support of the Ram temple. To understand L.K. Advani’s reason, one obviously has to read in between the lines. Advani’s denial of the feasibility of a law on temple construction in Ayodhya should not be interpreted as his refusal to bow down to the pressure tactics of the Hindutva fanatics. On the contrary, it should be seen as his discreet message to the Hindutva brigade so that it appreciates the difficulties of a minority government in passing useful legislation. Which in other words mean that the lotus brigade next time has to ensure that its party is returned with a majority at the hustings to enable it to legislate on matters that are in the interests of the saffron parivar.
The distance between the Bharatiya Janata Party and its more militant ideological cousins is not growing, as perceived. The units of the sangh family are drawing closer to face the general elections, Narendra Modi-style.
Mrinmoy Goswami, Nagaon, Assam
Sir — L.K. Advani has displayed the maturity that is characteristic of a leader of his stature by telling the sangh parivar in no uncertain terms that “any narrow appeal of Hindutva” was unacceptable to the National Democratic Alliance government. He is also reported to have advised the parivar to mould Hindu ideology in keeping with the changing times.
Hinduism, which has been all-embracing and has been more spiritual than religious, has been subjected to an unprecedented narrowness recently and this has triggered off an unholy mixture of politics and religion. The Hindu religion itself has been pragmatic in its conception. Remember, the Hindu scriptures have both shruti and smriti components. While the first, consisting mainly of the Vedas and the Upanishad, are revelatory in nature and contain truths which are supposed to be immutable and permanent, the smriti have always been subject to alterations in keeping with the times. The rigidity that the sangh parivar prescribes for the religion is totally alien to Hinduism.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy,Madison, US
Sir — The deputy prime minister, L.K. Advani, might have coined the word “pseudo-secularist” to define those who appeased the minorities, yet there seems to be nothing more pseudo than the BJP’s devotion to Ram. The party’s line and commitment to the Ayodhya question has varied depending on exigencies. If Advani now refuses to toe the line of the sangh parivar, it is because it suits the party. Looked at in another way, it seems to be a positive sign that the party has at last realized that Hindutva could not be the only driving force in coalition politics, and that there are more complexities in domestic politics that needed to be heard with as much attention as Ram. The harsh realities have brought the BJP to endless confrontations with its footsoldiers in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. But the party knows that machismo alone cannot bring it votes. Hence the compromise.
Niloy Sinha, Azimganj,
Sir — It is a bit too early to comment on the “fading face of saffron”. With the general elections round the corner, L.K. Advani could not afford to let saffron fade. If Advani has declared that it would be impossible to bring a legislation to facilitate the building of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, it is in acknowledgement of the practical difficulties of coalition politics. It is also to keep together the coalition partners with the BJP till the next elections. And anyway, with seers like the Kanchi sankaracharya at its disposition why would the sangh parivar need a legislation to have the Ram temple built'
Jayanta Haldar, Calcutta
Sir — The conditional access system, scheduled to be operative from September 1, is unsuitable for a poor country like India. For one, a metropolis cannot be broken up into the watertight divisions that is necessary for the system. Two, though the government has decided to keep the rates low at Rs 200 per subscription, viewers will have to pay the Rs 72 as basic tier fee and taxes (“STAR saas sop after circular sting”, July 20). Instead of introducing a confusing system like CAS, multi-system operators could be vested with powers to check at random the number of viewers of a local cable operator. The foreign-made set-top boxes are still expensive. The prime minister should probably scrap the CAS totally.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir— If under CAS, one is given the liberty to choose channels why is the viewer being offered so many unwanted channels at a cost of Rs 72 along with extra taxes' In India, several generations live under the same roof, each having their own choice of programmes. Families such as these will end up paying a high cost for their connections in the end as the number of channels preferred will automatically go up.
Santosh Singh, Patna