Sir — The editorial, “A monk and his message” (Jan 13), was a remarkable study of Swami Vivekananda’s life. It rightly questioned the ethic of the common man in today’s society, which is plagued by scams, brutal rapes and all sorts of inhuman activities. In his short life, Vivekananda tried his best to fight casteism, bigotry, religious fanaticism, illiteracy, superstition and other social evils. He set up an institution in Belur Math, in the memory of his guru, Ramakrishna. Vivekananda will always be remembered as one of the makers of modern India. Today’s youth should imbibe his ideals of honesty, non-violence and religious tolerance.
Dilip Kumar Kar, Jalpaiguri
Sir — Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary was observed with the usual fare of colourful processions, tableaux, rallies, and meetings graced by VIPs. Huge amounts of money must have been squandered for organizing such events. In the midst of such enthusiasm, people forgot that Vivekananda was a selfless sanyasi who taught us that service to mankind is service to god. He told the educated people of the country, “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance I hold every man a traitor, who having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.” The celebrations that took place everywhere are not consistent with the teachings of the man who believed in the ideals of renunciation. In keeping with Vivekananda’s teachings, the authorities should have laid the foundation of projects involving the construction of schools, health centres and orphanages for destitutes.
Sir — The 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was celebrated in different parts of the country recently. Those who celebrated this event in a modest manner are perhaps his only ardent followers. But one wonders about the ‘idealogies’ of the politicians of our country who used this occasion to gain some political mileage. The chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, reportedly organized a rathayatra named after the monk. He travelled in an air-conditioned vehicle to spread the teachings of Vivekananda. He forgot that the monk himself had travelled on foot all over the country, even in adverse conditions.
The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has not fallen far behind Modi in this regard. She organized the World Youth Festival in the Salt Lake stadium, where Tollywood artists performed. The chief minister also utilized the occasion to mend the rift in the relationship between the governor and the administration over the Bhangar incident. All those who were present at the ceremony repeated the oath read out by the chief minister that, incidentally, included the Trinamul Congress’s famous slogan, “Ma, mati, manush”. In this show of extravagance, the downtrodden and ill-treated millions for whom Vivekananda had dedicated his life were clearly forgotten. Instead of spending money on such lavish celebrations, the administration could have built a few shelters for the homeless.
S.B. Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The public outrage against the brutal molestation of the 23-year-old medical student in Delhi highlights the common man’s “exasperation with an old order”(“A dignified resurgence”, Jan 4). But the prime minister, the Congress president and the heir-apparent, Rahul Gandhi, did not respond to these agitations the way they should have — which clearly indicates the insensitivity of the present regime. It is true that the intensity of the protests might diminish with the passage of time, as happened to the anti-corruption crusade that was once spiritedly launched by Anna Hazare. However, the outpouring of anger is sure to have its impact on the Lok Sabha elections, which is merely a year away.
One hopes that such demonstrations by common people will continue and the collective anger against crimes on women will become a catalyst for positive change.
P.B. Saha, Calcutta
Sir — Swapan Dasgupta has traced the influence of the “spirited anti-corruption crusade by Anna Hazare” in the recent protests in Delhi. He has rightly blamed the “shoddy governance” for not recognizing the magnitude of public anger.
The response of our political fraternity in this case left a lot to be desired. The leaders did not pay due heed to the mass protests. Moreover, they often cast aspersions on the victim’s character, thereby hampering the course of the investigation.
I.N. Banerjee, Calcutta