'Manto' is a film that mirrors our reality
Sir — The film Manto leaves an indelible mark on the cinegoers’s minds. Besides Saadat Hasan Manto’s literary genius, the biopic also sheds light on the scars of Partition which, for many, are still fresh. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has done a commendable job of depicting the tumultuous state of Manto’s mind in the aftermath of Partition. The film should also be released in Pakistan. People on both sides of the border would relate to it equally. Art, more often than not, mirrors reality. This biopic is no different. It reflects the present situation in India — where freedom is taken for granted and religious bigotry glorified — perfectly.
Sir — The article, “Primary lessons” (Sept 21), by Anup Sinha puts forth a plausible argument. The content of textbooks used to impart knowledge to children in school is the key to shaping their young minds. It is important to understand that the history or geography being taught in schools was formulated and written by people with specific agenda. And this attempt to indoctrinate began long before the British colonizers and continues to this day. Such prejudices should be wiped out from the curricula followed across the country. Only then can students in present-day India grow up to be enlightened and global citizens.
Sir — The article by Anup Sinha got me thinking; besides alphabets and numbers, nursery rhymes are among the first things that children learn. Sinha focuses on the ways in which the State uses school curriculum to indoctrinate children. But what about patriarchy’s clever way of slipping ideas into their minds?
Polly puts the kettle on — who else would lend a helping hand to mother? — and the old woman who lives in a shoe has so many children that she does not know what to do. On the other hand, the bachelor who hogged all the bread and cheese he could lay his hands on when he lived alone has to go and get a wife when his home is invaded by rats and mice. And while little Miss Muffet has to do the proper thing by sitting on a tuffet and forcing down curds and whey, Johnny can gobble down sugar and then get away with lying to his father.
The list of instances where the rhymes present a man’s world view would be endless. The distinction between what girls can do and what boys can do that is made in these rhymes lays the ground for biases formed later in life.
Sir — It was both worrying and enlightening to read the article, “Primary lessons”. History is perceived to be the arena where facts are frequently twisted to suit the purposes of the dispensation in power. The fact that the choice of literary texts or scientific theories is not free from an indoctrinating agenda makes one afraid for the future.
Sir — The real motive behind running the NaMo application, which was launched with the aim of connecting citizens with the prime minister, has finally been exposed. The app will now have merchandize that seek to monetize Narendra Modi’s popularity. It has been said that the money raised from selling items like pens and t-shirts will go towards cleaning the Ganga. But what about the huge sum of money in the existing fund to clean the Ganga that lay unused until last year or the cash influx provided by the World Bank?
The general elections are drawing near and it is evident to everyone that the Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to mobilize funds for its signature mammoth election campaign. And what better way to increase the party fund than to cash in the popularity of the strongman who has been pulling wool over the eyes of common people?
There is also an added benefit. So far, the NaMo app was collecting data and device information of its users. Now it will have access to debit/credit card or net banking details of those who make online purchases. It is not difficult to join the dots and make out the sinister pattern that is beginning to form. One only hopes four and a half years have been enough to make people aware of the BJP’s real motives.
Sir — Since August 16, the prices of petrol and diesel have been on the rise. This month, petrol is being sold in Patna at over Rs 91 while diesel is just a few paise away from touching Rs 80. These are the highest prices ever recorded in the city. People are suffering because the surge in fuel prices has been accompanied by a rise in prices of food. The Centre is adamant about not reducing excise duty. It has also suggested that states should reduce the value added tax on fuel to provide relief .
With the governments of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and, most recently, Karnataka announcing tax-cuts, there is a lot of pressure on Bihar to reduce taxes. Yet, the deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, who missed no opportunity to accuse the United Progressive Alliance government of failing to check rising fuel prices, remained silent on the issue. The Bihar government should consider providing relief to commuters.
Sandeep Kumar Singh,
Friends, not foes
Sir — Man’s best friend gets very little in the way of reward for its loyalty. Even though Article 51A(g) of the Constitution says that it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to “protect... and... have compassion for living creatures,” few adhere to it. The most obvious example of this is the way in which stray dogs are treated. Across the globe, millions of dogs are killed inhumanely every year. Civic authorities and common people alike resort to methods like beating, poisoning, electrocution, shooting and so on, to get rid of strays.
India is home to about 30 million stray dogs. They are widely seen as a menace and indiscriminately culled. This is the state in spite of legal interventions. A little sympathy or love can go a long way with these creatures. They are the best form of security that any locality can hope to have. Feeding strays even one stale chapati a day will earn a lifetime of loyalty. Strays that are not scared of humans are also far less likely to attack or bite.
Sir — An uproar followed the death of a woman on the fringes of the Satkosia tiger reserve, with villagers alleging that she was killed by the tigress, Sundari, who was released in Satkosia after being brought to the state from Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. The villagers have been demanding the relocation of the tigress. They allege it is a man-eater.
However, the issue has turned contentious. The post-mortem report is yet to confirm whether the death was caused by a tiger. Experts from the Wildlife Institute of India have given a clean chit to Sundari who was relocated to boost Satkosia’s tiger population. Instead of relocating the tigress, experts suggest that efforts should be made to shift those inhabiting the core area of the sanctuary. Increasing Satkosia’s big cat population cannot be achieved without freeing its core area from human interference. In fact, similar efforts are on in Simlipal, one of the biggest tiger reserves in Odisha.
One hopes that good sense would prevail and that people living in and around the sanctuary see reason and agree to cooperate with the authorities.
Sir — A two-year-old Royal Bengal tigress, which was translocated from Madhya Pradesh to Satkosia, has allegedly killed a woman. The episode has raised serious questions about tiger conservation. Wildlife protection is undoubtedly of paramount importance. But it cannot be done at the cost of precious lives. The government must introspect on the animal conservation programme.
Sir — The recent controversy over the relocation of a tiger in the Satkosia tiger reserve appears to be the handiwork of the timber and wildlife mafia. It is being alleged that one woman has been killed by the tigress. But the postmortem report is yet to confirm its involvement in the killing. The protest and the subsequent torching of a forest beat house show that the mafia may be involved in the matter. Satkosia had lost almost all its tigers in the last few years upon which the state government decided to relocate two tigers from Madhya Pradesh.
The government must not bow to the demands of the locals. It should remove those who stay in the core area of the tiger reserve instead.
Sir — While the poor outreach programme by the officials of the Satkosia sanctuary can be blamed for the people’s opposition, it is also true that the re-introduction of tigers poses a big obstacle to free access of villagers to the forests. While security forces continue to comb the area, Maoists are certainly not in favour of tigers. This was made evident through posters in several parts of Satkosia opposing the tiger re-introduction project. The state government needs to take a strong stand on the matter.
Sir — Sundari should not be shifted out of Satkosia because of an isolated incident. She has not been implicated in any form of violence.
Sir — Vandalism and, consequently, loss of property are common during bandhs in Bihar. The month of September witnessed two such occasions. One was the bandh called by upper-caste groups demanding reservation and the other was called by the Congress and other Opposition parties against rising fuel prices. The strikes disrupted normal life in the state. Supporters of the bandh caused significant damage to public and private property. Skirmishes also took part between bandh supporters and common people.
The government is responsible for maintaining law and order. It should urgently formulate a law prohibiting bandhs. The extent of violence and vandalism during bandhs is unacceptable in a civilized society. Even the police remain silent spectators, doing nothing to prevent vandals from blocking roads or stopping ambulances, culminating in the death of ailing people. Miscreants beat up citizens with impunity. No action is initiated against them by law-enforcement agencies.
Sir — Bihar witnessed vandalism and violence during the Bharat bandh against the hike in fuel prices. Vehicles of doctors were damaged and patients roughed up on their way to the Patna Medical College and Hospital. Roadside stalls and vending carts were also vandalized. One may support the reason behind the bandh called by the Opposition, but vandalism cannot be justified.
A two-year-old died in Jehanabad because she could not be taken to hospital on time. The bandh’s supporters should have arranged for a vehicle on humane grounds. Passengers also got stranded on trains midway through their journey. Political parties get away with violence during strikes. Bandhs should be used selectively as a political tool. Instead of forcing a strike with the help of lathi-wielding cadre, political parties should let citizens decide whether or not to observe a bandh. The government must identify and take action against the miscreants who were involved in the vandalism.
Sir — The statements issued by political leaders against the anti-encroachment drive in the city are amusing and shocking. Some of them have even threatened to launch agitations against it. One leader reportedly stated that he would oppose the construction of a smart city at the cost of the poor. Perhaps he would prefer to live in a city where roads have been encroached upon and traffic congestion is a perpetual problem. The anti-encroachment drive is being carried out by the district administration under the directives of the Patna High Court. There is a case for initiating contempt proceedings against the politicians.
Politicians allow slums to come up to strengthen vote banks. The administration turns a blind eye to encroachments until it is forced to act by the court. The state government announced that it would create vending zones for hawkers but nothing has been done yet. Encroachments cause traffic snarls and are a source of income for the police. The government should draw up remedial plans.
Sir — It was both worrying and enlightening to read the article, “Primary lessons” (Sept 21). History is perceived to be the arena where facts are frequently twisted to suit the purposes of the dispensation in power. The fact that the choice of literary texts or scientific theories is not free from an indoctrinating agenda makes one afraid for the future.