Monday, 30th October 2017

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Celebrating contemporary sport icons

The Indian government should take a leaf out of Switzerland’s book

  • Published 6.12.19, 2:46 AM
  • Updated 6.12.19, 2:46 AM
  • 3 mins read
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Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer in Quito, Ecuador, on November 24. Switzerland will be minting a commemorative coin to honour him (AP photo)

Sir — Switzerland will be minting a commemorative coin to honour the tennis legend, Roger Federer. This is the first time that such a distinction is being bestowed upon a living person. The imprints of contemporary icons on currency are bound to resonate more with the youth than those of luminaries from older times. Since sport is followed by a massive segment of Indians, the government should take a leaf out of Swissmint’s book. Celebrating contemporary sport icons who have worked especially hard to make a name for themselves — Hima Das and Deepika Kumari, for instance — could be particularly inspiring for our youth.

Yashika Sharma

New Delhi

Rahul Bajaj: stand tall
Rahul Bajaj: stand tall (File photo)

Bold stand

Sir — The whole country must have been astonished when Rahul Bajaj, the grandson of the industrialist and freedom fighter, Jamnalal Bajaj, spoke out about the atmosphere of fear pervading the country at a recent awards ceremony (“Fear factor”, Dec 5). He stated that during the tenure of the second United Progressive Alliance government, one could openly criticize anyone in power, but it is difficult to be sure whether similar criticism would be appreciated by the present dispensation at the Centre.

Bajaj’s boldness should not come as a surprise. His son, Rajiv, had trashed the idea of demonetization within a few months of its execution when the rest of the industrial world accepted it in nervous silence. Yet Bajaj should be applauded for his courage to bring up the issue in front of a number of senior ministers, including the Union home minister, Amit Shah. After all, few can claim to be living with a mind without fear and the head held high.

Besides the ambience of fear, Bajaj expressed his concern about the absence of effective action against lynchings and Pragya Singh Thakur’s alleged remark in Parliament praising Nathuram Godse. Although Amit Shah, in his response, tried to clear the government of the allegations, it is a shame that an industrialist of Bajaj’s stature had to hesitate so much while making his point. It should be evident that the nation is suffering at the hands of people who hardly understand economics, with the gross domestic product falling and unemployment on the rise. The only solace for ordinary citizens is that the influence of the rhetoric of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on alliance partners and voters seems to be diminishing somewhat.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee

Faridabad

Sir — Veterans in any field should sound warning bells on any worrisome development, be it political, social or administrative. Rahul Bajaj has come out against the current political dispensation on all three grounds. The government, however, reacted to his sharp observations with unusual sobriety. Perhaps this is a result of the recent electoral setbacks for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP has abandoned the development plank that had launched it to power in 2014 in favour of polarizing the electorate along communal lines to get votes. With no concern about the economy, demonetization seems to be have been implemented with the singular intention of robbing the Opposition of its campaign funds right before the elections in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP won the state, of course, but has been misleading the economy ever since. The nation is now paying a heavy price.

To cover up the miserable state of the economy, the BJP had no qualms about using diversions such as the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, leveraging social divides, keeping opponents besieged by Central agencies and, all the while, managing to spin an idea that all is well simply by juggling data. Worse, it continues to blame the Opposition for each of its own failures. The GDP is at a six-year low, private investment is negligible, and unemployment at its peak. One must just admit that the BJP never had the acumen or bench strength in economics. Now, in Maharashtra, it has been outsmarted even in political manipulation.

R. Narayanan

Navi Mumbai

Sir — Rahul Bajaj hit the nail on the head when he stated that the industries are afraid of criticizing the government and its policies. This is not the first time that such a sentiment has been expressed. Former chief economic advisers as well as a former vice-chairman of the Niti Aayog had criticized the government, but only after having tendered their resignations. At the awards event, Bajaj spoke at length about the issues on which he differs with the government. Although the home minister gave the assurance that criticism will be tested on merit, only time will tell how true his response turns out to be.

Rahul Chouhan

Ujjain

Sir — It is heartening that when most of India Inc preferred to remain silent on government policies, scared of speaking up against the ruling dispensation for all its wrong moves that have culminated in the present economic slowdown, Rahul Bajaj has boldly voiced his dissent. It is all the more laudable that he did so in the presence of senior Union ministers like Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal.

Bajaj’s note of dissent may bring up many other issues such as mounting unemployment, the Kashmir imbroglio and agricultural distress. Bajaj has come forward to bell the cat and one only hopes that other industrialists will follow suit in the interest of the nation.

Tharcius S. Fernando

Chennai