Sir — The book publishing and reading ecosystem in India has undergone a sea change in the last decade. Earlier, aspiring writers would have to navigate strict review mechanisms by established publishers, but these days getting a book out has become astoundingly easy. There are numerous self-publishing companies and if that route is deemed to be a financial risk, one can always release an ebook on Amazon. Readers, too, are relying less on reviews by traditional media outlets and turning to influencers for recommendations which may not always reflect an honest opinion. Dreams of fame and fortune by both publishers and writers have weakened Indian publishing standards. Readers must not rely solely on personal networks to gauge the merit of a book.
Preetha Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir — The murder of two women allegedly for a witchcraft ritual by a couple and their accomplice at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta, Kerala, is shocking (“Human sacrifice in Kerala for ‘prosperity’”, Oct 12). The initial police investigation has revealed that the ritualistic human sacrifices were done to increase the dwindling fortunes of the couple. It is baffling that such an incident rooted in superstition could occur in the most literate state in the country. This goes to show that regressive beliefs continue to hold sway over sections of society in spite of strides in education. The authorities must ensure that the culprits are brought to book. Furthermore, the government should consider this as a wake-up call and work towards developing a robust scientific temper amongst the masses.
M. Jeyaram, Sholavandan, Tamil Nadu
Sir — Human sacrifices in Kerala expose the shameful state of education in India. The authorities must act swiftly and ensure that the perpetrators answer for their crimes.
Sravana Ramachandran, Chennai
Sir — Reading about incidents of ritualistic human sacrifice compels one to wonder how such practices can continue to exist in the 21st century. It is even more appalling that the deaths occurred in Kerala, which has the highest literacy rate in India at 96.2 per cent. Police forces across India must keep an eye out for similar crimes.
Sanjit Ghatak, Calcutta
Sir — A court in Uttar Pradesh has convicted 12 people in a case related to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. The Bharatiya Janata Party member of the legislative assembly, Vikram Saini, is among those convicted. Saini and 10 others have been sentenced to two years in prison, while another accused has been given one-year imprisonment in the case. The convicted have been found guilty under charges relating to rioting, rioting with deadly weapons, endangering lives, assault, and criminal intimidation. It must be noted that all of them have been admitted to bail.
Over 60 people had been killed and 60,000 displaced during the Muzaffarnagar riots. But none has been convicted of murder in this judgment. Law enforcement agencies must continue to investigate the deaths of these people and ensure justice to the victims and their families.
Bhagwan Thadani, Mumbai
Winds of change
Sir — The large-scale protests that have rocked Iran since the death of 22-yearold Mahsa Amini in police custody after she was beaten severely by the morality police for improperly wearing the hijab show no signs of slowing down. Over the last three weeks or so, more than 130 people have lost their lives but the demonstrations against the conservative Islamic government have only intensified. Women, especially, have taken to the streets and are bravely facing the crackdown.
Many are hopeful that the 2022 protests could free the country from the grip of religious fundamentalism and usher in change. Earlier this week, workers from the Abadan and Kangan oil refineries and the Bushehr Petrochemical Project in Asaluyeh went on strike. Traders, shopkeepers, students, lawyers and homemakers have all come together to fight for a different future. Perhaps, like the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this is another defining moment in Iranian history.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — Recently, the Chinese envoy in Dhaka sent a tactical message to the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, proposing a multipurpose Teesta river management project with Beijing instead of relying on India to finalise a water-sharing deal. This is alarming. The Teesta project has geostrategic implications for both India and Bangladesh. The Indian government must not drag its feet on this matter.
Murtaza Ahmad, Calcutta
Sir — Awareness about mental health issues and access to treatment continue to be poor in India. A large number of Indians suffer from depression, anxiety and other diagnosable mental health concerns. However, stigma and lack of resources prevent them from seeking help.
Kiran Agarwal, Calcutta
Sir — Amitabh Bachchan, arguably the biggest superstar in the history of Indian cinema, turned 80 recently. He found fame as the angry, young man in Zanjeer in 1973,replacing stars like Dilip Kumar and Rajesh Khanna who set the templates for tragedy and romance in Bollywood. But unlike many of his contemporaries, Bachchan reinvented himself throughout his 50-yearlong career and ensured his continued relevance in an otherwise fickle industry.
Subhayu Saha, Murshidabad