Andre Russell: man on fire
Sir — The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League is underway. It appears that bowlers of nearly every team are finding it impossible to contain Andre Russell of the Kolkata Knight Riders. The Jamaican cricketer is clobbering bowlers, including those who are the best in the business, sending the ball to the stands quite often. Russell’s brutal knock of 48 off 13 deliveries against the Royal Challengers Bangalore was one example of his disdain for bowlers.
The innings came at a time when KKR needed 66 runs from four overs. It was an incredible feat.
The magic of Russell’s batting style lies in its simplicity. He bats deep inside the crease to get leverage on good length deliveries and yorkers. There are no wild slogs, as Russell watches every delivery right till the end. Cricketer lovers raved about Sachin Tendulkar’s technique; Russell is no less competent.
Sir — Attendance is taken seriously in educational institutions. But rules are evidently different for parliamentarians. The attendance record of a member of parliament from Bengal’s ruling party — he is a star in every sense of the term — was a dismal 11 per cent during the term of the 16th Lok Sabha. It is entirely possible that some other members of the Trinamul Congress’s star brigade, if they were to win the elections, would be inspired by the example set by their colleague who has, inexplicably, been renominated by the party. Playing truant from the House does have its benefits these days.
Sir — Sunanda K. Datta-Ray must be thanked for his incisive article, “Safe ground” (April 6), in which he analysed the chasm that separates the ideology of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the ideals integral to India’s democratic polity. The BJP seems to be projecting Narendra Modi as its supreme leader, having removed such members of the old guard as Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others.
Modi has failed to honour the electoral promises that he made in 2014. Some of the economic decisions taken by Modi — demonetization is one example — crippled agriculture and small industries and led to huge job losses. The hurried implementation of the goods and services tax adversely affected traders. The BJP thought that it has an economic alternative to the Congress’s endorsement of the principles of Fabian socialism. But that does not seem to be the case now.
Given the situation, the BJP needs the help of rabble-rousers to sell its dreams. Hindutva and nationalism, even though they go against Constitutional principles, seem to appeal to the people.
The outcome of the forthcoming election, Mr Datta-Ray concludes correctly, will seal the fate of Indian democracy.
Sir — Sunanda K. Datta-Ray has prophesied that India’s fall into barbarism will continue even under a BJP with depleted electoral strength. The party will milk its trump card of polarization that led to a dramatic rise in its electoral fortunes within the span of a few years. The manifestations of this communal agenda include the vigilantism of gau goondas, infringement on individual dietary choices, the vilification of dissenters as ‘anti-national’ and so on. The nation has descended into barbarism so alarmingly that a bust of Lal Bahadur Shastri was ‘purified’ in Uttar Pradesh because it had been garlanded by Priyanka Gandhi. Such acts are being applauded by a significant section of the population, helping hate-mongers gain legitimacy.
Parties in the Opposition are being forced to put out their ‘Hindu’ credentials. Be it the Congress or the Trinamul Congress, the BJP’s adversaries are busy proclaiming their Hindu lineage. Little wonder then that Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated with much fan fare in Bengal these days. Religion, not jobs or education, seems to be dominating India’s political discourse.
Bengal is a part of India and is thus not immune to the contagion of communalism that has afflicted the rest of the country, even though Hindutva goes against the philosophical tenets of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Vivekananda. Communalism is set for a long innings in India and Bengal, making a mockery of their secular ethos.
Change the law
Sir — Seminars and meetings are held quite often in Calcutta, in order to discuss ways of restoring old buildings in the city. But landlords would be forced to sell properties with intricate architecture unless the obsolete Rent Control Act is scrapped. The legislation states that a fair increase of rent can only be around 10 per cent of the existing rent paid by the tenants. Legal disputes also drag on for years, enabling lawyers to mint money at the expense of litigants.
The government must ensure that property owners receive rent in accordance with existing market rates. Otherwise, it becomes impossible for landlords to maintain old buildings. These then have to be pulled down. In the absence of such legal reform, Calcutta will lose its precious old structures to the promoter raj.