Sir — The rejection of the demand by the women’s football team of the United States of America for equal pay by a federal judge is unfortunate. But the case revealed another shocking fact. It was revealed that the women had opted for a pay structure which includes benefits — medical and dental insurance, paid childcare assistance, parental leave, guaranteed annual salary — that the men’s team does not have. This is ridiculous. Should not such basic benefits be extended to all athletes? The football federation should not only give women equal pay but also provide more security to the men’s team.
Sir — The characterization of India as a “country of particular concern” by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom was merited and not mendacious (“A lie”, May 4). The Indian government’s refutation does not falsify this unpalatable truth.
In India, the anti-Muslim sentiment has grown so strong that it has tainted the fabric of society even during the pandemic, undermining the cohesive power of shared suffering as much as that of secularism. Like the coronavirus, the virus of religious hatred must also be contained. This issue must therefore be talked about even as Covid-19 takes a toll on the world.
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation that preceded the lockdown — although it should have been avoided — was used to vilify the entire Muslim community. The alleged segregation of Covid-19 patients by religion in hospital wards in Ahmedabad, the reported admission of Muslims on the condition of testing negative for Covid-19 in a Meerut hospital, calls to boycott Muslim vendors, and worse, spreading the canard that Muslims are spitting with the intent of infecting others showed a disease of another kind at work. The catalogue of religious discrimination included a vain attempt to insinuate a communal angle to the Palghar incident. Even the prime minister’s post, saying that the coronavirus does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking, in the wake of concerns expressed over incidents of Islamophobia in India — although welcome — was valuable only as a belatedly-delivered consolation. The acknowledgement of and stricture against the stigmatization of Muslims by the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mohan Bhagwat, should, however, help bridge this social divide.
Toxic television channels conveniently omitted heart-warming stories of religious amity like that of recovered Muslim patients in Delhi donating blood for convalescent plasma therapy and of Muslim neighbours carrying a Hindu woman’s body to her funeral site in the absence of her relatives. In these cases, Muslims did only what all normal people should do everywhere and all the time. After all, before being identified by religion, we are all human beings first.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Sir — India has rejected the observations of USCIRF that point to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s use of its strengthened parliamentary majority after its re-election to institute national-level policies violating religious freedom across the country, especially for Muslims. The government has termed them “biased and tendentious”. However, it is imprudent to ignore outright the home truth from the US, since the record of the current dispensation on religious freedom as is evident from the events of the past one year alone is deeply disconcerting. Incidents of religious violence, incitement and the wrecking of the rule of law in several parts of the country are unsettling.
The partisan nature of the ruling dispensation is also difficult to wish away. The government is still in no mood to review the much-condemned legislations regarding the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, even though these could redefine the world’s largest democracy as a Hindu nation and chip away at independent India’s foundational principle of secularism. Even during the fight against Covid-19, Muslims have been targeted by fanatics to promote hatred with impunity. What should worry the authorities is the question whether the US’s classification of India as a country of particular concern brings about punitive action in the form of sanctions.