Sir — Reading is a deeply personal act. Although neat freaks might disagree, annotation — it involves leaving behind one’s observations about the book on the page margins using colourful ink and tags — provides a unique glimpse into the reader’s reception of the content. Annotations also help the reader better engage with the text. So much so that annotation has become a popular tool in the hands of book influencers — the flurry of social media posts depicting a warmly-lit page from classic literature annotated with copious amounts of notes is an instance. But these are cosmetic and employed to make the posts visually appealing. The labour that goes behind the act of scribbling error-free, neatly-written marginalia can often rob one of the pleasure derived from the act of reading.
Swagata Maity, Calcutta
Sir — On a day when the people of Rajasthan voted in the state assembly elections, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, decided to take a sortie in the Tejas combat aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bengaluru (“TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY: BANGALORE, NOVEMBER 25, 2023”, Nov 26). His decision to take a sortie came at a time when 41 construction workers had been trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in Uttarkashi for the past fortnight. This indicates his lack of empathy as well as his proclivity for hogging the limelight.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Uttarakhand. The least that Modi could have done was visit the disaster site and extend moral support to those engaged in the rescue operation as well as the family members of those trapped.
Tharcius S. Fernando, Chennai
Sir — Narendra Modi must be hailed for becoming the first prime minister to take a sortie in an Indian Air Force fighter jet. But the timing of his feat was wrong. On the very day that he flew on the Tejas aircraft, people in Bengaluru lined up on the road to pay their last respects to Captain M.V. Pranjal, who was killed in a militant encounter in Jammu and Kashmir last week. Modi’s penchant for photo shoots on such a sombre occasion reeked of insensitivity.
M. Zakir Hussain, Kazipet, Telangana
Sir — The prime minister taking a sortie in the indigenous Tejas fighter jet, clad in an olive green fighter pilot G-suit, was an arrogant display of his charisma. Modi wanted to show that he was capable of doing the most unusual of things.
The photographs from his adventurous feat made it appear like he was flying the aircraft. That the incident took place on the same day that Rajasthan went to the polls seems to be a well-calculated move to influence the voters.
Ananda Dulal Ghosh, Howrah
Sir — The juxtaposition of the two sets of photographs — one showing the prime minister’s heroic feat of flying the Tejas and the other depicting the funeral procession of the 29-year-old Captain M.V. Pranjal — taken in the same city and at the same time highlighted the contradiction of New India.
Further, Narendra Modi’s jubilant sentiment after the flight, evident in his comment, “A flight to remember”, contrasted with that of the family members of the slain soldier. His sense of timing was clearly off the mark.
Jahar Saha, Calcutta
Sir — Violent riots, looting and arson have engulfed Dublin after three schoolchildren and a woman were injured in a knife attack in the city, allegedly carried out by an illegal immigrant (“Rioters clash with police in Dublin”, Nov 25). The rioters have been blaming the liberal immigration policies of the Irish government for the attack. This has provided the far-Right the opportunity to call for anti-immigration norms to weed out ethnic and religious minorities.
Ireland is currently headed by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who is of Indian origin. The volatile domestic situation will result in Varadkar becoming the target of violent nationalists. However, people must realise that closing down borders is not the solution to terrorist acts. Worse, it could spell doom for global economic cooperation.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — The intimidation of its dissenters by the Bharatiya Janata Party government is one of the main reasons why the dispensation has been committing injustices with impunity. For all the chest-thumping by the BJP leaders about the prime minister’s 56-inch chest, Narendra Modi has been remarkably timid when it comes to conceding the truth about the Chinese incursions at the border (“The blind spot”, Nov 24). Anyone seeking clarity on the border infringement gets dubbed ‘anti-national’. This is disconcerting given that India is gradually losing its influence among its neighbours.
Anthony Henriques, Mumbai
Sir — Vir Das must be congratulated for winning the 2023 International Emmy award for comedy (“Spoonful of sugar”, Nov 26). Stand-up comedy has emerged as a popular career option. Viewers are spoilt for choice when it comes to watching comedy shows these days. In the past, comedy sets were limited to special occasions. The present-day comedy scene is marked by a lot of political satire which incurs the wrath of politicians.
Vinay Asawa, Howrah
Sir — Shawl is a must-have during Bengal winters. A Kashmiri shawlwallah riding a bicycle with the products in bundles was a common sight during this time of the year. They also came bearing gifts such as akhrot and pesta. This marked a wonderful confluence of he two cultures.
Sourish Misra, Calcutta