Curious case: Facebook in yet another controversy
Sir — Facebook is embroiled in yet another controversy. The Federal State Commission and over 40 states in the United States of America have accused the social media service company of trying to establish its monopoly by buying up its rivals illegally. Breaking the law in order to secure market dominance is detrimental to healthy competition. But it is difficult to nail an organization as big as Facebook since it is likely to use its financial power to hinder the investigation. The US, however, has a history of successfully punishing errant companies by breaking them up. One must wait and watch how this case turns out.
Sir — Sankarshan Thakur must be congratulated for speaking the hard truth in his article, “Out of step” (Dec 3). It is true that the series of brutalities in Kashmir, the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens, laws against the so-called ‘love jihad’, among others, are not merely imposed on Indians by the government; rather it is Indians themselves who have voted and re-elected this regime, with its goal of exercising majoritarianism, to power. In fact, a large section of the Indian electorate seems to welcome this show of muscle power, ensuring overwhelming support for the ideological group which has a history of inciting violence — the riots following the rath yatra and the demolition of the Babri masjid are examples.
Instead of raising questions about why the government was engaged in the ‘Namaste Trump’ event, the NRC-CAA row and the toppling of Madhya Pradesh government through the back door when it should have been focusing solely on nipping the pandemic in the bud by creating necessary infrastructure and declaring a lockdown much before it actually did — with at least 7-10 days’ notice, people started banging pots and plates in response to the clarion call of the prime minister, Narendra Modi. Thousands of people were left to walk back home, and over a hundred of them died on the way, of starvation, ill health or in accidents. Surely Indians have lost all sense of compassion; why else would they not pose any question to the authorities or their own conscience? Just because the government of the day is appeasing the Hindutva constituency with the Ram mandir and cow politics, the promise of undermining the minority communities through the abrogation of legislations regarding Kashmir, the implementation of the NRC and the CAA, the invocation of ‘love jihad’, can all scandals and failures — fatal assaults on the freedom of speech of dissenters, inability to tackle Chinese aggression, rising unemployment, failing economy — be condoned? The less said about the government’s performance in fighting Covid-19 the better.
Indeed, people get the government they deserve. The devotees of muscle and majoritarianism must live with these “achchhe din”.
Sir — In his article, Sankarshan Thakur has raised some very pertinent questions. Of course the government has to be held accountable for its failures, but the more important question is why are citizens of India so complacent? What is required to move people to protest against the ruling dispensation at the Centre at the ballot? The future of the country truly depends on the electorate.
However, it is interesting that following the prime minister’s recent visit to Varanasi for Dev Deepavali, the BJP secured only one of the three legislative council seats in the constituency. This means that the dazzling light-and-sound show by the riverside has not succeeded in blinding everyone.
Sir — As always, Sankarshan Thakur’s article made for delightful reading. However, it seems that he chose not to touch upon the alleged clearance of slums in the city to make way for all the glitz of Dev Deepavali.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party is set to decide for the people what they should or should not eat. The proposed blanket ban on cow slaughter in Karnataka is a case in point. However, it appears that the party does not have the gall to impose a similar ban in Goa.
Sir — Mukul Kesavan’s article, “The case of Ulysses” (Dec 6), reminds one of how sublime the novel, Ulysses, is, given its tapestry of allusions and its multiplicity of voices. In fact, James Joyce took delight in the complexity of his masterpiece, suggesting that it could give Ulysses a sort of immortality. Joyce was himself of the opinion that he had “put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what [he] meant”. The novel is about to turn a century old, and we are still deciphering its nuances; so Joyce was probably correct.
The tussle over the publication of Ulysses raged on in two continents for years. It ultimately helped change the way courts analysed obscenity cases and resulted in the expansion of the scope for free speech for authors. The final episode, “Penelope”, allegedly owing to its candid sexual imagery, was the focus of the 1933 obscenity trial, United States versus One Book Called Ulysses.