regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Letters to the Editor: ‘Mummy’ may not be called ‘mummy’ anymore

Readers write in from Calcutta, Bangalore, Maruthancode, Hooghly and Mumbai

The Editorial Board Published 31.01.23, 04:46 AM
Archaeologists recently excavated what may be the world’s oldest mummy in the ancient Egyptian town of Saqqara

Archaeologists recently excavated what may be the world’s oldest mummy in the ancient Egyptian town of Saqqara File picture

Right term

Sir — Archaeologists recently excavated what may be the world’s oldest mummy in the ancient Egyptian town of Saqqara. However, there is a caveat: it may not be called a ‘mummy’ anymore. Three British museums have contented that the word, mummy, is dehumanising and, therefore, the more appropriate term to describe their displays of the ancient Egyptian remains is ‘mummified persons’. While the decision seems to counter pop culture’s problematic practice of portraying mummies as monsters, it also appears to be a way of correcting the colonial legacy — the colonisers desecrated the tombs and displayed the bodies in their museums, with scant regard for native customs. Rebranding cannot be enough to wash away past sins.


Sumedha Singh, Gwalior

On fire

Sir — A recent attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem killed seven people (“Seven killed in Jerusalem shooting”, Jan 30). It happened a day after the Israeli army killed nine Palestinians during raids in the occupied West Bank. The renewal of bloodshed between the two sides is distressing. Further, the United States of America’s unequivocal support for Israel has done no good in reducing tensions in the region. The controversial steps taken by the ultra-right regime in Israel are responsible for the latest escalation of violence. Ever since coming back to power last year, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has ordered violent forays into the Palestinian territories — annexing lands, demolishing houses, and conducting frequent raids. This is condemnable.

G. David Milton, Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

Sir — The latest surge in violence between Israel and Palestine is the deadliest in decades. However, an attempt to dial down the conflict seems unlikely given the hardline stance of the Benjamin Netanyahu government, which has sworn to assert exclusive rights over the land that Palestinians hope will form the backbone of a future Palestinian nation state. The two sides should refrain from provocation to ensure stability in the region.

Khokan Das, Calcutta

Sir — The flaring up of tensions in the Middle East is disheartening. The world is already reeling from the effects of the ongoing Ukraine war.

Dhruv Khanna, Mumbai


Sir — Seattle has become the first city in the United States of America to consider adding caste as a category to its law against discrimination. This is a welcome development. Federal laws in America already prohibit discrimination in aspects of employment on the basis of race, nationality, gender, and religion, among other markers. Recently, there have been increasing cases of caste bias against Dalit employees in Silicon Valley by Indianorigin bosses. The anti-discrimination law against caste can thus be a necessary step to eradicate social malaise overseas. Several American educational institutions have already banned caste-based discrimination. This policy should be adopted across the country.

H.N. Ramakrishna, Bengaluru

Sir — The editorial, “Net cast wider” (Jan 28), analyses the implications of the proposed anti-caste discrimination law in Seattle. However, it does not mention the name of the Indian American Seattle City council member, Kshama Sawant, who introduced the legislation. Sawant’s tireless efforts in championing the cause of the marginalised in a foreign land are truly commendable.

Jyotsna Mukherji, Calcutta

New name

Sir — The disdain that the Bharatiya Janata Party dispensation at the Centre has for anything associated with the word, Mughal, is not new. In the latest case, the Narendra Modi-led government has renamed the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan as Amrit Udyan (“Mughal Gardens are now Amrit Udyan”, Jan 29). Previously, the Mughalsarai railway junction was renamed Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction by the Central government. Perhaps the day is not very far when the saffron regime will target Mughlai food and direct the eateries selling Mughlai dishes to change the names of such items.

Suman Sankar Dasgupta, Calcutta

Sir — The renaming of Mughal Gardens as Amrit Udyan is in line with the government’s commemorative celebration of the 75 years of India’s independence as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. This is a welcome decision. The beautiful gardens, known for their beautiful flowers and lush green plants, are opened to the public yearly during the winter and are a major tourist attraction.

Akhila Gopalan, Mumbai

Silly talk

Sir — In the article, “Speaking without thinking” (Jan 29), Karan Thapar points out the silly and bizarre responses of politicians. Thapar cites the example of the chief minister of Assam, Himanta Biswas Sarma, to prove his point. Sarma recently said that he does not know who Shah Rukh Khan is. This is unlikely since few would be unaware of the actor’s global fame. A possible reason behind Sarma’s comment might be a desire to appeal to the saffron voter base.

Sukhendu Bhattacharjee, Hooghly

Clean look

Sir — It is heartening that the pavements in Gariahat are now sporting a much cleaner look (“Gariahat says hello to sunshine”, Jan 29). The government’s decision to restrict the size of the stalls and replace plastic sheets atop the hawkers’ stalls with tin shades is welcome.

Basharat Fatma Yousuf, Calcutta

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