Two Christmases: A reminder of the plurality of religious tradition
The Orthodox Christian community in Russia celebrates Christmas on January 7, not December 25
- Published 15.01.19, 10:52 AM
- Updated 15.01.19, 10:52 AM
- 3 mins read
Sir — Having spent a few weeks in Moscow, it was interesting to discover that the Orthodox Christian community in Russia celebrates Christmas on January 7. This date corresponds with Jesus Christ’s birth according to the Julian calendar — put in place by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE — whereas many western countries adhere to the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in the 16th century and is more commonly observed today. This gave me two chances to celebrate the festival and reflect on the plurality of religious traditions while I took in the beautiful Christmas lights at the Red Square in Moscow.
Sir — It was infuriating to observe the derogatory manner in which the Indian cricketers, Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul, spoke about women on the the popular television chat show, Koffee with Karan. It made me feel ashamed as a male citizen of the country. The host of the show, Karan Johar, was equally complicit — he egged his guests on to make more and more demeaning comments.
While Pandya and Rahul made it clear that women are little more to them than objects of sexual pleasure, the wider implications of their comments are deeply troubling, for they symbolize the toxic culture and unhealthy attitude towards women fostered in men’s locker rooms, especially in team sports like cricket. It is heartening that the Committee of Administrators which is overseeing the functioning of the Board of Control for Cricket in India has finally suspended the two players pending enquiry. But such action was only taken after there was a massive public outcry. Would any disciplinary measures have been taken against them had ordinary citizens not pressed for it?
Sir — I could feel my anger and disgust steadily mounting as I watched the episode of Koffee with Karan on which Hardik Pandya made both misogynistic and racist remarks, encouraged by K.L. Rahul and Karan Johar. While the captain of the Indian men’s cricket team, Virat Kohli, said that he does not support inappropriate comments, he refrained from openly admonishing Pandya and Rahul. It is this penchant to go easy on players when they say or do objectionable things that makes them believe they can get away anything.
It has been rightly suggested that the BCCI ought to take on the responsibility of sensitizing players with regard to conducting themselves in a responsible and dignified manner. Such sensitization measures, however, should focus on actually teaching the men the basic concept of respect, instead of merely cautioning them about how to conduct themselves in public. The suspension of the two players is welcome, for it will show them and others that there are consequences for despicable actions. But it is also high time that men in team sports learnt how to treat and speak of women with respect, even if they were to gain nothing by doing so. Countless young boys around the country idolize cricketers and wish to follow in their footsteps. It stands to reason that such boys will be influenced by the off-field words and actions of their idols, thereby rendering the fate of girls and women in India more dire than it already is.
Sir — I am glad that Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul have been suspended and will, in all probability, miss the rest of the Australia tour as well as India’s upcoming series against New Zealand. Allowing them to carry on in the team unscathed would have sent out a very worrying message to Indian men, most of whom are directly and indirectly responsible for making women feel unsafe and disrespected all the time. Pandya’s apology on social media — after the public outrage against his comments — although worded cleverly, sounded disingenuous.
Sir — It is appalling that Abraham Samuel, a man from Tamil Nadu, was allegedly harassed by an immigration officer at Mumbai’s international airport and denied clearance only because he did not know Hindi. The refusal to allow a fellow Indian to travel for not knowing Hindi goes against the spirit of freedom of choice enshrined in our Constitution. It is not even as though Hindi is Samuel’s mother tongue. Severe action should be taken against the immigration officer who, by virtue of this act, implied that all those who do not know Hindi deserve to be treated in this despicable manner.
Such language-related chauvinism, however, ought not to be surprising, for the attempts of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre to impose Hindi on traditionally non-Hindi speaking people in the country have been growing increasingly blatant. These actions must be vociferously opposed.
Sir — The initiative taken by the West Bengal government to lighten the burden of heavy school bags on children by making provisions for lockers in state-funded institutions is timely and praiseworthy (“Lockers in schools to lighten bag burden”, Jan 11). This will help them leave books that they do not require immediately in the lockers at school. Private schools should waste no time in following suit.