It is a matter of great happiness that the government of India has decided to confer the Bharat Ratna on Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malviya. I personally admire both these personalities — they excelled in advancing the public interest tremendously. However, I think that the Modi government should have risen above political faultlines and given our highest civilian honour to other luminaries who have immensely contributed to the building of modern India — possibly, to Bhagat Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose or Syed Ahmad Khan. However, the way in which the government decided to confer this prestigious award to persons loyal to its ideology brings into question the non-partisan spirit of the Bharat Ratna.
— Ankur Sharma (Chandausi)
We need answers
The dastardly killings in Assam by NDFB(S) militants is to be condemned in the strongest possible manner (‘Violence displaces 7,000 in Assam, among them a woman with newborn’, IE, December 26). What is most tragic is the killing of innocent, poverty-stricken Adivasis by Bodo militants carrying modern, sophisticated weaponry. Most Adivasis are said to have been brought to Assam by the British from the Chota Nagpur Plateau area as manual labourers for the the tea gardens of the state. One of the most deprived sections of the populace — politically, socially and economically — they are now caught in the tussle between the state and militants fighting for the façade of sovereignty. Why have successive governments failed so miserably to protect their lives? When the state was carrying out anti-NDFB(S) operations, why were internal security and intelligence gathering not strengthened? Why were preemptive measures not taken? These are some pertinent questions to which we need answers.
— Punya Jyoti Boruah (Dhemaji)
Business as usual
This refers to ‘No fixed identity’ by Madhavi Menon (IE, December 26). The writer shows how misunderstood the RSS and other right-wing nationalists are. Hinduism has never been against conversion. In fact, Hindu society has reacted quite maturely to various religious influences over time. Hence, we see a wide variety of belief systems in India, the birthplace of four major religions, which has harboured people from diverse cultures and regions over the centuries. The Hindutvawadis resent conversions as they, more often than not, are products of monetary and other inducements. Increased numbers are then used to buttress political demands, often against traditional Hindu beliefs. A conversion of the mind will, however, always be supported. Also, people who resent these “ghar wapsi” programmes should know that they have been going on for decades. They don’t represent a resurgence of Hindu nationalism due to the
— Udayan Karmarkar (Pune)
After the Peshawar massacre, there has certainly been a change in Pakistan’s attitude towards terror. The country has witnessed a string of executions recently. But is this simply a cosmetic change? Mindless hangings will not be able to address the issue unless there is genuine political will to curb terrorism.
— S. Sikri and S. Sethi (Ferozepur)