I refer to the onslaught on artists’ freedom in the MS University at Vadodara. Art is perhaps not understood by common people, which may be why all kinds of protests (wrongly) come from them! The human body is the most beautiful creation of God. No human being is born with clothes on. Unfortunately, most people wrongly associate nudity with sex. In Vadodara, it was a private affair—not open to the public. Those who entered the classrooms on the campus have violated the law and must be punished. In private, one is free to do what one likes—no one is offended. The reason for all the protests is beyond understanding. Why should artists suffer without any rhyme and reason? How can they be protected in the future? Any answer from the government?
I agree with what S. Narayan writes about India’s efforts for energy security in “The lions wait to grab this”, Mint, 14 May. So far, not much aggression has been shown by India in its negotiations with Iran or Myanmar or Bangladesh or, for that matter, with Turkmenistan. Hence, none of the gas pipeline proposals (Iran-Pakistan-India, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, Myanmar-Bangladesh-India) have materialized. While China is quite aggressive and is ready to evacuate gas from Myanmar and central Asian countries through pipelines, India remains stuck on smaller issues with these countries. It is a fact that with economic development, politics will largely be guided by commercial interests. In the long run, the enmity among countries in the Indian subcontinent will decline. Globalization will play a large role. The bigger question is: When. The answer is that the sooner we stop getting emotionally exploited by politicians, the faster our commercial relations with neighbours will improve. This may lead to such gas pipelines becoming a reality, which will bring us one step closer towards having a trans-Asian gas pipeline through India.
The contents of G.V.L. Narasimha Rao’s open letter to Rahul Gandhi in Mint, 14 May, could not be truer. I endorse the author’s clear-headed views. But the problem does not seem to lie with Gandhi himself. It would be the manipulative “coterie” that he is forced to depend on which feeds him insensitive advice. Yet, an emerging political leader can’t be fully absolved of the responsibility of being a discerning listener. The shifting political landscape, ripe with challenges and opportunities, can no longer depend on the ramshackle outfit with the well-entrenched coterie system. The UP elections offer a lesson. We are proud of our 60-year-old democratic system of governance, which needs to be carefully nurtured with great and inclusive traditions of leadership. This is even more important, given what is happening in our neighbouring countries.
– H.C. Malhotra
A series of recent nasty incidents erode India’s international standing—the stoning of the new Reliance Fresh store in Ranchi, the taking hostage of Korean steel firm employees by farmers, the arrest of MPs for human trafficking, the torching of the newspaper Dinakaran, the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter and the murder of his wife, the undue escalation of the Shilpa-Richard episode, Mayawati’s first moves as UP chief minister for a probe into the decisions of the previous government after the announcement of elections, and the transfer of 100 civil servants. It seems that while parts of India are surging ahead, into modernity, the vast majority of Indians are as yet untouched. We can’t be galloping into the 22nd century with our feet dragging in the sludge and slush of past attitudes, mired in the politics of retribution.
– Rajendra K. Aneja