Apropos Mitra Kalita’s column “Sometimes, rites are wrong” (Mint, 17 October). I agree with the article, and would even go a step further — today’s youth are more “conservative and closed” than people who came of age in the 1060s and 1970s. Which is why you find very few real “rebels” today! The need to “conform” is just too strong and going out on a limb for an ideology just too painful. So one embraces Western symbolic clothing and social mores with the same alacrity as one performs rituals. The trouble is both Indian rituals and Western culture have come to be defined by the right “steps”, not the right “spirit”.
— Abir Pal
Krishnamurthy Ramasubbu’s article, “Will a resentful middle class define electoral outcomes?” is an interesting read (Mint, 17 October).
Undoubtedly, a discontented middle class isn’t good news for politicians. It is also true that it is more critical of the government than either the poor or the rich. Also, they are the ones who drive the economy: both as consumers and producers. Unfortunately they vote with their purses in the shopping malls, and are too lethargic to go to the polling booths; this proverbial apathy has in the past produced election results vastly different from the wishes of the majority. In fact, some of the parties tactically ignore the middle class and concentrate on capturing the poorer sections of society using pre-election gifts.
Middle-class ranks naturally expanded with India’s economic progress in the last couple of decades. But the history of middle-class’ voting apathy continues to be enigmatic. Possibly the political parties are at least partially responsible for the state of affairs, as they have never lent an ear to the woes of the middle class.
Delimitation of the constituencies, which the Mint article also touches upon, may play a crucial role in shaping the election results. Much depends on the demographic composition the delimitation might have brought about. This will be tested for the first time in the forthcoming elections.
Electoral arithmetic is a slippery game. But the present dangers of uncontrolled inflation, glaring and pronounced inadequacies in governance, and terrorism will be the topmost priorities in the minds of the poor and the middle class.
— S. Subramanyan
Christopher Butel in “Why Indian banks are immune to the US disease” (Mint, 18 October) has correctly analysed the issue. He proposes three valid explanations with interesting perspectives.
Let me add two more. One, the black money component in (not financed by banks) is about 40-60% of the total home value; and this portion comes almost entirely from the owner’s pocket. More often than not, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime investment made after years of hard work and saving. Having one’s own home is indeed a dream come true for many Indian families. The realization of this dream should not be thwarted at any cost.
Two, the typical “Indian family” is emotional attached to the very notion of “home”, and thinks of it as their mandir (temple). The strong sentimental attachment means that families try their best to repay loans. A default and resultant house auction would cause much emotional turmoil and loss of self-respect. Some will almost die from shame if their home is auctioned.
The owners’ emotion and economic equity holding in a house are very high vis-à-vis its monetary loan value. Both banks and regulators are of course well aware of this fact.
— Rakesh Chopra
Apropos Mint’s editorial “No parachutes, please” (17 October), Chidambaram is absolutely right in saying that private airlines should not be bailed out at the taxpayer’s expense.
However, the same principle should be applied to state-owned firms, too. Scarce tax revenue should not be used to tilt the playing field in favour of Indian Airlines and Air India.
— Gautam Sarup