Saturday, September 1, 2001
M A I L  B O X

The ignoble savage

APROPOS of Kuldip Dhiman’s "The ignoble savage" (August 18). Call it an instinct of ‘aggressive hostility’, man by nature is a beast kept in check only temporarily by socio-cultural restraints. Man has an innate aggressive drive to dominate his surroundings and fellow beings. The principle of the survival of the fittest works so effectively in the human mind that all considerations of moral responsibility and appeals to rationality prove ineffective in controlling the brute in man.

It is unfortunate that religion, most of the time, instead of proving to be a source of universal brotherhood and a solace to the suffering soul, has only caused mutual distrust and violence. Imaginary fears and mutual suspicion have resulted in the worst-ever violence by man against his own species. The glaring example of such an exploitation of religion by vested political interests is the partition of India in 1947 on religious lines in which thousands of people on both sides lost their lives.

No doubt the upbringing and social grooming of man plays a vital role yet man has often preferred to ignore and forget the demands of civilisation and has submitted to the whims of wayward fundamentalist and fanatic elements. Our teaching only tends to reinforce this ‘aggressive violence’ when we glorify revenge and brutality in the name of patriotism.


A precious gift

This refers to "Reflections on the brother-sister bond" by Khushwant Singh (August 18) who rightly said "...if they are well-off a token sum should do." A sister’s love is indeed a precious gift. To their sisters, brothers owe love and sympathy. They are linked to their sisters by childhood memories.

It is the brothers’ duty to visit their sisters, write to them, send them gifts on special occasions like festivals and birthdays and help them with money if they need it.

Avtar Narain Chopra, Kurukshetra


Raksha Bandhan is a bond of protection. Rakhi is not just a string but a symbol of unity. It is not out of greed that a sister ties a rakhi to her brother. She prays for his long and happy life from the deepest core of her heart. In return a brother showers his blessings in the form of money and gifts. He promises to protect her. It was because of this bond that Lord Krishna protected Draupadi from vastra haran. So, a sister does not want money but love and protection from her brother.



Raksha Bandhan is a sacred custom signifying sibling affection. The presenting of money by the brother to the sister is only incidental to the expression of mutual affection.

The writer’s idea of helping a needy sister by way of money as a rakhi gift is highly laudable. This money can be of use to the sister without injuring her self-respect.

Wearing mangalsutra and putting sindoor in the parting of the hair to indicate marital status are beautiful customs. They at least keep unwanted suitors at an arm’s length.


Phoolan Devi

Khushwant Singh’s "A dacoit or a dasyu sundari" (August 11), was packed with meaning for the dumb, deaf and uncaring society. Phoolan Devi, born in a poor mallah family in UP, moved from one exploitative situation to another.

Phoolan’s life has been saga of struggle from cradle to grave. A college dropout Umed Singh married her. It was her third marriage. Umed was an idler, and a drunkard. She wanted to divorce him, but that was not to be. Phoolan was a battered, wronged woman. Even as an MP she was a pawn in the hands of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Phoolan has gone but she has left behind a message of how women are treated in India.



It was because of her birth in a low caste and poor family that Phoolan Devi became an object of lust. Phoolan was compelled by circumstances to become a dacoit. The Behmai massacre, which she wrought to avenge her humiliation and loss of honour and dignity at the hands of Thakurs who took advantage of her innocence, youth and weak family status, brought her into the limelight. Subsequently she was used by cunning politicians who got her elected to Parliament, not because she was a seasoned politician, or a woman of great repute, but only because she could help them garner votes of the lower castes.

Phoolan has left an indelible mark on the psyche of Indians who will remember her forever for one reason or the other.

People may throw brickbats or bouquets at her but she has secured a permanent place in history books and that cannot be usurped from her.