Hindutva for a common cultural strand

This has reference to the editorial “Advani’s agenda” (Nov 27) criticising BJP’s return to Hindutva. Your observation that the Hindutva agenda is divisive is debatable. In fact, Hindutva is a political philosophy that seeks to unify a common cultural strand that runs through various socio-cultural segments of Indian society.

Hindutva has been the common minimum factor for Pan-Indian identity for centuries though there had been numerous religions, faiths and kingdoms. There is no reason why it cannot be a unifying factor even today when every unscrupulous one-leader party is bent upon fragmenting Hindu society on the basis of caste and creed. Whether one likes or not, Hindutva is here to stay. The credit goes to ‘pseudo-secularism’ as has been practised by the Congress and Leftists to suit their political ends.

It is time we learnt to differentiate between political Hindutva and religious Hindu dharma. There is no harm in projecting the BJP as a modernist, pro-development, pro-Hindutva party provided it scrupulously keeps itself away from religious issues.





The editorial rightly suggests that “in its own interest, the BJP should come up with a more inclusive agenda that is in tune with the world of today”. The cure lies in following Indian ethos and humane ethics. It should embrace the plural, secular and democratic ideals, and unity in diversity. It should not overlook the fact that majority of Congressmen and Communists are Hindus who treat Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities as equal citizens.

All must adjust themselves to the Indian Constitution which is secular, democratic and socialistic. The BJP should not be allowed to swim against Hindutva identity.

Prof HARI SINGH, Kheri Jat (Jhajjar)

Need to respect pluralism

In his article “Drifting backwards: India must check folk passions” (Dec 6), Sunanda K. Datta-Ray has rightly reminded the Congress of its political mistakes which encouraged fundamentalism in Hinduism. The UPA government should follow real secularism in letter and spirit.

He rightly says that the majority must lead but the nation’s pride must revolve around the national flag and not the rituals identified with one or the other religion. Presently the system is under strain because of the lack of character and integrity among most politicians. Implementation of developmental schemes is tardy because of the lack of political will.

In the West, people have a social security system but we have none. It is therefore vital for the Congress to respect the pluralist society and check some ministers’ bid to ride on the wagon of both religion and politics.

Lt-Col CHANAN SINGH DHILLON (retd), Ludhiana

Deplorable trend

This refers to the report of the slaughter of some 1800 sheep and goats and over 100 buffaloes during the Bunkhal fair at Pauri Garhwal (Dec 7). This is brutalisation of the Indian psyche. We have forgotten our epics, age-old legends and become insensitive to the teachings of Buddha and Asoka on animal care. More important, according to Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution, every citizen shall “…have compassion for all animals”.

In the Ramayana, animals were in the forefront of Rama’s war against evil. In the Mahabharata, when Yudhishtra was summoned by the Gods, he set out accompanied by his dog. When heavenly sentries prohibited the dog’s entry, Yudhishtra declared that he will not enter the celestial presence without the dog! He got instant applause for his unqualified devotion to the dog!

Buddha’s teachings and Asoka’s edicts preach compassion for all living creatures and the sanctity of animal life. Aren’t these reasons enough for the Pauri Garhwal administration and NGOs to take up the challenge of preventing such sacrificial rites?

Lt-Gen BALJIT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

Tinkering with law

Unlike in Australia, Canada, Bosnia Herzegovina and Philippines, despite its latest tryst with outdated criminal law and no provision on witness protection as in the case of Zaheera Sheikh (in the Best Bakery), India has only tinkered with the Criminal Procedure Code through the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2003.

Some countries give a new identity to the witness along with his/her family members, taking care of the education of minor children of the witness, relocation of the witness, providing accommodation, transport, meeting the expenses for reasonable living, payments to the witness for meeting costs associated with relocation, assistance in obtaining employment or access to education. However, India has no such policy nor is likely to have one in this amendment. The best part of the amendment is that the material witnesses statement will now be recorded before the magistrate and such a statement should be signed by him/her.

Apparently, the legislature does not intend to protect the witness but the evidence. This is attempt towards ensuring proper justice, though a lot more needs to be done. When Philippines can have a law in this regard, why cannot we have the same? There is need for political will.

RATIKA MEHROTRA, Advocate, Delhi High Court, New Delhi

Burden on teachers

Primary school teachers are assigned a host of duties. These include pulse polio, distribution of wheat, preparing caste and gender-based lists of students, enumeration of voters, incorporating new entries and corrections in the voters’ lists, election work, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, seminars, population surveys and many other departmental duties. Employees of revenue or health departments such as Patwaris, Kanungos and health workers should be deployed for these works and not teachers who should teach.

To improve the quality of education, the government should merge primary schools with middle, high and senior secondary schools. Lecturers should be asked to take classes from Standards VI to XII. By doing so, we can overcome the problem of staff shortage even without new recruitment. The education system would be affected if overburdened teachers are unable to accomplish their work.


School sans teachers

Apropos of the report “No teacher, Class V student runs school” (Dec 9), the absence of teachers at the Soyemajra school was a matter concerning the Punjab Education Department, and not the Punjab School Education Board as reported.

Secretary, Punjab School Education Board, Mohali

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