Politics as a family affair

Shastri Ramachandaran’s write-up “Children of higher gods” deserves serious consideration by all Indians. The writer’s assertion that on the issue of politics as a family affair, India is one from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, is quite true. It appears that we have travelled back in time to the Gupta or the Mughal periods.

Surprisingly, however, we are unlikely to admit that there is something wrong with our political system that has allowed the feudal lords to make a mockery of democracy.

We have bought the politicians’ argument that dynastic politics is democratic in nature as their progeny are duly elected by the people.

So far as Punjab is concerned, the writer has made an apt observation that “In present-day Punjab, the princely states may have been merged, but only to be replaced by new political principalities of certain families”.

L. R. SHARMA, Jalandhar



The writer has laid bare the process of family fiefdom in politics but to blame politicians alone for “handing over political parties and parliamentary spaces to their family members” on a platter is not entirely correct.

The onus lies on the electorate also who, without applying their minds, elect not competent candidates but sons, daughters and wives of politicians.


Ambala Cantonment

Skin-deep beauty

This refers to “The Many Phases of Beauty” (Saturday Extra, Oct 1). The write-up is akin to the market forces that seek to promote an obsession for a perfect face and figure.

One expects the media to take a critical look at issues and promote healthy social, moral and cultural values instead of merely talking of lifestyles. The market forces, aided by films and media, fuel lust for money and glamour.

The Press promotes the page three culture and the youth in particular look upon media stars as role models. More often than not, these role models make money by means fair or foul and splurge it.

As a doctor, I have seen a number of adults, especially from a rural background, suffering from physiological problems as paucity of money and glamour in the media take them away from ground realities. They become frustrated and take to drugs, stealing or even prostitution.

Big companies manufacturing cosmetics, for instance, manipulate the middle class especially by making exaggerated claims about their products in advertisements.


Mangal Pandey

In writing “The Man who led the Mutiny” (Spectrum, Aug 14), Amaresh Mishra has done considerable research on Mangal Pandey. During my long service in the Indian Navy, a sailor from Faizabad claimed to be a member of Mangal Pandey’s clan on board INS Rana in 1953.

He used to say that Mangal Pandey was highly religious. He felt humiliated that native sepoys of the Madras Presidency were called peons till as late as 1747. The East India Company started giving commission to the Indian officers in 1763.

This commission was confined to the status of the present JCOs rank. Slowly the British Government introduced the rank of Subedar Major in 1818 to satisfy the Indian soldiers.

Though Mangal Pandey was hanged by the British, he is remembered as a legend and a street has been named after him on the sea side of the Colaba area in Mumbai.

After the death of Mangal Pandey, the British Government instituted the Victoria Cross in 1856 after the name of Queen Victoria.

Since the First War of Independence had started in Lacknow, J. Dunley, a British officer who was injured during the seize of Lacknow, was the first person to receive the Victoria Cross in 1857 with his injury engraved on the medal.


Patriotic poetry

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s write-up “Patriotic verse” (Saturday Extra, Sept 3).

Oudh state was ill-governed while its ruler, Wajid Ali Shah Akhtar, lived luxuriously. He was deported to Calcutta. His couplet Dar-e-deevaar pe hasrat sey nazar kartey hain/Rukhsat ai aihl-e-vatan ham to safar kartey hain was just a regret at being deprived of his kingdom and cannot be regarded as a patriotic verse.

However, people were not happy with the British Raj, as is evident from the verse of Naasikh (1771-1838): Dil mulk-e-angrez mein jeeney sey tang hai/Raihna badan mein rooh ka qaid-e-farang hai.

Many Urdu poets wrote patriotic poems, but those of Josh Malihabadi and Pt Mela Ram Vafa were couched in most powerful and stirring language. There is no doubt that, in his renderings, Dr K.C. Kanda takes liberties with the original, but his endeavour to acquaint English-knowing people with Urdu verses is quite laudable.


Hindu mystic

This has reference to Humra Quraishi’s piece, “Akademi festival on Kashmir Sufi mystic” (Sunday Oped, Sept 18). There are some factual errors. Lal Ded, better known as Lalla Yogeshwari, was a Hindu mystic, who professed, practised and preached Kashmir Saivism — an idealistic monism.

She was instrumental in interpreting the complex and intricate philosophy of this system, through her Vakhs in simple and chaste Kashmiri of the time for the comprehension of the common masses. Lal Ded had nothing to do with Sufism and there is no historical evidence available for her conversion to Islam. Apparently, Humra Quraishi is swayed by the writings of the present-day intellectuals of terror-stricken Kashmir who are bent upon distorting Kashmir history. n



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