Understanding the Lalu phenomenon

Apropos of A.J. Philip’s “The Lalu phenomenon: Give the Devil his due” (Nov 29), one cannot limit the impact of the Lalu phenomenon only to politics. As a public figure in contemporary Indian life, he has a presence with inexplicable absurdities and inconsistencies. His image as popularized in the mass media is a construction not so much of political imperatives as of a vacuum in the very soul of consumer culture.

Representing the un-urbanized, backward, caste-ridden Bihar, he is the ensemble of the paradoxical processes that breed a “leadership.” He emblematizes a deliberate construction of political discourse in Bihar, with a clear perspective that the misery of the poor and the downtrodden is simply “content” for his political rhetoric and populist idiom. Yet, a large section of non-participatory masses have awakened to a role in Indian democracy. We have unknowingly preserved him at the subconscious level. Hence, it is not easy to write him off. Long live the Lalu phenomenon! So may live the collective hungers that immortalize his types!


Dear readers

Letters to the Editor, neatly hand-written or typed, upto 150 words, should be sent to the Letters Editor, The Tribune, Sector 29 C, Chandigarh. Letters can also be emailed at the following address: letters@tribunemail.com

— Editor-in-Chief



To pull Bihar out of the present mess it is in, we need an all-party effort. And the first step is to get rid of criminal elements who are playing havoc with the lives of the people of the state. And the efforts must be sincere and honest. All types of nexus must end. And rule of law should prevail. No power politics. No vote-bank politics of any kind. The land of Gautam Buddha needs to regain its lost glory. The people of a “basket-case” state should not be allowed to become fodder for votes and power.



The writer rightly says that it is easy to rubbish Lalu Prasad for Bihar’s poverty and backwardness, but it would be difficult to expect any improvement under Nitish Kumar. Genuine land reform is needed, which has been curtailed by the cunning landlords so far. This pent up demand for reform is the mother of Lal Sena, Ranbir Sena, Naxalite/Mao Sena etc; all bringing forth anarchy.

Establishing control through the “Punjab model” is not a solution. The Punjabi problem was communal, a dying force, which failed like the two-nation theory. Moreover, Punjab is a region of middle-level landlords, not of big landlords like in Bihar.



The results of the Bihar Assembly election point to the inner dynamic of its caste-ridden society. If one backward caste leader has gone out of power, another has taken over as the Chief Minister. The upward mobility of the backward castes and the poor has not come to a halt because of Mr Lalu Yadav’s convincing defeat. Mr Yadav had reduced his party, RJD, to his family affair, and unlike the Left parties, he never allowed democratic exchange of ideas within his own party.

He could never translate his words into actions through he ensured communal harmony in the state for fifteen years. He sympathised a lot with the poor people of Bihar and inspired them to assert themselves, but clearly failed to curtail their drift from villages to other states for the purpose of economic survival. He seems to have outlived his utility in the present day Bihar.


Whither reservations?

This is with reference to G.S. Bhargava’s “Why reservations?” (Nov. 24). Our reservation policy is the major factor in the collapse of the public sector in India. The downtrodden of five decades ago are the downtrodden of today. There is no improvement in their condition. Only the rich and the elite persons among reserved categories take benefits of reservation. There should be no reservation in admissions and jobs on the basis of caste or religion. It not only creates frustration and curtails calibre but also increases ill-will in society. The criteria of reservation must be economic. It must also be on a one-time basis. Otherwise our nation will have to face a dark future.



The news item “Dullo against job quota for the rich among reserved categories” (Nov. 30) deserves serious attention. Statistically, it can be proved that the benefits of reservation are cornered by the elite section of the reserved categories. Thus the deserving strata of society are denied the benefits which never percolate to the lowest layer. Rich families traditionally enjoy the benefits of reservation due to their good connections while the poor continue to be poor even after 55 years of reservation. The children of cobblers, labourers or poor landless peasants seldom find their names in the selected list of IAS, IPS or PCS. Reservation on caste and creed lines deserves a decent burial.

KARNAIL SINGH, Sunny Enclave, Kharar

Punishment for parents

Challaning traffic offenders amongst the youth is in effect punishment of their parents, and not them. The money comes from the parents after all. Youngsters want short-cuts and high speed, and they break rules easily, even taking pride in it. If nothing else, they do it just for kicks. They must be made to understand that they can’t have kicks at the cost of lives – their own and other people’s.

Maybe, a programme could be launched where driving licences are issued only after going through a rigourous seminar. As for punishment, they must be made to do social work for a period.



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