Multitude a proof of popularity
The multitude that poured into the streets to bid farewell to Bal Thackeray is proof of the tremendous popularity he enjoyed. Yes, he held extreme regional and religious opinions. But it was precisely this that made him a cult figure, earning for Mumbai’s jobless a place in service, business and politics. Such was his grip, that he could force a shutdown in the state with a wave of the hand. While there are doubts over whether his legacy will endure, he made a huge impact on the lives of the locals. RIP, Mr Thackeray!
—NJ Ravi Chander, Bangalore
Apropos of “Sainiks attack Palghar hospital”, I was shocked at the arrest of a 21-year-old girl who expressed her views on Facebook. It has been reported that she criticised the total shutdown following the passing away of Bal Thackeray and that another person who ‘liked’ the comment was also arrested. Where is the freedom of expression that is guaranteed to all citizens under the constitution? Why was the girl arrested under section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly ‘hurting religious sentiments’ when Thackeray was a political leader and not a religious figure? Thackeray himself was known to express his views fearlessly and some of his remarks were inflammatory, but the authorities hardly took action against him. Clearly, the right to equality is not for all citizens! Have the police arrested the 2,000 Shiv Sainiks who ransacked the orthopaedic hospital, vandalized the operation theatre and cut off saline drips, harming the patients? It is time to stand up and demand answers from the police and the government.
—Vinodini Lulla, by email
Hard work, maturity
It is not a miracle that there were no untoward incidents even as an estimated two million people walked in the funeral procession for Bal Thackeray, but this was the result of the hard work by the police and the maturity shown by the Shiv Sena leadership and its workers to maintain law and order. The state administration headed by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan that worked behind the scenes must also be commended for maintaining the decorum associated with the occasion.
—Vanita Shenoy, Mumbai
Shivaji Park memorial
Perhaps, a colossus like Bal Thackeray deserved to be laid to rest at Shivaji Park. No doubt, the government will be under pressure to permit the construction of a memorial for Thackeray, befitting his image and stature, at the historic ground. But his would set a precedent and the public space could be converted into a cemetery for political VVIPs, encroaching on an open public space.
—VV Vijayan, Mumbai
A ‘tiger’ is defined in the dictionary as a fierce, energetic and formidable person. It was difficult to know Bal Thackeray. What was visible was the burning passion he had for ‘Shiv Shahi’. Such zeal is rare in political leaders today. He never hesitated to call a spade a spade. Which is why he was able to maintain a firm grip on his party for 45 years. Asked about his mantra during an interview on television, Thackeray: “Let the poor become rich, but the rich must not be made poor.” Such large-heartedness could come only from a ‘Tiger’.
—Ashok Rege, by email
Apropos of “The Kejriwals need all-out support to throw the corrupt out”, kudos to P Radhakrishnan for his incisive analysis of the corruption in the country and Arvind Kejriwal’s monumental, but thankless, efforts to clean the Augean stables. We are witness to the ludicrous spectacle of TV news channels boasting of exposing corruption in high places on the one hand, and their attempts to ridicule members of India Against Corruption as publicity seekers and hit-and-run activists on the other. In denigrating them, the media is damaging the cause of the crusade against corruption. Their criticism that Kejriwal’s focus on individual cases is brief and that he is jumping from one case to another without building pressure on the wrongdoers, is uncharitable. We must remember that being an individual, his resources are limited, and once he has exposed a scam it is for the media with its vast resources to take up the investigation and to keep the matter alive. It is a pity that they see him as a competitor and try to scuttle the issues. Let us not forget that it was the persistent inquiry into the Watergate break-in by ‘Washington Post’ journalists, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, that brought a US president to his knees.
—VVS Mani, Bangalore
The increasing corruption and crime are eating into the vitals of our nation. This problem is coming in the way of implementing welfare schemes and industrial projects. The reality is that we do not have stringent rules to deal quickly with crime and corruption cases. Urgent steps must be taken to tighten anti-corruption and crime rules. The disturbing fact is that the judiciary is not suitably empowered to deliver speedy verdicts in these cases. The trial in the corruption case against Sukh Ram, the former telecom minister, lodged in 1996, went on for 13 years before he was judged guilty. The backlog of cases will not only burden the courts, but also cause undue delays. The government should make all efforts to set up special courts for high-profile cases, if it is serious about dealing with the issue of corruption.
—P Senthil Saravana Durai, Mumbai
Leave it to the RBI
The finance minister appears to be in a hurry to allow corporate houses to start banks. This was obvious when P Chidambaram asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to finalise the guidelines for new bank licences and to begin accepting applications, pending passage of the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill. But the RBI governor is not interested in acting in a hurry, before the enabling conditions are fulfilled as a prerequisite to take further steps. This difference of views between the finance ministry and the RBI is evident. Today, banks are loaded with heavy bad loans as a result of companies failing to meet their financial obligations, and the number of corporate debt restructuring (CDR) cases is increasing. Some 35 banks have seen gross NPAs increase by 28 per cent to about Rs32,000 crore in the first half of the current fiscal. In this scenario, it would be prudent to leave the matter to the RBI to work out.
—PB Srinivasan, by email