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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 46, New Delhi, October 31, 2020

Letter to the Readers - Mainstream, October 31, 2020 | Lockdown Edition no. 32

Saturday 31 October 2020


The past week saw Bihar, one of India’s biggest States going to polls. So far only the first round of polling has taken place and two more rounds are left before the poll ends. There was a huge surge of young people seen at the rallies organised by the Opposition alliance. It is very difficult to say if the mass numbers observed at these rallies will translate into votes. The big subject of discussion at the poll rallies was the question of jobs. The unemployment rate in Bihar remains higher than the national average.

In the past 20 years, Bihar has seen unprecedented floods causing havoc in the lives of millions – there has been a perceptible rise in flooding in North Bihar, ever since the Teesta river barrage was built in 2016. The State’s capital Patna was submerged earlier in the year right in the middle of the pandemic. There is major failure in the way the state has responded. An all-round failure which has brought in much technical or engineering solutions but these have come to naught. Even as 3,500 km of levees have been built in Bihar for flood protection, the flood-prone area has quadrupled to 6.8 million hectares. The Nitish government keeps pushing a failed embankment technology, loved by the contractors. There was limited discussion on this during the elections. The question of floods is not specific to Bihar as we have just seen in devastating floods in the large urban settings of Hyderabad and Bangalore. The catchment areas, lakes and drainage systems have been overtaken by urbanisation with total disregard for nature. In the 21st century, there is a need for political parties to be alive and sensitive to ecological issues which are missing from their programmes.

The Modi government is relentless in its drive calling for a “5 Trillion Dollar economy”. Such a public relations campaign is totally misplaced when the Indian economy is at its bleakest ever.

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The recent brutal killings in France first of a school teacher and later of church-going citizens, deserve the most severe condemnation. A statement issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: ‘I strongly condemn the recent terrorist attacks in France, including today’s heinous attack in Nice inside a church. Our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the people of France. India stands with France in the fight against terrorism.’ We expect the secular French state to respond in the same spirit in future and not shy away from issuing statements when Indian citizens get lynched by the Hindutva goons or other brands of fundamentalists not in short supply in India.

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Today, the 31st of October is the day on which fundamentalists of a kind assassinated Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Not a word on that was mentioned by the former RSS propagandist and our current Prime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking at the statue of Sardar Patel. Today while India is celebrating the birthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a gentle reminder to the country that does not remember that Sardar Patel called out the poison, when he banned RSS after the murder of Gandhiji in 1948.

It is shocking to hear that that UP government led by Yogi Adityanath is bringing in a law on banning Inter-religious marriage, which the RSS fronts have begun to contest and describe as ‘Love Jihad’. In the India of the 1950s, sixties and seventies people used to be awarded for engaging in inter-caste or inter-faith marriage. But dark clouds hover over those past times now.


Keshubhai Patel, the Jan Sangh Politician later with the BJP who was a former Chief Minister of Gujarat passed on October 29, 2020.

Jan Myrdal the Swedish author, filmmaker, cultural figure, and the very conservative Maoist political activist passed away on October 30. He lived for a time in Afghanistan, Iran and in India. In 1980 he had written a book called ‘India Waits’

Sir Sean Connery, the celebrated Scottish actor who played James Bond from 1962 to 1983 passed away on October 31. He was 90 years of age.

We pay our tributes the above

October 31, 2020 – The Editor

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