Skip to main content

Whither decades old practice of replying to letters sent to higher ups, including PMO?

By NS Venkataraman*

In the pre-Independent days and for a few decades after independence, ministers, leading men in public life used to acknowledge letters from the public, particularly those with valid criticism or suggestions. This practice, unfortunately, now seems to have gone away.
When Mahatma Gandhi gave a call for the Quit India Movement, my father wrote a letter to him asking whether he should participate in the movement since his father was ill. Mahatma Gandhi replied that he should not do so, since he has an immediate duty to his father and the country has millions of people to take care of the movement.
When I was a student in the Annamalai University, I used to send suggestions to ministers and people who are known as intellectuals, on my views and ideas, for which I used to get quick replies.
I wrote a seven page letter to Rajaji, stressing the importance of world government. My father suggested that such long letter should not be written to Rajaji, as he was an aged person and would receive many letters everyday from India and abroad. However, Rajaji replied in a postcard in his own hand writing” your suggestion is a good one” and signed as C Rajagopalachari.
Before the last fateful trip of Dr CP Ramaswami Iyer to London (he died in 1966 at the age of 86 while on a visit to the United Kingdom), I wrote a letter to him about the importance of linking rivers in India. Dr CP immediately replied asking me to meet him at his residence in Ooty after his return from London to discuss the details.
My father was worried as to how a young person like me of 18 years would discuss with a person of Dr CP’s eminence about such a crucial issue and asked me to prepare details. I started studying the details allotting an hour every day but unfortunately Dr CP passed away in London and the meeting never took place. 
Unlike the earlier days, ministers and others have a number of assistants and communication can be sent fast by emails
During the anti-Hindi agitation days in Tamil Nadu, as a student, I wrote to Gulzarilal Nanda, who was the then home minister, about the feelings of students in Tamil Nadu on “Hindi imposition”. Nanda immediately replied explaining the government’s stand and view and ended the letter stating that “ the very fact there are students like you thinking on these lines give hope”.
I wrote to R Venkataraman, former President of India about the serious environmental issue in Besant Nagar, Chennai, due to the operation of open cremation ground. He immediately replied stating that he forwarded the letter to the Tamil Nadu chief minister and asked me to follow up with the chief minister's office and keep him informed.
Dr CP Ramaswami Iyer
I have continued this practice of writing such letters from my student days till now. I am now 75 years old.
Our trust used to conduct periodical meetings of deprived people like visually impaired women, street hawkers etc. to enable them to state their views and give their suggestions. Many deprived people used to express their views which are remarkable, particularly coming from those who are branded by the society as uneducated and poorly informed.
We would submit the suggestions made by these people to the chief ministers, the prime minister and others. We never receive acknowledgement or suitable reply these days.
In the case of the prime minister, a routine reply would come from the prime minister’s office (PMO) that the letter has been sent to the concerned ministry and that would be the end of the matter.
A few months back, a group of chemical engineers organized a meeting to discuss the prospects for setting up chemical projects in Tamil Nadu. After protracted discussions, we arrived at a view that tapioca/starch-based chemical complex with an investment of around Rs 1,500 crore should be set up in Salem region, where tapioca is grown extensively and chemicals from tapioca like citric acid etc., which are now entirely imported can be produced by eco friendly process.
A pre feasibility report was prepared after spending several man hours and was submitted to the chief minister, concerned minister and several secretaries. So far, even an acknowledgement letter has not been received.
It is said that these days, ministers and political/social leaders get many letters and they cannot be acknowledged individually. This is not true. Unlike the earlier days, ministers and others have a number of assistants and communication can be sent fast by emails.
The above change in conditions in acknowledging and suitably replying to the well meaning suggestions from the public reflect the falling regard for public opinion, amongst those in authority.
---
Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, Chennai

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o