India: Former President Pranab Mukherjee, "A statesman and a scholar"
A glorious chapter in India's politics has come to an end with the passing away of former President Pranab Mukherjee (“India: Former President Pranab Mukherjee dies at 84”, Gulf News, August 31). He was affectionately called "Pranab Da". He was an eminent leader among the contemporary leaders of the post-independent India and an iconic personality, known for his intelligence and decision-making skills. His demise has left a huge void in the country's public life.
Pranab da was one of the finest statesmen India ever had, who established himself as a highly respected leader across the political spectrum. With his persuasive skills, intellectual farsightedness and unwavering commitment to the basic tenets of parliamentary democracy, he had a deep understanding of important national issues. He held the centre stage in Indian politics for about five decades. He was also widely known as a consensus-builder but outspoken. Even when he was President of India and Minister, yet he kept the bridge of friendship intact. He was always admired across the political spectrum and by all sections of society, and his contribution to public life was invaluable.
He was a multi-talented leader of the era. A gentleman, a scholar, a towering statesman, a distinguished, powerful orator, and a longtime parliamentarian, and 13th President of India (2012-17) who always stood for value-based politics, and who could not be questioned for "Integrity".
In 2019, Pranab Da was bestowed with the country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna for being an outstanding statesman of our times. He was also voted as the outstanding parliamentarian by the parliamentarian group (1997), who had also authored several books on the Indian economy. Pranab Da has left behind a stamp of the most iconic figure of the 20th and 21st century, and that of the greatest statesman of the contemporary history of India ever had it whose contribution to public life was invaluable. Pranab Da, you will forever be in the heart of countrymen. It is truly an end of an era, but his legacy will last forever.
From Mr Ramesh G Jethwani
Bloomsbury ban of "Delhi Riots 2020"
Referring to an article on 'Bloomsbury ban of Delhi Riots 2020; the writer seems to have consciously avoided reproducing the notification of Bloomsbury India in full of obscuring the phrase ' a book purportedly giving a factual report on the riots in Delhi in February 2020' (“Bloomsbury ban of 'Delhi Riots 2020': Colonial stranglehold on Indian publishing continues”, Gulf News, August 31). The caveat 'purportedly giving a factual report' immediately makes one circumspect on the intent and content of the book. Surprisingly, when the publisher itself was not convinced about the authenticity of the report, why did it accept the script for publication?
Of course, one couldn't agree more with the author's viewpoint on freedom of speech and expression. We are all free to weave any fiction or story or express our viewpoint on any issue; however, we cannot call it a report or a chronicle; leave alone the word 'factual'.
Several writers, historians and scholars have rightly questioned the speed and haste with which the so-called factual report was compiled, fact-checked, reviewed and published for release. There are video reports of police torturing the youth belonging to the minorities, including the one in which one teenager boy succumbed to their barbarism. I invite the writer and the readers who support him to revert to news-reports that were published in the internationally renowned newspapers (The Guardian, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Gulf News etc.) during the last week of February, 2020 or watch reports, and debates aired on reputed news channels (BBC, CNN, France 24 etc.) during the aforesaid period. Not only those wounds are still fresh; the manner in which the Delhi Police has been arresting innocent people and incarcerating social activists without any trial is a cause of great concern for those who have regards for human rights, liberty and equity.
The very least the new publisher who has offered to proceed with the publication must do is to have the content reviewed by a panel of renowned experts on Indian polity and history. They command respect and are known for their unbiased and impartial viewpoint.
From Ms Safi H Jannaty
Dammam, Saudi Arabia
India: E-commerce and online portals will replace brick and mortar trade
Whilst this brick and mortar format acquisition will be a new and coveted feather for the Reliance Group; the real challenge will be to make the retail business profitable and develop a robust and popular online portal expeditiously (“ India's Reliance Retail to acquire Future Group's units for $3.4 billion”, Gulf News, August 29). The Future Group faltered, with no online business and mounting debts. In any successful business model, everyone must win, including the vendors, suppliers and financiers.
The organised retail sector is around nine to ten per cent of the aggregate retail business in India. The retail trade in India is dominated principally by about ten million shops, many based on the “mom and pop” format (a term for small, family-owned or independent businesses), across the country, especially in the rural areas, where 65 per cent of the population lives. The profitability of organised retail has been feeble in India due to the high prices of real estate in urban areas. Many supermarkets render poor service since they try to compress overheads costs by reducing workforce costs, to make up for the high rentals. Margins in the grocery business range from three to eight per cent of the turnover, making the business very challenging.
The challenge for Reliance will be to develop the online business expeditiously. The pandemic has taught urban Indians to shop groceries like sugar and lentils online. The competitive of Amazon and Walmart is that they have evolved best practices, based on their global experiences, including in developing economies like China and Brazil.
Best Buy in the United States of America, could ward off the Amazon challenge only by developing an e-commerce business. Even Best Buy’s dynamic and visionary Chief Executive Officer, now Chairman, Hubert Joly, took about seven years to transform the industry. Traditional brick and mortar trade will have to be supplemented with online portals in the future, for a retail business to prosper, or even survive.
From Mr Rajendra Aneja