Mr. Tharoor is not a conventional politician. Therefore, he lacks the hypocrisy and double standards required in politics. The Prime Minister himself put the issue in its correct perspective when he said such quibbling does take place.

K.V. Ravindran, Payyanur

The “cattle class” remark should be treated as a joke. But Mr. Tharoor should be reprimanded and asked to do some community service, like spending a day in a government hospital. He should take a city bus to the hospital. He will know better whether economy class in a plane is indeed cattle class.

Judish Raj, Hyderabad

It is sad to see how words, which reflect a sharp wit, have been twisted and turned. I suppose we cannot appreciate a Minister who reveals the lighter side of his personality. We are used to leaders who are boring and poker-faced, wearing a mask of seriousness. I am sure all those creating a furore over Mr. Tharoor’s remarks would have had a hearty laugh had they been uttered by a friend.

Isha Pant, New Delhi

Why should an off-handed humorous riposte become a matter of such a big debate? In any case, austerity practices by VIPs can have only a symbolic value because the cost of their protection cannot be compromised. Miserable indeed is a nation that cannot laugh at a joke. Gone are the days when leaders like Nehru enjoyed being lampooned by cartoonists.

Gigy Joseph, Changanacherry

Mr. Tharoor used the phrase “cattle class” in response to a post on his Twitter page. I live in the United States and travel quite a lot. Phrases such as “cattle shuttle” and “cattle class” are used to describe the no-frills airliner service providers and the economy class in a jocular manner.

There is no derogation in the use of the phrases. Dr. Tharoor has apologised and the matter should be allowed to rest.

Karthik Subbiah, Osceola, Indiana

“Cattle class” aptly describes the condition of railway compartments ... which are no better than cattle sheds with their smelly, unusable toilets, pestered by all kinds of anti-social elements.

Taken in the right spirit, Mr. Tharoor’s comment should attract the attention of the authorities to take corrective action to improve conditions in the mobile cattle sheds.

P. Krishna Rao, Chennai

Did not Rajiv Gandhi call Kolkata a dying city? Mr. Tharoor rightly acknowledged the tweet question with an apt nomenclature for the economy class, on train or airplane. If we want the elite to join politics, let us encourage an open system.

S. Nagarajan, Thane

“Loaded like cattle” means packed like sardines. It is a reflection on the state of our airlines. What is wrong with the term “holy cows?” Is not our political class the ultimate representation of the “holy cow?”

Aziz Mehdi, Visakhapatnam

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