The stigma attached to sweeping the floor, cleaning toilets, cutting the hair, repairing slippers and many others is beyond description (“The risk of sweeping the floor,” July 9). In his famous autobiographical work, Government Brahmana, Kannada writer Arvind Malagatti noted how cleaning the classroom was a duty assigned to Dalit students. Their turns would be notified on the blackboard by the class teacher. They were invariably seated in the last row on the floor unlike others who were accommodated on wooden benches.

The socio-political struggle initiated by great reformers of past centuries needs to be taken forward even more vigorously now, for the neo-liberal outlook reinforces feudal values.

S.V. Venugopalan, Chennai

The Chhattisgarh Congress leader’s statement that he was ready to sweep the floor if his party leader wanted him to shows that political parties put individuals above ideals, values and the party itself. This dangerous development, which is not restricted to any one party, will end inner-party democracy.

Amit Kumar, New Delhi

Sycophancy is the trademark of the Congress. Leaders like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Rajaji who expressed independent views were sidelined. Indira Gandhi fine-tuned sycophancy by dumping anyone who disagreed with her. The sycophancy of bureaucrats is an offspring of political servility.

Ganti Mahapatruni Rama Rao, Visakhapatnam

While recalling Giani Zail Singh’s statement that he was prepared to sweep the floor if Indira Gandhi ordered him to do so, we should not forget that the former Prime Minister led by example when sweepers in the Central Secretariat were on strike. She cleaned her table proving that no work was inferior for her. It should also be noted that more than anybody else, it was Indira Gandhi who implemented many programmes for the betterment of the downtrodden.

Baikadi Suryanarayana Rao, Bangalore

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