So low is the credibility of the central government on matters even remotely related to religion that only those already “saffronised” would accept the new regulations on the sale of cattle, which are killing the buffalo meat industry. (Cow Soldiers Ride Buff Bazaar, June 12). Worse, it shows the Centre has little regard for the principles of federalism that underpin the democratic setup in India, enabling very diverse communities and regions to function as a nation. Had the ruling party been conscious of this reality, it wouldn’t have gone ahead on its anti-cow-slaughter agenda without taking each and every state into confidence. The economic implications for the already distressed farm sector, the leather trade and industry, and some suggest even the dairy sector has been overlooked in the exercise to force consumers of bovine meat to “join the mainstream”. Parliament too has been bypassed using administrative means. The government seems a bit intoxicated by electoral successes. There is also an element of immoral cowardice to the move: the government did not prohibit the eating of bovine meat, but is making it impossible to eat it.
K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore
Naseer Ganai’s Morals and the Major (June 5), is thought-provoking. I also agree with J&K MLA Engineer Rashid, “how a government which moves the International Court of Justice to make Pakistan uphold human rights in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case can reward an officer responsible for a grave violation of human rights in Kashmir.” That’s why thousands of Indians disagreed with army chief General Bipin Rawat when he defended Major Leetul Gogoi for tying Farooq Ahmad Dar on the bonnet of an army jeep, calling it an “innovation” in the “dirty war” in Kashmir. Rawat’s remarks not only were against the Indian army’s traditions, but also amounted to influencing the army’s probe into the use of a human shield by the major. Imagine if the stone-pelters did not care for human life and had continued to pelt stones at the army jeep even with Dar tied to it! What if Dar had died on the jeep? Would the major have deserved an award even then? If not, why reward the major for the stone-pelters’ humanity, which saved Dar that day?
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, On E-Mail
The story about BCCI old-timers resisting changes laid out by the Lodha panel was revealing (Neither One To Blink First, Jun 12). Indeed, controversy is the middle name of the BCCI. All this doesn’t augur well for Indian cricket. Whether the coaching controversy happened because Kumble voiced concerns about the pay, we may never come to know. But we can’t deny the legend’s wealth of experience has produced amazing results so far. If Kohli, as some reports suggest, doesn’t like Kumble’s ‘overbearing’ manner, they can sit across the table with the CoA members and sort the matter out.
Bal Govind, Noida
This refers to the Deep Throat item titled Emotional Infection (Jun 12) on Sushma Swaraj welcoming Uzma Ahmed on her return from Pakistan. Swaraj should have heeded the advice of her doctors, who had told her to refrain from any bodily contact after her kidney transplant surgery, but she had an ‘emotional’ meeting with Uzma and could not help but embrace her. Uzma had gone to Pakistan after marrying a Pakistani national and was being harrassed and tortured there by his family. Swaraj, as foreign minister, helped the troubled girl make her way home.
Mona Singh, On E-Mail
There is no denying that the top Indian professional colleges featured in your annual survey this year proffer the best education and training in the country (Cover story, Aspiration, June 5). But isn’t it paradoxical that the country which produces the best engineers has such dreadful infrastructure? Our health care system is inept to say the least, despite the finest doctors passing out of our top medical colleges. And the less said about our law colleges, the better. It’s high time the brilliantly trained and ambitious minds coming out of these colleges use their skills for the betterment of the country’s educational structure.
K. Chidanand Kumar, Bangalore
I don’t understand of what and whose use is the ‘Outlook-Drshti’ list of India’s top professional colleges? Can one select from it a top college of his/her choice and get admission in it? No question. With the privatisation of education, a mushroom growth of professional colleges and universities took place and there was a mad rush of students, aspiring to be engineers, managers, doctors, and what not, to such private institutions, which were high on cost and low in infrastructure and quality of education. The pass-outs from these institutions had, naturally, a low market value in comparison to their counterparts from the age-old, highly reputed institutions. Still, initially, the demand-and-supply equation worked in favour of the private colleges. But the job-market has now almost reached saturation point. Though an IIT pass-out is still picked up by big companies from the campus, it’s not the case with the private engineering colleges. Management pass-outs from private management institutions are facing the same situation—accepting meagre-salary jobs in the name of the ‘company-executive’ tag. No wonder the decline of private educational institutions is faster than their rise, with many having downed their shutters.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
During Vinod Mehta’s time, the letters section would carry entries from all sorts of readers, giving the section a spicy ‘outlook’. And many a time, the letters pages would be the most interesting feature of the magazine. Now, one finds the same set of writers, repeated frequently, with their rather drab and unimaginative views. Why this sudden downfall? One certainly wishes that Outlook’s letters section is as diverse as before.
S.K. Bhagwan, Bangalore
Major Leetul Gogoi’s action in trouble-prone Kashmir (Comment, Morals and the Major, June 5) has put the Indian Army in a questionable position. It must answer whether or not it abides by the rule of law as its action of making a person a human shield, and that too a man who had gone to vote in an election that recorded a pathetically low voter turn-out, will be judged just not in India, but also in the world at large, where the Indian Army is seen as an occupation force in the world’s largest militarised zone. Acting in such a reckless manner, it has done a disservice to the nation and must be reprimanded for it. But owing to the current aggression of thought prevalent in the country, the action has been rewarded by the army and lauded by a section of the public.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Major Leetul Gogoi, the man who tied a Kashmiri voter to an army jeep as a ‘human shield’, has been at the receiving end of criticism. He did so to prevent a 1,200-strong crowd from decimating a poll station in Budgam. It is being said that Major Gogoi’s action, taken on the spur of the moment, evidently saved lives of security and election personnel and, perhaps, of the stone-pelters as well. But, this is not being understood by many armchair activists and tear-jerking liberals. It was an accepted tenet in medieval Rome that the events that unfold on the battlefield are not for the Senate to judge, and what is Kashmir if not a battlefield involving security forces, militants as well as civilians! That tenet, sadly, was only for the medieval times and is not being followed now.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
After reading this particular line in your Comment; “If we don’t treat the stone pelting crowds as our own, why should they believe that we are one nation?” I felt the logic is rather reverse here—they (the stone-pelters) don’t believe in one nation, and hence the spectre of violence arises. Actually, I feel the restraint shown by Indian security forces has been exemplary in Kashmir; in other intra-nation conflicts, groups have not been offered as many opportunities.
Avinash Tripathi, New Delhi
It is unfortunate that many human rights activists, certain journalists, intellectuals, and pro-separatists forces, have also branded an Indian Army Major’s act of using a Kashmiri voter as a ‘human shield’ as brutal, failing to comprehend the objective behind Major Gogoi’s action—which was to dissuade Kashmiri youth from stone- pelting. The Army convoy led by Major Gogoi definitely did not have the strength to outnumber the mob, which was out to disrupt the election process. He acted according to the situation on the ground. The contrasting reactions of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the commendation certificate given to Major Leetul Gogoi speak for themselves. Omar Abdullah, a Congress ally, wanted the army to court-martial him while Amarinder Singh supported the army chief’s step wholeheartedly, even saying that those who opposed the conferring of honour on Major Gogoi were being foolish.
P. Arihanth, On E-mail
Using a Kashmiri as a human shield against stone-pelters by an army officer and extolling the action is an unjustified justification of army chief Bipin Rawat. It may give the impression that army can bend the rules for any operational necessity. It is quite well understandable that Gen Rawat has loyalty towards his soldiers, but it could result in the army being exploited by self-styled ‘deshbhakts’ for their petty aims and political perks. The General need not have glorified the major for his way of belligerent crowd control. In fact, no comment on the incident would have buried the matter silently. The major might have felt responsible for his subordinates’ safety, but by violating someone’s human rights, he made a case against the army. Armies are trained to create a sense of fear in the enemy ranks, but their own citizens don’t deserve to be treated like enemies. Gen Rawat is a decorated veteran of Kashmir, with vast experience in the counter- insurgency operations. Surely, he can find other innovative ways to deal with such situations.
L.J Singh, Amritsar
Educational institutes are like good wine, the older they get, the better they become.
R.S. Singh, On E-Mail
This refers to the review of Amjad Ali Khan’s book Master Of Masters. (Tied notes of Amiri Todi, June 5). I want to share an anecdote relating Amjad Ali Khan and Harivansh Rai Bachchan with the Outlook readers. Once, the poet attended a performance by the sarodiya. Bachchan immensely liked Khan’s performance. After having returned home, the poet wrote to Khan, addressing him as “janab”, and asking him for a record of the programme. Khan replied saying he would soon send him a cassette, but he added in post script that he would like Bachchan not to use the salutation “janab”, as he was of his son’s age. To this, Bachchan replied that when he, Khan, sat to play on the sarod, he was no less than a shahenshah. Khan humbly agreed. This is a classic case of one talented person recognising another talent—a jeweller knows the value of a jewel.
Niamul Mallick, On E-mail
This is with reference to your story on triple talaq (How to Court the Personal, May 29). Has the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) heard women? Our Constitution says that India is a ‘Union of States’ and all the citizens of this country are equal, yet Muslim women do not enjoy this equality, having the sword of triple talaq dangling over their necks, which can be used at the whims of their husbands. The AIMPLB has submitted before the Supreme Court that talaq is an intrinsic part of Islamic faith. But is it? The holy Quran, the primary source of Islamic jurisprudence has ordained to practise self-restraint, treat woman with kindness and fairness and attempt reconciliation, and if all else fails, to separate on equitable terms. Yet the AIMPLB has never sought to establish a procedural family reconciliation system for counselling, nor is there any provision for destitute women and children rendered homeless and penniless on being capriciously divorced in a single breath, as it is all it takes to utter talaq thrice.
For every Indian, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, community or religion, the Constitution of India is the most sacred document. Religion is intrinsically a matter of one’s personal faith. The Constitution gives people the right to equality and the right to live with dignity along with a bundle of other fundamental rights.
Dignity in marriage cannot be denied to Muslim women by continuing the concept of triple talaq. After all, every person is first a human being and then the other identities follow. The Constitution, in its directive principles of state policy, speaks about uniform civil code similar in manner to a uniform criminal code.
Islamic jurisprudence in matter of criminal penal code is never a matter of clamour or posturing, nor made a matter of identity of religion or community, but in the matter of women’s rights, the linkages to religious identity are made. Triple talaq is a practice derogatory to women and needs to be reviewed urgently.
Nazrana Ahmed, Assam
In his review of Sujata Prasad’s biography of danseuse Sonal Mansingh, A life Like No Other (May 29), Mani Shankar Aiyar has written ‘vargam’ instead of ‘varnam’ to refer to the Bharatanatyam form. One was hoping that as a Tamilan, Aiyar would know it is Bharatanatyam ‘varnam’. After all, not only did he represent India as a foreign services officer but also represented the people of Tamil Nadu as an MP from the state for many terms. But then, the mistake could also have been caused because of a fault in proof reading. The book is a good read, honest and straight from the shoulder, but I think Mani’s review doesn’t do justice to it.
Ashish Mohan Khokar, Bangalore
This is with reference to Brother May Faze Behenji (June 5), your story on the ‘Bhim Army’. India is seeing the rise of a non-mainstream Dalit force under the umbrella of the Bhim Army, which disowned Mayawati and her BSP. Led by a 30-year-old lawyer, Chandrashekhar, the Bhim Army claims a 40,000-strong membership in seven states, though active mostly in western Uttar Pradesh. It’s more than the story of victimhood. Caste discrimination remains an everyday reality for many but Dalits are also more assertive and organised than ever before. It seems a new generation of leadership is rising. The quota politics that has traditionally been deployed to do little more than appeasing identities for votes will no longer suffice, because the pie is already split thin and such politics, as is clearly visible, has only increased caste friction. It is necessary to move political debate beyond the assertion of caste identities. The Bhim Army has made its intentions very clear. Apart from Muslims, it is seeking cooperation from the Yadavs, Valmikis and other OBCs. A sense of deprivation and discrimination binds them and, in the BJP, they see a common adversary.
This is with reference to Three’s Not A Crowd In A Belt (May 29), your article on China’s One Belt One Road project. China’s entry into Pakistan through the OBOR, using the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is aimed at expanding not only its influence in the Asia-Pacific region but also easy access to African countries for promotion of trade. I could not help but remember the historic event of the entry of British East India Company in India during 1757, which later on in 1858, led to the British Crown assuming direct control in the form of British Raj. It is speculated that through OBOR, the Chinese will establish considerable influence over Pakistan. Furthermore, after the Chinese government installs various infrastructure and developmental projects in Pakistan, the people of Pakistan will completely be dependent upon China in respect of employment, agriculture, industries, education, and so on. To see an example of the neo-colonising nature of China, one needs to only look at the state of affairs in Tibet. These moves by China must be looked at with caution by the Indian government. India is already a big market for Chinese products. In the past few decades, we have started to depend on China for a lot many things. This dependency should be stopped at the earliest, otherwise it will continue to grow until we cannot really do anything about it. Then, China will have become more dangerous than ever.
Anand Malhotra, New Delhi
The Central and state governments have spent crores of rupees on the separatist leaders in Kashmir over the past five years. The governments have provided for their travel, hospitality bills, security and day-to-day expenses. Their children receive top-line education in foreign universities, even when the local schools are shut down for months on end due to agitations which they wholeheartedly support. The big question in the minds of patriotic Indians is, why?
Rajeev Boolchand Jain, On E-mail
In the Outlook issue dated May 15, under the section India’s Most Iconic Restaurants, the restaurant ‘Dakshin, Crowne Plaza in Adyar Park, Chennai,’ was wrongly listed as ‘Dakshin, Park Hotel’. The error is regretted.
This is with reference to your cover story on the two faces of Kashmir’s politics today (Political Islam or Islamic State, May 29). Dr Farooq Abdullah says Kashmiri struggle is neither communal nor Islamist but for the rights of the people. I wonder what these rights exactly are! The right to pelt stones at gun-wielding security forces, rob weapons and police stations, smuggle contraband goods including fake Indian currency; in brief, the right to criminal activities. Sometimes, the State needs to use force in dealing with these problems, something India is doing in Kashmir for decades. Farooq Abdullah, it appears, is jostling for space fearing annihilation in the maelstrom of lucrative politics. If other groups also start pelting stones in other parts of the country stating that they are doing so only to demand rights, what will happen?
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
In understanding the current Azadi sentiment in Kashmir, we have to revisit why Kashmiri Pandits, the religious minority in Kashmir, were forced to leave their homes in the late 1980s. It was a blunder on part of the Kashmiri leadership of the time to oust the Pandits from the Valley. During the year 1989, a campaign was launched to make the Kashmiri Pandits leave the state. Vicious sermons and songs were broadcast in the streets with people chanting slogans threatening the Pandits with dire consequences, which forced them to flee from Kashmir. Warnings in the form of pamphlets were pasted on Hindu doors. Had Kashmiri Pandits been left untouched, things would have been different politically for the Kashmiri peoples’ movement. No movement has ever been successful on pure communal basis. If the Pandits had not been forced to leave Kashmir, the movement today would not have had a communal colour to it. After all, culturally, Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims have a lot it common.
Ravi Raina, On E-Mail
This is on the Narendra Modi government completing three years in office. Modi has been the most visible prime minister this country has ever seen (of course the reach of social media has to do a lot with this, but let’s face it, in terms of news time, TV time, even radio time, Modi has outdone everyone). Not only that, his tireless and frequent visits to foreign countries have also made him and India noticeable all over the world like never before. He seems to have brought India on the global map in an unprecedented way and all the talk of development and progress has created a lot of optimism among the people of India, myself included. But his career in office has been tarnished by his government’s failure to control Kashmir, which has been in a state of utter unrest since a year. My heart bleeds when like-minded people and I see people dying in the Valley almost on a daily basis. The safety and control strategies of the security forces are in question here. Are they so inefficient that they cannot tackle the problem effectively? Now, even girls and women attack the forces. Should not the separatists, who continue to prolong a situation of unrest in Kashmir, be taken to task? They are instead being maintained by the government. But amidst all this, it was heartening to see the government working hard on the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been arrested by the Pakistani government. Such efforts were not made by the UPA government for Sarabjit Singh or the previous BJP government for the release of Saurabh Kalia in 1999. In the Jadhav case, we have at least managed to restore some dignity which was in cold storage for a long time. The irony is that though Pakistan is an enemy state which loses no chance in creating trouble at the border, it is still a preferred trading partner for India. If at all the Indian government wishes to send a strong message to Pakistan, it should sever all trade ties with the country.
S.P. Sharma, Mumbai
In a public address at Bathinda East, Punjab, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to render Pakistan barren by stopping the waters of the three rivers flowing to it through India. Whether it was just a vote fetching gimmick for the ensuing elections there or the sceptre of his innate RSS “hate-Pakistan” ideology raising its head once again is anybody’s guess. In any case, Pakistan mustn’t dismiss it lightly or look towards the UNO, irrespective of the fact whether the World Bank is a party or no party to the Indus Basin Water Treaty. It is a clear clarion call for the war of waters on Pakistan, which according to his scheme of affairs is a sequel to the so-called ‘surgical strike’. If India is bent upon on presenting Pakistan with a water crisis, it is bound to make us think of retaliation. This in turn would compel India to step up the attack on Pakistan and the situation will go from bad to worse.
Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi, Pakistan
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