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Apr 09, 2012
Capitalism: A Ghost Story Bite The Hand That Lights My Cigarette

Apropos Arundhati Roy’s essay Capitalism: A Growth Story (Mar 26), the future of capitalism is not as bleak as she would have us believe. This is because its main competitor, Communism, has done no good to the people who reposed their faith in it. Ms Roy is welcome to her fascination with the latter but the fact is that it has not worked and is on its way out almost everywhere. The only good that’s come of it is that it has forced capitalism to reform itself. True, capitalism is based on greed and moderating that greed is a serious challenge. But Gandhism rather than Marxism would help more in this endeavour. The captains of capitalism need to lead and act from the front.

Deepak Seth, on e-mail

Arundhati Roy is one of the very few media crusaders who haven’t sold their soul to the corporate devil.

Rajesh, Madurai

A 10,343-word essay on capitalism and development cannot really make a layperson reflect critically, unless it’s written cogently without overgeneralisation and poetry and neatly structured with titled sections to guide the reader on where the essay is headed. Seems the Outlook editorial team decided to rest on the author’s laurels and let this one slip. Her essay could have come across as more nuanced had Arundhati not just underlined the pernicious power of transnational capital pervasive in all spheres of modern societies from India to South Africa to America, but also endeavoured to acknowledge and respect societal changes in power dynamics between hitherto marginalised groups, the more privileged classes and state institutions as a result of socio-economic development in a Third World milieu.

Ranjana Ramachandran, Chennai

I receive my latest copy of Outlook, open the envelope, shudder in horror, sweat lightly, have my BP running high and low, feel weak mentally, disoriented physically. Why, you ask? I see Arundhati Roy on the cover. Despite the fact that Outlook has a new editor, it hasn’t changed its old habits.

R.K. Ravindra, on e-mail

Lakme is owned and operated by Hindustan Unilever. It used to belong to the Tatas.

Aakash, Gurgaon

Very sharp, Ms Roy. Excellent stuff. The US and Europe are in dire straits. Not just that, the Occidental kleptocratic mass murderers are losing their grip on the populations of the West. In America especially, there is a real chance for real change. The whole system is a swindle and I am so happy to have read such an eloquent critique. People might want to take a look at the documentary, Thrive: What on Earth will it take?.

Rene deGroot, Amsterdam

I find Ms Roy to be a bit of a princess—and too shrill by far. But she more or less hits the shiny little nail right upon its shiny little bald head.

David Wilson, Toronto

Someone must explain why people escape from communist countries to ones ruled by capitalist pigs. Why is there no traffic in the opposite direction if what Arundhati says is true?

Amit, Tucson, US

While Arundhati talks about the horrors of capitalism, she has forgotten about the horrors of socialism around the world. Even Communist China has dumped the idea of state ownership. In fact, the financial crisis of 2008 and its exacerbation is also a function of government intervention. A freer country with less government and less state intervention is the only path to prosperity.

Sonam Agrawal, Bangalore

Like all post-modern rhetoric, this piece is all fizz and directionless. What these so-called revolutionaries practise is actually a masquerade of the ‘Brahminical politics’. The article’s portrayal of invincible, self-destructive capitalism only reflects its author’s brand of ‘fatalistic’ politics.

Pindiga, Hyderabad

Phew. Verbal diahorrea along with intellectual constipation!

K. Vijayaraghavan, Chennai

What a colossal waste of 22 pages of admittedly high-class prose, which once again gets reduced to nothing more than the ranting of a disgruntled soul. By now, there does not seem to be anything under the sun that Ms Roy does not smell a ‘sinister design’ in.

Bhavna Mohan, New Delhi

Having trashed corporates, capitalists, economists, government, media, ngos, computers, think-tanks, databases, Bill Gates, Nandan Nilekani et al, how does Arundhati propose to save the poor from poverty?

Sumirti, Salem

I don’t think Arundhati has to provide a clear-cut solution. That’s not her job. Her essay is well-researched and well-written; it’s meant to provoke, educate, inform and awaken. Those who seek solutions from her should ask themselves what solutions they can think of.

Nishant Pratap, on e-mail

Self-proclaimed intellectuals like Arundhati operate as double parasites: they feed on the blood of the rich and live on the sores of the poor.

Swapnil Kothari, on e-mail

Yaawn, can someone explain to me in a “few words” what this piece is all about?

Subba Rao, Dallas

I am willing to pay Arundhati not to write any more.

Shammi Kapoor, on e-mail

I think a lot of Outlook staffers took a vacation. No wonder you had to fill up the pages with Arundhati Roy.

Ganesan, New Jersey

Arundhati Roy’s perception of a ‘caste mechanism’ in the political and social fabric of India is skewed due to her misconceptions about its content and evolution during the past 60 years. Neither Ambedkar nor S.A. Dange is responsible for the opportunistic engineering of caste politics in India.

C. Koshy John, Pune

I can write a bigger and better essay called Communism: A Gone Story. Gimme a chance.

Vaibhav Shrivastava, Calcutta

Whether you agree with her or not, Arundhati’s writings always manage to convey a sense of engagement with issues most journalists, let alone fiction writers, shy away from. She deserves respect for consistently exhorting readers not to follow the in-fashion narrative. It cannot be a writer’s mandate to offer solutions or churn out fiction that conforms to standards of thought that some deem appropriate.

Santosh John Samuel, Kochi

In a country with free speech rights, why cannot a person speak her mind? Doesn’t she have a right to talk about her country’s problems? Bury your heads in the sands, my friends, but don’t shoot those who raise their heads to take a look around them.

Ananya Bhattacharya, Bethesda, US

Are Arundhati’s rants worth a cover story? The Ambanis are not thieves, and they have a right to build themselves whatever sort of house they want. And who forces her to buy Tata Tea or whatever? She could choose the Wagh Bakri brand if she wanted to avoid the Tatas! To rubbish capitalism is too big a leap in conclusion that Roy is making. Do we have to go back to the time when we had to wait for years to get even a telephone connection?

Rajesh Chary, Mumbai

Ordinary mortals like me usually avoid commenting on Roy-bahadur. But one has to admit she has a way with the pen. A few comments, though: a) Surprisingly, she didn’t beat up the middle class; b) There was no breast-beating over Hindutva, though Narendra Modi was mentioned; c) I wonder if it was fair to Mohammed Yunus to say, without statistics, that people who chose his schemes have been dying.

Santosh Gairola, Hsinchu

In each page she criticises corporations and their greed, the adjoining page carries ads by the same greedy companies.

Madhuraj V., on e-mail

Arundhati says if the “100 great capitalists” of India were hypothetically removed, we’d be as poor as Sudan. But that may prove true of many nations, including the US.

B.V. Gopal Rao, Warangal

The only solution to the problems Ms Roy mentions is Anarchism. It does not mean chaos or the violent overthrow of the state. Rather, it is the least involvement of state and corporate power in people’s lives.

Fahad Ahmed, Hyderabad

Let me summarise Arundhati’s article: “Being proud of India is evil. The Indian middle class is evil. Hinduism is evil. Upper-caste Hindus are evil. Capitalism is evil. Business is evil. The US is evil. Consuming what capitalism produces is evil.”

Ramki, Delhi

No political system offers hope of justice to the poor. The role of citizens’ groups that challenge governments and political systems—such as the campaign led by Anna Hazare—must be seen in that light.

Narendra M. Apte, Pune

The one statement by Arundhati that left me impressed was: “Tidal waves of money crash through the institutions of democracy—the courts, Parliament as well as the media, seriously compromising their ability to function the way they are meant to.” Is the omission of bureaucrats an oversight? Love her or hate her, you can’t ignore Arundhati. She should be prescribed reading for the complacent and fatalistic.

Maj P.M. Ravindran (retd), Palakkad

Any system of governance is good if applied and executed truthfully, efficiently and without corruption. India’s problem is corruption and inefficiency, with the ruling party to blame in most cases.

Paramvir Sawhney, Gurgaon

Instead of rehashing rants borrowed from western socialists, Arundhati should focus on the quality of governance in India. It is still politicians who are powerful, and it is they who are to blame for India’s evils, not capitalism per se.

Dipto, on e-mail

Looking at the mirror is good—one sees oneself, warts and all. Arundhati has held up a mirror to us.

Manish Banerjee, Calcutta

Is there no saving grace to liberalisation then?

Girish Vaithilingan, on e-mail

Of course pieces like Arundhati’s are meant to irritate our sense of well-being. Seeing the very structure of our world falling apart, it’s natural for us ‘shining Indians’ to react in this antagonistic way.

Ananyo Mukherjee, Siliguri

Arundhati’s articles have lately become a show of her angst and emotions rather than attempts to educate the reader. She tends to repeat herself, beating round the bush rather than moving forward.

Sukanya Sarkar, Chennai

Kudos to Outlook for publishing Arundhati Roy, especially when, as she says, most of the electronic and print media are now owned by huge multinational corporates. And now that the cag has brought out a new report indicating irregularities in the auctions of coal blocks, perhaps people will start taking her more seriously.

Ramesh Kumar, Mumbai

All the talk about how India’s greedy and arrogant businessmen, in cahoots with the government, are undermining every institution in this country is, unfortunately, very true. Even if it comes from Arundhati.

G. Natrajan, Hyderabad

People like Arundhati lead seven-star lives, yet have the gall to write on the condition of the poor.

S.S. Nagaraj, Bangalore

Arundhati is as guilty as all the people she condemns.

Ramachandran Natarajan, on e-mail

Unless things change real fast, Arundhati Roy will be made irrelevant. She’ll be just one voice among the angry, unheeding millions. Ms Roy isn’t the publicity-seeking dramabaaz that she is made out to be; she’s our very own Cassandra.

Paresh, Rolla, US

Another rich, nuanced article by Arundhati. Instead of ranting at her, it’d be good to step back and introspect on how the definition of democracy has morphed along capitalist lines.

Siddharth, Boston, US

By linking every problem India faces to capitalism, Arundhati can blame the majority of India’s population.

Lakshmi Narasimhan, Chennai

Good piece. Shows the other side of the capitalism coin.

K. Nithyan, Denver

Well said.

K. Narasimhaswamy, Bangalore

The only grouse of Arundhati’s that I found valid was on Antilla. But here too the blame lies more with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation than the Ambanis for allowing such a large-scale, uber-lavish dwelling to be constructed for a family of just six members!

Ramesh T., on e-mail

Antilla throws up a multitude of ironies depending on which part of Mumbai you are looking at it from. The most obvious is the contrast with Mumbai’s slums. But equally striking would be if you were to see it from the Navy Nagar beach in Colaba. At the end of that land strip is the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, set up by Homi Bhabha with generous funding from J.R.D. Tata. JRD could have built an Antilla in Bombay, but instead preferred setting up institutes like TIS, TERI, IISC et al. Corporates of today end up managing even philanthropy in a profitable way, directly or indirectly. Arundhati Roy’s tone may be acerbic and prescriptive, but after 25 years of liberalisation and crony capitalism, the time is ripe to see where the Indian system is headed for.

Vinu Nair, New Delhi

It is no coincidence that Ms Roy chose Antilla as the epitome of evil. That it belongs to India’s richest man suffices. And when demonising and accusing becomes the defining theme of one’s life, what better than a structure of brick and mortar, however grotesque, to mount a venomous diatribe on capitalism.

K.K. Raja, Bangalore

Reporting on its housewarming party in November 2010, a Mumbai-based socialite-cum-pulp fiction writer breathlessly described Antilla as “the Taj Mahal of the 21st century”. Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan must have turned in their graves at the mausoleum. However, given Arundhati’s views, she could well brand the Taj Mahal as a symbol of medieval capitalism. Even if it be that, at least it is supremely aesthetic. Not so Antilla, which is a permanent eyesore scarring the skyline of Mumbai, and which resembles a monkey wrench.

Ramesh Ramachandra, Bangalore

Arundhati’s piece reminded me of Waseem Barelvi’s couplet: Banenge oonchey makaanon mein baith kar naqshe/Toh apne hisse main mitti ka ghar na aayega.

Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi

The Ambanis’ house is a brazen display of wealth acquired through not so transparent means. American capitalists, big or small, contribute a lot to society through charity and by building schools, colleges, hospitals et al. They don’t cheat the government by fudging accounts, avoiding taxes and reneging on payments to provident fund accounts of their employees.

Arun R., Bangalore

Apr 09, 2012
A Murder Of Crows Parliament of Howls

Apropos A Murder Of Crows (Mar 26), to their credit, Bongo-basis don’t care much for caste and creed. Instead, they harbour a crab-like resentment for businessmen and entrepreneurs. They would rather clap for a failed poet in dirty dhoti than nurture hopes of modernity from a successful enterprise.

S. Bengani, on e-mail

L’affaire Trivedi has exposed Mamata Banerjee’s churlishness, which she dresses up as populism and ‘pro-people’ politics.

K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore

If Dinesh Trivedi had in his office the picture of Mamatadi you published, maybe he wouldn’t have dared to hike ticket fares!

K. Suresh, Bangalore

A few years ago, we saw Manmohan Singh risk his government by not surrendering to Prakash Karat’s demands on the nuclear bill. The same PM is making compromises everywhere—even allowing a pragmatic rail minister to be replaced by a puppet. What is he going to gain?

Goutam Das, Katni, Madhya Pradesh

Sonia keeps her flock at NAC engaged in some trench-digging and refilling. The Harsh Manders are more than willing to follow her diktat.

Madhukar, Hyderabad

The concerns of Tamil MPs, both regional and national, about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka are entirely justifiable. Playing politics with that country’s sensitive internal issues and tying New Delhi’s hands in dealing with Colombo is not.

J. Akshobhya, Mysore

Apr 09, 2012

Apropos Shankar Acharya’s interview, what he refers to as bad policies or what could, in aggregate, be descibed as the socialist agenda, will over time push structural inflation from 5 per cent to 7 per cent and reduce the growth rate from 8 per cent to 6 per cent, a process well under way. Aiding this is the growing aversion to productive impulse.

Ashok Lal, Mumbai

Matchboxes are now cheaper, cigarettes costlier. So which shall we smoke now?

A.K. Ghai, Mumbai

Apr 09, 2012

Apropos Hezbollah, Mossad and Lodhi Colony (Mar 26), it isn’t the first time that an innocent civilian has had a false case slapped on him. It is the hypocrisy of the Indian system that instead of protecting its citizens, it heaps atrocities upon them.

Ashok Kumar, Jamnagar

Kazmi might not make it. Zionists have considerable influence with most top politicians in most countries, us included. Linkages can be drawn from corrupt politicos to Zionist Swiss banks to Zionist arms producers.

E.V.R. Naiker, Chennai

Alas, who’d have thought that savant journalists, the supposed vanguards of free speech, were themselves precariously placed, working within the baton-range of a fascist state system?

Farah Hafeez, Calcutta

Apr 09, 2012
Staring Out Voices Silence The Chasm

Because Kazmi is a journalist, he can’t be a terrorist? His purchase of an air ticket for the bomber, as well as the Rs 3 lakh in his account and Rs 18.67 lakh in his wife’s, find no mention in Neelabh Mishra’s column (Staring Out Voices). But his mandatory reference to Hindutva terror is there.

Ram Prasn Haryanvi, Ambala Cantt
Apr 09, 2012
Man Become Mortar Walled City

Suresh Menon’s tribute to Rahul Dravid was wonderful (Man Become Mortar, Mar 26). After a long time I read exquisite prose on cricket. In this age of media-controlled cricket, where statistics and brute power dominate, a beautifully crafted piece on Tests is a rarity. And the photograph added allure, the ground’s turf glistening in the mild sun of a British summer. The crowd, having been mesmerised by the master’s artistry, gives him a standing ovation, acknowledged in its turn with grace and poise.

A.K. Srivastava, on e-mail

My idol Dravid’s decision to retire has still not sunk in—I can’t reconcile to it. I became a diehard fan of his ever since his first Test at Lord’s, and have followed him since. A rosy future lies ahead for Dravid. After hearing his Bradman oration, cricketing pundits are convinced that he is someone who can lead and guide the game in the future.

Venkatesh G. Iyer, Chennai

The word legend is bandied about too freely in sports these days, but if there is a sportsman who lives up to the title, it is Rahul Dravid. Dravid never got the lucrative endorsements of Sachin, nor was he as flamboyant as Sehwag or Ganguly, yet he was the rock around which the Indian batting line-up revolved in its world-beating days. It’s unlikely that a cricketer like Dravid will grace the game again—his classical technique, his ability to surmount adversity through grit, and his incredible record in away Tests would be tough to emulate.

Meghana A., Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Dravid, and others of the ‘golden generation’, were instrumental in helping Indian cricket touch several benchmarks. For the first time in history, the team had five or six match-winners at once. Dravid’s milestones are legion—a regular number three, he has not only selflessly batted in any situation the team wanted him to, but also carried his bat as an opener!

C.K. Subramaniam, Navi Mumbai

The second most prolific run-getter in Test cricket is also India’s best batsman. Though Sachin is considered the pre-eminent one, Dravid’s consistency, plus his unparalleled record in helping India win Tests, makes him India’s best bat. Dravid’s biggest passion was to torment the bowler with his patience, and then the ability to pounce on ordinary deliveries.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad

Apr 09, 2012

I read Sara Abubakar’s column with interest (The Reel Spins Backwards, Mar 26). Outlook must be thanked for seeking out Ms Abubakar and publishing her opinion. This is how things are changing (regressing, rather) in most Muslim communities, thanks to the TV imams and mullahs.

C.M. Naim, Barabanki

It felt bad to learn that the plot of the recent film, Byari, was lifted out of Ms Abubakar’s novel. Now that plagiarism has been rewarded, we can all rejoice.

V. Mahadevan, Chennai

Apr 09, 2012
The Snake Oil Salesman Snake Oil? No, This is Kool-Aid.

Apropos The Snake Oil Salesman (Mar 26), ten years removed from Godhra, the Muslims in Gujarat are a cowed lot. They just want to stay below the radar and get on with their lives. Ergo, Modi’s job becomes that much easier.

Sheila Kumar, on e-mail

With all the international attention on Modi, it’s time to balance the books, is it?

Bonita, Chennai

Who has demanded of Aakar Patel to compare Manmohan Singh with Modi in terms of Indian macroeconomics? What is the logic behind such a frivolous comparison?

Ajay Pant, Moradabad

So? What are you trying to say? That Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are best suited to run the country? You would have an easier time trying to prove that the sun rises in the West.

D. Adalarasu, Coimbatore

“Malicious distortion?” This from someone who’s indulged a bit in it himself? Paraphrasing one of Patel’s arguments: if Hindus in Gujarat were enraged, it is because they were provoked. Who said it was a justification to kill anyone?

Kiran Bagchi, Mumbai

Patel has a preconceived point and premise that he wants to drive home. For this, he weaves a web of caste, Gujju psyche and the insider view of a Gujarati journalist. The attempt to draw a contrast between Manmohan Singh and Modi is a joke.

Kautilya, Washington DC

My my, by what yardstick do you say “Manmohan Singh is a fine leader”? Is Manmohan “governing India well”?

Ramana, Hyderabad

He’s comparing a BJP majority leader with the UPA primus’s coalition dharma. It’s apples and oranges. He’d have done better to compare the Modi government with the performances of the Congress majority governments in Gujarat (1960-1990).

P.B. Joshipura, Virginia, US

Apr 09, 2012

Andrew Robinson did an interesting review of Satyajit Ray’s book of essays (Mar 26). Though I disagree with his comment that Ray’s influence “on the many cinemas of India has been immense but rarely acknowledged”. Ray’s influence on present Iranian and Turkish directors is notable and often acknowledged. I recently saw Ray’s Home and the World and was struck at how much of the directorial style, camera angles and play of light and shadows can be seen in the works of Panahi and Ceylan.

Anwaar, Dallas

Can we stop this Ray worship please? Neecha Nagar, India’s first entry at Cannes, was made five years before Pather Panchali. Ray himself held mainstream icons such as Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar in high esteem, commending the latter for being the epitome of the method actor. Ray had his shortcomings too—while he was comfortable with the lyricism and economy of Indian art, he did not understand its capability for the larger-than-life image. He never mastered spectacle and grandeur, nor did he attempt it. In that respect, Kurosawa was a more complete film-maker. And Ray’s idea of Bengal never transcended the view from his drawing room, sketched on his coffee table. Anyway it was rooted in his Brahmo spirit.

D. Anjaneyulu, Chennai

Apr 09, 2012
Kahaani Unflattering

The movie Kahaani (Glitterati, Mar 26) does Calcutta injustice. I know hand-pulled rickshaws do survive in some corners of the city, but why did they have to fall back on this one (enduring, it seems) cliche of the city?

Abhijit Adhikari, Washington
Apr 09, 2012

Apropos Making Quick Work of What Isn’t Working (Mar 19), I am pleased to know that women are escaping from the clutches of oppressive men sooner than before. It points to a change in mindset and increased acceptance of divorce as a legitimate means to end unhappy marriages. Financial independence and a changed milieu may contribute to the trend. Family support is even more important to women in these situations.

Pavana A., Bangalore

While it could be true that women do not want to take injustice lying down anymore, I know of many cases where marriages have broken down due to some unusual demands from the girl—like wanting the freedom to dress in revealing clothes, and partying till late in the night with friends.

Raji Bhakta, Chennai

Apr 09, 2012
Planning, Execution Baby vs Bathwater

Apropos Planning, Execution (Mar 12), yes, we should try to eradicate aberrations in the execution of family planning programmes, but media zealots should try not to derail them.

Vivek Baid, on e-mail
Apr 09, 2012

The review of Stephen Cohen’s book on Pakistan (Mar 19) indicates that Pakistan is at a decisive juncture. One route might take it through military supremacy, use of terrorism as an instrument of state power, open to jehadi influences, hatred for India, to gradual self-destruction. The other sees it down the path of deepening democracy, assertiveness of the civilian government and curbing of terrorism. Its leaders must decide which route to take.


Lt Col (Retd) S.P. Karir, on e-mail
Apr 09, 2012
Bangalore Diary Our Town

Apropos T.J.S. George’s Bangalore Diary (Mar 26), it’d be nice if both old and new Bangaloreans take time out and work for the city. All our lakes have been encroached upon, and after thousands of trees were cut down, few new ones have been planted.

Anto, Bangalore
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