Apropos your cover story (Officer, Gentleman and the Army Mess, Apr 9), why is the media wasting time alluding to the COAS’s letter leak? The person who leaked the army chief’s letter little realised that it’s part of his duties to write regularly to the MoD and government. As for defence budget cuts, I remember accompanying Gen K. Sundarji in 1986 to a meeting with then FM, N.D. Tiwari. Sure enough, within minutes into the meeting the latter said he had a shortfall and wanted to cut Rs 500 crore (about Rs 7,500 crore at current prices) from the defence budget. There was an uproar from the service chiefs but to no avail. Two days later, the amount was withdrawn from our budget. The chiefs then jointly wrote a letter to defence minister K.C. Pant highlighting the operational deficiencies—much like the present COAS—but nothing happened. After six months, a reply signed by a joint secy came saying the government was aware and necessary action would be taken. It is still being taken.
Lt Gen S.K. Bahri (retd), on e-mail
Both A.K. Antony and the COAS have faltered, the former by delaying decisions in his anxiety to say, ‘Look, my hands are clean’, and V.K. Singh by perversely resorting to a classic military strategy (the scorched earth policy) just because he was roundly defeated in the ‘Battle of the DoBs’.
Rajesh Ramachandra, Bangalore
There have been too many ‘Mr Cleans’ in this country for any good to come out of it—Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan and now Antony. Not to forget the good general.
S.S. Nagaraj, Bangalore
It’s evident that there’s an institutional breakdown in the MoD which is the root cause of all this brouhaha. Antony or someone else must fix this at the earliest. The people demand an explanation from the upa for its lackadaisical policy on defence preparedness.
C. Koshy John, Pune
A revelation in all this is that after all these years we are still importing substandard trucks for defence use. What is the drdo doing? If they are not up to it, why not go to private players? Tatas, Ashok Leyland etc make trucks for the world, why not use their expertise?
T.N. Misra, on e-mail
It is the criminal silence of those in the highest positions that has put the nation in grave danger. A clean image counts for nothing, their spinelessness is costing us our peace.
The Congress should shuffle Antony and Manmohan out of the pack. They are incompetent and, worse, are liable for neglect of their duties.
Bikash Chakravarty, Noida
Knowing fully well that a mere undertaking in writing by an individual cannot substitute for authenticity in a verifiable manner, the defence minister accepted a line fed to him by his staff to force Gen V.K. Singh to retire a year ahead of his rightful date. By this action, he has in one stroke undermined the very foundation of trust between his ministry and the armed forces.
Lt Col B.K. Nautiyal (retd), on e-mail
This dilly-dallying could lead to a national calamity, like the ignominious defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962.
Lt Col S.P. Karir (retd), on e-mail
At least the man spoke out. We should thank Gen V.K. Singh.
Siddharth Shankar Mishra, Sambalpur, Orissa
A main reason why India is ‘coup-proof’ is the sheer combined size of the state and reserve police forces, headed by ips officers loyal to the political establishment, for right as well as wrong reasons.
Mike Desai, Delhi
So many stories in your magazine on the army imbroglio, but will someone tell us the real cost of the trucks in question and the price at which the army bought them or was asked to buy them?
Kiran Voleti, Chennai
Our enemies must be laughing at the war between the army and the government.
Prof H.S. Dimple, Jagraon
The general has compromised integrity and honour to reach the top and now cries foul when there’s no space to crawl further.
Gilbert D’Souza, Bangalore
It’s unusual to expect the army to be clean when most public services in the country are corrupt. After all, like cancer, corruption metastasises to all organs of the country. The entire body needs to be subjected to chemotherapy.
Arun Kumar, London
Even today, if one considers the perks of army life—free housing and rations, subsidised canteen and travel facilities, long leave—it amounts to much more than most civilian jobs of a similar level. Perhaps corruption in the army is a reflection of what’s true of society in general—an urge to strike it rich.
Navin Malhotra, New Delhi
It’s humiliating for the nation that the army chief is joining the long list of those who are seen as disgraced.
K. Chidanand Kumar, Bangalore
The leaked letter of the army chief to the PM was made public by the media at a great cost to national security. The media should have exercised restraint, for national security stands far higher than circulation figures.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
Apropos The Salvation Armyman, virtually all the more politically savvy army brass have gone on to post-retirement careers in politics; it’s part of the bait not to rock the boat. And almost of them, not surprisingly, have taken the right-wing route (read BJP). V.K. Singh, though, might have queered his pitch a bit. Still, nothing that a bit of quiet time, post-retirement, cannot cure.
Biswapriya Purkayastha, Shillong
These same officers who quote Chetwode at NDA passing-out parades won’t hesitate to sanction anything if they can make a buck from it. Be that an aircraft carrier or toilet paper, every item in the armed forces is inflated 5-10 times. Just check the invoices. All contracts of the last 10 years should be scrutinised with particular attention to those involving our governors (Gen J.J. Singh) and ambassadors (Adm Sureesh Mehta).
Jeff Stewart, Delhi
Srinath Raghavan’s piece (A Declassed Detachment) touches on some facts regarding the problems of military officers versus civil servants. But the swipe at Gen V.K. Singh is absolutely uncalled for and in bad taste. Politicians—most of whom are thoroughly corrupt—and bureaucrats—of whom a sizeable number are corrupt—have manipulated the system in such a way that the armed forces or any other fraternity involved in securing the country or in nation-building (teachers, for example) are a demoralised lot. I think the three defence chiefs should be put at a par with or above the defence secretary. Soldiers should be given a better quality of life, completely free of political interference.
Brajesh Choudhary, Delhi
Good ol’ Raghavan thinks he has learnt everything he needed to know about the army after six years of service. I must be a dud, for after 35 years, I still feel there’s a multitude of things I’m unaware of. Yet for a captain with six years of service (of which he must have spent three at schools of instruction) to comment on a chief, it only goes to show that India is a true democracy.
Brig S. Sivaraman, Bangalore
The author is completely confused. Your editors should wake up, advise columnists on how to write logically.
Anil Sood, Botswana
Aren’t we readers entitled to informed commentary rather than biased opinion? I have always respected the Hindu and Outlook as two reliable sources of information, but after this piece I fear you are falling behind.
Apropos A Hamlet for Delhi, it’s amazing to see people go on and on about A.K. Antony’s honesty. What does it really amount to when he couldn’t decide on acting on the army chief’s alarmed cry that he was offered a bribe?
Apropos A Little Less Latitude (Apr 9) on Nitin Gadkari falling out of favour with the RSS bosses, once again it illustrates how outdated the RSS leadership is. It selected a proxy and imposed him on its political front to lead India in a rapidly changing world. The Economist has correctly described the political front BJP as the “Big Joke Party”.
Girish Mishra, New Delhi
The big bosses in the RSS are in a great hurry: they want the BJP to come to power in 2014. But even if NDA were to come to power, it will be with the help of regional parties like the Shiv Sena, MNS, TDP, AIADMK, Akali Dal, JD(U), BJD and, possibly the Trinamool Congress. The latter are more likely to win some 150-160 seats in the next Lok Sabha and so more likely to dictating terms to the BJP. All calculations of the RSS would go haywire if that happens.
Narendra M. Apte, Pune
The media has to make up its mind. Will Gadkari be renominated to act as a counterweight to Modi (as it has been reporting until now), or will he be removed for not being able to “bring Modi out of his perennial sulk”, or better yet, be made the PM candidate to keep Modi at bay?
It becomes somewhat tough to determine the credibility of a story when it comes from the mouth of so many 'unnamed sources'.
Sachin Tripathi, Bangalore
L’affaire BJP is getting curioser and curioser, as the self-proclaimed party with a difference is fast turning into an outfit with no ideas, ideology, agenda or leadership. It’s difficult to put a finger on where exactly the party remote-controlled by the RSS has gone wrong, but it appears as much in dire need of a revival strategy as its arch-rival Congress. Right now, it has reduced itself to a party which is smart with the media but severely handicapped when it comes to the electorate.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
In most places, the sons/ daughters and other family members of a chief minister or minister would take undue advantage of their senior’s position (Papa Kahte Hain, Apr 9). In Uttar Pradesh, a father is taking advantage of his son’s position and ruling the state by proxy.
The present West Bengal government is being run on the whims and fancies of its chief minister (Centrally Heated Complex, Apr 9). Mamata Banerjee’s autocracy afflicts both party and government administration. She is populist for the sake of being populist and makes a great show of it. Senior and active tmc mlas and MPs are neither being given due respect nor a free hand in policymaking. Inevitable in a party which has no legacy in social engineering practices.
S. Biswas, Kalyani, WB
Dinesh Trivedi’s ouster was a hugely impulsive move on Mamata’s part, even if aam aadmi-friendly. However, Didi needs to rein in such impetuosities. Else, her hard-earned mantle will start cracking.
Bikram Banerjea, Mumbai
I liked Sharda Ugra’s column on the issue of awarding the Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar (A Jewel Deferred, Apr 9). What she says makes a lot of sense. But Sharda doesn’t ask the hard questions. Does Sachin deserve the Ratna if any of the following is true? Is it true that he filed income-tax under the heading of an ‘artist’ rather than a ‘cricketer’ to save tax? Is it true that he asked for corporation rules to be bent so he could get additional fsi to build a gym in his new house? Did Sachin get customs duty waived on his Ferrari, which he then ended up selling to a Surat-based businessman?
Abhiram Bhat, Mumbai
For God’s sake, stop this Bharat Ratna for Sachin. Think 10 times before you decide if he deserves it. When Kapil prolonged his career to break Hadlee’s record of Test wickets, the same people who looked on indulgently at Sachin and his pathetic scramble for century number 100, had criticised Kapil. And please, let’s not let M/s Ravi, Sunny and Manjrekar be the lead debaters on this issue. They think cricket is not played anywhere other than Mumbai. They had bayed for the blood of Sourav, Dravid and vvs; as far as Sachin is concerned, he can play for as long as he wishes.
R. Ramaswamy, Bangalore
Sachin has not done signal service to the country that has materially influenced the lives of his countrymen. Those who say he has changed people’s lives advance a naive, even immature, line of argument.
S.K. Jha, Darbhanga
This debate is just a storm in a teacup. Yes, Sachin’s cricketing record is staggering, but he has achieved this in a sport that’s played at its highest level by only 10 nations. Why, most countries in the world don’t even know what cricket is! That fact alone should put him back in an imaginary queue of possible Ratna awardees. The Bharat Ratna should not be conferred on someone based on popular opinion or public clamour, but keeping in mind the weight of achievement and the odds faced on the way.
C.K. Jaidev, Dubai
Given the popularity of cricket in India and the astounding batting records of Sachin, the demand to grant him Bharat Ratna is but natural. Yet, if internationally acclaimed performances in a sport can bring in our highest award, then many other sportspersons also deserve it. If popularity is the consideration, why not offer a Bharat Ratna to Amitabh Bachchan? Given Sachin’s commercial appeal in endorsement of various brands, I would not be surprised if the recent media chatter about his award is orchestrated by the sponsors.
Dipto, New York
What has Sachin done to even make people talk about his getting a Bharat Ratna? Has he played free for the nation? Tell him that for the next one year he’ll not be paid to play Tests. Within 20 minutes he’d fax in his medical certificates saying he has a shoulder injury. Please, we want real heroes to be honoured, not cricket merchants.
Even the Bharat Ratna has been won by people who don’t deserve it. It has become, like so many things in India, a place for petty politics and wrangling and favouritism. Sachin’s achievements would be remembered by his countrymen. He shouldn’t bother about awards given by corrupt netas.
Nasar Ahmed, Karikkudi
For someone like me, who actually likes watching cricket, Sachin provided great moments of pride. But you cannot get a Bharat Ratna by just doing your job!
Ashutosh Kaul, Toronto
Sachin is a great cricketer, like Gavaskar, Dravid, Lara and Richards. But he’s not greater than Sobers, and certainly not better than the Don. If there’s one Indian sportsman who deserved this award it’s none other than hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, who gave us three Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936.
R.K. Singh, Gurgaon
They say cricket is a religion in India, but most forget the drawbacks of excess (The Turf Ain’t That Green Anymore, Apr 9). The biggest casualty of too much cricket, masala and otherwise, is not dropping trps, but injuries, fatigue and loss of motivation that bedevil an international cricketer. It leads to important players missing out on important tours, injuries on tours, or just an inability to concentrate on Test cricket with its exacting demands. The results are an embarrassment: eight consecutive Test defeats abroad, 11 losses in odis. Money is understandably important for a cricketer, considering they give their best years to the game, and that when their playing years end, it leaves them relatively young, with a long life ahead. But they also need to draw a line somewhere.
Bal Govind, Noida
Well, in the whole article, the word ‘money’ was mentioned eight times, and ‘brand’ eight times. Guess what? ‘Cricket’ was mentioned once. That pretty much sums it up.
In India, sports is not really a part of our lives. A very small percentage actually play any sport as a part of their routine. At the same time, we have retained a healthy love for any sort of tamasha, especially ones providing cheap thrills. Hence the fascination for IPL. But familiarity breeds contempt, hence the slackening interest.
Rajesh Chary, Mumbai
The IPL, it seems to me, is like the great Indian rope trick which people have now decoded. They have understood the illusion behind it.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
Unless Indian targets rebut Neeraj Monga’s analysis and conclusions with facts and reason, his views stand (The Cable Guy, Apr 9). Not drinking of the local “kool aid”, Monga has the additional advantage of the clearer perspective that distance lends.
Nitin Kibe, Washington
A bull in a china shop. We needed one.
Arun Maheshwari, Bangalore
Just what the doctor ordered. The next time I invest, my opinions will be swayed more by in-depth analysis than just brouhaha and herd thinking.
Somshankar Bose, Madison
Many practices of the Indian corporate world are suspect enough to lend credence to these stories.
With all her obvious limitations, be it lack of any deep activist struggle or the purveying of five-star socialism, which would make her a sort of poor man’s Solzhenitsyn, the same thing which was said of him would hold good for Arundhati also (Capitalism.., Mar 26). A leading Russian editor of the liberal Russian paper Novy Mir said: “Maybe, we would like him to be more courteous and less gruff, somebody with better manners, but he is the only one we have.” Similarly, a less shrill, more reasoned Ms Arundhati Roy would do nicely but unfortunately, and this shows our real lack of independent voices, she is the only one we have.
Vinod Naik, on e-mail
Excellent article. It makes you think.
Adelia Bertetto, Bruxelles, Belgium
Works like Arundhati’s hold up a mirror to us, and if we don’t like what we see, the fault lies with the way we have made ourselves up and the society around us.
Amit M., Patna
The lift-out quote regarding burqa used in Arundhati’s essay is very jarring and detracts from the specific point she’s making in the context of western liberal feminism. What she means to highlight is how an important issue with great resonance vis-a-vis women’s liberation (ban on wearing burqa in France), which ought to have become a rallying point for women’s rights activists, had in fact been turned by the liberal feminist movement eating out of the hand of capitalist foundations into a rather limited debate about humiliation and coercion of women.
Pupul Dutta Prasad, IPS, NHRC, New Delhi
Most of the voluminous response to Arundhati’s essay decried her for the sake of doing so. This is how capitalism works. The upper and middle classes write in immediately because they’re the real beneficiaries of liberalisation, and the essay is unfavourable to them. And the vast majority of people whom the likes of Arundhati try to represent do not read Outlook; nor do they have the courage to speak against their villains.
P. Selvaraj, Villupuram
Apropos Delhi Diary (April 9), Mr Mehta, though I am opposed to your ‘pseudo-secularist’ outlook, I must confess I like your ‘ol’ bastard’ style of self-deprecation.
Rathan Sharda, Mumbai
What is it about Salman Rushdie that turns you off, Mr Mehta? Has it got to do with his being a more popular writer? I quite agreed with what he had to say on Imran.
Narendra Kaushik, Gurgaon
Rushdie is the pampered child of the western media. They inflated his importance, and now he is making merry all over the world. Those who read Gogol or Kafka know what magic realism is.
Ramesh Raghuvanshi, Pune
Rushdie is ferocious with anyone who does not pay obeisance to him. In his hands, sarcasm is a formidable weapon and he uses it to regale those who do show up.
Anwaar, Dallas, US
A person may be forgiven for feeling jealous of Imran Khan. First saw Imran on a flight from Calcutta to Delhi a third of a century ago. Looked like a Greek god.
Ashok Lal, Mumbai
In her review of Agent Vinod, Namrata Joshi pans the movie throughout, but rates it ‘watchable’ (Glitterati, April 9). The movie is one of the worst productions from the theatre of the absurd.
The illustration accompanying the song ‘Mother Daw Suu...’ (Apr 16) was done by Kuldeep.