Apropos of your cover story, The August Question (Apr 30), isn’t it ironical that the top post in the world’s largest democracy is a topic of political strategies, votebank posturing, cheap intra- and inter-party games rather than an offering to the most deserving, capable, respected person? Look at the list of presidents we had. The first three (Rajendra Prasad, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain) were eminent Indians and well deserved the post. After this, the decay started. All we had were political appointees who were loyal to the ‘first family’ and served their interests well. Except for one, Dr A.P.J. Kalam. He was among the best presidents India has had and his five-year term was an honourable one. Thanks to Sonia Gandhi’s imperious fiat, he was not offered a second term and instead we got a president whose credentials were dubious and track record a laughing stock.
Ravi, on e-mail
Whether political or apolitical, what we need is a right-thinking candidate—like N.R. Narayana Murthy or the tried and tested Abdul Kalam. Parties must not involve the new incumbent in the cesspool of political bickering and tarnish the image of the presidency.
K.C. Kumar, Bangalore
I hope Dr Kalam and Mr Ansari will decline the invitation to become president because time and again it is repeated that they qualify because of their Muslim faith. Is this any way to start a new term?
Who do we want as president of India? Someone of impeccable character, who is not a politician, is sagacious, mature, secular, articulate, personable, well-educated and experienced in governance with a thorough knowledge of constitutional matters. No one fits this description better than Gopal Gandhi who, as president, would certainly do the nation proud. And Tara Gandhi would be the perfect first lady—representing in her person the best and most cherished of Indian values.
Anjolie Ela Menon, on e-mail
RJD leader Laloo Prasad Yadav’s suggestion for the elevation of Hamid Ansari is a sensible one. Suave and literate, he scarcely put a foot wrong as vice-president—except, of course, during that midnight mayhem in the Rajya Sabha.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
In all likelihood, it will be Pranab Mukherjee who gets sworn in by August 2012. Barring a minor discrepancy, the veteran has always been a loyal soldier of the Gandhis and the Congress party.
Venkatesh G. Iyer, Chennai
Will anyone remember that the country ever had a president by the name Pratibha Patil after July 2012? If at all she is remembered, it will be for the Rs 205 cr holiday trips with family to foreign lands.
Gilbert D’Souza, Bangalore
The office of president is ceremonial and must go to a person deemed an ornament of India. Dr Kalam is the best choice.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
In the debate on the next president, one issue shouldn’t be lost sight of—26/11 accused Kasab’s mercy petition will come up before the next prez. Closure for all of us will only happen with his hanging. A president who gives Kasab another five years of chicken biriyani at state expense has no place in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
C.A. Chaly, Kochi
Dr Karan Singh, who missed out on the coveted post earlier due to comrade Prakash Karat’s objections, is the best choice. A scholar, a patriot and acceptable to all. If not him, Pranabda is the next best choice. This is the last chance for him. He should quit the Congress if he’s not offered the post.
K.R. Rao, Vijayawada
A non-political person would be the right choice for President of India. All the candidates whose names have been floated should be dropped.
S.K. Jha, Darbhanga
Really, how does it matter who the president is in our country? You might as well have a Tendulkar or a Salman Khan. I’m sure they will do better than some of the jokers we’ve had in the past. PS: Why not Ratan Tata, a dignified candidate for the high office?
Ravi Bedi, Jodhpur
The Tai of Fizzle (Apr 30) was interesting. Pratibha Patil was Sonia’s nominee for the post, when she was at the height of her political influence. She wanted a dud as the PM, and another dud as the president. And she got them both!
Vinod Kumar, Delhi
It has been an insult to the post of the president to have such a colourless non-entity, self-seeking and surrounded by the whiff of corruption.
It might be that the supreme commander of the armed forces intervened to get army land for her home in Pune. Of course, thanks to the stink raised by the media, she had the good grace to relinquish it.
Haridasan M., Mumbai
Why did Outlook waste so much ink on the president? Which president has left a ‘lasting impression’ in office? Even Kalam, though he bagged the moniker of ‘people’s president’, actually did little.
Patil is easily the most useless president ever. What grates even more is that even after she goes, taxpayers will continue to pay for her and her venal family. It’s high time that post-retirement benefits for people holding high office was done away with. They deserve their pension, nothing more.
S. Iyengar, Baroda
As Rajasthan governor, Pratibha Patil sent back, not once but thrice, the anti-conversion bill passed by the assembly, only to please Mrs G. The reward was the presidentship.
S.S. Nagaraj, Bangalore
On the positive side, Pratibha Patil was at least better than V.V. Giri or Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. That’s the best one can say about her.
Ganesan, New Jersey
Seriously, is there no worthy politician in this country who can stop this self-serving Congress government from its various misdeeds—like nominating its lackeys for high posts like the president?
Srikanth Chakravathy, Visakhapatnam
I want to suggest Nirmal Baba’s name for the coveted post. His ‘third eye’ will also help eliminate the economic hardships the country faces.
Pramod Srivastava, Delhi
Power corrupts and absolute power.... Mamata is no different (Fortress of Unreason, Apr 30). After all, she also would like to rule Bengal for 20 years, like Jyoti Basu. Still, it’s odd how little time it takes for power to go to your head.
N.K. Singhal, Rohtak
Admittedly, Kabir Suman is a good lyricist and singer. He cosied up to Mamata and won a parliamentary seat only by riding on her skirt-tails. To anyone familiar with Bengal politics, the mere suggestion that he won the seat by himself is laughable. And by all reports, he still enjoys the influence, powers and pelf of an MP. Let Suman resign and fight the bypoll on his own steam, and we’ll forgive him his foolish display of moral courage.
It seems Imran Khan (‘This is a Political Tsunami...’, Apr 30) wants to have his cake and eat it too. He’s now a career politician craving after power. How can he be truthful, reasonable or logical in matters related to India and Pakistan?
G.N. Rao, Hyderabad
What distinguishes Imran from others is that he is not focusing on trade alone...it can’t be the only way to keep the two countries connected.
Muhammad Ahmad, Aligarh
Someone must let Imran know that Rahul Gandhi is aiming to become PM straightaway and not putting himself through the paces as he supposes.
R. Ram, Reunion Island
Those out of power tend to make statements reflecting a practical and wise approach, but change once they get power. I hope Imran, sportsman that he is, stays committed to what he says.
Lt Col S.P. Karir, on e-mail
I am impressed with what Imran says. But even if he means it 100 per cent, will circumstances in Pakistan allow him to put it into practice?
H. Brahmbhatt, San Diego
Opium and Taliban Are Forever (Apr 30) was full of platitudes with little analytical thinking. In many ways, it’s out of touch with reality. As for India, the Afghans will like us till our troops set foot there to prop up some government or the other.
Aakar’s arguments (The Ghost’s in the Details, Ma’am, Apr 30) are amusing and naive. He seems to have no understanding of tribal realities. If they accepted the church, it is because it came with a message of life and hope; they refuse to accept mining barons because they bring bad development and death.
Francis Minj, Ranchi
Give up, Aakar. There’s no way anyone can reform Ms Roy.
Lakshmanan J., Coimbatore
If we are nowhere despite adopting the British model of governance for more than 60 years, it’s because benefits don’t reach the people who need them most. No wonder huge swathes of territory are controlled by Maoists.
Ramesh Parida, Delhi
Patel gets it right when he asks, “Why is the tribal unrepresented in the body that does battle for him? Because the tribal is uninterested in the ideology of extremist Marxism.” That should educate the likes of Roy.
Patel’s article, full of facts and figures, is an interesting, thought-provoking counterpoint to Ms Roy’s ‘India is evil and the only good in India are the Maoists and Kashmiris’ view.
Prashant M., Bangalore
Patel’s piece is a hurried and ill-prepared apology for those Roy attacked in her article. He touches on the issues tangentially but only to distract readers from the real problems.
Jiwan Kshetry, Kathmandu
I’ll any day prefer Ms Roy. She writes rubbish but is eloquent; this guy writes rubbish and is not even eloquent.
I stopped reading the goddess long ago; and I won’t read anything countering her as well.
Jaleel Khan, Lucknow
What needs to be debated is what kind of capitalism India needs, coz for all its faults, there’s no viable alternative.
Patel writes too simplistically, I’m afraid. Learn a bit more about aid and this sin-washing term ‘charity’ and then make your expert comments.
Soumya S., Germany
If expensive private education is in demand (The Wide Gulf of Dissimilitude, Apr 30), it’s because the government has not done its job in providing good education in government schools.
Shubhang P., Ahmedabad
The government must soon go for a voucher system whereby ones issued to poor families can be redeemed by enrolling children at any private school of their choice.
Narendra M. Apte, Pune
It’s not surprising that ews reservation is not being welcomed with open arms. It has always been part of human nature to resist change even when it is for the good.
Pinaki Sengupta, Delhi
It’s as if the Dalits are now some neo-holy cows (A Cowed-Down Nation, Apr 30). Any criticism and you are branded anti-Dalit and banished. They expect everyone to carry the burden of the supposed sins the forbears of a “forward” Hindu committed. Forgive me, but is this not identical to a caste-Hindu position? This is the real dilemma today. The caste Hindus cannot forget their caste; they are continuously reminded of it by the pro-Dalit ‘politirati’. PS: If Ms Kandasamy wants to be another Arundhati Roy, at least let her learn some English. It might make her articles worth reading—as a piece of fiction.
Sharat Chandra, Kalpakkam
Isn’t it ironical that it is Dr Ambedkar, the father (not mother) of our Constitution, who put down Article 48, on banning cow slaughter?
C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad
The issue here is the right of people to eat what they want. This holds true as much for eating beef in Osmania Univ as it does to eating pork in Aligarh Muslim University.
Didn’t Dr Ambedkar call upon Dalits to convert to Buddhism which insists on stricter ahimsa and prohibits killing of all animals, not just cows?
Charan Dewry, Guwahati
Opinionated pieces are welcome, but when you pass even those completely lacking in logic, you touch a new low in journalistic standards. If you must fill your pages, please do so with gossip about Ukrainian politics or some such rather than this sort of lopsided piece reeking of prejudice.
A very silly article this. No one is stopping a Dalit from eating beef, but also no one has the right to offend any other group in public. And what has Modi got to do with the beef-eating episode? Is there some unwritten code that if there isn’t some Modi-bashing, the article will not get published?
Maya S., Mumbai
It’s the Jainism/Buddhism influence which made India more vegetarian. And anyway, with mutton beyond reach for many poor Hindus, they’ll have to turn to beef. It’s cheap, it’s healthy, people everywhere eat it. Why can’t we?
K. Madhu, Hyderabad
The article seems to have been written in a vacuum. You cannot expect a select group to be tolerant and allow their beliefs to be compromised when an entire atmosphere of appeasement has been created in the country. Let people eat, read, listen and see what they want, but don’t limit this maxim to Hinduism only.
Navien K. Batta, Muscat
Earlier, when the cows grew old, the farmer used to sell them to slaughterhouses. But now, with cow slaughter illegal in many states, and the sort of vigilantism afoot, forget cows, even bullock carts are disappearing from villages. It’s come to such a pass that the farmer can’t afford to keep cows!
Kalpana Bala, Mumbai
Please stop promoting these Arundhati Roy wannabes. Kandasamy isn’t even a Dalit, she was born to upper-caste parents and, like a few others we know of, has only taken up the Dalit cause just to keep herself in the news.
Selvan, Boston, US
Is it that Meena, having failed to give it back to her commie ex-husband, is taking it out on upper-caste Hindus now?
K. Suresh, Bangalore
What is the relation between sexual desires and a cow? What nonsense is this association of an Oedipus complex with a “love” for cow’s large eyes and white colour? Most absurd. Cows have some great qualities, but they are far beyond the imagination of this writer.
B.V.G. Rao, Warangal
The Mahabharata describes how 2,000 cows were killed every day in King Rantideva’s palace. The skins were kept heaped and the liquids oozing out created a river, ‘Sarmanvadhi’ (emanating from skin), as Vyasa described it. Many Brahmin guests graced the dinners arranged by the king as recorded in the chapter ‘Vanaparva’ 208: 8-10. Kalidasa also eulogised Rantideva in Meghdoot for having created the Sarmanvadhi (Meghdoot 1.45). Scholar Rahul Sankrityayan has extensively quoted these passages in his work, From the Volga to the Ganges. It’s not that the cow was not sacred during the Vedic era. It was held sacred, which is why it was killed and eaten. It has been recorded thus in the Vajasaneyi Samhita, “Cow and ox are sacred. So they must be eaten.”
V. Tholibangan, on e-mail
By a happy coincidence, the errors in iip numbers (Random Numbers, Apr 30) are always on the higher side.
Ismat Chugtai (Life and its Suburbs, Apr 30) is my favourite writer, and I consider it a misfortune to have not been able to meet her.
Apropos Drops Of Jupiter (April 30), Tatra will end up like Bofors—the only difference is Liechtenstein banks replacing Swiss ones.
In a nation where people cannot get enough of cricket (The Path Of The Rikishi, Apr 30), this is a commendable effort to bring out hidden small-town stars of other sports.
Once again, Mr Mehta writes about his colossal blunder vis-a-vis Y.B. Chavan in ’89 (Delhi Diary, Apr 30), his third confession in as many months.
Sharadchandra Panse, Pune
The beauty of Mr Mehta’s diary entry, I, The Misled, lies in its subtlety. Message delivered without once naming the addressee. Impeccable.
Barun Das Gupta, Calcutta