I turn 17 myself next week, so your anniversary edition came just at the right time. I actually started comparing my thoughts to those of extraordinary people when they were 17, and realised that people with ordinary thoughts too can become extraordinary. All it needs is transforming thoughts into actions to become the change.
Vansh Saluja, on e-mail
Reading a grandiloquent magazine is akin to sipping on a big mug of highly flavoured coffee. Outlook has all the flavouring ingredients. So tasty.
Seetharam B., Warangal
What a wonderful idea, Sirji. Over the years of ‘Outlooking’, I had never come across an article like ‘We the staffers @ 17’. Many happy returns.
Soli Canteenwala, Mumbai
Really wonderful to see what I am sure are rare photos of our famous people.
Mahesh Kapasi, Delhi
A few more thoughts on the number 17. In Italy, it’s considered an ill omen just like 13 is elsewhere in the western world. India, although it’s teeming with many myriad languages, only 17 are recognised. The tongue has 17 muscles, Gandhiji was assassinated at 17:17 hours, and as you said, Shakespeare wrote 17 comedies.
G.S. Rao, Bangalore
Who is the real Indrajit Hazra (You’ll Take a While, Manchild)? The grumpy, scruffy guy with indeterminate features who bashfully looks away from us every Sunday from his column in The Hindustan Times, or the dashing, debonair young fellow we have here in Outlook?
Manish Anand, Delhi
Egad, what a convoluted attempt to make a milestone out of a non-event! Seventeen, life-altering? Really? Are you guys serious? Or just 17?
Vijay Menon, Bangalore
Sixteen is sweet, 18 the time for adulthood, universally. Any hoopla around 17 can only be ‘much ado about nothing’.
R.V. Subramanian, Gurgaon
Reverse 17 to 71, and no one would care any more, because after 17, everyone reaches the straight stretch of the track-of-life running shoulder-to-shoulder with each other.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
That Harish Khare is a Congress loyalist is a well-known fact (The Year When the Consensus Broke Down). So to expect an unbiased account of that tumultuous year (1967) is like asking for the moon. That said, there were flashes of great analysis but he spoilt it with his snide remarks on luminaries like S. Radhakrishnan, Lohia and Rajagopalachari. Also, to label the Golak Nath judgement as a triumph for the landed classes is absolutely wrong; it was a reaffirmation of the fact that the Constitution is supreme and Parliament doesn’t have the powers to change its basic nature. India’s progress is inevitable; politics can either accelerate it or retard it. In 1967, India had reached the takeoff point—Indira Gandhi chose to press the brakes rather than the accelerator. and we paid the price.
D.L. Narayan, Visakhapatnam
Khare has correctly picked 1967 as a watershed year for the Indian state as well as for Indira Gandhi. She knew that India must dominate in South Asia for progress and that without uprooting Pakistan from the east, India would remain weak forever, that not only Kashmir but the east would slip out of India eventually. To that end, the 1971 war and India’s victory raised the country’s profile manifold. The full credit belongs to Indira. It was the first time India was raising its head, 2,500 years after the great
Ashoka. Pinaki S. Ray, Adelaide
The late Marri Chenna Reddy, master in the art of systemic corruption, is said to have made this statement, “If Madam Gandhi asks me to collect a crore of rupees towards the party fund, I am not a fool to collect just that much only.” Enough said.
It’s only a matter of time before Indira Gandhi is usurped and coopted by the parivar. After all, Vajpayee called her Durga and her Emergency rule is a working template for their intended Ram rajya.
Kishore Dasmunshi, Calcutta
Loved the mock obit Charles DiSalvo did of Gandhi as an opener to his piece Dr M. Karamchand vs the Mahatma.
Beena Mathur, Pune
As someone who hailed from a family with political antecedents, Gandhi would have become involved with politics even if he had become a doctor, though he may have been a local leader in Kathiawad/ Saurashtra or Bombay presidency. A great many doctors of his generation contributed to the freedom movement.
V.S. Achuthanandan: the last man standing against corruption (‘I had a chain at my waist’).
Prasanth Nambiar, Melbourne
And now all paddy fields stand without cultivation, most industries are shut down. Young people have to leave Kerala for jobs. All thanks to the rampant trade unionism espoused by the Left parties. Lal salaam.
Praveen Matt, Taupo, New Zealand
One may deride him for his shortcomings in controlling the 2002 riots in Gujarat, but one cannot help but notice Narendra Modi’s remarkable journey from a humble tea seller to one of the most intriguing people in politics today (Triumph of Wilfulness). If not for 2002, the post of PM was his for the taking.
Amit, Tucson, US
Till date Narendra Modi is not free of charges of massacre. How can we contemplate a tainted man as the prime minister of the largest democracy?
Mazedur Rahman, on e-mail
When his sister, a humble schoolteacher, asked for his help for a transfer, Modi refused to intervene. Nor do many people know that he lives in a spartan section of the chief minister’s official bungalow and the long hours he puts in for work.
S.S. Nagaraj, Bangalore
Rising from the proverbial gutter to a position wherein many look upon him as a potential saviour of a nation of 1,200 million: that sure is greatness.
Gagan Deep, Noida
An awe-inspiring story.
Rishi Vyas, Kangra
Indians are one of the easiest to fool and brainwash. Modi knows that. According to internet tool Status People, run by a group of engineers in London, Modi’s Twitter account has 46 per cent fake and 41 per cent inactive users.
If Laloo’s execution and integrity were even half as good as his wit, Bihar would have been a far better place (Any Samosa Chutney Left?).
S. Bengani, on e-mail
For all his infinite flaws, Laloo @ 17 deserved power and position more than a Sonia or Rahul @ 17. The tragedy is he himself does not realise this; it's sickening to see this erstwhile disciple of the JP movement worship Saint Sonia.
In the interest of fairness, can Outlook tell us what Soniamma was doing at 17?
Rakhal Ghosh, Philadelphia
Apropos A Fire-Dweller at the Kiln, Mamata may be a little naive, but you cannot question her integrity.
It was a treat reading the 17th anniversary issue, and I refer to Vinod Mehta’s piece (‘Foolish, uncorrupted, confident’). The ’50s in India were notably free of communal and casteist issues, unlike now. So what led to this morass of votebank and reservation politics? The failure to follow Gandhiji’s wish of abolishing the Congress, or the failure to follow Ambedkar’s plan of abolishing reservation in 10 years? Or both?
People like Medha Patkar are the true heroines of India (A Gatherer of Zeal). One is left to wonder if the people she serves selflessly deserve her, considering their lack of gratitude and lack of awareness. All they are interested about are Bollywood actresses.
A young Air India was magical and unforgettable (A Princely Kingdom In Rarefied Air). The unique mascot, Maharaja, used to lure travellers by naming the carrier ‘your palace in the sky’. The Maharaja, alas, has since been retired, and with dark clouds around, we can only hope that Air India regains its past glory.
Gitanjali Aiyar’s remembrance of the 17th year of Doordarshan (Good Evening, India...) was excellent. DD is what matters to people all over India in the villages. They have little use for the westernised ‘chamcha’ news channels, with their talk shows peopled with vainglorious intellectuals who rarely listen to each other.
Your fine reminiscence on Koshy’s rang many nostalgic bells (High Tea, Jazz...). Tastes have got more refined since 1969 and there are a lot more and far better offerings. After moving to Bangalore in 1996, I have till now never understood why Koshy’s evokes a nostalgic ‘happening place’ feeling in old-timers. Or maybe the romance of nostalgia isn’t my cup of tea!
Professional newsmen they may be, but when it comes to revealing anything about themselves, Outlook staffers are very parsimonious (You’ve Read Us, Dear Reader. Now, Read Of Us).
Krishna Prasad’s endpiece to Outlook’s 17th anniversary special issue was excellent (Happy Birthday To Us). Pieces like these are what make Outlook a lively read. Refreshingly served fare, I say.
Ashish Tandon, Delhi
Hmm, not too sure about Arundhati Roy in your premier essayists category. If anything, Ms Roy will be your downfall with her verbal diarrhoea. If her rumblings don’t stop at Outlook, I’ll certainly stop subscribing. Take heed.
R.K. Ravindra, on e-mail
I’d like to add to Krishna Prasad’s Last Page line that ‘newsweeklies break stories’. Well, what they don’t do—and this is a fact common to the Indian media at large—is follow major scandals over time down to their logical conclusion—ie follow-up stories.
Vidur Dayal, on e-mail
Fine issue, just a note on KP’s take on the dailies. I get six of them and their life is 16 hours (till I sleep) and not just from 7 to 7.24 am.
R.D. Singh, Ambala
Agreed, ‘When I was 17’ is a collector’s issue, for one rarely comes across something as smug as this. This is a 17-year-old’s frantic collection of made-to-order balderdash from beginning to end.
Atin Gupta, Delhi
Reading my interview as published in Outlook without getting the draft approved by me, I am upset at the distortions therein, which need to be corrected immediately (‘It is not enough to be honest and be oblivious to corruption’, Nov 12). Omitting the minor ones, two major distortions are as under:
Answering the question relating to self-regulation of the electronic media and Justice Katju’s observation about it, I had said: “Justice Katju is a WISE (not wild) man who, when he refers to organisations like the Medical Council or the Bar Council as examples of how things ought to be regulated, should choose his examples with care. The Medical Council had a Dr Ketan Desai as head and the Bar Council has never initiated any serious action against its errant lawyers so the Supreme Court had to punish its chairman for abusing some Allahabad High Court judges. And Justice Katju’s appointment immediately on demitting office as Supreme Court judge has raised the question that he would have been approached for the appointment while in office as a judge.” See the distortion in the publication.
The other relates to the query about the Ayodhya case. I had said: “When the BJP raised the demand for release of some land claiming it to be surplus misconstruing my majority opinion in the case, a senior journalist came to me. I told him that I would not discuss the judgement which had all answers for anyone to read pointing out the relevant part of the judgement, to which he said that Justice Ahmadi also was quoting my majority opinion to counter the BJP’s claim.”
I then said “I wish Justice Ahmadi also had signed my majority opinion which would have avoided the false insinuation by a few that the bench was divided on communal lines.” See the distortion in this published part also.
Giving the benefit of the doubt to Anuradha Raman that the distortions are not deliberate, it is obvious that the short notes she was scribbling contained mistakes committed in a hurry.
The story on SC/ST medical students having to take recourse to a Delhi High Court order to pass exams (The Drona Syndrome, Oct 29) draws hasty conclusions based on a report by Balchandra Mungekar. It appears from the report that these students were victimised and deserved to pass. While many SC/ST students are indeed victims of bias, objectively they can equally be underdeveloped as students. In an instance in Agra Medical College, students admitted on reserved seats failed to pass exams and promptly accused faculty of bias. The directorate of medical education gave them a second chance and held a special exam. Again, none passed. The students again raised a furore. The UP government asked the director of medical education to start an inquiry. While checking the exam sheets during the inquiry, the director was shocked to find that many students had just left the sheets blank or copied the questions. Then the students explained their real difficulty—they didn’t understand any English! I feel there is a need to look at the possibility of teaching medicine, engineering etc in Indian languages. Reservations alone is not enough: you need enabling systems to complement it. Or you’ll have subpar docs.
Even before Arvind Kejriwal has named his party, three of his colleagues have been reported to be allegedly involved in illegal land dealings (Aam Army, Oct 29). He says his party would be ‘different’. Once upon a time even the BJP said the same. Look at it today.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
The Anna experiment against corruption seems to have got entangled in ‘who is the greatest’ syndrome.
George Jacob, Kochi
Apropos the story on the outrage against the attack on Malala Yousafzai (Swat The Taliban, Oct 29). I am sure Islam doesn’t give its followers the right to shoot a 14-year-old girl just because she was a spokesperson for girls’ education. The international press was brilliant in highlighting Malala’s case, and it’s great to know she’s recovering well, but there are thousands like her in Pakistan and Afghanistan who risk acid attacks and forcible abduction every day for standing up for their rights.
BJP leaders claim to be protectors and preservers of Hindu values and Indian culture. Indian and Hindu culture holds women in high esteem: ‘Yatr nariyustu pujante tatr ramante devta’—the gods’ abode is the place where women are looked upon with respect and reverence. If that be so, Narendra Modi’s sexist taunt against Shashi Tharoor (the “Rs 50 crore wife”) is clearly inconsistent with Hindu values. So is BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s barb at Tharoor (the “ministry of love affairs one”). Political discourse shouldn’t degenerate to this level.
A lot has been written about the Sino-Indian war in 1962—the year I was born. Most readers though have missed the main point. If the Chinese had outrun and held India, we’d have been spared the dreadful ‘Chinese’ food we get to eat!
Through her Mind Your Body column in Outlook, Rujuta Diwekar is bringing age-old wisdom back in vogue. All modern-day nutritionists would banish pickles as fattening (The Deepest Pickle, Oct 29), but the truth is that, if eaten in small quantities, pickles are good for digestion.