I was extremely disappointed at the lead story and the accompanying pieces on the hanging of Ajmal Kasab (Dec 3). The tone and tenor of the articles were against his hanging. It’s surprising that you did not deem it fair to include at least one writer who justified the execution.
K.V. Menon, Thiruvananthapuram
When I came to know of Kasab’s hanging, I was stunned. And then sick—watching the whole country celebrate. I put up my feelings as a status message on Facebook: “The whole country is ecstatic. But I am feeling sad. Something wrong with me...or society?” Then I read Outlook’s cover. And realised I was not alone.
Goutam Das, Pune
Kasab’s hanging has brought to fore again the debate over capital punishment, shortly after India, along with 38 other member nations, voted against a non-binding resolution abolishing the death penalty at the United Nations. However, looking at the crime records in countries which cast the anti vote, it has been seen that retaining capital punishment has been no deterrent to crime. Given this, all countries should support the UN initiative—campaigned for extensively by Norway, a country which plays a leading role in global peace initiatives—to eliminate capital punishment. More than two-thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty, and their number keeps increasing every year. In the latest round of voting, Israel too joined a majority of the European countries backing the UN resolution. It is indeed high time that this primitive practice is wiped out completely in this modern age.
Ramachandran Nair, Oman
Everyone knows Kasab was a mere pawn in the 26/11 terror game. The machinery that dispatched and remote-controlled him is still alive (and kicking) in Pakistan. That is what we Indians want dismantled. It’s an irony that the hanging of a man who became the emblem of the most audacious peacetime assault on India will weigh minimally on the long-term consequences of his bloody assignment.
Padmini Raghavendra, Secunderabad
India could hang Ajmal Kasab only because there were no protests for him like the one by pro-LTTE Tamil politicians against the hanging of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins or the street protests leading to the postponement of the execution of Beant Singh killer Balwant Singh Rajaona. No one’s fooled by this political gimmick of the Congress, which will shamelessly cash in on Ajmal’s hanging in the run-up to the 2014 election.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Terrorists are created by dirty-minded politicians who enjoy unlimited power and vanity in the name of protecting the interests of a community that in turn is often misguided by religious sentimentality. These Frankensteins make monsters out of innocents. Conscience, love, compassion, living in harmony—the very bases on which human civilisation rests—mean nothing to them in their dark quest for power. An eye for an eye cannot be the answer. Countries have to rise above the politics of nationalism and communalism so as to be able to enrich human wealth and trust between communities and nations. Doing otherwise reeks of political cowardice.
Uttam Bhowmik, Tamluk
The government was free to hang Kasab after the President rejected his petition. So why the undue hurry and unnecessary secrecy?
C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad
Though human rights activists may be unhappy with Kasab’s hanging, there was no way around it if India were to send a strong message to terrorists regarding its commitment not to tolerate terror. Commuting Kasab’s sentence to life imprisonment would only have further emboldened the masterminds of 26/11, who continue to roam freely in Pakistan.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind is just rhetoric divorced from reality.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
Hanging Kasab was easy, will India ever have the guts to hang Afzal Guru, with Yasin Malik already having warned of ‘consequences’ in Kashmir should that come to pass?
Ramesh Raghuvanshi, Pune
I thank the Outlook editorial team for pointing out an important fact through the lips of Yasin Malik: that the people of Kashmir have consciously and collectively moved away from violence to non-violence. This is, in fact, the true homage to all our brave men who have fallen to terrorist bullets.
Gaurab Banerjee, Calcutta
The need to punish a crime is a fair argument, its jingoistic celebration—as was evident across a range of media, from tweets in cyberspace to comments on local radio channels—is not. The Ajmal Kasab case has been a politically charged affair, for which both the government and the Opposition need to share responsibility. Each day he spent in prison was sought to be projected as the weakness of a terrorist-appeasing government. The cost to keep him in jail was bitterly talked up: ‘biriyani for Kasab’ became rhetorical shorthand for the government’s allegedly twisted priorities.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
‘Lethal man-child’, ‘misguided youth’.... All these adjectives mean nothing for a terrorist who knew exactly what he was doing, as was evident in his swagger. Even the argument that it was premature to hang him while a case was pending against him in Pakistan is hogwash. If their courts had decided he was not guilty, would India have let him go back and become a wheat farmer in Faridkot? Now we are being told that should India hang Afzal Guru, the entire Kashmir Valley will rise as one. Is one to conclude then that you can get away with murder if you belong to J&K?
V. Mahadevan, Chennai
There can be no doubt about one positive outcome of Kasab’s hanging (So Much More to Unentangle). There won’t be any Kandahar-like hijackings to bargain for his release. He might have become useless as a gamer but would have retained his potential as a bargaining chip.
Apropos Meenakshi Ganguly’s Jump Cut (The Question Hangs), human rights people are welcome to give their valuable opinion after some of their own become victims of terror.
In their stated desire to elect Priyanka Vadra as their MP (Calling the Daughter, Dec 3), Rae Bareli’s people will only reinforce the impression that India is a monarchy masquerading as a democracy.
D.L. Narayan, Visakhapatnam
Keep worshipping her, people of Rae Bareli. She and her family have kept you where they want you to be and a hundred years on they will keep you there still, while the world moves ahead.
Priya Madhavan, Rochester, US
Priyanka, being young and photogenic, will create a media buzz if she enters politics. Rae Bareli, the constituency she may well represent one day, will benefit as much in development as it has when older members of the Nehru-Gandhi family represented it. But the Samajwadi Party has won their hearts too, so it won’t be an easy political walkover.
Parshuram Gautampurkar, Sawai Madhopur
The people of Rae Bareli always considered themselves more equal than others because, over the years, they have been represented by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. In Priyanka’s emergence, they will renew their expectations of further development of the area.
Pramod Srivastava, New Delhi
Were Rahul or Priyanka to ascend to the throne, Nehru’s legacy will have bequeathed upon India another member of the dynasty (‘Not wholly or in full measure’, Nov 26). Still, its significance may just be symbolic because governments are run by the bureaucrats.
Apropos Arundhati Roy’s interview (‘Those who’ve tried to change the system..., Nov 26), the common minimum programme can uplift at least 10 crore poor households, bringing them up to middle-class level. But this too will corrupt poor voters, who will repay the debt by voting for their benefactors.
The true story of the Bhagyalakshmi temple (Mushroom Minarette, Dec 3) is that there was a silakaram (stone idol) from time immemorial at the site of the present temple. Bhagawati, a wife of Quli Qutub Shah, used to offer prayers here. After an outburst of plague, the Shah built the Charminar. Government endowment records are evidence of the temple’s existence for 200 years. The mim is playing dirty politics.
When so-called photographic evidence from the past is presented, do people realise that photographs of the Charminar can be taken in such a way that the Bhagyalakshmi temple does not show?
Photographic records of the Bhagyalakshmi temple do not exist because by the time photography was invented (early in the 19th century) the temple had been obscured by the construction of the Charminar over it.
Vineet Reddy, Hyderabad
The recent violence in Hyderabad was neither spontaneous nor sudden. It was the work of parties tapping into communal tension to generate a following. Also, the Bhagyalakshmi temple is a recent construction, and not an ancient shrine as claimed by the Hindu right wing.
K.S. Padmanabha, Secunderabad
I remember a temple in existence at the site of the present Bhagyalakshmi temple at least as far back as 1974.
Bowenpalle Venuraja Gopal Rao, Warangal
When shops encroached upon the Charminar, no one protested. People, and the authorities, have a problem only when temples—which many thousands believe sacred—come up again on sites where they stood hundreds of years ago before invading conquerors razed them and built mosques or memorial domes over them.
Paramvir Sawhney, Gurgaon
Sometime soon the BJP and the Sangh parivar will declare the site of the Charminar as the birthplace of some Hindu god/goddess or the other.
A new temple has no business coming up at an ancient monument like the Charminar. It’s a failure on the part of the authorities that the temple was allowed to come up there.
Sriram N., Bangalore
Once upon a time, the Charminar did not exist. Why not, in the name of antiquity, revert things to that state?
Ashutosh Kaul, Toronto
Apropos The Deccan Revolts (Nov 26), the mim has the support of people from the old, walled city area of Hyderabad. As a political party, it has managed to leverage this into advantage: it is said even the police chief of Hyderabad can’t be appointed without clearance from mim leaders.
Apropos Past Those Sand Traps (Nov 12), the people have been questioning the need for the Delhi Golf Club to be sited in the city. The general feeling is that it is yet another perk enjoyed by the elite, when most of our schools do not have a decent playing field. Should this land not be used in the interest of the people? We urge the government not to renew the club’s lease when it expires in 2020.
Apropos Vijay Nambisan’s column (Aborting the Real Issue, Dec 3), summoning the Irish ambassador and making a quiet diplomatic row may technically be an intrusion in Irish domestic affairs, but it still has symbolic value. A law that causes unnecessary deaths is inhuman and pressures to change it must come from all possible quarters, irrespective of the niceties of diplomatic protocol.
It’s true that even after 65 years of independence, we have millions of poorly fed, uneducated children. But I need to ask Nambisan why he shies from naming the political dynasty that has ruled us for 56 of those 65 years. As long as one makes plain sweeping statements about poverty and deprivation, without a sensible acknowledgement of the role of poor governance by the current ruling dispensation, the tax-paying, law-abiding resident aam aadmi in me is surely not going to buy Nambisan’s misplaced arguments.
Did the bigwigs who attended Thackeray’s funeral do so out of a love for a born demagogue or for fear of more trouble if they did not (King Toon, Dec 3)? Not to speak ill of the dead, but the truth must out on the man’s many misdeeds. And if it clears the blocked mind of some of his manic supporters, then some good would be done.
Gopal Verma, on e-mail
These Tokres (bluffs) have made a very good living harassing the ordinary people and businesses of Mumbai. Their hearts bled so much for the Marathi manoos but they never ever did anything for them, not even start a school. The school for goondaism, though, they’ve got down pat.
Gilbert D’Souza, Bangalore
And to think this parochial, fascist ‘visionary’ was cremated with state honours.
Sampath Kumar, Bangalore
What do Sanjay Nirupam (Bihari), P.C. Alexander (Malayali), Pritish Nandy (Bengali) have in common? They all became Rajya Sabha MPs with the support of the Shiv Sena. Is it because the Sena finds that there are no worthy Marathi manoos fit enough to be MPs?
Sushil Prasad, on e-mail
It’s indeed sad that a man who was indicted by the Srikrishna Commission for the horrors of Mumbai 1992-93 was cremated with his body wrapped in the national colours.
A man with such a strong dislike for north Indians, his final resting place is now the Ganga at Allahabad. I’m surprised Raj Thackeray did not raise an objection to this.
Swapnil Sinha, on e-mail
It’s a disgrace that this man never saw the inside of a jail.
Sinchan Mitra, Chicago
We all should wake up and learn some history. Thackeray was just following in the footsteps of the great tribal goon gangs like the Pindaris and Thugs of the late 18th century. I wouldn’t be very surprised to learn that Thackeray was a fan of the brigand Parashuram Bhavu, who looted and plundered much of central India during that time.
H.M. Siddhanti, Richmond, US
Agreed, Thackeray was no saint but such one-sided hate articles are not worthy of Outlook. He must have done something right, or how do you explain the 20 lakh people who attended his funeral?
Gandhara, New Jersey
Ashis Nandy’s clinical analysis of Balasaheb as the juvenile prankster deserves credit for gall and guile (Prance of the Trickster). Being an innocent juvenile, if death and destruction ensue as a consequence, surely he cannot be held responsible for it.
Nalini Nayak, on e-mail
Pritish Nandy was once an SS member in the RS...hope Ashis remembers it.
Apropos Rohit Chopra’s piece We are all Thackerays (Dec 3), to focus on provincial divisiveness alone to define Thackeray’s brand of politics would be a mistake. For, his was less a political party than a gang of hooligans run by a hate-monger. That’s living proof that India’s democracy will never really have rule of law or public life devoid of identity politics.
Dipto C., New York
Really, Outlook, publishing such sub-optimal stuff from convoluted bloggers like Rohit Chopra is beneath you. Is this the ‘toxic legacy’ we have to live with from now on?
Shreenivas S., Bangalore
Sorit’s ‘Mirror Image’ after Thackeray’s death was the best cartoon on a man who openly admired Hitler.
Apart from India, the following countries have borders with China: Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrghyzstan, Mongolia, Russia and North Korea. How come only India is mortally threatened and needs to spend billions to defend its northern border and and must develop nuclear-powered ICBMS to deter China’s rising power? Why does India still have an unending border dispute with China? If we have failed to reach a settlement after prolonged negotiations spread over several decades, why don’t we, as directed by Article 51 (d) of our Constitution, have the dispute settled by arbitration?
The interview with Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi (‘I was made a scapegoat...’, Dec 3) was poignant and revealing. Speaking and writing truth today is a crime for which anyone can be put behind bars. The biggest problem the country faces right now is the growing influence of the far right and the penetration of extreme right-wing thought not only in intelligence-gathering, but also bureaucracy at all levels.
K. Jeltek, Dammam
Your interview states that Kazmi was “accredited with the Press Information Bureau”. This is to state that Kazmi is not accredited with PIB at present. Please correct at earliest.
Nitin Wakankar, Director (PF), PIB, New Delhi
Kazmi’s arrest and release on bail after seven months speaks volumes of the hollowness of our judicial system. Like others, Kazmi would have endured physical and mental torture in jail; and now has to deal with the stigma of being in jail. In fact, he has paid for being an outspoken critic of the US and Israel. India’s stand on Iran and its policy on the Palestine issue is deficient on a number of counts. As the world’s biggest democracy, it has to forcefully put it to the Western powers that Palestinians have the right to live and breathe in their own homeland.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
India is still a dangerous country if one cares for justice. It fares only better when compared to other underdeveloped countries or evolving democracies. Intrepid journalists like Kazmi need to think if their work towards justice and equality is going to be remembered with gratitude. Young Indians only care for money.
Nasar Ahmed, Karikkudi
I think the interviewer let Kazmi off easily, almost as if the thing was engineered to let him have his own version of things. The reporter didn’t seem to cross-examine him—about his other activities, his whereabouts when the attack on the Israelis took place, etc.
A.N. Banerjee, Newcastle
Apropos the accompanying article Magnets Don’t Stick?, it doesn’t answer the question as to why Kazmi’s family gave a somewhat contradictory explanation about the bike used in the attack? Also, IRNA, for which Kazmi works, suppressed news about the ‘green revolution’ against Ahmadinejad’s regime in Iran. If he’s so honest, if justice matters so much to him, why didn’t he quit IRNA?
The interview with former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami was revealing (‘Israel is wrong to focus only on a military response’, Dec 3). It is sad how, in the justifiable sympathy the world shows toward Palestinians, Israelis have lost much sympathy, that too when living memories of the Holocaust survive. The settlements in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem by Israel are the only hurdles before a final two-nation resolution of the crisis.
Apropos Mayday In Maldives (Dec 3), a large project in the Maldives can impact that country’s diplomatic and strategic interests. The government should screen such ofdi very meticulously in the future.
Next to Bradman, three names stand out as the next best bat: Sachin, Lara and Ponting. So talented a player was Ponting that he was the best player on the world’s best team for so many years. As a captain, he led from the front, epitomising the fighting spirit of the Aussie team. As a batsman, he ascended to the peak of sporting achievement. An astonishing tally of 13,366 Test runs and 13,704 in ODIs will go down in the annals of cricketing history. Cricket fans will miss Punter.
A thought-provoking article on care-givers, with meaningful comments on the joint-family system (Not A Care Untended, Dec 3). The secret of life is giving. Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting. An Indian proverb goes, ‘Good people, like clouds, receive only to give away.’
Apropos Ladle Happy Chicos (Nov 26), the TV-fed fad among kids to learn cooking is very welcome. But I’m befuddled that every kid featured in your story cooks cakes, cookies and pastas. Aren’t aloo-puris and paranthas worthy of learning anymore?
Soups, even vegetarian ones, are nearly always made using beef or mutton stock outside India (Beijing Diary, Dec 3). Feel free to confirm this. Sorry to spoil the broth!
Apropos Vinod Mehta’s Delhi Diary (Nov 26), one wonders if there’s one area Indians can claim to be honest in: we are the worst kind of hypocrites. Still, Mera Bharat Mahan!
T. Santhanam, on e-mail
Sir, you are a wonderful writer. On TV, though, your speech becomes a caricature of your prose. Please stop appearing on the idiot box.
Sudhir Kumar Bisht, Delhi