Apropos your cover story News of a Beheading (Jan 28), if war was a solution, the Kashmir issue would have been resolved many times over. A lot has been done to broadbase the India-Pakistan relationship so that Kashmir doesn’t remain the only thread of discussion. Such rhetoric in the name of nationalism will only take us away from this. Let’s work towards building our capacity for peace, not war.
Bachchu Singh, Meerut
The Indian government’s hardening of stand came perhaps in the aftermath of the political unrest in Pakistan. It was trying to play down the events initially, but once it got news of Tahir Qadri’s long march and the Pakistan Supreme Court verdict on the premier, the tone changed.
Abhinav M., Pune
Pakistan has always taken our caution as weakness. Candlelight vigils on the border, civil society, cultural or sporting interaction are all very fine, but they cannot excuse ceasefire violations on the LoC, intrusions by Pak-trained militants, and certainly not the beheading of our soldiers.
Col R.D. Singh, Ambala Cantt
You call this “talking tough”?
Vipul Jani, Toronto
Vinod Mehta’s piece When Doves Fly Low finally constituted something sensible from him. Hope similar wisdom dawns on other Wagah border mombattiwallahs.
Rakesh Mehra, New Delhi
Mr Mehta’s experience of the aam aadmi in Pakistan must be different given that he is a prominent journalist from New Delhi. You need to meet Pakistanis as aam aadmi elsewhere and then judge their reactions. The years of brainwashing by jehadi elements cannot evaporate overnight. India has done little in this regard, and I have little hope from the present leadership.
Surjit Kohli, Gurgaon
An arcane and abstruse concept of quantum physics, the Heisenberg principle of uncertainty, can perhaps explain Mr Mehta’s riddle of whether it is television coverage that creates public frenzy, or the other way round. Stated in simple, non-mathematical terms, it postulates that the very act of observing a phenomenon changes its nature and course. Likewise, any action being captured on a TV camera gets influenced and exaggerated precisely because the protagonists are conscious of their being on camera. This behavioural factor has been exacerbated by the electronic media in the recent cases of the gangrape in Delhi or the beheading of our soldiers at the LoC, wherein several TV anchors and reporters have recklessly incited their subjects by asking them provocatively leading questions. All of which naturally disproves Mr Mehta’s conclusion that public outrage precedes media hysteria.
Ramesh Ramachandra, Bangalore
The Pallava king, Mahendra Pallava, sensing a spirit of defeatism in his people, built numerous Bharata mandapas, where the Mahabharata was read daily. So, when the war came with Chalukya Pulikesi, his people rose to the occasion. Perhaps we in India need to revisit the project, especially the story Kunti narrated about Vithula and her son.
Rakhal Ghosh, Philadelphia
Pakistan’s strategic assets in India are all once again coming out of the woodwork!
Ravi Patel, Baroda
I have several friends who happen to be from Pakistan. And let me tell you, what we call the “establishment” of Pakistan is nothing but the ‘aam aadmi’ of Pakistan. And because we ignore this fact we have to act surprised each time they give us a bloody nose. A co-worker of mine has an older brother working in the ISI, another friend has a dad still serving in the army. These are not different entities but one which know India to be their existential enemy. They are right. With similarities in language, culture, history, and even weaknesses, India as the bigger, more successful and original inheritor of everything common exerts a massive influence on their polity and their mind—just by being there. Pakistan has not been able to handle this well, and only by its aggressive, proactive and virulently anti-India stand been able to hold on to their ‘Pakistaniat’. India would do well to wear velvet gloves but only if she can have an iron fist inside them. Above all, it should never make the fatal mistake of thinking that their establishment is some kind of strange monster come from outer space. It’s not.
Ashutosh Kaul, Toronto
Cheap Logomachy exposes the role of mass media in mobilising public support to further the interests of fringe elements in the LoC affair. And everyone knows how our corporate-controlled big media ‘manufactures consent’ among the people. They select targets, they determine the boundaries, they shape discussions, they control the flow of information.... Such media outlets must be held accountable for the wilful and malicious propaganda they put out.
Apropos Jawed Naqvi’s piece, Do Look Before You Lunge, just a query. When was the last time Dawn published a serious piece of journalism demanding that Pakistan turn secular?
Thanks for standing up for the isi and the Pak army, and that too with unverifiable, anonymous stories and anecdotes.
Bhagat Singh, Bangalore
All through history, truth has been a casualty in wars. The victors control the truth and the people go with it. Indian atrocities are not shown to our public and Pakistani atrocities are never shown to theirs.
Nasar Ahmed, Karaikkudi
The problem is no one knows who to deal with and who to blame in Pakistan. Everyone there is a king in his own sphere, be it the jehadis, the army, the isi, the geek hackers or the hawk diplomats. And only one agenda acts as glue: that of hurting India.
E.M. Peror, New York
Arnab Goswami’s channel and most others are in a producer-consumer relationship with their ‘followers’ (Playback Artistes’ Pratfalls). So only the channel and its consumers are allowed freedom of speech, no one else, especially not anyone from horrible Pakistan. So it was with the war-mongering scenario. Heavy bias, no moderation, relentless jingoism in the name of informed opinion. This phenomenon, I believe, is called ‘hyperreality’, well-explained as the ‘authentic fake’. The neo-middle class consumer wants to go to the mall, then to protest against the Delhi police against rape. By afternoon, they want a war so they can live in a delusion of being rich and powerful. Rang de Basanti-style patriotism rules the roost, which means that it is an impulse and not dedication to the nation. So if a farmers’ protest blocks traffic, they want the police to beat them with sticks. The farmers are fair game, the ‘urbanites’ are not. Sigh...I love this nation and I’m going to Facebook right now and like the ‘Burn Pakistan’ page.
Abhishek Prakash, Jaipur
So what you’re saying is regardless of what Pak does, the Indian media and public should not question them.
Rohit Bhalla, Delhi
It’s true, the Indian media goes overboard to satisfy what it thinks the majority wants to hear.
Soumya Saxena, Wachtberg, Germany
Amit Baruah’s head and heart are in the right place (Peace Won’t Break Out). However, even in the most brutal and tragic acts, there are some red lines. In both the young woman and the soldier’s case, those lines were crossed in a manner that outraged the nation. The popular reaction was not created in a TV studio.
It’s unfortunate that the RSS (Holier than Cow, Jan 28) and its chief Mohan Bhagwat are oblivious to the fact that these days men and women work together in offices and factories and that in many poor families, women are the bread-winners. Maybe he needs reminding that two of the women who have conquered outer space are originally from his country.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
You got it wrong, Ms Neha Dixit. Mohan Bhagwat did not say the things you and other media houses have attributed to him. The RSS has lodged a complaint about this with the National Broadcast Standards Authority.
B.V. Shenoy, on e-mail
Has the BJP (TINA-enabled President, Jan 28) gone insane? This is the problem with people like us, who are anti-leftist. We throw out sensible people—look at what happened to Jaswant Singh and Arun Shourie.
I used to think of Swapan Dasgupta as the uncharacteristically honest BJP ideologue who would get hot under the collar trying to defend in TV debates the numerous shenanigans of his colleagues. His essay on Swami Vivekananda (The Poor and Afflicted..., Jan 28) revealed yet another facet of him. In a beautifully crafted piece, he has demolished the pretensions of Jyotirmaya Sharma without using a single harsh word or recriminatory gesture. The quiet, empathic depth of his piece reveals the shallowness of our “secular” brigade.
Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai
The behaviour of Hindu zealots is so predictable: one book excerpt from Jyotirmaya Sharma angers them; a rejoinder from Swapan Dasgupta leaves them elated.
M.K. Chaitanya, Singapore
Let our “seculars” get a couple of things into their thick heads: nothing diminishes Swami Vivekananda; and they don’t get to decide who will seek inspiration from him.
Novonil Guha, on e-mail
Dasgupta writes: “After all, the liberal elite’s disavowal of everything ‘Hindu’ is not universally shared in India.” Many thanks for this matter-of-fact reminder.
R. Raghavan, Chennai
Dasgupta has tried to usurp Swami Vivekananda for the Hindutva camp. But there’s no question: the Swami was a “uniter” like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, not a “divider” like Veer Savarkar, M.A. Jinnah or Narendra Modi.
Anwaar, Dallas, US
Swami Vivekananda’s greatest contribution was in presenting Hinduism and Hindu thought in a way the West could comprehend and relate to.
Ashish Kumar, London
It’s the chronic Indian habit of sentimentalising our past and deifying figures from the past that is to blame for the misinterpretation of Swami Vivekananda. We are blind to the factual realities of such personages. And who wants to hear his gods criticised? I thank Jyotirmaya Sharma (Dharma for the State?, Jan 21) for providing a fresh perspective on the Swami in his book excerpted by Outlook.
Sarah Hafeez, Calcutta
Subverting anything that brings solace to some and does not harm others—in Jyotirmaya Sharma’s case, the great work of Swami Vivekananda—seems futile, unless done as an academic exercise, in which case it should be published in an academic journal, and not a popular format like this.
Dr Shyamala Vatsa, on e-mail
Excellent answers by Mata Amritanandamayi (‘The rapists were ferocious animals...’, Jan 28). It’s not really about the rules and laws, she points out. Change can only come when it dawns upon the mind.
Apoorv Singhal, Mumbai
Amma’s words are so clear and wise. The incident had left me so agitated and I now feel somewhat at rest after her words. I see some hope that if we all try as a community, such incidents can be prevented.
Sita, San Ramon, US
It is ‘vivekam’ or the ability to discriminate that separates human beings from animals. I hope each of us and society as a whole heed Amma's words.
Rishikesh Pulinholi, Kozhikode
Mata Amritanandamayi is the only leader truly able to read the pulse of Indian society. Accepting the good and rejecting the bad, I pray that India recognises the practicality of its spiritual culture.
Change has to start at home, Respect for women, moral values and ethics have to be ‘walked’, not ‘talked’. Amma nails the problem on its head.
Radhika Menon, Kerala
The only sane stuff coming from the religious fraternity.
Kishore dasmunshi, Calcutta
Why should one compare the lustful and violent to animals? Is rape an animal’s instinct?
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
I hope the Asaram Bapus of the world take lessons on humanity from her.
Ganesh Natrajan, on e-mail
Apropos the story from Kerala (Urban, Rural, Or in Transit?) in your package on rapes in Bharat (Hinterland Beasts, Jan 21), the assailant Govindachamy had his hand amputated from the elbow down. And the version most current among people is that the girl was pushed out of the train and sexually assaulted in the field adjoining the rail track, and not as you describe.
Rape in Madhya Pradesh is indeed grossly under-reported (Irrational Numbers?, Jan 21). The modus operandi is to deflate the tyres of the vehicles of couples going out for a late-night show and then a group of ruffians coming to the aid of the ‘Bhabhijis’. And it isn’t as if the police is unaware of this.
There’s too little science—except for ‘corporate’ science—being applied to studying the long-term effects of GM food (Seeds of a Divide, Jan 28). The evidence against GM grows stronger every day and anyone who dismisses it is being wilfully ignorant.
Philip Kelleher, Tipperary, Ireland
What’s all this fuss about when Mark Lynas is not a scientist? Everyone likes a good convert, and that’s why media groups with a leaning towards free-market economics and GM have played up his conversion. But it makes me happy that the biotechies have such a lightweight to defend their position.
Aruna Rodrigues, Mhow
Vandana Shiva should come forth not only on the GM issue but also on the charges that her trips and stays abroad are sponsored by questionable sources. Farmers are intelligent enough to know what choices to make. After all, they are the ones who conserve biodiversity—in their fields—and not Ms Shiva who sits in her office in Delhi.
Sukhvinder Singh, Yamunanagar
Only science can speak for science, not changes of heart like Lynas’s or rhetoric like Shiva’s.
Sudhir Panwar, Lucknow
From the time of Norman Borlaug to Monsanto, the emphasis has been on jacking up grain production to meet the world’s needs. Why not put equal emphasis on tackling the elephantine problem of exploding population?
Anoop Hosmath, Mysore
Apropos Bridge to the Gods (Jan 28), I lived in Haridwar for 20 years. The Naga babas have been there even before that. Most of these ‘sadhus’ were street tramps hired on a daily wage, smeared with ash and made to walk naked.
V.G. Paranjpe, Pune
Why does every Kumbh mela coverage have to have images of naked Naga sadhus?
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
Apropos the review of Vice-Admiral N. Krishnan’s book (Let Sunken Submarines Lie, Jan 28), I believe the Pakistani submarine Ghazi was the former US navy submarine USS Diablo. I may be confusing it with the Diablo transferred to the Indian navy though. At any rate, the Diablo went to one of them and was duly sunk by the other.
Capt Anthony Hastoglis (USN retd), Virginia, US
The Ghazi was lying in wait for aircraft carrier INS Vikrant at the entrance to the Vizag port—the Eastern Naval Command HQ. It blew up after being hit by depth charges, says Indian navy. The Pakistanis say Ghazi self-destructed.
D.L. Narayan, Visakhapatnam
Mani Shankar Aiyar’s Venice Diary (Jan 28) reminded me of a visit to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, where a copy of the Ramayan written in Arabic (or was it Persian?) was on display.
V. Gangadhar’s Secret Diary of Asaram Bapu (Jan 28) was so hilarious that I yawned my jaw off. He’s not usually this insipid but he seemed to be making a special effort here.