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This refers to your issue of the year Faith or its Absence (January 13). I am an old reader of Outlook and may be one of the first to have subscribed when Vinod Mehta started this magazine. But during the past year, I found Outlook quite boring. Many issues lay on my table untouched and I had almost decided not to renew my subscription. Then this issue landed and I read it from cover to cover. After a very long time, you have come out with a readable issue. I am again thinking of renewing my subscription for another five years. Congratulations! Keep publishing such readable issues.
Krishnachandra Govil, Lucknow
Outlook’s year-end issue once again didn’t disappoint—its subject, faith, was well-chosen and the essays are wonderful reads. However, as usual, not all faiths were subjected to the critical lens equally. In India, we see expressions of Hinduism and statements of Hindus being targeted openly—claims at science congresses, a scientific paper presented by a vice chancellor, and statements from BJP leaders on cow urine and cow dung. Sadhus and mystics who claim to wield miracles are regularly exposed and ridiculed by rationalists and the media. Surprisingly, when the Pope canonised a nun only because a string of miracles was attributed to her, no questions were raised.
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijaywada
Outlook’s special issue on faith presents some very insightful views. Indeed, there is nothing more intricate and intriguing than the weave of faith. It flows free of knots and joints…a seamless arrangement of thought processes. Be it throwing furniture out of a window as in South Africa to usher in the new year or discarding the extra crockery accumulated through the past 12 months in Denmark—a faith in this symbolic act of discarding past worries and starting on a clean slate, with new hopes and dreams, unites many cultures. A member of Jehovah’s Witness might refuse to sing the national anthem because of his faith or an ardent chanter of the Hanuman Chalisa might ignore doctors’ advice. Faith is the touchstone that makes such leaps—often into the unknown—possible.
Arun Kampani, New Delhi
Ghost Train of Our Memories by Rajat Mitra is written in a masterly lucid style with meticulous historical details. Congrats to the author for educating the present generation, which is unfamiliar with the history of our repressive past.
Harish Pandey, On E-Mail
That the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act continue to mount is a classic instance of faith in our institutions, with the Constitution serving as the leitmotif of this agitation. It is faith that gives us the gall, the spirit and the confidence to take the next step even when we can’t see the entire staircase. Faith is what spurs us on.
Abhimanyu K, New Delhi
This refers to your cover story Winter of Unrest (December 30). Whether this winter of unrest transforms into a spring of hope, only time will tell. I have a Muslim neighbour, a lovely lady with whom I share sun, rain and life. With all that is going on, this strange alchemy of votes and opportunism, would my relationship with her take a beating? The answer is a resounding no—the same no that India’s streets are screaming. This drives home the point that no matter who pits you against whom, no matter which political party is at the helm, ultimately, it is we the people who constitute the nation. We count. Our no to narrow divisions, our yes to pluralism, both work.
Sangeeta K., New Delhi
Leave aside intruders from Bangladesh in India—more than one million Indians, both Hindus and Muslims, have infiltrated Bangladesh as its growth rate is higher than ours and its economy might even surpass ours! Little wonder that when Sheikh Hasina came to Delhi in October 2019, Modi didn’t even mention this issue as he knows he can’t discuss it with her, but can sell this barrage of lies to the ignorant masses in India to buy their votes.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Anti-CAA and NRC protests by the Opposition are unjustified. The linking of NRC with CAA and NPR is unfounded. The core issue is the votebank politics of the Opposition.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
The reactions to CAA show the government’s failure in assessing the act’s repercussions. The unruly, ugly agitation could have been avoided with timely administrative preparedness. There was no single statement from the PM, home minister or any other leader of the government before the bill became an act to reassure the minority community. The fear among Muslims that they will be subjected to detailed verification of their identity carries weight at a time when CAA clearly states that if people of other religions fail to produce the required documents, they will be given citizenship. The Modi government must introspect before going ahead with a country-wide NRC.
Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi
The Birth of Politics, The Politics of Birth is quite informative—the problem of infiltration has been explained clearly. However, it seems to have been left to the wild imagination of readers to guess a possible solution. Does it mean that the writer is clueless? I wish the writer had stated his solution. This would have enhanced the prestige of Outlook, but clearly, you are playing it safe and leaving things irresolute.
Rohan Pandey, Mumbai
Thousands of young students—overwhelmingly Hindu by faith—have felt sufficiently motivated to come out on the streets and join demonstrations with Muslims against CAA. Their participation is strategically significant. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that CAA is the first step in the disenfranchisement of Muslims in India.
K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore
This refers to the interview of the West Bengal governor (‘I am a friend of the Bengal govt’, January 13). At the outset, we need the version of Mamata also for a balanced appreciation of the governor’s version. The level of public discourse has become deplorably low in the past decade. The discourteous treatment of the governor by the state government is in reaction to the attempts of the Union government to undermine the federal character of our Constitution. The intention of the makers of our Constitution was to make states equal partners in governance, except in national defence and external affairs. States deserve to be treated with respect in a democratic setup and not as mere sultanates of an empire.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto Porvorim
This refers to Justice League (December 23). The staged encounters of the four accused of rape-murder and the jubilation following it portend a lawless future for the country. Inept policing, clumsy investigations and a slow judicial system have brought us to a point where people have more faith in extrajudicial killings rather than the courts. The craving for instant justice reeks of an uncivilised mindset. It’s often said that the law takes its own course, but what happens when it takes aeons for justice to be delivered? It’s time to transform the legal process.
Vijai Pant, Hempur
The letter from the editor in the anniversary issue should have spoken about Vinod Mehta. He wasn’t just any other editor—Outlook is what it is largely because of him. It’s like Dravid’s declaration in the Multan Test when Sachin was on 194, which has haunted Dravid since. I hope Ruben makes up for it in the silver jubilee year and publishes this letter because Vinod would have!
Naveen Rao, On E-Mail
Green day Amid the Watergate scandal, President Nixon received a letter from an 8-year-old
This refers to your cover story Winter of Unrest (December 30). The substantive text of CAA has no mention of religious persecution; it is mentioned separately as the objective of the legislation. More than 70 per cent of the 1.9 million who are out of the final NRC are Bengali Hindus. CAA is a ploy to win them over to the BJP and that is why the Northeast is up in arms. It seems CAA, NRC, Article 370 etc are the most pressing problems in India—unemployment, safety of women and falling industrial production can wait. This is what our government thinks and clearly, people are least bothered about these issues, as is evident from the Karnataka by-election results.
Mousumi Roy, On E-Mail
CAA ostensibly seeks to right the wrongs of Partition by granting recognition to those compelled to flee Islamic states. The move is prima facie based on humanitarian principles. The exclusion of Muslims is logical as they cannot claim grounds of religious persecution. The approach is selective because India cannot be the refugee capital of the world.
J. Akshay Acharya, Bangalore
Congratulations to Outlook for the new design; the redesigned ‘Letters’ pages look especially fetching. I want to make a couple of points about CAA that the Modi government hasn’t been able to elucidate. First, minorities who have been in India for decades are Indian citizens and should not fear the proposed NRC. Secondly, though preference will be given to Hindus and people from other specified religions, members of persecuted Muslim sects there can also apply for Indian citizenship. The Congress and other opposition parties have been fanning the protests, but have failed to realise that the fallout of all this is that a section of peace-loving Hindus will back the BJP.
Rangarajan T.S., Bangalore
Outlook has carried several opinion pieces by well-informed people which makes for good reading. But going through videos on social media, it is clear that many protestors do not even know what they are protesting for and looks as if they have been instigated by divisive forces. Destroying and burning public property can never be part of legitimate protests. It is painful to see taxpayers’ money being wasted this way.
Vasudha V. Saralaya, Mangalore
My hard-earned money is being wasted in subscribing to a propaganda weekly.
M. Sankunny Menon, Palakkad
Will the cost of settling migrants be borne by political parties? Their leaders should first provide shelter in their house at their cost instead of using taxpayers’ money (even beggars pay indirect tax). Children of politicians should also make an undertaking that they will not run away from India and take citizenship abroad.
Sunil Menon, On E-Mail
Granting nationality on the basis of religion creates a two-tier citizenship environment. Has this been tried before? Yes, they’re known as Nuremberg Laws, the slow, steady deprivation of civic rights of Jews in Germany in the 1930s, culminating in the Holocaust. I stand in solidarity, with the courage of the people—mainly students, most younger than my children—chanting Hindustan hamara hai (India belongs to us).
Amit Shah, Somerville, USA
The government failed to stop the influx of illegal immigrants in the first place and it now wishes to imprison them in detention camps and spend taxpayers’ money to house and feed them. In doing so, it is creating needless fear and rift in society, and forcing millions of Indians to search for their birth certificates. Illegal immigrants are not causing any harm—they are not rioting or imposing a financial burden. In fact, they have to work to feed themselves and the money they earn is used in India and not sent to some other country, thereby fuelling our consumption economy. There is no point in aggravating the situation, but we must prevent further illegal immigration.
Mahesh K. Rathi, On E-Mail
This refers to your article Justice League (December 16). The word encounter-specialist is ridiculous. How can there be trained experts for a stray, random incident that takes place without any planning? The right officer always seems to be present at the right time to conduct the encounter. The celebrations and euphoria that followed the gunning down of the rape suspects prove, to borrow Shakespeare’s words, “All is not well, I doubt some foul play”.
Sangeeta Kampani, New Delhi
The Hyderabad rape-murder reminded the nation of the 2012 Nirbhaya incident. The then government had assured the nation of speedy justice. Despite the fast-track court, even after seven years, justice is yet to be delivered. Sensitive cases are dragged on for decades. Can we call it ‘instant’ justice? When the Hyderabad police killed the four accused, some politicians and activists made a hue and cry in favour of the accused. Of course, most Hyderabadis came out in support of the police.
Padmini Raghavendra, Secunderabad
Despite the legal and ethical challenges, the police and the government continue to take credit for the Hyderabad encounter. The encounter evoked rapturous joy on TV channels and among the public. While nobody approves of vigilantism, the blame lies on our judiciary and police inaction in times of distress, which results in unwanted deaths of rape victims.
S.R. Gadicherla, Bangalore
Your design changes are catchy, but does it involve misspellings? In Brevis (Dec 23), Bob Willis is printed as Bob Wills.
Rajan V.B., Chennai
Why is the finance minister using Sitharaman as her surname when she is married to Parakala Prabhakar? Even the Telangana CM’s daughter and Sania Mirza still use their fathers’ name and not their husbands’. Why don’t husbands protest? Why is there no law to end this?
J. Kishore, Hyderabad
This refers to your story on AAP (Arvind Kejriwal: Can He Win Delhi Again?, December 16). I wish AAP prospers as it is a party with a difference. Its strength lies in its sincerity of purpose, and the honesty of its leaders. The cadre are genuine and devoted, definitely better than most parties in terms of selflessness and service. AAP has governed well, particularly in the education and medical sectors. Honest people want AAP to do well so the hope for alternative politics remains alive.
R.D. Singh, Ambala Cantt
I split my sides with laughter when I read Ch Sen’s letter (From the daak room, December 23). The claim that it was only after Sen’s letter that toilets were provided in railways is interesting. Perhaps, the British who loved Queen’s English took the decision for fear of being bombarded with another letter from Sen!
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
Well-crafted Neil Armstrong’s letter to engineers who built his spacesuit on the landing’s silver jubilee
This refers to the cover story To Dilli Gate (December 16). In the beginning of his second term, Kejriwal was back to his confrontationist and rabble-rousing ways over matters of little public concern, like full statehood for Delhi, control of Delhi police, Jan Lokpal etc. He also continued accusing the prime minister of not letting him work and for everything that went wrong in Delhi and with his government. He called special one-day sessions of the assembly to discuss his agendas. Kejriwal seems to have ultimately realised the futility of his rabble-rousing and is minding his own business. In earlier elections, people voted for his promises. This time, it will be based on his performance. He may retain Delhi if his performance proves to be commensurate to the expectations of Delhi’s electorate.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Kejriwal has gained national importance thanks to his clever media-management. I cannot understand why our paid media has pampered this visionless, immature politician. He cleverly kicked out the brains in AAP—Kumar Vishwas, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan etc—and manipulated the party single-handedly. With such positive stories in Outlook and other magazines, he is bound to succeed in the 2020 assembly elections. Your article ignored all his shortcomings, blunders and lack of development in Delhi. The city has gone backwards by seven years. I am really concerned—I had started seeing improvement in Outlook’s outlook in general, but now AK-49 seems to have captured your imagination.
Harish Pandey, New Delhi
I wonder if Kejriwal will be Harry Potter and his broom Nimbus 2000?
N Gurudatha, Bangalore
This refers to your cover story They Who Defy (December 9). Changing the status quo has never been easy, especially when the youth—perpetual rebels—are involved. It is natural then that the present government’s effort to change the ethos of universities and colleges is being met with stiff resistance. However, both the student body and government are responsible for the tense situation on college campuses like JNU. The contentious issues of fee hike, hostel norms etc are being seen by students as a ploy to rein in the free spirit of the university. The trust deficit between the Centre and collegians doesn’t augur well for the country’s future.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
Politics continues to be a motivating factor behind most agitations. Access to a party or group emboldens a person to jump onto a wagon without caring for the consequences. It has become customary to criticise and abuse the government. This trend has inspired the younger generation to push their vested interests. In the process, they resort to unruly behaviour, which jeopardises education. JNU, once a breeding ground for new ideas, values and commitments, is no exception, as is evident from the agitations in recent past. Restrained and non-violent protests have taken a backstage and JNU no longer remains what Jawaharlal Nehru once envisioned: “A university stands for humanism, reason and tolerance for the adventure of ideas and search of truth.”