the fully loaded magazine
At the outset, I wish to congratulate you for completing 23 years as a magazine (The Turnquotes, Nov 12). I am one of the first readers of this weekly started by Vinod Mehta. I’d like to say that the successive editors of the magazine have maintained that spirit of healthy discussion integral to its ethos since its inception in 1995.
H.C. Pandey, Delhi
This comes from a subscriber since 1995. I received my copy of your anniversary issue with some dread, as I feared it would be devoid of all my favourite features. My fears turned true—in this issue, my most sought after “ letters to the editor” page was missing. Its absence really made me lose heart and I just stuffed the unread Outlook back into its covering and dumped it with the heap of my old newspapers. The next day, I handed that pile to the ‘kabadi’ wala. When he saw a brand new magazine in the pile, he returned it to me. Better sense prevailed and I took it back. I then started rummaging through the pages with relative calm. To my surprise, after a lot of not-so-interesting material, I got engrossed in U-turns ahead, the item on public figures contradicting themselves at different points in time. But, all the same, please don’t let me miss my favourite ‘letters to editor’ page again. The views of Outlook readers are very interesting.
Lal Singh, Amritsar
Twenty three years of togetherness—from Vinod Mehta to Ruben Banerjee, via Krishna Prasad and Rajesh Ramachandran. Twenty three years of reading, appreciating & criticising. But, no letters! Not done.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Politicians of today are born with forked tongues, or, at any rate, it becomes an acquired feature. They will say anything at a given point in time to drive home a point to either hoodwink people or save their skin. And then come the U-turns later, unabashed utterances. They are always in search of a fertile political ground and will never feel shy of jumping the wagon at the throw of the hat, and joining another party. A politician, who is not loyal to a single political party during his lifetime cannot be loyal to another political party. Politicians speak one way when they are in opposition and the other way when they are in power. Politicians and their words are never to be believed. Thus politicians should never be taken seriously whenever and wherever they speak. The public has to just see through their words and concentrate on the inference of their intentions in order to judge them. This is the tragedy with our politicians, and it is unfortunate that their tribe is increasing in number and they are flourishing too in politics, with none a failure or dropout.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
Your anniversary special, U Turns Ahead, was indeed remarkable. The way some public figures contradicted statements they made in the past was hilarious. It made my Diwali. What a topic for an anniversary issue!
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai
Let’s hope the ‘turnquotes’ in power fail at their attempt to turn the country’s justice courts.
Anil S., Pune
This refers to No Laughing On Bank Street (Nov 19). Ever since former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan left the office on not so good terms, tensions between the apex bank and the government has been growing. On some issue or the other, the government has locked horns with RBI, including the demonetisation move, the treatment of interest rates and the Nirav Modi scam. The government should know well that the powers of a few institutions are sacrosanct and should not be interfered with. The government should focus only on areas where it has direct control, including areas of economy. Institutions like the CBI and the RBI should be kept completely autonomous.
Bal Govind, Noida
Refer to T20 In Tamil Nadu (Nov 19). The AIADMK government, headed by Edappadi Palaniswamy in Tamil Nadu, was upbeat after the court upheld the order of the TN speaker disqualifying the 18 legislators owing allegiance to rebel leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran. However, the issue is not completely over. The government is under pressure after the Dinakaran’s AMMK decided not to appeal but contest elections to prove that the AMMK is the real heir to Jayalalitha’s political legacy. The bypolls for 20 seats likely to be held soon are crucial for the AIADMK government as they are in a do-or-die situation even as the DMK tries to consolidate its position in the murky politics of the state which has undergone a sea-change after the demise of two powerful leaders within a span of two years.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This refers to An Alliance With We The People (Nov 12). I don’t agree with the author’s contention that India was saved by its illiteracy. In 1977 it was literacy as well as illiteracy that saved India from an authoritarian regime. The electorate as a whole has time and again proved its superior judgement, and shocked the politicians and poll pundits. The author also says that opposition alliances emerged then with an exclusively negative purpose. That aptly applies to the proposed cocktail ‘grand alliance’ of anti-BJP parties, which have the sole agenda of Modi-hatao. The history of alliance governments in India tells us that only those led by either of the two main national parties could complete their term. Therefore the only possibility for a stable non-BJP government in 2019 is a Congress-led alliance government, but that has its own problem: there are so many prime ministerial aspirants in the Opposition camp who are not interested in a pre-poll alliance under the leadership of the Congress, which won only 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress thus has the uphill task of coming out as the single largest party in the 2019 polls to claim the leadership of the Opposition and the prime ministerial job.
Diverting from the subject, my thanks for the recognition bestowed in Dear Editor, You Got Mail (Nov 12).
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Refer to An Alliance With We the People (Nov 12). It is true that India’s literate middle-class was once the nation’s buffer, but these conscience-keepers have developed political illiteracy; hypocrisy and snobbery have blinded them. They are bound to decline and become a weak, poor class, devoid of any energy to resist the tyranny of the authoritarian state and the rich. And alliances of the Opposition with the simple aim of ousting the BJP, merely by beating the drums of allegations of corruption, casteism and communalism etc—which are in truth applicable to all parties and leaders—without any positive programme for the socioeconomic amelioration of the masses, are bound to flop. Leaders in opposition parties must shun personal short-sighted egos and selfish motives to save democracy.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
In Misogyny in Malayalam (Nov 5), a woman is quoted as saying, “The strict dress code suggests that woman should doubly cover herself so as not to seduce the males.” What perverse logic! If God has created women in that manner, is it their fault if men are seduced merely by looking at them? If so, why did God create men with such dirty minds? As for the ban on women between the ages of 10 and 50 entering Sabarimala temple, if menstruation induces impurity, then why do men marry women? And how were so-called gods like Rama and Krishna born, if not from the wombs of women in the supposedly impure age group? Then what is the meaning of calling temples built to such gods holy places? It’s beyond comprehension the extent of stupidity people can go to by arguing for the ban to stay.
G.L. Karkal, Pune
The stark truth that the CBI experienced through the years has been aptly revealed in Neeraj Kumar’s column An Agency Imperilled (Nov 5). A covert tug of war among top officials is not an exceptional phenomenon that exists only in the CBI, but in most government departments. But the way it exploded in the CBI, after being torpedoed by some vested interests, is certainly a matter of grave concern. It could be part of a bigger conspiracy. Officials acting in close connivance with political heavyweights as sleuths, such elements have the potential to cause cascading effects in other departments too. Bureaucrats have been reduced to pawns playing into the hands of powerhouses comprising politicians, lobbyists and a whole range of middlemen. And what of the public’s trust in these agencies, which has been harmed greatly by the episode at hand?
Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi
This refers to your story Life on Rent (Nov 5). Due to the constantly changing socio-economic dynamics of the 21st century, renting out anything and everything has become big business. This makes it possible for the impatient young generation to live life ‘king size’. But we should refrain from taking it too far—for example, to companionship—where it would be tantamount to ‘unethical business’.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
This refers to your story Imagine There is No Migrant (October 29). In 2013-14, a political party in Maharashtra had blamed migrants for the deteriorating crime situation in Mumbai and Thane. This should not happen.
Ramesh Dalal, former parliamentarian and Congress leader, has been inadvertently referred to as an “associate” of godman Chandraswami in the story titled ‘Sleuth Speed In Slow Lane’ published on November 12 in Outlook. We apologise for the error.
This refers to your cover story Do-Or-Die (Oct 29). In the forthcoming state assembly elections, the Congress may be able to win in Rajasthan as it may get the advantage of the anti-incumbency factor against the Vasundhararaje government. However, the same cannot be said for Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where both chief ministers —Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh—have completed three terms and, therefore, established their rule well. It is an overstatement that Rahul Gandhi has turned a corner and become a worthwhile contender for 2019. It arises from the media’s urge to have a deserving opposition leader to write about so that reporting politics becomes interesting; it appears rather one-sided currently with no one matching Modi’s level of rhetoric and his towering popularity, even among his critics. Rahul should realise that mere criticism of the prime minister won’t get him anywhere. He should also understand that if the only source of attention for him comes from taking jibes at Modi, he will never become an influential figure. What he is doing day in and day out is using intemperate language against Modi; calling him ‘chor-chowkidar’ and ‘bhrasht’ (corrupt), believing that just by targeting Modi, he can lead his party to victory. Meanwhile, the Congress veteran’s grudge: you give a rally with one lakh people to Rahul, he will pour cold water over it with an insipid, uninspiring speech.
As reported, Rahul Gandhi is making a lot of noise on the Rafale deal, but he forgets that he also has a case filed against him—the National Herald case. His brother-in-law, Robert Vadra, is under surveillance for illegal land deals. This is only the tip of the iceberg. RaGa should do some introspection. And he should definitely cut the drama in Parliament. Why doesn’t he go to court if there is any doubt?
S.P. Sharma, Mumbai
While one must acknowledge the presence of strong anti-incumbency feelings among the voters of Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh, it’s still uncertain to what extent the INC will leverage these sentiments to gain the decisive edge. The Congress came so close to defeating the BJP in the 2017 Gujarat assembly polls, but their efforts were not enough in the end; the same scenario prevailed in Karnataka. Mayawati ditching them at the last minute, the NCP fielding candidates in a sizeable number of constituencies in MP, and the Samajwadi Party refusing to form an alliance with them have certainly set the Congress back, and could cost them at least one of these states. To re-establish themselves, the Congress should treat these setbacks as opportunities. The senior leadership should make full use of the potential of the young turks, who should be in the forefront, to convert the pent-up frustration of the voters into winning margins. The BJP, who smartly leveraged social media to tilt the scales in their favour in the 2014 general election, may not find it easy to repeat their performance, as the Congress is also gearing up fast in terms of getting through to the voters through social media.
Shailendra Dasari, Ballary
The 135-year-old colossus just can’t be wished away by the whimsy of those rooting for a ‘Congress-mukt’ Bharat. Again, apart from Gandhiji and Nehru, other Congress stalwarts like Sardar Patel, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Netaji Bose are being poached by the Sangh to make up for its lack of true iconic figures. Indians, and they have their faults, are too cunning to be swayed by petty encouragement of communal hatred, casteism and cheap gimmicks like changing names of places. Congress should hold its head high and have faith in itself, for people are by and large disgusted with the misrule of power-crazy leaders who, if voted in again, would ultimately work their way towards changing the secular nature of our Constitution. The impending assembly polls, a precursor to the real show of 2019, are a referendum on the people’s choice between love and hate.
I think ‘abki baar, bhay-mukt sarkar’ is the slogan that can sail the Congress through!
Richa Juyal, Dehradun
If you’ve had your share of Shakespeare like me, it’s hard not to look at Congress president Rahul Gandhi as one of the bard’s tragic heroes (Last Chance? Oct 29). He’s pulled enough Hamlets in the past by not being sure about what to do. He’s been King Leared, with Congress loyalists abandoning ship at crucial moments. There was an inverted Macbeth too. Inverted because it was more of a comedy to see Rahul plant that abrupt hug on Modi in Parliament in the hope of killing the latter’s charm and then wink at a party fellow later about it. A Julius Caeser moment, of course, never really arose since Rahul never got close to any real power.
As for Modi, he invokes more of a ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ sentiment, walking around naked, but in a stately fashion all over the country. The BJP’s blind loyalists and the by now ‘provebial’ Modi bhakts are still singing praises about his biggest blunder—demonetisation, even as economists the world over term it dangerous stupidity. Fuel prices are burning holes in the pockets of citizens, holes which are getting bigger by the day, but the Sangh’s men go around harping about the good their emperor has done for India’s economy. Modi’s PR machinery has stiched many an attractive-sounding scheme for his advertisement: Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao, Be...you’ve already heard of them, but no one’s seen them. The only twist in the tale here is, all the children have been silenced.
J.C. Bhalla, Chandigarh
This refers to Bureau of Implosions. The tussle between the two seniormost CBI officials is not new. It started when the CVC panel cleared Rakesh Asthana’s promotion despite objections from CBI Director Alok Verma. The pair have been at loggerheads ever since. It would be an understatement to say that this issue has led to a huge embarrassment for the CBI. The bureau anyhow has the reputation of playing into the hands of ruling regime, and such an issue further damages its reputation beyond repair. Though the ruling party has said that if will ensure that reputation and public trust in the CBI remains intact, it does not look like it will be able to do so, especially as Mr Asthana is considered close to the ruling party. So it’s better that the SC intervene and set the CBI’s house in order without any delay. The government should allow only meritorious appointments to set the record straight and for that to happen police reform is the need of the hour as corruption has become the middle name for police personnel in general. So the government must take corrective actions at the earliest.
When the Supreme Court compared the CBI to a caged parrot, it did not elaborate on what it really meant. Now, it’s for the people to interpret the phrase. It is well known that for every trick performed by a parrot it is amply rewarded by its masters. The quid pro quo arrangement for the CBI was probably there since the beginning, working admirably, like a well oiled machine. Hence, scams and scandals involving high profile individuals never reached their logical finality. During the process of investigation, making statements like “noose round the neck”, “fool proof clinching evidence”, “open and shut case” etc, were all empty rhetoric to fool the public. This ‘Corrupt Bureau of Individuals’ has now come into the open. Is it because there was a misunderstanding in sharing the booty?
Ashok Raipet, Secunderabad
The premier probe agency in the country—the last resort to solve cases—finds itself caught in a whirlpool of accusations, with its own seniormost officers sniping at each other. While the episode may present itself to Subhash Ghai or Prakash Jha as a plot ripe for the screen, it has left citizens like me wondering if we are, after all, a banana republic, or indeed a nation competing with China and the US. Modi has a lot at stake; these issues are going to singe him in the hot summer of 2019.
The country’s security is the soul of any democratic setup. This simple piece of human psychology once inculcated patriotism in every officer who served in that institution. High-performing officers who had integrity, honesty and empathy were once appointed to the agency. But politics became a profession instead of a sacred mission, bureaucracy turned into a political tool, and the credibility of the institution was lost as officers enjoying political patronage fought among themselves for primacy. The new wave of allegations has exposed the government’s inept handling of l’affaire CBI, with the visibility of the battle lines bringing its credibility to a nadir. The nation’s security setup is badly degraded, and it’s high time that the home and defence ministries came under the direct administration of the President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.
Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda
This is really an institutional mess—the biggest casualty has been the CBI itself. The filing of counter-complaints by Verma and Asthana against each other, and the arrest of a junior CBI official in this regard, has brought no honour to the agency. It has merely dragged it further into the mud. Earlier, even in the worst of times, its reputation was never shredded as is happening now. And if this were not enough, now the CVC has also been dragged into the sordid affair, drawing a fresh glare on his own controversial appointment. Investigating agencies should never be the government’s pets—but then, it is unlikely that any reform on this front would be endorsed by either the BJP or the Congress, the principal parties that have benefited from being the CBI’s master.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
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