Letters | Jan 21, 2013
  • The Rape of Gender Equality
    Jan 21, 2013

    Apropos your cover story Rape Happens (Jan 14), according to figures compiled by some agencies, every hour two women are raped in India. It’s a cultural disease. During riots, Muslim women have been raped in Gujarat, Sikh women in Delhi. Rape of Dalit women is commonplace in our villages. Even nuns have been raped in some parts of the country. I wonder then why the rape and murder of one girl in Delhi, brutal and egregious as it was, has become a major issue. Why has the middle class suddenly woken up to what has been common in India for such a long time? I think rape will decline only if we cultivate a culture that celebrates womanhood and also justice and righteousness.

    J.N. Manokaran, Chennai

    The brave girl who ultimately died after being gangraped and brutalised on a bus in Delhi will inspire us all in the fight to bring justice to all women who face harassment, molestation and worse.

    Sanjay Ranade, Pune

    It might be said that the behaviour of the men who raped and tortured the paramedic and beat up her friend who tried his best to protect her was abnormally bestial and hence a rare aberration. But what difference will that make to the suffering of the victim, her friend, their families? Nothing about the perpetrators or their social circumstances should be seen as an attenuating factor. It isn’t about class. The only way to bring down crime against women is to ensure that police do not delay registration of cases, that the cases are tried in special fast-track courts which conclude cases within three months, and that the punishment for rape is death.

    Dr G.P. Tiwari, on e-mail

    The only long-term solution to bringing down instances of rape in India is to change our attitudes to women and sensitise people to human sexual behaviour and gender issues through education.

    Dr Karan Thakur, Delhi

    This well-written article unfortunately does not touch upon the social factors that allow men to adopt a casual, indifferent attitude to rape. Political parties have to take up this issue and make changes in the penal code to effect stringent punishment of rapists.

    Sanjiv Pandey, Delhi

    Our system, instead of giving exemplary punishment to rapists, makes the victim’s life an exemplary warning against enjoying the freedom that is every woman’s right as much as that of every man.

    Vani A., Hyderabad

    It was disappointing to note that, during the spontaneous protests against the Delhi gangrape, there were few politicians to be seen showing solidarity. The three powerful women in the capital—Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj and Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit—cannot run away from the humiliation and the bad name the incident has brought to our country.

    Ramachandran Nair, Oman

    Our former president, Pratibha Patil, pardoned four men convicted of rape-cum-murder on death row. We all clamour for tough laws against terrorism and rape. For what, I ask, when terrorists and rapists walk free in the end.

    Kiran Voleti, Chennai

    Given the gravity and frequency of shameful episodes of sexual crime across the country, your reporters are perfectly justified in hitting hard at the male chauvinistic social order. However, it was in the same land that a movement like the one in Vachathi, Tamil Nadu, spearheaded by the Marxist party, ensured justice for the rape victims after nearly two decades. The 214 accused, all police and forest officers, have been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. Vachathi has shown the way. Let's hope Jagruti will awaken the government in Delhi from its eternal slumber.

    C. Chandrasekaran, Madurai 

    Bollywood and our censor board should be made co-accused in the Delhi rape case.

    Aruna Chaudhary, Jaipur

    The sealing of India Gate and the closing down of 10 metro stations by the government in the name of security when people were protesting peacefully was most unfortunate. India Gate is the ideal place for peaceful protest as it commemorates the martyrs of the nation and this girl was no less than a brave Indian soldier.

    Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi

    Will this furore over the rape and killing of a girl in Delhi change our misogyny, ingrained over centuries?

    M.N. Bhartiya,

    Alto-Porvorim, Goa

    Fascist and rapist minds can never accept the truth that exposes their real colour. Rape is rape, whether it happens in Delhi, Gujarat or Kashmir. Meena Kandasamy is right when she says that mainstream media turns a blind eye to crimes committed by upper castes, the army and police (How Do We Break the Indian Penile Code). One  needed to mention alcoholism and the role of Bollywood as well.

    E.V.R. Naiker, Chennai

    A brutal rape and murder takes place in Delhi and subsequently we see unprecedented crowds on the streets protesting. One would assume these protests are not for this one rape but driven by people's frustration and disgust at the total lack of governance and the consequent lawlessness prevailing in our capital and across the country. However, this does not stop Meena Kandasamy from pushing her own hate agenda. She attributes the real cause of rapes as “cultural sanction”, and we all very well know which culture she is talking about. She even breaks it into different categories. Yet, apart from the caste Hindu rape she mentions, all others are not specific only to India. Even in that category, she does not tell you it’s mostly obcs against Dalits. She also conveniently misses out one category of rape: “recruitment rape”, which Maoists use to induct minors into their terror camps.

    Novonil Guha, Delhi

    Who is Meena Kandasamy? An average poetess who managed to achieve some degree of victimhood claiming she was harassed during the Telangana agitation. Based on this, Outlook has taken it upon itself to promote her hate-filled polemic in the guise of scholarly outrage.

    Ankush Poddar, Calcutta

    Can Meena Kandasamy explain why London, with half the population of Delhi, sees 3,000 rapes a year? Is there a rape culture there too?

    Shubhang Shankar, Delhi

    What will it take for Outlook to spare us Meena Kandasamy? Please. She should confine herself to a private blog, and spare us her rants in a national newsmagazine.

    Chittaranjan, Bangalore

    Meena Kandasamy and one of our own regulars need to be locked up in a room and the key thrown away. They can then mutually resolve their gender bias issues. May the best man (or woman) win.

    Cdr Arun Visvanathan, Chennai


    An excellent piece by Meena Kandasamy. The sexist, personal and vitriolic reactions online only prove how right she is, and how deeply entrenched misogyny is in this country. Not to mention, of course, a tragic lack of empathy and understanding.

    Simran Chawla, London

    In our country, a woman is safe, praised, even worshipped if she respects boundaries. Boundaries to what she wears, to what she says, who she talks to, how loud she can laugh, the subjects she can talk about, boundaries to how much she can sway her hips when she walks.

    Kurinji, Bangalore

    V.S. Naipaul once called India an area of darkness. After the black shame the Delhi rape has brought upon India’s name, one wishes he hadn’t been so prophetic.

    Divya Kumari, Delhi

  • Jan 21, 2013

    Outlook’s story on the rise and rise of Narendra Modi was interesting and informative (The Masque of Augurs, Dec 31). Modi has proven that good governance and development transcend all barriers of religious fundamentalism, communalism and regionalism in Gujarat. Modi is a genuine leader in the sea of corrupt Indian politicians, and is passionate about development. Gujarat was fairly undeveloped before Modi; now, it has surplus power, and attracts more industry than all states put together.

    K. Chidanand Kumar, Bangalore

    It remains to be told why Modi is still saleable after his third poll win in Gujarat. He’s eminently marketable in the media, and draws in high trp figures. Apart from other things, his usp is that he’s been branded dangerously ‘communal’. Outlook should have had more balanced reportage, asking why really he’s a favourite of 6 crore Gujaratis.

    H.C. Pandey, Delhi

    Narendra Modi has an image of being a good administrator and an able CM. But it remains to be seen if an obc leader would face obstacles—open and hidden—from the Brahminical/upper-caste-dominated Sangh parivar.

    G. Anuplal, Bangalore

    I wonder why the likes of Markandey Katju won’t utter a word when parties like the Congress win elections by assaulting the spirit of the Constitution, but lose no time in railing against the bjp. The balderdash about Modi does not make it clear why he is such a threat to our democracy. When a ysr fights elections by fielding a disproportionately higher number of Reddy candidates, and wins over the hearts of the poor by distributing liquor and currency notes, our partisan intellectuals term it the politicisation of caste and criminality in electioneering.

    Viswanath, Kurnool, AP

    Modi’s impressive triumph is based on his claims of good governance and his ability to sell those claims to voters. He focused solely on development, Gujarati pride, and the sorry state of the Congress. The result also reflects the continuing polarisation of Gujarat’s voters, underscored as much by demographics as by the inability of Modi’s opponents to target him on governance.

    J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad

    Modi deserves his victory. His sadbhavna yatras, using the image of Swami Vivekananda and the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summits all managed to consolidate support not only amongst the urban middle class, but also mesmerised sections who were not traditional supporters of the bjp.

    K.S. Padmanabha, Secunderabad

    If Modi manages to hop down to Delhi, he has to run the gauntlet of coalition politics and do it all by himself to be effective. Otherwise he’ll just be another also-ran.

    George Jacob, Kochi

    Harish Khare’s column on Modi’s victory and his persona (See It Only In 3D..., Dec 31) is an example of how you can attack someone’s reputation to spew every last drop of bile on him. Modi, says Khare, was promoted by nris, and coerced minorities by instilling fear through the police. He even recalls how just ten years earlier Modi was a mere district-level leader. This proves how in India democracy has little hope left against dynastic demons controlling most parties.

    Urvi Oa, Pune

    It seems Khare has been coming unhinged lately. He says Modi won the Gujarat election by ‘dabanggiri’. Can any fair-minded person say that the Gujarat election was not free and fair?

    B.D. Trivedi, Ahmedabad

    What is wrong with Khare? The strangest of his claims is that Modi has got the media—which has been baying for his blood for the last ten years—to do his bidding.

    B.V. Shenoy, Bangalore

    Nirmala Sitharaman’s insight is brilliant (Dimensional Appeal, Dec 31). Like a normal CM Modi should not have gone in for development, but should have plotted his own downfall by satisfying secular eminences like herself!

    Joshua Miranda, Chennai

    With friends like Shiv Visvanathan (Janus Shut The Door, Dec 31), the Congress needs no foe. The grand old party needs to wake up and smell the coffee, for Modi has shown them how things are done, and what an effective, articulate leader can do.

    Suraj, Brea, US

    Madhu Kishwar’s column The Kettle Hits Back was amazing. I was impressed at her intellectual honesty. It gives me hope for journalists.

    Krishna Vimal, Munich

    I read the interviews of common Gujaratis at the receiving end of the Modi regime (Hope-Nots) with interest. The clearly manufactured personal-interest story on Ansari has backfired in the past. Now, the media does a face-saving of sorts by weaving in another story on how he lives in ‘fear’. Shameful.

    Narayan, Zurich

    I love how pseudo-seculars like Arati Jerath (Binocular Disorder, Dec 24) are freaked at Modi’s victory and the prospect of his moving to the national stage.

    Uday Sharma, Bangalore

    The malaise afflicting Gujarat runs deep; the 2002 anti-Muslim riots were only one horrendous expression. I wonder why the nation is silent at the ghettoisation of Muslims, seen in its worse form in localities like Ahmedabad’s Juhapura and other places in Gujarat.

    Vispi Kaikobad, Mumbai

  • The Elevated Seat
    Jan 21, 2013 Chris B., on e-mail

    Apropos the article Lights! Camera! Obscura! (Dec 24) on the Jindal-Zee tiff, I wonder how the Jindal group—which began in the 1960s with a bucket factory—grew into such a big industrial house in just a couple of decades. Didn’t it take the Tatas and the Birlas more than a hundred years to get where they are today?

  • Yedi Or Not...
    Jan 21, 2013

    Apropos Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi’s column Importance of being BSY (Dec 24), it is too early to say how many seats B.S. Yediyurappa’s new party, the Karnataka Janata Party, will win in the next assembly elections. But it would be foolish to think his exit won’t harm the bjp’s fortunes. It would, in fact, also have an impact on the next Lok Sabha elections. The bjp has, in the last 20 years or so, admitted in its fold a number of leaders with pockets of influence in one or more regions of the state. Some like BSY became so strong that they could challenge the party bosses in Delhi. They, in turn, tried to ignore his corrupt deals, for fear of losing power. But that proved suicidal and BSY’s exit has marked the beginning of a new chapter. It’s quite likely that just as in UP, caste politics will start playing a major role in Karnataka, and eat into Congress and bjp votes.

    Narendra M. Apte, Pune

    What Shobhi fails to mention is that BSY is on the cbi hook and the Congress has promised to let him off it if he splits or damages the bjp in the state. In effect, he’s just a Congress agent now.

    Tearful Onion, on e-mail

    Yeddy going rogue may be less of a liability for the bjp, given the several power centres in the party and the fact that his numerous corruption scandals had made the bjp’s moral position untenable. But it does bring up the same questions about the balance of power between local leaders and the central party organisation. The Congress does not even acknowledge this is an issue, but the more alert bjp will have to proceed carefully as it marks its distance from its former mainstay in Karnataka.

    J. Akshobhya, Mysore

    I think Yeddy’s fate will be akin to Keshubhai’s. The latter too thought that given the caste he hails from, he’d continue to wield the same power as he did when he was with the bjp. Lingayats are a powerful community, but then, given Yeddy’s antics over the last year or so when he made it clear that he wanted power at any cost, he hasn’t exactly endeared himself with his voter base. This is the fate of people who start thinking they are bigger than the organisation that gave them that place.

    Alakshyendra, Hyderabad

    Surprising that the Dynasty sycophant in the Bangalore Raj Bhavan is sitting silent.

    R.J. Srinivasan, Zurich

  • Under the Radar
    Jan 21, 2013

    One of the most astounding things about Vinod Mehta’s introduction to the reissue of his biography of Sanjay Gandhi is also something that makes us quintessentially Indian (A Low Flying Gandhi, Dec 24). There was another human being with Sanjay Gandhi the morning the plane crashed in New Delhi. His name was Captain Saxena, and he was in his mid-30s. He left behind a young wife and child. The idiot son of the prime minister took with him the life of this young man as he plunged to his death. That Vinod Mehta finds no reason to even allude to this fact says a lot about all of us.

    Sankaran Krishna, London

    A “robust republic” in a “dynastic culture”? Can’t you see the dichotomy? The Congress is now beholden to Sonia Gandhi. The culture persists. Sonia had her revenge on Varun in 2009 for all his father’s alleged omelette frisbees at breakfast. She and her party shafted him and pumped herself and her son as India’s one and only saviours. The “official history” is now the version presented by the new dynast.

    Priya Madhavan, Rochester

    As a person who has read the 35-rupee edition of the book, I feel Vinod Mehta’s biography of Sanjay is a must-read for the young generation between 18 and 30 years. It may help them understand why our politics is where it is today.

    Manjrekar K., Pune

  • Jan 21, 2013

    Your Jan 14 edition on Bores was brilliant...shades of MAD magazine.

    Nilesh Korgaokar, on e-mail

    Your issue was a wonderful New Year gift. Bores Inc never allowed one to go to sleep. The New Year Diary referring to a demi-god’s retirement was spot-on—a well-pitched ball on the middle stump!

    Soli Canteenwala, Mumbai

    In his piece Have You Heard This One..., Vinod Mehta says a new kind of bore, the name-dropper, has emerged in the capital these days. For his information, name-dropping has been a ‘tell-tale’ sign of a Delhiite ever since...well, forever. Residents of India’s more self-confident cities have known for long that you are nobody in Delhi unless you know somebody. Anyway, why the introspection now? Is it that, post-retirement, VM isn’t so important anymore and it chafes to see others dropping more names than him?

    Prashi, Mumbai

    Vinod’s piece prompts me to modify Kabir’s couplet: Bores bhi niyare rakhiye, kursi, couch, charpoy; bin kauwwa, gadha bina, koyal nahin lubhaye.

    Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi

    Vinod is not a bore in print, but certainly on TV (where he’s becoming ubiquitous). His traffic cop-like hand-waving and seemingly toothless jaws put pressure on fans like me to cut off the jarring signals the eyes are receiving and concentrate only on the soundbites the ears are getting.

    Anand Misra, on e-mail

    “The politician-bore,” says VM, “is indispensable to the health of party-baazi. He keeps government and opposition going. The politician-bore is generally a ‘safe pair of hands’ (in other words he is not gaffe-prone), follows orders, stays firmly within the bounds of his mandate, and is generally liked by colleagues since he challenges nobody.” Is this the closest VM has come to criticising Manmohan Singh?

    K. Suresh, Bangalore

  • Bores? Hmm, Interesting...
    Jan 21, 2013

    For reasons too many to be listed, Shobha De herself must be enshrined in the list of elite bores (Yaaawwwn!).

    Rumin Shah, Vadodara

    If writing about third-class sexual escapades and crappy novels is any criterion, then your choice of De was spot-on.

    Vijayant Sharma, Nagpur

    And the award for the most consistent, unabashed purveyor of low-class trash goes to...Shobhaaa Deeee.

    Ravi Patel, Vadodara

    Farcical that a sleaze writer like Shobha De is judging ‘Maha Bores’ when she would win hands down!

    Ravindranath Ramakrishna, on e-mail

    Just the previous week, you had an issue filled with glowing articles on Modi. And now you brand him a bore. Whatever would Outlook do if he suddenly became interesting?

    Rakhal, Philadelphia

    Don’t forget the biggest khandaani bore, Shahrukh Khan.

    Alagappan, Chennai

    If Modi is a bore, the others are not even worth mentioning.

    Pramod Srivastava, Delhi

  • Bores? Hmm, Interesting...
    Jan 21, 2013

    Even in college debates, I’d admire Suhel Seth (The Abject Experts) for being such a glib, forceful speaker despite a complete lack of substance. Good to see he’s made a career out of it.

    Dipto C., New York

    Suhel thinks sarcasm and attempted humour pass for informed commentary. Actually, that needs some knowledge other than how to sell things for a commission.

    Sharat Chandra, Kalpakkam

    At least the guy had the good sense to include himself.

    Arun Maheshwari, Bangalore

    Shobha De, Suhel Seth, Arnab Goswami, Vinod Mehta...this is one clubby news channel.

    Sudarshan, Chennai

  • Bores? Hmm, Interesting...
    Jan 21, 2013 Ganesh Natrajan, Isere, France

    Apropos V. Gangadhar’s Glorious Certainties, true, the biggest bore in Indian cricket has to be Harsha Bhogle. He represents the basic problem with the Indian mindset—the idea that some slick talker with an mba has the solution to all our problems.

  • Bores? Hmm, Interesting...
    Jan 21, 2013 Anwaar, Dallas

    Apropos Rauf Ahmed’s Mujhe Sone Do, Bollywood cinema is best suited for the dvd format, with some fast hands on the fast forward button.


  • Bores? Hmm, Interesting...
    Jan 21, 2013

    Apropos Siddharth Bhatia’s piece (Give Us the Rope), the make-believe world created by our media lasts only for a little while but it helps fuel the misdirected anger of millions of gullible people.

    R.V. Subramanian, Gurgaon

    So Bhatia feels only Manmohan and Sonia have the decency and vision to take this country forward. Good luck to us.

    Sam Rane, Dubai

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