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I could make nothing of the 2,000-plus-word cover story on Arun Jaitley (Jack of Clubs and the Cardsharps, July 11). It narrated a lot about his past, his distance from the RSS and also indulged in some guesswork about his future. But it said almost nothing about his performance in his present assignment as finance minister. There is no reason for me, or most Outlook readers, to be concerned about Jaitley as a person and his past and future; what we do need to be concerned about is his work as a finance minister, with the decisions he takes having an impact on the country’s economy, and as a consequence, on people’s pockets. Pray, by what parameters were the three budgets presented by Jaitley lacklustre and what should he have done to make them revolutionary? The writer says key wings of the ‘FinMin’ are not under Jaitley’s charge and all policy is driven from the PMO. So what? If Jaitley and the PMO are comfortable working with each other, what’s the author’s problem? It is of no little significance that after the UPA era, laden with mega scams, in two years of NDA rule there have been no dubious deals and undesirable elements like lobbyists and power-brokers.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
While Jaitley is well-versed with the law, he is conservative and status quoist. His somewhat legalistic positions do not INSpire confidence either. As I&B head, he did not speak up against the appointments imposed upon FTII. People like him blocked capable figures like Arun Shourie from getting a ministerial post. As a result, we have a mediocre cabinet of ministers. Mediocrity, along with the patronage of mediocrity, breeds further mediocrity.
Shreekant Prabhu, Bangalore
During scenes in Parliament from both the UPA days and under the present government, we have seen Arun Jaitley as a responsible parliamentarian who never stooped so low as to repay his opponents in the same coin of dubious accusation and vitriolic comment. On several occasions, he has successfully silenced opponents by presenting accurate facts and details. His opponents’ attempts to undermine him will ultimately fizzle out and he will certainly be able to implement the plans and programmes that the central government has devised to make India a strong and resplendent democracy.
M.K. Somanatha Panicker, Cherthala
Arun Jaitley is a superhero in a hall of mirrors: you may shatter as many images of him as you like, but you cannot harm him.
Rajneesh Batra, Delhi
Subramanian Swamy is well within his rights to highlight wrongdoing in any department, but it is inappropriate for him to wash dirty linen in public by criticising senior functionaries in the government. Even after prime minister Narendra Modi made it clear where his heart was by saying RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s patriotism was never in question, Swamy continued to badmouth him and others. He should understand that he was not elected to the Rajya Sabha to court controversy day in and day out, but to provide actual solutions to problems.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Even if not a mass leader, Jaitley is a politician for all seasons, whether the BJP is in power or not. He is a powerful orator and has no match in the RSS/BJP ranks and will go a long way, be it as finance minister, or in any other portfolio. Swamy (no mass leader himself!) can hardly win against the polished Jaitley by mudslinging as long as the FM is in Modi's good books.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
Politics is the art of managing contradictions. Jaitley is an artful survivor because he is capable of managing the Congress, the comrades, the corporates, the cricket cabal and the chamchas in babudom and the media. His forte is that he has managed all that with suavity. Quite a charming performer he is!
V.N.K. Murti Pattambi, Pattambi
Too much gossip, too few facts.
Sudhir Jatar, Pune
Underneath the facade of unity, the old routine of tacit power games continues to unfold. Everything in the BJP was not hunky dory when Modi was nominated to head the 2014 election campaign. The city-bred elites such as Jaitley, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj abhorred the idea of a rustic regional leader, who had studied in vernacular schools and had limited exposure to English, becoming their boss. Many of them had to eat humble pie along with the opposition. Subtle and camouflaged saboteurs are a party’s worst enemies, and the BJP, too, has no dearth of them.
Ashok Raipet, Secunderabad
Arnab is the only thing worth watching on Indian TV, the rest can only crib about this fact.
Ravi Jain, Hyderabad
Your leader (Sorry, the Hardest Word, July 4) attracted my attention and I salute it. I’m in my eighties and have had occasion to observe willy-nilly many things in my otherwise uneventful life. I remember vividly most of the important events that took place after World War II. You speak of contrition, but leave that alone, in general we don’t even admit our mistakes in public. Our hypocrisy and the devious means of self-justification we adopt as a routine are our twin virtues. Look at our government’s PR spending in its effort to prove we are a superpower when most of our people do not get to eat two square meals a day. I don’t know what we get out of such displays. Our leaders seem to have the wrong priorities but do not have the heart to admit and atone for mistakes.
C.V. Francis, Delhi
Romila Thapar’s essay on nationalism was an essential read (The Colonial Roots of Hindutva ‘Nationalism’, July 11). The effect of all this Hindutva right-wing chest-thumping is that India is becoming a narrow-minded, cow-worshipping and bigoted nation, light years away from developing a scientific temper. When everything is sought to be explained on the basis of mythology and religion, and outdated languages are taught in premier institutes, we can say goodbye to our dream of becoming a great nation. It appears our leaders are hell-bent on emulating Pakistan.
Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh
While the essay predictably goes out of its way to hold up Nazi Germany as a cautionary tale of the horrors of extreme nationalism, Thapar doesn’t even so much as mention the reactionary, ideology-driven nationalism of Communist Russia of Stalin and the radical left as something to be avoided as well. Communism and socialism has to be explored here in the context of a democratic-socialist system espoused by Jawaharlal Nehru, and dynasty-driven Indira and her left-wing interventions in modern Indian politics, whose influence continues in the Congress. The reaction to Indira’s high-handedness as well as her votebank politics is what led to the rise of the Right in India. This essay excoriates one side, but does not say anything about the other.
Priya Madhavan, Rochester
Anti-colonial Indian nationalism was a spontaneous and unifying response to a felt need. Hindu nationalism, on the other hand, is a divisive and demeaning ideology espoused by sectarian groups like the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha.
A. Ahmed, On E-Mail
A ‘Marxist historian’ is an oxymoron. With an ideologically biased mindset, you can hardly undertake the study of history objectively—the first task of a historian.
K. Suresh, Bangalore
It is a fact that these days, nationalism has become synonymous with Hindu majoritarianism. But this has been brought about by determined and focused minority appeasement, a policy fuelled by the votebank tactics carried out by the Congress for decades. Shooing away the Uniform Civil Code and the Shah Bano case are typical examples of this skewed policy. Unbridled minority appeasement woke up a huge, silent Hindu majority from its slumber. Tolerance and the ability to accommodate other faiths, so prominent in Hinduism, has been cynically misused to carry out this coddling of the minority community.
George Jacob, Kochi
The distinctive characteristic of a Marxist historian is her condescending tone; no one exemplifies it better than Thapar. As usual, she has written this from atop a high pedestal and finds fault with everything.
Akash Verma, Chennai
Thapar brings up the Holocaust of the Jews in Germany to condemn Hindu nationalists, forgetting that Jews themselves regard India as the only large nation where they have never suffered discrimination and hostility.
Amin Dada, Agra
In Thapar’s long scholarly exposition on Hindutva nationalism and its colonial connect, the south of India scarcely figures. Does the author imply that south India had no role at all in the formation of this mindset? Would it be accurate to even imply such a thing?
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
Every time the world is troubled with jehadi terrorism, our liberal historians come up with the same recycled, discredited nonsense about Hindu nationalism, so as to drive attention away from the real problem that confronts everyone: that of hatred-filled radical Islamism.
Novonil Guha, On E-Mail
Such unending essays end up depriving the readers of many pages of more interesting topics. After reading a page or so of dense text ‘going from nowhere to nowhere’, I am left with no choice but to ignore the remaining pages. A simple, brief explanation about Hindutva nationalism would have served the purpose of the writer. We, the simple readers have to endure the essays of these intellectuals. It is requested that such essays be made a detachable part of the magazine, so that the reams of paper can be disposed, saving the real part of the magazine with its valuable contents.
L.J.S. Panesar, On E-Mail
Narendra Modi deserves accolades for trying hard to clinch the NSG membership (A Lose-Lose Atomic Gamble, July 11). China would not have played spoiltsport for India had it recalled the days when Nehru refused an American offer to take China’s permanent seat on the UNSC in the 1950s because he believed it could create misunderstanding between India and China. It is distressing that despite Modi’s quiet diplomacy with Xi Jinping, China has stonewalled India’s bid to enter the NSG. Most NSG members have not only acknowledged that India’s application has some merit, but have appointed an ambassador to facilitate continued discussions on India’s proposed membership. What India needs is persuasive diplomacy to convince Beijing that its nuclear credentials vis-a-vis Pakistan are flawless.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to S. Nihal Singh’s column (A Lose-Lose Gamble, July 11). Modi’s style of functioning in foreign affairs is just like his election campaign. It is based on his belief that everyone will be in awe of him. Unfortunately for the country, the world does not see it that way. Modi is blundering along in his desire to tour the world.
D.K., On E-Mail
Journalists are never free of prejudice and, more often than not, it also gets reflected in their writing. To show Jaitley as a Congressman just because Indira Gandhi attended his wedding 30 or 40 years back is cheap journalism. Recently, when Rahul Gandhi was unwell, Modi wished him speedy recovery. Does that make Modi a Congressman or Rahul a BJP one?
R. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
This is with reference to Outlook’s July 4 special issue, which I received with a sort of dread, thinking that it will be devoid of all my favourite features for which I have been the magazine’s subscriber right from its inception. On flipping the pages, the absence of the “feedback letters from readers” section made me lose my sense and I slipped the magazine back into its covering and dumped it with my old newspaper heap. But then, perhaps some better sense prevailed on me and after going through a lot of professional college material, the feature articles made my day.
L.J. Singh, Amritsar
The article In Praise of Arnab G (July 11) is a hit below the belt. The plain and simple truth is that Arnab’s 9 pm TV show is far more popular than Outlook.
Arnab’s show and his style are wonderful. Not to mention, very distinctive. Why should everything be like NDTV, IBN and Doordarshan? Let different styles flourish.
Varun Shekhar, Toronto
This refers to your cover story on Subramanian Swamy, Swamy & Frenemies (May 16). After the huge mandate in 2014, there was one thing missing: Modi’s voice. But two years down the line, it seems, he has changed that. Weeks of needless controversy around Raghuram Rajan later, he came out strongly in favour of the RBI governor who was being hounded by Swamy. What can the BJP—or, indeed, anyone else—do about Swamy when he is hell-bent on being, well, Subramanian Swamy!
J. Akshobhya , Mysore