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This refers to your cover story on new interventions for dealing with perhaps the deadliest disease in the world (Cancer, Sept 18). Contrary to popular belief, cancer, like any disease, is not the end of life—in increasingly more cases, it is being cured. Doctors now see cancer as a disease of the genes and not organs. It is also a life-style disease. Lack of awareness, strange and erratic food habits, environment and occupational hazards play a major part in causing cancer. To detect it at the right time in the initial stage itself and stop it from spreading is fundamental and essential. Cancer could be somatic or hereditary. Somatic cancer is caused due to lifestyle—smoking, abnormal dietary habits, environmental risks—and hence can be controlled to some extent. But in hereditary cancer, people inherit gene mutation or abnormalities, there lifestyle may have nothing to do with it.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
It’s heartening to hear about new interventions in curing cancer. But, how effective are they going to be for the poor in India? Surely, they will cost a bomb. Most Indians take cancer as a disease of fate as they either cannot afford treatment or just do not have such facilities if they live in rural areas. Also, there is the cancer of corruption to be dealt with in hospitals which discourages the common man to approach even government hospitals.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
Online saffron squads publicly celebrate a journalist’s murder—what have we come to!
Anil S., Pune
I must thank Mr Mani Sheshadri (A Counter, Letters, Sept 18) for hitting the bull’s eye, when he explains why the then ruler of Kashmir is not blamed for the problem. I was born in Kashmir in 1937 and remember the events of those tumultuous days. The younger generation of Kashmir have been fed the theory of Nehru being responsible for all the problems they are facing today. This is a distortion of history. In 1846, Kashmir was purchased for Rs 75 lakh from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar by Maharaja Gulab Singh, the Dogra ruler of Jammu. This Dogra rule ended in 1947 with the advent of Indian Independence. The problem arose when Maharaja Hari Singh (in photo) signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan, but did not sign the Instrument of Accession to India, and Pakistan took advantage of the situation to attack. Faced with an onslaught of raiders, the Maharaja signed the instrument on October 26, 1947. The army eventually threw out the raiders. Kashmir had never been part of Jammu historically speaking, and the people of Jammu as such had no love for Sheikh Abdullah, head of the temporary administration. They were more sympathetic towards the Maharaja, and were not inclined to blame him for the problem. The Praja Parishad of Jammu, founded by an RSS activist that same year, took advantage of this and began to frame Nehru as the root cause of all Kashmir’s ills. This has been the hallmark of Sangh philosophy in independent India. Like other readers, I might also have liked to express a wish of mine: What if the Sangh had participated in Indian Independence? But, as I learnt in school, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” .
Bhushan Shishoo, Jaipur
This is with reference to Mea Culpa (Comment, Sept 25). “You, our letter writers are right and I am wrong. Health and education ought to be in the not-for-profit sector,” you say. During Vinod Mehta’s time, much of the brickbat letters were published. Though you agree that Outlook’s letter writers are ‘right’, no letters opposing your earlier argument in I-Day Fever (Comment, Aug 28) kissed printing ink.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
Gauri Lankesh was a truly powerful voice who spoke up for the friendless and against the communalism that is unfortunately fast gaining ground in our country (No Bullets Can Fail Gauri’s Fury, Sept 18). The cold-blooded murder of this fearless journalist-activist brings back to the nation’s collective memory the killings of other intellectuals and rationalists. Had the governments brought to book their murderers, this formidable journalist, who spoke her mind without caring for consequences, would not have fallen prey to her killers’ bullet. Those who conspired to kill her with the very same gun they used on other intellectuals were confident that they’d get away with the crime. In this age, when a large section of journalists has turned pro-establishment to curry personal favours, Lankesh left behind a proud legacy of intrepid journalism and activism. The men who killed her were just instruments in the hands of their powerful masters.
Samiul Hassan Quadri, Bikaner
The furore over the cowardly and cold blooded murder of a fearless female journalist publishing a weekly Kannada magazine exposing government propaganda, which is being spread with the support of the internet, will be forgotten as usual. The conscience keepers of the nation, whoever and wherever they are, must make efforts to check this barbaric culture of intolerance silencing the few voices of dissent we have left.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
One of the issues that has been under-reported is the infiltration of the Hindutva brigade in the Karnataka police. While most higher officials are professionals, the ‘H’ brigade has infiltrated the rank and file. Sometime back, a top state RSS leader openly boasted about how over 60 per cent of the force were believers in the cause. Hence, when monkey brigade goons indulge in moral policing and harass and attack young couples, the police arrest the victims instead of the perpetrators. This is a worrying trend across the country. When crimes are ostensibly committed by saffron organisations, the chances that they will be solved are pretty low. By just going through some of the gleeful remarks by saffron supporters after Lankesh’s death leads us to suspect that their men had a hand in the dastardly crime.
T. Nayak, Washington DC
Gauri Lankesh’s murder shows that the world’s largest democracy is slowly and steadily losing its bold face as a freethinking society. India is becoming a flawed democracy, where dissent is being brutally silenced. Equally gloomy is the aspect of investigation into the incident, which is not the first of its kind in the recent past. True, the Karnataka government was quick to set up an SIT to probe the killing, but we see no signs of it making a solid progress, leave alone giving us a hope of catching the perpetrators. It is a very alarming situation.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, On E-Mail
Members of the ruling coterie have eulogised the killer of Mahatma Gandhi and revere him as their idol, so is it any surprise that the killing of Gauri Lankesh is being celebrated by a section of the same group? There is an ongoing attempt to frame the murder as merely a law-and-order issue for the upcoming elections. The murder is also being unnecessarily linked to the wider rhetorical debate of ‘Left’ cadre (CPI(M) workers) killing ‘Right’ cadre (RSS workers) and vice versa. A section of people are discussing and condemning the killings of RSS workers almost exclusively in order to obfuscate the entire issue. The PM has been speaking a great deal, but it seems that he is far more interested in celebrating the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech than in broaching the topic of murders that are being committed around the country by fringe elements almost in a systematic way. We, and all thinking citizens must condemn such politicking from the ruling class, whichever party they may belong to.
Rabindra Nath Roy, On E-Mail
I had never heard of Gauri Lankesh before her murder. The killing needs to be strongly condemned by everybody, irrespective of ideological or political differences. The government should also ensure the culprits are nabbed. However, many sections of the media and Opposition parties seem to have jumped the gun to name their usual suspects—Hindutva groups. How can the accused be identified even before a probe? Yes, she may have written against the RSS and other local Hindutva groups, but she has also been criticising the Congress-led Karnataka government. Also, more than 20 journalists were killed in Uttar Pradesh, in just three years, before the change in government. But there was no media outrage, not even whispered sympathies for the deceased from the liberals who seem to have been shaken by Gauri’s murder. Is it because a possible RSS angle is present here, which was missing from the UP murders?
Pramod Srivastava, On E-Mail
This is with reference to the editorial Comment (Gauri Lankesh, Sept 18). Both the Comment and the other article on the same subject in the issue appear biased. While the heinous murder of Gauri Lankesh should be condemned and so should all the distasteful gloating of it on social media, it should not be seen in isolation. Praveen Poojary, RSS workers D.S. Kuttappa and Rajesh Rudresh Sharad Madiwala were also murdered brutally in Karnataka under a Congress government. Praveen Poojary, a BJP worker was murdered for merely being under the suspicion of transporting cattle for slaughter allegedly by the Hindu Jagaran Vedike (HJV). These killings should also have been equally condemned. Gauri Lankesh had herself written on these murders in the article titled Chaddigala Marana homa (The last rites of the ‘short-pants’—the RSS). Doesn’t the title have a celebratory ring to it? Was it gloating on deaths too? You have been stringing together the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and now Gauri to state that democracy is getting murdered, freedom of expression is suppressed etc. Fine. But at the same time please clarify why the chain of murders of RSS workers in Karnataka & also in Kerala does not raise the same outrage from so-called pseudo liberals? Why such blatant double standards? Are these RSS workers not entitled to live for their ideology, however wrong it may? I would like to add that if you do not introspect and undertake mid-way course correction, then you will carry the cross of grave injustice into your grave. I am sure this letter will not be published as the truth hurts egos.
Hemanth D Pai, Bangalore
Apropos the story Handshake Hurrah To Hawks (Sep 18), the defusion of the Doklam crisis and concern expressed in the BRICS declaration on regional security, naming the Pakisan-based Lashkar and Jaish, are satisfying developments for India. Post the BRICS declaration, Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif admitted for the first time that the country was liable to be internationally embarrassed if they continued support for terror groups. Two days later, Pakistan army chief Gen Bajwa called for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through political and diplomatic means, a stance divergent from the Pak army’s approach thus far. Obviously, Islamabad is under some kind of pressure. New Delhi’s patient diplomacy for so many years has paid dividend.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This is about the story lamenting the poor quality of Test cricket, as also the drop in Test form of some teams (Blackwash For Another Day, Sep 18). But one should understand the changed dynamics of the gentleman’s game. Barring India, England and, to some degree, Australia, neither spectators nor players themselves have any appetite left for the five-day version. While puritans may raise eyebrows over the unorthodox technique embraced by the current bunch of cricketers, they should reconcile themselves to the fact that end results are more important than technique. As an ardent, four-decade-long fan of cricket, I am happy to see Tests producing results more often, as opposed to dull draws and dead rubbers that were the hallmark of Test cricket in the last three decades of the 20th century. And gone are the days when spectators had the time and patience to watch five-day games. While pundits may not regard T20s and ODIs as the quintessence of cricket, one shouldn’t ignore the fact that cricket would have died a natural death but for the shorter versions. In this context, the contribution of the IPL in terms of rejuvenating international cricket cannot be underrated. It’s the Dhonis and the de Villiers’ who are the crowd-pullers, not the Pujaras or Alistair Cooks.
Shailendra Dasari, Ballary
Good to see that slices of Indian history have again started finding portrayal in Hindi cinema (Bollywood In Grip of Historia, Sept 11). Movies like Baadshaho, The Good Maharaja, Paramanu, The Black Prince and Partition: 1947 will definitely change the mood of film buffs. With a touch of fiction and drama, they can set a benchmark for another wave of period films. All the same, due homage needs to be paid by cinema to historical accounts else our view about the past can get really contorted. After all, apart from entertaining, cinema also performs that function of educating audiences.
Jayanta Topadar, Hatigarh
The cover story ‘Goddamn’ covered the criminal acts of ‘so-called’ swamijis and their thirst for money, sex, and power (Sept 11). In the long list of names, however, the names of Kanchi Mutt’s Sankaracharyas, Jeyendra Saraswathi and Vijeyendira Saraswathi, were missing. Their role in the brutal murder of the Varadaraja Perumal Temple’s official and their involvement with women devotees including some of the prominent actresses are no way lesser than the crimes of Gurmeet Ram Rahim. In fact, the open allegation of a popular woman writer on the Kanchi seers’ sexual harassments was widely discussed in Tamil media. The Brahmin dominated Indian-English media quite often tries to protect criminals if they are from their caste. Such is the shame that even a former Hindu editor-in-chief protected the Kanchi seers. This upper caste racist cartel might have representatives in the Tamil Nadu bureau as well. The omission of the ‘Kanchi’ case from your cover story is an ugly example of journalism. People who are watching debate shows on socio-political issues on Tamil television are well aware of your correspondent’s political views, which are pro-state and brahminical. Though we have little regard for the Indian nationalist media for their undeclared support of the Hindu-brahminical system, it is our humble duty to expose the same whenever possible.
Our response: The Shankaracharyas of the Kanchi mutt did not feature in our story as they have been exonerated by the courts.
Thirumurugan Gandhi, Chennai
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