This is with reference to A Good Shot in the Dark, your cover story on the football scenario in India (Oct 30). The Under-17 World Cup was such a golden opportunity for Indian football to reinvent and revamp its talent and make its presence felt in world football. It’s great that the promising players in India got opportunities to showcase their ability and I’m sure there was a great deal of learning involved in playing at the world level and that too at home. Domestic corporate-sponsored tournaments like the ISL (Indian Soccer League) may have come wrapped in claims of revolutionising Indian football but nothing can achieve what a government-backed event of this proportion can for the game in the country. It has been a good start.
P.A. Jacob, Muscat
The Under-17 World cup in India proved a significant success and shattered all the earlier records in spectator attendance. The event is a shot in the arm for Indian football. And it was plenty interesting too—England captured their maiden U-17 World cup title after rallying from behind to thump Spain 5-2 in the finals. Spain on the other hand played well in patches and attacked the English side from all corners but their defence was too weak to face the onslaught of the British side. The Salt Lake Stadium in Calcutta reverberated to thunderous applause during the final. Calcutta is the football fairytale city of India. With the final match being sold out in no time, the total attendance at the six host venues across the country logged 13,47,143 people, and it is a new record. Unlike cricket, the staple national obsession, football is a fast game and provides thrills every minute to the spectator. This U-17 World Cup was indeed a soccer extravaganza.
C.K. Subramaniam, Navi Mumbai
Outlook’s coverage of the pathetic jobs situation in the country (Depressing Window to Middle Class, Oct 23) prompts this letter. Indeed, it’s a grim scenario on the jobs front. The economy had already slowed down before it had to contend with the double blow of demonetisation and GST. With the heyday of the IT sector behind us, a slump in manufacturing has hit job-seekers hard. Growing automation and introduction of new technologies have further queered the pitch for youngsters about to enter the job market. Retrenchment, instead of new jobs, is the outcome. The government, understanding the gravity of the situation, has come up with concepts such as ‘Skill India’ and has tried to rev up self-employment by offering incentives in the form of subsidies and soft loans. Unfortunately, for India’s burgeoning middle class, these aren’t meaningful. Rising aspirations amongst middle class youths forbid them to take up jobs not to their liking. At the same time, with no sound financial background, they are not in a position to take risks in business. Incidentally, the start-up story is also an exaggerated one. There is no demographic dividend; a demographic disaster is upon us.
Vijay Pant, Hempur
A country like India, where there is a surplus of unskilled labour, is more vulnerable to rapid changes caused by artificial intelligence technology (When AI Spells Exit, Oct 23). According to experts, manufacturing output is at an all-time high but employment is today lower than ever before. Bottom line: automation is playing a part in eliminating many jobs in the economy. The World Bank estimates that around 57 per cent of jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
This refers to the story on Mamata Banerjee (The Highway, Yes. But Not Her Way!, Oct 30). Issues of governance and those of party discipline notwithstanding, Mamata’s continuous obsession with ‘appeasement’ politics is not to the liking of Bengalis in general, and her close followers in particular. She leads no more in consultation with close aides but has become a CM who is scared of even her own shadow—suspecting every senior person of harbouring chief ministerial ambitions. Hers, anyway, has always been a one-woman party, but now the space for dissidence, or for considering other ways of governing the state, has shrunk even further. If this carries on, the ten-year TMC bubble will burst and irrespective of who wins the next polls, Bengal will suffer more. The simmering social tensions resulting from token steps by Mamata, or the poisonous Hindutva campaign by the BJP, are playing upon the cracks in Bengali society.
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijaywada
Shyam Thapa’s back volley against Mohun Bagan in a 70s league game still echoes.
Anjan Kumar Das, On E-Mail
This is about the story on the Guptas of South Africa (Prez Zuma’s West UP Connect, Oct 30). We should not pay much attention to the allegations levelled against the Guptas by this article. Like many families from humble roots which make it to the top, the Guptas have been accused of corruption time and again. Armed with a solid middle-class upbringing, the Guptas tackled all the challenges of South Africa and set up a huge business empire. After they rose to be among the richest business houses of South Africa, they came into prominence and were regarded as a threat by their business competitors. These competitors want to ruin the Guptas for obvious reasons, and are thus carrying out a false propaganda campaign against them.
Nosicelo Mntumni, On E-Mail
Accusations against the Guptas have been items of news in the South African media for long. But none of them has been proven by law. A prominent investigative agency also presented its report in the form of GuptaLeaks, featuring emails of transactions of firms linked with the Guptas. But when authorities probed the matter, they couldn’t find any incriminating content. Still, the media probed against the Guptas’ alleged misdeeds on their own accord, leading four top banks to close their accounts with the family, citing ‘associated risks’. The sole objective of the ongoing probe against this prominent business family seems to be to tarnish their image.
Dova Groenewald, On E-Mail
I was moved by the Diwali Diary (October 30) of Sahar, who like me, loves to celebrate the festival of lights but, again like me, is stuck within the four walls of a concrete home. I too suffer from bronchitis, so much like her, albeit to a lesser extent, I can’t tolerate the smoke that enters my house and chokes me. This Diwali, I too started coughing when I went to the roof of my house to witness the spectacle, and the next day my parents had to take me to a doctor who put me on a nebuliser. Sahar lives in Noida in the NCR region where the sale of crackers was banned by the Supreme Court this year, so it must have been a much better Diwali for her, I hope. Sadly, no such luck for me in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, where many people burst crackers, which were sold in most markets and localities of the city. So unlike her, I can’t even escape to the hills next year—we practically live in the hills! And even days after Diwali, a few people keep bursting crackers, proving their prowess and the power of pelf. I empathise with Sahar and reiterate with a lot of sadness that, for millions of children like her and me, Diwali is not a festival to await eagerly, but an occasion for fear. Just to tell you, I’m just a couple of years older than Sahar (I’m sixteen).
Arnav Ridh, Dehradun
I don’t think that Sangeet Som and Azam Khan deserved any space at all in the magazine, leave alone an editorial comment. It is the 24x7 TV channels, and also the print media to some extent, which give totally undeserved publicity to such controversial entities always on the lookout to cause nuisance. Whatever anybody says at a small gathering or in front of TV cameras is instantly spread all over the country, which would otherwise have gone unheard outside the immediate circle and context. Excited TV anchors conducting senseless debates with politicians and other panelists trigger one national controversy or the other. The Taj Mahal is what it is—the glory and identity of India—and the Rashtrapati Bhavan is what it is—residence of the Head of State. This needed no discussion and explanation. Why discuss and respond to the absurd utterings of publicity-hungry politicians and give them what they seek on a platter? The media should desist from picking up and spreading controversial and undesirable utterings of petty politicians. But then...who’s listening?
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to your editorial comment Som and Khan (October 30). I doubt if the writer has read all that V.D. Savarkar wrote about his rigorous life imprisonment and, if he has, then this is plain villainy. Savarkar was kept in a tiny, dark cell in the Andamans. He was there for more than a decade, which is perhaps longer than Jawaharlal Nehru’s imprisonments. At least, Nehru was allowed to read literature and write letters. Savarkar chose a more innovative way to serve his motherland, by putting all his energies to fight social evils in Hindu society. He got the Patit Pavan temple in Ratnagiri to open its doors to people from all castes. You can’t find fault with him if he thought he could serve the country better by being with the people rather than decaying silently in jail.
Abhay Kher, On E-Mail
“They came here, fell in love with this land, married into local ruling families and built beautiful, breathtaking monuments to love, stuff Khan or Som don’t understand.” Forget the hyperbole about falling in love with this land and other things. Let us talk about breathtaking monuments. What is breathtaking for one may be garbage for someone else. There are people who think carnatic music is the highest form of music—and others who cannot stand the sound of it. Who is right and who is wrong? Bharathiyar is considered to be the greatest Tamil poet in the modern era—and there are others who have serious disagreements on this. It’s the same with Tagore and Satyajit Ray. I could not sit through his movie for more than 10 minutes. It was horrible. That is my opinion and I am entitled to it. Similarly, Som is entitled to his opinion that the Taj is garbage. And you are free to think his opinion is garbage. Why be so angry about it?
Akash Verma, Chennai
Controversial BJP MLA Sangeet Som has once again ignited a fire storm of controversy. The likes of Som are nonchalant about polarising the society on communal lines for political gains. Som has been booked for using social media to disseminate hate speeches and videos in the past. Yogi Adityanath is fast losing credibility as a leader and it is high time top leaders from the BJP intervened and told him to keep people like Som in check. But so far, the party has failed to rein in its aggressive leaders. Perhaps, it doesn’t want to do so at all.
K.S. Jayatheertha, Bengaluru
The decades-old ploy of portraying Muslims as anti-Indians stems from the RSS’s Hindutva agenda. It is no wonder that an organisation servile to the Queen of England, which distanced itself from the freedom struggle all the way and did not unfurl the tricolour until the 1980s at their headquarters could leave only the sediment of hatred against Muslim kings who dared to fight the British. It is reassuring that President Ramnath Kovind has heaped praises on Tipu Sultan who fought uncompromisingly against the British. The right wing in Karnataka is hell bent on portraying him as a villain in history, just like the saffron brigade in UP paints the Mughals as in order to foment communal tension for political gains.
Chandrasekaran C., On E-Mail
The writer is burdened with V.D. Savarkar’s infamous apology just as BJP’s Sangeet Som carries the Mughal baggage. Savarkar, who wrote The First War of Independence, also served time in Kala Paani under the same British regime whom Azam Khan chooses to castigate. Contradictions coexist in men like Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru too. But unfortunately, whatever suits an opinion-holder is said in loud words, while the truth often lies between two extreme perspectives.
Lalit Mohan Sharma, Dharamshala
This is in reference to ‘What He Said Was In the Past” (Oct 30). Flip-flops and reckless statements have become US President Donald Trump’s trademark; what he says today can be withdrawn the very next day, there is no sense of accountability in his twitter comments as well as his speeches. The secretary of state’s visit to Pakistan shows that hyphenating India-Pakistan has always been the US’s policy, to humour their strategic ally. However, our Ministry of External Affairs is gloating over Rex W. Tillerson’s hop, stop and jump safari. Following the rescue, with the help of the Pakistani army, of a Canadian-American couple who were being held by jehadis, Trump seems to have been won over by the baubles offered by Pakistan’s generals. In what is being perceived as a change of heart, he has even declared that the US is starting to develop much better relations with Pakistan’s leaders.
P.L. Singh, On E-Mail
Sahar is not just a 14-year-old studying in Noida, she is a gifted writer too and a sensitive and perceptive human being. Sahar, you are as beautiful as your name. And yes, I too do not enjoy the smoke and smell of firecrackers. I have to remain indoors during the festival of light for although my heart is strong, my lungs are very weak.
Mallika Chandrasekhar, On E-Mail
This is so much the story of my daughters too, Sahar, and my dad. When we anticipate a festival not with joy, but with anxiety due to human practices, there is something very, very wrong about it. You have written an excellent piece highlighting the issue.
Madhavi Chandra, On E-Mail
I am suffering from a respiratory tract infection and I know what you are talking about Sahar. Being breathless is very lonely. India will have to decide whether we want people coming home or breathing heavily in solitude.
Rukmini Sen, On E-Mail
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