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This is apropos the leader comment of Outlook’s Anniversary special issue (Future and Past). “Freedom of the press...has suffered the most from the gradual degradation of the ideal liberty. A free press can of course be good or bad, but most certainly without freedom it will never be anything but bad,” observed Albert Camus. I must add here that the media will not be a mouthpiece of the rich and powerful provided it works within the parameters of an ‘ethical code’. The media in contemporary times has made it a habit to print news in a manner that creates a sensation. Outlook has created an indelible impression on readers; for many, it’s one of the few news outlets that can be implicitly trusted.
Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda
Let me first congratulate Outlook on its 22nd anniversary. In 1995, Outlook and its founder-editor Vinod Mehta redefined magazine journalism. In a field dominated by a behemoth rival and a few others, the magazine quickly made a mark with incisive and intelligent stories and design. Daily newspapers, who sell full front page covers to advertisers, need to know that when the reader picks it up in the morning, he moves to the front page without even sparing a glance for the adverts. The anniversary issue is certainly a collector’s item, where historical events, in their different time-frames, have been brilliantly narrated by experts.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
At a time when magazines are only showing a fall in standards, Outlook shows signs of a happy contrast. If the contents of your 22nd anniversary special are anything to go by, there are more milestones awaiting us. For the future generations as well, I would say as an octogenarian.
M. N. Bhartiya, Goa
The anniversary special was worth reading with insightful stories on important events that shaped the nation and the world’s history. The number seven was the focal point of your anniversaries, but then, how could you ignore the first war of Indian Independence in 1857?
Usha Mantri, On E-Mail
Your anniversary special reminded me of the quality of Illustrated Weekly in the 1960s. The editorial too has a touch of class; in many ways, the incumbent editor’s style reminds me of Outlook’s founder-editor Vinod Mehta, who used to personally acknowledge my letters.
H.C. Pandey, Delhi
This is with reference to What Congress & CIA brought down by Prakash Karat. The Communist Party of India was founded in 1925 to revolt against the British colonial rule and work for the common good and welfare of the people. Ten years earlier, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar had founded the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, which was not in line with the freedom struggle and the Quit India Movement. The CPI and CPI(M) were the only two political parties in the early Independence years which were persistently contesting in all the Lok Sabha elections and posing a challenge to the Indian National Congress, then headed by Nehru, a socialist; all other political parties were nowhere in the fray, other than the Bharatiya Jan Sangh in its initial years. But despite the early electoral start, the following decades saw the Left only occupying a symbolic, marginal position in national politics. Eventually, Nehru’s socialism gave way to economic liberalism in the nineties and the Communist Party again struggled for relevance in this brave new world. Several factors have contributed towards limiting the growth of the Left in the country: the 1964 split in the Communist Party, the Congress’ unrelenting offensive and censure against the Left, a lack of dedicated and charismatic leaders, flip-flops in policies, even the backdoor hijacking of its cadres by the RSS-led BJP. Ironically, the Congress aimed for a ‘Communist-mukt’ India in the 1960s, 70s and in later years. Now it is being paid in the same coin by the BJP’s cry of a ‘Congress-mukt’ India. With all that said, it is time for Left parties to introspect, unite, enhance their support base and pursue such action as may be deemed fit to strengthen the base and regain their lost legacy.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
Numerological curation has its merits; the number seven interlinks so much history!
Anil S., Pune
I refer to Indira: The Print Ages By a Century . If it is a question of role models, Rahul Gandhi would do better to follow Indira Gandhi than Sonia Gandhi. Indira proved to be the most powerful PM of India. Her deeds speak for it. Whatever changed—good or bad—in the Indian political scenario after she became PM was due to her policies.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
Apropos Indira: The Print Ages By a Century, due to her habitual callous indifference to hoi polloi, Indira Gandhi probably never realised the misery she foisted on the people by imposing the Emergency. Groomed by her father, she felt she was born to rule. If any prime minister now dares to incarcerate an entire nation, s/he will be chased out of the country. The nationalisation of banks resulted in NPAs that benefited the crooked. The practice continues. The ‘Garibi hatao’ slogan was the essence of hypocrisy. The article says no one can deny her mastery of statecraft. It was not statecraft, but ruthless Machiavellianism. The secret dossiers of the misdeeds of all significant men in the Congress gave her unbridled power over them. Corruption in the Congress was the praxis. ‘Yes, madam’, was all they could say. The worst she did was to sap the dignity and sanctity of the individual, already conditioned by feudal mores; a catastrophe for democracy.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
Your editorial comment Som and Khan (October 30) is one of the finest pieces I have ever read. So incisive and so full of sarcasm & humour. Let me add some points from my experience:
On the police getting a pair of goats “to confess they were Khan’s buffaloes”.
In Mumbai a senior retired police officer (X) lost some ornaments in a burglary. Police arrested some people and ‘recovered’ the “property”. When X went to identify it, he noticed that they were not his. Still the local police tried to persuade him to take them but he refused to do so.
However a young Bangalore couple were not so lucky. When their house was burgled they lodged a complaint and approached me. I turned to a police friend who spoke to the local police. A few days later the couple got a call from the local police to come and identify their goods. They found that the recovered pieces were not theirs and showed reluctance to accept them. At this the SHO intimidated them & made them accept those pieces!
As far as the RSS is concerned, I had described their role during the Emergency in my book Keeping India Safe: The Dilemma of Internal Security (2017). I quote: “In 2015 during the 40th anniversary of the Emergency, some people claimed that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) was at the forefront of the silent agitation against Mrs. Indira Gandhi. It was claimed that thousands of RSS workers were printing and circulating clandestine pamphlets all over the country. Quite a few people believed this fiction in the wake of BJP’s overwhelming win in 2014 general elections. Nothing would be farther than the truth. I was in charge of the emergency enforcement in Bombay till May 1976 and I can unhesitatingly say that the RSS took no part in this till resistance in Bombay or even in Maharashtra at least till the middle of 1976 while I held charge of the Bombay Special Branch.
On the other hand they were very meek and submissive, ready to cooperate with the government to avoid arrests...They said they were anti-Communists like Sanjay Gandhi. During those days I saw two or three letters from Balasaheb Deoras, RSS Chief to the Prime Minister requesting her to lift the ban on RSS and release the cadres to enable their volunteers “to participate in the planned programme of action relating to country’s progress and prosperity under the PM’s leadership”. Copies of these letters were marked to Chief Minister S.B. Chavan who used to send them to me for my remarks. Deoras wrote to CM Chavan too asking him to be released on parole so that he could discuss these issues.”
Vappala Balachandran, On E-mail
(The writer is a former special secretary, Cabinet Secretariat)
Apropos Bhutto’s Promise: An Idea Has No Funeral, if Bhutto was such a democrat at heart, why did he deny the legitimate results of the election that brought Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to power? The truth is that he was just as corrupt and power-hungry as the military, and colluded with them when it worked to his advantage. His misfortune was that the military was more powerful than him and got rid of him when he started to be a thorn in their side. A stronger thief overpowering a weaker one doesn’t make the latter a victim. He’s still a thief!
Avinash Dharne, On E-Mail
Bhutto’s Promise: An Idea Has No Funeral is a fantastic, comprehensive and informative article. Two Zs bear the primary responsibility for the current state of affairs in Pakistan: General Zia and Zardari. While the former introduced religious extremism, the latter brought in corruption and nepotism.
Muqarrab Hussaini, On E-Mail
I found Bhutto’s Promise: An Idea Has No Funeral to be a wonderful read, but I must point out that you made a glaring mistake in the chart showing the Bhutto dynasty: Asif Ali Zardari is labelled as an ex-prime minister. In fact, Zardari was the president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013, but he was never prime minister. However, it is indeed true that Bhuttos have been involved in the country’s politics for generations and have paid in blood.
Arvind V. Gokhale, Pune
The article on Jane Austen by Devoney Looser (Emma Woodhouse is Your Friend) was a wonderful read. Austen’s creations live on in our midst, so life-like are they that we see them even in our neighbourhoods! The writer’s introspective truths haven’t been dimmed by time. Matters of courtship, emotional swings, changes of mind, envy and the economic factor were used to drive the plots of her novels. Their relevance in contemporary society is a testament to their immortality.
M.K. Somanatha Panicker, Alappuzha
I have an issue with the introduction to Bishan Singh Bedi for the 1967 Cricket Diary. Bedi was never a leg-spinner, but a left-arm orthodox spinner. I think you owe an apology to cricket lovers.
Manoj Sadasivan, On E-Mail
This is in reference to the article The Delhi Metro to Dombivali (October 16). It is unfair to compare the working of the metro rail system in Delhi with that of the suburban railways system of Mumbai, particularly in terms of the number of persons killed while crossing the track or falling from coaches/ hit by posts etc. Such hazards are inherent in any system at ground level. If DMRC must be compared with something, it should be with other established metro systems like those of Calcutta or Paris.
Also, a word on the Bullet train project. It is unknown how any high speed corridor like the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed rail (HSR) can be integrated with the suburban network to any advantage. HSRs all over the world operate separately, independent of the Metro system of the cities that they connect. These HSR systems enter the city at specified terminals, without any operational connection with the Metro systems. People use the Metro extensively to reach HSR terminals.
Undoubtedly, the Mumbai network is too old to cope with the city’s traffic. As suggested by the author, a radical approach must be adopted, but the fully elevated track he proposes would be very expensive and would impede traffic operations during the period of construction. A wholly underground network, as is quite common worldwide, would be more practical.
J.F. Dawson (Retd. Secy to General Manager, S.E.Railways), Chennai
It’s premature to say that the successful hosting of the Under-17 World Cup will lead to a renaissance of sorts for Indian football (No curl yet over the wall, Oct 30). The Indian boys did show that they can also belong on the big stage, but their lack of international exposure did them in. This was evident in the way the Indians let their guard down in the euphoria of scoring the first goal in a World Cup while playing against Colombia. That said, if Indian football is to revive its former glory, the government will have to not only provide the infrastructure and training, but also plan and strategise with an eye on the future. There is no lack of talent in the country with the likes of Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Dheeraj Singh and more garnering praise from connoisseurs of the game. The moot question remains whether we have the patience and the much required corporate funding to put Indian football on the road to success.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
This is in reference to the article An Outsider between the Posts (October 30). There is a factual error in the sentence “Playing for East Bengal, Shyam Thapa’s goal against Mohun Bagan of a back volley in the Calcutta League was folklore.” In fact, Shyam Thapa scored said goal while wearing Mohun Bagan’s jersey against East Bengal on August 6, 1978, in a Calcutta Football League match. We have great respect for your esteemed magazine, so we expect greater accuracy when it comes to historical facts.
Kushal Chakraborty, Calcutta
Modern happy developmental management by your excellent magazine/Your magazine is always new,/Editorial and news give logical view/I read the same and my mind blew/Instantly my knowledge grew.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
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