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Unlike Pervez Musharaff, who remained exiled in the United Arab Emirates and repeatedly spurned summons from Pakistani courts, Nawaz Sharif has returned from abroad to boldly face the prison bars (The Pathan Suits, July 30). The election was indeed Sharif’s final political litmus test. And he positively lost. The triumphant Imran Khan built Sharif’s downfall bit by bit. It was Imran who brought the Panama Papers case against Sharif. All said, the economy performed well during Sharif’s tenure. The country’s GDP rose to 5.7 percent in 2017, the highest in 10 years. As for new skipper Imran, it’s unclear how he plans to lead. Dub-bed ‘Taliban Khan’, he has pilloried India for its “anti-Pakistan policy” and pooh-poohed Sharif’s fence-mending with India. A confused Islamist, Imr-an’s soft approach to religion could embolden radical Islamists to unleash violent terrorism in Pakistan as well as across its borders.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
If a veteran subscriber is to receive Outlook’s thoughtfully designed (I’m sure) recent cover on the Pakistan elections in a torn condition, with the a sticker of the subscriber’s name pasted on the face of Imran Khan, peeling it out would take Pakistan’s new PM’s face off too, what good is the copy? It gives you no joy. Need I say anything more?
Brig. N.M. Paul, On E-Mail
Times have changed for Pakistan and so has the international outlook about the once-unstable state. But the ‘terrorist hub’ tag stays. The new regime must change this perception. No doubt that a democratic and stable Pakistan will be of enormous benefit to the neighbourhood too. The new captain shall be deemed efficient to the world at large, if he is able to displace power from the ISI and the army.
The late Benazir Bhutto believed in democracy in Pakistan, which is a must for economic growth and welfare of the public. But it is a difficult task to build a growth-oriented economy in modern Pakistan, which will be on a par or competitive with the rest of the world. In the globalised world, each country must be modernised.
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
When Outlook began more than 20 years ago, I remember, its founding editor, the late Vinod Mehta, gave more than the due share to the voice of ‘we’, the readers. The magazine published many letters, spread across four pages. This trend continued and even the previous editor, Rajesh Ramachandran, allotted the first three pages to it. But I was really disappointed to see that letters were confined to just two pages in the July 30 issue, so that one more page could be used for advertisements that yield money to the coffers of the owners. The trend goes against the spirit of this magazine.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
This is in reference to the extract Braggadocio is an Italian Word (July 30), from Karan Thapar’s book, Devil’s Advocate. Atal Behari Vajpayee is a rare statesman of independent India who raised the bar for decency and sobriety in public life. Unlike the Machiavellian politicians of today, whose sole ambition is to ride the gravy train, Vajpayee always believed that politics without values and morality was meaningless. A great orator, he never indulged in demagogy to play to the gallery; rather, his speeches, both in Parliament and at election rallies, were peppered with sublime poetry and wit that exemplified a rare intellect. He was respected across party lines. During parliamentary debates, he never resorted to cheap theatrics to score brownie points. In fact, his intervention in debates was never shrill, and he could take the edge off any opposition member’s argument with his poetic flourish and cogent counterarguments. As PM, Vajpayee never ever felt the need to ridicule MPs even when he found the going tough in a proceeding. In Thapar’s book, Vajpayee comes across as a tolerant, benign and level-headed PM, who had no delusions of grandeur and could take even his own criticism in his stride. In these violent and volatile times, India badly needs a leader of Vajpayee’s stature who can lead by example and set a new benchmark for others in public life.
Aditya Mukherjee, New Delhi
Imran’s new knock as Pakistan’s PM is being observed by many a critical commentator.
Anil S., Pune
I refer to Go South, Young Man (July 30). As a Bangalorean by birth and long-term resident, I have seen the city’s linguistic profile change over the years. It is true that many from the northern states are moving south due to increasing job opportunities, mostly in the private sector. It is significant that many youngsters from the north secure jobs in southern states due to their knowledge of English and not necessarily Hindi. So, there is a greater need for the three-language formula to be implemented in the northern states because knowledge of a southern language will certainly help them immensely in securing jobs in the south.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
Apropos of Minimal Support Price (July 23) the current policy is tilted towards unsustainability for the government. As reported by the author, MSP is somewhat applicable only to wheat and rice, and not on other crops. The increase in MSP may be termed a populist measure on the government’s part, but it can’t be a sustainable model. To increase farmers’ income, the strategy has to be two-pronged, and should result in a win-win situation for the government and farmers.
Urea and other fertilisers are heavily subsidised, creating a heavy dent in the national exchequer without any substantial gain for farmers. On the contrary, soil health is deteriorating and reducing productivity. Despite huge spending on subsidies, India’s productivity in most crops is far below the global average. This proves that resources are misdirected.
Ajay Bhartiya, Hyderabad
This is about Outlook’s article on biryani (A Slowly Simmering Reconquista, July 23). The story, while quoting Pritha Sen, makes a passing reference to pulao: “The aristocracy had their fine pulaos, but biryani was food on the move, and that’s why it was food for the masses”. It might be noted that pulao and biryani are two distinct rice dishes. The famed 19th century Lucknow writer of historical novels, Maulana Abdul Haleem Sharar, in his classic Guzishta Lucknow, describes the difference between pulao and biryani. He says while biryani is more popular in Delhi, the fine and delicate taste of Lucknow prefers pulao. The general public, however, considers the two as one and the same thing. Biryani is spicier, and gives the pleasure of having been pre-mixed with curry. Lucknawi sophisticates consider biryani to be an unnecessary mixture of rice and curry. A well-prepared pulao appeals more to their delicate palate.
Monis R. Kidwai, Delhi
This is about the cover story on the proliferation of private sex-cam videos in India (Pati, Patni Aur Cam, July 23). I know, things that were taboo have become mainstream—a drastic change. The advent of the internet and the smartphone has given open access to pornography. Now, some wannabe porn stars are stooping low to shoot themselves while copulating and sharing the clips on websites. Is it just some perversion? I don’t think people are understanding its social repercussions. Sexual crimes are increasing. How to explain this rise? Surely, it must be pornography available at your fingertips that is driving us crazy!
Indu S. Dube, Varanasi
The government was right in leaving it to the courts to decide on the colonial-era Section 377, as any opposition to decriminalising same-sex relationships sends out a regressive message. Simply put, when the Constitution guarantees equality of all citizens, sexual intercourse of any kind between consenting adults, irrespective of their gender, should not lead to criminal prosecution.
K.R. Srinivasan, On E-Mail
With reference to the Deep Throat item ‘Homeward Bound’ (July 23), PM Modi is always in poll mode. During the first two years after 2014, he was in the humour of the general election win. Thereafter, Modi has spent much of his energy in establishing himself as the sole saviour of the BJP in the state elections. His many foreign jaunts have qualified him to become an NRI PM, but with the 2019 elections only a few months away, he has had to cut down drastically on his international flights. It is hoped that his presence in India will bring some seriousness to the country’s governance.
Lal Singh, Amritsar
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