• Civilisational Bricks
    Aug 27, 2018

    Your cover story Who were the Harrapans? (Aug 13) made for an interesting read, but I must confess that it was a difficult terrain to chart as a reader, with so much being intricately woven to the plot, a necessary measure perhaps, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue. Although there were a lot of ins­ightful observations made, there was nothing particularly new. The only fresh element for me was the ­domestication of cattle and poultry and the agriculture aspect, which is suggested to have come with the Iranian farmer ancestry from the western side through inter-breeding. What also amazed me was the inroads quietly made by genetics using DNA samples to add a ‘scientific dimension’ to anc­ient history. Also, the distant roots of our own brick proportions 1:2:4 (width: breadth: length) are a fascinating discovery. I wish there was some ‘genetic feature’ to also trace the history of different faiths. On the plus side, why anc­ient cultures disappeared should guide modern cultures and our ‘IT’ civilisation, if possible, on how to slow down its ine­vitable slide vis-a-vis fast dwindling resources.


    Mohan Singh, Amritsar


    Our notions of history and prehistory shall undergo a sea change, now that experts are applying advanced techniques of genetics to the study of anc­ient civilisations. Now is officially a scientific age of history. The sequencing of genomes of the ancient DNA, which geneticists have gathered from several sites around the world, such as the ancient cave at Denisova in Germany, have revolutionised the study of prehistory. Geneticists like Savante Paabo have invented cutting-­edge technologies to extract minute particles from available portions of ­ancient DNA, thus eliminating the possibilities of their contamination with foreign microbes infesting them in the course of time. David Reich, an American geneticist of Israeli origin, has published a book titled Who We Are And How We Got Here: Ancient DNA And The New Science Of The Ancient Past that lights a torch to the darkest areas of human prehistory. He, by way of genetic analysis, proves that we all are not the direct descendants of a common people (a claim made by some historians), rather, innumerable migrations make the history of our ­ancestors a very fluid thing.


    The results of the present study in Rakhigarhi are difficult to digest for people who steadfastly bel­ieve in their old notions of the Indus Valley civilisation, a topic elaborately discussed by David Reich, who corroborates the res­ults indicated to us by the team of professor V.S. Shinde. History is indeed a developing science.


    T.P. Sreedharan, Thalassery

  • Aug 27, 2018

    This refers to Deccan College VC V.S. Shinde’s interview (“Harappans United Regions Across 2 Million Sq Km”, Aug 13). Professor Shinde’s opening remark, that in the Harappan civilisation we can see the concept of “one nation” and that the concept was introduced by the people of this civilisation, is ­absurd to say the least. Ideas like nat­ion and nat­ionalism came into existence only in the 19th century as a result of socio-­economic and political developments which were specific to Europe. The French Revolution followed by Napo­leonic conquests led to a complete destruction of feudal institutions and relationships and created conditions which paved the way for such concepts to come into existence. So, just as Egyptian nationalism cannot be traced to the Egyptian civilisation or Arab nat­ionalism to the Mesopotamian civilisation, so also Indian nationalism cannot be seen as a gift of the Harappan civilisation. Perhaps a reading of Ernest Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm, David Thomson, et al. might help the professor reformulate his ideas and broaden his understanding about this concept.


    Amol Saghar, Delhi


    If we take the root of your package, root being the ‘source’ that prompt’s magazine reporters to go for a bigger story, it would be Prof Shinde’s interviews given to a couple of newspapers and online publications recently. In those, he had stated that there was no Aryan invasion of any sort, hinting that ‘we: the Indian people’ are of a continuous, indigenous ancestry. That doesn’t rea­lly show in your package, even in his interview. It makes me wonder, does a story change according to who’s listening? If so, there should be a hundred interpretations of the Rakhigarhi findings, each with their own authenticity.


    Udarana Sepala, On E-Mail

  • One-Liner
    Aug 27, 2018

    After the Aryan invasion, Harappa could have been renamed Har+Aryan=Haryan…later, ‘Haryana’!


    Chamu Jegan, On E-Mail

  • Aug 27, 2018

    Both the story on the bridge in a remote corner of Odisha (Out of the Red, Into the Open, Aug 13) and excerpts from Ruben Banerjee’s biography of Naveen Patnaik (A Meteor In Utkal, Aug 13) exp­anded the horizon of general awareness about Odisha, which is generally considered to be an extremely poor and backward state. The rest of modern India doesn’t care much about its rich natural and cultural resources. Only stories like the poor farmer walking miles with his dead wife on his shoulders in Kalahandi make national news. There is never any spotlight on Naveen being a CM with no greater ambition than serving his people with dedication. Naveen is slowly leading Odisha towards progress. The 900-metre span of the Gurupriya bridge ought to have been projected by the national media, it is quite a feat.


    M.N. Bhariya, Goa

  • Buying Silence
    Aug 27, 2018

    This is about Dalit leaders in the NDA feeling the pressure of their brethren on the ground being disillusioned by the BJP government (The Unquiet Dalit Street, Aug 13). It is reg­rettable that the Modi government has succumbed to the compulsions of votebank politics by clearing the bill to restore the provisions of the SC/ST Act. The old law provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering criminal cases and an arr­est under the law would not be subject to any approval. The Supreme Court had, in making amendments to the law which led to Dalit protests, presented reliable data to highlight the law’s lapses. There was logic too—the basic objective of common law in the West is that it’s better 100 guilty people esc­ape the law than that one innocent person should be held wrongly guilty. Harmony between communities in a democracy can’t be enforced through iniquitous laws that overly protect one community against others. Now, the demand for quota in promotions adds insult to injury. It means a large segment of the population may have to carry the burden of historical wrongs suffered by the Dalits.


    R. Narasimhan, Chennai Kangayam


    The caste divide frittering away national unity has now been given more fillip by the government reverting to the original SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. National unity is of no concern to those focusing on personal prosperity. Acting against a person on a mere complaint is denial of natural justice. The BJP thus stands exposed as a player of filthy politics. Non-Dalits should get together and demand act­ion, but should avoid violence.


    J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad

  • Original Omissions
    Aug 27, 2018

    Apropos of We, the Readers! (Letters, Aug. 13), it was consoling that in these times when advertisement-revenue, not readers, have become more important for newspapers and journals, with the top national English dailies of the capital having scrapped the letters to the editor section, Outlook still maintained its founding editor, the late Vinod Mehta’s legacy, of a 4-page letters column, a most sought after and popular column. The August 13 issue again carries a pruned 2-page letters column with a discomforting glue-fixed glazed paper advertisement in between the pages, which took away part of the column-content with it as well. Outlook is becoming heavier for the ordinary readers, with stories of little common interest such as the 12-page cover story We are all Harappans. Historians and researchers may get their fodder in it; what is there for an ordinary reader like me, who’s interested in more contemporary issues than the origins of civilisation?


    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

  • Aug 27, 2018

    This is about the story on north Karna­taka lagging behind in development, leading to demands of a separate state (This Leg Drags Behind, Aug 13). Much of south Karnataka, which was part of the Mysore state, was well developed due to the kings of Mysore, who app­ointed able administrators like Sheshadri Iyer, Sir M. Vish­vesh­wara­yya and Mirza Ismail, who were given full autonomy. Iyer was the man behind one of India’s oldest hydro-­electric power stations at Shiva­na­samudram in 1905, leading to Bangalore getting electricity even before Mumbai and Delhi. Sir M.V. was behind the construction of a dam across the Cauvery at Kannambadi, which played a role in irrigating Mandya and other regions. In the north, except for the TB dam across the Tungabhadra, no great work took place. People there have a justified grouse against the state.


    Hemanth D. Pai, Bangalore


    Apropos of Self Care In A Blinding State (Aug 13), even the most shocking of things from Kashmir fail to generate any kind of surprise for a mainland reader such as myself, such has bec­ome the norm of the day. The distance between the people and the government in this blinding situation is starkly visible. Pellets fired by the sec­urity forces have blinded hundreds. They have been left to such a fate that the only option for them is to form their own organisation for rehabilitation. What is the State’s biggest fear? That Kashmiris want to break away. Well, they are pushed to form their own social relief organisations. By providing them no relief but only pain, you are helping them form their own systems. Why will they not want to form a separate state?


    Akhil Kumar, Bangalore

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