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This refers to your cover story on the Sangh Parivar’s parent organisation, RSS: Is the Threat Real (Sept 10). It’s easy to find out if an organisation is a threat to democratic values—you just have to find out if it adheres to the country’s constitutional values. How much the RSS follows those values is evident from its open call for turning India into a ‘Hindu rashtra’. It is an indisputable fact that RSS has found a notable place in mainstream politics and its influence is palpable like never before in the policies of the ruling party. But going mainstream doesn’t mean that the organisation has found acceptance among all sections of society. Dalits and minorities have a clear picture of the Sangh as it targets them on several occasions. Can the RSS ever come out of its saffron cell? As a cultural organisation run on the Hindutva ideology, it is near impossible for the RSS to get support from these sections. The question to RSS is that whether it recognises the core values of liberalism and secularism as the basic principles of Indian democracy.
P.A. Jacob, Muscat
The Hindu Right is productive and creative only when it comes to churning out agenda-driven nonsense, phrases which are routinely flung as abuse at all who do not agree with them. We have been hearing the word “pseudo secular” for a long while but so far no one from the Sangh has cared to tell us what it means. When people got tired of that, The term “anti-national” was produced. And now when that too has been countered on all fronts, we have upon us the stubborn, vindictive weight of “Urban Naxal”, being tossed around like toffee. It’s unfortunate that television journalists and even the Pune police are lapping this term up for their own frayed ends.
Mukul Dube, Delhi
I found your story to be biased on multiple fronts. It projects a lopsided picture of the Indian social. You make it look like it’s some Hindus who are trying to spread hatred amongst all. You give examples from the RSS, and most of them are Hindus. You could have named other organisations from other communities doing the same thing, but you have conveniently avoided that. Do you know that if the examples your story mentions get shared on social media, it will turn the general public against the majority!
Varun S.D., On E-Mail
As reported, it was indeed very shocking and disturbing to note that Congress president Rahul Gandhi maligned an established Indian cultural organisation while on foreign tour. He is only focused on the BJP and the RSS and forgets other organisations which are actually closer to the Muslim Brotherhood. This tactic will not fetch him any votes back home.
S.P. Sharma, Mumbai
It is time to accept the RSS as a mainstream organisation. They have been working at the ground level for long. I am a witness to the service the RSS did when the tidal wave hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh in 1977. The RSS doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion in times of calamities, since they believe that everyone in India is anyway a Hindu, historically speaking.
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijayawada
The content for your RSS cover is bland as khaki nikkers. The sarsanghchalaks may have replaced their chaddis with trousers but the long and short of the org remains the same. Abhishek Singhvi of the Congress conveniently traces the historical footprints of the RSS in Veer Savarkar and Guru Golwalkar’s inspiration in Adolf Hitler. Seshdri Chari of the RSS says “Rahul Doesn’t Know the RSS”, plainly to hit out at the Congress. Walter Anderson appears to get lost in his scholarly views, devoid of ground realties. The argument that 37 affiliates detailed in the ‘extended family of RSS’ are separate entities is not convincing. It is a clever ploy for marketing their ideology by having multiple signboards.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
The headquarters is really Nagpur, those central Delhi quarters are just its branches.
Richa Juyal, Dehradun
This is about the devastating floods that have hit Kerala (Barrage of Bunglings, sep 3). It was a deluge of such magnitude that it will invoke comparisons with ancient watery cataclysms. On the night of August 15, when the rest of the country was asleep, citizens in Kerala was wide awake, striving to keep their heads above the water creeping up, triggered by the sudden release of water from the Mullaperiyar dam. The fast-flowing water took everything in its way. People of Kerala no fear the likelihood of another catastrophe. They fear the cracks that have shown up on the 123-year-old Mullaperiyar dam. If it breaks, that would lead to a tragic chain: the Idukki dam may burst too, along with others downstream. Tamil Nadu, the state that owns the Mullaperiyar has a cavalier attitude about the dangers facing the structure. Their unfeeling arrogance stems from that fact that if the dam does split open, the three million people living downstream are in Kerala. TN, which reaps the benefits from the dam, have nothing to fear. Kerala and Tamil Nadu can solve their half-century-old dispute justly by building a new dam 1,300 feet downstream at a cost to be borne by Kerala. Indeed, time has come for the two states to unite in investing in preventing disasters. Give up the war of words, protests and litigation. People’s lives are at stake—they are fellow Indians, even if they happen to speak a different language.
V.S. Dharmakumar, On E-Mail
The recent deluge in Kerala and Kodagu in Karnataka owing to incessant rainfall has thrown up a huge rehabilitation challenge. Your article carried several instances of heart-warming rescue experiences by local people and NDRF teams. The lack of preparedness during the calamity though is a cause for grave concern. And, since humans are increasingly finding themselves in conflict with nature because of the rampant exploitation of Earth, we need to be more disaster-prepared than ever. There is an urgent need to increase the fleet of helicopters for civilian purpose. It is also high time to take necessary steps to build helipads at prominent public/civil locations ideal for landing. Such a move will help reach the people in distress quickly.
I have been a long-time reader of Outlook. In fact, my existing subscription runs till 2019. In recent years, however, Outlook has lost much of its charm and energy. There was a time I used to wait for a week to lay my hands on a new issue—for interesting covers, special reports, well-written features and powerful opinion columns. Now, it’s just a compendium of regular news one comes across through the week in newspapers and on the internet in magazine form that is delivered late (not counting postal delays). Alternative and instant sources of news have emerged as a big threat to newsmagazines, but I think there are still people like me who don’t mind waiting for good content. I think it’s time for Outlook to reinvent itself, or else it would be reduced to irrelevance.
Nirupam Hazra, Bankura
I would like to express my appreciation for the selection of letters in the last issue, covering a vast variety of subjects. However, as a reader of Outlook since its inception, I want to make sure that historical facts are given correctly. The fall of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government by one vote (269 vs 270) occurred in September 1999, not 1996 as printed in two letters by M.C. Joshi and J.S. Acharya in the issue dated September 10. Elections were then held in October, and Vajpayee went on to form a government that would last until 2004.
H.C. Pandey, Delhi
Apropos of Bombay Bus Going Bust? (Sept 3), the BEST bus service can reduce losses if it can get more commuters on board. Wouldn’t it be great if commuters could just hail the bus like a taxi! But that is risky business. Immediate reducing of fares would be a welcome move though. All this Uber/Ola share business also works against the interest of the BEST’s future. What else…oh, the staff can be more courteous, that would make for good experience for city dwellers, which is a rare thing these days, and so more of us will want to board the bus. How about coming out with an app, which tracks the movement of buses for potential commuters via GPS?
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai
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