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Though all other articles under your cover story meticulously encompass the pros and cons of the BJP’s performance (or non-performance) and their ostentatious arrogance after getting power, these lead us nowhere as to say what will happen to the BJP’s maha mascot, Modi, in 2019 (Will Modi Win? Nov 19). Even astrologers have not dared to make any predictions yet. The five state assembly elections will be fought on local issues whereas parliamentary elections have become more and more Modi-centric for the BJP. So, there’s no saying what impact the results of these state elections will have on 2019’s big electoral match. This time around, most voters are flummoxed, as never before. They have had to deal with a lot of Modi ‘hot stuff’—demonetisation, GST etc. Only the results will prove as to whether voters are actually concerned about corruption-free good governance or they are again wanting to be swayed by saffron politics and empty, divisive rhetoric. People blame politicians for the existing socio-economic chaos and completely absolve themselves of their utter-bitter irresponsible role in electoral democracy. I’m desperately hoping this changes next year.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Modi will be in power for a long time to come. However, the ensuing assembly elections will decide his and the BJP’s modus operandi this time. If the ‘vikas purush’ card doesn’t work, the party’s plan B will be put in operation: there will be large-scale Hindu-Muslim riots and animated calls for ‘temple building’ and a war with Pakistan. All this conspired chaos may well be used as ammunition to declare emergency. Then, they will want to change the Constitution. Hence, Modi and RSS forever! Think about that when you go to vote.
Outlook’s front page photograph morphing Modi’s head on the Patel statue indicates Modi is still the tallest leader in the country. While Modi’s schemes for the poor and his development agenda will stand him in good stead, a five-year stint is too short for any leader to right all the wrongs in an economy that has been facing headwinds from both global and country-specific factors. The common man does not understand the complexities of the rise and fall of the country’s GDP and has no way of knowing the behind-the-scenes from the Rafale deal, but he is angry over the cascading effect of increasing oil prices on prices of essential commodities and services and the high cost of healthcare and education. However, public perception is that unlike the UPA administration, the Modi administration is scam-free and is well poised to deliver on the promise of ‘achhe din’. Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Modi hatao’ campaign may be suffused with the agenda of dividing for political gain. But will it work? It’s doubtful if Rahul can match Modi’s high-voltage electoral campaign. Overall, the electoral scales seem tilted in Modi’s favour.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
The PM’s craze to erect statues may well stun him and make him a statue in 2019!
Richa Juyal, Dehradun
About 35 years ago, a drunken Indian Airlines pilot had crashed his fairly new Bombay-bound passenger Airbus flight at the Madras Meenambakkam Airport (Hello, Your Captain Is Pickled, Nov 19). The airport doctor said, “Pilots are the pampered blue-eyed boys in this industry. Not only in this airport, but all over the country, pilots are not subjected to a thorough sobriety test.” Consequent upon this accident, there was a formal arrest, and release of the pilot. The insurance company refused to pay any compensation to Indian Airlines, causing a few crores’ worth of loss. And Airbus warned the Indian government to be strict with their flying crews. I guess from the report in a leading daily on November 12 that there has been a lot of progress in this regard. If it was only a line pilot involved three decades ago, now the person caught drunk before operating the Delhi–London flight was the director (operations) of Air India himself. Hurrah!
A Reader, On E-Mail
The article on the incidence of pilots flying under the influence of alcohol and the various rules and regulations to curb the habit is misleading and appears to have sensationalism as its core objective. It wrongly portrays airline pilots in India as irresponsible alcoholics who must be constantly put under the scanner for endangering the lives of passengers. It understates the fact that the Indian aviation regulator DGCA imposes the strictest breath alcohol test in the world (a 0 per cent limit) and gives pilots very little scope for appeal. Confirmatory blood tests are not admitted as evidence, unlike in the developed world. So sensitive are some of the breathalyser machines that pilots are advised not to wear strong colognes or use mouthwash prior to being tested for fear of triggering off false positives. In any case, the majority of pilots who fail the test do so because of marginally high readings and cannot by any means be called ‘drunk’! To use the phrase ‘drunk’ to describe all positive cases is not just unfair; it betrays a poor understanding of the subject. In India such tests are mandatory for all flights; in other countries, they are not. Lastly, licensed pilots are highly trained and responsible professionals who have proven their capabilities over multiple layers of assessment, and only then put in charge of multi-million dollar machines and hundreds of lives.
Subhashish Majumdar, Mumbai
I am shocked at the level of journalism exhibited in your article Hello, Your Captain Is Pickled. (Nov 19) I am an aviation professional who has over 12 years of experience in the airline industry. First, the article is factually inaccurate: The fifth paragraph states, “That means a pilot of a Delhi-Mumbai flight is checked twice: ahead of take off and before he disembarks from the aircraft after landing.” This is false. In domestic flights, a pilot undergoes a BA test only once: either before departure, or, if there is no infrastructure for this, after landing at the next destination.
Second, you have taken the statement, “The level of blood alcohol compatible with safe flying is zero,” at face value, and not analysed this even at a cursory level. I am not aware of any country in the world that mandates a zero-level reading except India. This results in pilots not being able to use things like medication, mouthwash, disinfectants and deodorants or perfume. In fact, we cannot even take a lozenge for fear of setting off the breathalyser machine. Also, any breathalyser machine is prone to false positives—for instance, when painting is being done anywhere connected by the ventilation system.
Third, the picture painted in the first paragraph—“a sudden announcement warning of ‘turbulence’ because the captain had a drink”—is rank sensationalism, and shows that your correspondent has no understanding of how planes are flown in this day and age.
Your article raises false red flags while ignoring real risks to passenger lives and aviation safety, such as danger posed by the engines used by some of the biggest airlines that suffer from exceedingly high rates of failure and unscheduled removal from service.
Brinder, On E-Mail
This is about the story that compares the Nehru jacket with the ‘Modi vest’ (Avuncular Elements of Style, Nov 19). But forget them for a while. If there is any politician who dresses up in a purely Indian manner it’s Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP. He’s dressed immaculately in a kurta, a bandhgala and a dhoti in the five-fold ‘pancha-kachcham’ style. Then there is a silk-bordered angavastram draped around his shoulders, with a prominent dot of kumkum on his forehead. It all lends an effulgence to his whole personality. This is what embodies the culture of India. Only a cultural ignoramus would disparage such a dress as dowdy, old-fashioned and ‘brahminical’. Our politicians should follow the example without embarrassment. Of course, there are politicians who do dress well in Indian apparel, like Venkaiah Naidu, but I think he doesn’t match Joshi in elegance.
C.V. Krishna Manoj, Hyderabad
One of the most interesting articles in Outlook’s anniversary issue (Nov 12) was Turnquotes. Another example: Modiji had said GST could never be successful when the UPA government mooted the idea. Now, when his government introduced GST in a great hurry, he backed it up saying that GST is a great example of co-operative federalism, where everything was decided by consensus. How the statements contrast!
G.S. Rao, Bangalore
This is apropos Outlook’s story on how relevant Muslims are in the approaching polls in Rajasthan and MP (Votebankin’ Ghostwalk, Nov 5). The article, though informative, goes in the old rut that has besmirched our politics. Ironically, Mr Owaisi, MP from Hyderabad, is helping PM Modi and his party through his bilious communal darts. Actually, they tend to polarise Hindu votes for the BJP. Instead, an attack on his economic policies causing employment, agrarian distress and escalating prices would have won him supporters. Actually, accusations of corruption go unheeded in modern-day India, for that’s now the norm.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
P.A. Krishnan’s review of Ramachandra Guha’s newest instalment of Gandhi’s biography (Lengthening Shadow of The Lifelong Quarter, Oct 29) is interesting. However, it didn’t mention Gandhi’s betrayal of Bhulabhai Desai, the leader of the Bombay Bar, to whom he had given a written consent to form a government with Liaquat Ali Khan, a top leader of the Muslim League. Except mentioned in Rajendra Prasad’s autobiography, hardly any book mentions the episode.
Satya Prasad, Bokaro