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This refers to your cover story The Modino Effect (Dec 17). Among the decisions made by the Modi government, demonetisation and GST have been criticised the most by Opposition politicians and many commentators in India. However, in November 2017 the international credit rating giant Moody’s upgraded India’s credit ratings to Baa2 from Baa3 after a gap of around 14 years. The agency claimed that initiatives like demonetisation and GST would strengthen India’s credit powers, boost growth prospects and global competitiveness. The agency was criticised by several quarters on the basis that while India is lacking on the economic growth front and its debt-to-GDP ratio is on the rise, the agency gave thumbs up to the economic initiatives taken up by the government. Moody’s explained that current slowdown in the economic growth was why it lowered India’s growth forecast to 6.7 per cent in 2017-18. But, the agency said, the structural reforms make the country’s growth potential strong, “stronger than most peers”, and combined with a large and diversified economy and improving global competitiveness, this boosts economic strength. In October this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has acknowledged the economic reforms carried out under Modi and projected India to be the world’s fastest growing major economy this year and next. The World Economic Outlook (WEO) released ahead of the IMF annual meeting in Bali said, “In India, important reforms have been implemented in recent years, including the Goods and Services Tax, the inflation-targeting framework, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and steps to liberalise foreign investment and make it easier to do business.” Updated World Bank figures for 2017 showed that India was now the world’s sixth-biggest economy pushing France to the seventh spot. An earlier issue of Outlook carried the question on the cover page: Will Modi win? It is in the national interest that he wins, but the Indian electorate has its own interests and preferences which often jeopardise national interest. Many believe that had Atal Bihari Vajpayee been given a second term in 2004, the Kashmir problem would have been solved. Had the UPA government not been given a second term in 2009, so many mega scams would have been averted.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
The nation has completed seventy-plus years of Independence. Modi has lamented that even after so many decades, open defecation was prevalent. The NDA government in the Past 54 months has tried to solve this problem. Gas connections, electrification and road connectivity to near towns from distant villages were other initiatives which the present government has taken and succeeded to some extent. Today the requirement is good people (officers) both at the Centre and states to complete the basic infrastructure and facilities for the common man. Other nations, which also started at around the same time when we won our Independence, are way ahead in terms of basic infrastructure.
Gush over the goodies Saffron Santa brought: killer vigilantism and cash drought.
Anil S., Pune
This refers to your cover story published a few weeks ago, Hindu, Hinduer, Hinduest (Dec 10]. No doubt, religious issues along with caste, language and identity, are twisted by political parties and their leaders, not only in India, but in other countries as well, including those socalled developed nations. The citizens are confused and distracted by these manipulations and the focus is effectively shifted from governance.
G.L. Karkal, Pune
Your cover story on competitive Hindutva reminded me of a story from Panchatantra. An ill-treated donkey disguises himself by wearing lion skin and scares people away. He brazenly enjoys his new found identity until he instinctually reciprocates a female donkey’s bray in the vicinity. Thus, his masquerade ends with disastrous consequences. There is a moral for Rahul Gandhi in the story. Rahul has achieved little through his Hindutva posturing: the BJP supporters haven’t bought it since they have already been wooed by the original skins of saffron in the many subsidiaries of the Sangh, and Rahul has only scared his few supporters away—some of the supposedly secular liberals.
Ashok Raipet, Secunderabad
In his column titled The Hinduness Of Indian Pluralism, Seshadri Chari has tried to build a case for the uniquely pluralist nature of the concept of Hinduness, although he admits it’s hard to define (Dec 10 ). But who doubts it in the first place? The whole world appreciates the pluralistic nature of our culture.
India became a democracy post Partition, embracing a secular perspective through the prism of equality, liberty and brotherhood. The upshot is that it is precisely what is at stake following the Modi government’s defence of communal vigilantism and its efforts at the fractional distillation of Hindu votes, forgetting that Indian Muslims are now comparatively more democratised than their co-religionists in other countries. Modi’s brand of nationalism has torn asunder the very fabric of Hinduness which his party is apparently spearheading so aggressively. And I am reminded of the most inspiring and energising slogan (in Milton’s Paradise Lost): “Arise, awake or be forever fallen’, which was blared aloud by none other than Satan himself, who advised his legions to distil ‘evil even out of goodness’. However, Irfan Habib in the same issue, hits the nail on the head when he says that it’s now a battle between communal forces and the Nehru-Gandhi founded secular state.
Prof. Mohan Singh, Amritsar
This refers to you’re the article ‘Ayodhya In The Time of Jawaharlal’ by Gyanesh Kudaisya (Dec 10). No doubt, the piece is well written and chronicles the details of how a deity of Ram was installed inside the Babri Masjid and how both the then UP CM Govind Ballabh Pant and the deputy prime minister Sardar Patel ignored to pleadings of Nehru to rectify the situation. The author suggests that Nehru’s pleas were ignored by the officials at the location and also by Pant and Patel. But his own query remains unanswered: “It’s still a puzzle why India’s first Prime Minister failed to act decisively when the Babri Masjid was effectively converted into temple in 1949”. Could it be that Nehru, himself, being a Kashmiri pandit, wanted the idol installed? Can someone give the answer to the question posed above?
Jatinder Sethi, Gurgaon
I read your story Cats’ Rocked Cradles (Nov 26] with interest. The Killing of tigress Avni was a dastardly act on the part of the perpetrators. The guilty should be punished at all costs, otherwise we will end up losing more of our precious wildlife. Even though the population of big cats has been on the rise, we have to keep in mind that the tiger is an endangered species. Our ecosystems are fragile and if we aren’t careful and the authorities aren’t strict enough, it won’t take much time for tiger territory to shrink and for their population to go back on the declining slope. Man-animal conflicts are increasing every day, causing loss on both sides.
We must restrict over-urbanisation and deforestation at all costs. Elephant and tiger corridors have to be monitored by the authority regularly to avoid man-animal conflicts. Also, some of our wildlife areas are near urban areas, like Mumbai, we shouldn’t allow a city to gobble up those precious ecosystems.
Ashim Kumar Chakraborty, Guwahati
All those years in the past, we had been putting our trust in print media, i.e., newspapers and periodicals (Fake in India, Dec 17). There was reason to believe that they were reporting only authentic, unadulterated and verified news and working with a certain ethics with utmost discipline and decorum. Sometimes, this credibility would be brought under question, but majority of people trusted print as authentic news source overall. But today, it feels that we have left that time far behind. The scenario has changed drastically, phenomenally, radically and permanently.
Let me give you a brief viewer’s history: It began with TV, with exclusive news channels soon giving in to the TRP pressure and increasing their ‘entertainment quotient’ rather than concentrating on substantial stuff. Then, along the way, news anchors became celebrities and news debates became ego matches. Then came the initially innocuous looking social media: Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. These were meant to help and support people in communicating with others with ease. Today, they are the fake news factories where just about anything can be passed off as news.
As your story suggests, social media platforms have been made tools by political parties to spread fake news and rumours in an attempt to influence people, mislead them and divide them for electoral gains.
The venom of hate spread by fake news has created anarchy in the country today, leaving little room for dialogue between groups of people. People are so lost in the echo chambers of social media these days with unverified news that they can hardly focus on the real issues. But, for how long will fake news have a field day? Those who were glued to the news channels previously have now shifted back to serials on TV. Those engrossed with fake or useless news will also get tired of wandering in that domain soon and return to print one day.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
In the issue dated November 29, 2010, Outlook had carried a cover story titled The 2G Scam Tapes. It was never the intention of the article to suggest that Mr Vir Sanghvi had any role in the 2G scam or the events surrounding it. Any impression to the contrary in the article is regretted.