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This refers to your cover story on counterfeit products (Spot the Fake, October 21). Indian markets are flooded with such products and people have to live with it as it is almost impossible for them to identify a counterfeit. The cover story throws light on how the Rs 1 trillion parallel economy of fake products is run, how the fake and adulterated products reach us. The business is going on unabated despite laws and government bodies. Many such products are injurious to our health, and even the medicine market is flooded with fake drugs. Making and selling fake food products amounts to slow poisoning the people consuming such products. It is a serious crime as it means playing with people’s lives.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
As an 86-year-old, I think I have seen enough to say that your list of fakes missed out on most things that affect people deeply in the course of their everyday lives—fake smiles, fake tears, fake love…. Just open the eyes and see how everything around us is fake except hate, terror, fear and the noise of jingoism. Our appearances are fake, thanks to cosmetics and the fashion industry. Forget plastic surgery, just dentures and make-up can be used to make anybody unrecognisable. Our democratic system of governance has been made fake. Far-reaching decisions are made in the name of democracy in the houses of people’s representatives without due debate and consultation. All sorts of fake professionals—doctors, lawyers, teachers—abound. Turn to religion and godmen too are found to be fake. Thankfully, as no one has seen any god of any religion, it is not possible to find out which ones are fake!
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Dynasty politics has become the norm in India, openly or through the backdoor, with nobody taking serious note of it nowadays (Scent of Saffron in Den of the Tiger, October 21). There was much hue and cry over Indira Gandhi becoming PM after Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death, riding on the legacy of her father, Jawaharlal Nehru. It happened again when Rajiv Gandhi took over as PM after Indira’s assassination. P.V. Narasimha Rao was chosen as PM in 1991 only because the slain Rajiv’s children were too young and his wife, Sonia Gandhi, was not of Indian origin. In Jammu and Kashmir, two dynasties ran in parallel: former CM Omar Abdullah’s father Farooq Abdullah and grandfather Sheikh Abdullah were both former CMs as well; and former CM Mehbooba Mufti had taken over from her father, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. In Uttar Pradesh, former CM Akhilesh Yadav’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav was also CM, and in Tamil Nadu, DMK chief M.K. Stalin and his son Udayanidhi are the torch-bearers of M. Karunanidhi, Stalin’s late father and former CM. In Maharashtra, Aaditya Thackeray is following in the footsteps of grandfather Bal Thackeray and father Uddhav Thackeray. Dynasties have come to stay because only the strongest and fittest survive in politics. It will be no surprise if dynasty politics makes a dent in the BJP too in the years to come.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
The Congress-NCP assembly election campaign in Maharashtra was a low key one. Perhaps they had a premonition of biting the dust at the hustings.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Ambulating around Mamallapuram in dhoti and angavastram—typical Tamil attire—Modi has captured the people’s imagination in the host state (Vaango Xi, Welcome Modi, ‘In & Around’, October 21). For a long time now, Modi has been systematically wooing Tamils. From Nirmala Sitharaman’s reference to Tamil poet Pisiranthaiyar to Modi’s quote from Kaniyan Poongundranar’s epic to his frequent tribute to Tamil language and culture, the Prime Minister has done everything to electrify Tamils. Modi has highlighted the civilisational and trade contacts Tamil Nadu had with China. Ancient Tamil traders had raised a temple to Shiva in China’s Fujian province and performed its kumbhabhishekham. Chinese traveller Xuanzang had recorded details about Kancheepuram in his travelogues. Rock edicts relating to Chola period have been found in China. The reception accorded to Xi Jinping in Tamil Nadu should silence those critical of Modi.
Kangayam Narasimman, On E-Mail
If fake products are eliminated, can those who buy them afford the branded alternatives?
Harish Arora, Chamba
The CPI is a smaller party compared to the CPI(M) (Comrade in Alms, ‘In & Around’, October 14). It is hard to understand the rationale for a substantially higher donation to the CPI by the DMK. If the DMK had given Rs 25 crore for just four seats to the Left parties, it would proportionately have given Rs 67.50 crore to the Congress for 10 seats, as a wag put it! Again, the DMK’s munificence knew no bounds when it gave Rs 5 crore to the Kongu party, which is a marginal player in Tamil Nadu politics. The assistance was transparent, in black and white apparently. If only the ‘transparency’ had come to light before the Lok Sabha polls. The author is right in assuming that substantial amounts had been re-routed to the DMK to dodge EC’s spending limits.
K.R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to Editor’s Word by Ruben Banerjee (Agree to Disagree, October 7) introducing Outlook’s commemorative issue on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. Those who are not able to keep pace with the fast changes in values all around and continue to follow Gandhi are all failing in handling dissent. Gandhi never spoke absolute truth in plain language as it is always offensive. He dodged the British by donning an aura of saintly values as otherwise they would have crushed him and his peaceful followers in the initial stage of the freedom movement led by him. His cleverness paid. Gandhi could do little against the Hindu-Muslim divide. His message of love is not for practical life where love is practised and talked about as per the convenience of civilised society. Voicing dissent is a product of freedom of thought, which is the essence of human dignity, and it must not be assailed by the rulers if they swear by democracy. However, managing dissent without gagging, which is always counter-productive, is the sine qua non of managing people efficiently in any organisation. It demands the tactful and unbiased use of carrot and stick to ensure balanced harmonious development and social progress. Those in seats of power, however, use the carrot not to strengthen democracy and people’s welfare, but only for the benefit of their own, while the stick is used to crush opposition and muzzle dissent.
M. Bharat, On E-Mail
This refers to your story on election of chairpersons for Block Development Councils in Jammu and Kashmir (A 39 Per Cent Electorate, October 21). The Jammu and Ladakh regions have a total population equal to the population of the Kashmir valley, but Outlook covers only the viewpoints, aspirations, ambitions and problems of the Valley. This tunnel vision has characterised the Indian media right from 1947. It appears the pseudo-secular political parties and media have come to the conclusion that the people of Jammu and Ladakh either don’t have any views, aspirations and ambitions, or it is not worth covering them.
Hemanth D. Pai, Bangalore
Your story on Sino-Indian relations The Sine Theta (October 14) was quite informative and made an interesting read. While the US cannot be trustworthy in the long run for it can switch sides according to its defence strategies, China and India can together play pivotal roles as an anchor for regional stability, and ensure a more integrated and prosperous Asian community. China and India together constitute 35 per cent of the world’s population, and can jointly contribute to a faster growth in their individual economies as they are complementary to each other in the fields of manufacturing and services, respectively. Economic ties between them could prove to be a gamechanger for both. The difficult part is the glaring gap between what the geopolitical situation demands and what is available to Indian military planners in the background of rising threats from China and Pakistan. This must be bridged soon.
Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi
This refers to Embers of Sati Pyre Glow Still (October 21). Sati is an age-old superstitious practice justified as necessary to “protect the chastity” of young widows. Mughal emperors Humayan and Akbar tried to stop it without much success. During British rule, governor general Lord William Bentinck, supported by local reformers, declared the inhuman act illegal by issuing an ordinance. However, even in the 20th century, stray cases like Roop Kanwar’s immolation kept happening, with the excuse that the women themselves wanted it. Elders of the community need to educate others in order to eradicate sati.
Ranjit Sinha, On E-Mail
This refers to the story Bandipur’s Bandobast (October 21). It says “The protests happened after the top court’s August 7 directive staying the night ban.” The SC’s directive, in fact, was that the night ban would stay. The error is regretted.