• Jan 26, 1998

    I found the antics of L.M. Singhvi, India’s retiring high commissioner in the UK (Singhvi Was Here, There...December 29), shameful rather than amusing. Not only our third-rate politicians, but even our first-rate intellectuals seem to have become victims of uncontrollable vanity which makes them comic figures. What has 5,000 years of civilisation, of which we so often boast about, taught us? Only how to make complete fools of ourselves?

    Nalleshwaram, Bangalore

  • Villains You Missed
    Jan 26, 1998

    Both the cover and the cover story (Villains of the Year,January 5) were very interesting and witty, but I was surprised to see that your list of villains did not include the Delhi government, whose leaders waited for tragedies to generate items like the Uphaar cinema fire, the Yamuna bus mishap and the Queen calling Delhi a dirty city.

    Rishi Kumar, New Delhi

    Your year-end issue was excellent. However, you made some omissions. While Mahashweta Devi was in the list of achievers for receiving the Jnanpith award, you didn’t mention the other equally prestigious recognition—the Magsaysay Award—conferred on her in ’97. M.C. Mehta, the noted environmentalist who’s also received the Magsaysay Award in ’97, too was missing from the list.

    Abhinav Goel, New Delhi

    Kindly let your readers know how much bribe Sitaram Kesri has given you for placing him No 1 (never mind if it’s in a list of villains). In politics, a villain is a shadow-hero.Surely, his peers must be feeling jealous of him.

    Parjan Kumar Jain, Delhi

    Kudos to Vinod Mehta for an excellent year-end issue. The cover story is indeed hilarious, and a novel distinction from banal themes like "the man of the year" that our magazines publish around this time of the year. Your search for villains in place of heroes is pertinent at a time when real heroes are practically non-existent.

    Dr Mrinal Bose, Sodepur, West Bengal

    Your choice of Kesri as Villain No 1 was perfect; indeed Outlook easily picked out the most eligible candidates. The incumbent on the no 1 post has forced an expensive, unwanted and untimely election on the country.

    Despite an inkling of the outcome, Kesri has done everything to get to the top. Perhaps he has faith in the finance minister’s VDIS scheme or in Outlook’s Villain No 2 for landing the post of PM, cementing his present position, or even his survival in politics. Anyway, even if chacha wins the final tamasha, it would only be a pyrrhic victory.

    Vikas K. Mintu, Delhi

    Your cover story was good but to include Amitabh in the list of villains was ridiculous. He’s not involved in any financial scam unlike Bhansali, Jayalalitha, Sukhram, Laloo Yadav, or implicated in a murder case, like Nadeem. He is a clear victim of a recession-hit industry. His Miss World show was sabotaged. Imagine Bangalore’s police commissioner arm-twisting him into paying Rs 2.5 crore on the day of the event and having his office ransacked.

    Since he himself had to struggle to get a foothold in the industry, Amitabh has started a fund to help aspiring actors. The ad clearly states that after meeting all the expenses, the balance if any, would be donated to the PM’s relief fund. His sincerity is also evident in the fact that he celebrated his only daughter’s wedding by inviting only 250 guests when he could have invited thousands.

    It is a clear case of jealousy on the part of his co-stars, for they know both on and off the screen, they can’t touch him!

    Kumar Srivatsa, Mumbai

  • Jan 26, 1998

    This refers to Little People Do Big Things (December 29). It’s quite shameful how we ‘urbane’ citizens are so uninvolved with efforts to better our own lot, given the deplorable conditions of the cities we live in. Filthy garbage, open drains, indifferent government establishments like the telephone and electricity departments, and worst of all, places like the Tees Hazari courts, a visit to which made me feel nothing but despair for the people who have to go there seeking justice.

    These children could teach us a thing or two about governance—whether in our own lives or in that of others.

    Priti Devi, New Delhi

  • A Community Alienated
    Jan 26, 1998

    Apropos The Serpent in Paradise (December 22), you rightly attribute Muslim alienation as one of the reasons for terrorism in the south.I, as a Muslim, do feel alienated when I think that one of those who demolished our place of worship went on to become India’s PM. Those who killed thousands of men, women and children brutally (made our women run naked on the roads of Surat before raping them and had the audacity of videographing the incident; they threw small children from running trains near Gorakhpur) are described as nationalists and sentenced to one day’s ‘symbolic jail’ instead of being hanged whereas those who retaliate become India’s Public Enemy No 1. To make things worse, Muslims are forced to feel obliged for the fact that India is a ‘secular’ country.

    S.M. Hussein, Patna

  • Unmatched Fixation
    Jan 26, 1998

    This is about Outlook’s crusading zeal regarding the match-fixing controversy (45 Minutes With Chandrachud, December 22). This reader (for alas, I do occasionally flip the pages of your gaudy magazine) at least finds the whole thing amusing. Batsmen being paid to score ducks? How deliciously sneaky! For me, it is a bit like Johnny Lever accepting money to make his acting even more comic than it is, because I see cricket, and all spectator sports, as pure entertainment. Cynical, am I?

    Saba Geelani, Srinagar

    Your report is a sad commentary on the value system of people who have taken an untenable view of Manoj Prabhakar’s "whistle-blowing" exercise. The learned judge calling him a liar borders on the blasphemous. No judge is competent to express even an opinion in this context since "obedience to the unenforcible" is beyond their ken. The book of laws limits the judge from any knowledge bearing on human and social values. "Objective Impersonality" is the only criterion for any judicial pronouncement. Morality bearing on values is in the realm of "subjective personality", mandating a level of competence far beyond that of any judge. Calling Manoj Prabhakar a "liar" is therefore indefensible.

    Dr H.N. Nanjundiah, Bangalore

  • Give the BJP a Chance
    Jan 26, 1998

    Your December 15 issue was an unabashed exhibition of anti-BJP-ism. Your conclusion that the BJP will be short of absolute majority is not based on any objective analysis of facts and circumstances of Indian polity. In their 18-month experiment, the Congress and the UF demonstrated unprincipled methods and ideological bungling. Maybe it’s time now to give the BJP a chance.

    Rina Basuray, Calcutta

  • Anarchic State
    Jan 26, 1998

    The Ranvir Sena’s deeds in Bihar (Bathed in Terror, December 15) are shameful. Poor men are always the victims. It’s a big question mark on our democracy. Isn’t it wrong to leave a big state in the hands of an illiterate lady who can’t decide the budget and policies of her own home? The government of Bihar is responsible for such episodes.

    I’m a regular reader of your magazine and appreciate the analytical approach of your articles. But I was disappointed to by your conclusion that the Ranvir Sena is related to the BJP just because it "is not related to Congress..."? It was the most illogical conclusion.

    Manisha Pandey, Mumbai

  • Jan 26, 1998

    I would like to put to you my serious complaint regarding the quality of paper used for your front cover (January 5) showing ‘villain’ Shri Sitaram Kesriji, because after framing the photo and using it as a dartboard I had to rush to the stands every second day for a fresh copy, as the number of hits made by my five-year-old daughter, wife and me were too much for it. Also, accept my congratulations for seeing through the ultra self-centred moves by Sonia Gandhi which could give the country another hung Parliament.

    Sanjay H.K., Erode, TN

  • Dishonesty Wins
    Jan 26, 1998

    P. Chidambaram calls VDIS a resounding success (But Where’s The Money?, January 19). Yes, it was resounding victory for dishonesty. People who hadn’t paid taxes for almost 15 years and who had accumulated black money worth crores were painted honest overnight. A salaried person like me has paid income tax to the last penny while others were busy gathering wealth worth Rs 740 crore. What had happened to the government’s so-called "revenue intelligence" then? Except submitting a list detailing the names and amounts of top income-tax defaulters to Parliament year after year, the government does little to realise its tax dues. In India there are amnesty schemes for everybody—dacoits, criminals and tax evaders—making honesty a highly-discounted commodity.Here, the catchphrase seems to be: "Pay 30 per cent tax to get 100 per cent peace of mind, but pay 100 per cent tax to lead a miserable life."

    D.V. Madhav Rao, Chennai

  • Jan 26, 1998

    I couldn’t control my laughter seeing the plight of Villain Kesri on your January 5 cover. I actually had to move my fingers across the cover to confirm that it wasn’t a prank by one of my kids. Even Mr Vajpayee appears to be laughing wholeheartedly at Kesri’s plight.

    S. Shashidhar, Bangalore

    Kesri, the archvillain who outshone all other scoundrels in ’97, has at last won an election—in the Villains of the Year contest! Sheer hard work over sleepless scheming nights earned him this distinction.

    But I was dismayed at the shabby treatment accorded by your selectors to the leader of the Bihar Mafia, the inimitable Laloo. Is it fair to dump the leader of the Rs 1,000 crore scam—the man who installed his wife as Bihar CM and who might now become our PM—in the ‘Worst of the Rest’ list, alongside petty criminals?

    P. Govindarajan, Bangalore

    To quote Javed Akthar, creator of the Amitabh Bachchan phenomenon: "History is witness to the fact that people tend to celebrate the fall of icons". Your correspondent’s done exactly that. But upon what authority? Can she name a single actor who can match Bachchan’s range, versatility, dialogue delivery or steady stream of hits since Zanjeer in ’73?

    We’ve seen the last superstar or as Amit Khanna once put it—"Bachchan is like the lone tree of the Troy legend." And legends never die, least of all by the efforts of an officious media.

    Rajiv Shukla & Sheelu, Mumbai

    How could you list Amitabh among the villains? Calling the piece yellow would be an understatement. Guru Dutt’s Kagaz Ke Phool, Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker, Subhash Ghai’s Trimurti, Kamaal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan, K. Asif’s Son of India et al were unqualified disasters. But they don’t diminish the legendary stature of these gentlemen. Similarly, Mrityudaata doesn’t in any way lessen the Big B’s numero uno position in Hindi cinema. If Ms World proved to be a losing proposition for ABCL, it’s ridiculous for the Spastics Society to demand fat donations. Bachchan’s been the most popular (refer Movie opinion poll ’97) actor since the early ’70s. Till the time you find an actor who can equal his track record, he remains king. Amen.

    S.M.M. Ausaja, Mumbai

    Vinod Mehta makes the pertinent point that the Gujral government was brought down by Sonia Gandhi; Kesri was only the stooge.

    The Indian electorate has been spending huge amounts to keep Sonia and her family at 10, Janpath. In return she only encourages her sycophants to withdraw support to the UF government and force another election on this poor country.

    Do we need this Bofors-tainted Italian with friends like Ottavio Quattrocchi to lead the Congress or the government if her party gets a majority?

    Annie Thomas, Chennai

    Your year-end issue gives a fair picture of the year gone by. The achievers covered in the issue are worth their weight in gold. The choice of villains, however, makes one wonder at the omission of some of the obvious ones. The 13 chosen ones do not include Kanshi Ram or Mayavati, Laloo Yadav or Jaya-lalitha, Mulayam Yadav or even Air Marshal Sarin despite the fact they held centrestage during the year. Surely they deserve more attention than Amitabh Bachchan or Salman Rushdie.

    K.P. Luke Vydhian, Bangalore

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