Letters | May 18, 1998
  • The Raj Complex
    May 18, 1998

    The extracts (Secession of the Successful, April 27) from Pavan Varma’s The Great Indian Middle Class talk of the middle class’ obsession with getting foreign approval, its inferiority complex etc. But Varma himself refers to Delhi as Lutyen’s Delhi. Indeed, the malaise goes deeper than even he can comprehend. Do we take pride in our capital only because it’s built by a foreigner? Yet another nugget from Amar Chitra Katha—"With his long hair and his black skin, he looked terribly ugly and frightening"—this about Valmiki. The intelligentsia can only express its sense of alienation. But when the alienated start espousing causes inimical to their own country... there’s really no hope then, I’m afraid.

    Sundar Subramanyam, received on e-mail

  • Sonia’s Reverie
    May 18, 1998

    Apropos All Set for a Makeover (April 20), I’m surprised it hasn’t struck Congress politicians that the party has served its purpose, and can never resurrect itself into what it used to be under Nehru. The Congress simply refuses to believe in party polls, dissent, debate and internal democracy. Moreover, India’s a huge country with an exceedingly complex structure. To redesign a party that’s everything to its 950-million people is an impossible dream. If Sonia is serious, she should ask herself what she stands for, and how she intends to practice what she professes to believe.

    Abu Ghiyas, Hyderabad

  • The Maya That’s Jaya
    May 18, 1998

    The Life and Times of Jayalalitha (May 4) was a vivid portrayal of the lady’s tumultuous relationship with her mentor, of alternating love and pique, trust and distrust. In the 1985 general elections, Jayalalitha played a very dynamic role in the AIADMK campaign on behalf of an ailing MGR, alone and in the teeth of sniping from enemies within the party. The public, the press and MGR gave her a good deal of credit for the spectacular victory that followed. Her enemies were humbled and silenced for a time. She’d established herself as a politician in her own right and a major factor in the politics of the party and of Tamil Nadu in future.

    S.V. Ramakrishnan, Hyderabad

    Your article on decoding Jayalalitha made interesting reading, especially her views on the men in her life. Is that why she derives sadistic pleasure when menfolk fall at her feet?

    G. Vijayan Rao, Bahrain

    I read the piece An Intriguing Dualism by Sagarika Ghose. The Tamilians seem to be a favourite ethnic community with Outlook, having been featured on varying issues—the Jain Commission comment on their alleged ‘anti-national’ sentiments, their alleged antipathy to Hindi, North India, etc. Undoubtedly, the Tamils enjoy pride of place in India because of their achievements. The article, written by a non-Tamilian, was all-encompassing and went deep into the psyche of the community. But as a Tamilian, I wish you’d elaborated on how the Tam-Brahm metamorphosed and survived from the early 20th century to now, emerging as an example for his countrymen to emulate. My compliments on a job well done.

    K. Naresh Kumar, Begusarai, Bihar

    Apropos An Intriguing Dualism, there are some traits presented as essentially Tamil that can easily fit any lingual community. The "division of the world into Brahmins and non-Brah-mins" is nothing peculiar to Tam-Brahms—it’s as much a practice of Brahmins from the cow belt. In fact, most of the ruling IAS-Brahmin class see the world in these two colours. Another interesting fact that highlights the Tamil paradox was that at the height of the anti-Hindi agitation, T.N. Seshan, a Tam-Brahm IAS officer, quelled the riots in Madurai, where he was collector. On the other hand, C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, as Dewan of Travancore, advised the king against joining the Indian union. So you’ve secessionists on the one hand, strong unitarists on the other.

    Jayalalitha as the Brahmin leader of the Dravidian AIADMK took part in the public bathing festival at Mahamayam when she was CM. In the next term, K. Karunanidhi dismissed the minister who walked on coals to propitiate the gods to get his CM a long tenure.

    Somasekhar Sundaresan, received on e-mail

    An excellent glimpse into the Tamil community’s mindset. Kindly give us more stories on other linguistic communities to convince the readers of India’s unity in diversity.

    R.J. Pandya, Mumbai

  • The Final Cut
    May 18, 1998

    Hip, Hyper, Hollow (April 20) revealed the true and unoriginal face of the Indian fashion industry. It only shows what lengths our self-proclaimed designers go to, to stay in the news. It’s an industry plagued by the lack of creativity and imagination. To add insult to injury, these designers have the cheek to palm off rip-offs as their own creations. Congratulations yet again for exposing these individuals for what they are—publicity-hungry rip-off artistes. After reading the story I assure you that the Suneet Varma shirt in my closet is my first and last reminder of how I as a consumer have been duped.

    Sameer Bhandari, Gurgaon

    I was shocked to see the April 20 cover of Outlook. Don’t you know that a lot of your readers are women? We don’t expect this from a magazine like yours. Every other cover, except this ugly one, has been excellently crafted. I am quite sure you will not publish this letter as there are a lot of people who must be appreciating this cover.

    Seema Nair, Kochi

  • May 18, 1998

    I agree with Bishen S. Bedi when he says "we’re setting a terrible, terrible example for young, impressionable cricketers" (Candy’s Dandy, Liquor’s Quicker, April 13). Right from the Australia days when, flushed with victory, Ravi Shastri and others openly drank champagne, clowning on his newly-won Audi, these cricketers hire themselves out to cigarette companies and deck themselves all over with the companies’ logos. And, instead of calling themselves the injury-to-health causing companies’ team, they have the cheek to call themselves the Indian team. Shame.

    Anil Ekbote, Hyderabad

  • Nipped in the Bud
    May 18, 1998

    In India 2000? (April 13), there are many references to Chhatti-sgarh, all of which reflect the inadequate research of your editorial team. Neera Chandoke, in her opinion, discusses only the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, inarguably the most powerful movement in the region, but there are others that can’t be ignored. The Pandora’s Box says Prathak (separate) Chhattisgarh was first demanded in 1964 and comprises tribal areas of MP, but the demand was first made in 1924 by the then Raipur Congress chief. Chhattisgarh doesn’t comprise only tribal areas nor does it cover all tribal areas of MP. The most glaring and criminal mistake is in the map, which shows only half the region as Chhattisgarh and omits at least three districts—Bastar, Sarguja, Raigarh.

    Amitabh Behar, Raipur

  • Distorted Perceptions
    May 18, 1998

    In the article Singhvi Was Here, There... (December 29) Sanjay Suri has raised false and libellous allegations that I’d publicly supported a Labour resolution on Kashmir, implying I’d endorsed a plebiscite. The article is critical of my name appearing all over Britain in the form of commemorations, etc. Well, commemorative planting of trees and installations of statues are never done anonymously.

    Many of the plaques that bear my name bear the names of the host and the cause of celebrating India, Indian heritage and Indo-British friendship. Often, many of these plaques are put up by local authorities, or the organisation or even individuals. All I can say is that I was an audible and visible instrument of meaningful messages projecting India and in the nature of things, I couldn’t be anonymous. By making my name his target and by turning a blind eye to the message of India which I tried to disseminate, Suri has fallen into the trap of superficially trivialising something far bigger than the high commissioner and himself.

    L.M. Singhvi, former Indian high commissioner to the UK, New Delhi

  • An Unskilled Marx-Man
    May 18, 1998

    I’m deeply disappointed and surprised at your publishing the extracts from Pavan Varma’s book The Great Indian Middle Class (Secession of the Successful, April 27).

    To write a book full of vituperative innuendo based on half-truths, questionable facts and unwarranted assumptions is easy. But how could Outlook dignify this so-called literary work with an extract? The author vents his spleen on what he himself acknowledges is just 4.1 per cent of the population and blames them for all the woes of this country. Not only that, he takes the ridiculous position that this 4.1 per cent must somehow hold the hand of the remaining 95.9 per cent and be responsible for their success and failures. A bit like blaming a dozen foot-soldiers for the defeat of an entire army!

    There is only one thing that this book proves. Marxism may be dead and gone the world over but its rootless adherents are still alive and kicking (and squealing very loudly) in India.

    Nitin Seshadri, Bangalore

  • No Rhymes, No Reason
    May 18, 1998

    It doesn’t pain or hurt me to read about the Shiv Sena’s calculated disruption of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s ghazal rendition (The Day the Music Died, May 11). It leaves me sad that a city, unofficially the country’s most savvy and cosmopolitan, and the powers that are, can’t spare a thought for the mundane pleasures of the hoi polloi before embarking on a quid pro quo contest.

    Codes of conduct at concerts (read foreign invasion!), self-styled cultural inspectors, screening of artistes’ lyrics (what’ll they do to a rap artiste?), who is fooling whom? Wonder what Ghulam Ali was thinking that unfortunate night after all the din was over, could it have been his:Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa... daaka to nahin daala?

    Suresh Menon, Mumbai

  • We’re no Extremists
    May 18, 1998

    We are compelled to take issue with some observations made in your story Rude Awakening (May 4).Chief minister E.K. Nayanar never said that terrorist organisations are working in Kerala. He labelled some organisations ‘extremist’, including among them the RSS and VHP—which your correspondent has conveniently failed to mention. Your writer says that according to the police, activists of Al Umma have regrouped under the NDF. This is pure canard. NDF is a cultural organisation working with educational and developmental objectives. We do not preach Islam. Our agenda is totally different from that of any radical Islamic group. We don’t promote activities designed to widen the communal divide.

    No responsible police officer has said that we were behind the arson attacks on cinemas in Malappuram nor the cache of pipe bombs. Nor have NDF activists been arrested for the crimes your writer has attributed to Islamic fundamentalists. A journal of repute like Outlook should have crosschecked what your correspondent cooked up to sensationalise a non-issue.

    A. Saeed, General secretary, NDF,Manjeri, Kerala

  • Signs of the Times
    May 18, 1998

    Your cover story Small Towns, Big Money (May 11) was refreshingly different. The development of new urban centres is definitely a positive sign for a largely rural and undeveloped India. However, while mentioning the various attractions of Indore, you missed the latest one—an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) which is to start operations this year. Another IIM has been started at Kozhikode (Kerala). The government’s decision to open new IIMs at these centres is proof of their growing importance.

    Abhinav Goel, New Delhi

    Your article fails to even mention Chandigarh, one of India’s most happening new cities which possesses a youthful exuberance and a penchant for the good things in life. Clearly, an error of judgement.

    Radhika Sapra, Chandigarh

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