Letters | Aug 24, 1998
  • Cause for Cheer?
    Aug 24, 1998

    You’ve done well to devote a cover story (A Great Reveller, August 10) to the rapid acceptance of alcohol by society.Medical opinion about moderate drinking being good for health is bull. It’s a conspiracy between the profit-making liquor industry and those practitioners of medicine who deny their hippocratic oath. You yourself highlight alcohol-related ills and booze being responsible for unprotected sexual flings leading to AIDS. Do we need more proof of the damage this vice is inflicting?

    Krishan Kalra, New Delhi

    It makes a great cover story to highlight the social high-spirit nirvana in this land of Gandhi. I wish these drummers of drunken modernism also realise the plight of teeto-tallers, who silently suffer their self-determined, self-proclaimed and self-enforced norms of behaviour. Someone rightly said, good manners at times means coping with somebody else’s bad manners.

    Rajiv Khurana, New Delhi

    Have we gained anything at all by condemning Bacchus? Prohibition proved a big disaster in many states. In Haryana, not only did the state’s revenue fall, liquor was also smuggled in from other states. The result—the government had to lift prohibition. There are temples where wine is served in oblation to god; it’s served as a sacrament in churches. Mythology has numerous instances where gods consumed madira. Now even scientists say liquor, if taken in moderation, can be a boon for health.

    Dharmesh Kumar, Jaipur

    You seem to harp on the fact that drinking is good for hospitality, health and hedonism. But this is true only for the strata which has an income surplus. Those who deprive their children of daily bread to booze deserve worst condemnation. Sadly, prohibition doesn’t work. America tried and abandoned it. In Gujarat—the only dry state today—liquor flows freely. It’s time we did away with Article 47 of our directive principles which enjoins the state to endeavour to bring about prohibition of intoxicating drinks. For, neither is it practical—the recent examples being Andhra and Haryana—nor does anybody believe that liquor is injurious to health.

    Satya Pal Sharma, Delhi

    Your cover story was extremely disappointing and disgusting. It may be true only of the newly rich and the spoilt brats who are out to corrupt society and degrade family values. One should remember that some of India’s 900 million consider themselves lucky just to get a glass of water everyday. 400 million of its people are illiterate and poor; 40 per cent villages do not even have access to potable water. These people don’t have even a basic quality of life. To glamourise the drinking of booze and highlighting it as a high-society norm is immoral and irresponsible journalism.

    V. Natarajan, Lucknow

    Drinking, indubitably, has become a status symbol and a major lifestyle trend today. But what’s not mentioned in your cover story is the major influencing factors that entice our youngsters to get addicted to alcohol: MTV and Channel V.

    K. Chidanand Kumar, Bangalore

  • Fatal Co-incidence
    Aug 24, 1998

    Both Presidents Nixon and Clinton were staunch allies and friends of China and Pakistan and hostile to India. The former was impeached; the latter’s impeachment is impending. Clinton has made the US the laughing stock of the world.

    Anjali Singh, New Delhi

  • Seeds of Ahimsa in the Nuclear Wilderness
    Aug 24, 1998

    The End of Imagination (August 3) was indeed a passionate plea against Pokhran. But Arundhati Roy’s morbid fear that India, and Earth, is on the brink of disaster is exaggerated. The effusive emotional tenor only resulted in convoluted, repetitious expression. That Outlook commissioned and printed her article shows that there need not be panic about The End of Imagination.

    In any democracy we go through a variety of experiences and policy shifts. India’s nuclear policy is one of them. The fourth estate, suffering from periodic depression, euphoria and selective amnesia, contributes to this confusion. Politicians are not the only ones to be blamed. We all need to introspect and appeal to the god of large and better things (not small and trivial things) to give us the sagacity for a peaceful world order.

    D.P. Sen Mazumdar, New Delhi

    If Pokhran is the explosion of our 5,000 years of repressed himsa, Arundhati Roy’s essay is a witness to the sprouting of a new seed of ahimsa.

    Francis X. D’Sa, Pune

    I’m aghast that a magazine like yours could allow Arundhati Roy to write 10 pages of utter tripe. She’s a brilliant writer no doubt, but not an expert on disarmament. She’d be better of working on a new novel. Perhaps a trip to Kashmir or the Siachen Glacier would change her perspective.

    Sunil Shibad, Mumbai

    Why is the US so ill-informed about India? Because journalists like you, when you have to give an idea of the public mood post-Pokhran, narrate a purely personal reading.

    R.C. Mehta, New Delhi

    I recall a couplet of famed Urdu poet, Nida Fazli:Tere Hote Hue Koi Kisi Ki Jaan Ka Dushman Kyon Ho Jeene-walon ko Marne Ki Thodi Aasaani De Maula The Maula indeed seems to have responded to the prayers. Now all of us can die in a matter of seconds.

    Rajesh Agrawal, Bangalore

    The N-blasts that May day brought perverse masculine hotheads crawling out of the woodwork like toads after the summer rains. In their cacophony, the voice of reason had been drowned out. Thankfully, with Roy, it will be heard again.

    The saddest part is that 60 per cent of my countrymen can’t read her article (or anything else, for that matter) and their votes will keep our politicians in power.

    Javid Musthafa, Chennai

    Her essay is a good canvas for Roy’s remarkable talent. She writes well, even grips our imagination. But her leitmotifs—the end-of-the-world and the creation of hell as the fallout of a nuclear war—repeated ad nau-seam, turn into cliches. Roy’s piece could be a prelude to her next novel. And that’s what it finally is—a utopian view of the extremely complicated mosaic the world is today. Maybe one day, when Roy’s novel hits the stands, Outlook can claim—‘You read it here first’.

    Vineet Upendra, Mumbai

    If Arundhati Roy had put in so much passion and rhetoric into The God Of Small Things, it wouldn’t have needed to ride piggy-back on so much hype and hoopla. With luck, it might even have made it to the 100 best books of the century.

    However, her naivete is apparent when she cocks a supercilious brow at "people who can’t even sign their names". She should tour some of the small towns in South India to find out how politically aware they are about events in the country, nuclear or otherwise.

    E. Bell, Bangalore

    Arundhati says the head of the health, environment and safety group of BARC recommends iodine pills to survive a nuclear war. Later she ’s convinced there’s no threat of war from China because the Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army did not mention anything about going to war against India during his official visit to India! Arundhati could continue to get emotional and rewrite strategy, diplomacy all over again. Fame in India makes anyone an expert on everything.

    K.V. Sharma, Bangalore

    Roy might not win prizes for her ‘piece of mind’ but she needs a salutation for speaking out. As Adml Ronnie Pereirra, probably the most memorable chief of the Indian Navy, once said to his officers opposed to the idea of getting rations in kind rather than an allowance—"When the prices rise, you can’t eat your status". We seem to be heading that way.

    M. Shahid Abdulla, Mangalore

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