• Fact Versus Fiction
    Aug 31, 1998

    In Exit, the Last of the Sahibs (August 17), you claim economic ties between Britain and India are plunging and bilateral business has not fulfilled the promise of 1992-94. Fiction.

    The fact is that in ’96 two-way trade between Britain and India totalled £3.3 billion, against an average of just over £2 billion per annum during the period 1992-94. In ’97 India’s exports to the UK were a record £1.6 billion, twice the figure for 1992.

    As for FDI, a record $1.2 billion worth of new British investment was approved by the FIPB and the RBI in ’97—twice the approvals between ’92 and ’94 combined—second only to the the US. Actual investment from the UK in ’97 was also the highest ever. And while bilateral trade in the first half of ’98 is down because of the strength of sterling and a depressed Indian economy, figures for new British investment remain positive.

    Warwick Morris, British High Commission, New Delhi

  • Majority Menace
    Aug 31, 1998

    The demolishing of a church at Naroda would have been a potential stoke for sectarian turbulence but unlike the reactive attitude of some communities, it’s the Christian community’s forbearance that poses a much greater threat to VHP apologetics (Exhuming Old Tensions, August 10). On the incident of a forced school closure in the remote Zankhav village, contrary to the actual happenings, VHP offered a diametrically opposite version, reflecting its menacing majoritarianism. It would be befitting of a democratic secular republic, if the concerned state government takes a non-partisan secular stand and views the incident in its unbiased entirety.

    Bixler Paul, Bangalore

  • Logical Progression
    Aug 31, 1998

    The War Games that Girls Play (August 17) seemed to be an effort to view the project as the communal handiwork of the Sena-BJP alliance. This when even Chhagan Bhujbal—leader of the opposition and a vocal critic of the alliance—observed that it was a unanimous decision to start these schools. It’s the fruition of the pragmatic ethos of the city of Pune that the Maharashtra Educaion Society, Pune, and progressive parents have come together. Is it a coincidence that the first school for girls was founded by Bharat Ratna D.K. Karve also in Pune?

    Dhananjaya Joglekar, Pune

  • No End in Sight
    Aug 31, 1998

    The BJP and its leaders shed tears whenever non-Muslims are killed but seldom issue a statement condemning the killings of Indian Muslims in J&K (Line of No Control, August 17). The party should abandon its double standards and soften its Hindutva stand to gain the confidence of Muslims. At the same time it should stop blaming the previous Congress regime for the turmoil and evolve decisive long-term measures.

    Dharmesh Kumar, Jaipur

    K.P.S. Gill’s tirade "The home ministry is illiterate", in which he says "it’s imperative to probe the antecedents of those dealing with Kashmir", is predictable. As far as I know, J&K governor G.C. Saxena is a senior police official, ex-head of RAW and has been sent there the second time. The DGP Gurbachan Jagat is an official from the Punjab cadre. The home ministry has a senior cop (M.B. Kaushal) and I’d like to believe he’s very literate! We’d like to know who Gill would like to be sent there in their places and to man other billets. Julio Ribeiro’s views, however, were extremely refreshing.

    Satyindra Singh, New Delhi

    Our prime minister can offer to Pakistan the whole of J&K on the condition that it also takes the following ‘things’ from India: Bihar, Laloo and Rabri, Mayawati and Kanshi Ram, Mulayam Singh, Jaya-lalitha, Sonia and family. This will ensure total peace for India and more than enough problems for Pakistan.

    D. Ramesh, Bangalore

    Doda continues to keep its date with death. Pakistan, riddled by the monomania of Kashmir, fought as many as three wars over the territory in half-a-century and is in a mood to risk a fourth war. How ridiculous it is that the UN and the US—the so-called world champions of morality and human rights—have turned a blind eye to the plight of Hindu pandits in the heaven on earth. Already some three lakh Hindus in the valley have fled the region in terror. The few who stay on have become refugees in their own land.

    Harsh Wardhan Kumar, Patna

    The recent killings in Doda are a matter of shame for the Farooq Abdullah government. When his state was reeling under a deteriorating law and order problem, the CM was busy holidaying in London. This when he had made big promises during elections saying if he was voted to power, he’d make Kashmir a peaceful and prosperous state. Now militancy is at its peak, and the CM seems to have no solution to the problem.

    Shariq Ashraf, Lucknow

    Your cover photograph shows several dead bodies that are covered except one where a hand is showing. It seems your photographer has done so deliberately to obtain a ‘realistic’ picture. It would’ve been less callow of him had he tucked the hand inside the cover to make the photograph less gruesome and disturbing.

    Gaurav Bansal, Chandigarh

  • Their True Colours
    Aug 31, 1998

    The saffronising of bureaucracy shouldn’t come as a surprise to the secularists (Lessons from the Professor, August 10). If their past conduct is any indication, most of the IAS/IPS officers who attended Prof Rajendra Singh’s sermon at Lucknow always wore khaki knickers under their trousers. They’ve now only dropped their pants and exposed their true colours.

    Sariq Alvi, Lucknow

  • Time to Grow Up
    Aug 31, 1998

    Arundhati Roy’s blazing, beautiful piece on the bomb evoked some fascinating reactions. Hopefully the 50:50 ratio of letters in Outlook (August 17) reflects public opinion more accurately than the TOI poll, which had over 90 per cent Indians acclaiming the tests.

    Anupam Kher, chastising her for permitting the piece to be published in the Guardian, says with considerable authority that no Indian paper would print unpatriotic, dissident view of their own society written by a Briton or American. He seems to forget the numerous articles—both satirical and serious—by British and American commentators (reprinted gleefully in the Indian press) on subjects as sacrosanct to their national ethos as the Church of England, the royal family, racial discrimination and the US presidency. More self-confident societies are well aware that objective self-criticism, however painful, is an essential part of growing up.

    Sadly, the only way to keep India’s image untarnished is not to censor what appears in the foreign media and to behave with the maturity and grace of a nation with a 5,000-year-old civilisation.

    Laila Tyabji, New Delhi

    Not only is Anupam Kher’s objection to Arundhati’s piece appearing in the Guardian against the basic tenet of freedom of expression, it’s also an attempt to escape from the negative truth about Pokhran. The dissemination of information about a nation to the outside world results in improving the lives of that nation’s people. Consider India’s freedom struggle against Britain, the Vietnam war, the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa. Kher also fails to recall A.O. Hume and Annie Besant when he expresses his inability to recall any Briton disapproving of their country’s ways.

    Dr Iniyan Elango, Chennai

    "Who the hell is the prime minister?" is the ultimate insult of a democratically elected representative of one billion people (The End of Imagination, August 3). "Who the hell is Arundhati to raise such a question?", I‘d ask. The Indian masses have given the PM the power to decide on their behalf. But who has given power to this self-proclaimed peacenik to use such insulting and abusive language against Indian technicians, politicians and masses?

    She should know that both the Indian and Pakistani governments have clearly declared a ban on nuclear testing. Both of them are ready to sort out matters across the table. Hence, such indecent outbursts from her only seem to be attention-grabbing gestures.

    Rishi Roop Tripathi received by e-mail

    Didn’t anyone tell Outlook that Arundhati Roy is a compulsive, congenital publicity-monger? First it was the hullabaloo over Phoolan Devi, then her prima-donna act after most fortuitously landing a writing award which she probably wouldn’t have got had her book-release not been timed with India’s 50th year of Independence. And now this self-righteous nonsense about Armageddon! Let her leave the country she so despises, after, of course paying her dues on the millions she made mainly because she happened to be an Indian. Nobody will miss her.

    Abhijit Roy, New Delhi

  • The Truth’s Ugly, Accept it Mr Kher
    Aug 31, 1998

    I read Anupam Kher’s letter for the same reason he thinks people read Arundhati Roy’s The End of Imagination. "The nuts in the cake", assuming he doesn’t have a ghost writer, are "all right"; Kher’s intended autobiography should be able to hold its own on our shelves.

    Kher, in an amusingly avuncular manner, raps Roy oh-so-lightly for allowing her piece to also appear in the Guardian, where he read it and "felt exposed as an Indian". Mr Kher, this might surprise you, but we’ve become quite an ugly country. Not just when some ancient mariners rediscovered their kind of Viagra via a bomb, but when we cheered alongside a motor rath that gave us our second Partition, this time mental. The man is now our home minister.

    Don’t go abroad till the regime changes, Mr Kher, don’t read the foreign press. The reports are all on Bibles being burnt by our own gestapo, Hindu-Muslim marriages being annulled, the Srikrishna report, the ban on skirts...

    Cut to April 27, a Bombay press conference, a day after Sainiks disrupted Ghulam Ali’s concert. Quoth Uncle Kher: "I fully support this act of protesting against the atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits". Well...

    Pinki Virani, Mumbai

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