• Charged Guilty
    Feb 14, 1996

    This refers to the article Little s Guilts (January 17). At the tset, since I am not suitably e of Sunil Mehra’s professional qualifications and cre-ntials in any way, I should seem personally motivated, endeavouring to bring to ur notice certain glaring faux committed by him in his stiche or, more correctly, his tical review and survey of the ative works of the various theatre groups that took part in the annual Vikram Sarabhai Festival. How can he pass his judgement on Charivari when he can’t even spell out scriptwriter Ninaz Khodaiji’s name correctly. He keeps calling her ‘Khodiaji’, ad nauseam. He also ascribes the authorship of the poem The Ash-Wednesday to Yeats, little knowing that it belongs rightly to the creative oeuvre of T.S. Eliot.

    Shujaat Y. Mirza, Ahmedabad

  • Pound Philosophy
    Feb 14, 1996

    Your story The Enron Jinx (January 24) was highly informative. It is indeed sad that in politics, what is promised in election manifestos is rarely implemented by parties once they come to power. The Sena-BJP government failed to negotiate the delinking of the selling price of power on the basis of the rupee-dollar exchange rate fluctuation but also could not review the sovereignty concerning the hearing of the court cases outside India. It did not bother to get the details of the $20 million (Rs 60 crore) that Enron spent on educating the Indians. It reminds me of a question that Mahatma Gandhi, while in Yeravda Jail with Sardar Patel from January 4, 1932 to May 8, 1933, asked of him: "What could be the bible of the British?" Pat came Patel’s response: "Pound, shilling and pence" (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s Iron Man by B. Krishna). Are our Indian politicians any better than the British and is their bible also the same, perhaps given to them as a legacy after Independence?

    V. Radhu, Bombay

  • More Facts Needed
    Feb 14, 1996

    Apropos the list of chronological events, How the Cauvery Flows in Disquiet, in your article The Arbiters’ Waterloo (January 10), the following events could also have been included:

    31.5.1972: An agreement was signed on this date by the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala in the presence of the Union irrigation minister K.L. Rao. It said: " The Union Government will assist in arriving at a settlement in six months and, in the meantime, no side will take any steps to make the solution of the problem difficult either by impounding or by utilising the water of Cauvery beyond what it is at present." It was only after this agreement was signed that the Tamil Nadu government had, in July 1972, withdrawn the case filed in the Supreme Court in 1971. But Karnataka turned a Nelson’s eye on this agreement and constructed more dams without the Centre’s sanction.

    December 1995: The Supreme Court abdicated its responsibility to give a verdict to a problem which is not at all political but "technical and legal".

    S.Gamdhimetai, Madras

    Your article highlights only Tamil Nadu’s claims on the issue and is vague about the complete facts of the dispute. Your readers have a right to know all the facts, that is, both the claims and the disputes in their entirety. Would readers, who are conversant with the facts, provide through Outlook the highlights of the whole issue to form a balanced viewpoint about the Cauvery dispute.

    Holooru V. Bharadwaj, Madras

  • Reader’s Lament
    Feb 14, 1996

    This is with regard to the information you provided on Seema Mustafa’s The Lonely Prophet: V.P. Singh in the Rapid Reader (January 17).

    When I heard about the publication of V.P. Singh’s biography, I thought reviews and extracts from it would be published extensively, but to my disappointment, with the exception of the Indian Express, no one thought it fit to publish a review, leave alone extracts. Outlook reviewed it, but very briefly.

    This is in sharp contrast to autobiographies and biographies of political and corporate leaders which are bandied around at regular intervals.

    Such omissions seem to prove doubts raised in certain quarters that mediapersons are opposed to policies advocated for the oppressed. We may not be the beneficiaries of V.P. Singh’s Mandalisation policies, but should that be the reason for the media’s reticence?

    Bhuwan Mohan, Delhi

  • Overcome Prejudice
    Feb 14, 1996

    Having worked with AIDS patients myself, I was distressed to the article Infected by Prejudice -(January 17). AIDS is one of greatest challenges to health the world has ever . If we want to end the epidemic of the Human-Immune Deficiency virus—a virus which has affected the way we and poses a threat to our sexuality—it is our relationships that we must start to question and transform. When ing to improve sexual ealth, we all need to get over embarrassment and prejudice. We will never be able to event the sexual spread of disease if we bury our eads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge what people really do sexually, and why, rather than what they are supposed to do. The virus and its defeat belongs to all of us. We can only overcome the problem we recognise that all of us living with HIV and AIDS.

    A. Ramaswamy, Bangalore

  • Will the True Secular Intellectual Stand Up?
    Feb 14, 1996

    Your issue dated December 27 served to highlight the intellectual masturbation that has now become the chief source of cheap thrills for the establishment intellectual class. In their desperate pursuit of such thrills these intellectuals have distorted and perverted basic concepts of secularism to suit their ends.

    Whether it is the Novel Protest of the Glitterati, or the Pavlovian reactions to the Supreme Court ruling on Hindutva, or the hype of the Bajaj-Gill tangle, when the going is easy the liberal Quixotes are only too willing to get going on the wrong side, and when the going gets tough they get lost.

    The intellectuals who descended on Safdar Hashmi Marg and read passages from The Moor’s Last Sigh (Novel Protest, Glitterati) should now read some passages from The Satanic Verses. Indeed, they should protest against the ‘mother of all bans’—the ban on The Satanic Verses. Or protest against the denial of a visa to Taslima Nasreen. Or the denial of rights to the Jamia Millia professor who was refused entry into the campus for three years. While protesting the ban on The Moor’s Last Sigh is a picnic, protesting against ‘the mother of all bans’ is beyond their capacity.

    Padgaonkar & Co had staged a similar protest outside the Sena Bhawan sometime back against the beating up of some journalists by Shiv Sainiks in Aurangabad. When Thackeray challenged our torchbearers of liberalism to lodge a similar protest against the beating up of a journalist by AIADMK activists in Madras, and even offered to bear travelling expenses to Madras and back, there were, of course, no takers.

    The much-hyped Bajaj-Gill tangle gives a similar high to our ‘safety first’ intellectuals. The elevation of trivia to high court room drama with flashy publicity and the ‘gender equality at the workplace’ rhetoric, served to comfortably obscure the flip side
    of the issue. What about gender equality for those women who can be divorced by their husband’s just pronouncing ‘talaq’ thrice? Liberalism must first address itself to the ‘infra’ segment of the social spectrum which comprises millions of Shah Banos, before it focuses on the ‘ultra’ segment of the likes of Rupan Bajaj. Yet our intellectuals are doing the exact opposite.

    All the gory prognostications in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict stem from the same blinkered mindset. A passage from Nirad Chaudhari’s Thy Hand Great Anarch, India: 1921-1952 should serve to give the lie to all the bloated rhetoric of ‘secularism’ by which our intellectuals swear. Discussing Gandhi’s failures, in the chapter Gandhi Pursued by Fate, Chaudhuri writes:"Last of all, there is one failure of Gandhi which has inflicted positive harm on the people of India. It has come from the rejection by the ruling order in India of the very basis of his teaching, whether in politics or in morals, and that rejection is of the Hindu notion of Dharma. They have put what they call secularism in its place, which is not the secularism of Europe. European secularism is a rational alternative to Christianity, with its ultimate source in Greek rationalism and final basis in modern science."

    In India, secularism of even the highest European type is not needed, for Hinduism as a religion is itself secular and it has sanctified worldliness by infusing it with spiritual and moral qualities. To take away that secularism from the Hindus is to make them immoral and culturally debased. Yet the new secularism will never weaken the hold of superstition on the Hindus. It is clear that instead of splitting hairs over Hindutva, the secular, liberal intellectuals should now define their "secularism", something they have consistently refused to do.

    V.L. Dev, Bombay

  • Where Crooks are Kings
    Feb 14, 1996

    Your article An Unceremonious Exit (January 17) confirms Sir Winston Churchill’s prognostication that ‘Power will go into the hands of rogues and free-booters’. So much so that the supercop who saved Punjab from being ruined by terrorists, had to leave because of a clash of egos with the chief minister.

    In the first place, the Supreme Court verdict in the Bajaj-Gill case should have been executed by the Government of India. Instead, the Congress used the judgement to achieve its own end. It reflected the ingratitude on the part of Congress politicians.

    In any case, the famous Rupan Deol Bajaj ‘molestation’ case has many versions to it. The crusading fraternity and its sympathisers failed to draw parallels from a similar case in Pondicherry in which another courageous lady, N. Radha Bai, ex-assistant director in the Social Welfare Department of the government, was humiliated for being forthright, so horrifyingly and abjectly that at one stage efforts were reportedly made by the powers that be to confine her in alunatic asylum. Even the apex court was allegedly not of much help.

    Has anyone pondered over this discrimination? Was it because Bajaj’s case had a ‘charismatic and charming’ background? Or was it that a chief minister was involved in the Bajaj case? Will the women crusaders answer, please?

    M.S. Kilpady, Bombay

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