Letters | Apr 19, 1999
  • Yankee Doodles
    Apr 19, 1999

    President Clinton’s reaction to the capture of three US soldiers in the ongoing NATO offensive against Serbs shows him in a poor light (A Balkan Blunder, April 12). His insistence on the observance of the Geneva Convention is misplaced since there has been no formal declaration of war by any nation. Nor does his argument that Milosevic and his government will be personally responsible for the soldiers’ safety hold any water. Has he or his government ever assumed responsibility for the violation of international law, destruction of non-military targets and loss of human lives, first in Iraq and now in Kosovo? His rejection of the papal appeal to stop the senseless bombings at least during Easter shows the little respect he has, even for spiritual leaders.
    J.M. Manchanda, New Delhi

  • Apr 19, 1999

    Still a month to go, and already winning the World Cup seems a distant dream. If Sachin can’t play because of his back, his absence on the field will defini-tely demoralise the Indian XI (What Ails the Hero?, April 5). It’s like the West Indies playing without Lara, or the Sri Lan-kans without De Silva.
    R. Subrahmanyam, Chennai

  • My Missed Chance
    Apr 19, 1999

    When I heard the news I couldn’t believe it was the same Irfan they were talking about—a gentle soul who wouldn’t hurt a fly! Even to call the incident ‘dastardly’ is impersonal journalese. But I too am guilty of not being personal. I worked with Irfan at The Pioneer. We moved to different organisations since then but I live close to where Outlook is. I often walked past the office and wanted to look in and meet Irfan and others—but diffidence won. Would it have made a difference had I said ‘Hi’? It would have to me. I miss Irfan dearly.
    Madhumita Ghosh, New Delhi

  • Malicious Intent
    Apr 19, 1999

    Joe Parambil’s revelation of the "secret meeting between the defence minister and Adml Sushil Kumar" in his letter (March 29) is nothing but malicious misinformation. The truth is that George Fernandes was in Mangalore to visit the Naval Academy site. Adml Kumar, then C-in-C (south), was there to receive him, since Mangalore comes under his jurisdiction. As one naval ship was on a visit to Mangalore, it was only natural that the minister visit it and address the men. There was nothing clandestine about this official event as even the naval headquarters were aware of it.
    Cdr Jacob Kuriakose (retd), Kochi

  • Missed the Joke, Eh?
    Apr 19, 1999

    While you’ve rightly outlined the myriad achievements of the Sikhs (The Poets of Enterprise, March 29), you’ve left the one I consider most important—their contribution to world humour. The many jokes on Sikhs add a lot of zing to everyone’s life.
    Deepak Sapra, Burdwan

  • Poverty of Parenting
    Apr 19, 1999

    It was shocking to read of parents who could put a child of four through the trauma of tuitions to secure an admission to the ‘right’ school (Trauma Ward, April 5). The father who defended himself saying—"It’s crazy, but one has to do these things for children today"—epitomised this the best. The sole priority for parents should be to give their child a solid grounding in good values and happy memories of their childhood. Today’s children have to go through a gruelling schedule because their parents want them to excel in a variety of skills, whether they themselves do or not. Perhaps, if children aren’t browbeaten into learning things they’re not keen on, they may do so on their own. Children are born smart, it’s only parents who might make them otherwise.
    Alka Joglekar, New Delhi

    Our misfortune has led us to ape the West even on parenting. Failed aspirations and missed chances of the parents manifest themselves in what’s being dubbed as modern parenting. Our parents had no hassles in bringing up successfully at least half-a-dozen children with mere common sense. But we now need books and psychoanalysts to do the same. In the process, the child is deprived of the joys of childhood and we, the parents, end up as nervous wrecks.
    D.L. Ganapathiram, Coimbatore

    While your cover traced the psychological undercurrents sweeping most parents, it failed to prescribe solutions to the rightfully perceived problems. Only the last para went in the direction of a comforting conclusion. You’re right in suggesting spiritual parenting as a cure. And Indians should have the least problem in doing so. Ours is a rich culture and it’s sad that educationists have failed to realise the need of educating students in spiritual matters. The Gita and the epics help develop a rational approach. The writings of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Ramtirtha and Sri Aurobindo deal with eternal truths which no society can deny. Selfless service, which these texts glorify, will play a big role in easing the parents’ tension. Selfless service ensures that a child develops into a wo/man of character—a quality parents should foster in children.
    Navin Rustagi, on e-mail

    It’s for reasons mentioned in the story, coupled with the degraded earth we’ll leave behind for our future generations, that I do not want kids. I want my children to be free birds, but I know the pressures of today will turn me into the kind of parent described in your story. It’s time we reassessed our value systems before it’s too late.
    Rahul Ray, New Delhi

  • Song of the Overseas
    Apr 19, 1999

    Does Sunil Mehra recognise only those Phantoms of the Opera (Downtown, March 29) who’ve performed abroad? If so, how could he exclude Delhi’s finest gospel singer—Uma Thomas who’s a soloist for the Delhi Christian Chorus and the YMCA Choir. She performs in Washington every year—at the uptown Bethesda Methodist Church which boasts a choir 100 voices strong—all part of the Washington Choir. Maybe he missed out on her because she’s low profile. She trained for seven years under British musician, Miss Raffine, from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. But curiously her moorings are in Carnatic classical music which she has inherited from her mother.
    Marcel M. Weston, New Delhi

  • Alphabetical Disorder
    Apr 19, 1999

    Vinod Mehta in his Delhi Diary (March 29) refers to the growing trend of people reorganising their names "by adding an alphabet or two", which in your case could mean becoming "Vinode Mehta" or "Vinod Meehta". But this would have involved adding letters, not alphabets, given the conventional meaning of ‘alphabet’ (as per Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary) as "a set of letters or other characters with which one or more languages are written especially if arranged in a customary order". Thus, alpha and beta are letters of the Greek alphabet, not alphabets in themselves.
    S. Venkatesan, Delhi

    While appreciating Vinod Mehta’s reference to Githa Hariharan as "a fine, award-winning writer", I’m afraid he’s barking up the wrong tree in accusing her of a trendy name-change from ‘Geeta’ to ‘Githa’ Hariharan. In line with the phonetic spelling of Sanskrit words, most people in south India like to add the letter ‘h’ in names, be it Githa or Latha. Perhaps the esteemed editor prefers ‘Seeta’ to ‘Sitha’; but as someone who knows Githa from her childhood, I may assure him that she’s always been Githa Hariharan. May I also add that, like the distinguished columnist, she’s stuck to the name her parents gave her!
    P.S. Hariharan, Bangalore

    Given Outlook’s openly antigovernment stance, why should Vinod Mehta lament about the PMnot granting him interviews? To give one example, Prem Shankar Jha in one of his numerous opinion pieces stated that the BJP was the party trying to get rid of former ACM S.K. Sareen even though you’d said elsewhere that Sareen himself wasn’t above board. Again, when the charges were refuted, you in Letters stated that you stand by your story. Where does that leave the credibility of your magazine?
    A.N. Segal, on e-mail

    How can the PM give you an interview when you trivialised the issue of Pokhran—unargu-ably Vajpayee’s most momentous and difficult decision—by inviting someone like Arundh-ati Roy to write 10 pages on it. Perhaps, you could’ve squared things up by asking her to write on Vajpayee’s Lahore trip. We would have been keen to know which country’s citizenship Roy would have wanted now.
    Rajesh Agrawal, Bangalore

  • Money Ain’t Literature
    Apr 19, 1999

    Your description of Pankaj Mishra not as a literary agent or as author of Butter Chicken in Ludhiana, but as one whose latest book has been sold for over half a million dollars worldwide was pathetic (Anatomy of an Anti-Novel, March 22). Is money the only criterion of literary merit nowadays? If so, how can people receiving lesser advances/royalties than Rush-die critique him in the first place? Doesn’t it smack of literary downplaying of the worst kind—fuelled by commercial considerations? I don’t blame Mishra, only your attitude to literature. To you it’s only about advances/royalties, not reading. I feel sad for you.
    Vidyanand Jha, Calcutta

  • An Undeserved Acclaim?
    Apr 19, 1999

    Tarun Tejpal’s endorsement of the Indian Army in his Delhi Diary (March 22) was offensive. While we’re no admirers of George Fernandes, there’s no need to use Fernandes to bolster the reputation of an institution that has raped, murdered, drugged and bashed generations of Northeast-erners in the name of counter-insurgency—proof enough of the "standards" of this "exemplary" institution.

    Pankaj Mishra’s critique of Rushdie too was a ludicrous appraisal of the sort penned by a prejudiced racist and bigot like Naipaul (Anatomy of an AntiNovel). Again, while we’re no upholders of his politics, it rankles to read Mishra’s grouse against Rushdie’s prejudices and biases when he has enough of his own, evident in the deeply patronising Butter Chicken in Ludhiana. Rushdie at least writes fiction, Mishra’s book pretends to be sociology when it’s only full of lists of horror a la Naipaul. With people like these leading the English literary scene in India, who needs conservatives and offensive petty-bourgeoisie?
    S. Barbora, Ashley Tellis on e-mail

  • Jewel in the Frown
    Apr 19, 1999

    The Pandit vs Pandit (March 22) spat, far from doing credit to the cultural doyens, dismays their many admirers. The incident highlights the many hazards inherent in the state exceeding its given mandate of governance and trespassing into the realm of arts and culture. Coopted culture is no more than propaganda and the more successfully it’s enlisted by the state the less credible it becomes. While the classical arts may be more overtly susceptible to such intervention, scientific and technological culture is no less vulnerable to ideological distortions consciously or otherwise imposed by the state.
    S.M. Admuthe, Satara, Maharashtra

    I was shocked to read Kishori Amonkar’s immature outburst against Lata Mangeshkar. It reflects a closed mindset towards any other form of music except classical. Indian film music has emerged as a distinct genre.
    Great exponents of Indian classical music, including Amonkar herself (who has sung for Ram-lal in Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne), have been associated with film music. Lata’s contribution to film and light music is beyond words. By deriding her, Amon-kar has expressed contempt for the whole tradition of film music, for such immortals as K.L. Sehgal, Noorjehan, Moha-mmad Rafi, Manna Dey.
    Sharad Rajimwale, Jodhpur

    The run-of-the-mill Kishori Amonkar keeps her eyes closed when she’s in concert. She seems to be doing so in real life too, or else she wouldn’t have said what she did about Lata Mangeshkar. Film music is more complex then classical music as it uses up all singing skills within a time-span of three to four minutes. How can she spurn film music when her single solo for Geet Gaya... gave Amonkar her identity. As for Lata, ask any Indian, and he’ll tell you she deserves the Bharat Ratna.
    Manohar, New Delhi

    The caption in The Ol’ Blighty (April 12) wrongly identified a souvenir shop as an English pub; in the book information accompanying the review of Patwant Singh’s The Sikhs, John Murray was erroneously named co-author instead of publisher.

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