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A Secular Gulp
Dragons in Dreamland
Jan 29, 2001
Vinod Mehta in his Kerala Diary (January 15) laments his choice of holiday accommodation thus: "I consider swimming from the Tulip to the Lagoon, but am warned the sgp will shoot." You should have swam, Mr Mehta. Imagine you, the David of the Press, taking on the mighty Politician Goliath, symbolised by Atal Behari. In the blue backwaters of God’s Own Country, you’d have established the primacy of the Pen over Black Cat Commandos.
I agree with Vinod Mehta when he says Kerala is what its brochures claim it to be: God’s Own Country. But I no longer see the culture of politeness he talks about. Being a Malayalee, I should know it. People here are loud, aggressive and do not give you time; if they do, it’s with a scowl. Which is why I long to return to Bombay only a few days after my visit to the state.
C. Antony Louis,
Vinod Mehta’s is a readable diary except his calling the Kochi synagogue the "only working synagogue in India". Here in Calcutta, oops Kolkata, we have two beautiful synagogues, both of which are still in use. Bombay has several ‘working’ synagogues and even Delhi has a synagogue which caters to a floating expat population.
Mrs A.M. Cohen,
Sailors of Sinbad
Jan 29, 2001
My response to Vinod Mehta’s call to name top three sinners of 2000 (Year-End Diary, January 8): rss chief K.S. Sudarshan, forest brigand Veerappan and former skipper Azharuddin.
Sri Lata Mitra,
My humble submission: the bcci, the US presidential electoral system and the SC verdict on the Narmada dam.
Azhar, for showing us money can buy anything and for playing the minority card; Jethmalani for his loud mouth and outsized ego; and Kamala Das for trashing her religion, all for a man. Pray, tell me, what can a withered she-dragon offer?
Take three: Pope John Paul, the Shankaracharya of Puri and the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid—in no particular order.
The human being, for causing destruction the world over; greed, which consumes people and nations; and the politician who’s nothing but a fake preacher (or orator).
M.G. Sampath Kumar,
Very simply, Cronje, Narasimha Rao and Nawaz Sharif.
Manisha Koirala for the collapse of Sawaal Dus Karod Ka; Rehan Gandhi for carrying the Gandhi name and also a legacy too sinful to inherit; and Narasimha Rao, for confirming that politics is the right place for people wanting to betray public trust.
Hooghly, West Bengal
I select the three south Indian chief ministers. E.K. Nayanar, for saving his cabinet colleague, excise minister Sivadasa Menon, from being implicated in the illicit liquor tragedy; Karnataka CM S.M. Krishna and Tamil Nadu CM M. Karunanidhi, who goofed up on Veerappan.
I think marking out sinners is a step to cleanse society. Thus, apart from the isi, which just can’t seem to tolerate peace in India, and India’s MPs, who can’t tolerate anything but loose talk, I nominate Hansie Cronje—the first to confess to match-fixing, he managed an unwitting redemptive aura.
The CMs of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, for pussyfooting on Veerappan; and the bcci, which isn’t quite above board.
Narasimha Rao, for brushing the entire jmm leadership with his taint; Vajpayee, part-time mask-wearer; and L.K. Advani, the villain atop a Toyota rath.
The top three sinners of 2000: the Indian people, the Indian people, the Indian people.
Sonia Gandhi, Jyoti Basu and Keshubhai Patel.
Dr Nikhil R. Parikh,
My chosen ones: Azhar, Narasimha Rao and Uma Bharati.
Krishan Kant Verma,
Since entries are still coming in, winners will be named next week.
The Badge Of Renaissance
Jan 29, 2001
Outlook’s obsession with defence chiefs is disgusting. First, you painted the town red with l’affaire Vishnu Bhagwat, crying hoarse over his dismissal. When nothing came of it, you started on the differences between Brig Surinder Singh and Gen V.P. Malik. Now you’re hell-bent upon eulogising the new army chief, Gen S. Padmanabhan (Badge of Renaissance, January 15). For God’s sake, please stop feeding the egos of the army big brass and concentrate on relevant issues.
Outlook was the first magazine to highlight Brig Singh’s controversial revelations on Kargil, for which, sadly, he had to pay a price. It’s heartening the new chief has given the harassed brigadier a patient hearing.
The general’s stated intentions on cyberising the army is laudable, though belated. For a contrast, take America. Much of its pioneering efforts in IT came from the military, including the Internet’s predecessor—the Arpanet, DarpaNet, tempest et al—and then it flows to the public. That our army has to play the also-ran to industry speaks volumes.
The new chief, like his predecessors, has promised to plug the officer shortfall. Unfortunately, since ’67, ssos have been treated shabbily and thrown out in peacetime. Kargil did little to improve things. Fact is, it’s the mod babus who call the shots. Ministers may come and go, but army chiefs have little latitude in the face of this perverse civil supremacy.
Lt Col V.V. Natu,
There’s an urgent need to liberalise and humanise the exit policy for army officers, if service is to made more attractive. Gen Padmanabhan will perhaps have to firmly put down his ill-advising OG babus, who the officer cadre sees as more myopic than their civilian counterparts.
The chief’s intention to restore the soldier’s izzat is commendable. The Indian soldier retires at a very young age and his resettlement is an important issue. What the general perhaps needs is patriots like Mukesh Anand whose Project Healing Touch Mission Vijay II (Making a Difference, October 9) is a worthy effort.
The new coas seems to be a man of foresight. One reason could be his willingness to open the army to civilians and integrate the two. For too long has the army been reclusive and this seems to have harmed its interests as is evidenced in the drastic shortage of officers.
I would’ve expected the army chief to be in perfect shape. Your cover picture, though, tells a different story. Maybe you should’ve been charitable to the general and cropped his picture to avoid the contrast with the trim Gurkhas in the backdrop. Gen Cariappa, I recall, kept himself in shape and ensured his men did too. Is the present chief so busy he doesn’t get time to cut flab or is it that, as O. Kern said, "Obesity is really widespread!"?
Jan 29, 2001
Either replace your correspondent’s calculator or send him to a crash course in math (Afterlife’s Rock-n-Roll, January 15). Tagore wrote over 2,000 poems, not "over 1,000"; 60 plays, not "some two dozen"; 12 novels, not eight. And it’s not because they have no scores that some 2,300 of Tagore’s songs remain unsung. It’s because singers rarely deviate from the conventional repertoire of 500-odd Rabindrasangeet pieces. Lastly, French composer Arnold Blake did not write music for 26 Tagore songs, he merely transcribed them into Western notation. And surely by "whet" you mean "vet"?
After A Pagan Slur
Jan 29, 2001
I am a Sikh, though not particularly religious. But it pained me to read about the rss’ crude attempts to show Sikhs as Hindus (After a Pagan Slur, January 15). By this token, Jesus would be a Jew and Buddha a Hindu.
The rss is perhaps right in tracing the brotherhood of Hindus and Sikhs, but the filial tie suffered a setback in 1984. A good beginning would have been for the rss to apologise for all the atrocities committed then. At the same time, I consider it a cruel and unfair cut on the sgpc chief’s part to have compared the rss to Aurangzeb.
Penchant for Nobel
Jan 29, 2001
I have been carefully perusing the letters in response to Arundhati Roy’s treatises in your magazine. To me, she is positioning herself in the race for a Nobel, either for Literature or Peace. The very fact that her essays are being sold as books reveals her commercial bent. It’s surprising that Outlook supports her so blindly.
At Home On Foreign Affairs
Accident of Berth
Jan 29, 2001
In the Chokila Iyer profile (At Home on Foreign Affairs, January 15), you give the impression that she’s been chosen the first woman foreign secretary "by virtue of a mere accident of her date of birth". The fact is, no one has done any favour to Iyer. The government chose her entirely for her merit. You downplay her academic credentials—she’s a ‘first class first’ in Economics Honours from North Bengal University. It’s also partly wrong to call her Sikkimese. In fact, she’s a citizen of Darjeeling—born, brought up and educated in this hill town.
"Democracy-in-hope" indeed. May I remind the secularists forever harping on ‘hidden agendas’ that it was the much-hated Hindu nationalist bjp government which appointed Iyer. Give credit where it’s due.
East Meadow, NY
It’s a triumph of democracy that Iyer, of tribal origin, has risen to such heights. Being from Sikkim myself, my heart swells with pride.
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