• Beyond Comparison
    May 21, 2001

    Nicole Kidman dancing to Chumma, Chumma (Glitterati, May 14)? Hrrumph! Who’re you kiddin’? How can anyone measure up to Urmila when it comes to dancing?
    Ashwini Sankar,on e-mail

  • Nuclear-Capable Soft State
    May 21, 2001

    In sensitive cases where the ineptitude of senior officers is involved, truth is always the first casualty (Home-Made Fiasco, May 7). It’s a mystery why the bsf post didn’t open fire when elements of the bdr crossed over into Indian territory. Then there’s the question of leadership. At the higher level, the bsf leadership is drawn from the police, whose training doesn’t equip them to face challenges arising in combat situations. Does Mr Jagat know a bsf deputy commandant can’t even summon 300 men, let alone lead them in a Boraibari-style attack?
    Satish Singh, on e-mail

    There are strong rumours that the recent bsf fiasco had less to do with the occupation of a village and more with the increase in charges for permitting illegal immigrants to cross over. These charges had been around Rs 3,000 for a long time and it appears the bsf sought to unilaterally increase them.
    G.D. Palkar, on e-mail

    In response to the pressure to react to the Bangla border crisis, defence minister Jaswant Singh lost his cool and asked angrily: Do you want us to bomb them? My unequivocal retort is: Yes, Mr Defence Minister. After the barbaric and macabre rites performed on our young soldiers—first in Kargil, and now at the hands of Bangladeshis—it’s a shame that one still needs to ask this. He, who seems to be close to his American friends, ought to know the resolve with which they react to acts of terrorism.
    Vivek Khanna, Panchkula

    The picture on your cover was dehumanising and degrading to the members of the bsf. The least you could have done was find the dead soldier’s name before printing his picture. Or is the value of an Indian soldier so little?
    R. Viswanathan, Bahrain

    The Chinese brought the Americans to their knees over the incident of the US spy plane. That’s how a nation should conduct itself in international affairs. Instead, our government thrives on a policy of compromise. It seems our PM’s confused about his priorities—he’s more inclined to renew his attacks nearer home against Sonia Gandhi rather than embarrassing Sheikh Hasina who’s expressed her inability to even visit India next month to discuss the issue.
    Onkar Chopra, Ludhiana

    I read your cover story without batting an eyelid. It’s sad that even our press lacks the teeth to bite those irresponsible ‘netas’ and officers whose thick skin would put even rhinos to shame. Alas, our leaders have an aggressive attitude only when they are in Parliament or assembly.
    Abhishek Singh, Lucknow

    The 16 bsf men who died were not killed in action, but tortured most inhumanly and shot at point-blank range. But what does our ‘nationalist’ government do? It desists from hurting a ‘friendly’ government’s poll prospects. We are not a soft state, but a bunch of cowards. India should have insisted on a court-martial of the bdr battalion that committed this heinous crime and demanded an unconditional apology from Sheikh Hasina.
    Aaditya Suryavanshi, on e-mail

    From the exchange of Rubaiya Sayeed to the release of Maulana Azhar, our government’s buckled under pressure each time it’s been called on to show some spine. Space advancements and nuclear capabilities are mere fodder for jingoism. Soon I think we’ll have the uniquely dubious distinction of being the only nuclear-capable soft state on this planet.
    Rahul Kakodkar, Goa

    To keep giving isi the credit is to deny our own culpability in the Bangladesh misadventure. It has exposed the pitifully bad border management of a nuclear weapons state when pitted against a neighbouring ‘friendly’ state which in the first place owes its liberation and birth to India.
    Cdr C.D. Pereira, Mangalore

    It’s well known that Bangladesh is a puppet of Pakistan. By establishing a continuous Muslim belt from Assam to Pakistan, a way is being paved for the eventual Pakistanisation of north India.
    Asit Chatterjee, Krishnagar, West Bengal

    We’re grateful to Mahfuz Anam, editor of Dhaka’s The Daily Star, for presenting the views of the common Bangladeshi (Big Brother’s Myopia). It appears that they have suffered due to the high-handedness of the governments of Indira Gandhi, her son Rajiv and of maunibaba Rao. The Vajpayee government should now sort out the Farakka dam issue and other border tangles. And the 18 million Bangladeshis in this country should be sent back without succumbing to the greed of their votebank.
    K.S. Vashisth, Jaipur

    The Indian government’s decision not to retaliate may be a subject of debate. What isn’t, is the people’s right to know the truth.
    P.K. Srivastava, Ghaziabad

    The Bangladesh border issue is one among the many that the Congress left pending in its 50 years of misrule. As one Urdu couplet goes: Lamhon ne khata ki thi/Sadion ne saza paayi (Mistakes were made in seconds, but centuries bore the punishment).
    Paramvir Sawhney, Gurgaon

    The box story Hasina Maan Jayegi (April 30), while talking about the Bangla border conflict, lays part of the blame on Cyril Radcliffe, "a British engineer" who demarcated the actual border between two independent countries. Radcliffe, however, wasn’t an engineer but one of England’s most brilliant barristers who had come down from Oxford with an All Souls fellowship. He practiced law at his law chamber at Lincoln’s Inn in London when he was called to take charge of the Boundary Commission.
    Harjinder Singh, Chandigarh

    It’s time, I think, to take the saying—"Good fences make good neighbours"—literally. Or after Pakistan, Nepal and now Bangladesh, we’ll get the boot next from Bhutan.
    Sudeshna M. Ray, on e-mail

  • Isn’t it Ironic?
    May 21, 2001

    Bangles No Bar (May 7) was an interesting read given the irony of a Bihar ruled by a lady CM who faithfully lets her ‘macho’ hubby unofficially ru(i)n the state and more than willingly confines herself to the backseat!
    Dr Karthik Boodugoor, Liverpool, UK

  • Same Difference
    May 21, 2001

    I nominally agree with Sunil Sethi’s point about the difference between tabloid biographies and serious ones in Heat of the Cruel Son (May 7), but with a few simple questions: is not the difference he posits predicated upon a mere difference in techniques of recording? Are biographies serious only when they’re respectable? What, really, is wrong with tabloid biographies, in that if the tools used to write both kinds are similar. Isn’t admiration for the one and contempt for the other anything other than sheer snobbery?
    Gautam Babbar, on e-mail

  • Smoking Cauldron
    May 21, 2001

    Work: A Generation Gap (May 7) is another reminder to our policymakers that unless they do something to curb unemployment, it could lead to huge social crises. It’s surprising the recent reforms policy declared by our government has not even begun to touch upon the problem. In fact, lopsided policies such as disinvestment have aggravated the malaise.
    Bhaskar Sen, on e-mail

  • May 21, 2001

    A wicket-keeper’s "class" is judged by his leg side gathering (Why’s Mongia Still a Pariah?, May 7). Ajay Ratra amply displayed this trait in the Youth World Cup ’99 in Sri Lanka. As for Mongia, he’s had his day.
    Cpt (rtd) H. Balakrishnan, Chennai

    After his laboured word-crunching, Krishna Prasad won’t tell us what’s wrong with Mongia. So let me tell you. In the Calcutta Test, he ‘walked’ to a routine caught-behind appeal—replays showed the ball was nowhere near the bat. Steve Waugh’s close-up was a study in amused disbelief. Mongia is a quitter, we should help him remain so.
    T.R. Parmeshwar, on e-mail

  • A Word, Mr Editor
    May 21, 2001

    Under oath of professional secrecy, VM (read Vinod Mehta) doesn’t want to reveal the details of his meeting with the PM (Delhi Diary, May 7). So what’s he trying to tell us? That even after ruthlessly attacking the pmo, he can still get a 70-minute interview with the Vajpayee? It’s okay, Mr Editor, we all know how close you are to the PM.
    Ashok Upadhyay, on e-mail

    Vajpayee is "grievously hurt" because others have stolen a word from his party’s patents file! We all know ‘chor’ has been in the active working vocabulary of the Sangh parivar for the last five decades; they had exclusive right till now to use it. They’re now feeling hurt as their most potent weapon’s being used against them.
    Vijay Kumar Khurana, Gurgaon

    Thank you for telling us that "...Vajpayee appears...grievously hurt". What does he expect from the people? Sympathy? What sympathy can one offer a so-called democratic leader who insults people by offering to resign if the rss wants him to do so? Are we to shed tears for someone who writes poetry about the devastation in Hiroshima but basks in nuclear machismo in Pokhran?
    Ashok Lal, on e-mail

  • Commission Omission
    May 21, 2001

    The Godbole Commission report’s no Godspeak (The Real Story of Dabhol, April 30). Two things stand out. One’s that the committee’s suggested a lowering of plant load factor to reduce operational cost and second’s allowing dpc to sell power to other states without specifying the transmission corridor available. Clearly, the committee’s members have never run a profit-making organisation and hardly have much knowledge of the dynamics of power-generation. The sooner this report finds its way to the trash bin, the better.
    Dr S.K. Chakravarthy, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

  • Grant me a Wish
    May 21, 2001

    Outlook’s a lively magazine. I only wish it wasn’t so full of bleeding-heart liberals.
    Vijay Kumar, on e-mail

  • The Dokma is No Dogma
    May 21, 2001

    The dokhmenashini system the Parsis follow of disposing their dead is based on a basic Zoroastrian tenet (Dead Men’s Rites, May 7): of encouraging and nourishing ‘life’ even in death. What ideal can have more dignity than that? It’s not the dokma system that has failed the Parsis, but the Parsis who have failed the Bombay Dokma. The assertion that the Bombay Tower of Silence is a "mini-forest" is a gross exaggeration. The picture you carry is itself evidence to the contrary. In fact, the original Doongerwadi was many times its current size, but with the inexorable march of ‘progress’, Parsis were gradually forced to surrender their land to the government.

    As for Behram Contractor, he was born a Parsi, but was a self-confessed atheist. He had a right to his opinion and it may not have been in consonance with the Zoroastrian religion. But others do not even have a rudimentary understanding of their religion. Some people might have a genuine problem with the Bombay dokma, but you can’t condemn the whole system. Centuries ago, the Parsis left everything in Iran and landed in India with only their beliefs, their faith and their religion. The Dokma system is a religious heritage unique to the Zoroastrian and Parsi culture and is to be treasured.
    Hanoz Baria, on e-mail

  • Keep the Faith
    May 21, 2001

    The Akal Takht’s taken a step in the right direction (Faith’s Benign Fiat, May 7). Religious leaders should overcome mutual differences and use the authority of religion to usher in social reforms. Faith can easily achieve what the force of law can’t.
    Vivek Kumar, on e-mail

    The outcry against selective female foeticide is itself selective and flawed. What’s being objected to as a heinous crime is discriminatory abortion, even as indiscriminate abortion goes on unabated.
    E.C. Fernandes, Mumbai

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