Letters | Feb 11, 2002
  • Feb 11, 2002

    It was a pleasure reading through Selig Harrison’s free and frank interview ("Musharraf has attempted to put up a smoke-screen of action", January 28). What’s sad though is despite knowing all the facts about infiltrations and cross-border terrorism, Washington continues to turn a blind eye to India’s woes and concerns.
    Mohd Abdul Gaffar,Hyderabad

  • Feb 11, 2002

    A ‘senior’ Pakistani official is said to have confided in a senior policy scholar, Dennis Kux of the Woodrow Wilson Center, that the "actions of December 13 were organised by India to provoke a crisis" ("India risks being seen as the aggressor," January 21). It’s expected of the Pakistani official but for someone like Kux to believe and quote him is outrageous. Any suggestion that India can arrange to have the security personnel guarding its own Parliament shot is to strain credulity to breaking point. The same was said during the Chitsinghpura massacre and of the old, infirm Amarnath pilgrims. Perhaps we arranged for the hijack of IC-814 too! After reading Kux’s interview, I’ve begun to wonder what his two seminal books might contain. Thankfully, I won’t be reading them.
    Rajendra Prasad, on e-mail

  • Blunt-Edge Politics
    Feb 11, 2002

    L.K. Advani and George Fernandes have done an excellent job in the US of talking in clear terms about Pakistan’s duplicity in controlling terrorism. For too long has India been stymied by political correctness and bureaucratic doublespeak. Bluntness will not only get us desired attention but also respect in the West—something our head-in-the-sand politicians and their advisors need desperately.
    Dilip Mahanty, Sydney

  • UP’s Downside
    Feb 11, 2002

    The election forecasts for UP and Punjab were welcome (Leading is Not Winning; Is it a SAD Ending?, January 28). But I’m surprised at the complete omission of Uttaranchal. Is it because the state’s too small to merit your consideration?
    D.P. Agarwal, Almora

    At one time UP was the bastion of the Congress, helping it get favourable enough results to later form a ministry at the Centre. Now the largest state on the Indian subcontinent is on the verge of going to assembly elections and there is no clear-cut winner.
    C.K. Subramaniam, on e-mail

    If the Outlook-Cfore opinion poll were to come true, then it won’t be long before the Islamisation of UP, moral and financial support to simi, palatial madrassas, conversion of the Lucknow Botanical Gardens into an Idgah maidan and Friday being a state holiday. As a final step, leaders and followers in SP will convert to Islam and Maulana Mulayam will rule happily ever after.
    A.S. Raj, on e-mail

    It may be a sad ending for sad but it’ll be a happy beginning for Punjab. Happier still is the prospect of Captain Amarinder Singh emerging as the new chief minister, a personality as progressive, dynamic and forward-looking as the people of that state.
    K.S. Bhalla, New Delhi

  • Playing Turkey
    Feb 11, 2002

    It’s utter nonsense to even think of comparing Pervez Musharraf with Kemal Ataturk as Prem Shankar Jha does in Prayers for Pervez (January 28). He should know that Ataturk did not attain enlightenment with a gun held to his temple. Musharraf is doing so. He has chosen this course of action to protect himself and Pakistan from going down the drain. Their motivations were entirely different. Let’s stop making a hero out of the wily Pak president.
    A. Chezhiyan, Bangalor

  • Streams Alienated
    Feb 11, 2002

    My congratulations to Outlook for the courage it’s shown in publishing an article like Cauvery in a Puddle (January 21). I’m sure you’re inundated with irate responses from self-styled aesthetes scandalised by the raising of the caste question in the sphere of high culture. I do hope you won’t waver in your commitment to provoke critical thinking among your readership. I’m sure yours isn’t the last word on the subject and a lot more can be said on the enabling and disabling effects of caste-exclusivity on Carnatic music. The important point, however, is to open our minds to such questions, and that the article does very well.
    Satish Deshpande, Delhi

    Classical music in itself is innovation within a fixed set of parameters. This makes it superior to other musical forms, for no kriti can be sung exactly alike twice. So what’s the stagnancy you’re talking about?
    Geeta Kalyani, Coimbatore

    A much-needed article that should be a lesson to the pompous Tamil Brahmins (and no, I’m not a compulsive Tam-Brahm basher)—the self-appointed torch-bearers of the Carnatic music tradition and the Bharatanatyam dance form. But I must confess that you have missed the name of Swathi Thirunal, the Travancore maharaja who was among the greatest Carnatic exponents to have lived.
    Rajesh Soman, on e-mail

    Not only does your article nicely reveal the historical inversions of Bharatanatyam which have been erased—from the stigma of devadasis to Brahmin finishing schools—but also explores the often hidden processes of "cultural production", which enable the practices of one sub-group to be raised above the practices of others as somehow more representative of the whole population. One must pause to reflect how well a practice subsidised by well-off nris really represents the majority of the south Indian populace. Perhaps Outlook can start a new trend by giving space to many other rich cultural practices of south India.
    Lisa Mitchell, Delhi

    What you’ve pointed out is no recent trend and is endemic across south India rather than just Chennai. I’ve seen a guru in south Karnataka demanding double fee from a daily-wage labourer (obviously a non-Brahmin) who wanted to learn classical music, ostensibly because he had to realise its true ‘value’. Brahmins, of course, are supposed to have already realised the ‘worth’ of classical music.
    Shashi, on e-mail

    Yours was a fitting obituary for the kind of Carnatic music monopolised by Brahmins. Like the bjp government, it now depends on nris for its ‘respectability and resources’. For the Thanjavur Brahmin clan, music begins and ends with the trinity just 250 years old. They never acknowledge the evolution of classical music from folk traditions of thousands of years.
    Jnani Sankaran, Chennai

    Cauvery in a Puddle spews venom on a particular community and blames it for the rot, makes light of the Bhakti movement, belittles contributions of great composers and artistes and surprisingly, stops short of suggesting a Mandalisation of the classical arts. Who else but Outlook could have published such a nauseating write-up?
    Dr Karthik Boodugoor, Liverpool

  • Joke on the Choke
    Feb 11, 2002

    Vinod Mehta in his Delhi Diary (January 28) pours scalding scorn on George Bush and calls into question his ability to sit in the Oval Office on the basis of his choking on a stubborn pretzel. He would surely recall the tragic demise of Air Marshal Subroto Mukherji when a fishbone lodged itself in his gullet at a party in Tokyo. One should express sorrow at such unfortunate accidents rather than jumping to untenable conclusions.
    P.P. Ramachandran, Mumbai

    It’s amazing how Mr Mehta could find just one point of significance about the devout 90 per cent Hindu population in Bali—the fact that they eat beef. He’s one among those trying to burn a lot of midnight oil to prove that Hindus were beef-eaters at some point in history. It’s a pathetic effort to advertise your secular credentials, Mr Mehta. Target some other community for a change, will you?
    M.C. Joshi,on e-mail

  • But, Seriously
    Feb 11, 2002

    If the New year revelry and the consequent hangover is over at Outlook, may I suggest you devote a bit more than a few lines to the state of our economy (Babu Buzz, January 28). In fact, the question we should be asking ourselves is, "Is India the next Argentina?" The symptoms are uncomfortably similar—huge fiscal deficits, the declining rupee, unattractive farm sector, stagnant industry, little employment generation and so on. And Argentina never had an idbi, ifci or uti. It’s high time Vajpayee and Co turned some of their attention from the LoC to the country’s balance sheet.
    Raag Bansal, on e-mail

  • He’s But a Humble Worker...
    Feb 11, 2002

    I register my strong protest against the highly tendentious write-up, History, Vacuum-Cleaned (December 17) by Saba Naqvi Bhaumik, replete with unwarranted insinuations and untrue statements attributed to me. I’m but a humble worker in the field of education and no ideas man for Murli Manohar Joshi. To say so is a great insult to a renowned educationist like Dr Joshi. He does not need guidance from me; we have met only a couple of times at conferences. Your correspondent has, however, used the convenient journalistic tool of unverifiable inside sources to suit her prejudices. Her reported version that we are for need-based research implying that we’re against genuine intellectual research is patently absurd. As for history, the question posed to me was as to why we should remove pious facts from history. I asserted it was the job of educationists and writers of history books to decide which facts of history are to be taught at which stage and how, and not of so-called "eminent" professional historians. In support of my argument, I referred to Christ who is believed by most Christians to be the son of Virgin Mary, and some of Gandhi’s experiments with truth. Whereas divinity has been attributed to the birth of Christ, many writers have challenged the concept of Immaculate Conception and said that Mary was pregnant when she married Joseph. Gandhi’s experiments with truth that make many uncomfortable are also pious facts but must they therefore find a place in textbooks? I was shocked to read the statement attributed to me that Jesus was an illegitimate son. I vehemently deny having made such a statement and charge your correspondent with a deliberate attempt to malign me.
    Dina Nath Batra, Vidya Bharti Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Sansthan

    Our correspondent replies: I am shocked at Mr Batra’s complete denial of views he freely espouses to those who care to walk into his parlour. The first complaint he has is that he is a "humble worker" and no ideas man of Dr Joshi. Even if we take his word for it that the head of the rss education wing and Dr Joshi—who has packed educational bodies with rss men—barely know each other, it’s a matter of public record that the minister regularly attends Vidya Bharti functions and did so in the week before the article was written. And when this correspondent met him, Mr Batra was not so coy about his proximity to Dr Joshi. I am equally stunned at Mr Batra’s second complaint. He went on and on about the need to promote need-based research work and declared himself against what he repeatedly described as "intellectual gymnastics". On the third point, Mr Batra is fudging. He clearly said to me, at least twice in Hindi, "Hum sab jaante hain ki woh Jesus Mary ki najayaz aulad thi, lekin pustakon mein nahin likhte hain (We all know that Jesus was the illegitimate child of Mary but we don’t write about it in books)." I have no desire to malign Mr Batra or anyone else.

  • Roy is the Last Word
    Feb 11, 2002

    The true genius of Arundhati Roy lies in having located the literary G-Spot of the West and titillating it with such consummate artistry.
    Ranjith Thomas,
    on e-mail
    Arundhati Roy and Outlook seem to have a symbiotic relationship with the former getting her views across through the magazine and you getting all the publicity you could ask for. Which makes me wonder: who is the parasite of the two?
    A. Kaul, on e-mail

    How come Ms Roy—the expert who has written on everything from Alaska to Auckland—is yet to pen a magnum opus on the Mike Denness controversy?
    Hemant Kapre, on e-mail

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