Letters | Apr 08, 2002
  • Balking at Balco
    Apr 08, 2002

    Your story (Let the Good Times Roll, March 25) seems to have been written from the Sterlite office. The writer hasn’t bothered to go through—or deliberately overlooked—the terms of the deal between the government of India and Sterlite. It is specifically stated that the "strategic partner"—Sterlite—shall not retrench any part of the labour force of the Company for a period of one year from the closing date other than any dismissal or termination of employees...." But on July 1, 2001, Sterlite offered vrs for the workers, never mind the tutored replies from one or two hand-picked workers. Sterlite has not invested a single rupee towards modernisation although the principal condition of the disinvestment was to transform profit-making Balco into a globally-competitive aluminium company. Nor have you met the largest union of Balco in Korba, affiliated to the aituc, and instead highlighted a hopelessly minority union, affiliated to the bms.
    Siddhartha G. Dastidar, Calcutta

    I was very distressed to note that a magazine of your repute did not mention the over 1,000 contract workers’ meeting turning violent just a week/10 days before your story appeared. It was carried in The Hindu. The sho had to be hospitalised. Before expressing management opinions or the opinion of turncoats, you must do a more thorough check. There’s also no mention of the dismissal of a union leader who spearheaded the strike. Were his views not taken because he is a Muslim or because he’s from the cpi(m)?
    Hari Parmeshwar, on e-mail

    Balco certainly deserves the elaborate coverage you’ve given it after one year. Both Brahma Singh and MD S.C. Krishnan deserve to be complimented.
    S.G. Date, Pune

  • Holocaust And Before: The Moral Boiling Point
    Apr 08, 2002

    Religious leaders in India are as blind as politicos in their quest to wield supreme power and impose a reign of terror (Soliloquy Vs Chorus, March 25). The Hindu-Muslim fanatics are like rascals in paradise. The ‘business’ of any religion should be to promote harmony, not to destroy whatever harmonious existence is left on earth.
    R. Ramasami, Tiruvannamalai

    As Hindus, we are pained, hurt and ashamed by the acts of hatred committed in the name of Hinduism. We condemn all violence, from all sides, but the planned genocide of Muslims in Gujarat speaks of meticulous planning and a cadre trained in terrorism. The vhp, Bajrang Dal et al don’t represent crores of real Hindus. They are terrorist organisations of a militant Brahminism, which is misleading dissatisfied obc, sc/st youth with distorted images of Ram.
    Santhosh Kumar et al, Thrissur

    The bjp can displease neither its cadres nor its allies on Ayodhya at this crucial juncture of its search for political permanence. So the PM is helplessly pacifying one or the other. Despite the repeated assurances by the vhp and the aimplb that they would abide by the court’s verdict, both are wholly capable of backtracking. Don’t we remember the Shahbano verdict? It was rejected by the ‘custodians’ of Islam and reversed by the government via Parliament. Surprisingly, no secular protest was heard then.
    P.K. Srivastava, Ghaziabad

    Apropos Divine Tragedy (March 25), tell me honestly—did your team at all visit the families of those killed on the Sabarmati Express who could’ve made for a para or two in the story? To add insult to injury, you propagate shamelessly the theory that the passengers only invited it upon themselves because they were kar sevaks.
    Vijay Shankar, on e-mail

    I’m glad there’s at least one magazine that wasn’t afraid to report the Godhra episode as it happened and wasn’t afraid to call a donkey a donkey.
    Mohd Jaffer Nayeem M., Mysore

    If a police commissioner continues in his job after hundreds have been murdered in a matter of two days and property worth crores destroyed, doesn’t it speak of him living up to the expectations of the government of the day? I’m talking of police commissioner P.C. Pandey and the good job he is doing for Modi and Advani. Currently, the Gujarat police is busy booking the Godhra culprits (which has to be done, of course), but what about those ‘mobs’ which planned and executed the riots after that? And the abetting police force?
    Rajeev Matta, on e-mail

    A close look at reports about Gujarat appearing in the Western media indicate that most of them have been written by Indians or people of Indian origin (India’s Lost Stature, March 25). The Western press only reflects what we write about ourselves. It’s sad that Indian reporters, in order to tarnish the Hindu image, will not balk at even pulling the country down. We can rectify what is wrong with our nation but certainly it is no excuse to wash our dirty linen in public. I think we need to learn from the West the art of public relations.
    Vivek, on e-mail

    I’ve never felt more ashamed of being a human being, and of course a pluralist Indian, than after the latest riots in Gujarat. It just goes to reinforce the truth that we never learn from the past. But finally there will be a price to pay for all—the world opinion will turn ever more against the surging hardline Hinduism being practised by the likes of vhp, the beating that India’s image has taken should put some sense into our politicians who cleverly manipulate these circumstances, and most importantly, for saner citizens to take a stance against such ghastly crimes.
    Renchy Thomas, on e-mail

    Just as the drive to install Hindi as the national language failed because it was imposed from above, so will the particular brand of secularism being imposed by the media and the government. Perched atop their ‘holier than thou’ pedestals, they profess a superior wisdom to the "Indian people". That will be their undoing. Ever observed how American people determine what America does? Indians on the other hand have been let down by their representatives and the pen-wielding smarties who are ever so eager to accept all kinds of degrading epithets against them.
    Chandan Kumar, University of Michigan

    Mariana Baabar’s box Memories of Another Day (March 25) is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. What right do the Pakistanis have in questioning the tenets of our secular polity when they have effectively denied even the minimal fundamental rights to their religious and cultural minorities (including dissenting Islamic groups like the Ahmadias). Please spare us from bilge of this kind from across the border, otherwise Outlook merely adds grist to the vhp mill of the Indian media’s double standards on secularism in the subcontinent.
    Sayantani Jafa, Calcutta

    I have been deeply traumatised and upset by the violence and counter-violence in Gujarat. No reason is good enough for killing innocents. There is no hope for India unless the government starts taking law and order as its serious responsibility. It’s shameful and dangerous when a sovereign nation cannot protect its citizens from repeated external terrorism or from internal rioting. A weak, indecisive and uncaring system invites trouble. The American people maintained internal stability while their government worked towards bringing justice to the perpetrators of September 11. If there is to be any confidence in India, the rule of law must prevail.
    Mukund Kher, Bloomington, Illinois

    Barkha Dutt believes in truth, but in selective truth (Covert Riots and Media, March 25). She doesn’t talk about the Hindu victims of silent firing by Muslims in Ahmedabad and Vadodara. She hasn’t visited Hindu victims in the relief centres of Hiralal ni chawl, Nagarvel Hanuman in Bapunagar, Mangal Park in Amraiwadi, Sharyudasji Mandir at Pre Darwaja and the Municipal School at Kankaria. Why these double standards?
    D.V. Nene, on e-mail

    Apropos Barkha Dutt’s column, this is my apology to all ‘fellow’ Muslims in India. To all those Farzanas and Mumtazes of my generation with whom I grew up sharing jokes and laughter. Sorry that the so-called ‘Hindus’ who’re trying to destroy our friendship will never be brought to justice. Sorry that our politicians have betrayed us and their oaths to serve our Constitution. Sorry that the people entrusted with saving our lives looked the other way.
    Chumki Bhattacharya, on e-mail

    The vhp, Bajrang Dal, etc, aren’t guys from Heaven or Hell, nor are the Ghanchi Muslims—all are people like you and me. What they did was wrong and they should be punished for that but to suggest that the Sangh parivar is composed of entities other than human beings is fallacious. To answer Ms Dutt, if she is trying to be naive, the seventh shop on the street was burnt as it belonged to a Muslim. A "spontaneous reaction" is not a "random reaction". There is a method to every madness.
    S.K. Sutar, on e-mail

    The Sabarmati tragedy was caused by fanatics who happened to be Muslims. But all those educated and illiterate souls who took law in their hands and went on a rampage, killing innocent Muslims, were also wrong. I am a Muslim and most of my family friends are all Hindus. I still love them. What I can’t understand is how people can turn on their neighbours when so recently they shared grief with them during the Gujarat earthquake?
    Nazir Patel, on e-mail

    As a schoolboy, I thank you, Mr Vinod Mehta, for putting into words the sentiments of 90 per cent Hindus who want jobs more than temples. Thy Hand, Great Anarch (March 18) exposes Modi, Advani and Co as prejudiced. If the rulers ever decide a temple and mosque can be built simultaneously at Ayodhya, will you be kind enough to forward my name for the construction workers?
    Arpan S., Kota

    I was going through the letters on Gujarat (Why My Genocide is Better Than Yours, March 25) and felt undisguised hatred spilling out on that page. It made for disturbing reading, especially the letter by a young college student saying Muslims are the only people who cannot adjust and live with the people of the world, while Jews and Hindus were perfectly compatible. Obviously our friend has no grasp of events that happened in the last century, when the successful compatibility of the Jews was rewarded with the Holocaust.
    Saif Rizvi, on e-mail

    Prem Shankar Jha’s column on the purportedly fraudulent e-mail about the Godhra episode (The Mystery E-Mail, March 25) leaves one question unanswered. Why did the e-mailer refer its readers to real correspondents with real phone numbers for checking the veracity of his version of the Godhra incident? It seems very strange that such an artful mailer left his misdeed so wide open for detection by sleuths like Jha. Or is it that the mail indeed reflects what Anil Soni actually found out but was later browbeaten into disowning?
    S.A. Abbasi, Pondicherry

    I don’t share Jha’s unwarranted doubts. Since the Sonis turned out to be real, they presumably have an instinct for self-preservation, hence their recanting. If I’d filed the story, I too would not want it publicised.
    Uma Asher, on e-mail

    A bit of information. When Tulsidas wrote his Ram Charit Manas, Babri Masjid was very much there in Ayodhya.
    S.S. Almal, Calcutta

    Kabir reminds us, "If Allah be in the mosque, then to whom does this world belong? If Ram is within the image you carry on your pilgrimage, who is there to know what happens? Look within your heart, there you’ll find Ram and Rahim."
    Bandana Choudhary, Kurukshetra

    I cried when I read about Ayub whose seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son perished in fire before his eyes.
    Saeed Patel, on e-mail

  • Seering Accusations
    Apr 08, 2002

    Your diatribe against the Kanchi Shankaracharya (Kanchi Silk, March 25) was blasphemous. While much of the content was half-witted rubbish anyway, your referring to the seer casually as ‘Saraswathi’ and painting him as a publicity-seeker is the height of impudence. You are free to be agnostics if you like, but it doesn’t grant you the licence to denigrate the pontiff revered by millions in south India.
    P. Govindarajan, Bangalore

    You’d do well to shed your prejudices against the Kanchi seer. He is the very epitome of the ancient Indian ideal of renunciation. It’s ridiculous that you should hold his sitting on a ‘cushioned’ seat against him. Would you condemn the Pope for wearing gold robes? The Kanchi seer’s "love" for all human beings, as quoted in a column by Anita Pratap earlier, obviously means nothing to you.
    Prabhakar Vaidyanathan, on e-mail

  • Apr 08, 2002

    Satish Chandra (Making a Difference, March 25) has belied the words of Lord Bentinck who said: "Bureaucracy is all power and at the same time incapable of determining how its powers should be used". By virtue of the important post he holds, Chandra is able to channelise his power to establish good social ‘institutions’ for the welfare of the people. Can other officers follow suit?
    C. Ramesh, Puddukottai

  • Just Curious
    Apr 08, 2002

    Apropos Seth in His Ways (March 25), what about Vikram Seth’s wife? Is he married? Any kids?
    Rhea Mathur, on e-mail

  • Apr 08, 2002

    Mr Mehta, I’m ashamed of you. How could you behave like such a boneless wonder at your dinner with American ambassador Robert D. Blackwill (Blackwill’s Round Table, March 11). Why didn’t you go to the aid of the lady academic who was humiliated by the self-opinionated American? What did you want of the envoy? A trip to the US? Many Indian greenhorns in the profession propitiate US officials with the sole purpose of getting invited to the US. One would have thought you’d have outgrown that stage. Journalists of Sadanand, Goenka or E. Narayanan or even Shamlal’s vintage would have walked out. What stopped you?
    P.P. Kulkarni, Mumbai

  • Picture Imperfect
    Apr 08, 2002

    Bhupen Khakhar’s stories have no doubt enriched Gujarati literature but Bhaichand Patel’s superfluous note in his review of his short stories (Gujju Takes a Good Turn, March 18) is not only inadequate but, more seriously, portrays a wrong picture of Gujarati literature. Patel is unaware of the rich tradition of Gujarati literature which is as rich as its sister languages through its stalwarts like Nitin Mehta, Akho, Kant, Govardhanram Tripathi, Umashankar Joshi, Sundaram, Pannalal Patel, Rajendra Shah and modernist writers like Suresh Joshi, Gulam Sheikh, Sitanshu Yashashchandra, Labhshankar Thakar and Madhu Ray, among others. Only their works have not been translated yet in English or other regional languages.
    Jaydev Shukla, Vadodara

  • Golden Lining
    Apr 08, 2002

    According to Namita Gokhale (Kandy Diary, March 18), Sri Lanka was earlier known as ‘Serendip’ because it meant island (‘dwip’ in Sanskrit). But it appears improbable that an English word (serene) combined with a Sanskrit word to become the name of an island. As far as I know, ‘serendwip’ is derived from the original name ‘Swarandip’ or ‘golden island’ (swaran: gold; dwip: island).
    Rajiv Mehrotra, Delhi

  • KPS Gillotine?
    Apr 08, 2002

    Whatever his achievements as former police chief of Punjab in tackling terrorism there, K.P.S. Gill has surely destroyed the Indian hockey team (Wrong End of the Stick, March 18). As Indian Hockey Federation president, he is the one most responsible for Indian hockey’s most pathetic show at the just-concluded World Cup tournament in Kuala Lumpur. If he has any sense of dignity left, he should resign from his post without delay. He should not find any scapegoats, like chief coach Cedric D’Souza, and dismiss them in order to safeguard his non-existent reputation.
    Ashok T. Jaisinghani, Pune

  • We Declare...
    Apr 08, 2002

    Can we give our beloved PM, Atal Behari Vajpayee, the title of "Bahadur Shah Zafar of 2002"?
    Kaushik Vishwakarma, on e-mail

  • Apr 08, 2002

    Krishna Prasad’s comparative analysis of the Waugh brothers (Waugh, Waugh: Twinning’s End, March 25) was very interesting. Prasad has revealed their contrasting styles of batting—while Mark was always elegant and effortless, Steve’s forte was defence, thus creating an impression that although playing together, both were batting on different types of wickets!
    Ashok J. Buch, Ahmedabad

  • And She Shows Us the Way
    Apr 08, 2002

    The photograph showing a smiling Arundhati coming out of jail with flowers in her hand and the objective write-up that went with it (Small Things Matter, March 18) has succeeded in elevating her to the status of an icon for freedom of speech and freedom of expressing one’s opinion. She has the courage to stand by her convictions; whether it is for the cause of the "greater common good" of hundreds of illiterate voiceless people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam or voicing her protest against the United States for imposing "infinite injustice" on the people of Afghanistan. By taking a bold stand on what she believes to be right, she has endorsed German Nobel laureate Thomas Mann’s words—"Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them". May her tribe increase.
    P.N. Nair, Hyderabad