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Letters | May 20, 2002
Against the Eloquence of Extremes
May 20, 2002
Thanks for publishing Arundhati Roy’s excellent piece on Gujarat (Democracy: Where’s she when she’s at home?, May 6). The Vajpayee government stands clearly exposed for its doublespeak and its criminal designs against humanity. The crimes of Modi and Vajpayee should, in fact, be tried in an international court along the lines of the Nuremberg trials. As an nri settled for several years in the US now, it’s sad that the word ‘Gujarat’ has become synonymous with genocide here and the rss, vhp and the Bajrang Dal are being equated with the Nazis.
Rohan D’Souza, Berkeley, California
Arundhati Roy’s nauseating justification of the massacre of 3,000 people in the wtc attacks on the grounds of US foreign policy allegedly having wrought misery everywhere is still fresh in readers’ minds. To turn around now and accuse Vajpayee of justifying the Gujarat riots is disgusting doublespeak on her part. The Booker committee that foisted this woman on the world by giving her the prize must be held accountable for her subsequent ‘literary’ atrocities.
Sandeep, on e-mail
The beseeching eyes of Qutubuddin Naseeruddin in the lead picture will haunt me for a long time. Roy’s right. The day isn’t far when we will envy Pakistan for being more democratic, secular! I’d also like to know where Naseeruddin is, and if he’s alright.
Sujata Prakash, Hong Kong
Arundhati’s right when she says, "Increasingly Indian nationalism has come to mean Hindu nationalism". It struck me when some relatives had come visiting early this year. Their vehement views on Indian religion and politics amazed me. And these are liberal, educated, moderate folks! A lot of political events have contributed to this mindset but what is equally responsible is the maun vrat on the part of tolerant, moderate, hardworking, equally Indian Muslims. Only a few like Shabana Azmi, Farooq Sheikh and Javed Akhtar have spoken out. I remember the days when The Illustrated Weekly of India ran columns on different community groups, highlighting their political and socio-economic achievements as also their involvement in literature and the arts. It wasn’t meant to pamper groups, or create a bias. It was meant to bridge gaps and remove stereotypes. Perhaps we need it again.
Arvind Bhatnagar, Dubai
While one agrees with everything that Arundhati says, could she have been more careful about quoting the PM’s Goa speech correctly? "Wherever Muslims are, they do not want to live peacefully," she quotes him. Whereas what he actually said was, "Wherever there are such Muslims, they do not wish to live together...." It might seem like a minor detail to you, but do you remember how the Hindutva forces were able to use the "rational" versus "national" oversight on your part in the ichr controversy to brand all "secularists" as conspirators and liars.
Sajeev Mehra, on e-mail
To me, Arundhati’s essay depicts the true feelings of a concerned Indian. Let’s pray her fear of a majority of the Muslim community resigning itself to living in ghettos as second-class citizens never comes true, so long as the media and people like her expose the injustices being meted out.
Irfan Iqbal Gheta, on e-mail
It’s now clear that Arundhati can’t do without mentioning Ayodhya in her writings. Her previous essays in Outlook referred to it, so does this 10-pager. Outlook needs to decide once and for all if it’s a newsmagazine or an Arundhati promotion journal. I don’t subscribe to it for Roy’s essays.
M.C. Joshi, on e-mail
For once, Arundhati’s rantings and ravings are in plain, forceful English rather than her arty gobbledygook. And while what she says makes perfect, though chilling, sense, the hatred and bigotry that underpins everything runs much deeper than she imagines.
Ranjith Thomas, on e-mail
Why do magazines like yours give so much play to the over-exaggerated and blatantly biased opinions of a "mobile republic" like Arundhati?
Subash, on e-mail
Arundhati Roy. Where was she when Muslim mobs burned and looted our homes in Kashmir, destroyed and dessicated our temples, raped and cut our women into pieces, killed our professionals and rendered five lakh people homeless? Communalists are bad, but are secularists any better, Mr Vinod Mehta, Mrs Brinda Karat, Mr Sitaram Yechury, Mr Prannoy Roy?
Smriti Shakdher, on e-mail
Aren’t the Kashmiri Pandits human enough to deserve Arundhati Roy’s sympathy or concern?
B.N. Maluste, Mumbai
Since Arundhati’s pen seems ever willing to take up any and every cause, what’s stopped her from taking up the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits who have been languishing—in thousands—in numerous refugee camps for more than a decade?
S.C. Chakrabarty, on e-mail
Extremely well written, passionately argued piece by Arundhati. She eloquently expresses the outrage most of us feel, justifying her reputation as an intelligent author.
Gulnaz G., Kanpur
Unbalanced, biased and seeking personal vengeance—these are the only adjectives that come to mind about this lady and her article.
Abhishek, New Jersey
Excellent essay by Arundhati. Make no mistake, none of our political parties have any real concern about the majority or the minority community. It started with Indira Gandhi who started hobnobbing with the Bukharis to stay in power. Or the retrograde step Rajiv Gandhi took in amending the verdict on the Shah Bano case. The drama continues till date with the likes of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has developed it into a fine art.
D.V. Madhava Rao, Chennai
Commenting on a book written on India by a British authoress, Gandhiji had described it as a gutter inspector’s report. I got the same feeling about Roy’s piece.
Sham Miglani, on e-mail
Arundhati’s comparison of the events in Gujarat with Nazi Germany sent a chill down my spine. Let religious tolerance lead to a realignment of the relationship between different communities.
P.N. Nair, New Delhi
It’s encouraging to see people of Arundhati’s calibre leading the Indian women’s cause when most organisations and activists are just paying lip service to the cause.
Kadeeja Mansoor, UAE
Arundhati Roy is truly a courageous woman but a hopelessly misguided one.
Anirudha Podder,on e-mail
'I Anoint Me,' He Writ
May 20, 2002
The sham referendum in Pakistan (‘I Anoint Me,’ He Writ, May 13) left me wondering how Pakistan misses no opportunity to harp on the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir but is itself held hostage to military dictatorships with no self-determination for its own 140 million people. And this is the man President Bush chose to call ‘friend’, a general who hails from the same breed of dictators who reared the forces of jehad and fathered the Taliban. Musharraf’s purely cosmetic anti-terror crackdown in January got positive publicity the world over but barely a voice is heard now when 2,000 militants arrested then have been quietly released on signing "good behaviour" contracts. The greatest irony: the US enlisting in its war against terror dictatorships which stand for the exact opposite.
Deepanker Baderia, Fremont, California
What’s all the fuss about Musharraf not complying with the apex court’s order that he conduct a general election by October 2002? He has just conducted an ‘election’ and a ‘general’ has been elected (with apologies to the late Benny Hill).
Vikram Vasu, Glasgow, Scotland
The Verbal Gymkhana
The Jury Accused
May 20, 2002
Thanks for exposing the bias some commentators have for the Indian captain (The Verbal Gymkhana, May 6). The tribe of Sunil Gavaskar, Navjot Singh Sidhu et al should restrict themselves to commenting on the game rather than inflicting their personal prejudices upon TV viewers just because they have the opportunity to do so.
Prem Goswami, Gurgaon
The Skipper's Hungry Lambs
May 20, 2002
You’ve become a Narendra Modi for all cricket lovers who read Outlook. Once again you have started terrorising the innocent minority of cricket lovers by inflicting the views of Pat Symcox on us (The Skipper’s Hungry Lambs, May 6). The problem is I can’t even stop buying Outlook as its coverage of Gujarat has been excellent.
Sumedh Shah, Mumbai
How can you allow Symcox to malign the Indian cricket captain so? There is enough filth in South African cricket for him to write about, he better leave Ganguly alone.
Sanjeev Chowdhury, on e-mail
Body Of Evidence
May 20, 2002
Your reporter Manu Joseph seems to be suffering from acute Hinduphobia much like others of his pseudo-secularist tribe. How else could his article Body of Evidence (May 6) not mention pamphlets being circulated among Muslims, asking them to wage jehad against Hindu kafirs as also the Indian state?
Nirav Joshi, Ahmedabad
House Call 184
May 20, 2002
Now that the discussion under Rule 184 is over (House Call 184, May 6) after two weeks of the start of the pandemonium (or is just usual parliamentary conduct), has the Gujarat problem been solved? In the state itself, the Opposition chickened out when Narendra Modi suggested the dissolution of the assembly for fresh elections. People’s problems are not allowed to be settled by the people. Such is Indian democracy.
K.S. Ramesh, on e-mail
The Baby And The Bathwater
May 20, 2002
Davinder Kumar’s article The Baby and the Bathwater (April 29) confirms that the National Commission on Population is arguing for a return to coercive population policies. Once again the Indian government is responding to demographic trends in a way both disproportionate to the need for such measures and completely dismissive of human rights. Despite declining fertility rates at the national level, population will continue to increase for a time, courtesy a ‘population momentum’. The best approach to slowing growth and reducing births in such a time would be a range of efforts that include increasing women’s access to education, employment and productive resources; addressing sexual violence and coercion and increasing access to good quality reproductive health resources. And, Kumar is wrong in seeming to suggest that ngos have protested the inclusion of incentives and disincentives in family planning programmes on the basis of borrowed rhetoric. ngos recognise that the only ethical and effective course of action is to address the real needs of the poor, especially women, who often bear the brunt of such punitive measures.
Rupsa Mallik, Washington, DC
How to Think Positive
May 20, 2002
It seems the Indian media is finding it increasingly difficult to come out of the colonial mire wherein contemporary India is presented in an obnoxious fashion. It has been proved by the reportage on Gujarat in both the print and the electronic media. In this regard, I am tempted to quote the views of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam expressed in his article My Visions For India (The Heritage, August 2001). He says: "There are millions of achievements but our media is only obsessed with the bad news and failures and disasters. I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert land into an orchard and a granary. It was this inspiring picture everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths were inside the newspaper, buried among other news. In India, we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime."
Dr Balram Mishra, New Delhi
The Last Jet Engine Sigh
May 20, 2002
It’s interesting how the Intelligence Bureau comes up with top-secret reports involving foreign investors (The Last Jet Engine Sigh, April 29). Anyone connected with the bureaucracy in India will know the Indian intelligence apparatus abroad is non-existent and non-functional. There is no operational money, the IB officials at the embassies have no ties—either personal or professional—with any investigative agency. The IB says it intercepted a call Jet’s Naresh Goyal made from Paris to Dawood in India. What space-age technology did they use to circumvent the legalities in France to tap this call? Or did they break French laws to do so? Who are they trying to fool anyway?
Sanjay Matkar, on e-mail
It's Raining Men
Men! Mars Bars or Ego Centres?
May 20, 2002
Your cover story was an interesting diversion from the mayhem and turmoil of communal politics. Unfortunately, it’s this Indian male who is largely responsible for the kind of murkiness that has engulfed our country.
S.S. Saxena, Noida
The issue on the Indian male is a terrible waste of precious paper. Page after page you have croaked about the eunuchs and gays of the Indian metropolis. And you generalised them as tim. The Indian male is a much more responsible and caring person than his western counterpart whom you are trying to project and standardise here.
P. Govindarajan, Bangalore
I was in the midst of reading Anil Thakraney’s column It’s Raining Men and I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s perfect. More importantly, it’s insightful. I now know exactly why I am the way I am.
Varuna Kaur, on e-mail
I am an nri working as a software professional in LA. I left India 10 years ago and was pleasantly surprised to read this piece. I had no idea urban Indian women had made such progress in terms of gender equality. And while Thakraney’s response is one of a typical Indian male—missing the presence of weaker women in our society—it is time Indian women came into their own and rose in life on their own steam. And if Thakraney should choose to bemoan it as a loss of femininity, too bad!
Radha Daswani, Los Angeles
I was very surprised to read Mr Thakraney’s piece for I gathered a very different impression from what we read in our newspapers about Indian ladies. Maybe you should get to know Scandinavian women, who are a good example of blending femininity with liberation. In these countries, women and men no longer have to fight each other.
Werner Freund, Hamburg, Germany
Sherna Gandhy’s essay It’s a Coup, My Lord was a desperate attempt to show her hawkish attitude about men. Her arguments were self-contradictory throughout. There are numerous instances when women have gone out and burnt their fingers out of their eagerness to finish a job men have completed successfully thanks to their think-twice-before-you-act attitude which Gandhy deems a sign of procrastination.
Joseph Daniel, Madurai
Tall, Dark, And Can Cook. Thank God for emancipated men like these. Why don’t more Indian men learn they'll appeal to a woman far more if they understood the worth of a woman’s work.
Kaushiki Sanyal, on e-mail
We treat women who’re un(aggressive, thick-skinned, stubborn, egoistic, manipulative, masculine) as fit only for childbearing and not deserving of real respect. This will not happen if we can learn to love femininity and not mistreat them for the same.
Saravanan N., Chicago
Your issue on the Indian male was splendid but I was disappointed not to find a single Sikh general in your Wall of Honour when I can count over 50 of them, from Jagjit Arora to Gurdial Garewal, Harbaksh Singh and many others.
Dalip Singh, New Delhi
If Indian men are so loathsome and incorrigible a species, shove us into a gas chamber or the oven and be done with it. There has been enough blubber on such topics. It makes me sick. Please stop wasting valuable newsprint on such issues.
Abhishek Choudhury, Nagpur
I’d love to hear what the female contributors to your issue would have to say about the Indian male as a father, brother or son, and not a husband. Maybe he won’t emerge as bigoted, hypocritical or self-absorbed then.
A.K. Saxena, on e-mail
It’s nice to see Aamir, Hrithik, SRK, Big B, Salman, Dravid et al among India’s 25 Sexiest Men. But Prannoy Roy, Siddharth Basu, Ganguly and Sachin? Personalities alright, but sexy...? I wonder.
Akshay Kumar, on e-mail
Unfortunately, Mr Mehta, your diversion took you into a wrong lane. The entire male-centric blah blah was more appropriate for Debonair, not Outlook.
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