• United Against All Evens
    Aug 05, 2002

    Apropos your interview with Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh (July 22), I have only one concern. Is the criminal record stated in the affidavit of a candidate justly balanced against the unreported, unrecorded and unstated criminal history of another candidate contesting the same seat? Is there any constitutional authority to keep track of crimes that are suppressed with threats of dire consequences, not booked and hence unstated in the nomination papers?
    Ghanta Ram Reddy, Warangal, AP

    The EC’s directive on electoral reforms is welcome. It’s amazing that nothing concrete has been done so far and when a step is taken in the direction, political parties should arraign against it. Let’s hope we Indians have better voting judgement and not elect these goons, whether or not their antecedents are filed on affidavits or not.
    Kartikeya Sharma, on e-mail

    The onus of knowing the antecedents of the person we vote for rests squarely with us. Entrusting the RO with the responsibility of passing a judgement about the suitability of a candidate on the basis of some affidavit only underscores our propensity for shutting our eyes to reality. What prevents a politician from producing an affidavit as much devoid of truth as most affidavits in India are? Isn’t democracy about people? Why make it a farce of affidavits then?
    Jitendra Kaushal, Gurgaon

    Kudos to the CEC. I am surprised at the politicians who want to retain the status quo so that they can flourish and the country can go down the drain. God save India.
    Vijay Rathore, Springfield, Virginia

    When all right-thinking citizens of this country have welcomed it, it was interesting to see how politicians of all hues have opposed the EC directive. Why would they take exception to stating their criminal antecedents, if any, if they had no skeletons in their cupboard? One only hopes that the public-spirited citizens who initiated the process of cleansing the electoral process continue their efforts to ensure politicians do not end up with cosmetic changes in the electoral law they can easily circumvent.
    M. Jameel Ahmed, Mysore

    It’s not surprising why political parties are dead against cleaning up the political process. No single party in this democratic country can claim that it has not taken advantage of anti-social elements, criminals and black money during the poll process. Besides, many of the politicians themselves have accumulated their wealth by unfair means. In our country the lawmakers, especially when they are in the government, are above the law.
    Suja Nambiar, Karaikal

    Why are our politicians shy of revealing their antecedents before contesting elections? Jab chori kar li to darna kya?
    Yousuf Saeed, New Delhi

    Wish the political parties were as united when it came to more important issues.
    K.A. Rajeev, Bangalore

    Politicians who never miss an opportunity to let the other party down at the drop of a hat are united against the EC directive. Why? It’s a matter of survival for them. It’s a perfect example of 550 people holding the rights of one billion people to ransom. But we have no one but ourselves to blame.
    Madiha Haider, New Delhi

    Non-execution of a court order in full amounts to a contempt of court. While Parliament can take up any bill to enact it as a law, it cannot take the subject matter of the direction of the apex court pronounced already under the Constitution as a bill to enact it as a law, leaving out uncomfortable parts of the direction as unworkable, since even Parliament cannot discuss anything against or beyond the Constitution.
    T.K. Hariharan, Mysore

    Criminalisation of politics is just the symptom of a much more serious flaw—lack of inner party democracy. This is what has caused a character crisis among our political leadership. Unrestricted, free and fair competition is the only process to bring out the most competent and committed among aspirants to political leadership.
    K. Sudhakaran, Kodungallur, Kerala

    The way MPs and political parties have reacted, it’s clear that the degeneration of the Indian political class is complete. In fact, the SC and EC have not addressed one important factor—the mental and physical health of a candidate. Isn’t it necessary that a person submit proof of his physical/mental health so that the public knows if s/he is fit to rule for the next five years?
    N. Sharma, Dubai

    The nexus between criminals and politicians is the greatest sin because it affects the masses. Lawmakers should set an example for the people they represent. One bad fish spoils the pond, don’t they say?
    S. Kaunain, Saudi Arabia

    Politicians want to stand by the adage: "Politics is the last refuge for scoundrels."
    L.Y. Rao, Mumbai

  • Brightness in Blight
    Aug 05, 2002

    The article Song of the Loom (July 22) truly does inspire. It serves to remind us that individual empowerment by education is possible in India. The IIT-JEE today is the only shining example of a great equaliser where you’re judged not by your pedigree but by your understanding of the subject. Getting into an IIT is the surest passport to success. One can be sure that students from these backgrounds will give back more to their community.
    Hariharan Thantry, San Jose, US

    What an amazing story! And that too from Bihar, of all places, the source of so many doom and gloom sagas.
    A.P. Sharma, Singapore

    Now it just remains for the Patwatoli girls to follow suit. But the question is, are their parents just as interested in their education?
    Pubali Ray Chaudhuri, Newark, US

  • Quite Unnecessary, Sir
    Aug 05, 2002

    It’s pathetic that P.C. Alexander (Smarting Alex, July 22), an upright and able administrator, should seek the support of sundry dubious parties to stay in some post or the other. Even after holding plum posts for 21 years after his superannuation, he is not prepared to retire from public life gracefully.
    D.V. Madhava Rao, Chennai

  • Sufferers Themselves
    Aug 05, 2002

    Prem Shankar Jha’s remarks in Dead, In Letter and Spirit (July 8) on sky marshals are one-sided. The marshals are many a time treated shabbily by the airlines staff. Only these instances do not come to light because they are reported to higher authorities and not in the media. Pilots have been found taking their acquaintances inside the cockpit without informing the sky marshals on duty which can lead to serious misjudgements. Airhostesses characterise them as muftkhors, at times refusing to cater to even a basic demand as a Hindi newspaper. In fact, in the initial stages, the airlines weren’t even providing food for sky marshals stationed at places away from their centres!
    Neera Baxi, Udaipur

  • Aug 05, 2002

    This refers to the appraisal of Dhirubhai Ambani (When the Eyes Locked In, July 22). When NRI Swraj Paul posed a takeover threat to the Reliance group around 1987, I as a small investor in the group wrote a letter to Dhirubhai expressing my solidarity with the Ambanis. It was the greatness of the family that Mukesh Ambani wrote back to me, thanking me on behalf of the Ambani group for my support at their time of crisis.
    Subhash C. Agrawal, Delhi

  • Ten Commandoments
    Aug 05, 2002

    Apropos Black Cats Cross the Road (July 22), how can Indian policymakers be so lacking in foresight so as to not perceive the highly-trained Black Cat commandos as valuable resource? For one, they can be used to train our pathetic local police force who seem worse trained than even terrorists!
    Mohan Naidu, Beaverton, US

  • Chetsetting Class
    Aug 05, 2002

    I’m an Indian soldier serving in the counter-insurgency operational area in Doda. I read Chet’s e-mail and Madhu Trehan’s reply to it in Telescope Myopia (July 8). My response is to one statement Chet makes in particular: "A US citizen...knows his/her death will never go unpunished, while an Indian soldier is there to die." I’d like to tell Chet that the life of an Indian soldier is not as cheap as a bloody white. We serve for our nation and die for our motherland with great pride. He has done well to leave the country.
    Hav Vijay Singh, 56 APO

  • Testing Times
    Aug 05, 2002

    The very first photograph accompanying the article Fire Proof Ritual (July 22) says all about the redoubtable bigoted practice of agni pariksha among the Kanjars. The ‘spotless’ man, presumably pure, who is seen conducting the ‘trial by fire’ is holding the searing bar with tongs. If he is innocent, chaste, pure in heart and spirit, why can’t he too handle the hot bar with his bare hands, as is expected of someone standing trial? Also, why can’t they have both parties to a dispute undergo the same trial simultaneously?
    Vivek Khanna, Panchkula

  • They’re Here to Stay
    Aug 05, 2002

    Apropos A Faith Besieged (July 8), there is no crisis in Hinduism nor is there a siege from within. Recent elections have shown that the Sangh parivar has lost its appeal even in the Hindu-Hindi belt. In the next Lok Sabha poll, the BJP may not get more than 20 per cent of the total votes. However, the BJP can’t be wished away. It will remain in the picture so long as secular parties take a perverse delight in denigrating Hinduism. They forget that if India is secular today it is mainly because of Hinduism’s liberal ethos. If even 24 per cent of Hindus voted for the BJP in the last Lok Sabha election, it was because the Hindus of north and west India felt betrayed by the Congress and other non-BJP parties.
    K.R. Sundar Rajan, New Delhi

  • Reel Far From Real
    Aug 05, 2002

    Devdas (Glitterati, July 29) is a nightmare if you look at its relation to literature. Bhansali has taken unnecessary liberties with the Bengali classic and has not even been able to understand—leave alone capture—the ethos of Saratchandra’s Bengal.
    Samartha Vashishtha, Ambala

  • The PM’s Healthy, Stealthy and Wise
    Aug 05, 2002

    In your article Cardsharp’s Slip of Hand (July 15), two reasons have been attributed to my resignation from the Union cabinet. It has been contended that I had annoyed the son of an influential cabinet minister. Secondly, I had reportedly leaked the details of the Prime Minister’s health to Time magazine. I’d like iterate that at no point of time during my tenure as a Union cabinet minister did I have the opportunity to come in contact with any son of any cabinet minister. So, the question of annoying anyone does not arise. Secondly, I would like to place on record that the Union minister of health and family welfare is not privy to the records of the Prime Minister and as such cannot leak details. As a doctor who has spent 30 years in the profession, I can state with conviction that the Prime Minister is in the best of health. In my interactions with him in the day-to-day official dealings, I have found him extremely alert and in total control of his mental and physical faculties.
    C.P. Thakur, New Delhi

  • Causes For Concern
    Aug 05, 2002

    The article Deflections to the Right (July 22) is grossly misleading. The RSS doesn’t accept any donation, either from within or outside the country, but depends solely on the gurudakshina offered by swayamsevaks every year for all its activities, including the so-called "propaganda activities". All the organisations that have been described in your story as "Sangh parivar outfits" are legally registered entities and enjoy all the powers that such other bodies in the country enjoy. All their accounts are duly audited regularly and they receive support from several charitable agencies on a purely legal basis. It’s absurd to project it as a sin that some of those organisations hold the same address as that of the RSS in some places. What is wrong in that? The RSS is as much a legal entity in this country as Outlook is. It is another matter that the correspondent fails to produce even one small shred of evidence to prove that there is any real misuse of funds. Instead his dependence on the views of known RSS-baiters only reinforces our suspicion that the entire exercise is a frustrated attempt by some prejudiced individuals who are out to tarnish the image of India in general and Hindus in particular in the eyes of the world.
    Ram Madhav, joint spokesman, RSS, India

    It’s a simple issue really. If the links between the genocide in Gujarat and Sangh parivar are clear and the links between the Sangh and the IDRF are clear, then the latter is implicated in the genocide. The reason for the divestment campaign against South Africa in the ’80s was not that every penny of the money sent to companies there was directly going to exploit Blacks. Rather, every penny enabled the exploitation of Blacks to be justified and for the system to continue. Similarly, people of good conscience should now refuse to let the IDRF touch their money. For those interested in genuinely non-sectarian NGOs which have no ideological axe to grind but do send money for female education, digging of tubewells and the creation of a more egalitarian society, there are plenty of organisations in the US to choose from—CRY, ICA, ASHA, Pratham, IDS and AID, among others. And no, I don’t belong to any of these.
    Raka Ray, California

    Yes, IDRF has links with some of those NGOs which are also sponsored by the RSS. But then which desi charity organisation in the US does not have links? ASHA/AID have links with communist/leftist parties while CRY has links with Christian missionaries in India.
    A. Hanumantha Rao, Melbourne, US

    IDRF and the VHP are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more such organisations all over the US and UK. There is nothing technically or legally wrong with these outfits per se. They are just the McDonalds of Hinduism. Just as McDonalds did not tell people that their veg french fries were dipped in beef tallow, they do not tell the public that their relief and rehabilitation is actually steeped in Hindu nationalism. Now that the cat is out of the bag, it’s only right that these organisations tender a public apology to all donors and henceforth insert a declaration in all their publicity material that they support Hindu nationalist projects.
    Anant, Minneapolis, US

    Although I’ve never donated through IDRF, I have heard of it. I find it very surprising that you should implicate it without a shred of evidence. Shalini Gera and Raju Rajagopal are part of Coalition Against Communalism and Ektaonline which started a smear-IDRF campaign two months ago.
    Amit Jog, New York

    Great story. The primary issue here is that a group of bigots are using tax-exempt dollars to spread hatred and foment violence. I come from a pious Hindu family. Some members of my family have been active with the RSS, and make no mistake about it, the real agenda of the RSS and its ilk is to spread hatred. Where does dharma prescribe the wholesale assault on women and children of the type seen in Gujarat? It is nauseating to see the doublespeak of these power-hungry Hindutva zealots raping and pillaging in the name of Hinduism. Not in my name, I say.
    Jayant, Silicon Valley, US

    I am very proud to send money to Sewa Bharati and any other organisation affiliated to the RSS who are doing excellent work in India to uplift the poor and the money is not wasted. I hope all Indians also do the same in spite of this hate-mongering propaganda against the affiliates of RSS.
    Kailash Sarna, Toronto, Canada

    Over the past 12 years or so, God knows how much money has been sent to India through these so-called ‘not-for-profit’ groups here. Fund-raisers started taking place when the original rath yatra was undertaken and then went into a frenzy at the time ‘consecrated’ bricks, some reportedly made of gold, were sent from here. The sad truth is that even religious fanatics want to cheat on taxes. I’m sure there would be less monetary support forthcoming if some of these groups that have tax-exempt status in the country were closed down.
    C.M. Naim, Chicago, US

    Does Outlook have the guts to probe the amount of money that is going to other organisations? There are numerous Christian and Muslim groups of Indian origin in the US which raise money solely to help Christian and Muslim institutions and individuals in India. Remember, Yasin Malik was recently caught with $1,00,000 cash in hand.
    Suraj Singh, Framingham, US

    No mention has been made of countless other organisations being benefited through the IDRF. Outlook’s proving morbidly anti-Indian. Any reason?
    Uday Kiran, Santa Clara, US



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