Letters | Nov 11, 2002
  • The Real Force
    Nov 11, 2002

    "Forced" or "coercive" conversions is a canard Hindutva forces spread to terrorise minorities, particularly Christians (Zero Convertibility, October 21). Some ‘missionaries’ are no doubt involved in aggressive promotion of their faith. But their speeches and publicity tracts are quoted to give the impression that the country’s being taken over by Bible-thumping evangelists. Mainstream Christian groups have done nothing but contribute to India’s development. The only thing "forcing" Dalits to turn to Christianity or Islam is the despicable state they’re in. Amma would do well to focus on the real "force" behind conversions.
    Dr George Paul, Salem

    The condition of the Dalits of Kotirambakkam is appalling. The instance of their being barred from the village pond and being forced to eat dried human faeces makes Jayalalitha’s ordinance a hollow sham. She should instead look into the real issues which are forcing these Dalits to turn away from the larger Hindu fold.
    Saima Ali, on e-mail

  • Stree is King, or was that Streaking?
    Nov 11, 2002

    Freud once remarked, "The great question that I’ve not been able to answer, despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul is, ‘What does a woman want?’." Despite being disheartened by that statement, I read your cover story What Women Want (October 28) eagerly. I am sorry to say Freud seems to have been prophetic. Anyway, best wishes for future explorations into the female psyche.
    N. Sigamani, on e-mail

    With great expectations, I turned to the inside of your cover, but was disappointed not to find "the other side of the picture". So much for a revelatory cover story.
    R.K. Bhrugushastri, on e-mail

    Your present survey sends contradictory messages about the psyche of the Indian woman. If one were to go by it, she has a long way to go before she becomes truly liberated. She seems confused and doesn’t really know what to expect from men. When she’s younger (in her 20s), she’s not much interested in sex and even wants a virgin for a husband. But when she grows older (in her 40s and 50s), she starts preferring younger men! Then, in an earlier survey not more than a year ago, you showed Indian men to be unsatisfactory lovers. Now you have sensitive Indian males capable of satisfying their older (or elderly?) partner.
    Sivan Nair, Gurgaon

    The survey is handicapped by the fact that it conveniently ignores the majority of the Indian women who live in our villages. It also does not touch upon any economic aspect, like women’s dependence on men and the distortions it introduces in marital relationships. Isolated surveys such as yours confirm obvious truths. More illuminating would be comparative surveys like measuring social trends over a generation, for example.
    Srikanth B., London

    Your survey over-emphasises the feminine side of the male-female relationship. How come you have never documented the wants, desires, expectations and aspirations of Indian men? How come there’s never been an issue on What Men Want?
    Sajad Ahmad Qazi, on e-mail

    Frankly, I’m not surprised by the results of your survey. With women sharing bread-earning responsibilities, it’s only reasonable of them to expect men to help with the household chores. Only then can a meaningful relationship be established.
    Anu Kurian, Kochi

    What women want? All they want is to control men. When they can do so, he becomes a good husband. When they can’t, he is a bad husband.
    S.K. Vayangankar, Bangalore

    Now that you’ve told us all about what women want, we wait with bated breath for a logical sequel—to know what Indian men love and loathe about women. Hope this won’t be long in coming!
    Achal Narayanan, Chennai

    Apropos Ask Panchali, Madhu Jain should dust some old issues of Amar Chitra Katha and read them again. Not all the five Pandavas were born to Kunti as she says. After Yudhishtira, Bhima and Arjuna were born to her, Kunti taught her co-wife Madri the divine mantra for soliciting the gods to beget progeny. Which she did and had Nakula and Sahdev through the Ashwini twins.
    Vinaya Hegde, Bangalore

    Ms Jain should get her facts on the Mahabharata right. Draupadi didn’t choose to marry five men; she was just a victim of unfortunate circumstance. The least we can do is spare it the glorification.
    Saugato B., Los Angeles, US

    What is Ms Jain talking about? If it takes five men to please a woman, then there’s something the matter with her!
    Ashwin V., on e-mail

    The article Rooms, Views, had nothing but quotes from various writers strongly protesting being pigeon-holed as "women writers". They pointed out that the act of writing is not gender-specific but "androgynous", as Namita Gokhale put it. Yet, in the last line you say that "more than anything else", a woman "wants to write like a man".
    Kajori Aikat, New Delhi

    You’ve got it all wrong. No, women do not want to write like men. That’s passé. What we want, what I want anyway, is to write like me and write better. And keep trying to close the gap between the two. I’m sure most women writers would say the same.
    Shashi Deshpande, New Delhi

    Of course, God is a woman (Is God a Woman?). What she can do, no man is capable of doing. And I do not mean this in a sexual way, but with reference to her capability, compassion, maturity, patience. Men would be incomplete without women in the sense of responsibility towards family, society and country. Deepak Chopra would do well to concentrate on this aspect of shakti as well.
    Sandeep Kumar, Delhi

    The story A Warm Chair on the Distaff Side was very heart-warming. It gives hope at a time when less and less people take care of the elderly. These women have also redefined the concept of equality.
    Sandip Tiwari, Cornell, New York

    Great story. We’re three brothers and I think my father misses not having a daughter. Though we love him, we cannot show it like a woman expresses her affections.
    Amit Beriwal, Kanpur

    Just the other day I was defending Outlook as the one magazine that upholds high standards in journalism. Now you go and have a cover with a photo of a nude model. You were really fine ones to talk about the "sale of the fourth estate" as you did in your earlier cover on dumbing down.
    Santoshi Reddy, on e-mail

    So, you achieved your aim of getting everyone to pick up your magazine with that cover. But I’m not sure I will the next time. I can’t believe that after a story like Dumbing Down, you’d go and reduce yourself to this. Nothing in the issue on what women want was new or interesting. I expected much better.
    Abha Bakaya, Delhi

    Wow, what a cover. I am glad we started subscribing to Outlook. Special kudos to the team which designs your covers. They are definitely very innovative, creative and striking.
    Geeta Sundar, Kochi

    You have no right to play with the sensibilities of your readers. The cover of your latest issue was a reflection of your perverted tastes. Outlook this time is looking no different from a porn magazine.
    Jagdish Malhotra, on e-mail

    After dumbing down, this! I always thought of Outlook as a magazine with a difference but to think you have deified on your cover the very Page 3 culture you had derided and called an assassination of national character a few issues ago. As a woman, I’m offended that you should represent our kind in so vile a manner.
    Neeti Jain, New Delhi

    Forget those who rant at your cover. It’s a good shot and mildly erotic.
    Gayan Tongzuk, New Delhi

    What else but a nude woman on the cover of a leading weekly newsmagazine would make it more popular! Accept my congratulations. Soon people will find it tough to tell from your cover if yours is a political or a porn magazine.
    Anshu Mathur, Ahmedabad

    At last Outlook succumbs to the dictates of the market. The October 28 cover was really a cheap gimmick. How do you expect us to bring such an issue home to our family and children? I have returned the issue to your office as a mark of protest. That was the last Outlook I read.
    Balachandra C.P.R., on e-mail

    From a donkey to the spunky, your covers do attract attention all the time. Never mind what women want, this is certainly what men want.
    Shantanu Tela, Chennai

    Hats off for taking the lead in resurrecting journalism standards, especially after ridiculing the indecent ways that newspapers and magazines use to increase sales.
    Vinoo Ramakrishnan, New Jersey, US

    This is, to say the least, an indecent (un)cover. This is what happens when a former editor of Debonair gets down to editing a newsweekly.
    K.S. Ramesh, Mumbai

    Indecent packaging of a very decent and mystifying issue.
    Dr Shobha Saxena, Delhi

    I expected Outlook to be a magazine that respected women and upheld their dignity. Your cover has eroded the respectability of your magazine.
    Chinnamma Jacob, Bangalore

    One thing that every woman would loathe about your last issue would be the cover. One wonders if it was a tribute or an insult to women?
    Aparajita Mahajan, on e-mail

    While what women want took you multiple pages to analyse, what men want requires just the one page of your cover.
    Anil T., Mumbai

    How on earth was that cover relevant to the inside story? In protest, I’ve stopped buying Outlook. I know it won’t hurt you much but at least it won’t hurt my reading tastes either.
    Chandrashekara K.A., Bangalore

    You prove that universal truth that there’s an ‘Adam’ in ‘Madam’, a ‘lad’ in ‘lady’ and a ‘man’ in every ‘woman’.
    A.S. Raj, on e-mail

    Mr Mehta, Outlook is not spelt D-E-B-O-N-A-I-R!
    Dr L. Senthilnayagam, on e-mail

  • A History of Hysteria
    Nov 11, 2002

    For a person who’s lived in Maharashtra for a long time, I’ve come to understand its politics. Once it was governed by pure ideology, then the Left took over and finally the Shiv Sena (The Usual Senantics, October 28). The Sena, in fact, was started by the Congress after the agitation in Tamil Nadu. Now it has fallen under the underworld’s influence. I’ve heard that Thackeray meets other extremist Muslim leaders in Mumbai, that they are cohorts. In the state’s rural west, where first the Congress ruled and now the ncp does, the Sena draws its support from backward castes. In Vidarbha, the cooperative banks are with the Congress, but all hang pictures of Golwalkar. Politics here is a strange world.
    Suresh Bharade, Jalgaon

  • Wake-Up Call
    Nov 11, 2002

    Anita Pratap’s column (Our Cocoons and Us, October 28) was a good effort to jolt us out of our complacency. So blindly are we aping the West that we are ignoring the extraordinary deeds of ordinary people and chasing celebs.
    Yash Treasurer, Stanford, US

  • Been There Before
    Nov 11, 2002

    Can Prem Shankar Jha assure us that the Mufti will not indulge in hounding out Hindus as he did in the ’80s (The Perils of Myopia, October 28)? Does he know that the latter earned the title of Butcher of Anantnag by ensuring that the police would turn a deaf ear to Hindu pleas for protection when his goons attacked them? Like Ehsan Jaffri in Gujarat, hundreds of Hindu families went through a nightmarish phase when they lost their kin, homes and honour at the hands of this man, who was a leader of the Congress then.
    A.K. Aggarwal, Ahmedabad

  • Nov 11, 2002

    My impression is that Surjit Bhalla’s interview ("Growth reduced poverty in Asia", October 28) was edited considerably. His approach seems to be in line with imf and World Bank thinking. I agree that the enormous rate of population growth in the developing world is a major cause of underdevelopment. But the dependency and world system schools also point to structural causes. And for them, the answer lies not in globalisation but in checking the unequal terms of trade and unfair policies of the fiscal and monetary lords that go by the names of IRDP and IMF.
    Maqsood Choudhary, Michigan

    Bhalla makes generalisations. How China/Malaysia/India have gone about globalisation is different from how the African countries have gone about it—for the latter, it has meant a high level of enslavement through foolish WB borrowings and nonsensical structural adjustment recommendations. Per capita income growth in much of the developing world has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years and if you include India and China, the numbers are worse than the last 20 years.
    V. Raghuram, California, US

  • Big Deal About the B
    Nov 11, 2002

    Finally, some sensible writing on the Big B turning 60 (The Beatification of Big B, October 28). I don’t know why the media made such a big deal about it. It’s time we realised hero worship leads us nowhere.
    K.V.R. Raj, Yokohama

    Much as I’d agree with Sandipan Deb, I’m surprised this piece comes from a gentleman who not so long back wrote, "So what if Kapil’s tanked a few matches, he still is my hero." What then justifies his criticism of Amitabh on his commissions and omissions?
    Pramod Arikal, Chennai

    How come a magazine which has no problems with an Italy-born becoming India’s PM finds an nri sending his kids abroad and selling Indian TVs objectionable?
    Ramchandran, Thrissur

    At last someone has the guts to call a spade a spade.
    Umesh N., Mumbai

  • We’re Not Alone at the Shrine
    Nov 11, 2002

    Why does Sandipan Deb single us Indians out in making gods out of men (The Beatification of Big B, October 28)? Didn’t Elvis and Jim Morrison, both legends who attained godly status, have serious drug problems and die of overdose? Was not Lady Di, who was committing adultery at the time of her death, herself beatified in the public eye? Van Damme, the muscleman from Brussels, is likened to God in Europe though he’s in the news most of the time for the wrong reasons like drunken brawls, sexual harassment and drug peddling. The less said about the inside stories of the godly Beatles, the better. Bachchan is only a down-to-earth, modest guy who takes himself rather very seriously. Agreed he is no God, but what Deb fails to grasp is that he has more intelligence than any of us. Which is the reason why he can have Thackeray for ‘friend’, Mulayam Singh Yadav for ‘father’, the Gandhis for ‘family’ and the Ambanis for ‘brothers’.
    Sajit Nambudiripad, Kochi

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