Letters | Nov 25, 2002
  • Slimming? Fat Chance!
    Nov 25, 2002

    Your cover story The Lightness of Well-Being (November 11) was interesting. Although the fitness industry is getting healthy and wealthy, no one can deny the fact that big is still beautiful.
    K. Phani Raja Rao, Anantapur

    I sometimes wonder if Outlook is really a newsmagazine. First, it was a donkey on your cover, then a nude model and now this. Have India’s real issues stopped lending themselves as material for your covers?
    Ritu Awasthi, on e-mail

    It never ceases to amaze me how the worst aspects of the West are the first to be absorbed by India’s modern, urban, upstart community. There is more research than one has time to read on the dangers of quickfix diets and mental illnesses resulting from such weight fixation. How come it escapes our educated Indian middle class entirely? Or do they need to burn themselves in the fire to know that it burns? This blind aping of the West makes me sick. And this when the West itself is turning East for yoga, healthy lifestyles, exercise and eating habits!
    Shakti T.T., Huntsville, US

    Finally, someone wakes up to the ever-expanding thinning mania. What is disturbing is the fact that often these so-called ‘gyms’ and ‘health centres’ are substandard and have bad equipment which does more harm than good. And even the cheapest and lousiest of them in Delhi comes at no less cost than Rs 500. If not you, they will definitely thin down your bank balance.
    Shalvika, New Delhi

    I can’t understand how perfectly sensible people let their minds be hijacked by media hype. If you have a bank account and continue to deposit in it, you will have a fat bank balance. Every time you withdraw, it goes leaner by the amount withdrawn. So it is with our bodies. We get fat because we deposit more calories than we withdraw. I have lived with this approach and have needed no more than a pair of good shoes and ordinary jogging gear.
    Dinesh Kumar, Bangalore

    At 5 feet 5 and 57 kg, I’m often rebuked by friends for being grossly overweight. But unlike the specimens in your cover story, I am happy to say that I’ve never succumbed to the temptations of being reed-thin.
    Gargi Choudhury, on e-mail

    What else would you expect from our desi videsis, who have a whole lot of time and money to spare? They do not care for simple exercises like walking or running. They have lazy lifestyles and diets made up of junk food. It’s only when their wealth starts showing around their waist that they go in for such insane and unsafe slimming gimmickry. Never having shed a drop of sweat in any kind of labour they are the ones who fill the coffers of such doctors and health consultants.
    Nitin G. Panchal, Mumbai

    How come your story had no mention of something that is centuries-old and our very own—yoga?
    N.R.T. Rao, on e-mail

    It sure doesn’t pay to be fat, unless you are one of those enterprising men or women who run the fitness and slimming centres which are mushrooming all over India. Most of these centres are run by self-styled ‘specialists’ with practically no qualifications, only a burning desire to cash in on the public’s gullibility and craze to shed flab. It’s time our medical authorities took a closer look at what seems to be a big racket being operated by get-rich-quick entrepreneurs.
    Achal Narayanan, Chennai

  • Votebank Melee
    Nov 25, 2002

    Having lived in Gujarat for a long time, I know very well how important caste and communal distinctions are in an election (All Aboard!, November 11). This election shall indeed be a watershed. The Congress is trying to play the politics of kham (which it did successfully in the ’60s) and is also trying to appease the upper castes and the middle class. But it will be walking a tightrope since the bjp has traditionally remained a bastion of Patels, Brahmins and Banias. After Godhra and Akshardham, it also has the support of the upper castes, the middle classes and even the Dalits and obcs. The only thing it has to fear is inter-faction rivalry, something the Congress too needs to be wary of. Whatever their effort, it will thankfully be the people of Gujarat who will decide the destiny of their state.
    Rajat Ghai, Vadodara

  • Mightier than AK-47
    Nov 25, 2002

    Congratulations, Outlook, for publishing articles by Balbir Punj (Healing Achilles Heel, November 4). It is good to see that there are brave and impartial men like him who at least have the courage to advocate hard-core Hinduism. Otherwise it would be impossible for us Hindus to advocate our views in the deceptive surroundings created by our so-called secularist politicians. Good luck, Mr Punj, please continue your journey towards this sacred war, as we Hindus cannot wage a jehad by taking AK-47s in our hand. Might as well do it with a pen.
    Vinayak Modak, Mumbai

  • Steady, Mufti Sayeed
    Nov 25, 2002

    One hopes that the Mufti will begin the governance of Jammu and Kashmir in a level-headed way (The Burden of Expectations, November 11). His statements, asking the Centre to enter into unconditional talks with all political elements of j&k and his decision to scrap pota, coupled with the releasing of suspected terrorists and anti-nationals, are sending wrong signals.
    S. Lakshmi, on e-mail

    The Mufti’s record of overt encouragement of terrorism does not bode well for peace. He released dreaded terrorists while he was home minister. Now his party has won due to the support of secessionist elements and his government has taken over the responsibility of the social welfare of terrorists.
    Sanjeev K. Sharma, Delhi

  • Political Note
    Nov 25, 2002

    K. Natwar Singh might be a senior national leader, but asking him to write a diary (Delhi Diary, November 11) was a bit too much. It felt like I was reading a Congress manifesto. It robbed me of the pleasure of reading a diary. And to top it all, he ended with a joke most of us had heard before.
    Chinmay Bajikar, on e-mail

  • Nov 25, 2002

    Being a healthcare professional, I felt your article A Syringe Vacillates (November 11) was only a partial representation of facts. Here is why. First, developing an aids vaccine is not a stray thought. The process has been initiated the world over. Thailand and the US have successfully entered the third phase of human trials (imperative in the process of developing any vaccine) recently. Second, the Indian government and naco have partnered with the International aids Vaccine Initiative (iavi) to fight the menace. iavi is merely a facilitator and is an internationally-acclaimed organisation for its tremendous contribution to the cause. Third, the Indian government, naco and iavi are developing guidelines for compensation, informed consent, ethics and human rights in association with the advisory board members which include representatives from government and non-government organisations, women’s health groups, academia, research institutes, legal and political bodies. As a leading newsweekly, Outlook should avoid maligning a process which may be the hope for some 4 million Indians, before it has even commenced.
    Dr Shubhojit Sarkar, New Delhi

    Outlook stands by its story. In fact, the concerns raised by the magazine were endorsed by Bill Gates at a press conference in New Delhi where he said great care needs to be taken regarding ethical issues concerning clinical trials.

  • Heaven Help Us
    Nov 25, 2002

    Apropos A Cracker of a Diwali (November 4), if a businessman who started in a basement and who has a motive no loftier than separating us from our money is the one directing our sense of celebration with useless Americana (Halloween, etc) and cheap spins on sacred legends and myths, then we must know that as a society, as a people, we have touched rock bottom.
    Sumant Bhattacharya, Ghaziabad

  • Killer Zeal
    Nov 25, 2002

    Without in any way undermining the spirit of human rights, the recent outbursts on the Ansal Plaza shootout by so-called human rights activists and Kuldeep Nayar and Praful Bidwai are downright treacherous. They were talking as though they were there when they saw "these guys being dragged out of the car and killed in cold blood". How can these people fairly oversee human rights violations when they are so abjectly biased? Whose purpose is being served by such people but Pakistan’s? We have to understand that we’re at war and till it lasts, the nhrcs, Nayars and Bidwais et al should keep shut.
    Rajiv Mahajan, on e-mail

  • Nov 25, 2002

    I think old man Buddhadeb means business ("Other states don’t even pay wages", November 11). Under his leadership, Bengal may well be on its way to further industrial growth and an improved economic climate.
    Subhajit Ghosh, Shillong

    Know what hogwash is. Ask the Communists; they’re excellent at it. Worse, they’re getting the likes of McKinsey to do their dirty job. But mere lip service without the correct intent and action will lead Bengal nowhere. You can’t fool all the people all the time. Action, Mr Bhattacharya, is long overdue!
    Anshuman Ghosh, Calcutta

  • Morality Blinkers
    Nov 25, 2002

    I was surprised to see so many letters of protest over your What Women Want cover (October 28). I thought it very artistic and attractive. Perhaps we ought to change the skewed way we view things. I would even advocate the legalisation—with controls—of prostitution, cabarets and theatres showing pornographic cinema, like in European countries. It will lead to gross reduction in unpardonable evils like molestation of women and children.
    S.R. Saha, Calcutta

  • Nov 25, 2002

    In the cover story Choosing Their Religion and accompanying piece Faith-Change Surgery (November 18), the photos of Namdeo Dhasal and Dr K. Krishnaswamy were wrongly identified as Keshav Meshram and R. Thirumavalavan respectively. Errors are regretted.

  • The Less Innocent Among Us
    Nov 25, 2002

    The sexual abuse of a four-year-old by his teacher (Less Than Innocent, Nov 11) once again cries for everybody’s attention that our children are the most neglected, least protected, abused, assaulted and exploited physically, sexually economically, educationally by adults. Thus they remain the weakest, voiceless members of our society. The incident at Mirambika is certainly not an isolated case. Sexual abuse and exploitation of children along with others is not uncommon in schools. What is uncommon is the courage of parents to bring the matter to the authorities and register a complaint. In most cases, parents either withdraw their ward from the school or just keep quiet for fear of further victimisation and humiliation. Parents have no voice. The authorities refuse to acknowledge the fact that it is parents who entrust their children to schools for their wholesome development. Instead of accepting parents as partners, school and state authorities treat them, especially complaining parents, as a nuisance. Even for the media, high-society gupshup, sex, glamour and glitterati are more newsworthy than the ‘trivial’ concerns of children or victimised parents.
    Kusum Jain, Delhi

  • The Danda March
    Nov 25, 2002

    The various measures suggested to combat unruly crowd behaviour at cricket matches (Missile Programme, November 25)—like penalising the home team or disqualifying such venues for future matches—are unfair to the vast majority of genuine sports lovers. The number of hooligans is minuscule and it is these offenders who should be singled out by the security staff. As is the practice in Singapore, they should be collared on the spot, marched to the field in full public view (while play is suspended), made to strip down to their underwear and given 10 whiplashes. Each ticket sold should carry a warning in bold type so that all are aware of the consequences of misbehaviour.
    R.W. Desai, New Delhi

    A major reason for unruly crowd behaviour in India is that most of the people who enter a stadium do not buy tickets. Since a very small number of tickets is allotted to the public, the majority gets in through passes. And these people, who don’t feel the pinch of actually buying a ticket, are the one that indulge in loutish behaviour. Make every spectator pay for his ticket and just see the crowd behaviour improve!
    Anmik Gandhi, Kota

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