Letters | May 19, 2003
  • This is Your Best?
    May 19, 2003

    It takes me one hour to travel a distance of 8 km (by bus) from home to office. This is Chennai for you and if this is India’s second best city to live in (Where is Alphaville?, April 28), God save India.
    L. Gowri Shenbaga Raman, Chennai

  • Paean in the Neck
    May 19, 2003

    I’m surprised at the paeans Outlook sings for Left-of-Bush Brain Curry Man (May 5). Fareed Zakaria has been peddling his conservative ideas in Newsweek for long. The war on Iraq has done great service to readers of opinion-builders; now we know they are just intellectual sellouts. All the world’s Fox News and the Zakarias and Koppels merely players. Zakaria’s stance, however, is understandable in the cesspool of American politics. But Outlook, sitting in India, the anti-war stand of which was a welcome relief, has done itself damage by being a sidekick to a man whose only unfortunate association with India has been his birth there. Someone like Zakaria has his agenda. Sam Huntington believes in the great East-West Divide and his disciples voice and shape such ideology.
    Devesh Roy, New York

    Zakaria is nowhere near the man you’ve made him out to be. His ideas on terrorism and the lack of democracy in West Asia are pretty ordinary and seem to be taken from Thomas Friedman. His views about the present Indian government are coloured by his father’s affiliation with the Congress. Insofar as India was concerned, his sympathies as managing editor of Foreign Affairs seemed to lie with those Indian secularists and Muslim hardliners who tend to see any Hindu resistance to Islamic fundamentalism or Christian missionary zeal as threats to democracy and secularism.
    Shrikanth Reddy, Houston, Texas

    Zakaria, secretary of state? For such stratospheric honours, quality pandering alone is not sufficient. If that be the case, Dinesh D’Souza, friend Fareed’s predecessor, should have made it to similar hallowed heavens but all he got was a fellowship in a think-tank. Zakaria has no knowledge, depth of understanding or vision. I daresay any West Asian expert in the US (the type Friend Fareed studiously avoids) would skin him on any TV debate. Even Fouad Ajmi. He doesn’t know Arabic, Persian or even Urdu perhaps. Sure, as an Aurangabadi Mumbaiwallah, he knows folks in India. But his opinions on India are confined to those issues which concern Muslims and even so his views are no different from an educated Pakistani’s.
    Lakshmi Srinivas, Michigan, US

    While I haven’t read his book, I find the avalanche of praise heaped upon Zakaria surprising. Movements, political scientists and people all over the world have always understood that elections do not make a democracy; why else would we have courts, constitutions or other political institutions? Democracy has always been first about the liberty of the individual. Indeed, if the leaders of our freedom struggle, or the leaders of any country during a transition, had believed that elections were everything, we would have had no democracies anywhere.
    Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Chennai

    Zakaria’s book certainly takes a historical approach and digs deep into the concept of democracy, its evolution and spread around the world, and its various forms. However, his language is too polemical. Zakaria is a scholar-journalist of high calibre, but his book seems to have been written in a hurry.
    Maqsood Choudhary, Michigan, US

    Zakaria may be an nri, but he has spent his formative years in Mumbai. Which is why he can understand the problems of the subcontinent better than Colin Powell. Anyway, when he comes on TV channels, his assessments are unbiased and fair. His understanding of history and politics too is good. It would be great if he makes it to the top in the US.
    Rahul Malviya, Bangalore

    This is a great wake-up call for Asians settled in the US.
    Surinder Kumar, Dubai, UAE

  • Pillars of Pillage
    May 19, 2003

    Your story More Secrets From the Grave (May 5) seems to suggest that conclusive proof has been found that there was no temple at the Babri site but that a Muslim habitation existed there. I visited the masjid before it was unfortunately demolished. The dome stood on pillars which had engravings normally found in Hindu/Jain and Buddhist temples. That the pillars from such temples were used to build a mosque is not disputed. The question is, where did they come from? Obviously from some temples that had been destroyed or were in a state of ruin. I have no evidence to say that a temple at Ayodhya itself was destroyed to build a mosque, though.
    S.P. Goel, on e-mail

    I ask L.K. Advani to redo his rath yatra and tell everyone that he made fools out of all of us for personal gain. He played with the sentiments of the common people and destroyed the true Indian spirit. I wouldn’t mind a piece of land for a fellow Indian but not in the way Advani, the BJP or VHP are doing. That’s just pure politics, nothing to do with you or me.
    S. Naveed Basha, New York, US

    Why doesn’t Outlook declare itself to be a mouthpiece of the Muslim community? The story has been twisted to present only the Muslim viewpoint and the alleged possibility of Muslim graves.
    Munir Parikh, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • Kooky Coo
    May 19, 2003

    Your article The Dove Coos (May 5) is yet another instance of Outlook differentiating between Vajpayee and the BJP government. But they are one and the same. Stating otherwise is just wishful thinking.
    Krishna Prasad, on e-mail

  • Daring the Devilry
    May 19, 2003

    Kudos to Digvijay Singh and Ashok Gehlot for adopting a no-nonsense approach to the likes of Praveen Togadia and Acharya Dharmendra Dev. Such self-styled acharyas and mullahs need to be taught a lesson: that we don’t need violence to solve development issues. What’s needed is people working together to bring about common-sense solutions to make day-to-day life easier.
    Vijay Bharat, Fairfax, US

  • Expensive Proposition
    May 19, 2003

    Anita Pratap talks sense (Talk Tough, Talk Quiet, May 5). It’s true that we cannot afford a nuclear showdown with Pakistan when things finally seem to be falling in place for us. Our foreign reserves are soaring, grain reserves overflowing, the economy’s doing well. We can’t go to war with Pakistan at such a watershed phase.
    Madhusudan V., Chennai

    Excellent, succinct piece. I fully agree that while defending ourselves on the ground, we should embark on meaningful negotiation. The creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh is history and we should stop shedding tears over it.
    Vijayan, Gaboron, Botswana

    Hallelujah! There’s a sane voice in all that din.
    Mohan Durani, Washington, US

  • The Good Mr Blackwill
    May 19, 2003

    It’s sad to see how so many people, even Vinod Mehta (The Ugly American, May 5), failed to see how much Robert Blackwill wanted to put India on an equal footing with the G-8. No other US ambassador has been more interested in advancing the cause of India than Blackwill. I am not surprised that he resigned. He not only had to put up with a difficult state department, but even had to face the hostility of the very people he was trying to help. It’s like Einstein once said, "Only two things are infinite in this world, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure of the former."
    Rahul Patel, Boston, US

    We’re aware of Outlook’s antipathy towards the Americans, but Vinod Mehta’s piece takes the cake for deliberately perverse writing.
    L.Y. Rao, Mumbai

  • Now for Some Honest Goodwill
    May 19, 2003

    I salute Vinod Mehta. It takes courage to take on the US ambassador in India—especially one who represents the ugly Bush administration (The Ugly American, May 5). Robert Blackwill’s arrogance of power should remind us in India of the rogue superpower we are dealing with. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee has understood the message conveyed by Blackwill’s masters post-Iraq and quickly held out the hand of friendship to Pakistan. We should celebrate Blackwill’s exit from New Delhi and hope he is replaced by a more professional and sober ambassador worthy of his great country.
    R.P. Gill, Bangalore

    Vinod Mehta’s outburst seems based on subjective assessment and not on logic. He hasn’t given any example to substantiate his argument that Blackwill was arrogant and self-important. That he helped put India’s case better is a fact nobody can deny, not even the rabid Bush-hating Mr Mehta.
    Ankan Kumar, Kharagpur

  • A Stand Corrected
    May 19, 2003

    Ramesh Sahu in his letter (May 5) in response to Mark Tully’s Chhattisgarh Diary (April 21) writes that Shailesh Pathak, "incidentally, is facing serious charges in the Gwalior high court...". The said high court, in an order dated March 26, 2003 has dismissed all charges, holding that "the entire story is prima facie absurd and imaginary".
    Shailesh Pathak, Raipur, Chhattisgarh

  • Good Lord... What’s He Got To Do With It?
    May 19, 2003

    Great idea and great telling too of a trend that is unfolding in middle-class India (Eves Do It Too, May 5). The piece breaks the typically moralistic, hypocritical silence on the subject of adultery in India and brings it out of the closet. A lot of people will object to the story but it’s time someone took note of it. A great contemporary slice of life piece.
    Srimanta Das, Calcutta

    Mindblowing! I think it’s the duty of the Indian man to satisfy his woman and if he doesn’t, this is what happens: the woman goes out looking for satisfaction elsewhere. Do you want this to happen to your woman? No. Then, I guess, start doing the right thing. It’s about time!
    Sweta Patel, Piscataway, US

    All religions condemn adultery as a sin. All legal systems consider it socially unacceptable. Your cover story serves no purpose except to make adultery the "in" thing. It may have been a marginally curious essay for a student of sociology, but unleashing it on the general public through a family mag can only incite that final plunge.
    Mookhi Amir Ali, Mumbai

    Ensconced within the four corners of my 32-year-old conjugal bed (forget the lumps here and there), I got a lot of vicarious thrill in perusing your cover story. When I read the passage "We are probably more adulterous now than ever before..." I let out such a raucous guffaw that my partner fell out of the above-mentioned bed!
    C. Kesi, Chennai

    Kudos for a bold, illuminating story on sex. It paints an uncomfortable but real picture about adultery in India. I have friends and relatives who’re going through similar phases in their marriage. I could almost see the shadows of their experiences in your case histories. Brave, non-judgemental writing. Keep it up.
    Vasanthi S., Chennai

    Your cover story was utterly despicable. You make it seem as though adultery is a fashionable virtue, almost egging the readers on. But adultery is not just a romp in the afternoon. It comes with huge emotional baggage. A fling might be great in the beginning but it brings with it complications incidental to any relationship, not to mention the excitement wearing off with time. This point of view is totally absent in the article. It is possible to enjoy life without these adventures. There being more adultery is only a natural corollary of the times we live in. If somebody wishes to commit adultery, let them. But please, do not spur them on and offer them your blessings.
    Ravi and Namita Potluri, Gurgaon

    Your bold cover story was very topical. My advice to the wives is: Cheat, by all means, but don’t get caught. For the sake of your poor husbands. The irony is that when a woman’s misadventures are exposed, it is the aggrieved husband who has to face the rigours of law. As an advocate practising at a family court in Mumbai, I’ve come across bizarre cases of women who indulge in inverse blackmail when their dangerous liaisons are discovered. The wayward wife threatens the hapless husband with a false charge under Section 498(A) of the ipc—pertaining to cruelty and dowry harassment—and inevitable arrest if he prosecutes her lover for adultery under Section 497 of the ipc (a bailable offence that rarely results in conviction). Further, the woman misuses Section 498(A) to secure a hefty alimony in the event of a divorce on the grounds of adultery! In fact, as per the amended law, monthly maintenance cannot be denied to the wife unless she ‘lives in adultery’, which, as the courts interpret it, is not quite the same as ‘occasional lapses from virtue’, making the latter legally acceptable! (And in any case, the wife can’t be prosecuted for adultery. ) This legal paradox needs to be straightened by the lawmakers.
    Goya Sodhi, Mumbai

    Most pathetic article. It hardly has any factual content, only what marital therapists ‘feel’.
    Sayantan Sur, Columbus, US

    The article clearly suggests a marked change in the way women are conducting themselves in this age. I only wish to say one thing: indiscriminate liberalism in every walk of life can only lead to trouble. I am a married man. My wife and I are enjoying life by learning new things (including sex). ‘Emotional starvation’ is just an excuse for people to commit adultery.
    Shanth, Chennai

    Nine sources (I won’t call them journalists) in eight cities, six case studies (with names changed, of course, to ‘protect identities’) and a few quotes, all in a new font and lo and behold, Outlook thinks it has credible evidence to conclude that women outscore men in adultery, and that this is important enough to be a cover. If this is indepth analysis of a news of relevance, then Outlook should worry about retaining its readership. For the record, it just lost one.
    Sanjeev K. Kapoor, Noida

    Your cover story seems based on massive generalisations. For example, just because a woman spends 12-15 hours at work, it does not mean that she is naturally attracted to her co-workers.
    Bharat Jalan, New York

    This seems to be your lean season for cover stories, what with the Gulf War II packing up. If you had to write on women storming male bastions, you could have chosen any field. Why adultery?
    Prince Herbert, Coimbatore

    Of late, Outlook’s displayed an unwavering tendency to sensationalise and generalise the smallest of trends. Be it little girls dressing up as glam dolls, children being spied upon, ‘high-society’ schools or, now, adultery, you haven’t missed a trick. Given your other area of core competence, i.e., compiling of lists, can we expect a list of ‘India’s Top Fads’? While the rest of India is slowly learning how to dumb down, you have boldly gone and shown the way!
    Hemant Kapre, On E-Mail

    Your article unnecessarily cites Krishna and denigrates him. Yet secular as they are, Hindus have not reacted to your cover story. Had you made similar references to the Prophet, the Muslims would have been up in arms.
    Vinoo Ramakrishnan, New Jersey, US

    Throughout your cover story, Lord Krishna comes across almost as a symbol of adultery and his adolescent antics are taken out of context in your illustrations. There are references in the Quran and the Hadith about the the many wives of Prophet Mohammad and that he married Ayesha, a girl much younger to him. Would you ever dare to paint him as a paedophile and a figurehead of child abusers? Or use the Virgin Mary as an illustrative example in an article on unwanted pregnancies? If not, then why Hindu gods and goddesses? Are you that anti-Hindu?
    Sankara Narayanan, Bangalore

    Your cover story was in bad taste. As was your take on the rasleela. For one, Krishna was an adolescent and unmarried. But that isn’t even the point. There was a lot more philosophical exposition to the rasleela than the sexual cavorting you have reduced it to. You have no right to hurt the religious sentiments of a community.
    Venkatesan Iyengar, on e-mail

    More Men were doing it with fewer women in the past. Now more women are doing it with fewer men?
    Veeresh malik, New Delhi

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