• Chawls of the Mind
    Sep 01, 2003

    Your I-Day Special (Surviving India, August 18) was just that: special. Awful cover pix (as usual) but the articles by Manu Joseph, Ram Guha, Sanjay Suri and Kiran Nagarkar (a wind-up piece in more ways than one) made it a collector’s copy. Way to go.
    Sheila Kumar, On E-mail

    What’s left of Nehru? was an unconvincing defence of the man by Guha. If after being in absolute control for 17 years, democracy is his achievement, that’s a dubious plus. Anyway, as Jha once wrote, democracy is built bottom up, not top down. The only thing to Nehru’s credit is he didn’t try to destroy it like his daughter. Also, as is evident, Nehru’s policy of unity in diversity has patently failed us. The minorities are still estranged, the concessions to them just serving to alienate the majority.
    Vinoo Ramakrishnan, New Jersey

    Gurcharan Das’ description of the Exnora Club was quite nice (The ‘Can Can’ Twirl). Our own experience with them here at T. Nagar, Madras, was far from satisfactory. We had approached them to keep our street clean. After many calls to various people, we were told to get a cart on sponsorship and employ a ‘street beautifier’ who would go house-to-house collecting garbage. It didn’t quite work out like that. We were lucky if the bins were cleaned once a day. This was two years ago and since then we’ve somehow ensured—through our own efforts—that our bins get cleaned daily. And nobody mentioned anything about compost or recyclables! Guess the lesson here is that organisations, even as they grow, still have to ensure quality service. However, we sincerely appreciate the germ of the idea.
    Ambika Menon, Chennai

    One look at Gurcharan Das and Kiran Nagarkar’s pieces and I can conclude in five words the
    21st-century Panchatantra: Create More New Social Movements. But you have gone further, added Guha too. Remember, the Congress is a movement-based party.
    J. Diviyan, Chennai

    Sandipan Deb’s Kuch Kuch Hota Tha brought back nostalgic memories of my own tryst with cinema. No one could beat the film-crazy people of Tamil Nadu, at least in the olden days. Haridas ran for more than two years continuously at a Madras theatre. Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, the old Titanic and quite a few non-Tamil films celebrated jubilees. A friend of mine saw Missiamma 53 times. Another saw Nagin (1935) 35 times, thrice on the same day. My wife’s grandma used to see every Tamil movie released first day first show, sitting in the front row for a clear view of proceedings. She didn’t like a film if it did not have at least one group dance. I remember having seen around 200 films in a particular year. Having said all this, it’s probably not a surprise to you that I have only watched two films in the theatre in the last seven years.
    K.V. Rupchand, Chennai

    How could you miss out on Biharis in your ‘survivors’ list? And not just for representation’s sake. Which other Indian people could have survived in a state where the CM’s husband—and self-anointed queenmaker—faces a litany of charges and has goons as his party’s local- and national-level legislators while he parades as a paragon of peace and secular ideals. Kudos to the people there for electing him again and again. And happy Independence Day to all of them.
    Pranaw Kumar Jha, Nagpur

    The Indian mind is essentially spiritual, perhaps the reason why we have ‘survived’ the ravages of time and accidents of history for so long. Many a time it’s come to the verge of collapse (foreign invasion, internal calamities) but the Indian spirit has survived. It’s also helped that religion in India is not dogmatic—it’s always a rational synthesis, accepting new concepts over the years.
    K.S. Iyer, Mumbai

    For ‘connoisseurs’ of adversity, Vinod Mehta offers sage advice. To survive and then hit the end of the proverbial rainbow is what success is all about.
    Sajit Nambudiripad, Kochi

    Your last few issues have been extraordinary. The expose on our worst radiation accident, the slam dunk on India Fashion Week and the write-ups on indomitable Indians were superb. Can we have more of Manu Joseph? He makes an impression in simple English unlike many others who write such incomprehensible stuff.
    Dr Himal Lal, On E-mail

    Surviving India was the best issue in some time, concept- and content-wise. If the magazine maintains this quality, it would not need silly gift schemes to boost circulation.
    L. Senthil Nayagam, Chandigarh

    Kudos to you, ‘V’ Mehta on your Survivors. Too humble, maybe, to rank yourself with them though you are no less (we all know the story behind Outlook’s birth). PS: in my opinion, Nelson Mandela should have topped your list.
    Suguna Raghunathan, Chennai

    Sleek cars on potholed roads, software brains and power cuts, slums and gladrags—happens only in India.
    R. Venkatesan Iyengar,Gulbarga

  • Twin Peaks
    Sep 01, 2003

    For the second time, Prem Shankar Jha (Beware Mr Lyngdoh, August 18) has made out an unexceptionable case for synchronising Lok Sabha and assembly polls. A two-phase ‘election synchronisation’ plan is the need of the hour—the first phase covering the LS and and as many as 19 state assemblies, including those elected in ’99, ’00, ’01. The cec’s comments in this regard are incomprehensible. In the past, LS polls were smoothly held within months of the House being dissolved and polls being announced as in ’71, ’77, ’80 and ’98. If the LS, assemblies are dissolved by mid-September, simultaneous polls can be held by December-end.
    Sharad Panse, Pune

    Jha’s two proposals (linking the Centre, state governments’ terms and invoking President’s rule if a state government falls prematurely) are not only draconian, they go against the spirit of federalism. It’s because of a strong federal structure that we still have some governance in spite of rag-tag coalitions at the Centre.
    Vishwanath Rao, Bangalore

    Is it just all about cost-saving and ‘orderly’ simultaneous polls? The latter seems an implausible task and besides, shouldn’t we consider that the issues involved at state and central levels are different. So why mix the two?
    D.B.N. Murthy, Bangalore

  • Fizz and Fuss
    Sep 01, 2003

    Indians are used to drinking Gangajal "unfit for human consumption" and foul smelling municipal water, so we shouldn’t be worried about ‘minuscule’ levels of pesticides in our colas (The Fizz and Hiss of It, August 18). With our high levels of immunity, it shouldn’t do us much extra harm. But let’s ban these colas anyway. Why give away money to US-based mncs and harm our health, when we could do very well with our own?
    K.P. Rajan, Mumbai

    Let’s rewind to an early ’90s story on bvo present in soft drinks which created much brouhaha. What happened to that story? Do we now have bvo plus insecticides or is it just one of the above? And why can’t manufacturers still label bottles with a ‘Contains no bvo’ sign like they used to do for a couple of years?
    Prateek Kaul, Pune

  • Base Issues
    Sep 01, 2003

    The dangers of armchair writing is evident in Chariots of Fire (August 4). Anyone who’s gone around the Gyanvapi mosque near the present Vishwanath temple can see the base is typical of that of a Hindu temple topped by a gumbaz (dome) greatly disproportionate to the size of the base. No mosque has a sanctum sanctorum in Hindu architectural style and there is no provision for perambulation in a mosque. Is Outlook trying to mislead readers?
    T.S. Rao, Bangalore

  • Sep 01, 2003

    It’s sad to learn that Brother Xavier (Making a Difference, July 28) is still hassled on charges like ‘religious indoctrination’ despite doing a commendable job for children of sex workers. Far from persecuting his ilk, our Hindu ‘leaders’ should stop their rabble-rousing and expend their energies on helping these people.
    Subhash Pradhan, Thane

  • Blast from the Past
    Sep 01, 2003

    Rajinder Puri has a point (Bull’s Eye, August 18). Umpteen cases of fake encounters and extortion rackets run by Punjab policemen were unearthed by the cbi after the Supreme Court intervened. Some cops even turned approvers, with details coming out on horrific events like bodies being dumped in the Harike-Patan in Tarn Taran.
    Suraj Chatwal, on e-mail

  • Johnny Shooter
    Sep 01, 2003

    Having Dilip Kumar’s appraisal of Johnny Walker (Johnny Bravo, August 11) is all very fine but it’s strange that for all the late comedian’s other attributes, ‘hunting for pleasure’ stood out. It looks like ‘Sallu’ bhai is in august company, though black buck can’t compare to the Royal Bengal tiger.
    Kavitha Anand, Mumbai

  • Kamla, Take Her Home
    Sep 01, 2003

    It’s horrifying that Assamese girls are being bought and sold like commodities and that villagers in the Mewat region condone such practices (Cloning Kamla, August 11). But aren’t the girl’s parents also to blame? Poverty can only be an excuse for so much.
    Chandrakant, Bokaro, Jharkhand

  • If Only We Were Like US
    Sep 01, 2003

    If an Indian soft drink had been found contaminated with pesticides in the US, the Food and Drug Administration there would have seized all the stocks, banned the drink and imposed a fine of millions of dollars (The Fizz and Hiss of It, August 18). The long-term health and safety aspect for the nation would have been of paramount concern for authorities. That’s hardly been the case with our ‘swadeshi’ Indian government which hasn’t even banned the cola majors or imposed fines. They also didn’t bother to put out media ads to counter those by the cola giants stressing the safety of their drinks. Our MPs think they’ve done their bit by banning colas from Parliament. That’s a bit like Bahadur Shah Zafar’s empire—all of the Red Fort!
    Vandana Rathi, On E-mail

  • Heavenly Bodies
    Sep 01, 2003

    Apropos The Last Durbar (Glitterati, August 11) showing Karan Singh holding the hand of Wera Hildebrand, wife of Robert Blackwill. His putative thoughts: Huay tum dost jiske/dushman uska aasman kyon ho (whoever’s your friend/why’d the Heavens be their enemy)?
    A.T.M. Anwar, Hyderabad



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