• What’s the K-word?
    Sep 08, 2003

    Your August 25 issue (Kashmir First) shows that nothing much has changed since Outlook was launched in October 1995. Your first issue was an opinion poll which had 77 per cent Kashmiris saying they had no confidence in either India or Pakistan solving the Kashmir issue. Eight years on, Kashmiris are still out in the cold and we are still quibbling. I see only one solution, India and Pakistan reuniting (highly improbable). It seems the only good that’s happened in all this time is for the media: you always have stuff for covers.
    Vijayender, Hyderabad

    The conflict over Kashmir isn’t, as is widely believed, a quarrel over territory; it is a conflict between two fundamentally incompatible ideologies—a pluralistic democratic ideology on India’s part; and a fundamentalist-exclusionary Islamist ideology on Pakistan’s part. One has only to see the bent of government-approved curricula on both sides to vouch for this. It’s no wonder the subject of hate in Pakistani educational material ends up being Hindu and Indian (reflecting both a perceived sense of insecurity from an ‘enemy’ country, and an attempt to define one’s national identity in relation to the ‘other’). Our textbooks seem to be going the same way too, what with the attempts to "rewrite history" and so forth. Let’s spare the next generation at least our biases.
    Alpana, Agra

    That Iron in the Soul gives the impression, at least by implication, that Indians accept the LoC as the international border. How did you find this out without conducting an opinion poll among Indians?
    S.K. Singh, Delhi

    "In this season of bonhomie", it would be good to look back at the original refugees. A lot was lost for Indian Muslims and Pakistani Hindus as a result of Partition. Ironically, the refugees that came across the border are considered patriotic but those who chose to stay in the country of their birth are branded anti-Indian and repeatedly asked to go ‘back’ to Pakistan. Democracy has never been tarnished so much before. But I would like to believe this is not the voice of the majority. Around the world, governments hardly represent the will of their people. Isn’t that the saddest part of all this discussion?
    Zohra Javed, Allahabad

    I have a humble solution to the Kashmir problem—let’s forget it. No talk, no discussion, no publicity, no media coverage. Remove the army from j&k. This will deflate the militants and the self-proclaimed jehadi leaders. It will also cut the ‘oxygen’ to General Pervez Musharraf. In case Pakistan still acts funny, then take action once and for all. That’s what the army is meant for.
    Madhu Singh, Ambala Cantt

    Your opinion poll shows that on most parameters Pakistanis distrust and perhaps even hate us. These misguided people even seem to think Kashmir (64%) is more important than democracy (19%) and fundamentalism (17%). And we naive Indians thought one heart surgery was all that was needed to make them fall in love with us.
    R. Venkatesan Iyengar, Gulbarga

    The Outlook poll just shows what we all knew and what our bleeding-heart (Noor, Muneer), Left-leaning, romantic media still can’t come to terms with. And that is, Pakistan is not worth our efforts. PS: we don’t have all those idioms about leopards’ spots, dogs’ tails for nothing.
    Rakshit Ghai, Vadodara

    The opinion poll reflects the sickening mindset Pakistan has developed over the last five decades. Their idea of not accepting the LoC as the international border speaks volumes on the same. The only option left to us is to damn it all—conquer PoK and make it part of our country.
    S. Lakshmi, On e-mail

    With all this talk about Indo-Pak peace, I have hit upon a solution. Let the US govern the world! Or let’s all migrate to the US. No more secular talk, no ‘pesticide’ problems, no job is considered lowly, the roads are beautiful, and the crime rate...well.
    Jayant, On e-mail

    I don’t envy the people on both sides. ’Coz if Pakistan speaks Kashmir First, India speaks Kashmir Last.
    Suresh Behera, Ranchi

  • A Foreign Wake
    Sep 08, 2003

    Narendra Modi has done enough damage to the cause of Indian secularism and the spirit of Hinduism in our country. Now, he’s gallivanting abroad (Now We Wait for the Light, September 1), still playing the religion card and harming our image further. And our bjp-led government is indulging him in all this. It’s shameful.
    P.S. Rajagopalan, Dubai

    With a London court refusing a warrant against the all-new Hindu ‘hriday samrat’, will our human rights activists and secularists now lose faith in the courts of England too?
    Udita Agrawal, New Delhi

  • Share Croppers
    Sep 08, 2003

    Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, has become a cauldron of corruption (Bye Bye, Tiger Wood, Aug 25). Thanks in part to the Congress regime that’s hand-in-glove with the builder mafia. What use is a golf course when you don’t have water to drink? And just as the tiger makes a comeback, they plan to let out the land for development. I’m so disgusted I think I’ll move to the Northeast.
    Dipan Shah, On e-mail

  • Get the Opener
    Sep 08, 2003

    Why this ‘feeding frenzy’ over cola alone (Small Sips of Karma Cola, Sep 1)? Milk, cooking oil, tea, alcohol, vegetables, fruits all have the same pesticides from the source (water) or are being adulterated. Grit and sand in tea, aldehydes and glycerine in alcohol and beer, banned carcinogens like sunset yellow in pulses, fruits artificially ripened with chemicals: the list is endless.
    Dr N. Navinkumar, Chennai

    We don’t even have the quality of life of our East Asian neighbours. But in colas, nothing but EU norms will do for us.
    Swati Sriram, Mumbai

    The genie’s out of the bottle, so is another jpc. The wisdom of this course is suspect: a jpc isn’t a ‘continuing’ mechanism for such fundamental issues since it’ll automatically be defunct if the LS is dissolved, leaving the deliberations in a limbo. It might’ve been better to have a panel of consumer agencies, manufacturers, experts from scientific labs and standards institutions and members of the general public. (Keep in mind, though, the farm lobby’s torpedoing of a ddt ban.) Setting standards is rife with its own issues. Actually, standardisation is a tradeoff between quality and affordable costs of the product—consistent with certain minimum quality/safety parameters. Global practices are always available for comparison. One can have all the parts, say in a car, gold-plated to avoid corrosion (at any cost) or have such lax norms for soft drinks as to make them suitable for drinking only after boiling. It is for the informed customer to decide what he/she wants.
    Kangayam R. Ramaswamy, Madison, US

    So the government’s given a clean chit. This, to companies who say things like "our products are much better than the pesticide-laden products of poor Indian farmers". This is the second time (after bottled water) serious health concerns are being trampled on, in the need to protect fdi.
    Bharathi Raja, Worcestershire, UK

  • Sep 08, 2003

    Forrest Gump meets ET it may be, but Koi Mil Gaya (The Son’s Second Rising, Aug 25) is a big leap by Indian standards, in genre and SFX.
    Joseph K. Joseph, Chennai

  • Rampant script
    Sep 08, 2003

    Unrestrained vernacular, the jagged humanisation of divine figures, choreographed combat scenarios, a clipped description style—Banker is going for conceptual bust (The Ramayana of Blushes, Aug 25). And with intent. This is an ‘either you are with us or against us’ attempt. One just wishes Krishna Prasad had been a bit more decisive in his views.
    Sumant Bhattacharya, Ghaziabad

    If Banker thinks by colluding with your reviewer he can hurt Hindu sensibilities, create controversy (thereby selling more copies and raking in the moolah), he’s got another think coming. Members of the reading universe are too clever to fall for such an outdated ploy.
    Arun Bhagoliwal, Lucknow

  • Sep 08, 2003

    Apropos the review of my novel Prince of Ayodhya. In the short space of a couple of hundred words, the review managed to squeeze in at least two factual errors and one ludicrous inconsistency! The errors? Well, two of the three alleged "excerpts" quoted from the book don’t in fact appear in the published novel! I’d hazard a guess that perhaps your reviewer got his hands on an uncorrected proof copy and mistook it for the final published version? Unfortunately for the reviewer, the absence of those two alleged "excerpts" considerably weakens his case against the book.

    The third gaffe occurs when the reviewer compares my retelling to a previous children’s version of the Ramayana, and later, to the Harry Potter novels! Perhaps some Potty...er, Potter-training is in order? If he had actually read the original Valmiki poem, he would have found several very explicit descriptions of female anatomy, which I’ve chosen not to include in my retelling. As we all know, ancient Indian literature certainly didn’t hesitate to be sexually honest, and not just for shock value.

    Still, your reviewer gave me the finest compliment thus far in all the reviews received in the UK, usa and India when he called my novel a "magnificently rendered labour of love". Now that, I have no complaints with!
    Ashok K. Banker, On e-mail

    Krishna Prasad replies: Is there a more revealing sight than authors splitting hairs with reviewers while hunting for a blurb? Yes, it was a proof copy. By excising the sexy bits from the final version, Banker’s publishers have chosen politically-correct discretion over valour, which was the review’s moot point. So, if the "facts" no longer exist, do the errors? As for the inconsistency, Banker will be delighted to know that his reviewer "actually" re-read the relevant portions from six other versions of the Ramayana, including Valmiki’s, and came away impressed with Valmiki’s ability to be both explicit and acceptable. Wonder what denied Banker that luxury in the 21st century.

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