• Notes in the Margin
    Nov 10, 2003

    Thanks to a friend who slipped Outlook into my bag as I left Delhi, I was brought up sharp to the reality of insurgency in so many states (A Million Mutinies, Oct 20). My complaint is how briefly you treat them—and in so doing perpetuate the idea that these are small wars, easily understood, that can be dismissed by mainstream India. Those of us who love India long for the day its tribals/marginalised will be respected and celebrated. Then only can the cycle of exclusion/ repression, leading to the wish to secede, be broken.
    Marcus Thompson, Oxford, UK

  • The Scarecrow Avatar
    Nov 10, 2003

    While participating in the debate in British Parliament on the India Independence Act, Churchill had said, "Liberty is a man’s birthright. However, to give reins of the government to the Congress at this juncture is to hand over the destiny of millions into the hands of rascals, rogues and booters..." (Devil’s Inc, Oct 27). Might have been unfair then, but 56 years later, our politicians have proved it right. Middle-class hatred for politicians isn’t an overnight phenomenon, it’s grown over time. Cho has the people’s pulse better than Dipankar Gupta. There isn’t just general disgust with politicians but also alarming frustration with democracy. The benevolent dictator cannot be dismissed as just a "middle-class fantasy".
    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

    Your cover story should be a good mirror for our netas to see what image people have of them. There is no one word to describe these parasites who after being voted to power by the masses turn around to hold the country to ransom. Politics is now a lucrative profession and politicians role models for those who want to work less and earn more. Yet, with teachers being considered most useful to society and our President being voted the best prime ministerial candidate, hope floats. People would be grateful if the likes of K.P.S. Gill, Medha Patkar, J.M. Lyngdoh, N.R. Narayanamurthy et al join politics as only they can replace hooligans like Laloo, Shahabuddin, Mayawati...
    S. Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur

    When Outlook journos go out to get soundbites, how is it that it’s almost always Marxist fanatics they go to? Benevolent dictatorship is the stuff of middle-class fantasy, claims Dipankar Gupta, like he’s divined some homogeneous pattern of ‘middle-class’ thinking. What is he, anyway? Surely not one of the toiling proletarian masses. If he were, he wouldn’t figure in Outlook’s glossy pages that advertise decadently bourgeois stuff.
    Raghu Reddy, Bangalore

    As a service officer, I was happy to read defence personnel ranked third out of a list of 16 categories whom people thought useful to society. But I find a contradiction here. If defence forces are so high in people’s esteem, why are they so low in their career choice? I wish the cream of India joins this noble line. It provides quality life and a chance to serve the motherland.
    Col R.D. Singh, Ambala Cantt

    Your poll rates politicians over 7 and black marketeers around 3.I think it’s unfair to compare both. Some other category of people could have been added instead. And didn’t A.C. Nielsen merge with org-marg in India?
    Mike Rutlidge, on e-mail

    We hate not just our politicians but also our police (themselves responsible for many crimes), our judiciary (for giving judgements, not justice), our auditors (main cause for black money) and our doctors (for their greed).
    N. Kailasam, Chennai

    Each of us has our own tale to tell about the disintegration of our political system. But rarely do we participate in trying to change what we detest in it. Corruption, like anything else, is not unique to India. It’s only more widespread here. It’s not because we have more dishonesty but because we have a political system that creates negative incentives. So much so that in some cases you can’t be a politician without being corrupt. What we’ve to remedy is our system but democratically, or else we’ll have the likes of Musharraf telling us what’s best for us.
    Nikhiel Silva, Providence, US

    I wonder why politicians got precedence over pimps and black marketeers when they’re the least useful to society. In the first place, the last two ought not to have figured at all in terms of their ‘usefulness’ to society! As for the ranking from 1 to 4, I’d have preferred it to be in the descending order starting from farmers. After all, they’re the backbone—none of the other professions can even exist without them.
    R.M.V.N. Ramakantha Rao, Visakhapatnam

    Your brilliant cover story notwithstanding, it reaffirms the old adage, "We have the politicians we deserve". Rather than just crib over the state of our politics, we should try doing something to change it.
    Vijayender Chaudhuri, on e-mail

    You’re right when you say that the middle class has failed to come to terms with the necessary evils of democracy. But as Yogendra Singh says, a gradual convergence of interests between the middle class and the poor, as the latter begin to demand performance more than populism, will pressure politicians. This convergence can be hastened by generating employment for the poor. The hard-working, creative middle class must participate actively by demanding action from politicians.
    K. Girishankar, Marlton, US

    Your cover story perhaps confirms a much bigger malaise in the Indian society and that is the politician-bureaucrat nexus. The survey proves they truly are bedmates. Who lies on top is immaterial.
    T. Prakash, Delhi

    Whoever said this was right—"Politicians are like diapers. They should be changed frequently and for the same reason".
    Sunanda D., Hyderabad

    I think even politicians would agree with what Outlook’s said.
    Tipu Ali, London

    In a country which has a scientist-president, do scientists rate below pimps that they find no mention?
    Bharatwaj Iyengar, on e-mail

  • No Black Will Here
    Nov 10, 2003

    I was surprised to read Blackwill Burnout Syndrome (Newsbag, Oct 20) which said my departure from the National Security Council was precipitated by "a demanding boss". I made the painful decision to quit for personal reasons, having nothing to do with Blackwill. As I’ve frequently said in public, my tenure in Delhi was more fulfilling and productive than I’d anticipated. Were the opportunity to offer itself, I wouldn’t hesitate to join Blackwill again in public service.
    Ashley J. Tellis, Washington, DC

    Our correspondent replies: I couldn’t reach Mr Tellis at the White House despite repeated efforts. His colleagues declined to give his e-mail ID but multiple sources confirmed he was leaving the nsc, the reason for our piece. He cites "personal reasons" for leaving; I also included "health".

  • Watch Your Step
    Nov 10, 2003

    I wish to react to Biz Buzz, Oct 27. First, you claim a "gradual phaseout" of our Rs 1 lakh-a-month news deal with Business Standard. Now, this is a syndication arrangement, how can it be phased out? Either you buy the service or you do not. Just look at our business pages to know the status. Two, the idea that we’re seeking working capital from the Sahara group for a Bengali daily is ludicrous. We’re in the middle of a defamation case they have brought against us. To hint any sort of business deal is possible under the circumstances could amount to an effort to influence proceedings.
    Ravindra Kumar, Editor & MD, The Statesman

  • What’s the Pint?
    Nov 10, 2003

    Were it not so pathetic, it would be hilarious. Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming, I hear, was forced to apologise for shooting a liquor ad during his stay in Rajkot for a match. His sin: ‘insulting’ Gandhi’s Gujarat, where prohibition is state policy. As a frequent visitor, I have never found it difficult to get my pint in Gujarat. Once at a leading Gujarat hotel, I asked for beer. I’d get it but after I filled a form to get a licence to imbibe. Presented to the adjacent liquor stall, it’d get me my drink of choice. The turn of events, though, made me a teetotaller for life. The form began thus: ‘Sharabi ka naam’. Then, ‘sharabi ka baap ka naam’. Tender mercies of the drafter! No ‘sharabi ke sharabi baap ka naam!’
    K.R. Ravi, Mumbai

  • Crassroots Polity
    Nov 10, 2003

    If anything, Concrete Jungle (Oct 27) makes one wonder if the Centre is genuinely worried about the safety of women. Instead of acting on the Swiss diplomat’s rape in Delhi, Vajpayee acquiesced to having a rape victim from an MP village paraded before a large crowd to highlight the failures of Digvijay’s rule. Is rape to be just an electoral gimmick?
    Mahima Manchanda, New Delhi

  • Selective Hearing?
    Nov 10, 2003

    How is it that the media has time only for the aggro tones of the Sangh parivar? Do other voices not sell (Storm Troopers, Oct 27)? Hear the voice of Ayodhya-vaasis with ‘Ayodhya ki Awaaz’, a representative organisation of the town. It is not only promoting religious amity but also preparing peacefully to throw a gauntlet to the vhp.
    J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad

  • Spare Us
    Nov 10, 2003

    We’ve gone through Mumbai being made into a Hong Kong, a Singapore and now a Shanghai (Bridge Sessions, Oct 13)! As long as the needs of the 10-million-plus public transport users and pedestrians are not addressed, all these ambitions will remain nightmares for us. All we need is Rs 4,500 crore (as opposed to Rs 18,000 crore) to give us 80 km of Konkan Rail’s skybus metro and 100 km high-capacity bus systems. With plenty room to spare.
    Sudhir Badami, Bangalore

  • Come on, Bury the Pasta
    Nov 10, 2003

    Vinod Mehta’s love for ‘Italian’ pasta is unprecedented. In his Delhi Diary (Oct 27), he is unable to digest the nda’s four years in power. For middle-class people like me, this government should be brought back to power purely for its tremendous emphasis on road-building, selling off of psus and the methodical confusing of the Hurriyat, Pakistan, Congress and last but not the least, Vinod Mehta (strictly in that order). Like the defunct Communists, Vinod Mehta produces typical journalistic jargon to belittle some good work done by the nda government. He addresses a very small section of a shameless social set which only talks nonsense during the day, as they do not have to make both ends meet, and take their three pegs of Scotch in the night to sleep dreamlessly. For people like us, the bjp has done what the Congress only talked about and deliberately forgot to deliver.
    Rajeev Sinha, Gurgaon

  • Her Master’s Voice
    Nov 10, 2003

    What sort of writing can one expect from a hawk who has Prez Mush’s full patronage (A Kargil Fable, Oct 27)? In her book, Shireen Mazari manipulates lies and half-truths to please the war’s architect.
    K.M.G. Vivekanandan, on e-mail



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