• Borrowed Credit
    Feb 02, 2004

    The government is misleading the Indian middle class by its India Shining campaign (The Good Times Roll, January 19). In reality, our 7 per cent growth can be broken down into:
    • 4 per cent: the traditional Hindu rate of growth
    • 2 per cent: the monsoon
    • 1 per cent: rewards of the solid foundation created by P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

    The NDA, to its credit, has been a caretaker for the economy. Beyond that, it’s done nothing. To compete globally, we need a dynamic, modern leadership, which has an eye on rural India and the masses. A ‘government of national unity’ could be a step in this direction. If need be, the Constitution should be amended to make this step statutory.
    Mahikshit Desai, Mumbai

    Union finance minister Jaswant Singh’s New Year gift to pensioners who do not have taxable income by exempting them from filing income tax returns gave people like me, who opted for voluntary retirement, tremendous feel-good. It’s unjust and humiliating to force pensioners to file returns, that too for eternity, when all their retirement benefits are already taxed under tds. The nda government’s largesse will go a long way in ensuring the welfare of harassed pensioners, more so if people retired under vrs are also treated as pensioners although many of them, like me, may not be getting pension at all.
    K.P. Rajan, Mumbai

  • Off the Beaten Path
    Feb 02, 2004

    The Boss is Always Centre-Right (Jan 19) was a welcome change from the bjp-loathing and Sonia-worshipping columns we have come to see from Prem Shankar Jha recently. Now to see if his new-found objectivity and fairness lasts or if it’s just a flash in the pan.
    Nihar Panda, Patchogue, US

  • Amour Come Lately
    Feb 02, 2004

    The Congress’s search for secular allies has come too late (Empire’s Satraps, Jan 19). As the wise have said, "If you invite God to your house in summer, he’ll likely be with you by winter." In this aspect, the bjp is far ahead of the Congress.
    K.V. Raghuram, Wayanad, Kerala

    Finally, it has dawned on Sharad Pawar that ‘shared power’ is better than no power at all. And since Sonia’s foreign origin issue no longer alienates him, perhaps his sugar belt will witness a proliferation of pasta and pizza joints.
    Shanmugam Mudaliar, Pune

  • Gusts Of A Friendly Gale
    Feb 02, 2004

    Agreed that the saarc summit in Islamabad ended on a happy note (Summit Conquered, Jan 19). But backstabbed so many times, India has to be simultaneously cautious in dealing with Pakistan and taking the peace process to its logical end.
    Siddhartha Raj Guha, Jabalpur

    Summit Conquered, you say. But I don’t think so. We Indians tend to get excited too soon. One success, and we start bursting crackers. One failure, and we start condemning—or if it’s cricket, stoning Saurav and Sachin’s houses. So, for a change let’s be realistic. And not budge from our stand of insisting that Pakistan curb cross-border terrorism. At the same time, we have to get serious about finding a solution to Kashmir. Let’s hope efforts are genuine on both sides. If the whole initiative has meant winning elections for Vajpayee and consolidating his position for Musharraf, then I’m afraid it’ll soon be status quo.
    Madhu Singh, Ambala Cantt

    ‘Summit Conquered’. ‘Hope At Last’. Peace has its "first real chance of succeeding". All that’s very fine. What’s not is Pakistan’s consistent perfidy. Right from 1947, it has failed to respect any pact, whether it was the Nehru-Liaqat Ali pact of 1950, the Tashkent Pact of 1966 or the Shimla Agreement of 1972. It’s only the pressure from America and the attacks on Musharraf that are making Pakistan so amenable.
    Vidya Sagar, Delhi

    Going through the electronic and print media coverage, I did realise that Pakistanis sincerely believe there were no free and fair elections in Kashmir and that Kashmiris are the victims of Indian security forces. It’s an impression the Pakistani media has very successfully cemented in the Pakistani mindset. But the fact is Kashmir is an integral part of India. The sooner the Pakistanis realise it, the better chances we’ll have of cordial relations.
    Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi

    Let’s hope the steps Pakistan has taken are sincere and not just another tool for propaganda. It’s high time peace was given a chance. Let’s pray that the hopes that have been kindled on both sides aren’t snuffed out by any pernicious move.
    Megha Bhagat, Mohali

    Both President Musharraf and foreign minister Khursheed Mehmud Kasuri said that the media’s support was imperative for the peace process to succeed. Aren’t we lucky we didn’t have a TV friend from India lurking around for a ‘scoop’?
    S.C.N. Jatar, Pune

    Kashmir is so uppermost in the psyche of the Pakistani leadership that they have to keep raking it up for their survival. And the better they do it, the longer their survival. The omens have been encouraging during this saarc summit. Hopefully, they’ll translate into something.
    R.P. Shahi, Pune

    More than A.B. Vajpayee, it’s Musharraf who went the extra mile at Islamabad. He deserves more credit.
    Ashok P. Singh, Bhopal

  • One-Sided Fury
    Feb 02, 2004

    Not that I condone the demented act of vandalism of the Sambhaji Brigade, but how is it that the defenders of the ‘free spirit of intellectual enquiry’ are so one-sided (A Taste of Bamiyan, Jan 19)? Did these very same people object when the Raza Academy asked its members to blacken Salman Rushdie’s face? Why is it that not a whimper of protest was heard when the West Bengal government banned Taslima Nasreen’s book on the grounds that it would hurt the sentiments of a community? The ‘free enquiry’ brigade also showed its true colours when it defended M.F. Husain’s right to paint Saraswati in the nude. Dismiss the term pseudo-secularism as much as you like but as events go by it’s acquiring a certain ring of truth.
    K.R. Ravi, Mumbai

    The Bhandarkar institute ransacking is a blow to our national heritage. It was founded in 1917 to commemorate the great contribution made by Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar in the field of Oriental records. Reportedly a lot of manuscripts were burnt to ashes. Unfortunately these acts are perpetrated in India with the connivance of one political party or the other. It’s a shame that political and social organisations, supposed to be the trustees of our literary and cultural heritage, should themselves vandalise it.
    Obaidur Rahman Nadwi, Lucknow

    History is what historians want it to be. Writing a book is an act of commitment, in the sense of stating a position and affirming a value. History serves the cause of framing an ideal social order by highlighting the positive attributes of historical figures. By defaming a respectable figure like Shivaji, pop historians can only induce an ‘identity crisis’.
    Prashant P. Patil, New Delhi

  • Party Pooper
    Feb 02, 2004

    Anita Pratap is a great killjoy (Page 3’s Gutter Width, Jan 19). If she doesn’t like partying, then she should stay at home. But if she does insist on gatecrashing as most of her ilk do, I recommend she go with the flow. She should stop judging others just because they don’t prescribe to her form of entertainment. The fact that she and her ilk are there at some of the parties says a lot. Just because she has the power of the pen and a certain magazine to indulge her journalistic whim doesn’t allow her to claim moral high ground.
    Tia Reddy, on e-mail

  • Check that Wasteline
    Feb 02, 2004

    Strange that our authorities have not yet woken up to the dangers of toxic waste being dumped here (India: Use Me, Jan 19). While developed countries have strict norms against handling toxic wastes, we have lax rules, hardly enforced, to protect workers and citizens against exposure to toxic substances. The Centre and states should wake up to their responsibilities and impose strict rules on imports and handling of hazardous wastes before it’s too late.
    D.B.N. Murthy, Bangalore

  • You Call This A ‘Fight’?
    Feb 02, 2004

    Apropos your article on the Nehru biographies (The Lonely Missionary, Jan 19), Nehru’s greatness must be attributed to the lofty perch the British placed him on. At least three generations of Indians have been taught history lessons that glorified the role of Gandhi and Nehru in the ‘fight’ for independence. But the fact is our first head of state after Independence was Lord Mountbatten, our first chiefs of the army, navy and air force were all British (at least one of them was there for 11 years after Independence), the first finance secretary too was a Britisher (Sir C.E. Jones, I still have one rupee notes signed by him). Would this have been the case had we ‘fought’ the British? Independence was handed gift-wrapped, and on a platter, to an unprepared leadership. In this context, it beats me how the British were asked to quit in 1942. If they had, the Japs would have swamped us. Even 20 years later, Nehru did not know how to defend his nation against the Chinese. His Kashmir ‘legacy’ is still with us.

    Nehru died in 1964. Why are we still discussing him? Because we were not allowed to discuss him threadbare after his death. When a departed leader is discussed freely, one tends to forget his failings and remembers his contributions. But Nehru’s descendants who were PMs did not allow this. As a result we tend to remember the negative aspects rather than his successes, if any.
    T.R. Ramaswami, Mumbai

  • Back to the Library
    Feb 02, 2004

    I can see how Indian readers have been misled by reporters such as Rahul Singh on the Sri Lankan Tamil question (Colombo Diary, Jan 19). He only has to read Tarzie Vittachie’s Emergency 58, Dr A.J. Wilson’s Break-up of Sri Lanka and Dr S. Pathmanathan’s Kingdom of Jaffna to enlighten himself. All these authors are well known in Sri Lanka. Singh should do some serious reading before attempting to write the next time.
    V. Anandasivam, on e-mail

    Rahul Singh uses these interesting words: "After Bandaranaike was assassinated, his economically inept and politically inexperienced widow was swept to power on a sympathy wave...she went on to plunge Lanka from one of the top countries of the time to the bottom...." Now, why does all this have a familiar ring?
    Kamala Balakrishnan, on e-mail

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