• Feb 23, 2004

    No One Asked the Musk Deer (Feb 9) was an eye-opener: horrific reading for nature lovers. Just as all the world is waking up to the imperative of conserving wildlife and nature, we have leaders bent on denotifying sanctuaries! India needs to shine in her forests too, not just in middle-class malls. Green groups in Assam have exhausted their energies in a campaign to club three contiguous rainforests—Upper Dehing, Dirak and Joypur, in Dibrugarh—into a single sanctuary. CM Tarun Gogoi did make a personal promise but things haven’t moved in two years. The state forest minister has reservations about the sanctuary’s proposed name. The campaigners told him the name is the last of their concerns. "Let the minister name it after himself, but let us have the sanctuary," they chorused. That’s the last one heard of it.

    Now that the grandly-titled National Board for Wildlife has declassified three sanctuaries, one hopes it doesn’t become a precedent for taking all reserved forests to be merely ‘reserved’ for future exploitation of their timber.
    Ron Duarah,
    Chiring Chapori, Dibrugarh

  • To Sleep, Perchance To Dream
    Feb 23, 2004

    Your cover story on sleep disorders (The Lost Sheep, Feb 9) was apt and informative. People tend to ignore sleeping problems, mostly because they are unaware that it is a sickness. Insomnia and stress operate in a vicious cycle, one tending to reinforce the other. Hope the story has cleared the haze for at least a few people lying awake late into the night. If it has made them aware of the importance of the quantity and quality of sleep one gets, the story has done its job. As Thomas Dekker rightly put it, "Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together."
    Suresh Behera, Ranchi

    Looks to me like the rich aren’t getting any sleep because they are worried about IT raids and the poor are lying awake since they haven’t had a decent day’s meal. And the middle-class. Well, I guess the rat race is such they don’t want to get caught napping.
    Col R.D. Singh, Ambala Cantt

    All those pushy parents out there, at it always about "burning the midnight oil", their kids caught up in classes, tuitions and then more tuitions. Forget eight hours, it’s a wonder that anyone gets any sleep in this madhouse that’s our lives.
    Aniket Singh, Army School, Ambala

    It’s the call centres with their
    3 am shifts who are making insomniacs out of the next generation. Hope they are paying for their staff’s healthcare.
    Vedula Krishna, Visakhapatnam

    It’s election time, and with political pundits shooting off everywhere, it’s no wonder people can’t sleep.
    A. Jacob Sahayam, Thiruvananthapuram

  • A Time For Indifference
    Feb 23, 2004

    The Sibling Revelry (Feb 2) in Amethi got Pramod Mahajan sweating in winter. Was it just the lineage or was it Priyanka’s spontaneity in fielding the press that had the bjp’s poll wizard panicking? Paranoia over the Gandhi siblings’ future plans does not behove the "party with a difference". Perhaps "indifference" would be a more fitting aspect.
    F.S.K. Barar, on e-mail

    Mahajan is suffering from verbal indigestion. Already, targeting Sonia’s foreign origin was tantamount to contempt of court—the SC has declared her an Indian citizen. Now to disqualify her children from contesting is a blatant infringement of constitutional rights. The only remedy for such shrewdness is to keep shut.
    Abdul Momin, on E-mail

  • Game, Set...
    Feb 23, 2004

    Too many players in the fray in Uttar Pradesh can befool the game-theorists. Game Theory in Chaos (Feb 9) ignores the Congress’ potential for mischief. But you’re right in suggesting there won’t be a landslide for any party.
    L.K. Balasubramanian, Avenel, New Jersey

  • All’s Well, Or Is It?
    Feb 23, 2004

    Prem Shankar Jha’s pseudo-ideological banter, based on suppositions from the ’90s, has the same accusations the BJP was hit with post-Babri (One Man and His Party, Feb 9). From a pariah, the BJP has done well to recast itself as a progressive, reformist party occupying the political centre. It’s plain laziness for the Congress et al to continue branding it as communal rather than engage in serious debate over the real issues of the day.
    Srinath Chandrashekarpur, Detroit

    Mr Jha, a proverb for you: fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can paradoxically make you a more productive man. Please don’t fear the BJP.
    Ravishankar, Boston

    Dear editor, it will pay to be wary of this closet ‘Hinduvaadi’. Here are the reasons that make me nervous about Jha’s intentions: frequent praise of Vajpayee; saying the BJP has an ideology even when it happily cohorts with the corrupt; foregrounding Sonia, so as to let people make that the basis for a BJP-vs-the-rest choice; citing her foreign origin as if to support her but keeping the issue in circulation. In sum, he’s a Hindu bigot engaged actively in undermining ‘secularists’.
    Rahul Malviya, Bangalore

  • Krishna’s Leela
    Feb 23, 2004

    Apropos For the Greater Common God (Feb 9), the Swaminarayan temple in Neasden is famous for its celebrations of Mahashivaratri, Holi, Ramnavami, Hanuman Jayanti, Diwali and a host of other festivals which have nothing to do with Swaminarayan. Janmashtami actually saw a children’s ballet—Krishna Leela—on the birth and childhood exploits of Krishna. I am not a ‘follower’ but do attend their festivals since it helps the children gain a better understanding of Hindu culture. The temple is a beacon for Hinduism and India, and a matter of pride for all Indians in the UK.
    Harish Patel, London

  • Axis On Its Head
    Feb 23, 2004

    The US reaction to the pardoning of Dr A.Q. Khan (Villain, Scapegoat?, Feb 2) by Pakistan is baffling. Apparently, where the latter is concerned, proliferation to even ‘axis of evil’ countries is merely "an internal matter". It’s this kind of blatant opportunism and myopic foreign policy that’ll get the US into trouble in the long run.
    Vikram Vasu, Chennai

  • Foreign Flavour
    Feb 23, 2004

    It’s no surprise that former Clinton pointsman Strobe Talbott is full of praise for Jaswant Singh (Strobe-lit Memoirs, Feb 9). Apart from underlining how well he did in the external affairs portfolio at a critical time (post-Pokhran), it also shows how the bjp has groomed its second-rung leadership to take on top posts. Compare this to the Congress where the Natwar Singhs have done colossal damage in the same arena and has few younger leaders of calibre. In fact, Jaswant himself is qualified PM-material. He has the right mix: a bit of Vajpayee, a little (thank god!) of Advani and more—distinctly—of himself.
    A.S. Kumar, Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela

  • Vizzy’s Gifts
    Feb 23, 2004

    Apropos the review of Lala Amarnath’s bio (The Truth about Lala, Feb 2), the character Vizzy was Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram—now a district of AP—and not a small zamindar of UP. Later, he forced himself on as a cricket commentator on AIR’s live broadcasts, stammering and talking in monosyllables. His propensity to dole out ‘gifts’ had not died out either. During a session in the ’60s, Vizzy announced a gold coin for Hyderabadi M.L. Jaisimha when he hit a Test century. A fellow commentator asked him whether the gift was applicable to another batsman (Chandu Borde?) who too had hit a century. Vizzy’s reply: Just a "naya paisa". Decimal coinage had just been introduced and the new coins were called ‘naya paisa’. Guess Vizzy knew who to gift even in his late age.
    D.J. Bhaskar, Guntur, AP

  • Quotable Quote
    Feb 23, 2004

    Apropos Cock-a-Doodle Flu (Feb 9), I would like to quote Mir Dad from the book Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian, Choose Yourself: "He who eats the flesh of any living being shall have to repay it with his own flesh. He who breaks another living being’s bone shall have his own bones smashed."
    Mahesh Kapasi, On e-mail

  • Southern Discomfort
    Feb 23, 2004

    Please stop publishing diaries of whistlestop tourists. Madhu Jain (Chennai Diary, Feb 9) revealed all the chinks of such cocooned writers, getting most of her facts wrong. Jayalalitha no longer wears capes and Chennai’s infamous river Cooum (not Kuvani) continues to stagnate and smell, irrespective of the party in power. And coffee pubs are more likely to have college-going types than ‘Kanjivaram-draped’ Mamis, as Jain would have us believe. And even when the Mamis go there, it’ll be in normal sarees and to sip traditional South Indian filter kapi. Which Qwiky’s, the city’s largest coffee pub, was compelled to introduce after Mocha and Latte failed to satisfy the Chennaiites’ tastebuds.
    Radha Shekhar, Chennai

  • Raze the Issue
    Feb 23, 2004

    Romila Thapar’s new book on Somnath (Event, Metaphor, Memory, Feb 2) is the confused reaction of a typical modern Hindu, a pitiful urge to ignore a national shame immortalised in world history. It’s what Naipaul calls the "shackles of political politeness".
    K.G. Acharya, on e-mail

  • Getting the Bag Man
    Feb 23, 2004

    I do not usually agree with the articles published in Outlook, but I found the report Six Feet Under (Feb 16)—describing the state of the imported caskets procured for Kargil martyrs—incredibly shocking. Even more shocking was the revelation that along with the allegedly inflated price paid for the caskets, there is a scam in the purchase of body bags too. How can a body bag costing $25 suddenly become $85?

    Although the total sum of the scam—Rs 22.87 lakh—seems small compared to scams in military purchases, just the fact that money was being made even on body bags is revolting. I hope those responsible are questioned and punished. In India Shining, this is not a good example for probity. The defence ministry must explain—and pronto.
    S.M. Trivedi, Lucknow

  • Feb 23, 2004

    Prem Shankar Jha’s The End of Saddam Hussein—History Through the Eyes of the Victims is published by Rupa and not oup as mentioned with the Feb 16 review of the book. The error is regretted.

  • Tit-for-Tat Poll
    Feb 23, 2004

    India Today has published an opinion poll predicting 330-340 seats for the nda in the coming Lok Sabha polls. It’s now your turn to come up with a survey indicating a two-thirds majority for the Congress and allies.
    M.J. Mansharamani, Chhaoni Nagpur

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