Letters | May 31, 2004
  • Is It India Shining In Its Moment Of Truth?
    May 31, 2004

    In the days since May 13, we have seen the secular progressive forces gather steam and gain the high ground. Mainstream Indian politics has rarely seen such a high-minded stand in recent times. Sonia Gandhi has risen many notches by her refusal of the PM’s post. With her stature, the forces that swept the communal forces out of the window stand elevated. Long live the secular progressive forces in our country. This is India Shining in its moment of truth.
    Moneeza Kalhan Siddiqui, Seattle, US

    Sad and very unfortunate development. Probably if Vinod Mehta threatens to immolate himself, Sonia Gandhi might reconsider her decision to quit.
    Sandeep H., Chennai

    "Fact is that he is a Sindhi and I can’t imagine a Sindhi ever becoming the PM of India," went one quote in your cover story. People around the world must be rolling in laughter. If a Roman Catholic White Italian nearly became the PM of this country, why not a Sindhi Advani?
    Rahul Malviya, Bangalore

    With Sonia declining to become PM, there must be much gloom in the Outlook offices, especially after it so categorically declared India has accepted Sonia on its May 24 cover. We follow everything that is western, why don’t we recognise that a country’s top post can’t be risked in the hands of a foreigner? India’s not a banana republic, we have to set bahu-beti emotions aside while making a decision which has serious national security implications. For example, Jews who’re born Americans have very little cultural and ethnic differences from the majority Christian but while they may have a disproportionate influence in every US policy, they’re never preferred for the top job. Many countries may or may not have a law barring foreigners from taking the top job, but politicians and educated voters automatically keep them out. Unfortunately in India the public is neither educated nor the politicians worried about the nation or its security. Add to this the total lack of courage of the Indian media to openly criticise such a move; most of them do not even consider it an issue! What are we trying to prove by making a foreigner lead a country of a billion people and that too when her only qualification is her surname?
    Sunil N. Rangaiah, Wisconsin, US

    As the election results were coming in, Sushma Swaraj told a TV channel that she was too great a democrat to put hurdles in Sonia Gandhi’s way if the voters’ verdict went in her favour. Her announcing a ‘proposed’ resignation from the Rajya Sabha was a remarkable flexibility of approach where principles are concerned. Blessed to have a True Indian like her. Need we submit to the eternal shame of having our country headed by one who is Indian only by formal nationality?
    Mukul Dube, on e-mail

    Vinod Mehta was right in speculating that one of the reasons for the BJP’s rout in the recent polls was the constant outpouring of scorn against the leader of the Opposition and her children (You can’t buy the people of India). And it did not end even after she was elected CPP leader. The spokesperson of the BJP threatened to play a widow. Wish she had committed sati as well before Sonia revoked her decision to become prime minister.
    J.M. Manchanda, on e-mail

    Like Vinod Mehta, I too am really glad that the Congress has come back to power. But unlike Mr Mehta, I am not a pseudo-secularist and hence my reasons for celebrating the Congress victory are different. The BJP needs to be rejuvenated, the old hands have done their job and now they should retire. The current loss should trigger that process.
    Vishwanath Rao, Bangalore

    I voted for the first time on May 10 and can’t tell you how proud I felt doing so. It was incredible to see democracy in action; I watched before my own eyes a whole process of nation-building. It also made me realise the importance of freedom and self-expression and how privileged I was to be born in a democracy.
    Karan Thakur, Chandigarh

    For the last couple of months, every TV channel has been crying hoarse and newspapers and magazines publishing reams on who would win the election. Not one got it right. Yet, once the results were out and the markets started turning topsy-turvy, not one individual accepted that the predictions were way off the mark. Instead, they started castigating the BJP and its pre-poll agenda. Why was such a scrutiny not done prior to the polls? It’s easy to do post-mortems and criticise the outgoing government for failing to achieve a majority. This takes us back to the age-old debate if exit polls should be banned. Not that it made a difference to the outcome of the election, but instead of scrutinising the manifesto, the whole effort was directed towards some blind crystal-ball gazing that confused both the voters and the parties themselves. Indian democracy’s a winner no doubt. But the same can’t be said about the Indian media.
    Ramesh Menon, Calcutta

    This is the aftermath of negative journalism with a leftist agenda, a great prescription for taking us back to the 19th century. Rejoice "your" victory, Mr Mehta, but please do understand you are also an instrument of selling the country to a foreigner.
    Dr Krishna Prasad, UK

    As long as L.K. Advani stays in the BJP, it will never get a chance to rule. I always thought LKA’s electoral speeches reduced BJP chances every time and you confirm it in your piece Rath Turned Turtle where you say the party’s bad patches coincided with the route of his yatra. If the party had listened to Vajpayee, the verdict may have been quite different. Vajpayee should now retire instead of sitting in the Opposition as he doesn’t have much left to achieve or do now. Advani must be sidelined and leaders like Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Jaitley and Pramod Mahajan must be groomed. M.M. Joshi and Narendra Modi should be given voluntary retirement.
    A.S. Kumar, Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela

    Sitting in an air-conditioned room in a metro like Bangalore, I never realised what blunder the NDA was committing by not caring about the poor, the Dalits and minorities. Everything was shining for me, my bank balance, good roads, cheap mobile tariffs, movies at multiplexes, a strong economy etc. So much so that I forgot about the other 80 per cent of Indians.
    A.N. Paranjape, Bangalore

    Most of the Indian voters would not have gone and voted had they known that the sycophants in the aicc would try to choose Sonia as the PM. We cannot forget she is a citizen only legally, otherwise she is still an Italian and no one can change her dna. This is the biggest insult to this country. All the parties can give Sonia their letters of support but not the people. Can the party which has the most democratic way of functioning call for their cadres and find out if they want an Italian-turned-Indian by a court order as India’s PM? Do we want to come under foreign rule all over again? I, and all those I spoke to, do not.
    Annie Thomas, Chennai

    When will you journos realise—post-facto, most likely—that while India’s next PM may well be chosen by North India, our new government has been decided by South India?
    A. Gandhi, on e-mail

    It is amazing to see Sharad Pawar’s obsession for the chair. All he wants is some power which he can exhibit. Wonder why he wasted so much energy splitting the Congress. Perhaps this is his best bargain.
    Deepak Jain, on e-mail

    It’s the ink on the voter’s fingers that’s shining. It’s the voices of the spin-docs that’s whining.
    Jonathan Jeban, Chennai

    India might absorb and accommodate (Foreigner is an Alien Concept), but this was a question of the stewardship of the country. It is sad that a party as distinguished as the Congress had to slip back to sycophancy and resurrect the ‘Gandhi’ name to win the elections. The Congress should not gloat too much over this victory as it does not have an absolute majority and will be hobbled by its ties to the Left parties. The results are not so much an endorsement of Congress policy as a rejection of the communal politics of the NDA and its inadvertent exclusion of the poor from the wave of development and reform over the past six years. All the best to the ‘virtual PM’ but I think her troubles have just begun.
    Ganesh R., Port Klang, Malaysia

    When Vajpayee led the NDA every ally had great respect for him. No matter what, he had a firm control over all of them. The United ‘Progressive’ Alliance with its unknown agenda is very different . While Sonia has a one-point agenda of putting a regent in place and passing the baton on to her children, she could hardy be thinking of the crashing economy or the ruined small investors. The Left and the others have already shown their contempt for her. She can pretend to rule, the agenda will be theirs.
    Anand Sriram, Mumbai

    We, the spineless people, particularly the intelligentsia, of this country, deserved a PM like Sonia Gandhi. Won’t be surprised if Rahul Gandhi’s Colombian girlfriend too flirts with destiny.
    Yashendra, Mumbai

    The darkest day of Indian democracy would have been the day an ‘Indian’ who took more than a decade to make up her mind to change her citizenship became the prime minister of this country. I would rather prefer the British to rule over us again, at least we would be safe in experienced hands.
    Mohan Amin, Mumbai

    When we could have a foreign coach for the Indian cricket team, why not "a foreign-born citizen" to rule our country?
    Syed Samadur Rahman, Guwahati

    Isn’t it ironic that a nation known as an outsourcing hub came close to outsourcing the top job in the country?
    Nikhil Dhingra, New Delhi

    As soon as the Outlook opinion poll predicted a win for the BJP and for Naidu, I knew there was reason for hope.
    Biswapriya Purkay

  • Hockey Hookey
    May 31, 2004

    It seems the IHF needs a human resource manager more than a martinet like K.P.S. Gill (Flick of the Stick, May 17), who needs to be reminded that he is no longer a cop dealing with high-handed terrorists. Dhanraj Pillay is a player whom the IHF can use to attract much-needed star power and money into the game. This can happen only if the team succeeds and the team can succeed only when it has the experience of players like Pillay who will only be too glad to be of service to the game they’re so passionate about. Thank Christ for this resurrection of Pillay after the numerous crucifixions he has had to go through by short-sighted managers.
    Satyen K. Bordoloi, on e-mail

  • Uncivil Lines
    May 31, 2004

    Sheela Reddy’s Two-Nation Theory (May 17) does stir our conscience, but I can’t understand her exclusive focus on the living conditions of Muslims on ‘this’ side of the border. If she thought she was encouraging integration of the communities in Gujarat, she is mistaken; the report is clearly one-sided. I am not suggesting she publish another report from the ‘other’ side of the border, but sadly, her article does not include one single suggestion towards fusing the two nations into one. Giving an account that emphasises the miseries of just one community is certain to widen the divide.
    K. Girishankar, Marlton, US

    How atrocious that in a country that calls itself a democracy, a country that is home to many religions, many beliefs and many peoples, a government and a band of fascist thugs—which insults all Indians by calling itself "patriotic"—was able to inject such hatred in a society where a minority was treated like animals. This couldn’t have gone on forever—fascism never does, witness what happened to the hero the rss worships, Hitler—but one only hopes that with the new government, justice and punishment for them will come soon.
    Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Chennai

    I recommend the Tsarist Russian solution. Jews in Russia could only live in the Pale of Settlement. It was easy then to have periodic pogroms and thus reduce the problem of Jews—you see, they too refused to mix. Happy hunting.
    Sudha Shenoy, Newcastle, Australia

    What’s Sheela Reddy trying to say? That the helpless Muslims of Gujarat are being persecuted in a cruel environment created by Hindus? Thankfully she does not directly demonise them. Can you find a Muslim writer to tell us, in equally graphic terms, how the families of those innocent passengers cruelly burnt in the Godhra carnage are living today?
    S. Mehta, on e-mail

  • Media Plays The Greatest Pimp
    May 31, 2004

    Not fair. You try to examine the reasons behind the growth of upmarket prostitution in New Delhi (That Delhi Belle, May 17) but ignore your own role—the role of the media. For nearly a decade now, and increasingly in the past few years, the print media has been providing all the inspiration young women need to get trapped in the original sin. Look at all our leading dailies, don’t the colour supplements of all celebrate sex, glamour and libido? What is this page 3 business all about? Isn’t it about sex and titillation? Look at your own magazine. What do you expect the readers to do after continuously reading all this? Go to Haridwar and meditate? India would be a better place if some of the editors were arrested for their wilful promotion of immoral sex.
    Devinder Sharma, New Delhi

    Good to see Outlook doing a cover story on Delhi’s English-speaking prostitutes. I hope that the socially conscious magazine will follow it up with a cover on Delhi’s English-speaking journalists.
    Sandeep H., Chennai

    You have four full pages of juicy gossip about these "respectable" women, but where are the johns (clients)? Who are they? It takes two to tango. The police should arrest both the prostitutes and their clients, otherwise, this trade should be legalised.
    Subha Narasimhan, Pennsylvania, US

    The piece Sex and the Politician is one more aspect in the secret life of the politician. Like with their other crimes, these immoral souls make good their escape for these trespasses too. Their licentious excesses are well protected under the pretext of law. It’s only the common man who, confronted with such ‘truths’, is shaken and nauseated by such lives in the shadows.
    R. Ramasami, Tiruvannamalai

    I can’t understand what is so special about this story. It’s common fantasy that most ‘modern’ prostitutes ‘enjoy’ their job. Maybe, it’s time for our politicians to legalise it. At least, the government can get a cut in the form of income-tax! Even journalists are guilty of the ‘wild ways’ attributed to politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen. But then, the fourth estate is always above reproach.
    Vishwanath Rao, Bangalore

    The article frequently talks of these girls hailing from a "good family". How, pray, do you define a "good family"?
    Sona, Miami, US

    Prostitution has existed in the past and will also exist in the future. No amount of policing and legal action has been able to stop it, so why try to do so? Rather, it should be legalised like in some other countries. Also, while focusing on the young age and the middle- or high-class background of today’s prostitutes, you have ignored one very important aspect—the hygienic aspect of the trade. No effort has been made to find out how many of these young girls or their clients have contracted hiv or other infections.
    G. Mohanty, Delhi

    The Delhi police commissioner was right on the money when he said, "You cannot legalise prostitution just because you cannot eradicate it." No one enters prostitution out of their own volition—not even the ones who pretend to enjoy it. And feminists might disagree, but women surely bear a greater responsibility to keep the moral fabric of society intact.
    Anand, Santa Clara, US

  • Whither the Man?
    May 31, 2004

    How you read The Passion of the Christ depends on how passionate you’re to begin with and in what direction (Glitterati, May 17). The evangelists loved it, the rabbis hated it. Being neither, I only wanted to know the Man better. Back in February, the passion (and the controversy) was at its peak and an outwardly sombre Mel Gibson must have been laughing inside—all the way to the bank. The movie stunned me. It’s probably the closest most of us would ever come to being shell-shocked, by a sensory explosion. You sit there, transfixed and numb to the flying blood and gore. But in the end, when you manage to finally get up and stand on your own legs, you ask yourself—what was the point? It is an extraordinary visual experience. But save for temporary respite when Christ comes through as ‘real’ (when he plays carpenter with his mother) he comes as a mass of torn flesh and gore, with the Message of the Man so deeply concealed as to be almost inaccessible. Somewhere, Gibson missed the mark of the man.
    Mallikarjuna Konduri, on e-mail

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