Letters | Oct 18, 2004
  • But The Rainbow’s Got A Beard... (So What)?
    Oct 18, 2004

    You’ve attempted to put the Muslims once again in the spotlight while ignoring the wider context the community has to live in (Half-Crescent, Oct 4). To survive and to do well, any minority community needs not just ‘tolerance’ from the majority community but real ‘secularism’. In the absence of which, you have a Gujarat 2002 and a desperate socio-economic situation. If a few Muslims do well, it’s not courtesy ‘secularism’ but because some from the majority community "grudgingly tolerate" them. A ‘tolerant’ India can produce a ‘Muslim’ President but can a Muslim child today even dream of becoming PM? I hope Outlook one day examines if India’s truly ‘secular’ or (a very thinly) ‘tolerant’ society. That’s more pertinent to the situation Indian Muslims are in today.
    Shukoor P.S., Bangalore

    Why vilify "praying men" and "bearded maulanas"? After all, they include the illustrious Maulana Hali, Maulana Shibli, Maulana Azad, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, among many others. The non-bearded, non-praying/non-practising Muslims include the Jinnahs and the Liaqat Ali Khans. Not all mullahs are bad, just as all ‘progressives’ are not good. And, isn’t the compartmentalisation of ‘progressives’ into Hindus and Muslims in itself regressive?
    M. Sayeed Alam, New Delhi

    Why call it a "silent majority"? It’s a silent, very small minority.
    Yash Khadgawat, Bangalore

    Cover stories like yours need to be encouraged for a better, faster mental and physical integration of the Indian Muslims in the rest of Indian society. Indian Muslims should encourage more Indian than Arabic names for the new generation of their children. If Indonesian Muslims can do it, Indian Christians can do it, why can’t the Indian Muslims?
    V.K. Gupta, on e-mail

    The cynicism regarding Indian Muslims is nothing but the handiwork of politicians who treat them as a votebank and the clerics who want to maintain their clout over the community.
    Siddhartha Raj Guha, Jabalpur

    When will the media stop stereotyping the idea that burqa-clad women are all uneducated, regressive and ignorant? Why should one have to abandon Islam to be seen as progressive, modern and more welcome? Muslim women prefer the burqa not because of fatwa but because of taqwa (simply, piety, righteousness). Even after the end of the Taliban regime, women in Afghanistan haven’t abandoned the hijab; Muslim women are protesting against the ban on hijab in France. Would you call all of them uneducated and regressive?
    Imtiaz Ahmed, Pondicherry

    Are you at all in touch with reality? A small liberal class of Muslims has always existed which in no way was/is representative of the majority. Thanks to the bogey of victimisation, and the growing influence and reach of ‘modern clerics’ and Islamic websites, conservatism and polarisation in educated Muslim sections is actually rising. This is most evident in the south, which has the highest literacy rates for this community. Till some years back, a purdah-clad young woman was a rarity. Today, exclusive shops selling veils have sprung up everywhere and even software pros sprout a typical ‘Muslim’ beard. Muslims may claim their alienation is a result of discrimination, but they create their own barriers. Even today, among the educated middle class, we have Muslims who won’t accept elements of the secular lifestyle in religion-neutral situations. Muslims have to learn they are part of a larger society, not a special entity.
    Deepak Gupta, Dubai, UAE

    Agree completely. Just a small thing: the role of non-Muslims in shaping Muslim attitudes. In my own riot-scarred city of Baroda, I’ve come across many Muslims who’re as articulate, intelligent and ‘modern’ in their thinking as their Hindu counterparts. However, because elite and middle-class Hindu neighbourhoods can never accept a Muslim in their midst, they’re forced to live in exclusively Muslim mohallas. They are viewed with suspicion in other areas of life as well. Consequently, the voice of the fringe elements only gets stronger in the community.
    Rajat Ghai, Vadodara

    Much as I’d like to believe the claim of modernisation of the Indian Muslim, nowadays I find more of them, of both sexes, in Islamic attire on the streets and workplaces, which was not the case a few years ago.
    R. Narasimhan, Chennai

    Heartening to know that Muslim women are finally exercising choices that were always there but were denied to them. I strongly believe a Muslim woman with hijab can be as good or bad a Muslim as without hijab. The same is true for beards as well.
    Mohib Uddin Ahmad, Incheon, South Korea

    Your cover story was extremely insulting to the Indian Muslim who is educated yet also believes in his religion. Does anyone create an uproar if a Hindu wears sindoor or bindi, or a Christian wears a cross? Then why this fuss over the burqa and the beard? This is religious intolerance. Being progressive does not mean aping the West and denouncing your own religion and values. And the media is not helping much by stereotyping the burqa-clad and beard-sporting as backward.
    Fouzia, Thiruvananthapuram

    A community can’t develop without a sizeable modern educated middle class. The building of such a group should be the top priority of Muslim intellectuals in the country.
    Fahd M. Khan, Mumbai

    Asghar Ali Engineer comments that Muslims confront subtle discrimination in all organised sectors. This discrimination, to some extent, is of the community’s own making. It’s common for ‘educated’, ‘liberal’ Muslims to demand time for their Friday prayers during office hours, or refuse to shave their beard for religious reasons. Why should religion enter their day-to-day work?
    Sanjeev Kittur, Hyderabad

    The illiteracy among Muslim women is because of the ignorance about Islamic teachings and not because of the religion itself. This ignorance has crept in because of the lack of communication between common people and the true religious leaders (mullahs). Islam is the most progressive and secular of religions; it provided the right to inheritance and right to education for women 1,400 years ago!
    Sarfraz B., Bangalore

  • Patil Rap
    Oct 18, 2004

    Didn’t most of us know that Shivraj Patil was the wrong man for the job (He Ain’t Home, Oct 4)? Well, this government itself is on crutches, who cares if Patil’s replaced by another useless Congressman?
    R. Narain, Dubai, UAE

  • But The Rainbow’s Got A Beard... (So What)?
    Oct 18, 2004

    Muslims who profess to be ‘modern’ live their life against the Sharia and are not true Muslims. Without following the Sharia, they can be successful in this world but not in the life after.
    K. Md Shafeeq, Chennai

    Muslims in India are perceived as trouble-makers and Outlook’s done a commendable job by speaking to the right Muslims.If only the leadership of the community is also replaced by a younger, educated lot.
    Meraj Alam, Mumbai

    Javed Akhtar says Muslims are "well represented" in the media. I give it to him for stylish understatement. Fact is, they run it.
    Raghu Reddy, Bangalore

    Your cover story was as delusive as the bjp’s India Shining campaign earlier this year. You just have to visit the towns and cities in the heartland of India to see how the ghettoisation and the anachronisms still exist. Why, you said it all by carrying the cover story and an article on Gudiya (The Media’s Toy) in the same issue.
    Siddhartha Shukla, New Delhi

    There’s a strong link between poverty and lack of education which is very hard to break in the absence of reservations.
    Dr S.A. Aziz, Hyderabad

    One wishes that instead of carrying views expressed by certain individuals, you had quoted more from the Holy Quran itself. Given the depth and sublimity of the text, it’s so open to misinterpretation that perhaps if a Hindu like me read it without the interference of the clergy, I’d understand Islam better.
    Neelmani J. Bhatia, New Delhi

    There’s a great victimhood mentality at work in Muslims today and the media’s only aided and abetted it. Mainstream media the world over has not only shirked from asking the right questions, it has also not given enough coverage to the few Muslims who have been the voices of reason in this sea of hatred and irrationality.
    Vikas Chowdhry, Madison, US

    Was carrying AIMPLB member Khalid Rasheed’s opinion (Heed Us, or Perish) meant to shed light on that dark alley no one dares to go to—Islamic fundamentalism?
    Dharmayudh Singh, Philadelphia, US

    Khalid Rasheed. Yet another example of ghetto thinking.
    Rajeev Mehta, Bath Spa, UK

    One swallow doesn’t a summer make. Gungi Gudiya is also a face of the Indian Muslim you’re talking about.
    K.K. Joshi, Lucknow

  • Red Cross
    Oct 18, 2004

    The Left’s argument (Reforms Left Out, Oct 4) that having foreign consultants in the Planning Commission will undermine its independence is flawed as the consultants’ role is advisory and not of decision-making. It’s interesting to see that the Left had no problem in accepting a person of foreign origin as the head of the government but is crying foul at the inclusion of foreign consultants. If the economic policies of this country are reoriented according to the ideology of the Left, this nation will have nothing to hope for. No doubt, India is a country of eminent economists and Nobel laureates and doesn’t need to depend on foreign experts to formulate the planning process. But having more experts will only make our policies more responsive to varied shades of opinion.
    Diana Sahu, Cuttack, Orissa

  • Flying Kiss
    Oct 18, 2004

    Since when has Outlook become the PR manager for Air Deccan (All Hands on the Decc, Oct 4)? Rather than selling Air Deccan, perhaps the magazine should concentrate on selling itself.
    Vimmi Bedi, on e-mail

  • Shop Floored
    Oct 18, 2004

    You seem to be full of praise for itc’s village mall initiative (The Crop Shop, Oct 4). But this is a Wal-Mart in the making. Though the concept is new and might offer people better deals on their purchases, it’s going to put a lot of small-time store-owners out of business. It will take the competition and choice out of business. You have to be here in the US to see the kind of opposition Wal-Mart faces.
    Karthik S., Pennsylvania, US

  • God Players
    Oct 18, 2004

    The media’s always been successful in cooking up a spicy khichdi to lure its audience. Be it the case of the innocent Gudiya (The Media’s Toy, Oct 4) or the ‘marriage’ of baby-faced cricketer Parthiv. Fate had played a cruel joke on Gudiya by putting her in a situation where she had to choose between her past and her present, the media only increased her woes by highlighting the case, having discussions on news channels and giving widespread coverage to her story. Where the pen is considered mightier than the sword, should the media misutilise its power just to sell news?
    Rasmita Rath, Cuttack, Orissa

  • Bollywood Stock
    Oct 18, 2004

    I couldn’t agree more with Mr Mehta, regarding Bollywood’s lure (Delhi Diary, Oct 4). I was in Karan, a small town in Eritrea with an international, mainly white, group when I saw a group of children on the sidewalk. I tried speaking to them but they were hostile. It’s an area with strong influence of Sudanese Islamic fundamentalists and being with whites, I was automatically suspect. Then I mentioned I was from India; and expressions changed immediately around me. Soon Mithun Chakravarty’s name came up, and everyone surrounded me. With the help of an Eritrean friend, I explained I had actually seen Mithun; I was almost hugged for that. A group photo taken, all animosity was forgotten.
    Sunil, Bologna, Italy

    Vinod Mehta is spot on with his view that Bollywood needs to be exported. For, if India is to be a world power, it needs to exert its cultural influence. You want Morocco to support you for a permanent seat in the Security Council? Maybe Hrithik’s the man to make the case for you!
    Amitabha Bagchi, Irvine, US

    Did Vinod Mehta get a free ride on the PM’s aircraft to the US (Taste of the PM’s Roti)? Or did he pay for it? If he didn’t, then it’s my money that paid for his roti. Hypocrisy is a universal phenomenon, the next time Mr Mehta talks of corruption, we’ll take it with a pinch of salt.
    Vishwanath Rao, Bangalore

  • Sati-nic Worses
    Oct 18, 2004

    Scores of people have, since the Roop Kanwar episode, denounced the Rajputs as a cruel, murderous community that doesn’t hesitate to burn its widows alive (The Devi’s Advocate, Sept 27). These accusations need to be countered—as William Dalrymple implies in The Age of Kali. The charge that Roop’s family threw her in the pyre is rubbish. Truth is, Roop was an innocent woman who foresaw a wretched life as a young widow in deeply conservative North India and chose to escape it. Rajputs are justifiably proud of their womenfolk in the middle ages who voluntarily chose to commit ‘jauhar’—death in the flames—to being slaves of lustful invaders. However, sati in those times can’t be equated with what happens in the name of the practice today. Traditionalists in the community should focus on eradicating the conditions that made Roop end her life than making her a ‘devi’ for it.
    Vikram Singh Chauhan, Jabalpur

  • Fan The Bagan
    Oct 18, 2004

    Mohan Bagan’s dramatic fall from prominence highlights the need for supporters’ organisations to have a say in the running of football clubs (Self-Goal Club, Oct 4). Had genuine Bagan fans been in charge of the club, it never would have sunk to its current pitiable state.
    Eashan Ghosh, Noida, UP

  • Oct 18, 2004

    By trying to give a historical twist to his memoir (Books, Oct 4), P.C. Alexander has mostly sought to put on record his deep influence on the Gandhi family, especially in their weak moments. Dr Alexander’s strength as an administrator was his low-key existence, more content with being a trusted retainer of the ruling dynasty. All that changed when he acquired presidential ambitions. And then settled for a Rajya Sabha nomination when that didn’t work out. He’d have left a better image of himself had he not chosen to extend his stay in the corridors of power.
    A.K. Premchand, on e-mail

  • Raise the F Bar and Cringe
    Oct 18, 2004

    The vehement outcry by designers (Pardon, Your Slip is Showing, Oct 4) in reaction to Outlook’s ranking of India’s top designers (Birds of Plume, Sept 27) was not entirely unanticipated considering that media eulogy is a lifeline for the fashion industry. Ratings by a top national magazine cannot go unnoticed in business circles. The industry thrives on fashion shows and visual wooing, with the designers functioning as epicentres. Without active patronage by the media, the spectrum shrinks drastically for the fashion industry. But what the designers forget is that creativity is like fire temporarily camouflaged under logs of wood. It uses all hindrances as fuel to blaze even more intensely.
    Suresh Behera, Ranchi

    Pretty surprising of you to have left out J.J. Valaya and Ritu Beri from the list of top 10 designers. Has the Delhi fashion lobby been at some hard work here?
    E.S. Amar, Bangalore

  • Night’s Day
    Oct 18, 2004

    I completely disagree with your review of Manoj Night Shyamalan’s The Village (Glitterati, Oct 4). The reviewer has either not understood the end or is not appreciating it. The end is a surprise. It is unexpected. It is unpredictable. All signs of a great movie. Don’t compare it with his earlier movies. This one is absolutely brilliant.
    Amit Pathak, New York

  • The Insensitive Kind
    Oct 18, 2004

    In Glitterati (Sept 20), a sentence referred to Rahul Dravid’s wife as a "recently-acquired trophy". Being the magazine that you are, do you deem these words appropriate for a woman?
    Asha Achal, Delhi

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