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Letters | Jun 06, 2005
My Distant Cousin, India
Slaves To The Stereotype
Jun 06, 2005
Apropos My Distant Cousin, India (May 23), it smacks of chauvinism, insensitivity and bad journalism. Instead of putting forth some insight, you reinforce all the Northeast stereotypes. And why showcase the sexist opinions of people like Khamchinpau Zou, side-stepping the core issue—why was the girl raped? What difference does it make whether she’s from the NE, Delhi or Kanyakumari? What a girl wears, till what time she is out, what ‘moral values’ she subscribes to, whether she speaks Hindi, were never the issues. As someone from the NE, I challenge Zou to define ‘tribal outlook’. I am proud of my ‘tribal’ heritage, I also have a lot of non-NE friends, and it is an insult to all of us when bigots talk about "building bridges" and "non-socialising" with others.
Chingya Luithui, on e-mail
I am from Arunachal, and ‘chinky land’ is a bit across the border. Should I hang a board saying, ‘I am Indian; don’t go by my looks’ every time I come to my own country’s capital?
Lobsang Chombey, on e-mail
As a nation, we have many prejudices, bigotry against the Northeast is just one.Our education system and media must share the blame for this problem. Do we even know the historical narratives of the people there? The media has details on Rahul Gandhi’s breakfast, our Seven Sisters don’t have the privilege.
Rahul Malviya, Bangalore
The saddest part about all this is the media’s highlighting that the victim was from the Northeast region every time. You should ask yourself what that achieved?
Ajay, Troy, US
It’s just sickening! A monkey can be a spectacle. A circus is a spectacle. I can’t be one. Still, I believe in the inherent goodness of a man. As Bob Dylan said: "Truth and beauty lie in the eyes of the beholder. I stopped trying to figure everything out a long time ago."
T. Gyenzyn, New Delhi
Did anyone care when the raped woman was Bengali, Punjabi or South Indian? Then why now? I have friends from the Northeast but must ask the majority: have they ever given assimilation a thought? Have they ever done anything other than giggle and saunter past merchants who call out to them like firangs? Have they ever stopped to tell them that we’re not foreigners but Indians, so quit treating us so? How many of them will admit that they prefer to keep to their own? They prefer to dress different. They prefer not to speak Hindi (even if they know it), they prefer to be regarded as foreigners from Southeast Asia, China or Japan and, in fact, revel in this fact. So, isn’t a long hard look in the mirror due before lashing against the rest of us?
Anisha, on e-mail
The article was bent on highlighting the dissimilarities between the NE and ‘mainland’ cultures. Well, if cultural difference is motivation enough, then it follows that every Delhi girl in the NE should be raped too, right?
Here we go again! Another knee-jerk reaction to a systemic problem in Delhi. The prescriptions of certain public intellectuals in the story are utterly incoherent and reactionary. Transforming the rape incident into something that happens to ‘tribal’, ‘alien’, ‘distant’ people takes us nowhere. It has happened to a woman. She is from the Northeast. Northeasterners are vulnerable. Just stick to that brief, ok? Enough said about what people wear and how they look.
Xonzoi Barbora, Jorhat
Two very disturbing realities emerge from this article: Northeastern male leaders are no less sexist and exploitative than their North Indian counterparts. And that Outlook continues its sensationalist journalism. The onus in this article should have been on Delhi, not the Northeasterners. The ‘tribes’ referred to should have been the Jats, the Punjabis, the Banias who are as much tribes, in the strict anthropological sense. Ashis Nandy should have made a banal comment about North Indian male depravity and not their perception of northeastern women. But then, Outlook prefers to perpetuate the otherness of others, not the sickening nature of the hegemonic Self.
Dr Ashley Tellis, Mumbai
No doubt ‘mainland’ people are totally ignorant about the region. How many know that Captain White and Captain Creek were killed by Arunachali tribesmen on their entry into nefa...and that the Mughals were stopped by the brave Ahoms of Assam?
Chau Ong Mouglang, Aizawl
A Hero, A Plot, An Escape
More Bose Mysteries
Jun 06, 2005
While assessing the place of Bose in the history of India’s freedom struggle (A Hero, A Plot, An Escape, May 23), one shouldn’t forget these two facts which have been elided from his hagiographies: he sent Indian volunteers to fight alongside the German Wehrmacht against the Allies in France in 1944. None survived. About 18,000 PoWs succumbed to forced labour while building the rail line through the Burmese jungle which was to link Bangkok with Manipur. Less known is the fact that 80,000 Asian PoWs and slave labourers, many of them Indians, lost their lives in that crazy project of Bose’s Jap allies. In 1987, archival footage shot by a Japanese soldier surfaced in a private Japanese collection; a French film-maker produced a documentary detailing the horrors—and the Indian deaths—on that Death Railway. In 1990, I proposed this documentary to DD but never got a reply. While Western PoWs have been justly immortalised in the film, The Bridge On the River Kwai, will someone spare a thought for those Indians (many Tamils, including women and children) who were mass-murdered in most horrific conditions?
Achille Forler, New Delhi
There is an uncanny resemblance of Bose’s mysterious ‘death’ to another figure of the times—Hitler. The latter’s alleged ‘suicide’ too has never been fully corroborated. Perhaps Bose felt that by mystifying his death he could remain immortal in the hearts and minds of every single Indian. To that extent, he has been successful.
Dr Karan Thakur, Chandigarh
Centaur For Snacks
A Bizarro World
Jun 06, 2005
Instead of being grateful to Shourie for the way he was able to sell off some shoddy piece of real estate, Outlook is unnecessarily creating a controversy where none exists (Centaur for Snacks, May 23). The government sold the Juhu Centaur hotel to the highest bidder. Once that is done, let the buyer decide what he wants to do with it. As a taxpayer, I’m happy I don’t have to pay the salaries and perks of the chaps running these white elephants. Doesn’t matter even if we distribute such profitless (non) assets for free.
Vishwanath Rao, Bangalore
It’s curious to find that the man at the heart of the present corruption scandal is the very journalist who smeared Rajiv and the Congress with the Bofors brush, paving the way for the bjp’s smooth sail into power. Curious too, that while Shourie stands exposed, his nemesis, Rajiv, has not yet been found guilty.
G. Parthasarathy, Chennai
As far as jump in value is concerned, just check vsnl and its share price—it went up crazily after the sale (so the Tatas should have been made to cough back the money) and then has crashed off-late (so, should the government now go and reimburse them?) How silly can one get? Remember Balco? Remember the blatant scam of the Maruti divestment by the Congress?
Ajit Tendulkar, Seattle, US
You have me convinced. A sher I heard from an Urdu-spouting desh-bhakt: Hum aah bhi bharte hain to ho jaate hain badnaam/Woh qatl bhi karte hain to charcha nahin hoti (We just have to heave a sigh to become infamous/they get away with murder).
Monica Banik, New Delhi
The one minister, who in my opinion is absolutely clean, conscientious and hard-working, you have chosen to target. Wow! We are in ‘bizarro world’ (Superman or Seinfeld fans know what that is)—up is down, black is white and right is wrong! Modi is model CM, Laloo is rail minister and Mayawati is hurt by wrongful allegations of corruption!
Ranjit Gadgil, Pune
Meet The Other PC
Not Quite PC
Jun 06, 2005
Purnendu Chatterjee does not need certification from Aveek Sarkar, who runs a pro-cpi(m) and anti-bjp newspaper (Meet the Other PC, May 23). Chatterjee has a symbiotic relationship with the red party, going for win-win scenarios mostly. However, Haldia has failed to deliver in so far as the hinterland extending up to Calcutta has not developed yet. The synergy with Haldia is all very fine but how far it’ll translate into jobs remains to be seen.
Anindya Chatterjee, Dubai, UAE
Wanted: Men With Guts
Way To Go
Jun 06, 2005
Srivatsa Krishna’s column Wanted: Men with Guts (May 23) about the misadventures of Mohammad Shahabuddin was almost an antithesis to the long panegyric on the upa’s completion of one year in office. When people like him and Laloo are—albeit small—blots on Manmohan’s otherwise immaculate record, then By George, he and his colleagues have no moral right to target the others for alleged malpractices.
Prateek Badwelkar, Gwalior
At long last we have an honourable insider showing the system for what it is. We need people like him and Chandrakant and Ratn to cleanse the system of its collective sclerosis. What they need is an ounce of public support.
Singh Song Ways
Jun 06, 2005
No doubt that the upa partnership is 365 Not Out (May 23) and as expected Outlook is ready to pat this messy coalition on its back for the same. So what if they haven’t achieved anything significant. Even though the team is led by Dr Manmohan Singh, it has to take clearance for every decision from coach-cum-chairman of the board, Sonia Gandhi. Then there is the third umpire Left Front which only shows the red light and passing judgements even when not asked for.
Vijay Upadhyaya, Nagpur
Vinod Mehta and his Outlook have done exactly what they are paid to do—run PR pieces for the Congress. You ask Ambika Soni and her likes to comment on the government’s performance, what else can you expect but sycophancy?
S. Suresh, Calcutta
While evaluating the upa government balance-sheet, it is not 365 not out, not even 52 not out, you could say 12 not out but to be exact it is 1 not out.
Mukund Sapre, Mumbai
Team upa has no great talent in its ranks except the dream trio of Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. But these three players have not been able to play their natural game as the Left, as usual, is hell-bent on playing its dog-in-the-manger role to perfection. As for the other partners in this coalition, the less said the better.
R. Venkatesan Iyengar, Hyderabad
Manmohan Singh has done a commendable job in keeping the interests of the nation above the narrow considerations of the coalition partners. However, this does not absolve him of being casual in matters pertaining to the politicisation of key institutions in the country.
Arvind K. Pandey, Allahabad
Wow, we have the best prime minister ever and Outlook claims to have discovered it!
D. Karthikeyan, Chennai
Manmohan is like a Rolls Royce which can run five km just on market reputation even without wheels.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro?
Some Reel Truths
Jun 06, 2005
"...why can’t it be made mandatory for TV channels to air nfdc films?" asks Kundan Shah (Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, May 23). As much as I have enjoyed his and cinema by other new wave moviemakers, it seems they just don’t get it. However great the art, Thou shall not ram it down the throats of the masses. Let them watch what they want to.
Vivek Saxena, Chicago, US
Here’s A Bouquet
Jun 06, 2005
The Outlook Speak Out Awards seem a terrific idea. India’s courageous certainly need some recognition for their courage. More importantly, such awards motivate others to stand up for what they think is right.
Bharati Balakrishnan, on e-mail
Bihari Babu's Bluff
The Laugh’s On Laloo Now
Jun 06, 2005
Finally Vinod Mehta in his Delhi Diary (May 23) admits what we have known all along. That he is a pseudo-secularist! It took Laloo’s attack on the Election Commission to jolt him into realising what the rail minister is all about! And a recent incident only confirms this. An honest railway employee of Allahabad, who had the guts to ask the unauthorised attendants of rjd MPs travelling First AC by Rajdhani for tickets, was first transferred and then suspended. It took a strike by rail employees of the Allahabad division for the suspension to be revoked as Laloo could ill-afford another round of bad publicity after the EC fiasco. Last heard, though, secret investigations are on to identify the leaders of the strike for exemplary punishment once matters cool down.
Anil Shukla, Allahabad
It was the media which propped up the ‘secular’ but casteist Laloo in Bihar and on the national scene, giving his dangerous antics unjustified footage and exposure week after week. Though belatedly, you have realised the damage he is causing to the people’s mandate, governance and institutions like the EC. Now the media itself should dump him and his ilk and do so immediately.
R.S. Sarma, Bangalore
The course of true love never runs smooth but untrue love definitely leads to disaster. I’m not taken in by Vinod Mehta’s self-deprecatory tone on having supported Laloo all these years. It’s just that Laloo has suddenly become a serious liability for the Muslim-centric pseudo-secular Congress party and a direct threat to the survival of Saint Sonia which is why Outlook too has turned against him. It’s time Mr Mehta abandoned this fast-sinking secular ship manned by upa pirates and join the bjp.
Raj Purohit, Toronto, Canada
Congrats Mr Mehta for your candid admission of being a pseudo-secularist. But I wonder if you would have dumped LPY as unceremoniously had he not lost the election in Bihar. Easy to kick a man when he is down, isn’t it? Remember your tears for Brajesh Mishra? As to how Delhi treats those not in power?
Muralidhar, Omaha, US
I think Laloo has no support among any right-thinking individual. Those who support him in Bihar are illiterate, insecure and stupid. And the intelligent folks like Mr Mehta who support him for his ‘courageous’ fight against ‘communal’ forces always end up extolling his management of the Muslim Yadav Dalit (myd) votebank. What’s more communal than that? Secularism has come to mean fighting the bjp/Sangh parivar. The fact that politicians all over fight elections on caste/ religion does not matter. That is why a ‘secular’ G.M. Banatwala can never win in a place outside Malappuram in Kerala. He wins there because the place is Muslim majority and they will vote only for a Muslim there.
Vijay Shankar, Bangalore
As long as Laloo was messing up with Bihar, people like Mr Mehta were willing to put up with him, since by his own admission—Bihar was Bihar. But now with Laloo having the ability to influence their cozy environs in Delhi, Mr Mehta is on the verge of hysteria. Someone needs to take him aside and tell him he made his deal with the devil, now it’s payback time.
Vikas Chowdhry, Madison, US
We Biharis certainly didn’t expect such cowardice from a champion of secularism like you. Your favourite pin-up Bihari boy, Laloo Prasad Yadav, has only just arrived in your insulated world, and you are already changing colours. Be a sport, Mr Mehta. Now is the time to enjoy LPY & Co’s buffoonery at close quarters. After all, you’ve been enjoying it for the last 15 years at the expense of Bihar. Now that the ‘nautanki’ has reached centrestage, you get worried. May the show and the showman become more colourful by the day and you pseudo-secs clap louder for him.
Amitabh Dubey, on e-mail
Laloo Yadav has support among India’s middle class! Really?
Ankan Kumar, Columbus, US
It’s still not too late to show Laloo the door. Sadly, as long as his antics suit 10, Janpath, that won’t happen.
K. Aravamudhan, New Delhi
Well, I’m glad Vinod Mehta has woken up and smelt the coffee, even if it took him 15 years to do so. Ask any migrant from Bihar, whether educated or not, why he is leaving and his reply always will be: no safety of life, no jobs, no opportunity, no business, no hope of good future.
Whatever Modi might be infamous for, he has at least done a lot for the development of Gujarat. Sadly, one can’t say the same about Laloo.
Mahesh Hegde, London
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