Letters | Jun 19, 2006
  • Bull-Run Bruises
    Jun 19, 2006

    Given that fiis have taken our nation to ransom, it’s better we banned unproductive speculative activity like futures & options or commodities trading (Those Fleeing Hoofprints, Jun 5). With corporate culture gaining a grip worldwide, fiis with huge funds are manipulating markets as they can hedge their positions. The initial cashdown payment also is too small, favouring big players like fiis. Besides, the government and sebi lack proper policies or regulation.
    K.V. Sadasivan, Bharuch

    The idea that stockmarkets are linked to the country’s economy is a load of bull.As if human greed were taught in mba schools! Dear ceos of top companies, don’t push the bone down our throats—it’s more than what a common man can digest. One can really smell a larger gameplan.
    Nikhil R. Dengwekar, Pune

    The media is over-emphasising the effect of the sensex on the economy. I see no difference in the life of an average Indian whether the bse shows 4000 or 12000. There are other things that can change the life of the middle class.
    Vinod Phadke, Tiptur

    Great if the growth rate enables anyone to explain how our farmers could be freed from the debt trap. And how many could be dissuaded from taking their lives.
    K.J. John, Baroda

  • 73% Say: It’s Poor, Without Merit, And We Have Our Reservations......And 27% Is In The Affirmative
    Jun 19, 2006

    Vinod Mehta’s piece Eyes, Ears and Minds Closed (June 5) is a landmark in journalism—apt, and written at a time when it’s needed the most. No one in the media has pondered on the full-bench judgement the Supreme Court delivered apropos Mandal in 1992, which ruled that if victimisation has happened on the basis of birth, then relief too must come on the basis of birth. Else, how do you identify the victims?
    S.P. Singh Yadav, on e-mail

    When erudite editors debate in the manner of politicians, you know your goose is cooked. No middle-class Indian resists the empowerment of the poor; it’s their own impoverishment that is the cause of anguish. That swanky, much-abused mall can’t educate or address the aspirations of a child aiming for higher education. By targeting achievers who, frankly, have eschewed the mall culture, Arjun Singh—the grand old dying man of Congress—is not doing justice. One can think of many more effective, less bruising steps for that. As for the PM’s assurance, does any political assurance not backed by big money mean anything? Dear Ed, I bet you felt the glow of a do-gooder as you wrote your pathetic opinion piece. If you can’t do good, do no evil.
    Bindu Tandon, Mumbai

    Hats off to Vinod Mehta for calling a spade a spade. There is no greater obscenity in this country than of fatcat kids, who pay hardly half the cost of their education, calling themselves Youth for Equality.
    M. Swaminathan, Hyderabad

    Mr Mehta is angling either for a diplomatic job or a post in any of the numerous committees/ commissions our bureaucratic PM is so fond of setting up. I belong to the so-called "forward caste", a phrase I’d never heard till I went for my son’s admission in 1990 for a seat in engineering colleges in the south, and wasn’t even allowed to apply. All our children go to private colleges such as Manipal, get their basic engineering or medical degrees, then migrate to Europe or the US, never to return to this country, except on vacation. Nearly two-thirds of our community estimated at two million has left the country in the last decade. In another two or three decades, the remaining one third will meet their natural end, wiped out from this country once and for all and be a part of history.
    E.N.K. Krishnan, on e-mail

    Vinod Mehta’s is the first opinion I’ve come across in the media which brings to the fore facts for the benefit of the cartoon and pizza bread-nurtured urban middle class. The mediocres of this class are out there with daggers drawn on an already deprived lot, strangely calling it a fight for merit.
    Roger Pande, on e-mail

    Mr Mehta is undoubtedly a vvip among India’s "smug, selfish, self-centred, satiated middle class, fattened on the fruits of the booming economy". Shouting from rooftops about inclusive growth is all very fine but you just have to see the fate of the cooperative sugar industry, which is virtually stage-managed by obc and sc/st directors. Examine their balance sheets for decades and you will understand what inclusive growth sans merit has done to this sector. Or take the pathetic state of government services which are today run mostly by obc/sc/sts. Mere handouts and doles serve no purpose other than getting you a mirage of votebanks. Stop being a Congress crony Mr Mehta, or a slave to its Ugly Political Agenda!
    B. G. Subhash, Bangalore

    A very thought-provoking, well-reasoned piece. I hope every one of the students agitating on the streets and internet cafes of India reads this and emerges better educated and helps make our nation truly great (for every citizen).
    Matt Ahlawat, Delhi

    It is interesting to note that the Women’s Reservation Bill still awaits its turn while obc quotas were rushed through. When it doesn’t affect their careers, politicos can wait ad infinitum.
    Brijesh Mishra, Allahabad

    Poverty, real or imaginary, has always triggered a feeding frenzy among Indian "leaders" and enriched many people such as trade unionists and social activists. Mr Mehta is the latest example. He is obviously sobbing all the way to the bank. Poor soul!
    Kumudini Tamirasa, Chennai

    It’s all too convenient for self-proclaimed opinion-makers to cite a Bush and righteously reduce a nuanced debate to cheap posturing. Bush and fellow Republicans have repeatedly portrayed American anti-war protesters as ‘traitors’ who do not care for their fellow "men in action". Similarly, for a piece that ambitiously proclaims dispassion, it ends up resorting to infuriatingly predictable sanctimoniousness by declaring that all anti-reservation protesters are anti-poor. The exact issues Mr Mehta tries to discount (the debate over the percentage: 27%, the exclusion of the creamy layer, the need for meritocracy, political intent and votebank politics) are the ones that need to be responsibly addressed. Clearly, Mr Mehta, who’s made a business of deliberate aggravation of readers and their inevitable retaliation, isn’t interested in this debate. How else does one explain his insolent attempt to link ‘Maoist extremists’ with ‘anti-reservation protests’? Where he talks of 49% reservation in Andhra but forgets that the state is still the hotbed of Maoist extremism?
    Prashanth Pappu, on e-mail

    I didn’t expect Vinod’s column to be a complete mirror of reality. But I appreciate its intent. I’m also concerned with the Indian middle class that sides with the elite in all respects and has lost whatever compassion it had for the underprivileged. One only has to travel into cyberspace to see the depth of anti-reservation feeling. If the last elections had been held among netizens, the bjp would have won 99.9% votes. Thank God—if he exists—cyberspace is an impotent tool.
    A.M.V. Robinson, Singapore

    I have enough certificates to prove I am an obc. Life’s been very comfortable for me after this certification. I do not have to struggle to be good at any task I undertake. My 50 per cent is equivalent to a non-obc’s 80 per cent. My children too do not have to worry about education or jobs. None of us has to try to excel in anything we do. Sometimes I am a little ashamed. I feel humiliated that in our country our government has classified its citizens as obc, sc/st etc. For generations, the upper class called us that; now the government brands us so. There was a time when I had to prove to the so-called upper class that I was as good as them. Now I do not have to. It is they who have to struggle for a place in a college or a government job. Irrespective of the party governing us, I continue to avail of the benefits of being an obc. Because I have the vote. But I probably will vote for the party which treats me with the dignity of a human being, as an Indian, and not marks me out as a category. Now it’s quotas, next it will start separate townships for us, maybe one in every state. Maybe it’ll make us wear headgear proclaiming we are obc/sc/st. It is humiliating that I am permanently classified as a backward among other human beings by a government elected by me.
    D.S. Rajan, on e-mail

    Consider Vinod Mehta’s predicament. Outlook’s market is the middle class and they are dead against quotas. Normally, the magazine would have launched a high-pitch campaign against those opposing its Congress masters. This time, however, he’s treading carefully. Hence, two covers, trying to build a case for quotas. Since this did not do much to alter public opinion, the latest trick: make the middle class feel apologetic about their stand.
    Ankan Kumar, Columbus, US

    What the underprivileged need is strength, not a crutch to walk around on. My father was a mere clerk but always said that merit could conquer the world. And by the grace of god, all my siblings and I are doing well. As a responsible editor of a much-read weekly, your job is to expose the shortcomings of the government in implementing its various lofty schemes like food for work, free midday meal, et al, not supporting its ham-handed social engineering.
    B.C. Joshi, Hardwar

  • 73% Say: It’s Poor, Without Merit, And We Have Our Reservations......And 27% Is In The Affirmative
    Jun 19, 2006

    Vinod Mehta’s column puts things in the right perspective. Those agitating against the proposed quotas can create this chaos primarily because the media—Outlook included—gives them free publicity as their larger readership belongs to this class. The whole ‘trickledown effect’ will never come to pass. Unless a new leadership emerges or people come out on the streets as in Nepal, there will be no solution to India’s multiple problems.
    Atmaram Saraogi, Calcutta

    Being a doctor from the south, I’d like to tell Vinod Mehta a few things. The zeal and dreams with which we pursue clinical subjects in our graduation days get burnt out when we are held back by quota, only to make way for a below-average, multiple-attempt candidate to become a physician or surgeon. We’re forced to opt for paraclinical courses when our potential could have been put to much better use. It is the plants which need watering, not the trees. I don’t think any community in India, given good primary foundation, will remain weak. Even the backward communities aim for excellence. We should not let the government dilute their aspirations for political gain.
    Suman Kishore, on e-mail

    Reservation is fast becoming the last refuge of scoundrels in India. Good-natured, guilt-ridden souls like Vinod Mehta believe reservation in higher education will help the poor, the tribals and Maoist recruits. Dear Vinod, Mandal beneficiaries are not your sc/sts, it’s castes like Yadavs, Kurmis and landowning Jats, who control panchayats and state legislatures. If reservation was a panacea for poverty, Tamil Nadu with 65 per cent reservation would be bloody rich by now.
    Dhirender Singh, Chennai

    Quotas threaten to deplete the affluence of the same middle class (200 million according to Mr Mehta’s statistics) that contributes more than 80 per cent of the total income tax the government collects each year. If Mr Mehta has a taste for imported cheese and ham that he can afford to buy at the neighbourhood stores, he should keep it on his own dining table and feed some to his pet too rather than judging the general middle class. Congratulations to him on joining the elite 2-3 per cent of Indians who have the special privilege of crapping imported foodstuff down shabby Indian potties.
    Vikas Sahay, New Delhi

    Vinod Mehta himself lives a good life but bleeds Congress type blood for everyone who is downtrodden and weak. Don’t expect any fresh, clear, coherent thinking from him since he gets his orders from the Congress HQ. How else can a smart, articulate, well-read and well-informed editor of a national publication not see that this agitation is not against the empowerment of the poor but against the cynical play of vote politics, against politicians taking us for a ride by creating divisions out of an issue dead 15 years ago and fixing the wrong end of the problem?
    Ravi K., Denver, US

    Mr Mehta seems to have added fuel to a debate which the entire country seems to be caught up in. Or is it? Is that impression merely because of the media coverage the anti-reservation protests got? The protesters are educated, urban, upper-caste youth. If you look at the figures of urban youth in the country who’re not only literate but have also graduated, they are a small number. So, the voices being heard are of a select few as opposed to the silent majority. And why are their voices heard? Because they represent a "social and religious" class which also controls the media, politics and other such spaces in society.
    Naveen Thomas, Bangalore

    I fail to see any rationale in Vinod Mehta’s diatribe against the middle class. The middle class forms the backbone of any thriving economy. Hence its concern at the government’s caste-based divisive and non-progressive policy is fully justified. The middle class is socially more responsible than you think. It understands the benefits of a merit-based education system which you apparently don’t. The Indian middle class has taken this stand on reservations not because of their caste but because of their education and the knowledge of what is more appropriate for the progress of the nation and the betterment of society.
    R. Purwar, San Francisco, US

    How do quotas matter to bleeding-heart socialists like Vinod Mehta? They’ll be educating their children in the best colleges of the UK and US anyway. It’s only our dreams of an open, knowledge- and merit-based society that’ll die a slow death choked by the hand of identity- and caste-based politics.
    Rajiv Wadehra, Noida

    Vinod Mehta is, of course, right in saying that the economically backward sections of society need support. But the anti-reservation stir is against caste-based reservation. Are you sure it’s not your eyes, ears and mind that are closed?
    Sudarsan Srinivasan, Beijing

    I totally agree with Vinod Mehta. The middle class should abdicate in favour of the poor. For starters, why not sack Mr Vinod Mehta and have an obc in his place as editor? Don’t stop at that. Let Outlook lead the way by having an all-obc staff.
    Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh

    What is the power of the middle class anyway? Even their self-immolations go unheeded.
    S.C. Juneja, Delhi

  • The Ottoman Closeby
    Jun 19, 2006

    It’s totally wrong on the part of the vhp to interfere in Nepal matters (The Death of Vishnu, May 29). They should have confined themselves to serving the interests of Hindus living in that landlocked nation. It’s a bit like the Khilafat movement started by Muslims in India. Remember, Turkey ended up being the only secular state in the Muslim world.
    A.D.H. Kiran, Hyderabad

  • Life On The Edge
    Jun 19, 2006

    One feels sad the Army finds mention in your magazine mostly for the wrong reasons (Burial Of Innocence, Jun 5). Some men in uniform might have committed mistakes, but to tarnish the security forces as a whole is unfair. Why not also write on the good, even great work they routinely do?
    Shivani Suman, on e-mail

  • Our Own Don Quixote
    Jun 19, 2006

    One wonders how long this literary illusion called Gopi Chand Narang would continue to hog the limelight (War And No Peace, Jun 29). It’s his own credentials—not that of the new Sahitya Akademi secretary—that matters. Narang’s claim of authorship of more than 60 books is not supported by records. Sometime ago, it was claimed that he had written 40 books, but the list mostly contains books that he either compiled or edited. In fact, Imla Nama, a book he claims authorship of, is a result of the deliberations of a board headed by leading Urdu critic Shansur Rahman Faruqi. Narang was only a member of the board. His claims extend to those books where Narang is a mere footnote writer. Safar Ashna, one of his genuine works, doesn’t qualify to be called even a booklet.
    Sikandar Ahmad, on e-mail

  • The Sabarmati Banks Cut A Sorry Figure
    Jun 19, 2006

    The dichotomy between Indian democracy and the situation in Gujarat can be best summed up in the following quote: "In a democracy people change the government, in dictatorship the dictator changes the people." Be it the anti-minority sentiment that flared up the riots or the more recent Fanaa episode, Gujarat has been transformed beyond recognition. Gandhi may be the father of the nation, Gujarat’s paternity has passed on to Modi! The Congress too should ponder how it’s subtly toeing the bjp line in the state. If West Bengal is India’s enduring bastion of Communism, Gujarat is that of fascism.
    Pranav Sachdeva, New Delhi

    I am no Modi supporter but I don’t see the logic behind Aamir Khan’s contention that his constitutional rights are being violated. After all, the Gujarat government has not banned the Fanaa screening. Instead of debating freedom of expression, Aamir should take up issue with the Gujarat Multiplex Owners Association.
    Mike Desai, Ghaziabad

    The media is acting as if this is the first time freedom of expression has been suppressed in India. How much effort have you made to air the grievances of the suicide-driven Vidarbha farmers? Or of villagers in Naxal-infested states like Chhattisgarh and Andhra? After all, how much will the people of Gujarat suffer if a run-of-the-mill film is banned?
    Aravind Sridhar, New Delhi

    Democracy thrives because we have people like Aamir (What Should I Apologise For?). It would serve those politicians well if they take a leaf from his book. They could start by apologising to Aamir and lifting those bans.
    Sharon Newell, Sydney

    His brashness is the first thing that struck me after reading the Aamir interview. Maybe he has no plans to enter politics, but where was Aamir all these years when the nba movement picked up? Why this sudden guest appearance now? Does he know the seriousness of the issue? His impetuous behaviour has for sure troubled the industry, especially Coca-Cola.
    Shyamala Ayachit, on e-mail

  • Check A Crashland
    Jun 19, 2006

    Given the pilot crunch, India should go for a modern licensing system that would train ab initio pilots to fly modern airliners (Fly By Luck, Jun 5). The syllabus should be updated. The civil aviation ministry should look to the European experience. Unlike the US, where most airline pilots are from military or regional airline sources, Europe has the privilege to be obliged to train ab initio cadets as it is its main source of pilots. India can also enlarge the spectrum of the available training centres if it admits a licensing system like the European jar.
    Gerald Charles, Bangkok

  • If Only The Jingoism Is Rooted Out
    Jun 19, 2006

    Your piece on trees in Delhi was interesting and informative (A Terrible Beauty, Jun 5). True, India—and Delhi in particular—has a lot of trees from across the world. It is good. All the same, I would like to see more ‘native’ trees being planted. But what disturbs me is the "back-to-our-roots" paradigm. How long before we say the same of the people in Delhi? I am afraid of those who hark back to something "truly native" vs outsider/imported/alien. Won’t it be better to plant more local trees and enjoy the red bloom of the gulmohar next to the dazzling yellow of the amaltash? As a native of Delhi, I would much rather welcome all people and trees without exception. We, as a secular nation, must watch out for the "our roots" type of argument.
    Prokriti Mukherji, Minneapolis, US

  • Jun 19, 2006

    Sharmila Tagore is perfectly right to be annoyed (Priyaranjan Das Munshi Has Set A Bad Precedent By Viewing The Film, Jun 5). Those who watch The Da Vinci Code without having read the novel won’t understand the finer aspects of the story. Those who have read it will be wise to understand that the movie too is interesting fiction. So, either way, it’s harmless.
    Jatinder Nirula, Ballabhgarh

  • There? Of All Places?
    Jun 19, 2006

    Prem Shankar Jha has rightly questioned the need for choosing strife-torn Srinagar as the venue for the PM’s round-table (Blood Bath For A Stale Loaf, Jun 5). One wonders what the pmo was doing, more so after the terror attack at the rally to commemorate the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. I fully agree with Jha about the inadvisability of holding the meet in Srinagar in total disregard of a potential threat to the PM’s security.
    Tarlok Singh, New Delhi

  • Why They Are Cross
    Jun 19, 2006

    The anti-conversion law in some states is unjust on their people, more so the tribals (Counting Sheep, Jun 5). It’s being enforced at the behest of some rich and powerful people to check the enlightenment of the adivasis.
    Parul Bhandari, on e-mail

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