Letters | Jul 24, 2006
  • The Current Beneath
    Jul 24, 2006

    The war room leak case is getting bleaker day by day (Sting of the Scorpene, July 10). When Outlook first came up with the story, it looked like a simple case of some young and unscrupulous persons taking a ride with the navy along with a few of its officers, maybe with some direct or indirect patronage from the naval chief. But the government’s reaction so far and the slow pace of the cbi probe only indicate that this is to turn into another Bofors for the Congress.
    Nutan Thakur, on e-mail

    That Ravi Shankaran is out of the country presents a grim picture of the level of surveillance in our defence forces. Also, the late reaction of the government has added fuel to speculation on the involvement of senior politicians and defence officers in the scam.
    Brij Bhushan Vyas, Lucknow

    Why did it take three months after the case was registered for the government to order the raids? Was it allowing someone time to destroy evidence? The PM should offer an explanation, more so since the cbi has termed the case as part of a larger conspiracy.
    Ashish Jha, Pune

    Finally you have given due credit to Admiral Arun Prakash, one of the finest officers Indian navy has ever produced. (Warm Surface Currents). Some of the issues may be genuine, but the naval chief’s integrity is beyond reproach. Had you been not selective in your homework, you wouldn’t have missed his singular achievements. Like the navy’s post-tsunami operations, strategic navy-to-navy operations, ship acquisitions and documenting a futuristic vision for the force.
    Meghana Athavale, Goa

    Could some expert plumber please seal this war room leak?
    Nisha N. Panchal, Mumbai

  • Reserved Bogey
    Jul 24, 2006

    When the South Africans are working towards transforming a nation (A Coloured Sunshine, Jul 3), we are out in the streets, fighting shadows. For over half a century, we have been living with this political fraud called reservation in its present form. It has only added more and more groups to the list of beneficiaries, with the change of governments at the Centre. The time’s come to give economic criteria a chance in matters of reservation.
    K.J. John, Vadodara

  • The Incite Story
    Jul 24, 2006

    Prem Shankar Jha should be more circumspect about what he pens in his columns. While he’s right in questioning government thinking on sending troops to Afghanistan (The Nyet Flight to Kabul, Jul 3), his foreseeing the reaction of Indian Muslim youth almost amounts to telling them to react violently and get involved in anti-national activities. Journalists have to be responsible and would do well to avoid inducing, even unwittingly, such dangerous ideas in the minds of the already confused Muslim youth in our country.
    H. Rajagopal, Mysore

  • Some Remember...
    Jul 24, 2006

    The article on Chandrababu Naidu (Ah, Yes, Farmers, Jul 10) was another bit of journalism in the Outlook genre. Change is inevitable in every individual/entity—why, even Outlook resorts to occasional redesign. One learns from mistakes, changes course, deciding what’s best in a given set of circumstances. You can’t label it as opportunism.
    Krishna Prasad, Bangalore

    It’s nice to know that the poster boy of imf and World Bank is reviving his interest in farmers. Is Naidu driven by genuine remorse or because he has no one to turn to after the global agencies ditched him?
    Rohit C.J., Kochi

    One can’t help but see Naidu’s new-found love for farmers as a stab at returning to power. He may well be jettisoning his laptop image now, but he can’t deny it paid rich dividends in making Andhra a formidable rival to Karnataka in attracting international funding. True, farmers got neglected in the bargain, which cost Naidu dear at the hustings. However, his now tilting Leftward and blaming both Congress and bjp won’t fool anybody. The cpi(m) will go along with him as long as it suits them. After that, poor Naidu will be left to lick his own wounds, reduced as he will be to a tiger without fangs, one that didn’t know which way to turn, right or left.
    H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana, Mysore

  • ...Rest Forget Farmers
    Jul 24, 2006

    Yes, The Plough Has No Share (Newsbag, Jul 10). In India, globalisation has benefited only a new class of billionaires who create more wealth for themselves than employment. $267 billion is the combined worth of 61,000 of the richest in India. The claim that reforms have brought down poverty by 13 per cent in villages in the last 15 years is hogwash as the Planning Commission itself accepts that rural poor families have remained constant in number at 55 million in the past 20 years despite high growth and high investment in irdp and wage-related programmes. Still, even as investment in agriculture has fallen steeply, the government is playing the dangerous game of taming inflation at the cost of agriculture by denying agro-products fair prices.
    K.R. Narasimhan, Chennai

  • Other Mutinies Too
    Jul 24, 2006

    Mutineers Aboard (Jul 10) or not, the upa government’s plan to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the 1857 uprising as India’s First War of Independence is funny, considering it was Veer Savarkar who first thought of it as so. It was the same upa government which a year back insulted Savarkar, refusing to acknowledge him as a freedom fighter. Not just that, recent ncert history books prepared under the aegis of the upa government brand 1857 as a mutiny. Equally ridiculous is the idea of inviting Pakistan and Bangladesh to the commemoration. The uprising was confined to Delhi, UP, Bihar and parts of MP. It didn’t touch the territory now comprising Pakistan and Bangladesh. Besides, the first modern political Muslim, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, condemned the 1857 uprisings which he said were planned and executed by Hindus and which some ignorant Muslims were forced or misled to join.
    Ram Gopal, New Delhi

    Reading your pieces on 1857, one would think it was confined to Oudh, Meerut and Delhi. What about Haryana? There are enough historians in the state, both professional and self-styled, all one had to do was contact the VCs of the Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, and Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra. As far as I know, the people of Hansi, Rohtak, Gohana, Dadri, Karnal and Kaithal rose to the challenge of the times. The events were duly recorded in the 1883 and 1910 District Gazetteers of Rohtak, Karnal and Hisar (though from a Brit point of view). They tell a tale of persecution and brutality by both the natives and the British-Indian government. Recently, Dr Madan Mohan Juneja, a historian at Jat College, Hisar, brought out a book titled People and Personalities of Hisar that lists the contributions of people who actively participated in the 1857 uprising. Mahender Singh Nagal, deputy commissioner of Sonepat, recently told me how the people of Khewda (a village on the banks of the Yamuna in Sonepat district) have preserved a huge roller stone near Samalkha with which the British crushed to death dozens of mutineers and installed as a memorial. There is a Khooni Sarak in Hansi too. At Meham, 105 km from Delhi on NH-10, locals cremated hundreds of mutineers on the banks of the Murund pond. A village named Rohnat, near Hansi, was auctioned by the British and its residents made paupers because they partook in the mutiny.
    Ranbir Singh, Rohtak

    William Dalrymple writes more stagy pieces than history (Rising Falling, Jul 3). His White Mughals deals with kurta-clad whiskered Englishmen and their sexual powerbacked upperhandedness in India, and their occasional forays into Indian kultur. While William Fraser was a somehow-linked cousin of William Dalrymple’s wife Olivia, were Dalrymples often occurring in the National Archives related to our present Dalrymple? Bahadur Shah Zafar left Delhi on a ‘peasant’s bullock cart’, but how was he finally transported to Rangoon? Debendranath Tagore (Rabindranath Tagore’s father) found (vide: his autobiography) an imprisoned and sepoy-escorted Bahadur Shah in a maidan of Kanpur. Persian and Urdu documents may reveal some such unknown facts. Does our Dalrymple read documents himself or depend on hired readers for their translation?
    S. Sengupta, Ghaziabad

    The word mutiny seems to be ingrained in the consciousness of the convent-educated Indian. Even Outlook had it on its Jul 3 cover. It took an Englishman named William Dalrymple for it to adopt the politically correct version, the Rising.
    D.K. Vasudevan, on e-mail

    1857 was essentially an uprising by the public against the displacement of Mughal rule, and not a freedom movement. The ‘revolt’ was confined to a few territories in the north, people in the south were unaware of these developments.
    H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore

    Dalrymple’s attempt to infuse a contemporary echo in the closure of madrassas in 1857 and jehad is misleading. The contexts are so different that telescoping past and present can only distort the picture. As for the mutiny, it turned the Indian Muslim into a permanent underdog.
    Y.M. Chitalwala, Gujarat

  • Jewtown Jaunt
    Jul 24, 2006

    I’m a Bombayite and was delighted to read the write-up on the city’s Jews (Shalom Bombay, Jul 10). It revived some pleasant memories of my Jewish friends from college days. Though I’ve lost touch with them, I still remember them as very kind and intelligent people. For whatever my good wishes and prayers are worth, I wish the Jewish community well, and yes, only a Bombayite understands the unbreakable bond one shares with this beautiful city. Though I’m physically thousands of miles away, my heart and soul are, and shall always be, in Bombay, city of my birth.
    Azeem Taqi, Nashville, US

    Your list of prominent Indian Jews would have been richer for the inclusion of Lt Gen Russel Mordecai. The finale to the ’99 Kargil war would’ve been different were it not for this officer. As DG, Border Roads, he cleared the Zojila Pass three weeks prior to it. This enabled our heavy guns and formations to reach Kargil to conclude a successful battle.
    Lt Gen M.S. Shergill, on e- mail

  • It’s RD, Not RDX
    Jul 24, 2006

    Like many others, your correspondent too does not seem to have read the Reader’s Digest article ‘How Polite Are We?’ before penning the piece Total Bunkus! (Jul 10). Nowhere does RD call Mumbai the rudest city. It only says it scored the least in matters of politeness. In fact, it proceeds with a full article on the positive side of Mumbai, describing the fine courtesies shown by many Mumbaikars who were surveyed. The article also qualifies that Mumbai, despite the 32 per cent score, may have more polite people than many other cities that came out tops. Cyrus Broacha asks, "Who reads Reader’s Digest anyway?" I do, and know many who do. It’s been the world’s biggest magazine for over 60 years and perhaps has a readership in India many times that of Outlook.
    S. Rajan, Trivandrum

    Reader’s Digest is nothing but an apologist for the imperialists. The social capital evident in India is unusually strong. RD’s fake liberalism can’t hide its contempt for the non-whites. All collective behaviour studies should be conducted scientifically before being reported. Does RD even have a science editor?
    A. Banerjee, California

    Bombay (I still prefer it to Mumbai) is the pride of India. The city is expansive, energy is its soul. Let there be a hundred such surveys; Bombay can take it with a "smile, move on, and get on with life" spirit.
    Vijayender, Hyderabad

  • Operation Trickery
    Jul 24, 2006

    It was a revealing Anatomy of a Cover-Up (Jul 3). It’s about time somebody brought hospitals like Apollo to book, as they seem to get away with virtually anything, including murder, literally! I took my 79-year-old mother to the Mumbai Apollo for a femur bone fracture which required simple surgery with a plate. The operation took three hours and cost us a lakh of rupees. It would’ve been okay had her orthopaedic surgeon not announced a couple of days later that the screws had come loose and one more operation would be needed since the plate would now be bolted with another and not screwed. My enquiry why it wasn’t done in the first place got me no answers. We pensioners shelved out another lakh and a half, but worse was the trauma my aged mother had to suffer for another four hours. Just so that Apollo could get more revenue out of us! I was also asked to sign some risk documents prior to the operation, which helped absolve Apollo of its responsibility, but more shocking, after obtaining my signature, many other medical caveats were added without my knowledge. And to think a number of illiterate patients just put their thumb impression! I’ve also learnt from reliable sources that many dead patients are "operated upon" without their kin being aware, then declared failing to respond to a successful operation, of course after having collected the fee for the operation.
    Lt Col S. Babington (Retd), Bangalore

  • Stirring Tunes Down Memory Lane
    Jul 24, 2006

    Congratulations for an excellent edition reviewing Hindi film songs (June 26). I am particularly glad that Chitralekha has at last received the recognition its fine music deserved. My own favourite is Rasik balama, dil kyun lagaya maine tose, dil kyun lagaya in Bhupali sung by Lata (and acted on the screen by Nargis). This is perhaps the greatest-ever song of unrequited love. Having heard almost all the songs that you have featured, I would like to thank you for reviving such rich memories of my earlier years. Good music is ageless, and stays with us from childhood all the way through to the autumn years and—who knows—perhaps beyond.
    Dr Karan Singh, New Delhi

  • Jul 24, 2006

    Apropos P. Verghese’s letter (Jul 10) which said your music special was "a waste for us in the south". He should take care not to speak for all southies. Since the past few days, our family here in Chennai has been listening to a fantastic Asha Bhonsle-O.P. Nayyar collection. Music has no borders, no north-south demarcation. Verghese’s final insult to the century-old art form of films consists in his suggestion that you start ‘a film rag’ for film-related news. Such intellectual snobbery! The special was actually a nice change from the usual political-economic masala that hogs headlines.
    Lalitha S., Chennai

    Thank God Outlook overcame your inhibition over using "too much italicised text" to lead us on to the timeless world of Lata, Asha and the legendary troika of Rafi, Mukesh and Kishore. Coming at a time when soccermania seemed to have gripped the entire planet, your special refreshingly captured the eternal appeal of Hindi film songs. Goes to show that despite cricket and politics, it is Hindi film music that truly rules the heart of the average Indian.
    Deepam Seth, Uttaranchal

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