Letters | Oct 29, 2007
  • A Little Corny, A Little Sour, That’s My Soup!
    Oct 29, 2007

    Apropos your 12th anniversary special (Oct 15), I was one of those who picked up the first issue of Outlook and am still impressed that you have, by and large, delivered on the promise of that first issue. I say by and large, because the occasionally frivolous and sometimes downright absurd articles (read cricket for the former and Mr Puri’s cliff-note observations for the latter) detract from your otherwise quality mag. I applaud your zeal for investigative journalism which you temper with an adherence to ethical standards. I cheer the opportunity you provide to the likes of Arundhati Roy and others who just about everyone seems to want to silence, but whose words need to be read, if only to use them as a possible anchor for our conscience. I also thank you for your unabashed portrayal of the "other India". It is heartening that in the age of manufactured optimism (let us call it the Times’ application of Chomsky), publications like yours do not baulk at telling readers what they should know, even if your own coffers dictate that you tell them what they want to know. As for those who choose to sling mud at your liberal-centrist political tilt, you are only providing an avenue for the foolish to speak, so that no misconceptions can be harboured about them.
    Nitin, New Delhi

    Much as I despise Outlook’s pro-Sonia Gandhi, pro-Muslim, pseudo-secularist stance on issues, I enjoy reading it for one big reason—it paints a true picture and is not full of the sort of ‘India-is-the greatest’ hype that our daily newspapers put out on a regular basis.
    G. Natrajan, Hyderabad

    Since the demise of Illustrated Weekly, I had been hurtling from one magazine to the other. Then I found Outlook. Now I am committed, forever.
    Siva Kumar, Chennai

    Commies, terrorists and India-haters of the world, rejoice. Your outlook is 12 years old.
    Vikram N. Ketkar, Pune

    Although it does include pieces from the "other side", as Vinod Mehta admits in his editorial Wag the Rag, I don’t think it absolves Outlook of the charge of being one-sided. The magazine needs to be balanced and objective and should reflect the views of the people, not of the editor or of the person/party in power.
    P.N. Razdan, Gurgaon

    Happy 12th! A dozen roses for Mr Mehta and his team at writers at Outlook, including one to be shared by Balbir Punj and Chandan Mitra.
    Ghulam Y. Faruki, New York

    Who needs 12 reasons to celebrate Outlook’s 12 years? One reason alone could suffice it: Vinod Mehta has lasted as the editor for all these years!
    Rajiv Chopra, Jammu

    That was a nice bouquet of articles in your 12th anniversary special, even if one had to sift them from the piles and glitter of advertisements (so much for advertising and marketing controlling content and overshadowing it!). I sympathised with all the sentiments Vinod expressed in his editorial, though I do think he should get better writers for the "other view" than Balbir Punj. Punj writes as though he is addressing a press briefing. Messrs Swapan Dasgupta, Chandan Mitra or even Kanchan Gupta can do a better job any day. Also interesting was Outlook inviting other journalists to comment on itself. By doing so, Mr Mehta has once again showed that he loves censure as much as accolades. My kinda Outlook is pretty much like Khushwant Singh’s, though I beg to differ with him on Rajinder Puri. The letters section, as always, is a critical component of Outlook, it helps kill any ideological bias people think Outlook might have. One thing, however, that I do find difficult to stomach, is Vinod’s love for his dog Editor, and plugging him whenever the opportunity arises. If this continues, it won’t be long before Mr Mehta starts getting marriage proposals for his Dog. I can think of a better name for Mr Editor though, Kalb-e-Vinod (Vinod’s Dog). Kalb in Arabic means dog.
    Nafay Kumail, New Delhi

    In this age of so much negative news, it was heartwarming to see articles about ‘hope and celebration in the unlikeliest places’. State governments all over India would do well to emulate the Naandi Foundation’s example (Round, Square & Oval). And as a medicine intern myself, I was very impressed with the work the doctors of Nanded district hospital are doing (People’s Pulse).
    Dr Sristi Sharma, Gangtok

    Away from the humdrum of Dalal Street and multi-billion-dollar highrises and just a few hundred kilometres away from Bombay, thanks for showing us how Nanded’s doctors are what is shining about India.
    Arif Jameel, Dubai

    If there were tens of thousands more like Savita Rathi, sarpanch of Gopalpur gram panchayat (A Thar Spring), we would be a much better nation.
    Bodh Ramdeo, Springfield, US

    Your article Round, Square & Oval reminded me of similar work that the Jalaram trust is doing in Vadodara. Only, instead of midday meals for children, it provides food to relatives of patients admitted in public hospitals. These meals are free and delivered daily to hospitals after being cooked centrally. Villagers accompanying patients find it a boon in the midst of difficult times.
    Divyesh Mehta, on e-mail

  • A Little Corny, A Little Sour, That’s My Soup!
    Oct 29, 2007

    I agree with everything the article Coral Necklace says of the newly-built East Coast Road connecting Chennai and Pondy along India’s eastern coastal line. But it is dangerous to use it at night, because the area is isolated. In case you have an accident, no help is forthcoming. This is also the reason why robberies at knife-points are quite common.
    S. Ashwath, Chennai

    Chandan Mitra does not have the guts to mention her by name, but it is obvious he is referring to Arundhati Roy when he makes those snide remarks about Vinod Mehta’s "blue-eyed girl" (Those Letter Bombs). Well, let me inform Mr Mitra that the "girl" happens to be 46 years old. It is sad to see an editor of a newspaper being sexist. I suppose for bjp types, women will always be girls. Otherwise they wouldn’t know how to deal with them.
    Bhaichand Patel, New Delhi

    I agree with almost everything that Chandan Mitra has written, especially the suggestion (which hasn’t been made in so many words) that Outlook would be better off without Arundhati’s columns.
    Manoj, Indore

    Outlook without Vinod Mehta? Can’t bear the thought!
    K.P. Andavan, on e-mail

    Ramachandra Guha has my vote too, as Vinod’s deputy.
    P. K.Mandal, Calcutta

    Chandan Mitra and Khushwant Singh are right. Most of your good contributors come free, on your letters pages.
    Ashok Mathur, Delhi

    Yours Truly was a nice selection of 12 years of Outlook letters. A welcome change from the right-wing response that weighs down the online forum.
    Arun Maheshwari, Bangalore

    Typos have been a leitmotif of your magazine since time immemorial. I hoped at least your 12th anniversary special, where you jettisoned "false modesty", would be a reader’s delight. But it wasn’t to be. There it was, on the 110th page of the issue, 2008 instead of 1998 as the year India conducted its nuclear test.
    Jagannath, on e-mail

    Just went through your editorial on the anniversary issue. The reasons for anniversary issues and other special ones are neither masochistic nor egalitarian. It’s fashionable these days to be self-congratulatory by appearing self-deprecatory. But all that is beside the point. The issue is it all boils down to pure business, journalism is but a byproduct. One only has to look at the luxury product advertisements and the sheer number and it seems that the whole issue was meant only for advertisers, the articles were just fillers to maintain the facade of a newsmagzine. A double front page with an ad on the inner side, 80 full-page ads, back cover, a glossy four-page filler ad, three half pages and three quarter pages (whew!) in a magazine of 162 pages! I am not invoking any Right to Information, but can Outlook please tell us how much money it made through advertisements in this special issue?
    Dr Sumeet Shah, on e-mail

    Kudos to the whole Outlook team for presenting a stupendous issue covering the last 12 years of faithful and proud existence. Those 81 and a half pages were worth a celebration. Unfortunately, you missed a vital patch: Twelve Best Advertisements That Appeared in Outlook, though you spent a lot of printer’s ink for those valuable 81 and a half pages of mere headache. Too much of anything is dangerous, Vinod.
    A. Bhattacharjee, Tinsukia

    Mr Mehta in his editorial writes, "Loathe it, love it—but nobody ever complains it’s dull". But my complaint is, it’s always (delivered) late! I got your anniversary special delivered at my doorstep a full four days after it hit the newsstand, that too after I called your local office. And this is not the first time it has happened. It’s time Outlook smartened up its subscriber-copy delivery system and addressed our grievances. Or else, come 2009, you’ll lose at least one subscriber—yours sincerely!
    R.V. Iyengar, Hyderabad

    Vinod Mehta is a publicity-monger and nothing else. One appreciates the fact that he has an open mind and always welcomes criticism, however harsh it may be. But, as an editor, he has learnt nothing from this criticism, instead he shamelessly enjoys it.
    Ramesh Raghuvanshi, Pune

    The 12th anniversary issue with 12 reasons to celebrate was fabulous. Especially the last page listing classic foot-in-the-mouth list.
    George Olivera, Mysore

    While raising a toast to the dozen colourful years of the Outlook, I wonder why you chose to completely blank out the northeastern part of your country from the list of special articles. Is it because this region is not newsworthy enough for the magazine?
    Patricia Mukhim, Shillong

  • Trampler, No Tiller
    Oct 29, 2007

    H.D. Deve Gowda has maligned coalition dharma in the most heinous way—ironically, using democracy as the licence (All The King’s Castles, Oct 15). The resultant rift within his jd(s) and the resignation of some of the senior members from his party came as a brave slap on the face of the Humble Farmer and Co. Now it’s up to the voters.
    Pramod Kumar Gupta, Delhi

  • Sizzling Lowlands
    Oct 29, 2007

    I was shocked to read your report on the dmk bandh, lop-sided as it was, with breezy references on the people holidaying in the hills (TN, Interrupted, Oct 15). As if Tamil Nadu is like one of the affluent states in the US. A few families in Ooty during the weekend may have been happy to get an extended vacation, but what about the common man? He had a tough time, his routine got hugely inconvenienced. If not many ventured out even though the bandh was declared illegal, it was only for fear or life and property.
    Nirmala M. Pai, Chennai

    The Supreme Court stay on the bandh was completely unjustified. The judges seem to have missed one crucial point entirely: bandhs are still being called in various states, only that political parties have found a way to skirt the legal hassle. For instance, in Kerala they call it hartal—and invariably bring life to a standstill once in a fortnight!
    Mahfooz Alam, on e-mail

    If it’s the progress of Tamil Nadu that’s the dmk government’s motive behind pressing for the implementation of the Sethusamudram project, let me tell you there are other ways to enhance the living standards of its people. A golden quadrilateral kind of project will be more effective economically for the state. More so when work on the proposed shipping canal is likely to be delayed—this time for religious reasons. In any case, this is one project that has for long remained what it is touted to be—a dream!
    Narayan Srinivasan, Zurich

  • Not Just Names
    Oct 29, 2007

    The prospect of Karnataka’s coffers being hit by the government’s decision to rename some of its cities is just one side of the story (Bengalured, Oct 8). Misplaced Kannada pride, which is the main reason behind the spree, has for sometime now been affecting the state’s linguistic minorities, mainly Marathis, Telugus and Tamils. They have been discriminated in several walks of life—a trend that wasn’t there in the state till recently.
    Narendra M. Apte, Mumbai

  • Three Before Him
    Oct 29, 2007

    The story on the G. Krishnaiah murder verdict, Pinned Lynch (Oct 15), dealt well with the caste war culture in Bihar. However, it was wrong to say that Karpoori Thakur was the state’s first backward CM. There were three before him: B.P. Mandal, Bhola Paswan and Daroga Prasad Rai.
    Avinash Kishore, Anand

  • Bull On A Run
    Oct 29, 2007

    Rajinder Puri appears to have mixed up history with histrionics (Bull’s Eye, Oct 8). It’s well known that Dravidians were the original inhabitants of India, and foreign invaders drove them southward. So Tamils can only be Dravidians. Karunanidhi, for all his flaws, has read the Ramayana and appears to be thorough with all its plots and intricacies.
    Lt Col Suren Babington, Bangalore

    In his eagerness to downplay questions on the historicity of Ram, Puri needlessly dragged other religions into his piece. As for Christianity, there is ample evidence—even archaeological—to prove that Jesus did exist. If the dmk veteran has hurt the sentiments of Hindus, Puri too is guilty of doing the same—to Christians, Muslims and Sikhs.
    Reverend E. Rajan, on e-mail

    Puri is becoming more of a rubbish-rouser. Please take him off your pages.
    Parthasarathy, Chennai

  • Logic Overruled
    Oct 29, 2007

    Clearly, Arundhati Roy isn’t aware of Wednesbury rules and proportionality that guide courts when it comes to interference in the domain of public policies (Scandal In The Palace, Oct 1). The rules stop courts from intervening unless an order suffers from illegality, irrationality or procedural irregularity. But Wednesbury rules don’t apply when an administrative order infringes upon human rights, and that’s when judges go into the proportionality of the order and nullify it.
    Arijit Bhaumik, Pune

  • The Big Brother Is Dancing
    Oct 29, 2007

    I was in town that time, so I can tell you the !ncredible India campaign in New York in end-September was mere marketing blitz (Rang de Amrika, Oct 15). Great weather, colourful outdoor performances and 99 per cent audience ethnically Indian. Now the grey side. The same week, monks were being massacred in India’s neighbourhood, Myanmar, and we—the world’s largest democracy—just didn’t open our mouths in the UN. What moral right do we now have to aspire for a seat in the Security Council? You, as a serious newsmagazine, are expected to present a more critical perspective while reporting such stories. It’s time Outlook grew up, at 12 you are no more a toddler.
    Sanjeev Narrain, Carrboro, US

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