Letters | Jan 14, 2008
  • The Enigma Is Growing......We Need An Explanation
    Jan 14, 2008

    Your cover package on Narendra Modi (Dec 24) and his mindscape made interesting reading. I was impressed with a shift in your editorial stand—from moderate left to moderate right. Or was it a grudging acknowledgement of changing power equations? Whatever, it was fascinating to know the various facets of the maverick leader. And, special thanks for not giving any editorial space to psephologists.
    Dr Rumin B. Shah, Vadodara

    While a chunk of the media revelled in vilifying Modi, The Hawk in Flight was a dispassionate account livened up by less-heard and unknown episodes. By the time this letter is printed, I’m sure the man would’ve retained power.
    Shailesh Kumar, Bangalore

    Ashis Nandy’s biases show in the piece Power Defangs. He has failed to point out why the man is still popular.
    Anand Iyer, Bangalore

    Your piece, The Odd Couple, was entertaining. Why not try a similar one on Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh?
    Gopi Maliwal, Hong Kong

    Outlook deserves kudos for highlighting Modi’s strengths despite its obvious dislike for the leader. After all, there have to be some good qualities in him, else he can’t hold power for so long. He may have hurt minority sentiments, but you can’t dispute Modi has streaks of Gandhism in him: he is incorruptible, leads an austere life and is committed to delivering on promises. And bears no element of nepotism—a striking contrast with the Congress.
    Pravin Kumar, Vadodara

    Individuals like Modi have no empathy at the human level, but they have a grasp of the insecurities of people who lend them demagogic status. They play on these anxieties but are incapable of any real attachment. I can say the same about Mahatma Gandhi too.
    Bhushan Giri, Richmond, US

    Modi’s psyche, like Nathuram Godse’s, reflects militant Hinduism. The danger with such karmayogis is that they can destroy our composite culture.
    Navein K. Batta, Muscat

    It’s painful to see how Gujarat has degenerated over time—from being the birthplace of leaders like the Mahatma and Sardar Patel to that of Modi.
    Ankur Chopra, e-mail

    A narcissistic personality disorder with anti-social, paranoid features. That’s Modi.
    T.R. Harikumar, Coventry, UK

    What warrants an urgent study is one about the factors that prompt Gujaratis to skip real issues and get swayed by the charisma of Modi to vote him back to power. The trend is frightening at a time when secular values are largely in decline in India. Hope the pattern doesn’t recur across the country and create its own replicas in other states.
    Shantilal Verma, New York

    Gujarat must cease to be part of the Indian union. India, however, must keep the Gir lions—they should be moved to another reserve where it’s illegal to massacre human beings.
    Satadru Sen, St Louis, US

    Modi’s speeches may be firebrand, but the questions he raises are relevant. For example, the upa government’s inaction towards terrorists. How would you explain the repeal of pota, and having not hanged Mohammed Afzal as yet?
    S. Shanthakumar, Chennai

    The Congress alone should be blamed for the rise of Modi. It is that party’s soft stance towards Islamic fundamentalism that has made him a big leader.
    S. Lakshmi, on e-mail

    Modi doesn’t play up his backwar d community card. He doesn’t have children, so there is no question of his amassing wealth for generations. What more do you want?
    S. Raghunatha Prabhu,
    Alappuzha, Kerala

    One thing is sure: if India has to become a superpower, we need a prime minister like Modi.
    L.K. Balasubramanian, New Jersey

    Modi may be autocratic like Jayalalitha and Mayawati. But don’t forget that unlike them, he isn’t corrupt.
    R. Srivatsan, on e-mail

    Wait for a while. You can see Modi gain in stature as a pan-Indian leader. And that’d make his story even more enigmatic.
    George Olivera, Mysore

    Saba Naqvi Bhaumik, who would take a dig at the bjp in nine out of her ten stories, seems to have softened her stand against the Gujarat CM, realising that she can’t stop the Modi juggernaut. I very well knew he would return, though with lesser number of seats. Yet I must say, the victor is democracy—not any leader.
    Vinod, Bangalore

    Nandy’s piece, Power Defangs, presents a very accurate profile of Modi. It also weaves in his marginalised social background so as to answer some lingering questions in a sane and logical way.
    Sanjay Misra, Tumkur

    I’m no votary of Narendra Modi or his brand of Hindutva. So I just won’t mind if Nandy accuses the bjp leader of linking everything wrong to Islam and Christianity. Yet, the article is frothily verbose. And, in part, even comic.
    Atul Chandra, Mumbai

    Outlook readers surely deserve a better social analyst than Ashis Nandy. Or, is it Vinod Mehta’s desperate attempt to cook up stories about a corruption-free leader? My advice: ban write-ups on Modi for a year, and all will be right with the magazine.
    G. Natesh, Chennai

    Modi has been trying to play the role of Adolf Hitler. Only that the German dictator had, unlike Modi, clear ambitions.
    Ramesh Raghuvanshi, Pune

    If he didn’t have a patient-therapist relation with Modi, nothing prevents Nandy from assessing the bjp leader based on his interview—even if it involved no public interest. But Nandy begins insinuating that Modi’s role in the 2002 pogrom was rooted in self-hatred, and then backs off as not wanting to "speculate". His point about the Gujarati middle class enjoying violence by proxy is intriguing, more so as the analysis stops cold after hinting it. The comparison between P.V. Narasimha Rao and Modi left me dumbfounded. Rao’s Hindutva was soft and only differed with Modi’s in degree. Nandy claims Rao’s intelligence and brahminical familiarity with power contrasts with Modi’s intuitive political scrappiness and unfamiliarity with power. It’s Nandy’s simplistic faith that this contrast will make a difference in a decrepit political culture like India. I need more for a happy ending.
    Prakash Arun, San Francisco

    Nandy’s article is drivel, barring his acceptance that Modi is a highly determined person.
    L. Chitalavanya, Chennai

    Nandy’s rants confirm that it’s he—and not Modi—who is in need of a clinical psychologist. The writer could be diagnosed with schizophrenia himself.
    Sumit Gupta, Dehradun

    Excellent piece of writing.
    Pear Kalamurth, Mumbai

    Authoritarianism is still tolerable if the leader is hugely intelligent. That stopped in India with the era of Indira Gandhi.
    Kel Shorey, Glasgow

    It isn’t only the US that had banned entry for Modi, the European Union too did it. And for reasons understandable.
    S.M., on e-mail

    For all his character flaws, we need people like Modi.
    Vedanta Rao, Hyderabad

    I found chief election commissioner N. Gopalaswamy quite forthright in his remarks ("We can’t punish, only rebuke"). It throws light on the limited power the EC can wield, after all. Unless the commission gets the power to punish violators, political parties would continue to be irresponsible in their poll campaigns.
    Radha N. Shriram, Chennai

  • Suspecting Reds
    Jan 14, 2008

    The judiciary is practically unaccountable even to itself (A Doctored Case, Dec 24). That is why the police get away with planted evidence, third degree torture, rape and fake encounters. It is biased—by caste, religion and money. Dr Binayak Sen’s case, like Afzal’s, is tragic.
    B. Parthsarathy, Chennai

    I heartily approve of the court’s decision with regard to Binayak Sen. It’s time to go after the Naxals, even those with a high-profile cover.
    B. Bhattacharya, Morrisville, US

  • Marx In A Rolls
    Jan 14, 2008

    So what’s new about The Rado Maoist (Dec 24), Prachanda? Isn’t this what Commie leaders are known for? They are habituated to keeping themselves well-fed, and letting the people starve, all in the name of ‘sacrifice for the state’. Prachanda is just another in a long line which includes all Soviet leaders, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez and Kim Il Sung and his worthless son. Communism is just hypocrisy with a political twist, nothing else.
    G. Natarajan, Hyderabad

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so said Lord Acton. Isn’t Prachanda only the latest example? It’s sad that someone who stood up for the poor, common Nepali fell to such pettiness. Hope he sees the error of his ways soon.
    Amitabh Thakur, Lucknow

  • In Small Doses
    Jan 14, 2008

    Union health minister A. Ramadoss’s decision to make a year’s service in rural areas compulsory for mbbs students is unethical (A Dose Of Ethics, Dec 24). How many years of his life should a student sacrifice to pursue a medical career? One also has to get a post-graduate degree for better prospects! It takes over 10 years to be an established doctor, and now the time period is extended even further. This can lead to a fall in the number of medical students.
    Arjya Patnaik, Cuttack

    I am saddened to see India-trained doctors treating affluent Americans. The locals here applaud efficient Indian doctors, but, ironically, are the same people who engage—a bit patronisingly—in charity for healthcare for the underprivileged in rural India. The health minister has raised ethical questions. Any opposition to his proposal appears to be uncharitable and unpatriotic.
    Francis Minj, Berkeley, US

    There are several ways to serve one’s country—it can’t be forced. There are many reasons why public university education is subsidised, saying that it’s to enable students to serve in rural areas sounds fishily communist.
    Prakash Parunach, San Francisco

    The government’s plans for engaging students in backward areas seems good. The people there sorely need it. But I also feel that the government is expecting a bit much from medical students. After seven-eight years of academic life, it’s illogical to expect them to exhibit any great enthusiasm for a rural internship. Compared to those in IT or management, they’d be worse-off financially.
    Pradeep Sharma, Mumbai

  • Jan 14, 2008

    Rs 1000 Crore? A River Is Yours (Dec 17). Why not take the next logical step and privatise the government—invite tenders for the CM and his cabinet? The bidder with the highest qualifications and highest returns to the state wins. And as this would be a legal contract, if the winner fails to deliver as contracted, then the citizen’s council can sue for breach of contract!
    B. Ramdeo, Springfield, US

  • Cancer Water
    Jan 14, 2008

    I am sure the right kind of inputs regarding the causes of the contamination of its water will turn dynamic Punjab into an earth-friendly state again (Poison Earth, Dec 24). All they needed in any case was some motivation to go in for organic farming in a big way.
    Narasimhan M.G., Bangalore

    It’s shocking how neither the Centre nor the state government is bothered about the shocking state of affairs. Is human life so cheap that it counts for nothing?
    B. Phani Babu, Pune

  • Jan 14, 2008

    I think Ram Guha is quite sexist (Idle Worship, Or The Non-Resident’s Role Play, Dec 17). He compares nris with the holy Hindu trinity, but he has forgotten the nri goddess. Lakshmi arrives beefed up with dollars, goes curio-hunting and sari-shopping and attends the concert season in Chennai. While other less endowed worshippers gather at her feet, she distributes trinkets and foodstuffs and worries about the dust, the contaminated food and the state of the Indian kitchen. If she’s a career woman, she’ll lecture on the virtues of takeaways and cooking for the week, never mention the drudgery of clearing snow from the car keyhole, but airily talk about taking kids out to make a snowman. Moreover, she’ll never mention the glass ceiling at work, only that she gets due recognition there. Guha must pay obeisance to her.
    Sujatha Sridharan, Sydney

  • Loud Music
    Jan 14, 2008

    Chennai kacheris are more of snob affairs than anything to do with culture (Chennai Diary by Sadanand Menon, Dec 24). Snobs reign supreme here and the media does its bit to splash it around. Where else would you find people conferring upon each other top honours without any noteworthy performances?
    Sivakumar, Chennai

    Has Sadanand Menon gone overboard with a thesaurus? Does he feel the need to overwhelm his readers with language that requires even a linguist to look up the dictionary? To further confound the reader, he pooh-poohs Chennai’s music season as "quick-fix dosas at a fast-food stall", but then goes on to tout his own contributions to high culture.
    Abha Rao, Arizona

    Sadanand Menon has used many words which are as complex and beautiful as the ragas sung by Carnatic musicians in the Chennai music festival. They deserve a standing ovation.
    Vasudev S., Chennai

    Our learned friend seems oblivious of the simple reality that culture is a condition wherein the past has always battled with the present, on whatever the appropriate proscenium is, to survive into the future. I will gratefully answer him straight back: "I exist, in spite of you."
    Shankar Barua, Delhi

    Having only seen Chandralekha in still photographs in dance specials and magazines, I can still say, Viva la Chandralekha! The traditional is beautiful for its lineage, but the new and sensual is also immensely exciting. Chandralekha had an immense talent.
    Bindu Tandon, Mumbai

  • It’s Dark On The Inside
    Jan 14, 2008

    An extract from the January 10, 2005, issue of Outlook reads: "Despite its weather and greenery, despite its emergence as the city of opportunities; despite the hub and throb of its pubs and streets.... Bangaloreans are India’s unhappiest people, an opinion poll conducted by Outlook has found." I wonder what took Outlook three years to figure out the real reason behind Bangaloreans’ unhappiness. The problem with the IT culture is that it has become synonymous with an insidiously seductive, insensitive and aggressive consumerist culture that decrees that only one kind of living defines good life. Bangalore’s tragedy is best described in the following couplet by Sahir Ludhianvi: "Is Daur-e-taraqqi ke andaaz nirale hain, /Zehnon mein andhere hain; sadkon pe ujaale hain."
    Gaurav Julka, Ferozepur

  • Move On
    Jan 14, 2008

    I am sure there are bigger land scams in India than the one relating to Amitabh Bachchan (Ground Beneath, Dec 24). I am not a big fan of the Big B, but one fails to understand your grudge against him. Why not target the many politicians who loot the country? Or follow up on the many cases of land-grabbing?
    Ujwal Vyas, On E-Mail

  • Unplug Persia
    Jan 14, 2008

    If China were to attack India, would Iran support us (To Run With Hares, Dec 24)? No chance; even Russia won’t. India gains nothing by supporting Iran, which even during the days of the Shah never came to our aid. In the ’71 war, Iran had been on Pakistan’s side.
    Dipak Bose, Calcutta

  • Out-Lawed
    Jan 14, 2008

    With recent streevadi ‘laws’ like Section 498 A, it would be interesting to see the marriage market for female lawyers (In Portia’s Court, Dec 24).
    B.P., on e-mail

  • Lost Moon
    Jan 14, 2008

    Your review of Khoya Khoya Chand finds Saurabh Shukla overplaying it like in the Neetu-Noni series on TV some time ago. Wasn’t it Satish Kaushik who paired with Pankaj Kapur for the said series? As far as I know, Shukla’s only noticeable TV stint was with Vijay Anand in Tehqiqat.
    S. Bhattacharya, Ghaziabad

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