Letters | Mar 24, 2008
  • Minimum Support
    Mar 24, 2008

    Budget 2008 was the most awaited financial event of the year, but even the sense that the government was in election mode did not prepare us for such a slew of sops (The Last Slot Game, Mar 10). Be it the loan waiver for farmers or the tax rebates for the middle class, it had the general weal written all over it. Of course, we’ll have to wait and watch how far its goals are realised. The kisan-oriented approach, nevertheless, deserves appreciation.
    Vineet Bhalla, Bhilai

    The plight of the poor farmer has offered an alibi to finance minister P. Chidambaram to exercise his pseudo-benevolence. After letting so many farmers commit suicide during his tenure, he is now out to earn the ruling coalition a quick votebank. In fact, it isn’t such cosmetic jugglery that our farming sector needs. Instead of the loan waiver, the focus should have been on infrastructure improvement.
    Salil Gewali, Shillong

    A mere poll-eve gimmick. Soon the peasants and others will realise the futility of the euphoria.
    George Olivera, Mysore

    In 2004, the NDA sought to win the elections on their India Shining slogan. This time around, it seems the UPA is up to a similar one: ‘Farmer Shining’. Good luck to them.
    P. Chandra, New Delhi

    Politically, this budget has taken the wind out of the BJP’s sails. It seems the party will now have to sit in the opposition—again.
    Shamim Joshi, Mumbai

    The wit and sarcasm that follow any such big ‘package’ are welcome. But, a glance at this government’s progress report would show that it hasn’t failed in delivering on its major promises. If the loan waiver comes as a breather for farmers, the revised income-tax plan will benefit the burgeoning middle class. Going by the favourable trend, the common man can now look forward to an early implementation of the sixth Pay Commission.
    Dr Sanjaya Kapoor, on e-mail

    Wow, a Rs 60,000-crore waiver! Wonder what stopped the government from taking such a step all these four years. Apparently, the UPA isn’t sure of its return to power. Else, it would have thought about the terrible, cascading effects of such a huge payout.
    Aruna Choudhary, Jaipur

    So far, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been successful in befooling people about being a reformist as well as a moralist. The waiver bonanza has now exposed him to be neither.
    Harshita Choudhary, on e-mail

    The waiver is all right, only the government has to ensure that its benefits go to the poor and marginal farmer—not to the ‘creamy layer’ of agriculturists. However, this is still a short-term measure. A new era will dawn in the farming sector only when the cost of input and the price of output are rationalised, credit facility is made available at a less painful rate of interest, crops are insured and an efficient distribution system is put in place.
    K.R. Srinivasan, Hyderabad

    The doubts about the waiver don’t begin and end with its implementation. Over the long term, the minuses will outweigh the positives. It will tend to give the wrong signal that bank loans need not be repaid that promptly—as some day they could be waived. It will create heartburn among those farmers who were sincere enough to repay their loans. Also, all resources that went into recovering loans till now—manpower, money, time—are rendered waste.
    Prem K. Menon, Mumbai

    Ashima Goyal is right in her views about the waiver (That Fine Balance). If it’s the money-lender f rom whom the farmer has availed of loans, then the budget package is of no use to him. Also, the loan waiver will be a non-budget scheme until there is provision to reimburse the amount to the banks or cooperative credit institutions. And, will the waiver directive be binding on private banks without board approval?
    S. Ramesan, Chennai

    The focus of the budget is on sharing money from the central coffers, not on creating or increasing the earning capacity of farmers (Fresh Farm Eggs). Suicide among peasants will continue as long as they don’t have the knowhow pertaining to modern farming and profitable business practices.
    Raj, Chicago

    Nilesh Shah, who wrote the column Happy Tithe Cometh, holds the additional charge of chief investment officer, ICICI Prudential AMC, not chief information officer as mentioned.

  • General Decay
    Mar 24, 2008

    It’s now clear that the Indian army has been brushing all its dirt under the carpet (Ask No Questions, Mar 10). Lt Gen H.S. Panag is one of the very few military officers who has had the guts to expose the rot.
    Anil Venugopal, Bangalore

    Strange are the ways of our politicians. They just need a corrupt general so that they can play their game. Gen Deepak Kapoor looks like he would do what George Fernandes did as defence minister during the Kargil war.
    Jatinder Chadha, Vancouver

    The army that had legendary generals like K.M. Cariappa and K.S. Thimmaiah seems like a myth today. No wonder young, talented and honest youngsters shy away from joining the armed forces.
    Capt M. Ashok Raipet, Secunderabad

    Lt Gen Panag’s campaign against corruption is welcome. What’s less known is how his subordinates were so scared of him that they did not dare approach him for the requirements of ground personnel. It resulted in the denial of critical equipment to those serving in severe weather conditions.
    J.W., on e-mail

    The way the media is carrying reports on Lt Gen Panag’s transfer shows how it has been drawn into a well-orchestrated campaign by vested interests out to discredit the army. Your piece is no different. I have come to know that Lt Gen Panag ordered no more than five courts of inquiry as against your reported claim of 120. As for his order for inquiries into the so-called tent and egg scams, the court found no instance of corruption. An inquiry was in fact ordered into the frozen meat tender case—and it was none other than Deepak Kapoor, as chief of the Northern Command, who ordered disciplinary action. Also, if your claim that the defence minister wasn’t initially in favour of Panag’s transfer is true, it only shows that he subsequently found merit in the proposal and cleared it after requisite deliberations.
    Col (retd) R.K. Kohli, on e-mail

  • Yours, Confused
    Mar 24, 2008

    Reading his piece The Confucian Lesson (Mar 10), one would think Prem Shankar Jha is a paid Chinese sympathiser. China isn’t new to such brinkmanship; one only has to glance at the recent papers released by the cia to see all the behind-the-scene activities in the 1962 war. China has never settled its land issues, and never will. As for Gen Deepak Kapoor’s ‘admission’ on Indian intrusions into the other side of the lac, it’s not a first-of-its-kind statement from a top Indian officer. Around 1962, IB chief B.N. Malik had said the Indian army would every summer put up its post further ahead of where it was fixed till then; so did the Chinese.
    Jishnu Kinwar, Texas

    When it comes to China or Pakistan, Jha is misty-eyed. Beijing’s military is much stronger than India’s, its defence infrastructure along the lac awesome. What Confucian mindset is Jha talking of?
    S. Prasad, Santa Clara, US

    It’s time China realised it can’t have all that it wants. The world doesn’t belong to it.
    Ravinder Sethi, Dallas

  • Pious Words
    Mar 24, 2008

    It may not be quite a fatwa, but the Deoband’s denouncement of all terror as un-Islamic (The Peace Edict, Mar 10) is welcome. This move has also earned Darul Uloom a good name as terror outfits like the Taliban, LeT and HuM have claimed links with this seminary’s doctrine. After all, jehad, going by its root word in Arabic, means strive or struggle (against one’s own self in following the righteous path).
    S. Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur

    The Deoband has now spelt it out. Now, let’s hope the Vatican too similarly condemns the West’s attack on oil-rich Muslim countries and Jewish rabbis denounce Israel’s civilian genocides in Palestine. And our very own Hindu scholars deplore right-wing assaults on minorities in India.
    S.H. Ustad, Delhi

    Mere declarations are not enough, Deoband must now follow it up with concrete action that signifies genuine reforms. They should also condemn fatwas against Taslima Nasreen and Sania Mirza. It would help invalidate some of the oft-repeated criticisms against the community by groups like the Sangh parivar.
    Rajesh Chandra, Phoenix, US

    I believe all the good reaction to the Deoband move arises out of a fallacy. A closer look at its declaration would reveal that the seminary considers only acts of violence on civilians as terror. And that is not what extremists in the community generally carry out.
    K. Sethumadhavan, Gurgaon

    Deoband, rather than issuing such statements, should take bold, proactive measures—like opening their institutions to all communities as the Catholic schools do. During my student days in such a school, Christian children were given Bible classes while the rest of us had moral science to learn.
    Azeem Taqi, Nashville, US

  • Early Maturing
    Mar 24, 2008

    M.S. Dhoni is the kind of guy who would prefer to highlight the youth power of his squad rather than hog the limelight (No Slips In Place, Mar 10). When asked to call upon his side to lift the recent tri-nation trophy, he asked "Sabse chhota kaun?" Piyush Chawla did the honours and picked up the trophy first! Also commendable is the skipper’s complete control over his emotions. There couldn’t have been a better answer to all the doubting Thomases who scoffed at this young brigade. And all the credit goes to Dhoni.
    Kartikeya Mehta, Ahmedabad

  • Rape Of The Game
    Mar 24, 2008

    For once, I agree with Vinod Mehta when he says the auctioning of players is a rape of the game (Delhi Diary, Mar 10). Pity is, bidders can buy any cricketer they want, but players have no choice but to go with their ‘masters’.
    Navdeep Hans, Delhi

    Instead of auctioning players, the bcci should have signed contracts, as in English soccer. This auctioning seems another bad Bollywood influence.
    Gajanan, Sydney

    Vinod Mehta’s wasn’t a fair evaluation. Cricket has for long been exploited by its ruling bodies and the media. Doesn’t Outlook make money through its cricket specials? Let them too start earning money.
    Sanjay Ranade, on e-mail

    When editors can make money out of their publications, why not cricket and cricketers? At least there is some transparency in the auctioning process.
    Sumit Gupta, Dehradun

    The cover of this Outlook issue screamed Jai Kisan. The country’s agriculture minister is also the BCCI chief. I wish a part of the money the board earns goes to the poor farmer.
    Ramesh Chari, on e-mail

    Did anyone think of the possibility of rivalry that could be planted among players of the same country owing to the often illogical difference in price tags that have been attached to them?
    V. Seshadri, Chennai

  • Fanciful Reality
    Mar 24, 2008

    I believe cinema is a creative medium; it’s meant to entertain, not be a source of history. And Jodhaa Akbar is no exception (Modern History, Mar 10). If our filmmakers can pass off green, rolling Swiss hills for a locale in Ramgarh or Piplipur, they can also alter plots from the past. I mean, if geography can be tampered with, why not history?
    M. Kar, Fairfield, US

  • Golden Silence
    Mar 24, 2008

    Your item on Rahul Gandhi (Polscape, Mar 10) was a good laugh. After some goof-ups in the recent past—like the outrageous claim that his family was responsible for the division of Pakistan—Rahul is finally following the Vermont adage: Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence.
    Jawahar P. Sekhar, Dubai

  • Gandhian Stoicism
    Mar 24, 2008

    How dare you laud South Africa on internet speed (The Illusion of Movement, Mar 3)! This country is the costliest in the world when it comes to internet—coupled with super-slow speed and, at times, non-existent services. India may be chaotic, but it has competition and hope. Here, we have neither.
    Prasad Dole, Cape Town

  • Black Sonia
    Mar 24, 2008

    The increasing popularuty of Barack Obama in the US presidential polls spurs me to ask this: Would Sonia Gandhi have attained her present status in India had she been a woman of African origin?
    Ralph Rodrigues, Bangalore

  • Maize at Cover, Barley at Mid-on
    Mar 24, 2008

    I am with Vinod Mehta—in spirit if not in letter—on his views on the sale of our cricketing stars (Delhi Diary, Mar 10). Mention cricket and money just pours out of every crack and crevice. Perhaps farmers should give up agriculture and play cricket instead. And village panchayats should transform themselves into cricket boards.
    Wendy Chaves, Mumbai

    If our icons can be auctioned and made virtual slaves to their new masters, it’s time we also legalised betting—on and off stadium.
    Arun Mehra, Mumbai

    To me, bcci bosses acted like pimps and facilitated prostitution of cricket. With businessmen and cine stars staking claim, cricket would no more be the glorious game it used to be.
    M.K. Bajaj, Chandigarh

  • Gutsy They
    Mar 24, 2008

    If China keeps bullying India, we should blame ourselves for it (Bull’s Eye, Mar 10). See how Pakistan took a lead role against the Soviet Union in 1979 when the latter sought to occupy Afghanistan. This when Islamabad knew how lowly it stood the mighty Moscow. It breaks my heart to see India let down peaceful Tibetans. But then we are a cowardly nation. We fail to budge even though we know it’s Beijing that helped make Pakistan a nuclear power.
    Mithun Ghosh, Cupertino, US

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