Letters | Jun 08, 2009
  • Now... To Work
    Jun 08, 2009

    Forget 100 days (The India Yet To Be Built, May 25), if the new government could use the nearly 2,000 days of its tenure profitably and see to it that every citizen, right down to the poorest, gets access to safe drinking water and decent sanitation, it’ll have done the country a great service.
    M.H. Rao, Hyderabad

    The rough order of business for the government can be: 1) Enact a universal education law till age 14, 2) Create a federal housing and urban development agency dedicated to building low-cost housing in towns and villages, 3) Masterplan for rapid infrastructure development, and 4) Ensure greater access to capital for marginalised communities.
    B.B. Ramdeo, Springfield, US

    The UPA, with the huge mandate that it has gathered, should resist regionalism and casteism in the interest of the nation. Every Indian should have the right to live and work in any part of the country as he/she pleases.
    Mahesh Kumar, Delhi

    Before anything else, corruption, which eats into the very foundation of society, should be rooted out. Rules governing the civil services should also be revised so that corrupt government officials can be dealt with without any delay.
    Col T.R. Sehgal, Chandigarh

    With a public so maddeningly lethargic and the economy frustratingly listless, the future government’s biggest resource may well be the enthusiasm it can bring (A Pocketful of Ideas).
    S. Bengani, Calcutta

    Political roadblocks to progress—the Left, Laloo-Mulayam et al—have wreaked havoc on the nation for a long time. As a result, two of India’s largest states—UP and Bihar—lag behind even as the south and west have progressed. The rule of the Left Front has likewise been the bane of Bengal. The people have spoken against them. The leaders of the next government should now ruthlessly keep them away from any blackmailing.
    Vedant A. Shinde, Mumbai

    If media reports are to be believed, Muslims and upper-caste Hindus (especially Brahmins) have voted in large numbers for the Congress this election. This is a positive sign in the attitude and thinking of the common man in general and Brahmins and Muslims in particular. They have realised that emotive religious issues like Ayodhya neither help the cause of upper castes, nor liberate Muslims from their backwardness. The Muslims also seem to have rejected the self-styled mullahs who take great pride in announcing their support for a particular party or candidate. The latter should henceforth stop spending time and money in the fruitless exercise of obtaining popular support.
    M. Iqtedar Husain Farooqi, Lucknow

    Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have been given a free hand by the nation to implement a programme of economic resurgence. India should now lay emphasis on promoting manufacturing, processing and infrastructure activity. Huge investments should be made to enter even internationally competitive markets. To achieve this, all states in India should work in unison. Public-private partnership is another area the government should actively support. sezs, with a sensitive land acquisition policy of course, should regain attention. During the months of recession, exports from sez units showed a 36 per cent rise. If this proven remedy is available, it should be made full use of and replicated wherever needed.
    Jimmy Dadabhoy, Dhulia, Maharashtra

    And so a weak prime minister in his rivals’ perception emerged a strong force in the voters’. No more arm-twisting from the Left, no more mud-slinging fromthe right. Manmohan has shut all of them up.
    George Olivera, Mysore

    I am disappointed, Mr Mehta. You call a bunch of extraordinarily incompetent people an "economic dream team" to extricate India from the current recession. These hacks (PM, Montek, Rahul et al) have been dying to privatise India’s financial and banking companies (and presumably sell them to Citigroup, aig and other corporations that have now gone bankrupt). Now these Wall Street lowlifes will play poker with the pension money of hard-working middle-class Indians. Rahul and Sonia were late converts to nrega. These creatures also tried to sell the nuclear deal as a "cheap electricity" alternative—how transparently dishonest when India has huge uranium and thorium deposits already (the funding for whose extraction the same people are responsible for withholding) and so many indigenous alternatives (like clean coal) exist. These guys are the worst things to have happened to India since probably Wajid Ali Shah.
    Bramhesh Srivastav, on e-mail

    Laloo and Paswan, amongst other political opportunists, have been rightly derailed. It would have been good to see Mulayam and Mayawati shelved away too. The Left parties have also been rightly shown the door. The negative aspect of the results is the impetus given to dynastic rule which along with political sycophancy should never find place in any democracy.
    Aires Rodrigues, Goa

    Our Constitution-makers had envisaged only single-party rule. Had they foreseen coalition governments, they would have approved only of pre-poll alliances. For, post-poll alliances are just marriages of convenience. They do not have the people’s mandate and negate their vote. Governance takes a backseat and holding on to power becomes the sole aim.
    S.R. Prabhu, Alappuzha

    I would call Verdict 2009 a providential respite for the long-suffering citizen of India. Providential because the UPA has clearly not won these elections on the strength of its performance. The people have not seen any amelioration in their day-to-day suffering. No dent has been made in the severity and pervasiveness of corruption in government departments, the police and cbi can justly be said to have become the government’s handmaidens. If, in spite of its lacklustre performance, people have voted for UPA, it is obviously because they expected worse from the other formations. It is now for the UPA to live up to people’s expectations and show that they do mean well.
    S.C. Juneja, on e-mail

  • Jun 08, 2009

    Now that a Congress government is not at perpetual risk of being thrown out, Mr Mehta, it is a good time for you to accept the burden of being part of a truly free press, fearless to point out flaws in the government as well as the opposition (No Hate Politics, This is India, Election Extra, May 25). You no longer have the BJP bogey as an excuse to brush under the carpet every negative story about the Congress in general and the Nehru-Gandhi family in particular. Make use of it.
    Nayanika Barat, Toowoomba, Australia

    No, Mr Mehta, you’ve got it wrong. Your articles most of the time are full of hypocrisy. Your definition of secularism is: Hate/eliminate Hindus.
    Jitendra Singh, Melbourne

    If the BJP lost because, as VM says, people said no to hate, then the party should have lost badly in Gujarat and Karnataka too, two states whose the governments were described by Outlook as hate merchants. Even Varun Gandhi won despite his "hate speech" while the Shiv Sena, which has certainly toned down, lost pretty badly.
    Maha Gandhar, NewJersey

    I had begun to feel apologetic about being a ‘pseudo-secularist’. I can breathe easy again.
    Anupam Dasgupta, Jaipur

    If pseudo-secularism worked for the Congress, why did it fail for the Left? Or its more unsubte practitioners, Laloo and Paswan?
    C.P. Narendran, Nagpur

    Unfortunately for the Left, it had trouble in West Bengal and Kerala simultaneously. The Congress, however, has a lot to thank the Left for. It is they who cobbled up a third front, mopping up the nda’s former allies, thus weakening it. They almost succeeded in taking in the jd(u) as well.
    Vijayakumar, Bangalore

    Worry not, Mr Mehta. The Congress welcomes ‘reconverts’ like you with open arms.
    Kel Shorey, Glasgow, UK

    It was ridiculous that the BJP should have brought up 1984 when it hasn’t been able to live down Gujarat or Kandhamal. Why indeed did L.K. Advani lead a personal attack against Manmohan? Prakash Karat, of course, scripted his own political obituary. The UPA pulled it off not so much with the nuclear deal as with the nrega and the farm loan waiver. It must now strive to do justice to the people’s mandate.
    Dr H. Arun, Chennai

    L.K. Advani’s attack on Manmohan Singh was a disastrous gambit. One thought Advani would stick to his word for once and take sanyas, but he "got persuaded" to stay on as the Leader of the Opposition! I wonder with what face he will face the "weak prime minister" in the new Parliament.
    Jatinder Sethi, Gurgaon

    Apropos What Went Right for the Winners, it’s also a coming of age for the world’s largest democracy. So while we say kudos to Manmohan Singh, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, let’s also salute the people of India.
    Gairik Ghosh, Bangalore

    Fantastic analysis—to the point and on the dot.
    S.S. Bhatia, Dubai

    The UPA’s re-election proves that its 2004 win was no fluke. Now the Manmohan Singh government should weed out criminal elements so that it not only gives people a clean administration, but also honours its commitment towards the development of the nation.
    B.K. Chatterjee, Faridabad

    Manmohan’s silent contribution to the victory is much more than has been credited to him. The day he steps down will be a sad day. Rahul Gandhi will become a victim of the coterie like his father did . They should keep chamchas like Tytler, Sajjan, Arjun Singh et al at a safe distance.
    Pear, Mumbai

  • Now...To Work
    Jun 08, 2009

    The likes of Sunil Gangopadhyay and Soumitra Chattopadhyay are very disappointed at the drubbing the Left Front, especially the CPI(M), got in West Bengal because the "intellectually inclined" and snobbish Buddhadeb Bhattacharya would humour them (A Craving for Change). Gangopadhyay wants to use his links with Buddhadeb to get a berth in the Rajya Sabha while Chattopadhyay wants to be Calcutta’s sheriff. In fact, both are upset that people like Tapas Paul and Shatabdi Roy have made their way to the Lok Sabha when they’ve been acting as stooges of the Left Front government for so long.
    Tirthankar Bandyopadhyay, London

    Sunil Gangopadhyay has done nothing for Calcutta except change its name to Kolkata. He always backed the CPI(M) because he enjoyed its patronage.
    George, London

    You cannot rubbish Sunil Gangopadhyay’s contribution to Bengali literature because of his affiliation to the Left, but, yes, he is motivated by self-interest—a berth in the Rajya Sabha—as was Mahashweta Devi. And none of this means that Mamata is a great leader. She has no political ideology or constructive viewpoint that can be an alternative to the Left.
    Dipto Chatterjee, New York

    The poor handling of the Rizwanur Rahman case was another factor contributing to the Left’s defeat in Bengal.
    Adarsh Ali Vidhyarti, Montreal

  • Now...To Work
    Jun 08, 2009

    It would have been better had Mallika Sarabhai stuck to writing what she was asked to (Dear Mr Advani, May 25). Instead, she used the opportunity as an excuse to pour unnecessary vitriol over a far worthier opponent. The questions she proceeds to ask of Advani could well be asked of the Congress as well.
    Mit Patel, Ahmedabad

    Mallika’s shrill tone reminded me of Arundhati Roy. Perhaps you need to do this when no one cares about you.
    Narendra Vasireddi, Boston

    I think the BJP lost this election because it failed to evolve a rousing point to communicate with the people. Its right-of-centre ideology is supposed to be opposed to the Left’s. On many issues, however, their tone, stance and tenor sounded the same, signifying a kind of unity in absurdity. So if the Left opposed industrialisation as anti-imperialism, the BJP did the same on grounds of swadeshi. The commies and right-wingers also found themselves on the same side on the nuclear deal.
    T.K. Sandilya, Chennai

    My admiration for Mallika has gone up several notches due to her grit and determination. I feel the powers-that-be should utilise her energy and that of like-minded individuals in nation-building.
    Brig (retd) Lakshman Singh, on e-mail

    Mallika at her best. Pathetic.
    Amitabh Jha, Delhi

    Thank you for contesting the elections, Mallika. If I were from Gandhinagar, I would have voted for you.
    Jaipat S. Jain, New York

    Didn’t Mallika Sarabhai lose her deposit by securing less than 10,000 votes on May 16? It’s become fashionable to dub as ‘Taliban’ anyone who is from the BJP. In the Indira days, it was the term ‘fascism’, which was conferred on anyone who was patriotic. Mrs Gandhi gave us the Emergency and one of those imprisoned was L.K. Advani. We still need patriots like Vajpayee and Advani to stand up against the resurgent, totalitarian Congress.
    Priya Madhavan, Rochester

    Development projects in Gandhinagar are no myth, an example being the Gujarat Financial International Tech City. Why, Outlook itself awarded high marks to Advani’s constituency!
    Aneesh Vempati, Hyderabad

    Mallika should be commended for her courage. At least she took a stand in a state that Narendra Modi runs like a dictator.
    Sabyasachi Ray, Calcutta

    Mallika may have lost the election, but it was heroic of her to stand up and speak for the minorities.
    Vivek Chatterjee, Calcutta

  • Now...To Work
    Jun 08, 2009

    Jason Overdorf’s take on Indian politics helps us see the truth about ourselves (Give it a Good Shake). The mushrooming of political parties reflects no healthy democratic trend in India, only the intent of crooked individuals to hide behind their parties to escape punishment for their crimes. It is in stagnant waters that mosquitoes breed.
    T. Sathyamurthi, Folsom, US

  • Jun 08, 2009

    Zoya Hasan’s column paints all parties, except the Congress, as practising identity politics (Disenchantment of the Dispossessed). India is a collection of numerous castes and faiths. If politics doesn’t take this into account, it is hypocritical.
    R. Chandra, Phoenix, US

  • Jun 08, 2009

    It’s rarely that the BJP receives as objective an assessment as Ashok Malik’s (Time the BJP changed its Hard/Software). The BJP’s place today is not unlike where the right-of-centre parties of Europe are. The elections are an indication of the basic concepts Indian society has arrived at. Political parties, if they want to survive, must correct their course.
    K.S.C. Nair, Indianapolis, US

    I’m no supporter of the BJP, but I believe in clean and good contests, and the BJP, which suffered its worst defeat since 1991, failed to stand up to the Congress only because of its inward-looking, self-adulatory approach to politics.
    Tapan Bhattacharya, on e-mail

    The BJP lost because of a campaign that targeted Manmohan Singh and resorted to the cheap sarcasm of acronyms like Ulta-Pulta Alliance. For all of Advani’s talk of black money abroad, what did he do about it when he was deputy PM? Politicians had better learn that the Indian public is observing them at all times.
    Venkatesh U., Mangalore

    The UPA has proved beyond doubt it’s not the Ulta Pulta Alliance but the Unanimously Popular Alliance, while the nda is the Not-at-all-Deserving Alliance.
    Abdul Monim, on e-mail

    To Ashok Malik’s claim that tina (There Is No Alternative) should now become nita (Narendra Is The Alternative), I should like to say that, in fact, it’s nina (Narendra Is No Alternative).
    O.K. Vipin, Chennai

    Although I always vote BJP, I welcome the election results because for the next five years we will have a stable government—one committed to reforms and free of the influence of the Left and the rjd.
    M.J. Mansharamani, Nagpur

  • A Darkening Light
    Jun 08, 2009

    Kashmir Castabout (May 25) is one of the best-written articles on Kashmir in recent times. Kashmir has always had a liberal tradition of Islam. Sufi Islam has been radicalised into Salafi Islam due to the influx of maulvis who style the Deobandi Wahabi ideology as a response to the political situation. Kashmir has also suffered more than the rest of India from corruption.
    Rajiv Chopra, Jammu

  • Queer Lenses?
    Jun 08, 2009

    Mariana Baabar seems to be going out of her way to project a ‘good Taliban’ by artfully quoting displaced Sikhs (Pir Baba’s Orphans, May 18). Who is trying to fool whom? Will Ms Baabar care to clarify? Is it not true that the Taliban are guilty of wide-ranging human rights violations?
    G.L. Karkal, Pune

  • Jun 08, 2009

    Given the unending love affair of our 24/7 newshounds with sensationalism, you can’t tell it anymore from entertainment (That Bafflegab, May 25). No wonder trivial, yet comically entertaining catfights and hate-fests hogged headlines this election.
    Ameet Bhuvan, Bhubaneswar

  • Whose Food For Thought?
    Jun 08, 2009

    I wish Outlook had verified facts in the article Cook is In (May 25). The guidelines of the nutritional norms to be followed by the state governments in the ICDS attributed to me personally are in fact the recommendations of a task force the ministry set up comprising nutritionists and doctors. All suggestions made by the Supreme Court were incorporated in the guidelines, which were vetted by the law ministry before they were notified. The recent SC ruling appreciated the guidelines and directed all state governments and union territories to implement them. The ministry has clearly recommended hot cooked meals for children over three, so where is the question of replacing it by "packaged meals" as claimed? The article insinuates that I’m somehow pushing for pre-packaged food, synonymous with corruption. It is state governments which implement ICDS, not the Centre, and in most states, ICDS food is prepared by public sector units, not private companies, leaving little scope for contractors. Nor do supplementary rations for children under three come under the category of pre-packaged food. They can be manufactured by small self-help groups at the village level. What the writer has not cared to point out is that the ministry has doubled the budget per child, called for universalisation of ICDS and stipulated increased caloric norms and protein requirements.
    Renuka Chowdhury, New Delhi

    Our correspondent replies: Nowhere does the article take away the importance of the ministry in laying down nutrition norms for tackling child malnourishment. The fact that the SC praised the ministry has also been highlighted. What the former minister has chosen to ignore is the court’s reminder to her ministry to adhere to the 2004 and 2006 orders where contractors were asked to be kept out of the exercise. The article speaks for malnourished children whose numbers have not decreased in the five years that the UPA government’s been in power.

  • The Dew factor
    Jun 08, 2009

    Not just Muslims, everyone aspires to be part of decision-making (There’s Dew On The Moss, May 25). This is especially true of the ‘untouchables’, who still spend entire lives battling horrific prejudice. Such segregation is common in Tamil Nadu. None, however, can beat the wall built at Uthapuram, in Madurai district, as a barrier between Dalits and caste Hindus.
    Peda Anna, New York

  • The Compleat Angler
    Jun 08, 2009

    What on earth is Priyanka’s contribution to politics except a Gandhi tag? Why a cover story on her (May 11)?
    Bijoy K. Jha, Bihar

    Priyanka Chopra should thank her lucky stars that Priyanka Vadra opted for politics instead films.
    Nasir Abid, Lucknow

  • Change Of Places
    Jun 08, 2009

    Your May 18 cover should have shown Sonia driving, Manmohan in the sidecar and Rahul perched on his shoulder.
    K.K. Agarwal, Agra

  • Golden Why
    Jun 08, 2009

    What Tarun Vijay says in his Ayutthya Diary (May 25) is the obvious, visible part. I presume he means Thailand’s done better than India. Why? Is it a case of the acolyte doing better than his master? Or is it that they remained Buddhist and didn’t revert to Hinduism, unlike India? Is it that since Thailand wasn’t colonised and became the buffer zone between the British colonies and other European colonies of SE Asia, they could modernise more on their terms? Or shall we give credence to the Hindutva theory that its impressive progress was because of lack of any Islamic invasion?
    A. Maheshwari, Bangalore

  • Jun 08, 2009

    Salman Rushdie reached great heights with Midnight’s Children, but his subsequent novels were too pedagogic, reflecting the narcissistic pleasure he derives by perfecting a fustian prose to the detriment of thematic content (The Trouble With Explanation, May 25). Later, he chose disputatious themes to astound, forcing him to defend his position with a certain economy of truth: his so-called ‘explanations’.
    Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai

  • Rather Right
    Jun 08, 2009

    Your predictions on the poll results (The Bharat Hedge Fund, May 18) were not bad.
    K.N. Singh, Mohali

  • Sincerely, A Fan
    Jun 08, 2009

    Mr Mehta, I didn’t realise you were getting so much flak for being candid (Delhi Diary, May 11). In my generation’s lingo, you’re "totally awesome". One, you write really well. Two, your upfront secular liberal stand is what makes Outlook special.
    Devika Narayan, Mumbai

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