• People in Glasshouses
    Sep 01, 1997

    Apropos Chanakya Deconstructed (August 13), CPI(M) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet’s warnings may not be irrelevant or inaccurate, but it may be too early to describe him as the Chanakya of modern times. If he could play the same role in keeping the UF intact as he did in forming it, this could prove to be a feather in his cap. With regard to the issue of corruption, if he were to take the same interest in the alleged Rs 2,000-crore ledger scam in West Bengal, it would be highly appreciated. Why doesn’t he point the same relevant and accurate finger to clear the doubts over the issue? He needs to set his own house in order first.

    A. Jacob Sahayam, Thiruvananthapuram

  • The Sun Won’t Set
    Sep 01, 1997

    In response to the correspondent’s query, "Wasn’t colonising a crime?" (Queen May Apologise, August 13), I would ungrudgingly reply that it was British colonialism which united India and left behind a rich legacy of democracy, judiciary, etc. One needs to have lived and worked during the Raj to realise its plus points.

    John Joseph, Kochi

  • Bribe Insurance Inc.
    Sep 01, 1997

    What we desperately need in India is a Bribe Insurance Corporation (We, The Wretched, August 13). The policyholder will be insured against bribes of all kind. Payment of a suitable premium would entitle him to a refund of bribes he may have to pay in any eventuality.

    Brig. S.K. Jandial (Retd), New Delhi

    Transparency International’s categorisation of India as the eighth most corrupt nation is a tribute to our ruling classes as we celebrate 50 years of freedom. Karl Marx’s utopia of communism might have failed with the collapse of Soviet Union, but his famous quotation, "From each according to his ability to each according to his needs," has proved to be a reality in India as far as corruption is concerned.

    R. Arkesh, Bangalore

    The cover story was appropriate and accurately commemorated 50 years of our independence. It’s an eye-opener for those who are helpless and are forced to aid and abet bribery and corruption.
    Today, as we celebrate 50 years of freedom, won by the painstaking toil and struggle of leaders such as Gandhi, acts of corruption and bribery continue to plague us. The credit for this achievement goes to the undying support rendered by our greedy officials and politicians.
    So, in a sense, we are yet to attain real freedom. Salvation is possible only if we make whole-hearted, persistent efforts to put an end to these vices.
    The question that remains is whether there wil ever be another Gandhi to deliver us from this evil?

    M.A.S. Ayyar, Chennai

    I am happy to note that India has improved its ranking from the ninth to the eighth most corrupt nation on earth. With the active cooperation of the politician-bureaucrat-police combine, we will surely attain the covetous position of the ‘most corrupt’ among the community of nations as we advance into the 21st century.

    K.S. Sundaram, Bangalore

  • The French Experiment
    Sep 01, 1997

    The excerpts from Patrick French’s blasphemous book, Liberty or Death, published in Two Men From Gujarat (August 6) are in bad taste. What comes across clearly is that the perverted western mind cannot think beyond human excreta. The mystique of eastern philosophy and nature-cure concepts are beyond the comprehension of the West. They are the ones who branded Jesus Christ as homosexual. The book, by all standards, is trash and by publishing such filth, you have done a great disservice to a nation celebrating its 50th year of freedom.

    P. Govindrajan, Bangalore

    French couldn’t have been more objective in his analysis of Jinnah’s alienation from the INC, primarily due to Gandhi.

    Jinnah was driven into exclusively-Muslim politics when he saw that Gandhi was bent upon leading his largely Hindu followers into a mythical ‘Ram Rajya’ wherein cow-worship, vegetarianism and celibacy would be the ideals worth aspiring for. Being a product of European enlightenment, Jin-nah could not have possibly acquiesced in so Utopian and anti-rational a milieu.

    However, Jinnah grossly underestimated the determination of the Hindu proletariat (the low castes who comprise nearly 80 per cent of the Hindu community) to rid themselves of the racist dogma of Chaturvarna which was the cause of much suppression. For all his political acumen, Jinnah failed to realise that these victims of Hinduism’s divinely ordained dispensation of apartheid would have revolted if a Hindu Raj was foisted on them, even if by their Mahatma.

    History wronged Mohamad Ali Jinnah. It dwarfed the man who had all the attributes to become a great Indian statesman into a Muslim politician, who would vindicate Oscar Wilde’s aphorism, "When Liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood, it is hard to shake hands with her."

    Ramesh Deshpande, New Delhi

    In Liberty or Death, Patrick French comes across as a blatantly biased historian. His work appears to be a Pak-sponsored effort. The fact that he could not cite any statement from Gandhi is proof that Gandhi never deviated from the truth and he never had any ill-will against anybody; even for his worst tormentors—the Britishers—he had only goodwill. These qualities disqualify him from being called a ‘politician’. Besides, French’s brain is not so developed as to sit in judgement on Gandhi’s Experiments With Truth. His sole aim seems to be to condemn Gandhi.

    He further says that Jinnah was a ‘secularist’. Jinnah never practised his religion Islam, though he certainly subordinated Islam to his politics. Thus he committed the worst type of blasphemy.

    Let ‘honest historians’ not ignore these aspects before publishing a book.

    Parjan Kumar Jain, Delhi

    Jinnah’s Secularism and Gandhi’s Fads (August 6) was intriguing. I have a faint memory going back 51 years to when I was a student at Jamalpur.
    It was by sheer coincidence that I got the chance to see Gandhiji in a brand-new spotlessly-clean third class bogie with the tag ‘M.K. Gandhi and party’ attached at the rear end of the Punjab Mail with hordes of disciples in tow at Howrah station in July/August 1946.
    Jinnah was absolutely right when he said that he spent less travelling first class than Gandhi who travelled third class since Jinnah purchased only one ticket while Gandhi travelled with an entourage of disciples and yet claimed to dislike special treatment.

    B.K. Mukerjee, Calcutta

    I was surprised and hurt to read the extracts of Patrick French’s Liberty or Death published by Outlook. The book has been written by a shallow-minded attention-monging idiot, not a brilliant young historian as you believe and mention. Also, the book has been used as a means of cheap publicity.

    Apoorva Nagar, Delhi

  • Cause for Joy?
    Sep 01, 1997

    Vinod Mehta’s opinion A Double Albatross in Laloo Plays his Queen (August 6) measures his enthusiasm at celebrating the golden jubilee of Indian Independence. Laloo Yadav, has on this occasion, set an example as how best to mock India’s democracy. As for I.K. Gujral, he has proved to be a bad student at the college of thieves. He has gone off his accustomed tracks and now his days are numbered.

    S.S. Saar, New Delhi

  • No Salvation in Sightv
    Sep 01, 1997

    Ambedkar’s Fractured Legacy (July 30) failed to evaluate the underlying reasons which are the cause for events such as the tragedy which followed the desecration of Ambedkar’s statue in Mumbai. It is interesting to observe and enquire why Ambedkar’s statues alone are the targets everywhere?
    Centuries ago, it was Lord Buddha’s images that were destroyed because he was the greatest opponent of Chaturvarna and did everything to uproot it from society. Now, the same outrage is being repeated against literature relating to and statues of Ambedkar. Because, he too, like Buddha, struggled hard to establish the noble principles of equality, liberty and fraternity in the caste-ridden society of modern India.
    As long as caste-based inequality continues and the forces standing to gain by caste system continue to be challenged, this vandalism and violence against Dalits is bound to continue.

    M. Gopinath, Dalit Human Rights Forum, Bangalore

  • Why Cash in on Limp Impressions of the Mahatma?
    Sep 01, 1997

    The cover story Two Men From Gujarat (August 6) stinks. I am surprised that a magazine like Outlook, with an editor like Vinod Mehta, has chosen to erode its carefully built credibility by seeking out sensationalism. In this case, you have published an outrageously unfounded and poorly-written passage that reads more like an unsubstantiated editorial.

    Is Outlook getting too used to creating sensation irresponsibly without weighing the resultant public impact? One does not understand the need to publish a foreigner’s limp impressions of Gandhiji when French is of no great consequence to us and his work reeks of prejudice, something an editor normally guards against at all costs. I am no Gandhian, but have come to admire him after studying some excellent treatises on him, positive and negative. But even a stranger to Gandhiji would not miss the blinkers-on attitude that inspires this marathon of adjectives that amount to invectives, when used so loosely.

    I would not spare French and his sheer defiance of truth. Gandhiji needs no defence. Though the passage is too baseless to merit a rejoinder—the Mahatma himself would have condoned the manifest ignorance—I feel constrained to make a few points. French is not exactly letting the cat out of the bag when he mentions Gandhiji’s meetings with the Theosophists. Gandhiji had never made a secret of them nor of his "stiff collar, patent boots and spats" during his stay in London.

    If Gandhiji changed his views, it merely reflects the scope of his receptivity to ideas, and absence of ego. A rare attribute. In fact, it was this flexibility and courage to admit that he was wrong, the courage to conduct his life scrupulously in the open, that earned him what French so scathingly calls his deification.

    Even Gandhiji’s worst critics will refrain from calling him a tyrant who thrust his views on others. If there was one thing he was careful about, it was to be sure that everybody, especially his sympathisers, were guided solely by their convictions and not influenced by anybody else’s.

    If Jinnah spent only on one ticket, it speaks for the number of people he attracted as against Gandhiji, though I fail to understand why we have to pit one against the other. The unfortunate extract fails to rise to the level of constructive criticism and becomes unfashionably scurrilous in its inability to explain the lavish adjectives. Such accounts can come only from the utterly naive or the genuinely dumb whose appalling ignorance owes to a stubborn antipathy to learning.

    If Outlook thinks it is earning a higher circulation and thereby greater credibility, please think again, as many of us are having afterthoughts on having subscribed to it. I realise that this letter will not be published, but in the unlikely event that it is, please don’t hack it mindlessly.

    Seema Kamdar, Navi Mumbai



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