Your editorial comment Som and Khan (October 30) is one of the finest pieces I have ever read. So incisive and so full of sarcasm & humour. Let me add some points from my experience:
On the police getting a pair of goats “to confess they were Khan’s buffaloes”.
In Mumbai a senior retired police officer (X) lost some ornaments in a burglary. Police arrested some people and ‘recovered’ the “property”. When X went to identify it, he noticed that they were not his. Still the local police tried to persuade him to take them but he refused to do so.
However a young Bangalore couple were not so lucky. When their house was burgled they lodged a complaint and approached me. I turned to a police friend who spoke to the local police. A few days later the couple got a call from the local police to come and identify their goods. They found that the recovered pieces were not theirs and showed reluctance to accept them. At this the SHO intimidated them & made them accept those pieces!
As far as the RSS is concerned, I had described their role during the Emergency in my book Keeping India Safe: The Dilemma of Internal Security (2017). I quote: “In 2015 during the 40th anniversary of the Emergency, some people claimed that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) was at the forefront of the silent agitation against Mrs. Indira Gandhi. It was claimed that thousands of RSS workers were printing and circulating clandestine pamphlets all over the country. Quite a few people believed this fiction in the wake of BJP’s overwhelming win in 2014 general elections. Nothing would be farther than the truth. I was in charge of the emergency enforcement in Bombay till May 1976 and I can unhesitatingly say that the RSS took no part in this till resistance in Bombay or even in Maharashtra at least till the middle of 1976 while I held charge of the Bombay Special Branch.
On the other hand they were very meek and submissive, ready to cooperate with the government to avoid arrests...They said they were anti-Communists like Sanjay Gandhi. During those days I saw two or three letters from Balasaheb Deoras, RSS Chief to the Prime Minister requesting her to lift the ban on RSS and release the cadres to enable their volunteers “to participate in the planned programme of action relating to country’s progress and prosperity under the PM’s leadership”. Copies of these letters were marked to Chief Minister S.B. Chavan who used to send them to me for my remarks. Deoras wrote to CM Chavan too asking him to be released on parole so that he could discuss these issues.”
Vappala Balachandran, On E-mail
(The writer is a former special secretary, Cabinet Secretariat)
Apropos Bhutto’s Promise: An Idea Has No Funeral, if Bhutto was such a democrat at heart, why did he deny the legitimate results of the election that brought Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to power? The truth is that he was just as corrupt and power-hungry as the military, and colluded with them when it worked to his advantage. His misfortune was that the military was more powerful than him and got rid of him when he started to be a thorn in their side. A stronger thief overpowering a weaker one doesn’t make the latter a victim. He’s still a thief!
Avinash Dharne, On E-Mail
Bhutto’s Promise: An Idea Has No Funeral is a fantastic, comprehensive and informative article. Two Zs bear the primary responsibility for the current state of affairs in Pakistan: General Zia and Zardari. While the former introduced religious extremism, the latter brought in corruption and nepotism.
Muqarrab Hussaini, On E-Mail
I found Bhutto’s Promise: An Idea Has No Funeral to be a wonderful read, but I must point out that you made a glaring mistake in the chart showing the Bhutto dynasty: Asif Ali Zardari is labelled as an ex-prime minister. In fact, Zardari was the president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013, but he was never prime minister. However, it is indeed true that Bhuttos have been involved in the country’s politics for generations and have paid in blood.
Arvind V. Gokhale, Pune
The article on Jane Austen by Devoney Looser (Emma Woodhouse is Your Friend) was a wonderful read. Austen’s creations live on in our midst, so life-like are they that we see them even in our neighbourhoods! The writer’s introspective truths haven’t been dimmed by time. Matters of courtship, emotional swings, changes of mind, envy and the economic factor were used to drive the plots of her novels. Their relevance in contemporary society is a testament to their immortality.
M.K. Somanatha Panicker, Alappuzha
I have an issue with the introduction to Bishan Singh Bedi for the 1967 Cricket Diary. Bedi was never a leg-spinner, but a left-arm orthodox spinner. I think you owe an apology to cricket lovers.
Manoj Sadasivan, On E-Mail
This is in reference to the article The Delhi Metro to Dombivali (October 16). It is unfair to compare the working of the metro rail system in Delhi with that of the suburban railways system of Mumbai, particularly in terms of the number of persons killed while crossing the track or falling from coaches/ hit by posts etc. Such hazards are inherent in any system at ground level. If DMRC must be compared with something, it should be with other established metro systems like those of Calcutta or Paris.
Also, a word on the Bullet train project. It is unknown how any high speed corridor like the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed rail (HSR) can be integrated with the suburban network to any advantage. HSRs all over the world operate separately, independent of the Metro system of the cities that they connect. These HSR systems enter the city at specified terminals, without any operational connection with the Metro systems. People use the Metro extensively to reach HSR terminals.
Undoubtedly, the Mumbai network is too old to cope with the city’s traffic. As suggested by the author, a radical approach must be adopted, but the fully elevated track he proposes would be very expensive and would impede traffic operations during the period of construction. A wholly underground network, as is quite common worldwide, would be more practical.
J.F. Dawson (Retd. Secy to General Manager, S.E.Railways), Chennai
It’s premature to say that the successful hosting of the Under-17 World Cup will lead to a renaissance of sorts for Indian football (No curl yet over the wall, Oct 30). The Indian boys did show that they can also belong on the big stage, but their lack of international exposure did them in. This was evident in the way the Indians let their guard down in the euphoria of scoring the first goal in a World Cup while playing against Colombia. That said, if Indian football is to revive its former glory, the government will have to not only provide the infrastructure and training, but also plan and strategise with an eye on the future. There is no lack of talent in the country with the likes of Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Dheeraj Singh and more garnering praise from connoisseurs of the game. The moot question remains whether we have the patience and the much required corporate funding to put Indian football on the road to success.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
This is in reference to the article An Outsider between the Posts (October 30). There is a factual error in the sentence “Playing for East Bengal, Shyam Thapa’s goal against Mohun Bagan of a back volley in the Calcutta League was folklore.” In fact, Shyam Thapa scored said goal while wearing Mohun Bagan’s jersey against East Bengal on August 6, 1978, in a Calcutta Football League match. We have great respect for your esteemed magazine, so we expect greater accuracy when it comes to historical facts.
Kushal Chakraborty, Calcutta
Modern happy developmental management by your excellent magazine/Your magazine is always new,/Editorial and news give logical view/I read the same and my mind blew/Instantly my knowledge grew.
P.V. Madhu, Secunderabad
This is with reference to A Good Shot in the Dark, your cover story on the football scenario in India (Oct 30). The Under-17 World Cup was such a golden opportunity for Indian football to reinvent and revamp its talent and make its presence felt in world football. It’s great that the promising players in India got opportunities to showcase their ability and I’m sure there was a great deal of learning involved in playing at the world level and that too at home. Domestic corporate-sponsored tournaments like the ISL (Indian Soccer League) may have come wrapped in claims of revolutionising Indian football but nothing can achieve what a government-backed event of this proportion can for the game in the country. It has been a good start.
P.A. Jacob, Muscat
The Under-17 World cup in India proved a significant success and shattered all the earlier records in spectator attendance. The event is a shot in the arm for Indian football. And it was plenty interesting too—England captured their maiden U-17 World cup title after rallying from behind to thump Spain 5-2 in the finals. Spain on the other hand played well in patches and attacked the English side from all corners but their defence was too weak to face the onslaught of the British side. The Salt Lake Stadium in Calcutta reverberated to thunderous applause during the final. Calcutta is the football fairytale city of India. With the final match being sold out in no time, the total attendance at the six host venues across the country logged 13,47,143 people, and it is a new record. Unlike cricket, the staple national obsession, football is a fast game and provides thrills every minute to the spectator. This U-17 World Cup was indeed a soccer extravaganza.
C.K. Subramaniam, Navi Mumbai
Outlook’s coverage of the pathetic jobs situation in the country (Depressing Window to Middle Class, Oct 23) prompts this letter. Indeed, it’s a grim scenario on the jobs front. The economy had already slowed down before it had to contend with the double blow of demonetisation and GST. With the heyday of the IT sector behind us, a slump in manufacturing has hit job-seekers hard. Growing automation and introduction of new technologies have further queered the pitch for youngsters about to enter the job market. Retrenchment, instead of new jobs, is the outcome. The government, understanding the gravity of the situation, has come up with concepts such as ‘Skill India’ and has tried to rev up self-employment by offering incentives in the form of subsidies and soft loans. Unfortunately, for India’s burgeoning middle class, these aren’t meaningful. Rising aspirations amongst middle class youths forbid them to take up jobs not to their liking. At the same time, with no sound financial background, they are not in a position to take risks in business. Incidentally, the start-up story is also an exaggerated one. There is no demographic dividend; a demographic disaster is upon us.
Vijay Pant, Hempur
A country like India, where there is a surplus of unskilled labour, is more vulnerable to rapid changes caused by artificial intelligence technology (When AI Spells Exit, Oct 23). According to experts, manufacturing output is at an all-time high but employment is today lower than ever before. Bottom line: automation is playing a part in eliminating many jobs in the economy. The World Bank estimates that around 57 per cent of jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
This refers to the story on Mamata Banerjee (The Highway, Yes. But Not Her Way!, Oct 30). Issues of governance and those of party discipline notwithstanding, Mamata’s continuous obsession with ‘appeasement’ politics is not to the liking of Bengalis in general, and her close followers in particular. She leads no more in consultation with close aides but has become a CM who is scared of even her own shadow—suspecting every senior person of harbouring chief ministerial ambitions. Hers, anyway, has always been a one-woman party, but now the space for dissidence, or for considering other ways of governing the state, has shrunk even further. If this carries on, the ten-year TMC bubble will burst and irrespective of who wins the next polls, Bengal will suffer more. The simmering social tensions resulting from token steps by Mamata, or the poisonous Hindutva campaign by the BJP, are playing upon the cracks in Bengali society.
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijaywada
Shyam Thapa’s back volley against Mohun Bagan in a 70s league game still echoes.
Anjan Kumar Das, On E-Mail
This is about the story on the Guptas of South Africa (Prez Zuma’s West UP Connect, Oct 30). We should not pay much attention to the allegations levelled against the Guptas by this article. Like many families from humble roots which make it to the top, the Guptas have been accused of corruption time and again. Armed with a solid middle-class upbringing, the Guptas tackled all the challenges of South Africa and set up a huge business empire. After they rose to be among the richest business houses of South Africa, they came into prominence and were regarded as a threat by their business competitors. These competitors want to ruin the Guptas for obvious reasons, and are thus carrying out a false propaganda campaign against them.
Nosicelo Mntumni, On E-Mail
Accusations against the Guptas have been items of news in the South African media for long. But none of them has been proven by law. A prominent investigative agency also presented its report in the form of GuptaLeaks, featuring emails of transactions of firms linked with the Guptas. But when authorities probed the matter, they couldn’t find any incriminating content. Still, the media probed against the Guptas’ alleged misdeeds on their own accord, leading four top banks to close their accounts with the family, citing ‘associated risks’. The sole objective of the ongoing probe against this prominent business family seems to be to tarnish their image.
Dova Groenewald, On E-Mail
I was moved by the Diwali Diary (October 30) of Sahar, who like me, loves to celebrate the festival of lights but, again like me, is stuck within the four walls of a concrete home. I too suffer from bronchitis, so much like her, albeit to a lesser extent, I can’t tolerate the smoke that enters my house and chokes me. This Diwali, I too started coughing when I went to the roof of my house to witness the spectacle, and the next day my parents had to take me to a doctor who put me on a nebuliser. Sahar lives in Noida in the NCR region where the sale of crackers was banned by the Supreme Court this year, so it must have been a much better Diwali for her, I hope. Sadly, no such luck for me in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, where many people burst crackers, which were sold in most markets and localities of the city. So unlike her, I can’t even escape to the hills next year—we practically live in the hills! And even days after Diwali, a few people keep bursting crackers, proving their prowess and the power of pelf. I empathise with Sahar and reiterate with a lot of sadness that, for millions of children like her and me, Diwali is not a festival to await eagerly, but an occasion for fear. Just to tell you, I’m just a couple of years older than Sahar (I’m sixteen).
Arnav Ridh, Dehradun
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