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Apropos of The Courts Went Tantri (Oct 22), I would like to comment that the court has very correctly ruled that women should be allowed to visit Sabarimala temple. The embargo imposed was illogical and intruded into the individual’s liberty of worship. It seems to have been created by a few self-interested persons for their own benefit. Religion is not partial, and hence this is also against religious tenets. Despite the renaissance started by Lord William Bentinck, Raja Rammohan Roy and other such personalities, the menace of superstition is not fully eradicated, and both the government and civil society should make all efforts to combat it.
Lt Col (Rtd) Ranjit Sinha, Pune
This refers to Life On Rent, your story on this new trend that I am quite familiar with (Nov 5). It’s fascinating as well as unsettling to know that even pets and boyfriends are available on rent these days. This shows how rapidly our experience of living in the city is changing. If the situation is such now, what does the future hold for us? Will feelings be commodified too? Will we be able to buy the right brand of love and will it give us happiness? These are some of the questions we need to seriously think about. Even though it was reverse psychology advertising, credit card company Mastercard said the right thing: “There are some things money can’t buy...”
Jatin Kumar, Delhi
It makes sense to rent out certain services that people are in need of but can’t afford. In Bangalore, you can rent a perfectly functional office space at a decent price. It works for a freelancer like me, who needs to hit the desk once in a while in order to meet deadlines. Before such services existed, people like me had to go to coffee shops and pay an exorbitant amount for unwanted coffee cups just because we needed to use their WiFi and wanted to sit in an air-conditioned place to finish work. You could also buy just one coffee and sit for hours on end. But that meant getting stared at by the staff and that would affect your concentration. The times I’ve done that solo cup routine, I have felt extremely sheepish.
Aravind R., Bangalore
This refers to Ale And Arty (Oct 29). All these fancy beers entering the Indian market! This is a heartening story. But they will be restricted to a niche market and they will stay off the highways for two reasons. One reason is the price of these beers, of course. It’s usually way higher than our regular beers. The other reason is the potency factor. For purely utilitarian reasons, India has evolved into a country of ‘strong beer’ drinkers. Scout the highways, and you will see the Godfathers, the Zingaros and the Haywards ruling the scene. Having said that, I’d love to try each of these new ales on the market.
In the issue Turnquotes (Nov 12), the article #WhoToo? carried a picture of the wrong Bhanwari Devi. The picture on the left (above) shows the woman referred to in the article, while the one on the right is the one that was carried by mistake. The error is regretted.
This refers to No Means No, your cover story on the #MeToo movement that has hopefully jolted many institutions out of their comfort zones. Emboldened by support by largely women on social media, India’s victims of sexual misconduct are baring their old scars to expose the men who had earlier escaped unscathed in the oppressively patriarchal setups they were functioning. Today, women are not tolerating inappropriate behaviour or sexual misconduct or gender stereotyping, and the onus is now on the employers and the management to ensure that there is no sexual harassment at the workplace. This is surely a positive movement.
Padmini Raghavendra, On E-Mail
The #MeToo movement has entered India with a bang. Thus far, the media and the entertainment industry seem to be its focus; not that other places are teeming with saints for men. Several women have accused well-placed persons in both these sectors by calling them out on social media. Some accused have reacted with silence, others have denied the charges, pleading innocence and, in some cases, they have ascribed ulterior motives to the accusers. It is appalling that some of the accusations of this #MeToo campaign predate the implementation of the Visakha guidelines whereby most organisations are supposed to have a committee in place to examine charges of sexual misconduct.
Meghana A., On E-Mail
Yes, when a woman says no, it means no: the message is loud and clear, a clarion call given by a few daring women. It reconfirmed the misogynist character of society. And no sphere is untouched, be it the film industry, media, politics or art. The movement has made it clear that sexual harassment is no longer just a women’s problem.
This MeToo mission in India has exposed many gods having feet of clay. Now, this movement must progress beyond social media and the cities as there are the small towns and vernacular media where things may be worse.
Rakesh Agarwal, Dehradun
This predatory culture looks like an epidemic that has suddenly erupted. It is not so. This culture was always there, even during the times of the great epics. We read instances of harassment in Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This “rape culture” has been endemic throughout history. Removing one M.J. Akbar from his position of power won’t civilise this rotten culture. The only way to stop this is for the victim to expose the predator.
Col (retd) C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad
It is better we segregate men and women in all workplaces and institutions and ensure that nothing goes amiss anywhere as free interactions will make misdemeanours possible. The warning bell has rung. Better segregate than sorry.
T. Santhanam, On E-Mail
Imagine the plight of the survivors before a #MeToo movement was made possible by social media: no place for them to even express their anguish. I applaud the women for sharing their #MeToo stories and exposing the predators. Why are women objectivised in our society so routinely? Where is the culture we so highly talk about? We need to change the overall mentality of the people and it has to happen at home. We need to educate and train our boys to respect women. We need better laws and good corporate governance around this and I know many companies are now taking these seriously. Also, would any women be punished if one goes through a false complain to frame a man? All the same, it requires guts to complain and hats off to everyone who has complained and participated in the campaign. Let’s see how much action is taken against those named by women in this movement.
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Bombay
As an Indian, I am a staunch supporter of the #MeToo movement and I’m happy to see it gathering the required momentum. But at the same time, I am horrified to see how futile statements are being made against names just for cheap publicity and vendetta. Some people also have random stories to throw on their social platforms accusing and defaming reputed individuals. #MeToo initially began to expose a few monsters, but the movement is now being diluted by some not-so-convincing testimonies.
Rakesh Suri, On E-Mail
It is alleged that lyricist Vairamuthu expected a woman singer to come to a hotel and ‘cooperate’ with him. If Chinmayi has kept quiet all this while, it is simply because Kollywood is traditionally dominated by men and she could in no way have prevailed against an influential man like Vairamuthu. Complaints by women about sexual harassment must not be dismissed as mere witch hunt to defame the well-established, but must be pursued to their logical conclusion.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
Many hear some of the stories and exclaim “them too”, but they know it was the case all along.
Anil S., Pune
#MeToo has finally taken the lid off what we all have been a little reluctant to believe and accept: that exploitation of film actresses in Bollywood is an open secret just as in Hollywood. Tanushree Datta deserves kudos for going out on a limb by narrating her ordeal on the sets of Horn Ok Pleassss ten years ago. Her revelations about being sexually harassed by Nana Patekar have sent shockwaves through the film industry. And as these priapic men get their comeuppance, her exemplary sangfroid in sticking to her version despite being slapped with legal notices is a clear indication that her pugnacious spirit refuses to be cowed down as she doesn’t want other budding actresses in Bollywood to be put through the wringer like her. The fact that only a couple of actors and actresses have spoken up for Tanushree goes to show that there is a lack of seriousness in realising the gravity of the situation and unless this chalta hai attitude is not jettisoned, vulnerable young actresses would remain at the receiving end of sexual exploitation. It is a fact that producers and directors often try to dangle film offers in front of aspiring actresses accompanied by indecent proposals. Already, Tanushree’s statement has opened the sluice gate of more revelations of victimisation faced by scribes and TV serial directors. Even some seasoned and famous journalists have been caught with their pants down following allegations by women scribes of predatory behaviour. It is heartening to note that women from various professions are no longer ready to maintain a stoic Meena Kumari-like silence and would rather call out potential stalkers and predators trying to misuse their authority. Simone De Beauvoir rightly said, “Only when a woman decides to display her mettle and audacious gumption, society gets to know of her intent.’’
Aditya Mukherjee, Delhi
This refers to your story from Gujarat, Imagine There Is No Migrant (October 29). The exodus of migrant workers, following an alleged rape in Gujarat for which a migrant worker was arrested, is in tune with the fissiparous trends threatening to disintegrate India. With the nation in economic and political doldrums, the need of the hour is to infuse cohesion, not dissolution. Assaults on workers from other states are frequently reported. The rift is widening as lust for offices of profit encourages parochial camaraderie for garnering votes.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
It is a sad reflection of our divisive times that the horrendous rape of a toddler blew up into an avoidable polarising issue in Gujarat. Worked up over the crime against the child, members of her community chose to direct their anger on the whole migrant community to which the accused belonged, rather than seeking justice for the victim. The attempt to whip up hostility against migrant workers in Gujarat is a classic case of bad politics and bad economics. It is shameful, indeed, that Indians moving to other states endure the same discrimination and racism that accompanies them when they migrate to another country.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
Sporadic violence on migrant workers from the Hindi-speaking belt in several parts of Gujarat, leading to an exodus from the state goes against the tenets of the Constitution, which clearly states that every Indian has the right to work and settle in any place of his/her choice in the country. The government must act firmly against the perpetrators so to instil confidence in workers and prevent them from leaving Gujarat when free movement of skilled workmen and artisans is giving a fillip to the state’s economic growth.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Apropos of The Courts Went Tantri (Oct 22). The religious belief that menstruating women are somehow impure was based on total ignorance, and it is certainly not valid in today’s environment of available sanitary facilities. The Supreme Court has merely corrected this anomaly, since traditions that become irrelevant with time must necessarily be changed. Motivated and superstition-based agitations must be curbed by countering them with reasoning. While the BJP government at the Centre has accepted the Supreme Court’s verdict, it is simultaneously encouraging its state unit in Kerala to object—all for petty electoral gains and to embarrass the state government, which is keen to implement the verdict. This is highly unethical on the part of the BJP.
D.V.R. Rao, Pune
In the story League Of Ms Muscles (Oct 29) Yashmeen Chauhan’s name was mistakenly written as ‘Yashmeen Chauhan Manak’, the error is regretted. Also, she doesn’t have a daughter.
This refers to Speakout (Oct 15). Apart from such platforms, where are women allowed the space to speak their minds out? People are ok as long as the ladies can keep mum, but as soon as they open their mouth, everyone starts panicking.
Charu Shah, Surendranagar
The theme of women empowerment for the Outlook Speakout this year was quite inspiring. The contribution of highly accomplished and courageous women like Atishi, the AAP leader who has done exemplary work for the Delhi school education system is not as well known as it deserves to be. I wish all these women felicitated at Outlook’s event all the success in their endeavours. It is very important to tell society about such role models.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Apropos of D.I.Y. Chandrachud (Oct 15), on matters of great bearing on the people, the nation also expects that the higher judiciary should respect the constitutional morality enshrined in the separation of powers and scrupulously desist from treading on the toes of the executive and the legislature. Except in rare cases, PILs should not be admitted in any such matter, and the court should advise the petitioner to approach the ministry concerned for redressal, or approach an MP/MLA/MLC to move a private member’s bill in Parliament or the state legislature. The torrent of PILs needs to be tamed into a trickle for optimum use of quality judicial time.
Nitin Majumdar, On E-Mail
Koka Subba Rao did not “retire” as Chief Justice of India as mentioned in your story. He resigned much before his retirement date, in order to contest the Presidential election.
P. Suryanarayana, On E-Mail
Speakout’s all good if accompanied by earnest attempts to ‘listen out’ by the menfolk.
Sneha Narayan, Bangalore
This refers to Predators! (Oct 15). As we all know, Bollywood works in various big camps—and until and unless the big shots stand up for this cause, nothing much will change at the grassroots level, and we will soon forget Tanushree Dutta’s allegations. Having said that, it would be foolish to jump the gun like this without hearing Nana Patekar and Vivek Agnihotri’s side of the story. And why did it take her eight years to make the accusation?
Bal Govind, Noida
Misogyny and patriarchy are deeply embedded in Indian society—and the film industry with its casting couches, and powerful directors and producers taking girls for granted, is even more misogynistic. In such a scenario, most women choose to remain silent; when someone like Tanushree Dutta dares to speak, all hell is loosed on her, asking why she remained silent for a decade. In the USA, the #MeToo movement has kept growing. Now it has been reported that since April 2017, more than 250 powerful people—celebrities, politicians, CEOs and others—have been facing sexual harassment, assault or other misconduct allegations. In India too, many gods have been found to have feet of clay, not just Nana, but many more in films, the media and the entertainment industry. This is definitely our #MeToo movement!
The masculine gender seems to give its members so much overriding power that male actors are alleged to have sexually assaulted women directors, producers and writers. But, a misdemeanour is not the same as felony; similarly, lewd comments, obscene gestures or inappropriate touching are not the same as rape. They cannot be lumped together. One is not quite sure whether all #MeToo allegations can be taken at face value. We cannot say with any finality that no woman would make an allegation of sexual abuse to settle an old score. It is naive to imagine that sexual favours are never offered to curry favour with influential men. Still, the #MeToo movement deserves our full support as it is against sexual harassment and not against the joy of male-female companionship.
G. David Milton, Maruthancode
This refers to Predators! (October 15). Women of our country have started going hammer and tongs on men’s questionable behaviours. The onslaught has been rather sudden, catching the men off guard. Men have always taken for granted that flirting with women is their birthright. Looks like quite a few VIPs of all hues and colours have been taken by surprise that their casualness could cause them so much embarrassment and disgrace. It was high time men got out of their slumber and began acting gracefully.
This refers to the diary by Sumita Paul, wife of the late Outlook editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta (Distaff Diary, Oct 15). After a very long time, I was happy and nostalgic reading some stuff written straight from the heart. As an old subscriber of your magazine, I, a 69-year-old, still miss Vinod Mehta’s forthright writing. He used to remind me of another great editor, Khushwant Singh. I hope Sumita Paul pens more such pieces, which appeal to people like me.
Sudhir Naik, Pune
Vinod Mehta has always been a quintessential prig. When every cricketing legend—Sachin, Dravid, Clive Lyod and Ricky Ponting—was rooting for the IPL, Vinod made a preposterous statement calling it an obscenity. He also didn’t care for the move to glam up the league by getting in cheerleaders. In TV talk shows, where participants routinely bark and howl at each other, I remember, many a time , the anchor had to “wake up” Vinod Mehta who would always be dreaming and dozing. I love the “Punjabi boy from Lucknow”.
Col (Retd.) C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad
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