• One-liner
    Sep 03, 2018

    ‘Remember remember’ the 8th of November, when your grand icon robbed us of all our cash.

    Vineet Kamra, Mumbai

  • Pressure From Below
    Sep 03, 2018

    This is about the story on Dalit leaders in the NDA being in a tight spot due to widespread disquiet within the community. Now, realising that the Supreme Court order ‘diluting’ the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was turning out to be a political hot potato, the Narendra Modi cabinet has decided to bring an amendment bill which, if passed by Parliament, will turn the clock back to the original law that had provisions for an FIR without any preliminary inquiry and immediate arrest of the accused. Truly, the government was under great pressure, with Ram Athawale and Ram Vilas Paswan virtually putting it on notice, threatening protests. Plus, there was a nationwide Dalit agitation planned in the first week of August. But how come Athawale and Paswan didn’t vociferously protest at news of the Una atrocity, where Dalits were assaulted for the alleged skinning of a dead cow? Truly, politicians are only actuated by considerations of votes.

    K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore

  • Sep 03, 2018

    Outlook’s articles on Karunanidhi on his death were a good read (Karuna­nidhi: Episodes From The Script, He Who Spoke Chentamizh, Aug 20). The state is orphaned by the demise of its tallest leader. The question is, will the legacy of the DMK patriarch be carried forward with the same zeal in the midst of the already brewing dispute in the family over control of the party. Not­withstanding the fact that Karunanidhi was a Brahmin-baiter and anti-Hindi activist (in the ’60s), his contribution to literature, good oratory, shrewdness, championship of social justice and ref­orms programme undertaken for the downtrodden made him a popular leader of the masses. However, as a sel­ective rationalist, his thoughts and act­ions on many occasions exposed his hypocrisy and opportunism.

    K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad

    A five-term CM of Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi was a phenomenon. Educated up to class VIII, he bec­ame one of the greatest scholars and interpreters of ancient Tamil literature and turned the Tamil film industry into an instrument of social and political change. He stood at the centre of a movement that asserted a language and race-based identity of the Tamil people. He made all Tamilians breathe, smell, speak and write Tamil with pride. Indeed, so involved was he on the well-being of all Tamils that he even interfered—with the Centre’s app­robation, one must add—in the movement for equality among Sri Lanka’s Tamil community. He strove hard to leverage the political scene to make Tamil Nadu a fulcrum of national politics. In the end, he will be known for persuading the Centre to acknowledge the identity of states within the Indian federation, as well as falling to that ­familiar failing of a long-term politician—promoting dynastic rule.

    Meghana A., Shell Cove, Australia

  • Sep 03, 2018

    This is with reference to your Independence Day special cover, 21 Century Makers (Aug 20). Honestly, I couldn’t make out the solitary “con” in your issue, most of which is pure, una­dulterated sycophantic rant, the article on the sports icon, M.S. Dhoni, being the exception. It is preposterous for Nirmala Sitharaman to compare Narendra Modi with Swami Vivekananda. Modi could be anyone but the Swami. Both, fellow Congressmen, Shashi Tharoor and Mani Shankar Iyer have plush jobs, all they have to do is continue to be critical of Modi and unc­ritical of their own party members. Shashi Tharoor delves into spiritual theories to eulogise Sonia Gandhi in his Legend of the Renunciate: “Italian by birth and Indian by karma,” he writes. And Sonia Gandhi did not leave power in the hands of her “grey-haired viziers”, as Tharoor claims, but in the hands of her still dark-haired son. Another ‘guest writer’ singing peans of his chosen candidate, the fellow godman-businessman Baba Ramdev, is Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (The Baba of Big Bucks). Such are the tunes that come out of his write up: “Combining commercial success with simplicity, Ramdev is a class apart”. Refreshingly different is Ashish Nehra’s   admiration for the “real ageless copter” M.S. Dhoni (A Real Ageless Copter). Like Nehra, quite a few of us believe that “the way Dhoni is playing, he will surely go on to play the 50-over World Cup next year”. But the piece-de-resistance is Sunny Leone. She does look every inch a smart pin-up.

    C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad

  • Angel From Earth
    Sep 03, 2018

    That incident was indeed your second birthday, sir (HJT-16 Diary, Aug 20). I have never been near a fighter jet bef­ore, but just reading your account gave me that stomach drop that pilots are said to feel while flying one. It also ­reaffirmed my faith in guardian angels. They don’t come from the sky, but ­res­ide here on earth as humans. Your flight instructor N.M. Gupte was surely one for you. 

    Dinesh Ravindran, Hyderabad

  • Sep 03, 2018

    Sunny Leone is a star, undoubtedly (Beyond the Bolly Cloud, Aug 20). Wouldn’t BJP president Amit Shah have wished he had Sunny’s charm? After all, his party supporters tweeted pictures of her viral visit to Kerala last year as his own. While Sunny’s admirers filled almost a mile on a street to get a glimpse of her, Amit Shah’s Kerala rally was a sparse, depressing affair. Sunny is a true professional who has played the Bollywood game on her own terms. Every inch of the success she has achieved is well deserved. And she was an absolute outsider to the industry. She is certainly an inspiring icon.

    Ravi Jain, New Delhi

  • Booked This Theory
    Sep 03, 2018

    Your cover story We Are All Harappans (August 13) is interesting, but I do not agree with the assertion of the ‘Iran farmer’ link mentioned in it. I have written two online articles that establish South India’s inf­luence in the thinking of the Arab nations in the past. And in my latest book Nanchinadu: Harbinger of Rice and Plough Culture in the Ancient World, I argue that the origin of rice cultivation was in Nanchinadu in South India. More books remain to be written on this theme, which will reveal the ­unwritten past of the Kerala region.

    V. Sankaran Nair, On E-Mail

  • Civilisational Bricks
    Aug 27, 2018

    Your cover story Who were the Harrapans? (Aug 13) made for an interesting read, but I must confess that it was a difficult terrain to chart as a reader, with so much being intricately woven to the plot, a necessary measure perhaps, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue. Although there were a lot of ins­ightful observations made, there was nothing particularly new. The only fresh element for me was the ­domestication of cattle and poultry and the agriculture aspect, which is suggested to have come with the Iranian farmer ancestry from the western side through inter-breeding. What also amazed me was the inroads quietly made by genetics using DNA samples to add a ‘scientific dimension’ to anc­ient history. Also, the distant roots of our own brick proportions 1:2:4 (width: breadth: length) are a fascinating discovery. I wish there was some ‘genetic feature’ to also trace the history of different faiths. On the plus side, why anc­ient cultures disappeared should guide modern cultures and our ‘IT’ civilisation, if possible, on how to slow down its ine­vitable slide vis-a-vis fast dwindling resources.

    Mohan Singh, Amritsar

    Our notions of history and prehistory shall undergo a sea change, now that experts are applying advanced techniques of genetics to the study of anc­ient civilisations. Now is officially a scientific age of history. The sequencing of genomes of the ancient DNA, which geneticists have gathered from several sites around the world, such as the ancient cave at Denisova in Germany, have revolutionised the study of prehistory. Geneticists like Savante Paabo have invented cutting-­edge technologies to extract minute particles from available portions of ­ancient DNA, thus eliminating the possibilities of their contamination with foreign microbes infesting them in the course of time. David Reich, an American geneticist of Israeli origin, has published a book titled Who We Are And How We Got Here: Ancient DNA And The New Science Of The Ancient Past that lights a torch to the darkest areas of human prehistory. He, by way of genetic analysis, proves that we all are not the direct descendants of a common people (a claim made by some historians), rather, innumerable migrations make the history of our ­ancestors a very fluid thing.

    The results of the present study in Rakhigarhi are difficult to digest for people who steadfastly bel­ieve in their old notions of the Indus Valley civilisation, a topic elaborately discussed by David Reich, who corroborates the res­ults indicated to us by the team of professor V.S. Shinde. History is indeed a developing science.

    T.P. Sreedharan, Thalassery

  • Aug 27, 2018

    This refers to Deccan College VC V.S. Shinde’s interview (“Harappans United Regions Across 2 Million Sq Km”, Aug 13). Professor Shinde’s opening remark, that in the Harappan civilisation we can see the concept of “one nation” and that the concept was introduced by the people of this civilisation, is ­absurd to say the least. Ideas like nat­ion and nat­ionalism came into existence only in the 19th century as a result of socio-­economic and political developments which were specific to Europe. The French Revolution followed by Napo­leonic conquests led to a complete destruction of feudal institutions and relationships and created conditions which paved the way for such concepts to come into existence. So, just as Egyptian nationalism cannot be traced to the Egyptian civilisation or Arab nat­ionalism to the Mesopotamian civilisation, so also Indian nationalism cannot be seen as a gift of the Harappan civilisation. Perhaps a reading of Ernest Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm, David Thomson, et al. might help the professor reformulate his ideas and broaden his understanding about this concept.

    Amol Saghar, Delhi

    If we take the root of your package, root being the ‘source’ that prompt’s magazine reporters to go for a bigger story, it would be Prof Shinde’s interviews given to a couple of newspapers and online publications recently. In those, he had stated that there was no Aryan invasion of any sort, hinting that ‘we: the Indian people’ are of a continuous, indigenous ancestry. That doesn’t rea­lly show in your package, even in his interview. It makes me wonder, does a story change according to who’s listening? If so, there should be a hundred interpretations of the Rakhigarhi findings, each with their own authenticity.

    Udarana Sepala, On E-Mail

  • One-Liner
    Aug 27, 2018

    After the Aryan invasion, Harappa could have been renamed Har+Aryan=Haryan…later, ‘Haryana’!

    Chamu Jegan, On E-Mail

  • Aug 27, 2018

    Both the story on the bridge in a remote corner of Odisha (Out of the Red, Into the Open, Aug 13) and excerpts from Ruben Banerjee’s biography of Naveen Patnaik (A Meteor In Utkal, Aug 13) exp­anded the horizon of general awareness about Odisha, which is generally considered to be an extremely poor and backward state. The rest of modern India doesn’t care much about its rich natural and cultural resources. Only stories like the poor farmer walking miles with his dead wife on his shoulders in Kalahandi make national news. There is never any spotlight on Naveen being a CM with no greater ambition than serving his people with dedication. Naveen is slowly leading Odisha towards progress. The 900-metre span of the Gurupriya bridge ought to have been projected by the national media, it is quite a feat.

    M.N. Bhariya, Goa

  • Buying Silence
    Aug 27, 2018

    This is about Dalit leaders in the NDA feeling the pressure of their brethren on the ground being disillusioned by the BJP government (The Unquiet Dalit Street, Aug 13). It is reg­rettable that the Modi government has succumbed to the compulsions of votebank politics by clearing the bill to restore the provisions of the SC/ST Act. The old law provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering criminal cases and an arr­est under the law would not be subject to any approval. The Supreme Court had, in making amendments to the law which led to Dalit protests, presented reliable data to highlight the law’s lapses. There was logic too—the basic objective of common law in the West is that it’s better 100 guilty people esc­ape the law than that one innocent person should be held wrongly guilty. Harmony between communities in a democracy can’t be enforced through iniquitous laws that overly protect one community against others. Now, the demand for quota in promotions adds insult to injury. It means a large segment of the population may have to carry the burden of historical wrongs suffered by the Dalits.

    R. Narasimhan, Chennai Kangayam

    The caste divide frittering away national unity has now been given more fillip by the government reverting to the original SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. National unity is of no concern to those focusing on personal prosperity. Acting against a person on a mere complaint is denial of natural justice. The BJP thus stands exposed as a player of filthy politics. Non-Dalits should get together and demand act­ion, but should avoid violence.

    J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad

  • Original Omissions
    Aug 27, 2018

    Apropos of We, the Readers! (Letters, Aug. 13), it was consoling that in these times when advertisement-revenue, not readers, have become more important for newspapers and journals, with the top national English dailies of the capital having scrapped the letters to the editor section, Outlook still maintained its founding editor, the late Vinod Mehta’s legacy, of a 4-page letters column, a most sought after and popular column. The August 13 issue again carries a pruned 2-page letters column with a discomforting glue-fixed glazed paper advertisement in between the pages, which took away part of the column-content with it as well. Outlook is becoming heavier for the ordinary readers, with stories of little common interest such as the 12-page cover story We are all Harappans. Historians and researchers may get their fodder in it; what is there for an ordinary reader like me, who’s interested in more contemporary issues than the origins of civilisation?

    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

  • Aug 27, 2018

    This is about the story on north Karna­taka lagging behind in development, leading to demands of a separate state (This Leg Drags Behind, Aug 13). Much of south Karnataka, which was part of the Mysore state, was well developed due to the kings of Mysore, who app­ointed able administrators like Sheshadri Iyer, Sir M. Vish­vesh­wara­yya and Mirza Ismail, who were given full autonomy. Iyer was the man behind one of India’s oldest hydro-­electric power stations at Shiva­na­samudram in 1905, leading to Bangalore getting electricity even before Mumbai and Delhi. Sir M.V. was behind the construction of a dam across the Cauvery at Kannambadi, which played a role in irrigating Mandya and other regions. In the north, except for the TB dam across the Tungabhadra, no great work took place. People there have a justified grouse against the state.

    Hemanth D. Pai, Bangalore

    Apropos of Self Care In A Blinding State (Aug 13), even the most shocking of things from Kashmir fail to generate any kind of surprise for a mainland reader such as myself, such has bec­ome the norm of the day. The distance between the people and the government in this blinding situation is starkly visible. Pellets fired by the sec­urity forces have blinded hundreds. They have been left to such a fate that the only option for them is to form their own organisation for rehabilitation. What is the State’s biggest fear? That Kashmiris want to break away. Well, they are pushed to form their own social relief organisations. By providing them no relief but only pain, you are helping them form their own systems. Why will they not want to form a separate state?

    Akhil Kumar, Bangalore

  • Aug 20, 2018

    The final NRC draft of Assam was made public on July 30 amid apprehensions of law and order problems. But the mood in the entire state was largely peaceful, though sombre as around four million people have lost their right to being Indian citizens. Certain political parties are trying to poke this looming yet hung tension with the int­ent of exploiting the situation to their benefit. The Congress and the TMC are leading this brigade. The Congress in Assam is speaking in different tongues: while some seem to welcome the process, others in the party appear to protect the ‘illegal immigrants’. Three-time CM of Assam Tarun Gogoi has gone on record stating that the number of illegal immigrants is miniscule. But the NRC process was being monitored by the Supreme Court. Is Mr Gogoi casting aspersion on the workings of the SC then?

    The TMC is leading the charge in Parliament with party leader Mamata Banerjee predicting a civil war in India on the issue. What lengths leaders can go to for political mileage!

    A. Bhuyan, Nagaon, Assam

    At last, the much awaited and contested NRC exercise is over. And it is nice to see the people of Assam not behaving in an irresponsible manner. The watchful eye of alm­ost three lakh paramilitary troops dep­loyed in not only sensitive areas, but every nook and cranny of the state has surely helped in keeping radical sentiments in check. The Supreme Court and the whole NRC team des­erve praise for pulling off this Herculean task of separating the citizens from the non-citizens. I would like to share my own experience and knowledge regarding the recently conducted NRC upgradation process and the sincerity of the workers of NRC Seva Kendras. In the first draft of NRC published on December 31, 2017, eight members of my family were left out. But, after state and central governments’ clarification, and after a second time verification of documents, now we all have been successful in including our names in the final draft of the NRC. We feel much better, and safe. Though the CM of Assam has categorically denied reports that people left out by the charter will have more chances to prove their claim for citizenship, it remains to be seen what fate awaits them. Politicians like Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee are castigating the NRC process saying that it is going to displace Bengalis and Biharis in the state. Such criticisms are nothing but vote-bank politics. A citizen survey was a must for Assam. It is also a must for Bengal which has rep­orted similar problems of illegal immigration, but Mamata seems to be least bothered about this real problem. During years of Congress rule in Assam, the issue of immigration wasn’t taken up seriously. They never paid heed to people’s grievances and resentment and never tried to resolve the ‘foreigner’ issue. The NRC survey could have been done long ago, when things were less complicated. But if the BJP thinks that the NRC will get them more votes in the coming election, it would be a wrong presumption. People are also aware of RSS tactics and the BJP government’s divisive strategy.

    Ashim Kumar Chakraborty, Guwahati



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