• Aug 19, 2019

    This refers to your story on Karnataka (Heads They Win, August 5). The recent carnival of MLAs of both parties of the Karnataka assembly camping in five-star hotels and having a gala time bodes ill for our ­democracy. Who pays the bills and how is the expenditure accounted for? This festival-like situation occurs all too often and continues to be repeated. Isn’t it time some sort of legislation were ­enacted to prevent such blatant waste of money in the lust for power?


    Shanmugam Mudaliar, Pune


    From day one of its formation 14 months ago, the government in Karnataka had been plagued by bickering and infighting. Now that the unholy alliance has fallen due to its own contradictions, the alliance blaming the BJP for the fiasco is only an excuse to cover up its own faults.


    K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad

  • Aug 12, 2019

    Your very refreshing cover story Where Are They Now? (July 29) was a delightful read. Only a few years ago, Sushil Kumar had left us utterly gobsmacked with his incredible performance at Kaun Banega Crorepati. Time froze, when after an effortless spiel, liberally peppered with delicious anecdotes, Amitabh Bachchan announced the jackpot winner. Wonder of wonders, a Motihari boy from a humble background didn’t have to eat humble pie and walked away with the coveted prize. That moment turned him into an instant celebrity. Your story begins from that moment of glory and is so ­remarkable because it covers the even more difficult journey of Sushil Kumar, the celebrity who preferred to wear his fame light and transitioned into a ­real-life hero. That he lives in a matter-of-fact manner, untouched by fickle fame, devoting himself to social and environmental causes, makes his story an apt ode to ordinariness. And a very encouraging instance of a composed, level-headed person refusing to ­become ‘fortune’s fool’.


    Sangeeta Kampani, Delhi


    Your cover story was indeed the best compilation so far of “12 things that shook us” in the two decades since 1999. One ­notable omission was the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai that are still etched in people’s memory. Your list was ­nonetheless an eyeopener for me as I had completely forgotten Sushil Kumar, the Kaun Banega Crorepati jackpot winner. Former cricketer Joginder Sharma too was almost forgotten.


    Kamal Kapadia, Mumbai


    Your cover story, unintentionally, brings out the power of the media. Revisiting some people and events was like pressing the refresh button of our collective ­memories. While many of us do ­remember the child Prince and the rescue ­mission undertaken to save his life, it is your re-digging that again brings him and his struggles into the public domain. Similarly, Joginder Sharma’s name, leave alone the fact that he is now a ­police officer, would hardly ring a bell even among cricket aficionados. The same can be said of the first jackpot ­winner of Kaun Banega Crorepati, Sushil Kumar. Solitary names that ­become famous due to a one-off ­incident are likely to fade rapidly from memory.  However, it is not so for those who were at the ­receiving end of the might of society and the State—those like Monorama, Rizwan and Gladys Staines. Having said that, it is the ­inquisitive and ­investigative media that not only ­exerts pressure on the powers that be for justice to the ­victims, but also ­ensures that they ­continue to live in our consciousness.


    Vijai Pant, On E-Mail


    Out of those covered in the story, I could never ­forget Motihari crorepati Sushil Kumar and the unforgettable moment when after getting the answer of the jackpot question and a nod from him in response to “Lock kar diya jaaye?”, Amitabh Bachchan stopped for a while and then shouted “Five crore!” An ­excited Kumar picked the glass of water kept in front of him and emptied it over his head. He remained in news for a while and was then forgotten. It is good to learn that former cricketer Joginder Sharma was made a police ­officer by the Haryana government, pleased by his feat of leading India to victory against Pakistan in the final of the 2007 T20 World Cup, where M.S. Dhoni handed him the ball in the last over and he didn’t allow Pakistan to make the 13 runs it needed for a win. Some other stories brought back sad memories. The burning alive of Austra­lian missionary Graham Staines with his two sons by a mob in Baripada, Odisha, in 1999 had shaken and shocked everyone, drawing ­worldwide condemnation.


    Graham’s bereaved wife Gladys ­forgave the ­murderers and decided to stay back in Odisha, continuing her mission of working for leprosy ­patients. It is heartening to learn that she managed to complete her slain husband’s dream project—a surgical clinic catering to lepers on the ­outskirts of the town—five years after his death. It is only now I learn that she moved to her native country, Australia, with her surviving daughter in 2004, received the Padma Shri in 2005 and the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice in 2015, and is now enjoying her time with her ­daughter’s family and her grandchildren. Salute this brave and extraordinary lady of our times!


    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow


    The more things change, the more they ­remain the same—Sarangi becomes a minister, Pehlu Khan gets no justice and children still die in manholes.


    Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun

  • One-liner
    Aug 12, 2019

    Ours has become a republic of glass that is shattered by poetic and sloganeering stones.


    Richa Juyal, Dehradun

  • Aug 12, 2019

    This refers to Pushing South (July 29), your story on the BJP’s mission to conquer the lands across the Vindhyas and shed the northern tag. The most glaring example is the BJP’s all-out effort to open its account in Kerala by creating an ­anarchy-like situation out of the ­contentious Supreme Court verdict ­allowing women into the Sabarimala temple. Lord Ayyappa, ­however, wasn’t too pleased and refused to smile for the BJP, which couldn’t win a single Lok Sabha seat in the state.


    George Jacob, Kochi


    It won’t be easy for the BJP to shed the northern tag. A large majority in the south, except in Karnataka, still ­consider it a party of north Indian traders and moneylenders. However, the party’s southern thrust is also markedly evident in its choice of ­leaders for important positions. A leader from the south, B.L. Santosh, has been appointed the national ­general secretary in charge of ­organisation, the second most ­powerful position in the party. The party is also fishing for more talent from the southern states. Inter­estingly, Santosh is a Brahmin like working president J.P. Nadda. Modi’s earlier powerful picks, finance min­ister Nirmala Sitharaman and ext­ernal affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, are both Tamil Brahmins, a community gifted with exceptional talent in every field.


    C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad


    There was a feeling that the Speaker of the Karnataka assembly, a Congressman, was trying to delay the vote of confidence, but probably he did not want ­another government with similar problems of dissidence as it is bound to ­happen now. B.S. Yeddyurappa may ­become CM sooner or later, but he will be wearing a crown of thorns as he has to satisfy the strong Lingayat lobby in his own party and the rebels who may get into his government. There is bound to be instability. A blessing in disguise, however, is that Karnataka is free from the tantrums of one family, which treated the state as their own kingdom and paid scant respect to their coalition partner, which, despite having more MLAs, meekly submitted in order to keep the government going.


    Rangarajan T.S., Bangalore


    As of now, nothing appears to be ­moving in the right direction for the Congress. With little hope left in Karnataka, ­internal squabbles in both the Congress and the JD(S) have been the real cause for the present sorry state of affairs ­prevailing in state. Blaming the BJP for the fiasco is only an excuse to cover their own faults.


    K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad

  • Aug 12, 2019

    You need a magnifying lens today to detect where the BJP is in Tamil Nadu (Pushing South, July 29). Instead of making sustained ­efforts to fill the power vacuum left by J. Jayalalitha and M. Karunanidhi, the BJP left the field wide open to players like M.K. Stalin and the fringe outfits. The new trend in the post-Jaya period is that faceless groups have taken over almost completely, protesting against anything and everything the Centre does. But no one protests against the endemic corruption among the political class. Rajinikanth, on whom the BJP still relies, is a riddle wrapped in a mystery. And, surprisingly, the BJP does not have a TV channel of its own to counter the relentless propaganda against it by half-a-dozen Tamil news channels. The party has plans to wean people away from Periyar’s legacy by inducting holy men to pontificate about mythology, theology and folklore. For over 50 years, Periyarites have denigrated Hindu culture, tradition and gods. Rama and Krishna are looked upon as gods from the north. The rise of the BJP in this maverick land will indeed be a daunting prospect for Amit Shah.


    Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai

  • Aug 12, 2019

    This refers to Fresh Dew on Good Length (July 29). In this World Cup, we have witnessed two days of a “one day” match between India and New Zealand; New Zealand losing the final by “zero runs” and “zero wickets”; an Irishman lifting the World Cup for England; a final decided by a weird rule and the worst umpiring; and a team won a match not by runs or wickets, but by a rule, for the first time in cricket. Congratulations to ICC for the greatest ever comedy show! As someone said, cricket is a funny game.


    J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad

  • Aug 12, 2019

    The very thought of Life Without Google (July 22) can only be a regressive fantasy of meaningless horrors. Can one think of life with electricity? Internet has revolutionised life and learning processes. For quite sometime, I haven’t consulted a dictionary while reading or writing. Meanings, pronunciation, etymology or translation into a­nother language come rushing at the tap of fingertips. Sending research papers as attachments with e-mails or responding to the print media is done in no time. Let’s not wish to imagine living without what we have courtesy science.


    Lalit Mohan Sharma, Dharmshala

  • Aug 12, 2019

    In OxoMiya, the Poet (July 29), the last line was erroneously added to the poem by Hafiz Ahmed. We regret the error.

  • Aug 05, 2019

    This ­refers to your cover story UnGoogled (July 22). No matter what we think of Google, we google. If there is something that at once frees us from the tyranny of geography, it is google. Even though we see internationalism and multiculturalism waning, with nations increasingly asserting their individual identities, Google comes across as a uniter-in-chief. Somewhere the ­boun­daries melt. You live in India or Icel­and, Norway or Nigeria, America or Australia, there is a commonality that runs through—courtesy Google! It has shaped our social consciousness in more ways than any other idea or innovation of our times. Online access to information at the click of a button is changing social power dynamics. A masseur you-tubes to enhance her professional skills by watching a ­step-by-step demonstration of Ayurvedic therapies as much as a ­research scholar quickly googles a quote of Oscar Wilde to fine-tune her assignment. There’s no need for trips to libraries, or to borrow books from reluctant neighbours. Everything is available at the click of a button, 24x7.


    Now the flip side. Doom-mongers warn that increasing levels of ­automation and artificial intelligence could create disruptions in life beyond what we could think of. Imagine a ­situation in which there is universal leisure and mass unemployment. A jobs apocalypse! Who knows? We see a smombie catastrophe (smombie is a portmanteau of smartphone and ­zombie) that has hit the world. Its ramifications are widespread, but nothing more chilling than South Korea’s example where trials are in progress for traffic lights to be put on the ground so that busy-on-smartphone people don’t end up running over each other.


    There is no dearth of those who paint a dystopian future, yet the overall ­scenario can’t be described as dismal. By its very nature, change creates ­upheaval, upturns the established order and jostles us out of our comfort zone. With its exponential potential, Google is the new game-changer, ­affording everyone the audacity to hope. In a highly unequal world like ours, such easy access to information is empowering. My domestic help you-tubes as often as I do. The gardener ­excitedly zooms in a picture of an ­exotic plant and gets to find tips on growing it too. Somewhere the classes melt. Somewhere it gets even! Welcome aboard Google!


    Sangeeta Kampani, Delhi


    There are many search engines and Google is just the most popular. It seems the what-if you really wished to explore was “What if there was no ­internet?” The internet is here to stay and cannot be wished away. It has had a profound impact on us, changing the way we think and do many things—some of which were not possible even a decade ago. Posters can be torn down, but ideas remain forever in cyberspace. That’s what governments are uncomfortable with. Of course, many countries are building cyber-walls to stop the flow of ideas.


    A recent study suggests 90 per cent of us are suffering from digital ­amnesia. We don’t commit data to memory ­because of the Google effect—we are safe in the knowledge that ­answers are just a click away, and are happy to treat the web like an ­extension of our own memory. The danger is not from ­information itself, but in the large quantities that are available on the ­internet, and in how the internet is changing the way we think and behave. Often we acquire shallow information with no deeper understanding. We are turning ­ourselves into ‘informavores’. The ­internet may well be making us think we are smarter than we really are, and this is a dangerous thing. Sadly, the number of people who can think for themselves is declining at an alarming rate.


    H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore


    Google is ­probably one of the best things to have happened to mankind. Like the Xerox company became synonymous with photocopying, Google has attained the same status for online searching. Googling has become such an integral part of our lives that anyone who has internet access will do so often to look for something or the other. Looked at from the perspective of somebody brought up in the 1970s and ’80s, Google is a real blessing. And Google has kept pace with our dynamic and technologically evolving world, ­offering products to suit our changing needs. It is impossible to imagine life without Google.


    Bal Govind, Noida


    Besides its various applications and services, Google is the topmost search engine, which within seconds provides you links to all available information about whatever you ask for, regarding ­anything from A to Z. Google has ­undoubtedly changed our lives, but technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. Who can say that something far better than Google won’t be ­invented in the future, changing our lives once again beyond imagination?


    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

  • One-liner
    Aug 05, 2019

    Life without Google is impossible for pedestrian researchers and third-rate writers.


    Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun

  • Aug 05, 2019

    What is being enacted in Karnataka is a shameful ­disgrace for the nation (Mutiny on HD Karnataka, July 22). Blatant and ­audacious horse-trading that makes fools out of voters exposes the glaring dishonesty and dearth of ethics and basic decency in politics, leaving one wonder if it’s ­really worthwhile ­standing in long queues, braving the sun and rain to vote these ­opportunists to power.


    George Jacob, Kochi


    There is a message in this unedifying ­coalition alliance: allow the ­single-largest party to form the ­government, always. By not doing so, you leave the door open for dissatisfied elements to create trouble in the long run. It’s unfortunate that the Congress and the JD(S) are fighting a desperate battle on two fronts—weaning away the rebels while protecting the existing flock, which is ready to flee any time. If the resignation of all the 13 ­lawmakers—who have marked their exit—is accepted, the Congress and the JD(S) government, which has a ­wafer-thin majority, could collapse. This is because most MLAs who have ­resigned are of the unanimous opinion that Kumaraswamy has been ­ineffective. Kumaraswamy in his ­previous stint as CM was efficient and managed to protect his flock, HDK 2.0 has been a disaster. The Congress has accused the BJP of trying to topple the state government. This is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.


    Last May, when the BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 104 ­assembly seats, the Congress and the JD(S)—both sworn enemies with 78 and 37 seats respectively—decided to join hands to keep the BJP out. Well, the shoe is in the other foot now.


    K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore

  • Aug 05, 2019

    This refers to your interview with Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress (‘The BJP Successfully Appealed to the People’s Basest Instincts’, July 15). The first-time MP has won over many, especially on social media, with her articulate and feisty maiden speech in the Lok Sabha on the theme of fascism. What she didn’t say but others know is how the regime of her leader, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, also fits all the criteria laid down by her. While she may have temporarily impressed many, this honeymoon with the public isn’t likely to last. Of course, Derek O’Brien has competition now.


    Deepak Kher, Pune

  • Choked in the Chase
    Aug 05, 2019

    This refers to Fresh Dew on Good Length (July 29). We failed to have an ­authoritative coach-cum-manager like Hemu Adhikari in 1971, or more ­recently Anil Kumble, to guide the team to glory. We were finding fault with Greg Chappell after the 2007 World Cup ­debacle. As a matter of fact, we won 16 ODI matches on the trot under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy and Chappell’s ­mentorship. We were not able to chase in one match and became chokers in ­another. Kohli played spoilsport by kicking Kumble out and now has to face the wrath of the cricket-loving public. We lost 14 finals on the trot when Sachin Tendulkar was at his peak. In all those matches, Sachin could score hardly 200-odd runs, a 20-plus average. Our ­weaknesses came to the fore several times, but we never made an attempt to correct our mistakes. Fans are now ­baying for the heads of both the captain and the coach.


    C.K. Subramaniam, Mumbai

  • Aug 05, 2019

    This refers to The Latest Heir-Bender (July 15). Mayawati, a vocal critic of dynastic politics, has succumbed to the lure of nepotism, which is second nature to Indian politicians. Mayawati is fooling no one when she claims that the BSP adhered to the ‘gathbandhan dharma’ with the SP in the interests of the country. She had her own axe to grind, with an eye on the PM’s chair, and it was the support of Muslims and Yadavs to the alliance that helped her party avoid absolute decimation in UP. With her latest move, Behenji has lost the moral right to adopt a holier-­than-thou attitude. Under her reign, the BSP seems to have consigned the noble ideals of B.R. Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram to oblivion. It’s self-aggrandisement and realpolitik, not Dalit empowerment, that the party swears by now.


    Padmini Raghavendra, Secunderabad

  • Aug 05, 2019

    This refers to No Relief For The Guards Battlion (July 15). Strange bedfellows might just get stranger with Mamata Banerjee’s quest to seek the Congress and TMC’s support against the BJP. Quite understandably, both the CPI(M) and Congress leadership ­refused. Even though there are no ­permanent enemies or friends in politics, a TMC-Left tie-up is quite the ­impossible proposition. Mamata took the TMC from strength to strength by opposing the Left’s ‘red fort’. As for the Congress, even though it matters little whether it accepts Mamata’s proposal (it didn’t), it too would not like to ­destroy remnants of its brand equity by allying with its splinter faction.


    J. Akshobhya, Mysore



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