the fully loaded magazine
The falling strength of IAF fighter planes is undoubtedly a matter of national concern. The whole Rafale controversy also shows the pathetic state of domestic manufacturing capacity. Though we can match international standards in space/nuclear matters, we are totally dependent on other countries for all sophisticated military hardware. It’s a glaring shortcoming. Even small arms have to be imported in some quantity, for our ordinance factories couldn’t supply them in adequate numbers. This is also the root of massive corruption in arms deals with foreign companies. Such scandals hit headlines every few years; the government should put in place a system that ensures full accountability in these matters.
Lt Col (retd) Ranjit Sinha, Pune
This refers to The Deluge That United (Oct 1). It quotes Kesari chief editor N.R. Madhu as saying, “political untouchability continues to prevail in the state. Politicos’ animosity towards other political parties is simple trade rivalry. They call each other thieves. The overawed commoner is flabbergasted. Many do not exercise their franchise, disgusted with changes bringing no change. As a rule, votes are cast not in appreciation of a party, but in fear of the bad party winning again; this is called the anti-incumbency factor. Genuine democracy emerges from a homogeneous electorate of liberal outlook. Cronyism, casteism and communalism have corroded the country. Let calamity recede and they will be back to brawls.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
Vijay Mallya escaped by manipulating India’s law and control system systemically (The Big Bird On Borrowed Time, Oct 1). This shows that there was a nexus, and that personnel from different agencies, such as financial and investigative, were in cahoots with the fugitive. It’s further evidence to support a perception rife among the people of the country: people who have money and connections in the system can evade the long arm of the ‘law’, barring a few exceptions. In this case too, the article makes clear that there is a process of appeal after appeal, which might take a few years because of the complexities and statutory obligations of the courts and their procedures. Therefore, the government ought to institute a watchdog, especially for big borrowers and banks, to prevent money launderers and defaulters from robbing the country and its people. Also, this watchdog should be an independent body that has some autonomy in investigating matters in order to avoid the risk of corruption.
Indu S. Dube, Varanasi
Last week’s cover story, Doctor, Give Me A Jolie, was thought-provoking, informative and thoroughly interesting. It’s a crazy world in which social media pressures are pushing Indian teens towards drastic image-building measures. Beauty is truth and truth is beauty. No one can deny this. A flat-chested girl may wish that her bust was bigger, but changing that through a cosmetic procedure is at a whole different level of hyper-aesthetic existence. If a teen boy or girl is trolled in social media for their nose, or other body part, their mental health is bound to suffer. But should they give in to the abuse and head out to change themselves? Or is it this online culture of body-shaming that should be corrected! Even parents are giving into such pressures by taking their kids to plastic surgeons as they don’t want their kids to suffer.
In my opinion, Indian teens and parents should approach a specialist only after 18, the standard of adulthood. Human bones, cartilages and skin are changing every minute and second and the growing process slows down only when adulthood is reached.
Teens obsessed with unrealistic standards of beauty that they see in people they emulate and follow on social media, such as Instagram, forget easily that they are going after insatiable hallucinations. It starts with a harmless selfie, but can turn into serious self-obsession.
Ashim Kumar Chakraborty, Guwahati
It is disheartening that many teenagers and adults in our society do not understand the true concept of beauty. They get too influenced by watching social media narcissists and the misleading ads of the cosmetic industry and set unrealistic beauty standards for themselves. Parents should make efforts to imbibe the value of self-acceptance from childhood. Instead of physical beauty, everyone should focus on the inner beauty. Teach the children to accept themselves and nurture the beauty from within. Beauty does not have a particular definition. As they say, it lies in the beholder’s eyes.
Minati Pradhan, Bangalore
Plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery has its advantages and disadvantages, although the disadvantages far outweigh the pros. God has crafted every man and woman in a unique way. That uniqueness should be admired and appreciated, not altered. It is always safe not to go beyond facial or body make-up. Cosmetic surgery can often turn into a misadventure, that can be a nightmare. Cosmetic surgery might be essential for cine actors and actresses and might suit them too, but it’s not a good proposition for commoners. Everyone’s plastic procedures cannot be as successful as Kim Kardashian’s, who must be paying top dollar for them. A bad procedure can take away the beauty you already possess. I am of the opinion that if one disturbs his or her body, the body is bound to disturb or hurt him or her back. Beauty is skin deep and beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. There is no dearth of men or women who like their beloved or spouse to be as they are and not as they are made up through artificial methods.
The progress in this field of reconstruction surgery has pros too. Patients of trauma injuries to the face and other body parts can be helped by such procedures.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
Plastic bags, plastic money and plastic bodies; plastic is surely the substance of the century!
Anil S., Pune
I refer to Outlook’s story on the minimum wage rates (Fair Pay For Fair Play, Sep 24). I think India is a large country and is thus beset with large problems. One such problem (of plenty) is its humongous manpower resources. Actually, what would have been an advantage is not, for the people suffer from lack of employability. Thus, a vast portion of the population is exploited by either not being paid adequate remuneration and/or have to work under unacceptable working conditions and for long hours. The government has formulated a minimum age for work as well as other norms, but they aren’t heeded by employers at all. Again, women are shamelessly exploited—they are paid far less than men for the same work. All this needs to change through rigorous enforcement of the law.
Lt Col (Retd) Ranjit Sinha, Pune
This is on the follow-up (Anatomy of a Flood, Sep 10) of Outlook’s cover story on the devastating Kerala floods. The examples of communities coming together for help and succour in this direst time was touching. Otherwise, religious disharmony is at its height in Kerala. We know of enough religious places that propagate hatred. The flood seems to have taught them a lesson. Actually, it’s God’s will—an indication that He wants all to live in peace and harmony.
Vishwanath Dhotre, On E-Mail
This is about Maj Gen Ashok K. Mehta’s column (All Quiet on Talks Front, Oct 1). Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who started his innings by holding out an olive branch to India, has suddenly turned hostile! Consequently, a BSF jawan’s throat was slit along the Jammu border and three policemen were killed in Shopian by the Pakistan army. Then again, it released a series of postage stamps glorifying Burhan Wani, causing India to call off tentative talks between the nations’ foreign ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UN general assembly. An enraged Imran chose to speak with remarkable rudeness then, especially the remarks about “small men occupying big offices”. The fledgling PM of a skeleton democracy could have been more courteous to the premier of the world’s largest democracy. Perhaps Imran believes that winning the hearts and minds of Indians is much the same as winning the World Cup. Fat chance!
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to What The Ten Heads Think (Oct 1). I am not sure if Harvir Singh’s theory of Dalits and OBCs joining together is realistic. Consider the situation in Maharashtra, with Marathas demanding reservations, and the clashes which happened after the Bhima-Koregaon rally. Or Tamil Nadu, where the Dalits, especially in the villages, suffer the most at the hands of castes which are only slightly above them in the Manu ladder. Even in UP, Mayawati would rather avoid the OBCs if you go by the past. There are no straight equations. Ultimately, money and the sops of the day will decide, I suppose.
Krishnan, On E-Mail
Apropos of the interview with Shivraj Singh Chauhan (‘I see no challenge; Congress leaders are daydreaming’, Oct 1), the chief minister’s optimism about a fourth consecutive term in office exposes the feudal mentality of our leaders. While Chauhan claims to have been working hard for the past 13 years, he offers no clarification on what exactly this hard work has been. Working-class people suffer constant stress from harassment by banks regarding loan repayments, and many commit suicide, while corruption and other crimes go on unabated in MP. Many involved in the Vyapam case were murdered or committed suicide. Chauhan boasts of welfare schemes, under the misapprehension that setting up such schemes is hard work. Politicians are elected to manage the affairs of the state with the resources available in the form of taxes and the existing machinery; granting doles forces the recipients to stand as beggars before the condescending kings of the state. Democratic, sustainable progress is achieved only by enabling people to stand on their own.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
With reference to The Big Bird On Borrowed Time (Oct 1), with Vijay Mallya coming out with a different unbelievable statement each time with a view to preventing his extradition, the CBI’s decision to file a charge sheet against the bank officials who processed his loan applications is a step in the right direction. As this should pave the way for the main investigation to get to the bottom of things, it won’t be long before it exposes the identities of the vested interests—including politicians—who put pressure on the banks to sanction these loans.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Bird on a wire Vijay Mallya is balancing it out pretty well for now. At least that is what is reflected from the media coverage of his trial. He looks calm and composed when questioned outside in London. One could say it is so also because of some goodwill he has with the British press. This ‘arrangement’ is broken only when the deliberately provocative TV reporter starts questioning him. Yes, I have seen clips of that doing the rounds on social media. A TV anchor from a famous (although some may say infamous!) Indian news channel tries to feed Mallya the mic, asking him repeatedly when he’ll return to India to face the people (or something to that tune). Mallya can be seen responding with, “First you learn good manners and then ask me questions (or something like that).” It’s quite a show. And yes, Mallya is no angel. But, this news channel’s villainising of him (it’s a thoroughly melodramatic channel, in case you haven’t seen) actually works in his favour because the its attempts to question him appear completely agenda-driven like the rest of its shows. What’s worse is that the reporter dispatched by the Indian channel to London is not even questioning Mallya directly, she is asking questions on the behalf of her loud channel chief, who is sitting in a studio in India and passing judgments!
Ashwini Sahota, Delhi
In the special tourism booklet on Manipur that was distributed along with the Outlookissue dated October 1, 2018, the map of the Northeast state erroneously pointed to Sikkim on the map of India. We regret the inadvertent error. The accompanying picture shows the correct map.
This refers to your cover story interrogating the state of our rights, What Is Wrong With Our Rights? (Sep 24). If you ask me, the very core from which our rights originate is flawed. Yes, the Indian Constitution, repeatedly touted by journalists, activists and scholars as the greatest document in our service, is not all that great. It is heavily pro-state, unlike the American constitution from which it has borrowed the concept of fundamental rights. We are free and have our rights only till the time the state wishes so. There are enough and more instances when our most fundamental rights can be withdrawn.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Why did you omit the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923, from your list of archaic laws? The OSA is one of the most draconian laws still in force in India. A legacy of the British Raj, it has often resulted in grave miscarriages of justice that have blotted the record of our judiciary and sullied our reputation among democratic countries. Eminent jurists and civil rights activists have called for the scrapping of the infamous statute. And once the Right to Information Act was enacted in 2005, OSA should have ceased to exist. But when the Second Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Veerappa Moily recommended its repeal, the proposal was shot down by home ministry bureaucrats, citing objections by the intelligence agencies.
Interestingly, no court can take cognisance of any offence under the OSA unless a government department makes a complaint. This means a common citizen cannot approach the courts in case he notices a serious case of spying, unless the government decides to prosecute the accused. That’s why classified documents are routinely leaked or passed on to unauthorised agencies by bureaucrats. In fact, instances of the OSA being used to prosecute real spies and moles are rare, while cases of its misuse are legion—hundreds of innocent citizens have suffered long periods of incarceration under OSA. In the infamous Samba spy case, more than 50 army officers and soldiers were incarcerated and tortured for over 20 years in a case based on the statements of two self-confessed spies, who later retracted their statements. Two ISRO scientists were prosecuted in 1994 for spying—one of them, S. Nambi Narayanan, was recently exonerated by the Supreme Court and awarded a compensation of Rs 50 lakh. Captain B.K. Subbarao of the Indian Navy was arrested in 1988 and spent 20 months in jail—he was accused of carrying ‘secret documents’ to a foreign country, when all that he had in his suitcase was his own PhD thesis. Journalist Iftikhar Gilani was arrested in 2002 for holding secret information, and the government withdrew the case in 2004 after it came to light that the information was publicly available. Is it not time we consigned OSA to the dustbin of history?
Maj Gen (retd) V.K. Singh, Gurgaon
In his column, Anand Teltumbde has brought out a pertinent issue of safeguards in the Constitution for Dalits (A Poverty of Rights). He rightly says that Article 17 outlaws the practice of untouchability in society but it remains prevalent in most parts of the country even after 70 years of Independence. My point is very simple: has any society succeeded in eradicating an evil by simply making laws? We forget that it is basically the human mindset which needs cleansing and understanding. Proper implementation of law is our primary need.
H.C. Pandey, Delhi
Homosexuality is nothing new for Indian society. It has been there since ages, only, it never had social acceptance. In that regard, the recent verdict on Section 377 is a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court. The SC struck down a law which was introduced in 1861 during the British rule in India, which criminalised, what it called, sexual activities “against the order of nature”, refering to the act of sodomy. The LGBTQ community had been fighting for the abolition of Section 377 for long. Though the SC has provided legal acceptance to LGBTQ people but in a conservative society like ours it is true that they have to still go a long way to get social acceptance. I quote Justice (retired) Markandey Katju’s words “what two consenting people do within the confines of their bedrooms may not be the concern of the law but it is doubtful if homosexuals will escape social strictures if they hug, embrace or kiss in public”.
Rights of the LGBTQ community are a matter of public policy which falls within the domain of the Union government. This matter should have been debated in the Parliament. That way, we could have seen what the elected representatives also think of the issue. On the SC judgment, the government has maintained an eerie silence.
Nitin M. Majumdar, On E-Mail
India is a great country where democracy is supposed to prevail. But in today’s charged atmosphere, where fringe groups roam without fear and dissent is targeted, the commonest rights of individuals are always under threat.Freedom of speech and expression, right to eat and wear clothes according to one’s personal choice and even right to live a life are being thwarted by goondas and mobs, even the state. The LGBTQ community has won a big battle in the courts with Section 377 being decriminalised. But the challenges they have to face on a day-to-day basis are still very much present. In this country, securing fundamental rights for oneself is a constant struggle, even after the law safeguards them on paper.
It’s just that when the tide is Right, citizens’ rights are swept away in a fundamental way.
Rohan Nambiar, Chennai
I refer to Sound of Silence in God’s Court (Sep 24). The rape accusation against the bishop has been an embarrassing case for the entire Christian community in the country. It has been nearly three months since the police received the complaint, but no convincing action has been taken. Political parties play the role of mere onlookers, maintaining their silence; the nexus of politicians and the priesthood is evident in this case. The silence of the major political parties is a clear message to the nuns that their protest will be futile in the face of money and vote-bank politics. The power of the church in Kerala to defend itself against any allegations has been proved many a time. As with many previous cases where priests were accused, the prospects of this case seem bleak. If the victim receives justice thanks to proper action by the church and the police, it would be a welcome change, long overdue, for both the church and the laity.
P.A. Jacob, Muscat
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