• Are You a Citizen?
    Aug 20, 2018

    In his hurry to capitalise on the citizenship issue in Assam ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, a top BJP leader used the term ‘illegal infiltrator’ for all the 40 lakh residents of Assam excluded from the NRC, and called for follow-up action “without full stops and commas”. A BJP lawmaker suggested they should be shot if they did not flee to Bangladesh. The ‘nationalist’ narrative has gained so much acceptance over the decades that all Opposition parties, barring a few like TMC, do not feel compelled to take a humanitarian approach to the citizenship issue. Most media outlets have joined the political establishment to sing the same hymn of nationalism. The clash between ‘nationalism’ and ‘humanism’ is stark for us not to notice. The predicament of people rendered ‘stateless’ by the NRC is too poignant for words. It is no more enough to be Indians; it has become necessary to be “genuine Indians”. The NRI exercise created panic and instilled a sense of fear in people. Whose turn is next? Who has to prove their citizenship? How far back should they trace the family tree to establish their status as “sons and daughters of the soil”?

    G. David Milton, Maruthancode

  • Pan the Plan
    Aug 20, 2018

    I read with interest Mr Rakesh Agrawal’s ‘indie’ solution for the Kashmir valley featured on the letters page (Letters, July 30). I think he fails to mention one imp­ortant asp­ect: as to how the Kashmiri Pandits, driven out of their homes and forced to live in miserable conditions elsewhere, are proposed to be included in this plan. Are they to be just forgotten and abandoned?

    R.N. Bhat, Ghaziabad

  • Aug 13, 2018

    Unlike Pervez Musharaff, who remained exiled in the United Arab Emirates and repeatedly spurned summons from Pakistani courts, Nawaz Sharif has returned from abroad to boldly face the prison bars (The Pathan Suits, July 30). The election was indeed Sharif’s final political litmus test. And he positively lost. The triumphant Imran Khan built Sharif’s downfall bit by bit. It was Imran who brought the Panama Papers case against Sharif. All said, the economy performed well during Sharif’s tenure. The country’s GDP rose to 5.7 percent in 2017, the highest in 10 years. As for new skipper Imran, it’s unclear how he plans to lead. Dub-bed ‘Taliban Khan’, he has pilloried India for its “anti­-Pakistan policy” and pooh-poohed Sharif’s fence-mending with India. A confused Islamist, Imr-an’s soft app­roach to religion could embolden radical Islamists to unleash violent terrorism in Pakistan as well as across its borders.

    Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai

    If a veteran subscriber is to receive Outlook’s thoughtfully designed (I’m sure) rec­ent cover on the Pakistan elections in a torn condition, with the a sticker of the subscriber’s name pasted on the face of Imran Khan, peeling it out would take Pakistan’s new PM’s face off too, what good is the copy? It gives you no joy. Need I say anything more?

    Brig. N.M. Paul, On E-Mail

    Times have changed for Pakistan and so has the international outlook about the once-unstable state. But the ‘terrorist hub’ tag stays. The new regime must change this perception. No doubt that a democratic and stable Pakistan will be of enormous benefit to the neighbourhood too. The new captain shall be deemed efficient to the world at large, if he is able to displace power from the ISI and the army.

    The late Benazir Bhutto believed in democracy in Pakistan, which is a must for economic growth and welfare of the public. But it is a difficult task to build a growth-oriented economy in modern Pakistan, which will be on a par or competitive with the rest of the world. In the globalised world, each country must be modernised.

    Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi

  • We, the Readers!
    Aug 13, 2018

    When Outlook began more than 20 years ago, I remember, its founding editor, the late Vinod Mehta, gave more than the due share to the voice of ‘we’, the readers. The magazine published many letters, spread across four pages. This trend continued and even the previous editor, Rajesh Ramachandran, allotted the first three pages to it. But I was rea­lly disappointed to see that letters were confined to just two pages in the July 30 issue, so that one more page could be used for advertisements that yield money to the coffers of the owners. The trend goes against the spirit of this magazine.

    Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun

  • Aug 13, 2018

    This is in reference to the extract Braggadocio is an Italian Word (July 30), from Karan Thapar’s book, Devil’s Advocate. Atal Behari Vajpayee is a rare statesman of independent India who raised the bar for decency and sob­riety in public life. Unlike the Machiavellian politicians of today, whose sole ambition is to ride the gravy train, Vajpayee always believed that politics without values and morality was meaningless. A great orator, he never indulged in demagogy to play to the gallery; rather, his speeches, both in Parliament and at election rallies, were peppered with sublime poetry and wit that exemplified a rare intellect. He was respected across party lines. During parliamentary debates, he never resorted to cheap theatrics to score brownie points. In fact, his intervention in debates was never shrill, and he could take the edge off any opp­osition member’s argument with his poetic flourish and cogent counterarguments. As PM, Vajpayee never ever felt the need to ridicule MPs even when he found the going tough in a proceeding. In Thapar’s book, Vajpayee comes across as a tolerant, benign and level-headed PM, who had no delusions of grandeur and could take even his own criticism in his stride. In these violent and volatile times, India badly needs a leader of Vajpayee’s stature who can lead by ­example and set a new benchmark ­ for others in public life.

    Aditya Mukherjee, New Delhi

  • One-Liner
    Aug 13, 2018

    Imran’s new knock as Pakistan’s PM is being observed by many a critical commentator.

    Anil S., Pune

  • Aug 13, 2018

    I refer to Go South, Young Man (July 30). As a Bangalorean by birth and long-term resident, I have seen the city’s linguistic profile change over the years. It is true that many from the northern states are moving south due to increasing job opportunities, mostly in the private sector. It is significant that many youngsters from the north secure jobs in southern states due to their knowledge of English and not necessarily Hindi. So, there is a greater need for the three-language formula to be implemented in the northern states bec­ause knowledge of a southern language will certainly help them immensely in sec­uring jobs in the south.

    H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore

  • Aug 13, 2018

    Apropos of Minimal Support Price (July 23) the current policy is tilted tow­ards unsustainability for the government. As reported by the author, MSP is somewhat applicable only to wheat and rice, and not on other crops. The increase in MSP may be termed a populist measure on the government’s part, but it can’t be a sustainable model. To increase farmers’ income, the strategy has to be two-pronged, and should result in a win-win situation for the government and farmers.

    Urea and other fertilisers are heavily subsidised, creating a heavy dent in the national exchequer without any substantial gain for farmers. On the contrary, soil health is deteriorating and reducing productivity. Despite huge spending on subsidies, India’s productivity in most crops is far below the global average. This proves that res­ources are misdirected.

    Ajay Bhartiya, Hyderabad

  • Aug 13, 2018

    This is about Outlook’s article on biryani (A Slowly Simmering Reconquista, July 23). The story, while quoting Pritha Sen, makes a passing reference to pulao: “The aristocracy had their fine pulaos, but biryani was food on the move, and that’s why it was food for the masses”. It might be noted that pulao and biryani are two distinct rice dishes. The famed 19th century Lucknow writer of historical novels, Maulana Abdul Haleem Sharar, in his classic Guzishta Lucknow, describes the difference between pulao and biryani. He says while biryani is more popular in Delhi, the fine and delicate taste of Lucknow prefers pulao. The general public, however, considers the two as one and the same thing. Biryani is spicier, and gives the pleasure of having been pre-mixed with curry. Lucknawi sophisticates consider biryani to be an unnecessary mixture of rice and curry. A well-prepared pulao appeals more to their delicate palate.

    Monis R. Kidwai, Delhi

  • Fingertip Sex
    Aug 13, 2018

    This is about the cover story on the proliferation of private sex-cam videos in India (Pati, Patni Aur Cam, July 23). I know, things that were taboo have become mainstream—a drastic change. The adv­ent of the internet and the smartphone has given open access to pornography. Now, some wannabe porn stars are stooping low to shoot themselves while copulating and sharing the clips on websites. Is it just some perversion? I don’t think people are understanding its social repercussions. Sexual crimes are increasing. How to explain this rise? Surely, it must be pornography available at your fingertips that is driving us crazy!

    Indu S. Dube, Varanasi

    The government was right in leaving it to the courts to decide on the colonial-era Section 377, as any opposition to dec­riminalising same-sex relationships sends out a regressive message. Simply put, when the Constitution guarantees equality of all citizens, sexual intercourse of any kind between consenting adults, irrespective of their gender, should not lead to criminal prosecution.

    K.R. Srinivasan, On E-Mail

  • Hop, Skip and Home
    Aug 13, 2018

    With reference to the Deep Throat item ‘Homeward Bound’ (July 23), PM Modi is always in poll mode. During the first two years after 2014, he was in the humour of the general election win. Thereafter, Modi has spent much of his energy in establishing himself as the sole saviour of the BJP in the state elections. His many foreign jaunts have qualified him to become an NRI PM, but with the 2019 elections only a few months away, he has had to cut down drastically on his international flights. It is hoped that his presence in India will bring some seriousness to the country’s governance.

    Lal Singh, Amritsar

  • The Titillating Witness
    Aug 06, 2018

    Your cover story (Pati, Patni Aur Cam, July 23) shocked me initially, but then we realise that we are no more living in an era where sex is a taboo. The way couples in both urban and rural areas are filming their most intimate acts proves that people have shed inhibitions. But doubtless, they are venturing into dangerous territory, without knowing the repercussions of such acts. We are anyhow the land of Kama Sutra. But we need to take note whether all such clips are being put into the public domain with the consent of both partners, or it is the men who are breaching mutual trust and putting their partners at risk. An act which looks like fun may have rui­ned someone’s life forever if it was put out on display in the virtual world, which has a boundless memory.

    Bal Govind, Noida

    Your cover story on webcam sex tries to und­erstand tales of 21st century visual int­imacy. The analysis on inter rac­ial-styled, ‘communal’ porn was quite int­eresting. It would have been nice to read your analysis on the incest phenomena prevalent in porn too. There lurks something more sinister behind these pornographic indulgences; it can corrupt the gaze of viewers, numbing them into objectifying not just bodies but identities as well. Porn needs regulations.

    Manoj Oza, Gandhinagar

    This refers to your special issue wherein Paromita Vohra states in her interview that “The only sex education people get to see is western commercial porn.” Ashok Nagpal writes: “Video captures intimacy we can’t observe’’. These are myo­pic observations. Sex is not limited to homo sapiens, live demonstrations imp­arting sex education and scenes of sex intimacy by cattle and dogs are seen in each and every corner of India in broad daylight. Children start getting sex education without any instructors. Outlook need not get unnecessarily obs­essed with such topics, which use more conjecture than facts and reportage. It may increase the magazine’s counter-sales but it will be self-defeating in the long run as it will spoil its image. Khuswant Singh had app­lied these techniques as an editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, which ­finally collapsed miserably.

    M.N. Bhartiya, Goa

    Selfie sex is a disturbing pattern which may be considered another form of pornography with live transmission. The consenting couples are no better than porn stars. While there is no harm having liberal views on sex, transmitting live intimate moments are a bit too much for me to digest. This is too much of pleasure and exploration of the sexual self to be handled in the current scenario. It is in some ways destroying the sanctity and decorum of the act, which is mostly kept under the ‘covered’ bedroom sheets for the wider public. If such trends continue, I wonder what kind of society we may have in the future.

    Sanjiv Gupta, Perth, Australia

     While some are engaged in legal battles with the government over bedroom-policing—surveillance and control over private lives—there are also those who revel in sharing their moments of sexual intimacy, ­ign­oring the risk of it all ending up in porn sites. The trend is certainly a shock to the laws that police pleasure and sexuality.

    M.C. Joshi, Lucknow

  • One-Liner
    Aug 06, 2018

    Cam the act if it pleases you, but beware the online voyeur republic and the perils of going viral.

    Anil S., Pune

  • Aug 06, 2018

    This refers to your story on Tenzing Bodosa (This Planter Doesn’t Stop the Elephants, July 23). Kerala, or at least my home district Palakkad, needs the services of somebody like Tenzing, who belongs to Assam. In Kerala, caparisoned elephants are a regular and necessary feature of any temple festival. Thrissur is famous for its Pooram, where the piece de resistance is the change-of-parasols competition bet­ween elephants of two competing sides. Massive feeding of elephants (aanayoottu) is an annual event at the Vadakkunnathan temple. And yet disturbing reports of attacks by wild elephants are quite common in the state. Some recent headlines: “Elephant raids: Adivasis sit-in at the Tekkadi Forest Station” , “Young villager killed by a wild elephant in a Wayanad plantation”, “Wild elephant herds: A nightmare in the Wayanad plantation region”, “Villagers and farmers on warpath against wild elephant raid”, “Crossing wild elephant herd stops train”…. In Palakkad, electric fencing fails to stop wild tuskers as they find alt­ernative routes. And sometimes they refuse to move out of villages where they rest. With his dream of an ecosystem beneficial to both human beings and wildlife, Tenzing could surely help Kerala find its answer to the question, “Why can’t we think of giving back something to nature when we take so much from it?”

    C.V. Venugopalan, Alakkad

  • Aug 06, 2018

    As Feet Full of Barbs (July 23) makes clear, corruption reached a pinnacle with the building of the new capital. The bifurcation of states is designed to create more offices to allow politicians to earn on the sly and to strengthen the party. And the construction of new cities and laying of roads generally allows easy kickbacks that are difficult to prove. What was the necessity of splitting Andhra Pradesh when the massive funds thus wasted could have been used to better the living conditions of the poor? Paradoxically, those suffering most vote for the greatest exploiters.

    J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad



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