• Jul 02, 2018

    Change, as you rightly remind us in Ping-Pongology: Table For Ten (May 28), is a way of life—and having been a regular reader of Outlook since the late Vinod Mehta’s days, I have been a first-hand witness to this. However, one thing that continues to mystify me is why Outlook, despite having accepted ‘Mumbai’ and ‘Chennai’ for Bombay and Madras ­respectively, refuses to switch over from ‘Calcutta’ to its changed name.


    R.N. Bhat, On E-Mail

  • Federally Minded
    Jul 02, 2018

    The analysis on how the Congress has to ret­hink its strategy in order to make a serious play for the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 was very good (Palm Fringed? May 28). Indeed, if the Congress ties up with each and every regional and national party in the coming polls in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, besides the general elections in 2019, I think it would pose itself as a great barrier before the BJP’s well-oiled electoral machine. Moreover, in 2019, Rahul Gandhi should not be the party’s prime ministerial candidate; there are other singularly talented young leaders there. If it happens, it will look like there has been a revolution of sorts in the Congress. And believe me, people are rea­lly waiting for such symbolic revolutions. If the Congress can get out of this, its voteshare will certainly go up. In addition, the party has to be ready for compromise wherever there are potentially stronger allies—like the TMC in Bengal.


    A.K. Chakraborty, Guwahati

  • The Predator Citadel
    Jun 25, 2018

    This is with reference to your cover story (#MeMum, June 11). Society is a constantly evolving organism that can only progress by overcoming its biases. If prejudices cannot be overcome, we cannot call it the progress of society. So, how do we think of ourselves when we see the ugly saga of Harvey Weinstein unfold in front of us? People thought that as society evolved in the 20th and 21st centuries, women were being treated more fairly. We were surely progressing. But those myths have been busted by the #MeToo movement.


    Hollywood’s misogyny has been exp­osed to the world and, of course, Bollywood isn’t behind, but the spectre of silence still sits heavy on the grimy stories of exploitation in the Indian film industry. The whole #MeToo episode has also confirmed another thing: if one keeps on playing the victim and seeking justice, one may not get the desired ­results, at least in a foreseeable time-frame. Sometimes, matters have to be taken into one’s own hands and one needs to speak out.


    After the courage several actresses showed in speaking about their abuse, Weinstein has been brought down. In India too, some names may eventually appear as a handful of women have started raising questions. But even if that happens, the problem is not likely to disappear. I’d like to quote a daily newspaper’s editorial on Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan here: “The sad part of a sexist world is that slander rarely sticks to a man. Women are the targets of social conservatism, while men who reject it can come back and richly profit from it”.


    Also, sexism is not just a man’s domain, women too are afflicted. Veteran Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan’s comments on casting couch in the ind­ustry were shocking and deplorable.


    Rakesh Sharma, On E-Mail


    I want to congratulate Outlook for taking up the issue of sexual exploitation of aspiring actr­esses in the Indian film industry—an issue hurriedly swept under the ­carpet every time it tries to make headlines. While Hollywood predators like Weinstein have been exposed in digital daylight, our film fraternity is so close knit and so dominated by a select few that it’s difficult for the victims to raise a collective voice against sexual exp­loitation. Those like Tollywood actress Sri Reddy who protest and take up cudgels against the industry are victimised and silenced. Moreover, the media is also guilty of not giving those at the receiving end a prominent voice. At the same time, the fact that some of these cases come to light after a long-long time also hints at a tacit und­erstanding between both the parties, with skeletons tumbling out of the cupboards only when things do not work out the way they were anticipated.


    Vijai Pant, On E-Mail


    Casting couch is surreptitious illegal gratification, but its illegality lies in such a grey area that the truth is often obscured and modified to suit the powerful. Sexual gratification is sought as a bribe. Some protest, but many walk into the net under pressure or for perceived gains. Filmdom, an eroticised domain, provides congenial ambience, and the couch praxis is keener than in other ind­ustries, governmental or commercial. The primitive savage is also very much an embodiment of the modern.


    J.N. Bhartiya, On E-Mail


    Your cover story on the continuing prevalence of sexual predators in Bollywood and other Indian film industries in the light of the Hollywood’s Weinstein scandal exposes an open secret. It is as if exp­loitation of women is an inherent part of celluloid culture, whether in Bollywood or Hollywood, and it doesn’t seem it will change anytime soon here. The pulls of the film ind­ustry concern not only money, but also the call for glamour and an almost illogical public adulation culture. In such a scenario, new entrants are expected to put up with an almost regularised abuse. Since films have become a profession for many ambitious young men and women, the cut-throat competition means they often end up compromising on their values and identities—what happens beh­ind the scenes is immaterial. The stakes are high, moreover, because of the public’s heightened involvement in the making and breaking of stars in this age of social media and internet. A good exa­mple is Sunny Leone’s recent visit to Kochi as part of an inaugural function. The city was clogged with the actress’s followers, comprising the youth and middle-aged people, who waited and jostled with tens of thousands just to catch a glimpse of her.


    Ramachandran Nair, Muscat

  • The Predator Citadel
    Jun 25, 2018

    This refers to Sathya Saran’s column Let #NotMe Break the Clouds (June 11). The #MeToo movement reveals just the tip of the iceberg on sexual exp­loitation prevalent in every career. Women in the glamour world are esp­ecially more vulnerable. The culture of silence gives predators the opportunity to exploit more people. The victims should dare to shame them and appeal to other cinema aspirants to not choose shortcuts. Saran’s idea of a #NotMe movement by women in the Indian film industry is brilliant. It is better to defy the casting couch and work hard to chase your dreams without being a victim to it, no matter how much effort or time it takes.


    Minati Pradhan, Bangalore

  • Jun 25, 2018

    This refers to Secret Handshakes with a Serpent (June 11), your story on the Cobrapost media expose. Sting operations are valid only if certain standards are met. Unfortuna­tely, many sting operations are overhyped to present bia­sed imp­ressions of events, appealing to emotions and, at times, ­intentionally omitting facts. This happens when the profit or publicity mot­ive drives editorial preference for sensational stories. Journalists have a duty to give both sides of a story. We are in dire need of positive journalism, that calls for raising the morale of the public by showing that everyone in the country is not dishonest. Come to think of it, the system works due to the honesty of the many, which countervails the dishonesty of a few.


    Ravi S. Dudani, Noida

  • One-Liner
    Jun 25, 2018

    They are mum in real life, but the on-screen examples of sexual exploitation in films are aplenty.


    Anil S., Pune

  • Recalling Fine Print
    Jun 25, 2018

    Welcome aboard, Ruben Banerjee. I read Outlook’s First edition that came out in 1995. The elegant get-up, along with a striking prose, aided by impeccable printing imp­ressed me. I haven’t missed a single edition of Outlook since. Vinod Mehta, the Punjabi Boy from Lucknow, set a scorching pace for Outlook. He was the “card-carrying agnostic”, who is a rare bird amongst holier-than-thou editors. Your satire on politics is ­mordant. I distinctly rem­ember the cover-photo from September 2, 2013. Titled The Undertakers, it sarcastically showed the nation’s leaders doubling up as und­ertakers carrying the coffin ­lab­elled ‘India Story’.


    Col C.V. Venugopalan (Retd.), Palakkad

  • Mera Bharat Tick-Tock
    Jun 25, 2018

    This refers to the column None Can Halt the March (June 11), by R. Bala­shankar, a member of BJP committees on training and publications. Kudos to him for unveiling the truth hidden behind rural distress, hate crimes and job losses. Until now, we were living in a make-belief world that out of 5,97,464 inhabited villages in India, 5,71,168 have been electrified as on April 30, leaving only 26,296 in the dark ages. Balashankar writes this government electrified 19,000 villages—not 7,501 villages until April 2016 as the government’s own REC Report 2014-15 claims. According to the government’s website on rural electrification, Grameen Vidyutikaran, claims only 1,301 villages have 100 per cent household connectivity. This means just 0.21 per cent of India’s villages are fully electrified. Balashankar also removes the cobweb from our eyes that after getting free LPG cylinders, 3.5 crore families never went for a refill and are back to burning bio fuels. Moreover, all’s well with agriculture and farmers’ income. Farmers are living life king size, while a few fools among them are throwing milk, vegetables and foodgrains on the streets and committing suicide.


    If the BJP fields visionary and intuitive persons like Balashankar in the general elections, the never-before empowered poor and aam aadmi of this country will thrash the opposition, while Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana become forgettable blips in the party’s unrelenting winning streak.


    Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun

  • New Leagues Of Learning
    Jun 18, 2018

    This refers to your cover story on unconventional courses (Odball Courses: PhD In Pets Anyone?, June 4). I finished school in the ’90s when liberalisation was still in its infancy. Back then, we were told that unless we got into an engineering college of a medical school, or became lawyers or CAs, we didn’t have much of a bright future. There was also the ­canonical option of government jobs, but it had lost its sheen somewhat to the new crop of kids passing out from English medium schools. I took the overcrowded rout of ­engineering back then, and I don’t regret it so much. But seeing all these new refreshing career options makes me want to be a 21st century student. These seem to be ­exciting times.


    Hridhan Singh, New Delhi


    Just like a solid foundation is a must to erect a tall building, a strong, inclusive and integrated education, that introduces a world beyond just the textbooks to a pupil, is the necessary basic education that is required before students can even think of going to one of the colleges ranked in your special issue. (Odball Courses: PhD In Pets Anyone?, June 4) Sadly, education, more so basic education, hasn’t been the priority of the government. It is reflected in the budget allocation of successive governments. India’s budget share for education is lower than that of most BRICS nations. The share of education in the current budget is the lowest in five years. It’s safe to say that if Indian students are thinking of out-of-the-box education options like pet grooming, alcohol technology or tea testing, it is not because of the government, but ­despite of it.


    Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun


    Greetings, I am an Outlook subscriber and I went through the June 4 issue which highlights India’s top professional colleges for 2018. As I am a pharmaceutical sciences student, it bothered me that the NIRF (National Institute Ranking Framework) of Indian pharmaceutical colleges was not mentioned in your issue. I don’t know the reason for skipping or ignoring this category but I would like to tell you that pharmaceutical sciences is very much a professional course. For many Indians, a pharmacy student is a “chemist” who runs a “chemist shop”. This is clearly a huge misconception. Pharmaceutical sciences is an important part of the medical profession that concerns the development of new drugs and therapies with the cardinal aim of ensuring and creating awareness about the safe and effective use of medicines. I harbour no hard feelings from this bypassing of the pharma sector in your issue, but I feel that an updated and aware magazine such as yours should have ­included the pharma school rankings as well. It will be nice to  see a pharma college ranking in your next special issue.


    Meghna Gill, On E-Mail


    This refers to the story Taal of the Work Art Balance (June 4). It’s so inspiring to read about these people. It shouldn’t be exaggerating to call them superhuman. Being an artiste requires a life time in itself. It is impossible for me to imagine juggling an art form with a professional career. But, maybe, it has to be done when their is so much love involved for something that you cannot bear to be apart from it even in completely contradictory circumstances. Coming back to superhumans, one must feel something like Clark Kent, turning up to ­office in a suit and donning the artistic cape ­before going on go ‘up, up and away’ to the spotlight.


    Shishir D., Hyderabad

  • One-liner
    Jun 18, 2018

    I’d have gone for alcohol tech, but given my affinity towards spirits, I doubt I’d ever graduate.


    Ramarko Dasgupta, Guwahati

  • Talk To The General
    Jun 18, 2018

    India has never been successful in halting Pakistan’s infiltrations across the LOC and the int­ernational border. This does not mean that the Indian sec­urity forces are incompetent, rather it shows that the ­civilian leadership of Pakistan has no control over border ­incursions into India (In & Around, ‘Head-on app­roach’, June 4). The government in Pakistan is just a puppet of the country’s army. Indeed, there has been no breakthrough since Narendra Modi visited Nawaz Sharif in Lahore to convey birthday wishes to the latter. Obviously, Pakistan’s military did not like the warm handshake bet­ween Modi and Sharif. It resulted, not in peace but in the attack on Pathankot. And the following surgical strike by India hardly helped to mend matters. Modi should invite Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, to India. He has shown willingness to come for talks. India must not hesitate to talk to him, it’s in the interest of peace in the subcontinent. After all, when General Pervez Musharraf, who had the full support of the army and the ISI, talked with Vajpayee, it felt like the Kashmir dispute was about to be resolved.


    Kangayam R. Narasim­han, Chennai

  • Useless Tactics
    Jun 18, 2018

    Unity’s Field Test (June 4) rightly noted thus: “Clearly, the Kairana bypoll will test the Hindutva wheel and the opposition’s ability to dismantle it by coming together.” The strength of ­opposition unity won even after the BJP tried its best to polarise Kairana’s voters, not only this time but also in 2014. Back then, the rec­ently defeated BJP candidate’s father, the late BJP MP Hukum Singh, had raised a hue and cry (proved wrong) that Hindus (in UP) were suffering under Muslim domination supported by the SP government, and were fleeing the state. This time, the BJP’s campaigners changed their tactics when they learnt that the united ­opposition had nominated Tabassum Hasan but to no avail. I’m writing this letter just after the count in Kairana where Hindu voters have voted to teach the BJP a lesson by giving them a taste of bure din (bad days).


    Bidyut Kumar Chatter­jee, On E-Mail

  • Light On The Future
    Jun 18, 2018

    Apropos of Coalition of Compulsion (June 4), Siddaramaiah often compared himself to the late Devaraj Urs, Karnataka’s longest-serving chief minister and a champion of the backward classes. The former thought he would inherit the latter’s legacy and become a two-term CM. He tried to bring all the backward castes, Dalits and minorities under an umbrella to create a formidable political force. He assumed these groups would be with him and thought of splitting the Lingayat vote. Both plans backfired. After losing power, and having been deserted by the ‘vote bank’ he had cultivated over the years, , Devaraj Urs had become disillusioned. He lamented the fact that the people and leaders he thought he had empowered over a decade’s time, did not come to his support when he most expected. 


    K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore


    My letter refers to Outlook’s cover story on the drama of the recently concluded Karnataka polls (Saffron Knights, May 28). Whether its ‘winning formula’ worked or not, it was not right for the BJP to make a mad dash for forming the government after the assembly elections. It should have waited patiently and monitored others’ moves. Sadly, the government administration is perceived by the parties as a money-making system; ideologies do not matter so much. Though the lotus didn’t bloom in Karnataka, the top brass would have drawn some confidence in emerging as the single largest party. Now it’s up to them how they can build on this to prepare for the 2019 general elections. With a steady increase in prices of daily commodities, including fuel and cooking gas, the public, that is in desperate need of financial relief, will be  keenly watching the manifestos of all major parties.


    Ramachandran Nair, Muscat


    The successful formation of government in the Karnataka polls is the first hurrah of a fast uniting Opposition. It provides well-orchestrated optics for the opposition’s ‘Mission 2019’. But what are the chances of the Opposition dislodging Narendra Modi? For that to happen, it’s imperative that they come up with a positive agenda for the nation, rather than turn its campaign into a wholly negative tirade against Modi. They must then channelise these efforts into action on the ground in states where there is a level of disillusionment against the BJP and Modi. Relying purely on numbers might only lead to a counter consolidation and make Modi stronger.


    J.S. Acharya, On E-Mail


    It must have been educating for the country’s young voters as they glued on to the unfolding drama of the Karnataka hung assembly after the results were declared. S. Kashyap, ex-secretary-general of the Lok Sabha, was right when he said that we need to ­revisit and, if necessary, ref­orm our Constitution. Outlook must emphasise this point forcefully, as many tenets of the Constitution are out-of-date. Moreover, current leaders think nothing of stooping low and habitually breaching the lofty ideals in it. Let there be a code to be followed in case there is a hung assembly in the Constitution. It’s likely to ­happen more in the future.


    H.C. Pandey, Delhi


    The BJP’s unprecedented success in 2014 was largely due to winning big in new social constituencies, with even Dalits reposing faith in the party. In the past few months, that trust seems to have ­declined and the blame lies at the party’s doorsteps for turning a blind eye to the atrocities heaped on Dalits and Muslims by ‘cow vigilantes’. Though Modi’s popularity has taken a dip, the BJP losing one seat one after another comes as a surprise. It is true that Modi is the first towering all-India leader India has seen after Indira Gandhi. He has been the most voluble and visible leader. Yet, communalism and overconfidence have pushed the BJP back, signalling the need to ret­hink its values. In fact, continuing with its core ideology has not only made matters worse for the party, but also weakened its position, credibility and fortunes. Modi, however, cannot be written off with a few bypoll losses. If the BJP engages more with allies, displaying flexibility in its dealings and ­seriously introspecting its failures, it can reinvent itself to win back the confidence of voters, especially among Dalits and the minorities, and give a ­befitting reply to the opposition. 


    K.R. Srinivasan, On E-Mail

  • Hard-Pressed For Freedom
    Jun 18, 2018

    This refers to your editorial comment (Truth as Touchstone, May 28). The press, often referred to as the watchdog of the society, is not expected to be a lapdog, but as the polity has been turning increasingly criminal, the hazards in doing genuine journalism have been rising by the day. As you mentioned in your comment, even countries like Afghanistan and Chad fare better than us when it comes to freedom of press. This is not to say that these two countries are inferior to us, but only to point out that we need to seriously introspect when even nations which have been thrown into chaos and instability due to geo-political games have a better press rating than ours. All of us who value the freedom of press need to stand up for the lost lives of journalists else the sinister side of the system will soon overtake and rob us of the remaining freedom that we have left.


    J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad

  • A Fresh Start
    Jun 18, 2018

    This is in response to the fine editorial on the state of journalism (Truth as Touchstone, May 28). I want to congratulate Ruben Banerjee, the new editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine. This comes from an Outlook subscriber since the very beginning.


    Ishsar Saran Agrawal, Bijnor

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