• One-liner
    Jan 28, 2019

    Sabarimala reminds us of absurd ideas of purity on which the caste system is based.


    Samuel Joseph, Rayagada

  • Jan 28, 2019

    This ref­ers to your story Money Trail Gone Cold (January 14), which shows the ­extent to which our judiciary finds ­itself beleaguered when it comes to improving the abysmally low ­conviction rate in high-profile scams. The legal procedure before reaching the stage of conviction is so cum­ber­some, involving collection of ­evidence, submission of investigation reports and a series of court proc­eedings, that the gravity of the cases gets diluted with time and immunity is ­accorded to the accused. Some­times, before the final judgment ­arrives, the influential criminals would have reached ­powerful positions where they make the rules and turn the tide in their­ ­favour. Courts, therefore, need to ­devise methods for reducing ­procedural delays in cases of national importance.


    Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi

  • Jan 28, 2019

    This refers to your story on loan waivers for farmers (Seeds of Politics in Debt-trap Farm, January 14). In the wake of victory in three heartland states, Congress president Rahul Gandhi coming out strongly in favour of farm loan waivers across the country is ­regressive. It’s an idea that penalises honest farmers, encourages defaulters and sets the country back in the development race. It does not benefit all farmers in distress as only a fourth or so get institutional credit, and ­tenant farmers, who form a sizable percentage, are outside the purview of the waivers. Pre-poll waivers are a means for political parties to score brownie points with farmers in election season rather than actually imp­rove their lot. In contrast, schemes framed by the Telangana government to mitigate agrarian distress have benefited farmers in the state. It would have made sense if other state governments followed the Telangana model instead of announcing waivers.


    K.S. Srinivasan, Secunderabad

  • Jan 28, 2019

    This refers to The Loud Sound of Silence (January 14), your story on the arrest of Suman Chatto­padhyay, editor of Ei Samay, a Bengali daily from the Times of India stable, by the CBI. After hearing the news on All India Radio’s Bengali news bulletin, I tried in vain to find details of the scam in which Chatto­padhyay is allegedly involved. As a regular reader of Outlook, since its very first issue, and also of Ei Samay,


    I was happy to see your story. But you too avoided mentioning the name of the correspondent. It was your only story without a byline.


    Bipradip Bandyo­padhyay, Delhi

  • Jan 21, 2019

    Geopolitics is a strange game that is played on multiple levels by politicians. The less seen and heard part of it is the many interactions our bureaucrats and foreign ministry have with delegates of neighbouring countries. Only they hold the answer to key questions about policy and strategy. The other, del­iberately visible level, of course, comes from our PM’s flamboyant visits and inv­itations. We see this everywhere: the colour photos in newspapers and magazines, on social media in the form of memes and on prime time television. There’s also a public debate/outcry level. Just look at the number of times people have talked of banning products from China, sending people to Pakistan and blaming our inherent demographic chaos to ‘infiltrators’ from Bangladesh.


    Anil S., Pune


    Apropos of Honour Thy Neigh­bours, this is exactly what India has not been doing. Almost all nations in the Himalayan region, with a possible exception of Bhutan, have long embraced China, our strongest and most dominating Himalayan neighbour, as a way of offsetting India’s overwhelmingly dominant position and its frequently high-handed attitude. New Delhi’s app­roach to its neighbours has increasingly been marked by muscularity, evident in India’s earlier attempts to browbeat Nepal into carrying out amendments to its Constitution. During his maiden visit to the smaller neighbour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi effectively laid stress on the region’s shared identity and promised “we would move forward tog­ether”. This didn’t happen, unfortunately. The promise has fast eroded with an evident lack of sensibility tow­ards the aspirations of a sovereign, neighbouring nation like Nepal.  Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s statement, that “geography will ensure that countries like Bhutan and Nepal cannot delink themselves from India,” smacks of arrogance. Such lines are urgently avoidable. Nepal needs a friendly India, and not a powerful big brother (Nepal has one already up North—two would be too many!).


    Once elected PM in 2014, Modi welcomed high-level Chinese visits to India. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014 turned out to be a bit unusual with China professing friendship and flexing its muscles simultaneously. China’s grand strategy puts a high premium on political and psychological victories rather than pure military triumph. Thus, China’s diplomacy has little difficulty in pursuing peace and hostility at the same time.


    Under Modi , India has slowly but surely  moved away from its traditional stand of non-alignment to multi-alignment. Modi has given a vigorous push to India’s ‘Look East’ policy which broadly aims at improving India’s ties with its neighbours in  Southeast and East Asia. The Chinese have already weaned away Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar and are actively befriending Bhutan at India’s cost. China’s shrewd diplomacy has meant that India constantly stays on the backfoot in South Asia unable to assert itself in the manner in which its size would suggest.


    It is time for India to do “smart balancing China”.  Let us now create a “civilisation encounter”. It is time to break the grimness of China-watchers  and celebrate China…into trade, technology and philosophy, and look at it more holistically—compare notes.


    Col (retd) C.V. Venugo­palan, Palakkad

  • Jan 21, 2019

    This refers to Yardsticks of Political Hate (Dec 31). Sajjan Kumar’s conviction has sent a strong message to politicians: that the long arm of the law eventually gets the culprit. In fact, the party backing him for so long should not only feel ashamed but also guilty for their actions. Kumar’s actions during the 1984 carnage deserve no mercy. Though there is a provision in law for appeals, the higher court must see that the accused is prosecuted without delay. At least now, the Congress must take a principled stand by dismissing other accused leaders who also played a direct role in the 1984 riots ins­tead of remaining silent and allowing them to occupy coveted positions in the party and government.


    K.R.Srinivasan, Secunderabad


    Consi­dering the gravity of the crime, the severest punishment should be given to Sajjan Kumar. Hopefully, the punishment is an eye-opener for politicians from the country’s political parties who are linked to riots and have been escaping the law till now. Even politicians supporting or instigating the spate of lynchings in the country for the past few years should be made examples of by the courts, otherwise, violence will continue to be an everyday reality in our society.


    Lt Col (retd) Ranjit Sinha, Hadaspar, Maharashtra

  • One-Liner
    Jan 21, 2019

    Here’s hoping we don’t all fall down in the subcontinental game of ring a ring a roses.


    Dharmesh Paul, On E-Mail

  • Relevant Still
    Jan 21, 2019

    Aakar Patel, in his review of the book Manto Saheb (Hall of Refracted Truths, Dec 31), remarks that none of Manto’s contemporaries, including the biggest of them all, Munshi Premchand, is read anymore. Now, that is an erroneous idea. His story Godan, for example, is a testimony to the almost feminist courage of Dhania, the infringement of human spirit at the altar of religious rituals and the contrast between rural and urban social structures. A story like Kafan is no less powerful than a Manto story, and Shatranj ke Khiladi inspired no less an artist than Satyajit Ray. Even Premchand’s novel Nirmala was adapted by Door­darshan in the 1980s. In short, someone like Premchand will be relevant forever.


    Lalit Mohan Sharma, On E-Mail

  • Jan 21, 2019

    It’s true that the #MeToo movement has seen some repercussions, and this will impact all workplaces, especially the Indian newsrooms (Blowback From The Battlefield, Dec 31). Similarly, individuals who had followed the movement would take more care in workplaces to behave in a correct manner. So, certain jokes will have to be curtailed, however funny they were considered before and social media posts will have to be looked over a second time to weed out any ina­ppropriate material. Also, CCTVs have bec­ome a must in all offices—an intrusive thing, no doubt, but essential to res­olve cases of harassment brought before a committee. However, for all its beneficial effects vis-à-vis safety for women and bringing known crooks under the spotlight, #MeToo has taken something away from the warm, good cheer and an atmosphere of carefree banter most of us have enjoyed for years in workplaces. This is the era of caution.


    Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai

  • Jan 21, 2019

    My interview published in your issue Reclaiming The Neighbour­hood (Dec 31) carries the headline “The big shift is the attention our PM gives to South Asia”. This is inc­orrect and misleading. I did not make the statement which you put in quotes. I had spoken of the focus given by the PM to building closer relations with the leaders of our neighbouring countries. And I referred to the inaugural invitation to Mauritius, as well as getting the BIMSTEC leaders for the BRICS outreach in Goa, to signify that a broader conception of the neighbourhood  is being brought to bear. I had also clarified the origin of the term South Asia. By editing out these points the interview has been unfairly limited and conveys the wrong impression.


    Ranjan Mathai

  • Jan 21, 2019

    This is with reference to your coverage of the death of three militants and seven civilians (Vale of the Grim Reaper, Dec 31). There has been a systematic undermining of democratic polity in the state of J&K through political capitalisation of emotional issues by the government of India and the state’s pol­itical parties. The result is in front of the whole world: Kashmir is the most militarised region in the world, and the situation is only going from bad to worse. None other than the Centre has to plan and take the required initiatives in the interests of the people of J&K in particular and the country in general.


    Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi

  • Jan 14, 2019

    This refers to the lead article, Palm D’OR’ (December 24). The recent res­ults of assembly elections have made it clear that PM Narendra Modi’s leadership is already a busted flush. The victory of Congress in the Hindi heartland has definitely knocked the wind out of the BJP’s sails. On the other hand, the main reason why the Congress managed to upset the political applecart of the BJP was the inspiring role played by Rahul Gandhi who led from the front and took on the Modi government on various issues staring the country in the face. In his rallies, he spoke convincingly about the need for change while holding the BJP responsible for reneging on its promises. It struck a chord with the people who have now seen through Modi’s hollow rhetoric. It was clear that the BJP, which has always dismissed Rahul as a political greenhorn, paid the price for its misplaced complacency.


    Modi and Amit Shah, in order to draw fire away from its multiple failures on the governance front, have preferred to go off half-cocked with conspiracy theories just to discredit the opposition parties. No wonder, such ploys blew up in the party’s face. An energised and upb­eat Congress is not good news for an ene­rvated BJP which must get its act ­together for the general elections next year. It cannot bank upon Modi’s charisma and his gift of the gab any more as his novelty is wearing off rapidly.


    Aditya Mukherjee, New Delhi


    In an otherwise fine and professional election overview of Madhya Pradesh, I felt that some important aspects were not inc­luded that made the contest ext­raordinally nail-biting (Benefit Of Doubts, Dec 24). I was in Bhopal for three weeks before the elections when I noticed that the Savarna public was palpably angry about the SC/ST ordinance passed by the Modi government overturning a Supreme Court verdict. Here Modiji lost an ‘Atal’ moment of his life, which he must have used to show statesmanship like Vajpayeeji. The Reservation Policy is overdue to have a relook and whosoever does that will make history in the future. Secondly, the loan waiver speech by Rahul Gandhi was the clincher which has been underplayed in this article. In a way, the nice analysis supported by data of the Lokniti-CSDS survey proves beyond doubt that anti-incumbency was the ­important factor in MP and Chhattisgarh as people were fed up of the BJP with voter fatigue in the face of the same faces and policies all these years. This point has been amply exp­lained. The NOTA factor influenced res­ults of at least 15 constituencies up to the last, which refreshed my memories of the three weeks I spent in Bhopal.


    H.C. Pandey,New Delhi


    The ass­embly elections verdict clearly shows that the Hindutva card of Modi, Shah and party is outdated now. The BJP president has been worthless at his post. He needs to be sent off, somewhere far from the Centre. The BJP needs new blood, new thoughts and new economic plans. The Ram Mandir issue is also dead and needs to be forever buried, all­owing the locals of Ayodhya to search for an amicable resolution. It is warning bell for Modi, the BJP and the friends of the BJP and the RSS in India and abroad. The usual tactics won’t work.


    Zen S. Bhatia; On E-Mail


    It’s not hard to gauge the change in direction of political winds. Obviously the election results in the ­so-c­alled Hindi heartland represent a shot in the arm for the Congress and a setback for the BJP. Evidently, the imp­overished masses, including the distressed farmers and the unemployed youth, have turned their back on the BJP for which they voted overwhelmingly in 2014 and demonstrated their strength to redraw the political landscape when pushed to the limit.


    It should be sobering for BJP to realise mere promises cannot keep a party on top for long support base for long. It is encouraging that the election results have now opened up the possibility of fighting the 2019 general election on ­issues relevant to people’s lives relegating ‘divisive issues’ to the background.


    G. David Milton, Maruthancode


    The critical assessment made in your cover story has made it worth going through and preserving. Farmers had viewed Modi as the messiah who would save them from the scourging curse of poverty, paving their way towards a better life. Before becoming prime minister, Modi himself had led them to believe in him through lofty and flamboyant speeches. But the farmers have continued to suffer in miserable conditions des­pite highly publicised welfare schemes, which yielded only a few pockets of dev­elopment owing to a highly pol­iticised bureaucracy known for its selfish and lackadaisical style of delivery system. Therefore, nothing changed at the ground level, and hard realities rem­ained so, trampling ­expectations. This, inevitably, has ­resulted in the sowing of seeds of ins­urmountable anger and ang­uish among the rural masses, which in all likelihood will erupt—giving a lethal blow to the electoral prospects of the ruling party. It is imperative for the government, therefore, to galvanise its booth-level workers, making them ins­trumental in the remaining period of its tenure, in order to ensure the end use of its welfare schemes and restore confidence among the masses.


    Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi


    A politician would have thought many times and consulted many economists before taking such a drastic step as demonetisation, but Modi—more messiah than statesman—acted on his own. His move did great harm to the economy, while hardly any of the elusive black money was obt­ained. Big businesses were able to survive, but small businesses were so badly hurt by the twin shocks of notebandi and Jaitley’s baby, GST, that they were forced to close down. If Modi had stepped off his messiah pulpit and looked at the ground realities with a politician’s eye, he would have realised that things were not going all that well for the BJP. His dream of Congress-mukt India stands shattered, and the Congress comeback has nearly become a reality after the BJP’s loss in the Hindi belt states. If Congress president Rahul Gandhi has now emerged as the only ­viable political leader to stand up to Modi, it is thanks to the BJP misreading ground realities in the Hindutva heartland. The BJP is staring at a similar def­eat in the face in UP, where the waning of Modi magic is ­evident. PM Modi has been able to ­deliver only rhetoric, and has failed in his messiah’s mission of ­delivering ­any real goodies.


    Lal Singh Amritsar

  • One-Liner
    Jan 14, 2019

    These are times for urgent fixes, Modiji should finally call in Yogiji for an emergency havan.


    Anil S., Pune

  • Jan 14, 2019

    This is about Outlook’s cover story on the ­decidedly rightward turn political rhetoric has taken, months before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls (Hindu, Hinduer, Hinduest, Dec 10). Gandhiji said he is a Hindu, but at the same time also said religion is a private matter for him. Nehru was a rational agn­ostic who laid the foundations of secular India. Nearly six decades after his death, matters have drifted beyond imagination. Nehru’s great-grandson, who began his career with no signs of public display of religion, today makes clear references to religion. From stating that he is a ‘janeudhari’ Shiv Bhakt to visiting temples by the dozen and making the Mansarovar pilgrimage, he is making a strenuous point! With him as Congress president, Congress in MP planned a Ram van gaman padyatra and promises a gaushala in each panchayat. As a result, critics label Congress politics as soft Hindutva, and it is disturbing at a level. But does that mean, along with this, the Congress is abandoning the path of secularism enshrined in our Constitution? Petrified BJP spokespersons certainly are questioning all of Rahul’s moves, as if their monopoly in such matters is under threat!


    Ram Puniyani, On E-Mail

  • Jan 14, 2019

    Reading the Pakistan Diary (Dec 24), it’s interesting to see how Pakistan PM Imran Khan served us our own pudding back. It was Vajpayee who, in 1999, first mooted the idea of opening the Kartarpur corridor for pilgrims, and it was cold-shouldered by Pakistan. India and Pakistan have an intriguing relationship—each side takes the initiative to seduce the other, but backs off when it comes to a truly meaningful step ­towards permanently good ties.


    Sangeeta Kampani, New Delhi



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