Truth, Love and a Little Malice (February 11) is another gem from the witty sardar’s stable. In India, people like Khushwant Singh may be looked down upon. But the fact remains that he has always written about the realities of life, whether you like them or not. People like Maneka Gandhi may find it difficult to accept the truth, but then it’s their problem.
Abhilash Thadhani, Ahmedabad
When Khushwant Singh describes most Indian icons as having feet of clay, is he taking his own traits as a benchmark? If he says he’s taken up cudgels against people in power who misuse this power, how does he explain his chamchagiri to Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency when he was clearly misusing power even when not in power? Singh’s literary contribution can be summed up as Lies, Hate and a Lot of Malice. Indian literature would not have been the poorer without him.
D.V. Madhava Rao, Chennai
Khushwant Singh’s always made interesting reading as his musings, however scandalous they may sound, are honest. Even the gossip he writes has a literary and historical context. His is an insider’s view of the machinery that’s been instrumental in shaping this mess of an economy called India, be it the courtesy of Nehru, Sardar Patel or Maulana Azad.
Vikas Sahay, on e-mail
Your cover story was interesting for a change. But Singh’s keyhole view of personalities is a hit below the belt. How can he fail to fathom the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi, especially his acts like sleeping naked with young women. Perhaps one needs a little purity of mind and a leaning towards brahmacharya to understand this. And Singh has neither.
S. Lakshmi, Wyanad
It was disgusting to read the rubbish culled out by Khushwant Singh about Maulana Azad. Maulana belonged to a family of high religious values and educational excellence. Moreover, he was an exegete of the Holy Quran. Tainting an august personality like him only dwarfs any admiration we might have had for Singh.
Marghoob Ahmed, Bangalore
Your cover story was interesting but I was totally shocked to learn of Khushwant sahab’s imaginary sojourn vis-a-vis Maulana Azad. Singh, himself being a drunkard, might have misread the label in Maulana’s room in Paris and it has taken him so long to recall those hazy moments.
Abdul Gafoor Kulai, Mangalore
Khushwant’s book should have been titled Lies, Tales and Total Malice. The country’s oldest living columnist does not even spare his icon, what to talk of Morarji Desai, who was a Gandhian to the core.
Capt Praveen Davar, New Delhi
Khushwant Singh’s hyperbolic keyhole (or floor-mat) look at "a whole range of India’s public figures", while shuffling around to ensure he’s always in the photoframe with them, chooses to ignore the rather dubious collaborationist background his own family and friends have, records of which can be found in the Golden Temple amongst other places.
Veeresh Malik, New Delhi
All that Khushwant has written is ‘his’ opinion about people. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the correct one.
Sabareesh G., Thiruvananthapuram
Is it morally and ethically correct of Khushwant Singh to quote off-the-record conversations and comments (of persons no more) just to justify the title of his book?
Mohd Abdul Gaffar, Hyderabad
Khushwant Singh continues to provide a peep into all the ugliness of the rich and famous. Reading him leaves only a bad aftertaste.
Hitesh Sharma, on e-mail
Khushwant Singh has beautifully exploited public curiosity about their leaders’ secret lives to search up skeletons in the cupboards of the rich and famous. May his latest book be his swan song.
K.S. Joshi, New Delhi
Khushwant Singh’s autobio seems to be more about the rich and famous than himself!
Shivam Vij, Lucknow
Apropos Gun to the Temple (February 11), a few clarifications. The Supreme Court clearly lays down that even though the Central government is the absolute owner of the entire undisputed land, it has to manage the entire acquired area properly till the title suit is decided, the disputed site is handed over to the winner, an alternative site is found for the loser and land is allocated for amenities and facilities for both, for access and for the proposed museum and library. Then, if any undisputed land is ‘surplus’, ‘unnecessary’ or ‘superfluous’, it may be transferred by the government to its original owners or a trust. The government may also, subject to appropriate conditions, hand over the construction of mandir/ masjid to private trusts or authority. The vhp’s status today is of a potential bidder for construction of the mandir in the site to be allotted. It has no pre-emptive claim to be chosen and far less to a particular site. Nor can the Central government unilaterally determine whether to concede the vhp’s demand. If the judgement needs to be clarified, only the Supreme Court can do it, not the law minister.
Syed Shahabuddin, Convenor, BMMCC, New Delhi
"The American government is not only forced to be sensitive to its citizens and involve them, it has to appear to be so." What appalling insensitivity from Madhu Trehan (Towards Owning India, February 11). I live in Baltimore, an East Coast city where every corner has a designated panhandler, where areas of poor unemployed black people are separate from areas of poor unemployed whites. "Sensitive to its citizens"? I think not. "Appearing to be so," perhaps only to those who want to wish away the helplessness and poverty of the inner cities by escaping to the suburbs. And, of course, to amateur theorisers of distant Delhi who have never let ignorance come in the way of forming an opinion.
Amitabha Bagchi, Baltimore, Maryland
It looks like Enron’s enriched the lives of almost everyone who matters in the US and UK, from Prince Charles to Paul Krugman (Robbing Innocence, February 11). Can it possibly be that they couldn’t touch the honest souls of we Indians? Can Outlook let us know?
Raag Bansal, on e-mail
Pullela Gopichand’s interview ("Colas are killing local drinks", February 11) proves that he is not only an ace badminton player who has brought laurels to his country but also a genuinely good and concerned citizen. In this rich man’s world, where everyone sings money, money, money, here we have a man who stands by his principles and firmly believes it’s not money alone that makes the world go round. Kudos to him.
Gelay Bhutia, on e-mail
One more reason for India to be proud of you, Pullela Gopichand! Keep it up.
Gopi Attaluri, California
You’ve comfortably overlooked the other side of the coin in Shine On, Crazy Diamond (February 11). Fact is: Guwahati is always 100 MW deficient in power supply—most homes get only 60 to 70 per cent power at peak hours. Our narrow streets can’t support the huge number of vehicles so that perennial traffic jams are a way of life here. And a seasonal shower is all it takes to paralyse the city, given its prehistoric drainage system.
Manash Das, Guwahati
I’ve read half-a-dozen reports, obits and essays on the late R.N. Kao. But it was only from your appraisal (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, February 4) that I came to know of his role in the merger of Sikkim into India in 1973.
N. Rajasekharan Nair, Mumbai
An excellent cover from Outlook after a long time. The story Bye, Bye B’bay (February) 4) was long overdue. However much people may argue otherwise, Bombay just isn’t what it used to be. It has no heart or soul any more. And the saddest part is even Bombayites do not care.
Shobha Ramaswamy, on e-mail
Mumbai is no longer a dream city for the thousands who believed it was the mecca for both opportunity and success. With the burgeoning millions and the income-gap rising at a tremendous rate, which middle-class man would risk a degraded life in Mumbai? And the presence of dons et al has robbed Mumbai of its cultural ethos, making the city little more than a breathing corpse.
Shruti Kulkarni, New Delhi
Mumbai rots because of culture cops like the Shiv Sena and other fundamentalist elements who have utter disregard for human rights and values. If and when Mumbai learns to understand and respect the likes of Charles Correa and Nani Palkhiwala, it can afford to dream of a better tomorrow. With Bal Thackerays and Pramod Navalkars around, no place can be very different from hell.
T.S. Pattabhi Raman, Coimbatore
For once, Outlook went beyond the hype and glamour of post-liberalisation urban India and focused on its darker side. From the downslide of Bombay to the coal mafia of West Bengal (Sooted Up and Nowhere to Go) to the disappearing career options for middle-aged professionals (On the Wrong Side of 40)—these are as much a part of the reality as is the celebrity-laden Mumbai, fast-progressing Calcutta or the numerous career options for freshers. Here’s hoping Outlook remains our window to both sides of reality!
Sudeep Ralhan, on e-mail
When I was a young boy, my father took me to see an English film. This was before Independence. After the film was over, God Save the King was played and we all—apart from the Englishmen—stood up in respect. After Independence, the same theatre began playing the Indian national anthem and displaying the tiranga onscreen. But the practice had to be given up when people started moving towards the exit lest they got lost in the outgoing crowd. So much for respecting our national flag and national anthem!
U. Shukla, Mumbai
Hats off to P. Gopichand for refusing to promote soft drinks when all of our so-called role models do it ("Colas are killing local drinks", February 11). Everyone knows badminton earnings are measly compared to what actors, cricketers or even tennis players earn. To say no to a lucrative deal in these circumstances is commendable. Also the fact that he did not publicise this news and it got out only when a local organisation brought it to public notice.
The reason he refused to endorse the colas may sound old-fashioned but it is a fact that these aerated drinks cause more harm than anything else. They also cause skin allergy. Perhaps the biggest reason why most of us, especially children, drink colas is because of the advertisements and the presence of popular faces which shamelessly promote these products for financial gains without realising their after-effects. We can’t be sure either if they or their children drink the stuff they endorse. In this run of massive publicity undertaken by companies, natural drinks like nimbu pani, sugarcane juice or sherbets are forgotten. Perhaps it would require a collective effort of a few more Gopichands to value our traditional drinks and not be swayed by promoters.
Krishna Kumar, Ahmedabad
Please cancel my subscription and return the remaining amount. When the whole arts world in Chennai is seething with anger at your article Cauvery in a Puddle (January 21), you’ve gone ahead and published only sycophantic letters.
V.R. Devika, on e-mail