It’s high time the so-called guardians of Indian culture addressed the real threats to our culture (Poisoned Darts, February 25). Their ilk may provide umpteen reasons against the celebration of Valentine’s Day but no one’s spoken against the blatant nudity being beamed in the name of the Rio carnival on Fashion TV. If the celebration of Valentine’s Day is against their version of Hindu culture, is this celebration of nudity a welcome part of it? The much-hyped i&b ministry seems happily oblivious to all this.
Ajit, on e-mail
I have a suggestion for the abvp and Shiv Sena activists. How about substituting the western saint with our very own St V who perceived love as an agent that unifies the processes of body to those of the mind and ultimately with the atma. He’s none other than Sant Vatsyayan, the very one who penned a whole treatise on the art of love. The manner in which the day should be celebrated should be left to the imagination of the activists.
Kumar Vyas, on e-mail
Your cover story Too Close for Comfort? (February 18) ably brought out a few uncomfortable truths. Though the new "warmth in Indo-US ties" provides some "comfort" to the average Indian, others can easily see through American designs which hold considerable peril for the entire South and West Asia. The US has two precise and long-term goals for the attainment of which it will do anything, even if millions of innocent lives are lost. One, the destruction of China politically and economically, for which they want India to be a convenient instrument in their hands; and two, control over the enormous oil resources of the west and central Asian region.
E.P. Menon, Bangalore
After historically bringing a semblance of law to Afghanistan, the US is "dangerously close" to ushering in lawlessness in the other countries surrounding it. We should shun our submissiveness at once and ask the US whether they are with us, or with them/or against us.
Kaushik Das, Bangalore
Empty vessels make the most noise. So it is with Sitaram Yechuri. Communism is dead and gone even from the place of its birth but the likes of Yechuri keep making noises about it, just to remind people of their existence. He should remember that the then ussr’s occupation of Afghanistan in ’79 is the root cause of the present turmoil the world’s facing.
D.V. Madhava Rao, Chennai
What is truly amazing is the bizarre spectacle of nations clamouring for the privilege of being ruthlessly exploited by the West—only to be cast off like used toilet paper—when they have served their purpose.
Ranjith Thomas, on e-mail
No country can always be in a win-win or lose-lose situation. As long as we have political stability and level-headed leadership, the US cannot do anything. Our Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis are more than a match for American businessmen and the nris in America have sufficient clout to ensure that our interests are secure. We thus have nothing to lose but our inhibitions.
Harish Bahal, New Delhi
Sandipan Deb hits the nail on the head with his column Cowboys and Indians. Isn’t it pitifully shameful that a diplomat like Robert Blackwill should act as a blatant mouthpiece of a corporate entity, and a discredited one at that?
V. Raghuram, on e-mail
I went to the fifth odi at Kotla. I agree with everything that’s been written in Shaw’s Fools (February 18) and I could add a lot more, such as having had my camera stolen by a senior policeman. Why do cricket authorities ignore all this overwhelming evidence of corruption? Why are the police not arrested and charged; surely they are there to serve and protect the public, not to abuse them and put their safety at risk while lining their own pockets? It’s such a shame Indian cricket is met by a despairing shake of the head by everybody else. Indians deserve better than to be served by these charlatans.
Chris Odowd, on e-mail
Well put, Outlook. It’s high time cricket lovers came to their senses—to save the game and uphold their self-esteem. Cricket has become a big industry and a money-spinner for some. The spectator seems to be the only loser in this bargain these days—he doesn’t even get his money’s worth.
Anil Kedia, on e-mail
Sometime back I had the pleasure of watching Sachin and Saurav beat the hell out of the Sri Lankans at Wankhede in a Test match. At the same time as the Lankans were at their wits’ end, so were millions of cricket fans who could not stomach the idea of entering the loo, which had a flood of well, you know what. We all seem to be Shaw’s fools, the author of this fine piece included. Which is why we accustom ourselves to a life of depravity and hardship rather than do something about it. And cricket being the soul of the nation, so to speak, only reflects this sad state of affairs.
Trishul M. Wadhwa, on e-mail
Stars and Stripes (February 18) seemed yet another attempt to capitalise on the knowledge of a language and a regional diaspora—the displaced Matunga Tamils in this case. The depiction of their accent sounded supercilious rather than a matter of keen observation, the characters were cliched and situations all the more so. Perhaps the constraints of size on entries emasculated what might otherwise have been tolerable reading. But wasn’t this a "non-fiction" contest anyway?
Vijay Poduri, on e-mail
While Saryu Ahuja’s fluid style makes for racy reading, aren’t these Arundhati prototypes with their Indianised English getting a little stale?
Geeta Kalyani, Coimbatore
I noticed that the winning entry for the Outlook-Picador non-fiction contest read very much like a short story published in a literary magazine, like the kind Amit Chaudhuri or Pankaj Mishra might have written. The only difference between fiction and non-fiction, then, is the implied word of the author.
Jabeen Merchant, Bombay
Saryu Ahuja’s Stars and Stripes certainly didn’t deserve the first prize. Though the first bit of the piece had some amount of subtlety, the rest was absolutely crude. Was it written for the delectation of the Anglicised reader who loves to snigger at the ways of the natives—both of the desi and the nri variety?
Girish V. Wagh, Bangalore
Anita Pratap is right (Rabble-Rousers Inc, February 18). What makes this undemocratic behaviour so fashionable? Only hate brigades seem to grab the public imagination. Hate Pakistan, hate America, hate the Muslims, hate the Christians, hate the Left, St Valentine.... Any fair debate runs up against public apathy and elections are the biggest bore! Are we unwittingly laying the foundations of a fascist state?
Anuradha Kalhan, on e-mail
Interesting piece, but Ms Pratap should have done a more careful analysis of "hate mail" rather than focus just on what she thinks is a rightwing nri putsch to decimate liberal and Left politics. The flood of nri mail has an easy explanation: nris have lot more time to surf the Net; they have computers at home and at work, the servers and links are faster, and thus it is very easy to click and sputter away. The majority of Indians do not have this luxury and for Ms Pratap to jump to the conclusion that nris are "more patriotic (or more jingoistic) than thou (the resident Indian)" is indicative more of her liberal/progressive bias than clear, careful thinking.
Ramesh N. Rao, on e-mail
It’s quite ironical to see Kuldip Nayar, the self-appointed friend of the denigrate-India brigade, become so jingoistic as to oppose foreign equity in the print media (The Sovereign Word, February 18). Or is it just plain old self-interest? He’s probably afraid that the incestuous hold of his ilk over the media will get smashed once the Indian public is exposed to fresh opinions from a new breed of writers.
Manish Maheshwari, New Delhi
Apropos Prem Shankar Jha’s Heal the Breach of Faiths (February 18), it’s totally incorrect to say that 800 years of Mughal and British rule did not make a dent on faith. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh were all regions with Hindu, Buddhist and Jain populations. The Muslims in Pakistan were either Rajputs or Jats. The same is the case with Iran. A tolerant Parsi population was brutalised by Islamic thugs and plunderers. Why is it that there are very few temples in the north when compared with south India? Though I agree that a pluralistic society is inevitable, the fact cannot be denied that the Mughal influence was malefic.
Sriram, on e-mail
The picture postcard-perfect future gushingly described by the starry-eyed executives of the Indian postal department can turn out to be just a pipe dream if the smudged postcard that a sleepy postman delivers to your mailbox with an average delay of five to six days is anything to go by (The Future is a Picture Postcard, February 11). In fact, you can’t even be sure of the extent of the delay because of the franking of the postal stamp leaves an indecipherable smudge. Can this ugly duckling ever hope to become a swan?
Padukone P. Rao, Bangalore
Post-Independence, the Indian psyche has been a pathetic victim of schizophrenia. One expression of the malady is the almost paranoid fear of everything that is foreign and yet, an indomitable urge to embrace the same. Kuldip Nayar’s opinion The Sovereign Word (February 18) is a fine example of the same. That Nehru was against allowing the foreign press an entry onto Indian shores way back in the ’50s can’t be justification for following the same after 50 years. The fear that the alien print media would tend to subvert the political culture of the country by fanning parochialism and separatism doesn’t hold as despite the existing proscription, such damaging consequences are on the rise. Further, in spite of the restriction, the Indian reader is not immune to such alleged subversive and tendentious opinion on views or news. Ironically, the very issue of Outlook contains a plethora of opinions and views of foreign experts and opinion-makers. Nor is there any restriction on the import of foreign printed material such as books, newspapers and periodicals. Those who can afford to can fully partake of such material without difficulty. Allowing the foreign print media to publish in the country would open the windows wider and make its availability much easier for the common reader. If we can live happily with foreign influence in our dress, food, language and everything else, we can easily cohabit with the foreign print media too.
G.R. Saha, Calcutta
Regarding Vinod Mehta’s Delhi Diary (February 18), Khushwant Singh is nothing but a publicity-hungry sex and Scotch maniac. I am a Hindu married to a Sikh and living in Punjab for the last 28 years. All that I have seen first-hand is much clearer than what Mr Mehta, Debonair editor, and that "shrewd sycophant" Khushwant (he doesn’t deserve the surname Singh), have seen. It’s very easy for people like you to criticise Bhindranwale from your drawing rooms sipping Scotch and editing erotica, than sacrificing your life for a cause.
Tina Matondkar Kaur, Amritsar
It seems all Vinod Mehta can think of these days is sex and booze. Is it a hangover of his Debonair days? Anyhow, I think he’s giving Khushwant good company.