Whether Narendra Modi is a criminal or not is one question. But what are the qualifications of those who accuse him (Leads From Purgatory, December 2)? It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. When Indira Gandhi was convicted on four electoral malpractices, her lawyer asked for an unconditional stay in the Supreme Court. The self-same Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer said, "I can’t give that under the present law. But if you change the law and come, I will give it." Mrs G followed his advice literally and crushed the laws. This man, who never spoke a word during the Emergency, now calls himself a human rights activist and accuses Modi. Iyer should feel proud. After all, he’s one of Modi’s gurus.
Vinoo, New Jersey, US
I wonder if the whole report is based on the kind of evidence I quote from the tribunal report: "It ‘appears’ that on its onward journey to Ayodhya, there was an incident at Dahod station where kar sevaks indulged in vandalism and terrorising of Muslim vendors. According to another version, the incident took place on the return journey. There is no clear evidence of the date of the incident but it is clear that it took place." The basis here, clearly, is not eyewitness accounts, but pure rumour!
D.D. Pappu, Kochi
How responsible and caring are these humanists! They busy themselves with a post-mortem that sounds like a commie plot to sully the BJP. And my, the report had to come out just before the polls...very strange.
U.S. Umesh, Dubai
Your cover story (The Flip Flop PM, December 2) was balanced, neither too critical nor too eulogistic. Vajpayee seems sincere, but cramped by both the nda and the trishuldhaaris. Yes, he does doublespeak but if he didn’t have this ability, he would have been an ex-PM long ago. A big nation with a multitude of problems can’t be ruled by strict commitment to convictions. Every party needs a Vajpayee to rein in the baser elements.
G. Jayan, Thiruvananthapuram
I remember the UP of 1992. At 2 am on the night of December 6, I was shocked to hear my uncle shout Jai Sri Ram from the roof of our house, on the ‘border’ of a Hindu-Muslim locality, in response to opposing cries. I was told to shut up and rebuked, a la Bush: if you don’t belong to our side, you belong to them. Same holds for fascism. Either you are one or you are not. The reasons don’t matter. Vajpayee too must belong. Sadly he belongs to the former category. Nothing else matters.
Kapil Sharma, Mumbai
Why are you against Vajpayee? He’s doing a fine job of managing a 25-party coalition, with all its conflicting agendas, without favouring one region or community.
Krishna Prasad, on e-mail
Dare I say, if he’s not ‘Atal’ on his own stands, where is the guarantee he will be firm on Gujarat? With some days left to the poll, he can soften or harden, as suits the situation. Is he not a supremely adaptive creature, this ‘Tal’ Vajpayee?
Mobassar Hasan, Jamia Millia, Delhi
Vajpayee’s a good-intentioned, nation-loving, opportunistic politician who means to do well but loves power. He will say anything to stay PM—even pretend he is the one good man against the mob.
Tuphan Bhattacharya, Maryland, US
Govindacharya hit the nail on the head with the ‘mukhota’ remark. Vajpayee’s only interest is self-interest ("a swayamsevak first," as he himself put it). He singularly lacks vision. Throughout his term, he’s not stood firm on one issue. If history remembers Modi as the butcher of Gujarat, Vajpayee will be remembered as the one who let him get away with it.
Asif Sultan, Shreveport, US
Let’s call a spade a spade. Nehru, for all his faults, was upright. This man’s just a plain hypocrite. Nothing redeems him, he’s a small, dissimulating politico who changes colours as the audience demands. The middle class is building up this paper liberal only to protect its white-collar crimes.
R. Kamalendra Singh, Udaipur
Apropos Prem Shankar Jha’s The Waking Serpent (December 2), all political parties have their quota of serpents. Each one of them has a natural urge to grow. But it is to the credit of the bjp that they could wake up their serpent and make him the role model for a whole generation.
Bharat Pandya, on e-mail
Vivekananda once again, huh? How much do you know about him? Do you know Swamiji had tried to kill a Christian monk on an India-bound ship from England on the subject of conversion? Sri Aurobindo too told his followers that Hindus must react to Muslim violence. He is the only spiritual leader who never accepted the Partition, his ashram still holds to the idea of ‘Akhand Bharat’. He believed in Hindu-Muslim unity, but believed it couldn’t be one-sided. So do not wax liberal by quoting these figures out of context.
Nimesh Dixit, Iselin, US
"Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men./For though the world stood up and stopped the bastard,/The bitch that bore him is in heat again." I quote Bertolt Brecht, from The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, on the subject of fascism. My fellow Indians should heed the warning this day when Modi, Togadia and their ilk roam free in our country.
Ravin Kurian, Chennai
Jha’s is a very morbid way of looking at things. There is no mention of the very real danger posed by pseudo-secularists and the English media. I do not care if the bjp doesn’t get re-elected in Gujarat but it will be very unfortunate if the victor is the Congress—the one responsible for all the evils India is facing.
C.K. Narotham, Bangalore
I don’t think South Asians are unfairly targeted at US airports (Color-Coded, December 2). I travel regularly and from what I’ve seen, everyone goes through the same rigour of screening. In fact, I very recently saw an elderly couple, who could barely walk, being singled out for extra screening. I agree the treatment of some people may not have been exemplary but then there are some who think they are more equal than others and expect special treatment.
Nischal Sahrawat, Illinois, US
The revolutionary dilution of the ltte—climbing down from demanding a separate Tamil Eelam to greater autonomy for the Tamil-dominated regions of Sri Lanka—to me seems a ploy to gain time to organise itself better (A Distant Peace, December 2). This when the entire world is united in fighting terrorism. India must distance itself from every deal involving the ltte and the Sri Lankan government. We’ve already burnt our fingers once by needlessly getting involved in the politics of the island nation.
K.V. Raghuram, Wayanad, Kerala
India’s foreign ministry has made a big mistake by not sending a person of stature to the Oslo meet. Here was India’s chance to show the world that it cares about peace in Sri Lanka. The babus in New Delhi should realise that the country can’t become an Asian giant if it does not earn its neighbours’ respect.
E. de Silva, Washington DC, US
Gunter Grass in his interview ("Calcutta robbed me of words", November 25) says, "Capitalism is now without a rival after the fall of socialism. This extraordinary situation has resulted in its emergence as an avaricious, suicidal force, bent on destroying itself." What he forgets is that capitalism acquired a human face long ago and its destruction is near-impossible now. Lenin and Mao unwittingly sowed the seeds of communism’s destruction by their lack of a healthy economic vision and humanist approach. Modern capitalism, on the other hand, has none of the painful rigidities and authoritarian strains of early Marxism and its remarkable flexibility is well in tune with the physical and emotional needs of today’s individual. It won’t die.
P. Sunayna, Coimbatore
"In a way, although Rahman is too modest to boast, he is the Ravi Shankar of our times" (Tuning In, December 2). This is too much! ARR is definitely the best among today’s ordinaries. But he comes nowhere close to the earlier greats, filmi or otherwise. And you can forget about comparing him to Ravi Shankar! He just has the advantage of modern technology and cheap publicity. Nor is working with MJ such a great deal as Jacko himself is a fading star.
Pallavi, Rockville, US
Rahman is what humans look for in music—the raw form of art. Comparing him with past greats is pointless as there is no past, present or future in music; great music is tenseless. Rahman understands the raw form better than most of us do which is why he can collate, arrange and deliver what is today being termed world music.
R.P. Jairam, Hong Kong
I’ve just returned from Chennai after conducting a legal literacy workshop with a group of hiv+ women where we discussed all existing national/ international policies or recently-passed apex court judgements on aids. The experience brought home the realisation that hiv+ people not only need medication and health counselling but also need to be made aware of their legal rights. For their suffering is not only physical but mental as well. Their families are breaking, they are being deprived of shares in property, forget getting maintenance from their husbands or family. Infected people need to know that they have the same rights as others. An hiv+ person can’t be thrown out of a job or an hiv+ child thrown out of school because of their status.
Vinamrata, New Delhi
As of today, aids is not the menace it’s being made out to be by vested interests and fund-seeking ngos. It’s one of the 11 killer diseases enumerated which require preventive and educative mass movements to be run concurrently—not separately—with other programmes of the health ministry. I’m dismayed that our actor-turned-health minister could not stop Bill Gates in his pecuniary mission for leading US pharma firms. Dr Hamied is right in foreseeing the devastating scenario for the poor in this country if the monopoly of the big pharma groups is allowed in new drugs. Americans can afford the high-priced drugs under their social security systems, the poor masses of this country cannot. It would merely be a denial of the drugs to aids patients.
Dr P.L. Nawalkha, Jaipur
Khushwant Singh, like Mani Shankar Aiyer, is an unabashed and shameless Nehru-Gandhi family sycophant—apparent yet again in his review (November 18) of B.N. Tandon’s Pmo Diary. Once the book is out, Congressmen will bay for Tandon’s blood, led no doubt behind the scenes by the Lucretia Borgia of their party. India needs more Palkhiwalas, Shouries and Narimans. As for you, Mr Mehta, for all your ‘fairness’ in publishing anti-Congress letters, you too deserve to have your portrait hung in the Hall of Shame alongside other party toadies.
Lt Col Narula, Pune
Khushwant is at it again, spewing venom on Mrs G who made him a Rajya Sabha MP. His tirade started when he was refused renomination. Before that he was heaping praises on Sanjay Gandhi, saying that Dhirendra Brahmachari never smelt of sweat, only smelt sweet, and supporting Maneka’s Surya.
D.J. Bhaskar, Guntur
Having been born in this business and being an insider, there is so much to say why this state of affairs prevails in Bollywood (Flop Show, November 25). An indisciplined, selfish and mediocre group of people—extremely satisfied with their incompetence—rule the roost these days. Genuine talent, dedication or filmmaking with a passion is passe. The spineless producers, thieving distributors, irresponsible exhibitors, stars, technicians, audio and film pirates and above all the government—which continues its lackadaisical and stepmotherly treatment to the industry—and many, many more reasons make up the disaster that is Bollywood. A black hole created within! Thanks for creating the awareness and providing a perspective. Question is, will it change anything?
Pravesh Sippy, Mumbai