14 May, 2021
Letters | Dec 30, 2002

The Modified Mood Swing

125+ on Modi Richter: the Aftershocks

Dec 30, 2002

Despite the media’s desperation, the Gujarat result was a foregone conclusion (Modified Mood Swing, December 16). The Godhra mob, while burning those rail bogies, actually burnt the bridge of Hindu-Muslim unity. Their myopic view boomeranged. Now the media—as dissociated from the people as the leaders who consider leadership a family heritage—knows it doesn’t influence public opinion. Get back to being a fair umpire.
J.N. Bhartiya, Lucknow

The people have already spoken.... Now will the journalists please shut up?
Sachin, Pune

It’s inconceivable that an India that produced Gandhi, Nehru and Shastri must be ruled by the likes of Modi who preach/ practise hatred. Little do they realise the effect their brand of politics has on people. Genocide is not a joke, and one only wishes India would find a leader tough enough to stand up to these peddlers of hate.
Hariharan Thantry, San Jose, US

Giving a resounding win to the BJP, Gujarat has sent a clear signal to the rest of India: Hindu lives can’t be taken for granted. Congratulations. We wish the people of Gujarat peace, progress and a bright future.
L. Ramesh, Hyderabad

Gujarat confirms that adage: in India, people don’t cast their vote, they vote their caste.
Abhishek Kaul, on e-mail

Modi’s win is another feather in India’s cap. He joins an elite club (Advani, Sukh Ram, Jayalalitha et al) of those qualified with well-documented crimes but handed the reins of power by the very electorate whose peace they snatch with each passing day.
K.P. Rafique, Doha, Qatar

The BJP’s victory begs the question: was it development or was it Hindutva? Well, that will remain a mystery since till the day Godhra happened, they were losing even municipal/panchayat polls. Now we’ll see any number of vijay yatras but what the bjp government does for the common Gujarati remains to be seen.
Indrajit Bose, Cuttack

At the height of Godhra, the bjp was trounced in the Delhi municipal polls. So to say it was solely responsible for defeating the pro-crescent brigade so many months later is wishful analysis. Gujarat has avenged the downplaying of Muslim violence and overstatement of Hindu violence.
Udita Agrawal, New Delhi

All this won’t last. The BJP basically doesn’t know how to govern. It’s a front for right-wing Hindu nris and just an aberration in Indian politics. Despite what people say, I feel Mayawati is doing a good job of using them for her ends. The Sangh’s communalisation is all about covering up the deep caste fissures in Hindu society (Gujarat witnessed massive caste mobilisation in the ’80s). We shouldn’t also forget the Congress’ communal politics there from 1969 to the present. We are now witnessing the rss-bjp reaping the harvest.
Bharat Punjabi, Toronto, Canada

So what’s Modi to pull off? His Italian-made Bulgari glasses? With them on, how could he turn a blind eye to Godhra? It’s amazing how he has been crowned with no achievement besides fuelling Hindu fanatic fervour. Enough is enough. We do not need new-wave ideologies or cult politicking...we need an India safe for all.
Chitra Panicker, New Delhi

Your article touched the core of Gujarat politics. Very few here blame Modi for the genocide. On the ground, there was a huge misinformation campaign: the language press was the biggest culprit. They projected Modi as Gujarat’s saviour. No one is asking why there is no practical explanation for Godhra after 10 months. Or why Gujarat has slipped from No. 2 to No. 10 in industrial production. What has the vhp done for its Hindu herd? Where’s that bearded old man of Ayodhya who was going to die if not allowed to do shiladan? It’s sad Gujaratis did not realise that one day all this hate will only cause more upheavals in their own lives.
Tarun Chugh, Surat

Gujarat: An Appeal

Tsk, Tsk...

Dec 30, 2002

Good try, Mr Mehta (Gujarat: An Appeal, December 16). First you publish a survey that shows the Congress winning. Then you carry all kinds of stories against the bjp-rss combine. Finally, you stoop to the level of a common propaganda artist, begging votes for the Congress.
Sanjeev Anand, Bangalore

Democracy has gone to the wall in other states as well. Only, in Gujarat it begged for notice with a gruesome act that was impossible to ignore. Preserve the sentiment, Mr Mehta. You might need it to address the whole nation in the future.
Vijayendar Chaudhury, Hyderabad

Excellent editorial, Mr Mehta. But what was the deal with the eunuch allegory? Transgendered does not equal incompetent nor does it equal Narendra Modi. Perhaps it’s insensitive to point this out in the light of the issue the editorial seeks to address, but hey, somebody needs to point it out, right? Congratulations anyway for running a magazine that’s fun and not the usual morally vacuous nonsense.
Sri Ganesh, on e-mail

A Statesman Is Born

Sold to the Devil

Dec 30, 2002

One whole page by Prem Shankar Jha on Kashmir, announcing that A Statesman is Born (December 16) and not a word about Kashmiri Pandits! And who is this statesman? A man who released terrorists and murderers in an incident that gave impetus to the j&k insurgency? In any self-respecting society, this man would have been forced out of public life. Shame on you, Mr Jha. You’ve sold your soul just to earn a few brownie points with the ‘secular-liberals’! But then, what else can you expect from a man who not so long ago actually argued that the destruction of Hindu temples in medieval India was some sort of a favour the erstwhile Muslim rulers did to us.
Manish Maheshwari, on e-mail

In my opinion, people like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are more effective when they sit in the opposition rather than try their hands at governing a sensitive state like j&k. It’s sad that he’s trying to appease militant-secessionist elements by inviting them for talks. The Hurriyat Conference and other such pro-Pakistan outfits must be made to swear by the Constitution of India before New Delhi attempts any parleys with them. One hopes the Mufti won’t needlessly interfere with the security forces stationed there.
K.V. Raghuram, on e-mail

If Kashmir is such a pampered entity, the logical thing would be to let it go off India’s back. That surely would shut the arguments of those who keep whining about India’s burden and ungrateful Kashmiris. You can’t keep it in the Indian Union by force and then whine about the costs! Secondly, any constitution governing a people should have the consent of the governed. Waving the Constitution or Instrument of Accession as immutable or sacrosanct is meaningless—they’re not worth the paper they’re written on if the people are alienated. Regions get special status on account of history and the way the union was wrought. Heck, even China gives special status to Hong Kong. Scotland has it in the UK (and gets more money than England which earns that money). If Quebec chooses to stay with Canada, it too is due to the same reason. Closer home, if the Naga talks are to have any success, this approach is a must. That said, the Hurriyat and its militant minders should take a cue from the Naga talks. They are another set of whiners that neatly complements the home crowd.
Srikanth B., London

The Mortal Krishna

A Fallen Charioteer

Dec 30, 2002

The Mortal Krishna (December 16) reminded me of the Panchatantra tale of a pundit chiding his boatman for not knowing even the basics of the shastras, while crossing the Ganga. Just then there was a storm. The boatman asked if the shastri could swim. On getting a reply in the negative, he said, "Then all your knowledge is of little use," as the boat started sinking. If S.M. Krishna isn’t able to ensure the basic right to life to his people, of what use is his being modern and tech-savvy?
A.T. Thakur, Pune

Has anyone tried to trace Veerappan’s patrons? Over 2,000 elephants...all those tonnes of ivory must have had buyers. His jungle fief is also prime granite quarry land (recall rumours that Rajkumar’s kidnap took place to settle his family’s dues to granite exporters). The Rs 20-crore ransom, hinted at by an ex-cop, too would be useless to a bandit like Veerappan. The largest market for granite from India and ivory from anywhere is Japan. Why not check out the ‘legal’ granite mafia in those parts?
Mehul Kamdar, Chennai

Krishna must thank his stars for securing the release of matinee idol Rajkumar, by whatever means! Now he has no option but to go for Veerappan.
S. Lakshmi, on e-mail

Pathetic, pathetic. Some weird desperado leaves an entire country impotent and gutless. For god’s sake, if you guys can’t hunt Veerappan, hire some foreign mercenaries to do the job.
Atul Biswas, Detroit, US

The solution is to call in foreign specialists in forest warfare. Whatever it costs, it will still be cheaper than our effete stf.
E.J. Samuel, Dharwad, Karnataka

Congress Edges BJP In Photofinish

Why We Went Wrong With Our Poll

Dec 30, 2002

The final results of the Gujarat elections were very different from the predictions of the pre-poll survey CFore conducted for Outlook (Congress Edges BJP Out in Photofinish, December 9). This is what went wrong.

Our survey was conducted three weeks before polling day. Twenty-four per cent of the respondents were undecided at that time. Ticket distribution was not finalised and intense campaigning had not started. In normal conditions, subsequent developments, especially the effect of campaigning on undecided voters, tend to cancel each other out, without varying the results much. This time it was not so, mainly due to the unprecedented impact of Hindutva campaigning which began after our survey was conducted. And just days before the polling date, Hindutva got a massive boost with the ‘fatwa’ publicity. Most surveys predicted a close fight and went wrong.

No psephologist in the world has predicted results accurately all the time. Recent examples of pre-poll surveys going badly wrong are assembly elections in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. In fact, CFore’s predictions, both pre-poll and exit poll, for the last assembly elections in Punjab, UP, Uttaranchal and Manipur was the most accurate among all surveys.
Premchand Palety, Director, CFore

Parasites Of Disaster

Cynics Incorporated

Dec 30, 2002

Parasites of Disaster (October 14) is a crappy story typical of the media’s superficial coverage of Bhopal. Playing upon the cynicism of the middle class about ngos and social organisations, the article is itself an example of fly-by-night journalism. Fact is, there’s just a handful of groups in India and abroad keeping alive core issues like the criminal liability of Union Carbide, paltry compensation, long-term health etc. If Greenpeace has to resort to ‘gimmicks’ to create focus on genocide, it says everything about media cynicism.
Satya Sivaraman, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Satchels, Half-Empty

Grades, Bullies and Miss Grundys

Dec 30, 2002

I agree about the need to shift to application-based education in India (Satchels, Half Empty, December 16). We could take tips from international platforms like the International Baccalaureate Organisation of Geneva or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education of Cambridge, England. Both have rigorous skill-based programmes that train students to relate and use classroom knowledge in real life. Moreover, they’re updated and reformed regularly. We should also have a unified syllabus to negate inequalities emerging out of the various existing boards in India.
Prabhat Jain, New Delhi

Twelve years we hate it, curse our teachers, try to get out of it, bunk as much as we can but the day we leave, we’re dying to get back in there. Isn’t it ironic? I studied in two of your top-ranked schools—Mother’s International in Delhi and St John’s in Chandigarh—and now that I look back at it, it was the best time I ever had.
Girish Dayalan, on e-mail

I was surprised to see the results of your survey. Why don’t you ask students or ex-students to do the rating rather than teachers? Being an ex-student of one of these "best schools", let me tell you and gullible parents that we got no individual attention at all. We’d be lucky if the teachers would even know or remember our names. The ‘sports’ period was spent chatting on the field and extra-curriculars were indifferent activities supervised by bored teachers. As for ‘moral values’, the less said the better. Drugs and smoking were rampant, as was kissing in the corridors, classrooms or staircases. About studies, only the bright were encouraged. To make results better, hundreds of bright students from elsewhere were taken in at the plus two level. Essentially, these students were nurtured in schools like Mount St Mary’s, Loreto Convent, Chinmaya Vidyalaya or Tagore International but were lost in the last two years of schooling. Obviously, these schools don’t have a chance of figuring in any best-of list. I hope parents see through propaganda and not fall prey to these opportunistic schools.
Sujata Sharma, New Delhi

Your survey would have been much better had you just listed reasonably good schools with a reasonable fee structure and not taking donations! There’s very little difference in the points you’ve awarded to various schools and, as for results, you yourself in one of your earlier issues have carried a moving article on how a small hamlet in Bihar has produced dozens of iitians. How about an article that tracks students of ‘prestigious’ schools and those of small town/government/ordinary schools over 10 years and finds out who does better in the long run.
Anirudha R. Podder, on e- mail

Your survey on India’s best schools is totally misleading as, barring Chandigarh, it was once again conducted only in the metros. This is flawed; for, most of, say, Tamil Nadu’s finest schools are located in Ooty or Coimbatore, and not Chennai. The same, probably, is true of other states too.
Prince Herbert, on e-mail

Your ranking of schools is off the mark, as far as Hyderabad is concerned. Little Flower High School has been rated high for sports and infrastructure when the fact is that the school has no playground, and very little lung space compared to many schools with excellent sports and infrastructure facilities as also in terms of providing transport and lunch. Likewise, the number of students per class is much higher in Little Flower, yet you rank it high as far as individual attention is concerned. I wish you had been more objective.
P.S. Moorthy, Hyderabad

It was nice to see two dps branches figuring in your list of best schools since I myself am from dps Dhanbad and have friends from the R.K. Puram and Mathura Road branches. It would’ve been better though had your survey been on an all-India basis and not just in the metros, or at least state-wise.
Vijay Anand, Jhumri Telaiya

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