Writing the elegy on the sad demise of pseudo-secularism (Fighting the Good Cause, January 13), Vinod Mehta bewails and describes the year 2002, which gave him and his ilk bloody nose and black eye, as "low and dishonest". Lamenting, mournful, miserable and heart-broken, he writes, "There are few reasons to celebrate or welcome 2003." We understand his anguish. Like a person knocked senseless by a blow, the pseudos have lost their balance and coherence. Mr Mehta invents accusations against the victors of Gujarat elections and sentences them on the basis of those imaginary charges. No one in the bjp or vhp has ever said that 200 million Muslims and Christians are jehadis, yet he condemns them for saying so. He consoles his gang of pseudos by saying "election results at a given time and place have no permanent immutable validity. Occasionally demagogues and despots successfully manage to manipulate the will of the people of free India". Mr Mehta, the will of the people of India can’t be manipulated by fraudulent opinion polls and false reporting. Gujarat has shown it.
D.P. Sinha, on e-mail
Vinod Mehta is absolutely right. There are many good causes worth fighting for in India. Unlike him, however, I believe that the most urgent fight is for India’s elusive soul. Will India remain a secular democracy, nurturing its vibrant diversity, or will it yield to an unprecedented assault by hate-mongers within the bjp, vhp and rss? Our secular leadership tends to underestimate the intellect and resourcefulness of those propagating radical Hinduism. This complacency has proved costly in the past (Gujarat being a recent example) and will prove counter-productive in the future too. Fighting the virulence of the Modis and Togadias calls for a detailed, frontal and resolute assault on the ideology espoused by the parivar and its associates. From making them clarify the meaning of Hindutva to putting up alternatives that resonate with India—that is the fight that’s to be fought.
Salman Anees, Washington DC, US
The Indian press, Outlook included, makes it impossible for the electorate to judge parties on the basis of their performance in government. Outlook, obsessed with its own anti-parivar preaching, has failed to put this government in the perspective of earlier rapacious regimes since 1964. Has it ever attacked Ajit Jogi as ferociously as it did Modi for trying to kill disinvestment at the very start? It didn’t, because the issues of governance are of no importance to you. With a press which is totally partisan, meaningless issues and slogan-mongering will remain the fate of Indian elections. The only solution can be a press more balanced between the Leftists and bjp-walas.
Akshai Aggarwal, Ahmedabad
It’s good fun to see the likes of Vinod Mehta (who agreed with Musharraf that Kashmir was a core issue and who after Akshardham said Hindus would continue to be butchered till they tackled the "root causes") rave and rant after having his secular nose rubbed in the dust by the Gujarat electorate. He says winning is new to the bjp, vhp and rss. He should know the bjp will be completing a term in power and has grown more than any other party in the last 15 years.
The Modis and Togadias have already lit the funeral pyre of the Indian Republic in the august presence of their patron-promoters, the rss, vhp and Bajrang Dal. The ashes will be ready any time for immersion as per Hindu rites at the Triveni Sangam. We have proved beyond doubt India also has terrorist organisations like other countries—the Hindu fundamentalists, applauded and accredited by the government machinery. It’s time the patriotic and peace-loving secular Hindus arise and awake before this great country runs to seed.
K.S. Rajan, Bangalore
Vinod Mehta is Mr Malaprop himself. What is the relevance of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger anyway? And what’s the good cause? As far as I think, the good cause is to build a strong India even with ‘jehadi secularists’ and other vhp lunatics. And on the whole, the nda’s doing a good job.
Mysore Manju, on e-mail
It was the Freudian slip of the year. At the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Nadira Naipaul asked deputy PM L.K. Advani if "Muslims, Christians and secularists are safe in India". In asking the question, she has perhaps unwittingly given credence to Advani’s oft-repeated statement that "India is a secular country because she is a Hindu-majority nation". Nadira herself has implied Christians and Muslims are not secular!
K.R. Ravi, Mumbai
Whether one likes it or not, the BJP does not have a credible opposition anywhere, either in terms of policy, vision, clear-cut strategy or ideology. The Congress is out of touch with virtually every section of society, whether it’s the Hindus, Muslims, other minorities, obcs or the middle class (Lonely Hearts Club, January 13). Unless it does something, it cannot hope to regain the status it used to have till the late ’80s. Unfortunately, it still believes in the appeasement of the minorities and till it can give up on that, luck is all it can hope to survive on.
Krishna Prasad, on e-mail
While it was all very well to extol Laloo’s "rough and ready wit" (The Tang of Neem Twigs, January 13), it was rather in poor taste to say that Sidhuisms are "mugged up from antiquated how-to’s". Just savour a couple of them: "A critic is like a lame man trying to teach others how to run"; "There are only two things that are in abundance in this world: hydrogen and stupidity". No sane person would call such spontaneous witticisms "antiquated". Navjot speaks straight from the heart and is not known to mince his words. His cricket commentary is in fact refreshingly different from the usually staid and prosaic style of all the rest.
Ramakantha Rao, Patna
Grin and Bear It—the lead essay or whatever it was pretending to be in the year-end issue (January 13)—remained just pretension. Author Mukul Kesavan, in his compulsive need to appear satirical, ended up being irritating. The article was a good example of totally useless verbiage as practiced by the so-called Indian intelligentsia.
Ashutosh Tripathi, Japan
Excellent essay, Outlook! Keep up the standards.
An article written on economic policy should focus on economic issues. Instead, The Trishul Dilemma (January 13) highlights the "fight" between the sjm and Jaswant Singh, Arun Shourie and Uma Bharati and predicts the outcome of their squabble. Reading the piece, I am back to square one. What will happen to reforms?
Vinoo Ramakrishnan, New Jersey, US
With respect to our finance ministers, I feel that politics and lobbyism have rubbed the charisma off two of our most distinguished public figures. It’s not surprising that both FMs for the Vajpayee government have received flak for rolling back their announcements. People revered as intellectuals get caught in the quagmire of economic objectives and political compulsions once they get into the hot seat. So it is with Jaswant/Yashwant.
Bhuma Srivastava, Delhi
Professor Christophe Jaffrelot, in his review of A.G. Noorani’s book (The Germination of Insecurity, December 30), says that Bhai Parmanand was the first to propound the two-nation theory in the early 20th century. Actually it was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who in the mid-1880s argued that Hindus and Muslims form separate nations. He was also the first to use the word Hindutva in both a cultural and political sense in 1887.
Parimala V. Rao, Bangalore
Whenever I read headlines like ‘90 people die of cold’ or ‘187 people die of cold’ or ‘200 people die of cold’, I realise how wrong this is. It’s not due to the cold these people died but courtesy the winter of human kindness. Humans can survive even when the temperature is -40°C. They die because they do not have the means to keep themselves warm in unequal societies like ours. Similarly, it’s wrong to say that people die of hunger. They are actually forced to starve by state indifference. I hope right-thinking people understand the gravity of the situation and do something.
Anusha Singh, New Delhi
Judging by their New Zealand performance, I don’t think the Indian cricket team is playing any more for the country or for cricket. The same is true of the BCCI headed by Jagmohan Dalmiya. It seems all of them are there only for the money they get from advertisements. They are mere employees of these sponsor companies and should not ever claim to be representatives of the country or its people.
Vijay Kapre, on e-mail
Why is it that when athlete Sunita Rani was charged with doping, most newspapers and magazines carried big stories on the affair, but now that she has been cleared of those charges, just a passing mention has been made in the media?
Sachin Sadasivan, on e-mail
This is apropos the item Centre Shift in Bhaichand Patel’s Delhi Diary (December 23). Mr Patel continues to be a member of the India International Centre. Earlier too he had voiced the same criticism about the iic’s functioning in the columns of a leading newspaper which had been effectively rebutted by iic member J.N. Dixit. The iic does not object to criticism provided it is fair and bona fide. Evidently, Mr Patel has not been interested in the cultural programmes and the continuing lectures on a wide range of subjects at the centre. Our members and the ever-increasing queue of those who wish to become members do not share Mr Patel’s views. If he is so dissatisfied, he is under no compulsion to continue his association with the centre.
N.N. Vohra, Director, IIC, New
I was among the young and impressionable who heard L.K. Advani’s Hindutva slogan, got swayed by all the talk of cultural nationalism, Hindu pride and voted the bjp. Over the years, I have wished the bjp well and quietly celebrated when it came to power. But Godhra and its aftermath have left me cold. For the life of me, I cannot rationalise why innocent lives had to be lost at the altar of the perverse politics of the vhp and Narendra Modi. Seeking that very rationalisation, I proceeded to read Balbir Punj’s Results From the Lab (December 30). Sorry to say, Mr Punj, the blood of innocents is on your hands, to the cynical politics that your party has increasingly come to symbolise. Merely calling the riots "unfortunate" does not detract from the fact that they were sponsored by the state and the road to Gandhinagar was littered with the corpses of women and children that you so cruelly walked over. You say the media is "shallow on facts and hard on opinions". I wish you’d turn the prism on yourself. Beyond Ram and Rome, there is a reality of India to which your party briefly held out a promise and I regret that I ever voted your party and the fascist politics it represents. The debate, Mr Punj, is not with your ideology, it’s with how it’s been put into practice, the manner in which rioting and lumpenism was used to achieve political ends.
Deepak Mittal, Bangalore