12 April, 2021
Letters | Jul 03, 2006

Best Laid Plans

Between Those Lines

Jul 03, 2006

A judicial probe should be conducted into the drug scandal since it involves the son and aide of a powerful leader like the late Pramod Mahajan (Best Laid Plans, June 19). We cannot expect the demand to come from the bjp, for the outcome will most probably be embarrassing for that party. But the people of the country have a right to know the full story. Great if such an exercise would help weed out some anti-social elements from the corridors of power.
M.B. Baben, Salalah, Oman

NOW that the Rahul Mahajan episode has turned out to be a case of drug abuse—and not a murder attempt—why doesn’t the media leave this messed-up youth alone? Let him get over his problem through counselling and rehabilitation. Just because his father was a top politician, the son needn’t be hounded by the press like this. Enough of Rahul. He is not even a village sarpanch.
Ankur Chhabra, New Delhi

So Rahul was in the jacuzzi, sipping champagne? I am extremely curious to know who paid for such a luxury bathroom in an MP’s residence. Again, was it the taxpayers’ money that was used for the designer fountain on the lawns of 7, Safdarjung Road?
R.K. Dhanvada, Hyderabad

A Sahil Zaroo or an Abdullah clearly form only the tip of the iceberg. Anybody can make out they are only the small fry. What is the police doing to catch the kingpins? After all, the whole drama of ferrying drugs happened in a high-security area right under the nose of the vvip zone police. As might have been expected, the cops arrived at the scene when the crime had already been committed and the actors had long fled the scene.
V.J., Hyderabad

A sordid, sensational drug drama involving the rich and the famous (and the capable) has the entire law machinery running in top gear. Good. The Delhi police, for a change, is looking as efficient as Scotland Yard. All the major characters in the story have been either arrested or grilled. Smell a penance for the lapses in the Jessica Lall case?
Nitin G. Panchal, Mumbai

Isn’t it because Pramod is dead that you are now trying to spin all sorts of stories around the drug scandal (Empire of Sleaze)? So long as rumours cannot be cross-checked, one should not print them.
Mirza Faisal, Houston

Why was our former PM A.B. Vajpayee trying to play down the seriousness of the scandal by waxing philosophical on the wayward lives of youngsters like Rahul? It’s disturbing to learn that even senior politicians in the bjp are keen to quell facts in the story.
Anna P.V., Hyderabad

Each time a drug bust takes place, a powerful clientele list is discovered (The Khadi-Clad Snorter). But then the names are never disclosed as the officials don’t want to embarrass politicians and corporate honchos. So what’s the media here for? Does it really want to try and find the truth, or is it also siding with them? When will our media become really free, objective and unafraid of the consequences? And who’ll do it? Will Outlook take the lead?
Sajit Nambudiripad, Lakkidi, Palakkad

U-Turn On A Train

Laloo’s Saral Form

Jul 03, 2006

Railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav deserves all praise for turning around Indian Railways (U-Turn on a Train, Jun 19) with his no-nonsense, down-to-earth ways. I hope he now moves to the finance ministry to give us simpler tax laws and, more importantly, a really simple tax return form.
Venugopal P., Palakkad

If ever there was an Olympic medal for sycophancy and flattery, you’d win the gold for your toady approach on the ‘erstwhile’ Bihari buffoon. Any semblance of transformation that may have taken place in the Indian Railways is no credit to the foddermeister but the result of careful panning and diligent work put in by the functionaries of the rail ministry.
Santosh Sinha, Bombay

Ever since he decided not to raise fares, I became an even more ardent fan of Laloo’s than when he locked up that travelling circus of a man called L.K. Advani about 17 years ago.
Moin Sattar, Dubai

Fly By Luck

To Err is Universal

Jul 03, 2006

I found the article Fly By Luck (Jun 19) quite insulting. All through, it seems to imply that ‘foreign’ pilots are substandard and the only ones to make mistakes. I’ve been a pilot for 25 years on both military and commercial aircraft. I now own a company that delivers mandatory safety training to pilots and cabin crew the world over. The training looks at human error, why people make mistakes, the effects of fatigue and stress on performance and how to reduce errors. As a global expert on air safety, I can tell you quite categorically that Indian pilots make just as many mistakes as ‘foreign’ ones. Human error is not the domain of any nationality, we’re all susceptible to it.
George Duncan, Oxford, UK

Sunrise Is Back Home

BB’s CC to VS’s VS

Jul 03, 2006

I prefer Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s capitalist communism to V.S. Achuthanandan’s verbal socialism—a conclusion I reached after going through your article Sunrise is Back Home (Jun 19).
P. Manoharan, Chennai

Sudama's Children

A Lesson To Learn

Jul 03, 2006

Your article Sudama’s Children (Jun 19) reminded me of how the principal of a small playschool in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj had bluntly told me that the parents of children who were better off would protest if my driver’s son entered her school. How else would a first-generation learner get his foot in, I pleaded with the lady, but in vain. I concluded her school was definitely not the place for my driver’s son who has since got admission in a private school. The lady may have headed a popular playschool but lacked the right attitude as an educator. I also want to commend the efforts of a local ngo called Nai Disha (tel: 26895338; 55 Bhawani Kunj, behind D-II, Vasant Kunj) which provides similar access to first-generation learners, providing them free books, stationery, uniform and refreshments.
Amrita Achanta, on e-mail

Definitely more sensible than reservation based on caste!
R. Manchanda, on e-mail

Flux On The Fronts

Own House In Order?

Jul 03, 2006

Why should we be worried overmuch about Flux on the Fronts (Jun 19) when there’s enough flux at home?
C.K. Mahanta, St Louis, US

The biggest danger to India will be from Nepal where the weakling Koirala is rubberstamping all the demands of the Maoists. He doesn’t seem to realise that he is trading the evil of monarchy for the menace of a Maoist regime. To believe they will respect democracy, human rights or freedom of the press is the height of wishful thinking. Once they settle down in power in Nepal, they’ll incite their Indian comrades to sow all sorts of trouble for the Indian government. Manmohan Singh’s worst mistake was sending Sitaram Yechury to parley with Nepali Maoists. The problem will be all the more as Nepal joins China to our ‘red corridor’.
S. Pillalamarri, Vijayawada

Prez The Red Button

Prez Perfect

Jul 03, 2006

Apropos the item Prez the Red Button in Newsbag (Jun 12), nice to see that there is at least one man with a spine in the establishment among the spineless wonders of the Congress. Way to go, Prez.
Rohit C.J., Kochi

Man Out Of Periscope


Jul 03, 2006

The story Man Out of Periscope (Jun 26) was written by Saikat Datta. The byline was inadvertently dropped.

'Mahajan Made Me? I Was Driving A Merc When He Had Nothing...'

Now, Where Did You Hear That...

Jul 03, 2006

I had no idea Outlook carried fictional pieces. If I had any inkling, I would not have agreed to meet Saba Naqvi Bhaumik. Forget taking my quotes out of context, my interview that appeared in Outlook (‘Mahajan made me? I was driving a Merc when he had nothing.’, Jun 19) is a pack of lies. I never said "Mahajan made me? I was driving a Merc when he had nothing." What I had said was, "I was driving a Mercedes even before the bjp came to power." As for the context, it was in answer to the allegation that I used my friendship with Pramodji to make money. In response I had categorically stated that I come from a well-off family. I did not become wealthy overnight; much less use my friends in the bjp to make money. Then, the interview quotes me as saying: "When Pramod was no one...", I never use such language for a friend. I never even said anything that could have been misunderstood so. This is Ms Bhaumik’s sole contribution. Again, I was asked about Pramodji’s lifestyle. In answer, I reminded Ms Bhaumik that he lived in a modest two-bedroom flat in Mumbai. She then brought up his ‘five-star image’ to which I pointed out that it’s unfair to equate five-star dinners with ill-gotten wealth. More often than not, Pramodji was a guest, not the host. This explanation was twisted to quote me as saying that ‘Pramod never had to pay for anything’. And I was never asked the last question ("Are you disowning him now?"). However, I know journalists often add questions when writing an interview to keep the flow of conversation going, especially when they don’t bring a tape recorder and lose track of the original flow. But this is the first I’ve heard of a journalist inventing an answer to suit a fabricated question. In another context, when asked about Pramodji’s reputation for amassing wealth and parking it with me, I pointed out that this was most unfair to Pramodji as for record’s sake, the last time he collected funds for the party was during the ’98 Lok Sabha elections. As for ‘collecting money’ while in power, he was only a minister for a brief spell. This answer has been twisted as response to a question I was never asked. I resent the allegation that either he or I used his stint in power to make money. Further, at no point in the interview did I ever disown Pramodji. It hurts me to read such derogatory lines such as "Pramod followed me to Rajasthan" attributed to me. The introduction to the interview also claims that I took the decision to send Rahul and Vivek to Apollo. I did not. But I have defended the decision in the media. I can understand that a journalist not used to checking her facts could have got easily misled.
Sudhanshu Mittal, New Delhi

Saba Naqvi Bhaumik replies: Outlook stands by every word of the interview. In fact, Mr Mittal said more controversial things that were edited out. Mr Mittal may recall that another journalist from a prominent daily was present during the interview.

God's Forsaken Party

Give Us This Day, Our Diary Dose

Jul 03, 2006

Sympathy sans sincerity is never genuine. And that’s true also of Vinod Mehta’s comments on the tragedy at 7, Safdarjung Road (Delhi Diary, Jun 19). The media’s quest for truth and nothing but the truth is mostly coloured by the attitudinal framework journalists are committed to. They are accountable to no one, not even to their readers. Agreed that it is not an open-and-shut case of a Munnu or Chunnu chasing the white line and then accidentally, if at all, causing a homicide. Big characters are responsible for the lead roles. Can anyone touch them, at least, ultimately? The ironic reference to ‘fulsome obits’ is not in polite taste either. It is for the bjp to evaluate the role played by the late Mahajan and it should be left to them. And lastly, Mr Mehta, why should we be spared mention of your canine colleague for a few months only? Should you be so inclined, why not start a canine column in the mag itself? Your patrons and certainly the Rahejas would not mind.
G.R. Saha, Calcutta

The Congress more than the bjp seems to be god’s forsaken party these days. Haughty ministers are competing for prizes for being the most petty. So while some of them send income tax notices, others are trying their best to ruin institutes like aiims. Going by the party’s antics, it seems the Congress is being ruled by blind men. Hubris, which brought the bjp down, seems to be eating into a large part of the Congress too.
Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh

Despite being bombarded with more hate mail than he ever got in his career (Prickly Heat Time), the flummoxed and unrelenting Congressia editor continues to feel emphatic about his gospel views on quota, reservation and affirmative action, never mind that the matter is in the hands of Supreme Court.
Raj Bharadwaj, Mumbai

Though the hate mails you have received are indeed unfortunate, I can assure you, Mr Mehta, that a clear majority of Indians from the heartland support you on the issue.
Mohd Shoaib, New Delhi

Wonder why Mr Mehta was surprised by the "hate mail" he got when he in his "holier than thou" attitude declared the entire middle class as "spoilt, insensitive and anti-poor"?
A. Dhasmana, Baltimore, US

Mr Mehta, it is really not hate mail that should worry you. When you have quickfix solutions to any problem, when any idea you raise is with the narrow votebank angle in mind, reaction has to be strong. It is unfortunate that it is reaching vitriolic proportions, but it’s only because people have started to see through this game.
S. Biswas, Bhubaneshwar

"Starting quality schools is no option. It will take 20 years or more to firm up. The poor should not have to wait so long." Ah, ah, what a fountainhead of wisdom. It is more than five decades since India became a republic and what has the grand old party, ever the champion of "minorities and weaker sections" of the society, done all these years in power? What has been the contribution of the secularists and socialists for quality primary education, particularly in rural areas, since independence? Do we take it that it was deliberately neglected in the interest of keeping the votebank in perpetuity?
K. Vijayan, Chennai

I can’t fathom Vinod Mehta’s adamance in keeping his eyes, ears and mind closed. His theory of good primary education taking 20 years is bereft of all logic. If writers like him wield their pen more effectively, they could force politicians into channelising their ill-gotten wealth to better use, and good primary education won’t be such a pipedream then. But if he insists on penning blind Congress propaganda, he deserves all the abuse he has got, four-letter words and all.
S. Rajasekhar, on e-mail

It is the entrance exams which make iits what they are, not so much the teachers or the facilities. Lower this bar and it’s not hard to imagine where we’re heading. I know—I come from one of these institutes. Most of my friends from my iit days are obcs. Thanks for reminding them as well as me that I am different than them.
Praveen Tiwari, Bangalore

Mr Mehta, the only thing I’ll concede is that the upper caste middle class (anti-quotawallahs in your world) are an inarticulate bunch. They are certainly not anti-poor. I know I am not. The poor are failing or dropping out before high school. They aren’t competing for iit seats any time soon, quota or not. The present quotas are for segments of the population that are also middle class economically but of a specific caste. However, I suspect people like you want the poor to remain poor so that they will come clean your house and do your laundry and dishes everyday. It’s just that you want to feel intellectually and morally superior to anti-quotawallahs by supporting quotas.
Vivek R.G., Bangalore

Had there been reservation for backward nations, India could be playing in the fifa World Cup. These days backwards are forwards.
Dr A.K. Ajmani, New Delhi

Far from banning mobiles at airports (Married to the Mob), some domestic airlines are planning to provide inflight access to mobiles! Given a choice, I’d prefer a ‘No Mobile Zone’ much like the ‘No Smoking Zone’.
Lakshma Singh, on e-mail

If a decade ago the slogan was ‘Roti, Kapada aur Makaan’, today it is ‘Roti, Kapada, Makaan aur Mobile’.
P.V. Ariel, Secunderabad

Mr Mehta, there IS a cure for your bad-tempered mutt and it’s not so difficult. You need to learn the right reactions to his bad/good behaviour and he needs a gentle nudge in the right direction. I suggest you contact Shirin Merchant, a dog trainer who brings out a sweet little magazine called Woof in Mumbai. She has a down-to-earth, easy approach to dog training. Take a holiday, but instead of heading to Europe or some other fancy place without the mutt, in the interest of Editor, haul him over to Mumbai for a few lessons in good manners. You won’t regret it, ever.
Diana Mistry Polak, Mumbai

Mr Mehta, please, please write about Editor!
Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta, on e-mail

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