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News from India and the World around the clock

Issue Dated: May 22, 2000


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We Told You So

It’s a crying shame that even after more than five decades of freedom, we’re slaves to the vagaries of nature and bonded to penury (Mirage 2000, May 8). India gets more rain than most countries, yet the government penalises private initiatives to harvest rainwater simply because it owns everything, even our streams and lakes.

Hemrajani K. Jethanand,

One can ignore the pathetic attempt at humour attempted in the box Is it a Dam Good Way where your correspondent says, "I stood on the dry, parched land and laughed", an obvious reference to a more well known (and much better written) piece. What’s impossible to ignore is the inaccurate representation of facts. For her there are "only about 100 people left to rehabilitate". The reality is that even from the 41,000 recognised Project-Affected Families, only about 10,000 are "resettled" even as per government claims. The "downstream project" (Sardar Sarovar), which she says would’ve "given 16 MAF of water a year", will divert a total of only 9.5 MAF, even if the project functions fully as the authorities claim.

S. Dharmadhikary, NBA Delhi

We should have seen it coming, yet another piece of fiction from your resident expert on everything, Arundhati Roy ("A venal, dangerous lie"). I hold Medha Patkar, Ms Roy, the NBA eco-terrorists and their fashionable groupies, along with Outlook, squarely guilty of lending Roy a platform, partially responsible for the water shortage in Gujarat. Had the Sardar Sarovar project been allowed to finish on time, the state’s problems would have been solved a long time back.

Ashwin Honkan,

The drought-affected states of Rajasthan and Gujarat urgently require the likes of Sri Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthy to quench the thirst of humans, flora and fauna. He has already performed such a ‘miracle’ in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh! And would definitely do a better job than the Laloo Yadavs, Karunanidhis and Jyoti Basus of this country.

P. Chinnaswamy,

This drought is just the price we are paying for modernisation. People have abandoned traditional irrigation methods, cut down forests indiscriminately either for mining or urbanisation and not harvested rain water properly. The rivers too have been invaded by the sand mafia.

V. Hariharan,

Where are the netas who organised morchas and bandhs against cow slaughter? Let them now organise fodder and water for the cows dying by the hundreds in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Or is any constructive work beyond their ken?

V.S. Gullapalli,
on e-mail

How strange and pathetic it is to hear about India making impressive advancements in fields such as infotechnology and crying for drinking water on the other hand. Water and water-related issues have never been seriously talked about by our politicians before Deepa Mehta’s venture.

Awanish Somkuwar,

In the article Fire in the Soil (May 1), you say the great famine and drought occurred in 1856 instead of 1900. The year 1900, according to the Hindu calendar, is read as samvat 1956. Hence it’s called the "chappaniyo dukal".

Davendra Singh Rathore,
on e-mail

It’s not surprising that Gujarat is affected by a drought since the state has been spending over 85 per cent of its water resource budget on just one project, Sardar Sarovar. It has 537 large dams as per Central Water Commission figures, but has failed to maintain the created infrastructure; hence all the dams are silted up. The state has also systematically destroyed through neglect all mechanisms leading to recharge of groundwater, be it forests, the local tanks and ponds, or even watersheds.

Himanshu Thakkar,

Polygamy is Above the Law

Public flaunting of one’s ‘irregular’ (read contrary to law) status seems to have become a fashion these days. This year’s Padma Shri and Padam Vibhushan were awarded to Hema Malini and Raja Reddy, for distinguished service in their fields. While I have no quarrel whatsoever with their capabilities, I feel the award seems to give official sanction to the other aspects of their life. Both Hema’s ‘marriage’ and Raja’s ‘second wife’ syndrome seem questionable in the eyes of law. And while Hema doesn’t bandy about her ‘married status’ much, Raja seems to take great pleasure in being feted with two wives in tow (Downtown, April 24). Granted, it is their personal life, but they are ‘public’ figures. The other day I heard that well-known lawyer Abhishek Singhvi married a girl at the age of 16. This in a lawyer’s family. Whose law is it anyway?

Indrani Roy Misra,
New Delhi

Leaning Towers

Naipaul’s views on Islam made me feel prouder still of my Islamic identity ("Hindu revivalists are mimicking Islamic fundamentalists", May 8). What he calls "colonisation" is probably Islam’s biggest strength. Once you convert to it, you put off the baggage of your murky past and start afresh without feelings of guilt and shame. Naipaul’s statement that Islam’s holy places are situated in other countries may be true but that only gives it a truly global identity.

Sarah Gulrukhsar,
New Delhi

It was an interesting idea to have two doyens of English literature talk on wide-ranging subjects. Naipaul has a deep understanding of human psychology. I appreciate his insights into the Hindu as well as Islamic religions. He has very rightly described the difference between Arab Muslims and non-Arab ones. He has found a new admirer in me.

Dr Sangeeta Rajiv,

That there is little love lost between Hindus and Muslims is well-known. But the present awakening of the Hindus is a direct consequence of Sikh fundamentalism that raged in the 1970s and 1980s. Sikh fundamentalism arose to serve the parochial interests of its nurturers. What a pity that a force created to protect the Hindus from invaders was used by myopic leaders to strike at the very roots of those they were supposed to protect! Thankfully, this new phenomenon has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the hard core of the Hindu faith.

Tarlok Singh,
New Delhi

Many have misunderstood the inherent strength and truth of Islam, and Naipaul seems to be among them. Islam is a religion based on the state of being informed, not ill-informed. There is only one identity in Islam-that is how close, obedient and equal you are before Allah.

Dr Sami A. Khan,
New Delhi

Muslim scholars tell us Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. But the Islamic culture is a most intolerant one. Hinduism, on the other hand, is influenced by more rational religions like Jainism and Buddhism. Thus in Hinduism, an individual is granted complete freedom of thought but his conduct is circumscribed by rules and conventions.

Parjan Kumar Jain,

Abducted Facts

In the Elian ‘saga’ (A Six-Year-Young War, May 8), what’s been missed is that Elian’s been staying half the time with his father ever since his parents were divorced and is very close to him; that the relatives in the US claiming custody of the child are related to Elian’s father, not his mother; that Elian’s grandmothers-paternal as well as maternal-want the six-year-old to come back to Cuba; and that given the growing incidence of violence in US schools Elian will be better off in Cuba. Let the child live with his father. Blood is thicker than Dollar.

P.R. Ramesh Kumar,

Champagne Cantos

What was your correspondent trying to say in A Touch of Cant (May 8)? Was she tracing the etymology of ‘untouchable’ or underlining the righteousness of Outlook? Affaire Le Figaro shows the hollowness of our national pride and the colonial hangup of our intelligentsia. Or is it that journalists want to keep open their options for scholarships, cultural exchange programmes or free champagne at embassies?

B.C. Sanyal,

Corrigendum: In the May 1 Delhi Diary, Udai Singh was inadvertently referred to as Maharana Pratap’s son instead of his father. Error regretted.

Driving Me Crazy

Lea Terhune’s Delhi Diary (May 8) would give the impression that all the ills of Delhi roads can be traced to the MCD knocking off the driveway of her landlord in Nizamuddin. I think it may be a good idea for folks to stay within the limits of their plots and not extend into the roads, calling them driveways! Keep up the good work, MCD.

Mahesh Kapoor,
New Delhi

All the Juice That Fits

Showing celebs like Karan Thapar and Jaya Jaitly eating dal-roti at home would perhaps have been more newsy than showing them at Karim’s eating kababs (Downtown, May 8). Normal is not news, abnormal is.

G.P. Jain,

The King Gatecrashed

The restoration of old buildings is based on scientific principles (Landmark Blunders, May 1). Already grievous harm was done to ancient monuments towards the end of the 19th century as the work of conservation was then in the hands of the CPWD. The Gateway of India commemorates the visit of King George V and his consort. It was built after they left the Indian shore, they didn’t pass through it. To welcome the royals a makeshift gateway was built which was later dismantled. The present gateway looks nothing like it.

Y.M. Chitalwala,

Talk or Be Damned

M.R. Sivaraman’s interview ("I passed on all the information to Madhavrao Scindia", May 1) is a masterpiece. Scindia should now come out in the open and let people know why he failed to take action in spite of the tapes being handed to him, otherwise it will be assumed that he shared the booty from the players and the bookies.

K.L. Bhatia,

For every cricket lover in this country, the fact that this game is nothing but the private playground of cricketers and the board has come as a blow. And to think I used to bunk classes with friends just to watch these orchestrated matches.

Tushar R. Kurhe,

Many decades ago, George Bernard Shaw described cricket as a game played by 22 fools and watched by 22,000. In the age of live telecasts on television, modern cricket can be described as a game played by 22 scoundrels and watched by 220 million fools.

K.N. Shrivastav,

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