Issue Dated: May 29, 2000

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Jogging a Memory

Your cover story, Remains of a War (May 15), was a timely reminder to this nation. How can we forget and neglect our heroes? Is it too much to expect our prime minister or defence minister to take upon themselves the responsibility of ensuring that relief and rehabilitation reach all dependents of the 518 martyrs? No delegation, no passing the buck. Come on sirs, you owe this to the martyrs.
Vikas Mehta,

Your cover picture of the war-torn soldiers, obviously full of cheer despite the mutilations, is heartwarming. But surely these are heroes who saved the country and not convicts. Then why make the proud men, immaculate in their professional lives, wear drab uniforms that are crumpled and ill-fitting? The grateful nation can certainly afford to spend a wee bit more to add a little more colour to their lives.
M. Vasudevan,

When I read of our brave soldiers/airmen dying in J&K, I was deeply distressed at the futile loss of precious lives! Why should one throw away one’s life defending territory where one can’t buy a piece of land to call one’s own? Continuing special provision (Art 370) for J&K is an ipso facto admission that it’s not an integral part of Hindustan! Either our government give up J&K, or raise a special J&K force motivated by the prospect of posthumous awards, rather than use unsuspecting south Indian troops as cannon fodder for a totally indefensible and wrong cause!

Wg Cdr H.P. Hande,

Your cover story brought back painful and proud memories of last year’s Kargil war. I live in the US and want to know if there’s any way, apart from donating to the Army Relief Fund, that I can contribute my services to any organisation which directly works to help these families.
Srinivas Pabbathi,
on e-mail

I felt nauseated when I read "One way to remember war-and its actors-is to commit memory to stone" on your cover. One has to have a heart of stone to call the heroes who risked their lives, shed blood and sweat, lost limbs and suffered psychological scars and left families behind as mere "actors" on a stage.
M.K. Vasudevan,
on e-mail

At least one of India’s major magazines decided to focus on the problems faced by the affected families of the Kargil martyrs, instead of letting memories of injured soldiers fade from public memory.
Sharmishtha R.C. Green,
on e-mail

A year after the Kargil conflict, we realise that the martyrs have received nothing by way of compensation except empty platitudes and one more commission to probe the lapses in Kargil. Is that all our government is capable pf doing? Erect smokescreens like the Subrahmanyam committee to hide its shortcomings?
Suresh Borah,
Jorhat, Assam

Cover-up for Some

Outlook, it’s apparent, is blatantly anti-Azhar. In the article Digging for Some Wicket Ways (May 15), you only mention in passing former BCCI president I.S. Bindra’s going public with what Manoj Prabhakar told him. But, you couldn’t stop accusing the pride and joy of Hyderabad of being involved in match-fixing. Had it been Azhar’s name instead of Kapil’s which was used, Outlook, I’m sure would’ve run a cover on it.
Samir Mahajan,
New Delhi

Your report quotes a lawyer as saying that he overheard a bookie and a cop talking of Kapil’s involvement in matchfixing. The bookie is "unnamed" but you do not hesitate to name Kapil Dev. Is the bookie’s reputation more valuable than of Kapil’s?

Shubha Kumar,

Signalling a Change

Apropos The Roads of Wrath (May 15), I think we need to ask why normally aggressive and rude drivers from Delhi become docile and rule-abiding when they drive a car abroad. The answer lies in their unambiguous traffic rules or the design of infrastructure such as traffic signals, road markings, pedestrian pathways, etc, and effective traffic enforcement which act as deterrents. What prevents us from replicating the above?

P.R. Iyer,
New Delhi

Big is Still Beautiful

The Bhakra Nangal and the Hirakud are examples of projects that served their purpose (Damned Temples, May 15). The first casualty of politics was the Damodar Valley Project. The power play began with where to locate the project offices-Calcutta, Patna or Delhi. Sardar Sarovar was lost because projects before it had failed to adequately take care of dislocated people. In addition, MP was not keen on the project since it was more to the benefit of Gujarat.

Dr G. Venkataraman,

Seeing a small temple in the middle of a river in an Andhra village, I asked a local about it. I was told the temple belonged to the river goddess who’d protect their village from flooding. But belief has belied reality and the village does get flooded often. If only such villagers could invest their energy in building a dam rather than a temple in the middle of the river, many a flood can be averted. The same should be true for the nation as a whole.

Madhav B.C.,

History Read Wrong

It’s worth noting that the Dravidian parties Prem Shankar Jha dubs separatist in his column, Peril from Sri Lanka (May 15), have tasted power won through the ballot in India. I doubt they’d want to go the LTTE way at this stage of their political history. They’ve not spoken of a separate Tamil nation in a long time and have matured enough to understand their status in the Indian Union. Next, Jha might be tempted to include parts of Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Fiji because of the Tamil diaspora there but even his spectre of the Greater Tamil Nation is economically unviable. While Eelam’s inevitable, it’ll be within Sri Lanka. I doubt the LTTE will be able to enjoy the fish and loaves of elected office. Revolutionaries make poor administrators.

N. Krishnan,
on e-mail

Just for argument’s sake, what is wrong with Tamil Eelam uniting Tamil Nadu with the Tamil-speaking eastern and northern Sri Lanka? It’s more viable than having Tamil-speaking Tamil Nadu welded to culturally and linguistically different states like Kashmir, HP, Haryana, Punjab, UP, Bihar, WB, the northeastern states, Orissa, Gujarat...

However, we in Tamil Nadu know where our support to our ethnic kinsmen in Sri Lanka ends and where our own social, political and economic differences begin! And nothing Jha can say can make a difference!

P. Padmanabhan,
on e-mail

Jha suffers from a Johnny-gone-crazy syndrome. It’s madness even to think of any military aid to a country which allowed the ignominy of a common soldier manhandling an Indian PM. Leave them alone to rot in their sins of a millennium of hatred, repression and racism prevailed on a minority people. As for Jha’s claim that an LTTE win will cause Tamil Nadu to break away from India, it’s his hallucination. Tamil chauvinism is a game practised by a decadent tribe of Dravidian politicos. The youth in Tamil Nadu don’t share such sentiments.

P.G. Rajan,
on e-mail

Prem Shankar Jha’s views are simply shocking. Vajpayee’s government wishes to extend humanitarian support and Jha wants this in the form of a genocide of Tamils! With staunch Indians like him, we don’t need Pakistan to try and dismember the Indian state.

N. Natarajan,
on e-mail

Army Denial

Rebuttal to the article The War That Should Never Have Been (Sep 6, ‘99). The article has a large number of factual inaccuracies and is misleading.

Letters HQ 121 Inf BDE letter No. Brief/COAS/124/gsd/vif/DG dated Aug 25, ‘98 allegedly communicated to COAS, Letter No. 106/GS (Op)/Brief/COAS/12/ gsd/vif dated Sep 1, ‘98 addressed to HQ 3 Inf Div, Letter No. DO/rog/ COAS dated Nov 12, ‘98 addressed to the COAS and Letter No. 186/ GS/Ops dated Dec 17, ‘98 addressed to HQ 3 Inf Div, allegedly and purportedly authored by Brig Surinder Singh were not received in the COAS Sectt, directly or indirectly. However, a letter bearing No. 124/gsd/vis/DG dated Aug 25, ‘98 was addressed by HQ 121(I) Inf BDE to HQ 3 Inf Div, its immediate superior formation and this letter is one of the annexures to an application dated Jun 28, ‘99 submitted to the COAS by the brigadier for his reinstatement after he was removed from the command of 121(I) Inf BDE during the Kargil battle. However, the letter dated Aug 25, ‘98 received by the COAS on Jun 28, ‘99, does not mention about the threat perception as published and depicted by Outlook. Further, letters dated Sep 1, ‘98, Nov 12, ‘98 and Dec 17, ‘98 are not even annexed to the application dated Jun 28, ‘99 of the brigadier to the COAS. The four letters were not initiated by HQ 121(I) Inf BDE, where the brigadier was serving at the relevant time. These letters are fictitious and false.

As per Outlook, the COAS visited Kargil on Aug 25, ‘98. This is factually incorrect. The COAS visited Kargil on Aug 29, ‘98. Many other officers senior to Brig Singh had also visited HQ 121(I) Inf BDE from Sep 1, ‘98 till the beginning of hostilities in May ‘99. Had Brig Singh briefed all these officers on threat perceptions, as mentioned in this article, it doesn’t appeal to reason that all these officers would have brushed aside such issues.

The contentions mentioned in the box Intelligence Dumped under article IBID, are grossly misrepresentative of true facts. There was no intelligence input regarding threat to the Kargil ammunition point. The ammunition point is not observed by the Pakistani troops deployed across the LoC, hence observed artillery fire cannot be brought down on to it. The vulnerability of the said ammunition point was perceived after escalation of trans-LC firing in the region. Instructions were accordingly issued to 121(I) Inf BDE to decongest the logistics echelons, especially the ammunition point from Kargil to rear areas. A plan to totally decongest the area was made by a Board of Officers of 121 Inf BDE prior to Brig Singh taking over the command of the brigade.

Initially the brigade headquarters had forwarded a five-year plan, which wasn’t the correct approach to the problem. However, while the study by the Board of Officers was being evaluated, concurrently, the brigade was allotted additional transport to shift the ammunition to an alternate location, out of enemy artillery range. Due to persistent efforts of the divisional headquarters, some 8,000 rounds of Bofors ammunition were shifted to rear areas.

Replenishment of ammunition was carried out at the Kargil ammunition point, even though 121(I) Inf BDE projected no deficiency/demand, since a minimum stock level of ammunition is to be maintained in a brigade sector. Representation to the contrary in your article is incorrect.

Col Shruti Kant,
Army PRO, New Delhi

Outlook replies: We stand by our story and reject all denials made by the army pro.

A Victim of Office

In the article A Touch of Cant (May 8), you say the President just "laughed it (being called an untouchable) off", but he roundly blamed the Indian press for constantly referring to him as a ‘Dalit’. This is hypocrisy on Narayanan’s part, having used the term to reach India’s highest office. After all, he was just an ifs officer-turned-worshipper of the ‘dynasty’ a la Natwar Singh and Mani Shankar Iyer.

V. Krishnan,

Right Said Maneka

I agree with Maneka Gandhi about the present form of the Women’s Reservation bill (Letters, May 8). We do not want our Parliament full of Rabris who are just puppets in the hands of their husbands, fathers or father-in-law.

Sumit Chachra,

Plug the Doubts

Rather than consider the strategic import (Borderline Warmth, May 8) India and China should try to explore how the border can become a line of cooperation and friendship. When countries in Europe could transcend borders for a European Union, why can’t we?

P. Babu,
Geddanapalli, AP

Dry Approach

Drought’s upon the land and everyone’s adding their bit on whom to blame, what went wrong and listing "here’s what we have to do" (Mirage 2000, May 8). What about planting trees? It’s the one course of action that’ll save this dying nation. This simple formula can solve the problems of flooding, climate change, groundwater recharging, etc.

Rom Whitaker,
on e-mail

Why does the media have to wait for calamities to strike before writing on what should or should not have been done? Can’t it be proactive and point out shortcomings early enough, so that steps can be taken to overcome them?

on e-mail

Get Real, Roy

Arundhati Roy’s remarks in ‘A venal, dangerous lie’ (May 8) may be politically correct, but are divorced from realities. Her preoccupation with Sardar Sarovar is fine but has she cared to visit the drought-affected areas? Here women walk 10 to 12 miles in the blistering sun to fetch water. Is their plight of no consequence?

Nimesh Khakhariya,

Courtesy people like Arundhati Roy, we will remain a backward nation. And magazines like Outlook help their cause by giving them undue coverage.

R.K. Jain,

Defining Opinion

What all the propaganda of the Hindutva brigade couldn’t do, Anita Pratap’s done with her column (The Past and its Relics, May 8). She rightly points out that many of the magnificent churches in Spain are built over masjids built by Muslim conquerors as are the many churches in France over old pagan temples. If they could demolish their "Babri masjids", why should we agonise over this one?

Akhil Shastri,
on e-mail

A Cause Undermined

Naipaul’s pronouncements in ‘Hindu revivalists...’ (May 8) do not help the cause of the ‘tolerant and wise’ image of Hinduism. If he can justify Babri as an ‘act of balancing’, will he also approve if India’s backward classes subjugate the likes of Naipaul to ‘balance’ thousands of years of atrocities committed on them by upper caste Hindus?

S.A. Abbasi,
on e-mail

Naipaul says the Portuguese brought Christianity to India. But Christianity came to India in AD 52-long before Rome heard about Christianity or the Portuguese invaded India.

Rajeev Mathew A.

Liaison That Wasn’t

I was embarrassed to find the details of a holiday supposedly taken by me in the company of a young politician (Polscape, May 1). The source wasn’t revealed. The reporter’s prurient interest in other people’s private lives got him carried away. The only person who’s taken me for holidays is my second son Chinnen Das. I have no connection with the gentleman you mention. My lord (and lover) in this world is all-pervasive, like ether.

Kamala Soraiya nee Das,

Balls to That

At one time I thought cricket was about balls. Now I’m convinced it’s all balls.

Phiroze B. Javeri,

Match-fixing: An Epic Tale

Match-fixing is not entirely a new thing to us Indians. In ancient times also, there used to be match-fixing in India when a better player manipulated the game in such a manner as to have the weak player declared the winner! But this was done without any financial consideration for the benefit of others. When Bharat came to Ayodhya after Lord Rama was exiled, the former decided to meet Rama at Chitrakoot and to persuade him to return to Ayodhya and become emperor. At Chitrakoot, when all the dignitaries of Ayodhya met in a session to discuss the matter, Bharat publicly disclosed that Rama was so kind towards him that even when he was about to be defeated in a game played with Rama, the elder brother manipulated things in such a way that he (Bharat) would win the match.

S.P. Tyagi,
New Delhi

The Beauties of an Open Market

There’s something curious about the way Indian girls are getting one beauty crown after the other-the latest being Miss Universe for Lara Dutta. Call me a cynic but I feel we need to pause and think why we did not get so many titles before we liberalised our economy. Who is actually paying for these awards? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s cosmetics giants. It has to do with the enormous market India offers for their products. Keeping the hopes of millions of Indian girls alive by giving them a role model every now and then does wonders to their sales graph. Other products benefit too. After all, isn’t almost every school, college and club holding its own beauty contest across the country? Giving the award to a small country with the market size of a few thousand or even a few lakh would be such a waste.

Pramod Tyagi,
New Delhi

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