The Real McRoy and the Temples of Doom
After The Greater Common Good, Power Politics
(November 27) is one of the most fascinating essays I've read. Everyone in India
deserves to know the information Arundhati has taken pains to collect. There's
little doubt the Clinton visit was meant only for the economic good of the US as
also the personal good of Indian politicians.
I'm thankful to Arundhati for telling me, in her
enthralling manner, about the rotten state of the state of Denmark. But what
next? Is she suggesting throwing the baby out with the bath water? Should I sell
my car and buy a bullock cart? Losers spend time listing problems, winners think
Having vented her wrath against Uncle Sam,
Arundhati rightly identifies the venal Indian politician as the true villain in
her scheme of things. But then who's the real Rumpelstiltskin? Incidentally, the
foreign devils she talks about seem to have a better-developed sense of social
awareness than the domestic variety Ms Roy reveals.
Although the piece begins with the writer in
Arundhati, it's soon taken over by the concerned Indian in her. Perhaps our PM
should take time off his busy schedule and take note of what she has to say.
As usual, Arundhati is eloquent and as persuasive
as a smooth margarita. Cheers!
Where angels fear to trade. The End of
Imagination, The Greater Common Good and now Power Politics. They do show that
Arundhati's imagination starts where the others' ends.
Just a thought. If Enron can't be sued here,
perhaps it can be sued in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which
makes bribe-giving illegal anywhere.
Were Arundhati to run for prime ministership, she
could count on a million like me as supporters to her cause.
Mahesh K. Rathi,
Reading Arundhati is always an experience and
keeping track of all her strident declarations-both verbal and in print-is
getting to be a curiously mesmeric obsession. And it has nothing to do with
whether one agrees with her or not.
Do the authorities concerned have nothing to say
in response to Arundhati? Do we presume their silence to mean 'guilty as
Most of us are armchair commentators and have
never met anyone from the Narmada valley, let alone having been there. So we're
hardly in a position to comment on what Arundhati has said. But the truth is
that if you want to develop, at least one generation has to sacrifice. It's
happened elsewhere, it's happening in Singapore and it can happen here too.
All forms of living systems have to live in an
ecologically-balanced universe. And it's sheer stupidity to alter the essence of
the Narmada river to serve the short-term needs of an energy-starved society.
Nature reacts ferociously to all such human folly. I wonder where all the
proponents of the project will be when that happens.
Arundhati's is an ideologically extreme position
expressed more with literary flair than logic. She near-hysterically attacks the
delinking of economics and politics, forgetting that politically-motivated
economic policies is why India lagged behind throughout the socialist years of
Nehru and Indira.
I am moved by the moral stance Arundhati has
taken. It's strange that as creatures having choice, we seem to be making all
the wrong ones.
When Arundhati deplores and suspects everything
coming to this country from the West, why did she go running to London to accept
When will Outlook stop flogging the Booker
winner's stream of consciousness against the dam? While opinions may be divided
on building dams, by no means have anti-dammers clinched the argument. And
certainly not Ms Roy!
If building dams is going out of fashion in the
West, then why quote that example? After all, what is bad for them could be good
for India. As for the fanfare accompanying Clinton's visit here, he gets that
treatment all over the world. By the way, US channels have been furious over the
fact that enormous sums were spent on the White House bash in honour of Vajpayee
considering most invitees couldn't even put a finger on India on a map.
Arundhati's was probably the most
well-researched, honest and discerning article that's been written on the state
of India today, if not of the world.
It's well-known that big dams like any other
capital-intensive projects line the pockets of two-legged bandicoots. That they
also serve to line the stomachs of four-legged rodents is revealing. What about
their positive aspects, like raising ground-water level, diverting water to
drought prone areas and flood control?
Arundhati deserves praise and support for taking
up a cause affecting the lives of ordinary people who are trampled by the mighty
government and unscrupulous 'private parties'. The misdemeanour perpetuated by
powers-that-be in twisting democratic norms to suit individual interests is
superbly enumerated with facts by the literary genius.
I have one simple question to those who criticise
development policies: come up with an alternative that doesn't just look good on
paper but also works out in practice.
Arundhati's article clearly exposes the unholy
alliances and self-interest that lie behind the ideology of 'developmental
nationalism'. We need more such informed opinion to enable us to see through the
mists of globalisation.
Could Arundhati please find some other cause to
gain international repute, no matter how proud she makes fellow Malayalees like
me feel? We can't shy away from globalisation; we need its opportunities. Not
everyone's as fortunate or blessed as Arundhati. Ask her not to pick a fight
with Uncle Sam for our sake.
Arundhati's magnum opus forces us to acknowledge
that behind all the hype and hyperbole of the Information Age, rise in gdp,
entry of MNCs and the building of superdams, millions in our country are still
engaged in a struggle for survival.
Arundhati's article has a lot of weight in it.
Before I read Power Politics, I was inclined to go with the Supreme Court's
decision. Not any more.
Touchˇ! Your brilliant analysis in the new
Outlook. The ideas. The ideals. The clarity and vigour of the prose.
It's tiresome to see an intelligent person like
Arundhati adopt the old, tired Leftist approach to all things American. Sure, do
your bit for the poor, make rational arguments against Enron, the World Bank,
but for God's sake, for the sake of the poor in India, see the other side of the
story-growth and development.
New South Wales, Australia
Arundhati's surely an amazing writer. How else in
a short span could she develop the expertise to evaluate policies on, inter alia,
development, power projects and technology? Facts are like rubber-twisted into
anything possible and who better than a successful author to do so. It seems in
India everybody-from the panwallah to Ms Roy-is a critic. Where are the people
to offer solutions?
Whatever Arundhati writes, she writes well. And
she's capable of finding her own publishers (global ones) for her works of art.
You don't need to act as a vehicle for her popularity.
I wonder for whose consumption Arundhati's essay
is meant since the readers of the magazine she writes in are mostly working in
MNCs, private concerns or at least have a desire to be a part of them.
OH WHAT A RANT!!!
Joshi's Good Books
As an Indian and a Hindu living abroad, I read
with interest your spin on M.M. Joshi's education plans (Joshi's Class of 2000,
November 27). I believe that in order for a person to appreciate another's
religion he has to understand and take pride in his own religion and culture.
Thanks to a rather misguided policy, Indian children grow knowing the 15 causes
that led to the French Revolution without ever knowing what Indian culture's
contribution to the world is. While the way Joshi has attempted to address this
imbalance may be incorrect, it's merely a backlash against decades of loony Left
Dr K. Aniruddhan,
I find absolutely nothing offensive,
undemocratic, communal or anti-national about the changes M.M. Joshi has
proposed in the current curriculum. Any sane, progressive citizen of this
country will welcome these. Your readers are intelligent enough to look past
your anti-bjp leanings.
Dr Joshi has embarked on the right path and I
wish him all success. Modern (read western) Indian education is just a means of
securing degrees and employment. There is no emphasis on values or quality of
life a person should lead. At a time when the tired West is looking to Hindu and
Buddhist philosophy for rejuvenation, it's a pity that we should deride it.
Party to its Disaster
Sonia Gandhi may have won the party president's
post but Jitendra Prasada has made his point (Game, Set, Party!, November 27).
The Congress stands exposed as a party of power-hungry, opportunistic sycophants
and spineless wonders. There is no place for dissent or democracy in this party
where voters are coerced and intimidated to vote for a particular individual.
Now Sonia has another opportunity to lead Congress to its ultimate disaster.
Twist in the Tale
Rajkumar's release by Veerappan, though a welcome
relief, has thrown in a lot of unhappy twists (The Price of Freedom, November
27). Rumour has it that a sum of Rs 30 crore has changed hands-Rs 10 crore each
from the two state governments and Rs 10 crore from the actor's family. It calls
for a cbi enquiry and the need for the Centre to intervene and eliminate
Veerappan without further delay.
Maj (rtd) E.. Viswanath,
Vote for Introspection
The recent elections in the US show that even the
most powerful and robust democracy in the world can fail to meet the minimum
expectations of the people (The Gore Gamble, November 27). In a nation with high
political apathy and low voter turnout, crises like these can have a negative
impact. The voters in Florida, particularly the minorities, are slowly losing
faith in a system they feel is working against them. Rather than be smug in
their past glory, the Americans should create the space for a rethink on certain
Dead Men Tell Tales
The article Land of the Unquiet Dead (November
20) betrays your one-sided approach. On the one hand, you blame the militants
for the massacre at Chitsinghpura, challenging the government-formed Pandian
Committee; on the other, you contradict yourself by highlighting incidents like
the massacre in Pathribal village. As a native of the state, I urge you to
change your biased attitude and bring to light the daily custodial killings and
disappearances in the Valley.
I'm visiting India after a gap of nearly five
years. While in the US, I've been closely following events in Kashmir and in the
northeast. It shocked me to see that the media and the common people are
preoccupied with movies and cricket, even as our soldiers are dying like dogs to
protect us. Such indifference bodes ill for our country.
Dr S.K. Thomas,
Not Enough Excess
In a letter to the editor (November 20), Dr Ajit
Hazari laments the irony of 'excesses' like TV game shows in a country with so
many poor people. A few years ago, I was in Khajuraho on a tour. A once-splendid
and prosperous capital had in a thousand years declined completely, fallen off
the map and become a backward village of subsistence farmers and
rickshaw-pullers. But recently, on holiday there, I was delighted to see its
transformation; it boasted modern 'excesses' like multi-cuisine restaurants,
emporia and swank five-stars. Rickshaw-pullers were now 'tour guides' charging
dollar rates, their humble huts in the village freshly painted 'curio shops'. If
the good doctor really has the interests of suffering people at heart, then he
should cherish all 'excesses' and lament their lack.
The Indian nation lately seems to have become a
casino where game shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati and Sawaal Dus Crore Ka have
become great gambling opportunities. And the powers-that-be are nothing but mute
spectators in this drama. Just because shows of this kind have been a hit in the
UK does not mean that we emulate them here. Programmes like these only erode the
regard for hard work and hard-earned money.
In which profession can you become a crorepati
overnight? A) Cricket B) Films C) Politics D) Game shows? No prizes for guessing
here but really what we need is a show called Kaise Bane Crorepati. The
participants can be be strictly by invitation-the list could include stalwarts a
la Laloo, Jayalalitha, Harshad Mehta, Azhar et al. Then there are politicians of
all shades, bureaucrats, corporators, etc, to fall back on. The TV channel could
be assured of runaway success. Any takers?
Anita Pratap seems to have done a lot of
kite-flying in her piece, The Slippages of Peace (November 20). She sees
shrewdness in Prabhakaran. There may be some temporary friendship between jehadi
groups and Prabhakaran, but he and his Hindu Tamil followers will forever remain
'kafirs' in the eyes of Islam as it does not believe in the unity of human
A Fraying Fabric
Apropos your thought-provoking article
Re-inventing the Spinning Wheel (November 20). Today the essence of khadi being
swadeshi is completely over. Khadi seems to have no place in India in the 21st
century, which is becoming the era of the mnc. Khadi has been reduced to a mere
symbol, being worn by the very politicians who flout its spirit.
Vinod C. Dixit,
What are you trying to prove in your cover story
on Dawood (At Home in Exile, November 20)? That he is a great person? That he
takes good care of those who work under him? That he is a 'hero' who punishes
men who deal in drugs? This when you yourself say that his main source of income
is from drug trafficking. Outlook has lost to its close competitors due to
bankruptcy of ideas; it cannot survive only on sensationalism.
The Last Query
Where is Barmer? Who is Manvendra Singh? Why are
you wasting one precious page every issue?
Laurence S. Mohanty,
More Action, Less Words
The recent declaration of a ceasefire in Kashmir
by the Indian government during the holy month of Ramazan and the subsequent
killing of Hindu and Sikh civilians and soldiers by Islamic groups is a grim
reminder of the skewed policy of self-restraint that's become the modus
legitimii of India's political leadership.
Peace overtures at this point of time will only
encourage the jehadis to further their campaigns as can be seen from the events
that unfolded in the last few days. To support my argument, I would like to draw
attention to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon a few months
back. In the hope of buying peace in return for their withdrawal, all the Jewish
state managed to do was to embolden the Hezbollah and the Islamic jehad to take
the battle even closer to Jerusalem. For us, the situation is even worse in
Kashmir as the battle there is already within our territory.
Beginning from the Lahore initiative and Kargil
to the massacre of 100 non-Muslim civilians during the last ceasefire, we're
constantly being reminded that the Islamic doctrine of jehad deserves not just
stop-gap compromises but a strong deterrent in the form of a military reprisal.