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Issue Dated: December 11, 2000

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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.

Aalap Chikhalikar,
Indiana, US

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 about solutions.

S.C.. Chaudhuri,
Patna

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.

Partho Datta,
on e-mail

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.

Mukundan Shyam,
on e-mail

As usual, Arundhati is eloquent and as persuasive as a smooth margarita. Cheers!

Rohini Ramanathan,
on e-mail

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.

Satyam Ranjeet,
on e-mail

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.

Madhusree Mukerjee,
on e-mail

Were Arundhati to run for prime ministership, she could count on a million like me as supporters to her cause.

Mahesh K. Rathi,
on e-mail

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.

Uma Verma,
on e-mail

Do the authorities concerned have nothing to say in response to Arundhati? Do we presume their silence to mean 'guilty as charged'?

K. Subramanian,
Bombay

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.

Aman Sethi,
on e-mail

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.

S. Ghosh,
on e-mail

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.

Deeptanshu Verma,
on e-mail

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.

G. Singh,
New Delhi

When Arundhati deplores and suspects everything coming to this country from the West, why did she go running to London to accept the Booker?

Rajeev Matta,
on e-mail

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!

Jai Verma,
Chennai

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.

Shailendra Mathur,
on e-mail

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.

Zhya Jacobs,
on e-mail

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?

V.K. Rayadu,
Bangalore

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.

Dayanand Kanchan,
Bombay

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.

T.P. Pareek,
on e-mail

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.

Philip Matthew,
Kottayam

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.

T.P. Pareek,
on e-mail

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.

Neju George,
on e-mail

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.

Ginny Narula,
New Delhi

Touchˇ! Your brilliant analysis in the new Outlook. The ideas. The ideals. The clarity and vigour of the prose.

P. Lal,
Calcutta

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.

Gopal Kamat,
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?

P.R. Deshpande,
Massachussets, US

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.

Lalit Singh,
Jaipur

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.

Pramod Baid,
Faridabad

OH WHAT A RANT!!!

Sanjeev,
on e-mail

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 policies.

Dr K. Aniruddhan,
on e-mail

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.

Vijay Kumar,
Bombay

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.

Avinash Pandey,
San Francisco

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.

Sanjeev Unnithan,
on e-mail

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,
Trichy

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 fundamental assumptions.

Abhik Siddiqui,
New York

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.

Abdul Mannan,
on e-mail

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,
New York

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.

Vikram Bajaj,
Ghaziabad

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.

Sunil Ranjan,
Muzaffarpur

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?

V.S. Mani,
Nasik

Misguided Impressions

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 beings.

S.P. Tyagi,
New Delhi

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,
Ahmedabad

Selling Crime?

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.

Sharad Tripathi,
Lucknow

The Last Query

Where is Barmer? Who is Manvendra Singh? Why are you wasting one precious page every issue?

Laurence S. Mohanty,
Cuttack

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.

Utsav Chakrabarti,
Missouri, US


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