LETTERS

Print edition : September 12, 1998
National politics

The Cover Story ("With allies like this..." September 11) brings out the state of politics and politicians today. Recent media reports have exposed the hollowness of the claims of political parties.

The Sangh Parivar, which has all along accused secular forces of wooing and pampering the minorities, is now meekly submitting to a "minority" partner, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, in the coalition Government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mulayam Singh Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav are in their heart of hearts advocates of caste politics. Is casteism a better alternative to communalism?

The Left parties have decided to support the Congress(I) if it forms a government at the Centre. But Congress(I) president Sonia Gandhi is in no hurry to grab power not because she does not want power but because any government formed now may not last long.

K.C. Kalkura Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh * * *

Now that coalition governments have become inevitable in India, the media should avoid succumbing to the temptation to sensationalise the dissensions among coalition partners or highlight irrelevant issues raised by the Opposition. They should, instead, highlight the need for a non-partisan approach to the problems facing the country.

The party that secures the largest number of seats should be allowed to govern for a full term even if it does not have a majority in Parliament. The people will judge in the next elections whether it deserves another term.

As opinion-makers, the media should encourage the Members of Parliament belonging to all parties to eschew partisan considerations and focus on issues of development.

Maya Saraswathy Chennai Kashmir

This has reference to "Flashpoint Kashmir" (August 28). For more than 50 years, the people of the subcontinent have lived with the Kashmir imbroglio. Neither the reverses suffered by India at the hands of China in the 1962 war nor the defeat of Pakistan in its eastern wing in the 1971 war altered the situation.

Perhaps Pakistan has a vested interest in keeping the Kashmir problem unresolved. It can buttress its national unity and fortify its ideological frontiers by fuelling the fear of Hindu hegemony. To India, Kashmir is a symbol of secularism although the Hindutva forces want to retain it for other reasons.

Anyway, now that both India and Pakistan have gate-crashed into the elite nuclear club, sanity demands that the hostile neighbours avoid war.

Prem Behari Lucknow Srikrishna Commission

Justice B.N. Srikrishna's much-awaited report on the Mumbai riots, which shook the conscience of the nation, is an eye-opener ("The Shiv Sena indicted", August 28).

Chief Minister Manohar Joshi has termed it "anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim". These self-appointed custodians of Hinduism can never justify the mobilisation of people on communal lines in the name of maha aartis and ghantnaads; no Hindu scripture prescribes these for the sake of humiliating people who follow other faiths.

The Shiv Sena has a notorious record; the people of this country have not forgotten its nefarious activities in the 1970s. It was then severely indicted by Justice D.P. Madon, who inquired into the riots in Bhiwandi, Mahad and Jalgaon.

Mahesh Inder Sharma New Delhi The End of Imagination

"The End of Imagination" (August 14) was superb in every respect. The bomb was made use of just for political ends. Stock-piling arms and exploding bombs are not a matter of pride as far as India is concerned. We have had a nuclear policy that has been recognised by all countries. What purpose is served when we explode bombs?

We can make 'history' not by exploding bombs but by uplifting the downtrodden.

I appreciate your boldness in publishing such an illuminating essay.

P.K. Janardhanan Adoor, Kerala * * *

It was fortuitous that I just had dashed off this poem on August 1, the day on which Arundhati Roy's article appeared in The Guardian. It was a moving piece of prose and I thought of chiming my voice with hers, and so managed to get your address from Roy's agents here. Since it first appeared in your publication and in Outlook, I thought it appropriate to send it on to you.

My interest in getting the poem published is not personal. I will be more than happy if it helps in increasing the volume of protest against the bomb.

Persistent trauma after Hiroshima

The blood is green -Nectar at the feast of Golgotha The sky is a belly of gloating evil Love hides its shame in nakedness A million sperms of tears and rage Like shrapnel of a bastard bomb Like crimson-coated dagger points Stab man and mind with senseless pain and wrath - And you sit here and watch and watch and watch

In New Mexico's desert sands Four thousand suns first singed the air An umbrella of grey mushroom Unfurled and blossomed there Some sixty years ago -The seeds now have sprung everywhere Pacific Isles Negev Desert - Unholy deed in Holy Land Chagai Hills in Pakistan Pokhran in Hindustan Where next the scourge where will it end?

Do you hear the curfew hear the bell? Hear the hooves hear the beats Of horses of Apocalypse?

Then don't sit here and watch and watch and watch.

Homi Framroze London * * *

Your campaign against nuclear-weapons must be applauded. No other section of the print media in India is doing its duty in this regard - to disseminate the need of a nuclear-free, peaceful world. All your issues after Pokhran-II have been excellent. The issue carrying Arundhati Roy's article had a lot to convey to the people.

Politicians should understand the needs of the public. Indians do not want a nuclear bomb to survive; they need amenities like water, food, electricity and a clean environment to live in.

All the best for the ongoing campaign. J. Tijo Varakkadu, Kerala * * *

I cannot thank you adequately for having published Arundhati Roy's brilliant essay. Even otherwise your magazine does a good job on various issues, but in the present case you have excelled even your normally high standards. Through this letter I also wish to convey my appreciation of Roy's efforts as a writer.

Generally famous authors use the weight of their personality and fame for personal aggrandisement. In this case, Roy has used it for a humanitarian cause. She followed up the article by participating in the anti-nuclear march on Hiroshima Day.

It is commendable that she has chosen to take a public stand, although this act makes her vulnerable to the threats of violence by the saffron brigade.

In her first novel itself, Roy had displayed her talent and capacity to understand and explain the nuances of life, but her "paper napkin speech" also showed her ability to encapsulate the essentials of living. After reading her book, I respected her as a writer. But after reading the article, I also respect her as a person.

Anil Sharma Bhopal * * *

I salute Arundhati Roy for her concern about a nuclear world. I admire her love for human life and strong hatred for the word 'nuclear'.

However, I feel that she does not have enough material to convince a sizable section of this country's population that Pokhran-II was a mistake. Her ideas deserve respect but India in isolation cannot afford to implement them. This is not a world of the weak. Only the strong rule. The artist's impression of this world is only a dream.

No sensible person will ever want a war, much less a nuclear war. But what would he do if a war (or a proxy war) is thrust upon him (as is being done in Kashmir)?

As I have understood India, it is a mature and responsible nation and I firmly believe that it will continue with its endeavour to create a nuclear weapons-free world.

It is not the 'end of imagination' but an 'awakening from dreams'.

Naveen Sehgal New Delhi * * *

Why did Arundhati not write an essay chastising Bill Clinton for his misadventure in Iraq? He is now doing the same thing in Afghanistan. And I am sure her good friend, N. Ram, will have a lead story on Clinton the bomber. Naturally, no one cares to analyse why this was even thought of in the first place. I rather like what Patton is supposed to have told his troops: "I don't want you to die for your country. I want you to make the enemy die for his country."

Let us face it. Every time we tried the bhai-bhai method, we have failed. That was not because we did not honour our commitments but because the others took us for soft touches that we are.

Write to Clinton, Yeltsin, Jiang Zemin, Nawaz Sharif and other leaders before sermonising your own leaders. But do keep writing. You have a way with the English language that I like.

Nandakumar DCO.MDS@MNDASTUR.sprintrpg.ems.vsnl.net.in

* * *

Yes, I am proud to be the owner of a Hindu bomb. For me, the bomb has everything to do with pride.

Arnab Raj Patna * * *

I fully agree with Arundhati Roy in saying that a nuclear war will not be a war between countries, but against the very elements of nature, which in turn will be a war against ourselves.

But developing nuclear weapons does not mean that we are heading for a nuclear war. It is a way of letting the world know that we are not going to buckle under external pressure and of exposing the hypocrisy of the so-called developed countries which claim to be peace-loving.

Nuclear weaponisation means that we are moving with the advanced world. There is nothing morally wrong about making ourselves secure.

Vivek Powar Roha, Maharashtra * * *

Arundhati Roy adopts a totally one-sided approach instead of a dispassionate, pragmatic and impartial approach to the issue of nuclear weaponisation. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have shown that mankind can survive an atomic war and even miraculously recover from its horrifying effects. So, it is wrong to try to scare people away from the nuclear bomb, which is a weapon of last resort for a country which has no chance of triumph in a conventional war. After all, nuclear arms are something modern science has placed in the hands of humankind. Almost every nation desires to have them in its arsenal, as it can help overcome the fear of total defeat in any battle. Global nuclear disarmament, though good, is a goal too utopian to pursue.

K. Kumara Sekhar Eluru, Andhra Pradesh * * *

Arundhati Roy has voiced humanity's concern over nuclear weapons. Millions of people all over the globe are in danger of being annihilated and she echoes their fears. But she has turned it into a political instrument to be used against the Government.

She has ignored the voices of millions of Indians who welcomed the nuclear tests. India has never been an aggressor and will never be one. The world might now wake up to the voice of India, an India that wants a nuclear-free world. India can now speak from a position of strength and perhaps its voice will be heard and the superpowers will see reason.

Tusna Park Chennai * * *

The "goddess of small things" has really come down well on something big this time. The article is concise and takes into account nearly all that has been said on the issue till date. The language is amazingly lucid and simple. The doctrine of persuasion from the moral doctors (read nations) has found few takers at the international level - on issues relating to the nuclear bombs, landmines, chemical weapons, biological weapons... This does not mean that I subscribe to the philosophy of the bomb; for that matter any sane individual will not. The motives of the Government and the timing of the tests are questionable. We, as the citizens of a democratic institution, have every right to know and decide the future of our country.

Still, there are some questions that came to my mind after reading the article. Is it only the nuclear tests by India that made Arundhati Roy declare herself an independent mobile republic? Did we achieve anything worthwhile by being a non-nuclear state? Is it only after the Indian tests that the lady woke up to the bitter truth of the bombs?

Vijay B. Waghmare viju-@hotmail.com

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