The BJP's own goal

Print edition : July 04, 1998

The Cover Story, ("The BJP's own goal", July 3), reminded me of Satan's words in Paradise Lost. Satan, the Prince of Darkness, said: "Spite, then with spite is best repaid." John Milton found the fit person for these words. Only Satan could speak like that and work for the loss of Paradise. Is it diplomacy to counter discourtesy with discourtesy, evil with more evil?

The linkage between India's nuclear capability and the sensitive Kashmir issue is disastrous. Do the BJP's allies extend unconditional support to the coalition Government only to plunge peaceful India into a nuclear war and make the world more adversarial, suitable only for the survival of satanic forces?

R. Ramasami Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu Criticism and slander

This has reference to the letter by Mrs. Vedavati R. Jogi published in Frontline (July 3, 1998). I regret your decision to publish such canards. While criticism is welcome, slander is not. Although the write-up reveals a particular mindset as pointed out by you, such mindsets, if encouraged, may lead to a situation similar to the one prevailing in Sri Lanka. I recall the article by D.B.S. Jeyaraj, written some time ago in Frontline, about the LTTE terrorists' threats to attacks on the writer.

If some people become fanatics and spew venom at others, it is the duty of the press to campaign against their fanaticism.

I am fully on your side in your struggle against the religious fanaticism of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. You may be surprised to note that most of the ordinary people are against the Hindutva ideology being aggressively propagated by the BJP and many people are against the atom bomb. When thousands of Indians, including Hindus, die of starvation, of malnutrition, and are deprived of basic education, is there any need for a war?

I think only a few people even amongst the 'e-mailers' will support the nuclear misadventures of the BJP Government. Please carry on with the holy war against the anti-people policies of the BJP and keep the flag of Frontline high.

V. Chandrasekhar Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu.

I was greatly shocked to read the letter. The writer's puerile, philistine remarks have only amounted to a brazen exhibition of her bigoted self. If, according to Marx, religion is the opium of the masses, then Mrs. Jogi richly deserves to be called the Baroness of Bigotry.

I am 20 and my family has been reading The Hindu group of publications for over 25 years. I have more than a dozen non-Hindu friends who all read The Hindu. Mrs. Jogi needs to polish her knowledge of history. She ought to know that The Hindu played a pivotal role in our freedom struggle. She has resented the event of Partition, when actually the BJP leaders endorse it. On which side of the fence does she belong?

One of the real dangers the BJP Government has created is the rise of intolerant and bellicose people who bumptiously air their views. Mrs. Jogi's letter reinforced the timelessness of the saying, "Empty vessels make the most noise."

Prabhu Rangarajan Coimbatore

Responding to the letter from Mrs. Vedavati R. Jogi, you have mentioned about a particular mindset. Please read through all your articles and editorials so far on the BJP and its Government. I hope you will realise the mindset behind them and also publish articles expressing a different mindset.

Rams Rams@auroville.org.in Nuclear mess

"The South Asian Nuclear Mess" (June 14) was interesting and reflected the truth. The BJP's nuclear adventurism has landed us in a mess and we are caught up in competitive jingoism in South Asia. In the same manner, one fine morning they may invite us to a Sita-Rama wedding at the new Ram temple they have promised to build at the site where the Babri Masjid stood. Any such development will have grave implications for India.

D. Ravi Kumar Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh The Divided Self Dev Kumar Vasudevan Mhow, Madhya Pradesh

Frontline has played, true to my anticipation and expectation, a commendable part in bringing out clearly the inherent danger and consequences of the recent nuclear explosions by India and Pakistan. It has analysed all the dimensions of the problem - social, political, economic, diplomatic, moral and, above all, human.

The BJP and its sister organisations had earlier tarnished the image of the Hindu religion and the nation in the eyes of the world by demolishing the Babri Masjid. With the latest provocative, adventurous and childish action of nuclear explosions, they have repeated the slander and created a crisis on the diplomatic front, which succeeding governments will find difficult to address. Patriotism lies in protecting all citizens from the dangers of malnutrition, illiteracy and unemployment.

Sultan Ali Ahmed Guwahati

Terry Templest Williams' article "The Clan of the One- Breasted Women" is a passionate piece of literature that needs to be read by all those concerned with the nuclear race in South Asia. Her mother and grandmothers and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven of them are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. She too has had two biopsies for breast cancer and a small tumour between her ribs diagnosed as a 'borderline malignancy'. This she says is her family history, with anger and frustration - emotions released after years of passively accepting her fate and that of her women relatives, a quiet acceptance that was expected of all Mormon women.

Above-ground testing in Nevada, United States, took place between 1951 and 1962 during which wind blowing north dropped radioactive dust on Utah where Williams and her family live. "When the Atomic Energy Commission described the country north of the Nevada test site as 'virtually uninhabited desert terrain', my family and the birds at the Great Salt Lake were some of the 'virtual inhabitants', " she writes.

Kirkpatrick Sale, former Editor of the New York Times magazine, notes that only two bombs were exploded over Japan, but since 1945, approximately 670 nuclear bombs were exploded above and below ground in the United States. A head of the Atomic Energy Commission during this period said, "Gentlemen, we must not let anything interfere with this series of tests, nothing." If you were against testing, you were on the other side and hence a Communist supporter.

Repeatedly, the American public was told by its government, in spite of burns, blisters and nausea: "It has been found that the tests have been conducted with adequate assurance of safety under conditions prevailing at the bombing reservations."

A news release typical at that time stated, "We find no basis for concluding that harm to any individual has resulted from radioactive fallout." This refrain is heard today from both sides of the Indian and Pakistan border, with each side declaring its tests "safe".

And even if the tests were "safe", what right do the rulers of South Asia have to desecrate the deserts and mountains of the region? And what of the scientists and technologists garlanded for their terrifying deeds and the mobs that applaud them?

They seem guided by a warped sense of history and blinded by the arrogance of their deadly acts - acts which the Greeks thought only their violent gods were capable of. Or was it that they too were lured by such a destructive project merely because it was "technically sweet" - a reason given by Manhattan Project Leader Robert Oppenheimer for he and other brilliant scientists taking part in it.

Finally, a quote from an article that my friend Susan Adkins wrote for Ms magazine after her own mastectomy: "This woman cries for a country that in 1991 pour(ed) $2.2 billion into each B-2 bomber while it invested only $ 92.7 million in breast cancer research." Today India and Pakistan rightly highlight America's hypocritical stand against nuclear bombs in South Asia. But aren't they themselves a lot worse at caring for their own citizens, most of whom lack even basic social services?

So, while criticising the U.S. Government, which has consistently refused to cut back significantly on nuclear and conventional arms, it is essential that the South Asians set their house in order.

Q. Isa Daudpota Islamabad, Pakistan At South Block

I would like to bring to your notice two mistakes in the June 19 issue of Frontline. The caption for the photograph on page 21 informs the reader that Gen. Dennis J. Reimer is at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Actually, the photograph shows him outside South Block, which houses important government organisations. It is situated on the southern side of Rajpath - the road that leads from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.

The second mistake is even more glaring. On page 95, another picture of South Block is featured. The caption says it is the Supreme Court of India.

Nibhi Verma New Delhi.

Editor's Note: The errors are regretted. We thank the reader for exposing them.

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