Gaza under attack

Print edition : December 28, 2012

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

THE Cover Story (December 14) provided a detailed insight into what ails Gaza. It showed how international laws and human rights have been violated by Israel, which rained bombs on Gaza for days and gained little.

The world needs to apply pressure on Israel to stop such bombings and to ensure innocent lives are not lost and peace is restored. Justifying Israels offensive tactics is not the way out.

Balasubramaniam Pavani Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

THE Cover Story gave a clear picture of the Israel-Palestine issue. Israel has violated all human rights and international treaties by killing hundreds of innocent unarmed civilians, including children. It is pathetic to see U.S. President Barack Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, support Israels brutal slaughtering in the name of self-defence.

Dr E.N. Murthy Hyderabad

THE tensions between Israel and Hamas are a cause for concern. The frequent acts of aggression in Gaza are only the tip of the iceberg with respect to the challenges facing countries. Retaliatory acts cannot provide permanent solutions to problems. Serious and urgent steps are needed to stop the current trouble brewing in Israel and Gaza. Otherwise, a major human catastrophe is on the cards.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu

Buddhist heritage

THE past six issues of Frontline, with its special Heritage section consisting of highly informative photo essays that focussed on little-known Buddhist centres and relics, have indeed been a visual treat and an intellectual treasure trove for readers interested in history, sociology and religion/Buddhism. It will be a great service to those interested in Buddhist history if these photo essays can be brought out in book form.

G. Anuplal Bangalore Uranium mines

THE discovery of uranium in Andhra Pradesh (Fuel of future, December 14) is good news for India. The country also has abundant deposits of thorium, which can also be used as fuel to generate electricity. I wonder why India signed the nuclear deal with the U.S. with so many strings attached when the country has an abundant supply of nuclear raw material, for both defence and civilian purposes. The deal has problems, among them the liability clause, and will benefit only U.S. companies. What is needed is policies that can give the solar sector a boost.

Deendayal M. Lulla Mumbai Bal Thackeray

NOTHING can be further from the truth than accusing Bal Thackeray of being inconsistent, opportunistic and lacking in self-confidence (Proud and prejudiced, December 14).

Always in the midst of hectic political activity and controversies, the hallmark of the late leader was his unflinching loyalty to the ideology he believed in, his close rapport with the cadre and the masses, communicating with them as one of them, and an ardent passion to act on his convictions regardless of consequences.

Although the means he used to achieve his ends is debatable, it is an acknowledged fact that Thackeray restored a sense of pride in the common Maharashtrian about his culture and roots. Adore him or admonish him, Thackerays personality was one that none could ignore.

B. Suresh Kumar Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

WITH all his peculiarities, Bal Thackeray was undeniably a mass leader, though controversial. That English-speaking intellectuals fail to figure out the essence of his popularity and influence illustrates the divide between liberal-minded, educated people and common people, who are generally conservative.

VIVEK BENDRE

Ujwal S. Jagtap Shelgaon Deshmukh, Maharashtra

Kasabs hanging

THE death of Ajmal Kasab should not be looked upon as just the death of a terrorist who had killed many innocent people (Questions left hanging, December 14). We should also look at the circumstances which led to the transformation of a teenage son of a poor fruit vendor into a young man trapped in the jehad. Abject poverty led to the transformation of Kasab. The war against terrorism will be successful only when poor children in the world are not forced to give up their lives for the blind war waged by bigots and when all teenagers can pursue their dreams without fear of destitution.

Barkha Tamrakar Raipur

KASABS hanging once again kicked off the debate over capital punishment. It all started when the U.S. and a few other countries, including India, voted in the U.N. recently against a non-binding resolution abolishing the death penalty. More than 100 countries backed the motion.

SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA/AP

Some of the countries that voted against it still have a high crime rate. The increasing crime rate in the U.S. proves that retaining capital punishment does not help reduce crimes. More than 150 countries have so far abolished capital punishment, and this number keeps increasing every year. Nevertheless, a wider consensus is needed in order to wipe out a practice that was followed extensively in the primitive age.

Ramachandran Nair Oman

EVERY time a death sentence is executed in India, the debate on capital punishment resumes. In the rarest of rare cases, when a person becomes a threat to society, and after due process of law, if capital punishment is awarded, it holds some kind of assurance to civil society. Anti-social elements like terrorists who kill innocent people, paedophiles who kill children after abusing them, and rapists are a threat to society. Scrapping the death penalty would mean that the state is more concerned about the right to life of criminals than about its law-abiding citizens.

Hemavathi A. Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

THE news that the operation to execute Kasab was shrouded in secrecy, with even the hangman kept in the dark about the terrorists identity until the last minute, has attracted a lot of criticism rather than appreciation. Human Rights Watch has already urged India to remove the death penalty from its legal framework.

But I disagree with the human rights people. Why do they want to trivialise Kasabs crime by replacing the death sentence with a life term, feeding and entertaining him in the jail? The death penalty is a credible deterrent. Otherwise there will be a tendency to engage in heinous crimes. Everything cannot be justified in the name of humanitarianism, more so in a world where crime in general has increased, both in number and in the gruesome ways it is perpetrated. Terrorism is on the rise. Let us have a penalty which is befitting of such crimes.

K.S. Jayatheertha Bangalore The war of 1962

KUDOS to Frontline and A.G. Noorani on a brilliantly researched article on the India-China war (The truth about 1962, November 30). The article is a much-needed step forward in the nations quest to know the truth behind the war. All along, we have only been reading and hearing one side of the story. It becomes clear from the article that, with a little more wisdom, the war could have been avoided. Hope the government wakes up and begins to declassify the war documents so that present and future generations can learn from the errors made.

Rajesh Malik Bangalore

A.G. NOORANIS Cover Story on the India-China war of 1962 was remarkable for its dryness and emphasis on legal and diplomatic issues. It almost feels strange to have to point out the obvious. If India were more in the wrong in the conflict (as per Noorani and writers like Neville Maxwell), surely that wrong would have been felt much more by the Tibetans.

What one is looking for, to virtually no avail, is any expression of support from the Tibetans for the Chinese military actions against India, which Noorani maintains were retaliatory. Far more Tibetans were sympathetic to India during that war. After all, Chinas occupation or military action created large numbers of refugees.

Varun Shekhar Toronto, Canada Rushdie

I HAVE long ceased to expect Muslim commentators to be objective, let alone sympathetic, when writing about Salman Rushdie. Even so, I was shocked by Talmiz Ahmads parting shot in his review of Rushdies memoirs Joseph Anton (Fatwa Years, November 30), almost endorsing Ayatollah Khomeinis blood-curdling fatwa against the author of The Satanic Verses.

THE HINDU ARCHIVES

This is what he writes: The fatwa was a response to 200 years of orientalist abuse and contempt: the empire was striking back at its former occupier and its native collaborator.

Really, Mr Ahmad? The empire striking back against a writer whose most celebrated work, The Midnights Children, is all about the idea of history displaced by imperialism and which rejects the British colonial versions of India? A writer whose books are taught in departments of post-colonial studies and spawned a new genre: The empire writes back.

Even more preposterous is Ahmads description of Rushdie as a native collaborator because he uses orientalist terminology and sentiment to pour abuse upon his heritage and its revered heroes.

Edward Said, the 20th centurys most influential anti-orientalist voice and the man who redefined the term orientalism to give it the meaning that Ahmad so blithely deploys to damn Rushdie, was a close friend of Rushdies. And far from treating him as a collaborator of abusive orientalists, he publicly supported him, attacking the fatwa as antithetical to Islamic traditions of learning and tolerance (Letter to The New York Review of Books, March 16, 1989, with Aga Shahid Ali and three other leading Muslim writers). Was he, too, a collaborator?

Reading Ahmads review, I sometimes wondered whether we had read the same book. Not only does he make a series of factually incorrect claims such as that Rushdie does not address the areas of his offensive book (he does, though of course he does it from his own arguably self-serving perspective) but passes sweeping comments arguing that there was no such thing as Western Enlightenment! This is not the place to debate it. So, Ill let it pass.

But back to his parting shot: Ahmad should stop hiding behind linguistic sophistry. If he really believes that it is right to order the death of a writer for writing an offensive book, he should have the honesty to say it in so many words. The semi-literate neighbourhood mullah who openly says he supports the fatwa and wants to see Rushdie dead may sound more crude but at least he has the honesty to say it in plain language rather than retreat behind clever wordplay a la Ahmad.

Hasan Suroor London Book reviews

YOUR book reviews compel one to buy your magazine. They are eminently readable. A review of Jack Hobbs biography sometime back will remain in the minds of cricket fans for a long time. The review of Hilary Mantels book Bring Up The Bodies (Conjuring up Cromwell, November 30) gradually builds the readers interest.

Hilary Mantels book is a textbook for writers to ignite their minds to creatively tell stories. The characters in Bring Up The Bodies made me nostalgic as it brought before me the memories of my late father, a history teacher.

K.R. Deshpande Bangalore ANNOUNCEMENT

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