Politics is no cakewalk
Sir — The cake probably has not come to the forefront in such a big way ever since Marie Antoinette recommended it to her famished subjects in the absence of bread (“Uma rolls with desi cake”, April 18 and “Uma slams Digvijay for cake slur”, April 20). Uma Bharti could not have been unaware, when she made the rather unusual offering to Hanuman at the Jan Samli temple in Chhindwara, that her act would come in for scrutiny and criticism. The fact that Chhindwara is a Congress stronghold wasn’t of much help either. Digvijay Singh and his men did not lose a second in alleging that Bharti’s offering contained eggs, and hence was unfit for a Hindu religious ceremony. But none cared to point out that the former Union minister, sadhvi or not, was allowed to perform puja in the temple which looks askance at women offering prayers there. Here is another example of a glaring socio-religious anomaly being ignored in favour of making a trivial partisan point.
J.K. Pal, Calcutta
Sir — The article, “Losing balance” (April 9), by M.L. Sondhi and Ashok Kapur has an Alice-in-wonderland quality characteristic of many current Indian reviews of the Indo-American relationship. Beyond the rhetoric of diplomatic niceties exchanged between the two countries, such as the one about being fellow democracies committed to pluralism and the rule of law, the two countries are as far apart as they ever were. Pretending otherwise will be to India’s grave folly.
The brutal truth is that the US does not see India as a player of much importance in world or even bilateral affairs. Furthermore, it does not want to see the emergence of a powerful India as an uncontested regional power any more than it wanted to see the emergence of a powerful Iraq (or Iran) as the dominant state in its region. The despatch of the Sixth Fleet to help Pakistan against India during the 1971 war was designed to counteract unchallenged Indian dominance of the subcontinent rather than to ensure stability in the region.
Nothing has changed substantially since then in the way Washington views the region. In today’s unipolar world, this means quite simply that if India, with its patience worn thin by Pakistani-sponsored terrorism, were again to undertake decisive action to resolve the Kashmir issue, it should expect, first, political, then economic isolation and, finally, all else failing, intervention. Experts who proclaim a “new” relationship with Washington would do well to remember this.
Joy Bandyopadhyay, via email
Sir — India should tread cautiously with regard to the situation in Iraq, given that a neo-colonial rule has already begun. Passing a resolution condemning the United States of America’s attack on Iraq may prove in the days to come a grave mistake because the Indian economy is largely dependent on loans from countries like the US. Indeed, there is no room for emotion in politics. Wouldn’t it be better if we take stock of our economic and military strengths before taking on the lone superpower in the world'
Jayanta Datta, Chinsurah
Sir — The Indian parliament did the best thing by passing the resolution condemning the military actions on Iraq. It should not matter whether it can spoil Indo-American relations (“Strain on natural allies”, April 12). The Indian democracy is founded on the pillars of morality and justice. The national leaders of the past would have done the same thing in a similar situation. Jawaharlal Nehru, for instance, criticized the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, but that did not come in the way of India’s friendship with the Soviet Union. For those who fear India will lose its share of the reconstruction pie, the rebuilding contracts are not juicy enough to tempt us to forget our tradition of standing with the truth. We are not opportunists. And those who believe we need the US to support us on the Kashmir issue should be reminded that we are strong enough to handle such disturbances.
Farhan Ali, Manchester,UK
Sir — Unless India sheds its holier-than-thou posturing, we will remain a two-bit player in the global circuit (“Importance of realism”, April 13). What amazes me is that we abuse the US in one breath and in the very next we demand that it restrain Pakistan from terrorizing us.
Jayanta Kumar Dutt, Calcutta
Sir — To suggest that it somehow serves India’s national interest to remain silent about the invasion of a defenceless people by the US is indecent. India’s ruling dispensation, its policy establishments and their cohorts in the media are so squeamish about criticizing the US that they would rather proclaim their own irrelevance in world affairs. Yet the same people never tire of waxing eloquent about India’s stature as an emerging superpower, nuclear weapons and all, and even aspires towards world leadership, starting with a permanent membership of the United Nations security council. How are we to achieve this' By hanging on to Uncle Sam’s bootstraps'
India’s moral bankruptcy and impotence appear even more grotesque when compared to the response of nations which steadfastly refused to succumb to US enticements or threats and endorse the war. The truth is that as in the US, in India too, a majority of the people still value things like democracy and freedom in the face of attempts to trample over them. That is why it rankles even more when people try to pass off their cowardice as ours, their impotence and sycophancy as “realism” and in the national interest.
Nilim Dutta, Guwahati