UNFAIR CRITICISM

I am shocked at the audacity and aggressiveness with which Sarita Sarvate presents a personal case in her column (IC Sep 2002). That her son lied is established; he should have admitted the fault and apologized to deserve any mercy. Instead she defends his action, saying maybe he was terrified, and says her son’s father cited the example of the Enron Chief and the rights not offered him! The son would have graduated to that level perhaps in later life, if allowed to go free!

What do people think the school is? Do they want to convert it into a mini court with prosecution and defense witnesses? Generally speaking, no teacher/principal takes action without proper cause, and the desire to inculcate a sense of discipline in their wards. To seek inquiry into the matter is ridiculous; they could have been magananimous enough to seek pardon on behalf of the son; no, she says books teach them differently! Pity indeed that educated elite behave with such impunity.

India Currents should be used to highlight public interest news and not air a grievance of personal nature. Hope the author understands that honesty in childhood is primarily needed to evolve into a good citizen later. God save us from more persons joining her ranks to protect their kids.
– Prakash N. Satya, Secunderabad, India

Sarita Sarvate responds: It is unfortunate that the writer has used my column to attack me personally. Let me set the record straight. Of course, I don’t encourage my children to tell lies. Indeed, after the incident, I warned my son never to pick up property belonging to any teacher. The point of my column was not to air a personal grievance against the school, but to show how American children are being criminalized in schools today. Calling the police after every minor prank makes the school a jailhouse, not an institution of learning. The overwhelmingly positive response to my column from teachers, parents, and civil libertarians attests to some fundamental truth in it. As Gloria Steinem said, “The Personal is Political.”

ABSENCE OF CONTACTS

My wife and I have come to stay for some days with my daughter and son-in-law with their two kids who live in one of the apartment complexes in Cupertino, CA.

Although I find a good number of Indian families living in this area, contacts with each other are missing. All of them belong to the intellectual class and form the elite of highly qualified in their respective fields of studies. Perhaps they have the fear of the “unknown.”

The only contacts I find are among the children who play in the open areas and go to school together. My doubts whether these Indians have forgotten their roots, may be unfounded. Radhika Sharma in “Am I Home?” (IC Sep 2002) has put it succinctly: “Human beings are like a presentation template—you can change what you fill in, but not what is already there. Which means never forgetting where we came from.”

We Indians are spiritually oriented from the cradle to the grave. Our thoughts and deeds proceed with the thought of the Divine. What I wish is: There shall be formal or informal contacts developed among the Indians in the name of poojas, festivals, friendly get-togethers etc., so that our ethnic group knows each other, to be of help to each other in times of need, and to strengthen the bonds among families.

– D. Krishna Murthy, Cupertino, CA

MONUMENTAL WASTE

I attended TiECon 2002 and heard a Nobel Laureate Economics professor from Stanford together with Deepak Chopra give their opinions about greed. The professor said that businessman’s greed fueled the need for investment and invention. Chopra disliked greed.

I have difficulty understanding that when Indians talk about their inventions and investments, they talk in euphoric terms as a great achievement, and about Indians being world class entrepreneurs. But when they talk about Enron in India, they talk in very vicious terms.

I feel the Indian criticism is unwarranted. Availability of electricity in Bombay is satisfactory but the availability in Indian villages is woefully inadequate and past overdue. These big city, big political and bureaucratic hankerings have the effect of stopping the flow of sorely needed electricity from a state of the art electrical plant built in the ’90s with the best of technology, now available for peanuts due to Enron’s bankruptcy.

When I look at the waste of a magnitude that comes from the shutdown of Enron plant, I cringe. If any criminal wrong-doing happened, it should be punished. But the shutdown of the Dabhol plant is wrong, wasteful, and above all bad policy. And it hurts the struggling Indian masses as well as energy technologists who could be running Dabhol and other advanced energy plants.

– Vijay Kumar, Mountain View, CA

POGROM IN GUJARAT

In my opinion—and I am hardly alone in this—the recent pogrom in Gujarat is probably one of the most dangerous incidents that happened in India’s current history. It is a massive tear in the social fabric since it represents a major undercurrent of hate. Given the political support it enjoys from the ruling party in Gujarat and the center, it is in danger of spreading throughout the country and tearing that nation apart.

As is well known in India, the prime perpetrators of this heinousness, the Sangh Parivar comprising the VHP, the RSS, and the Bajrang Dal (along with their political avatar, the BJP), get a major portion of their funding from NRIs, particularly in the U.S. and U.K. Many NRIs contribute knowing exactly where their money is going, but many more contribute dollars under the false impression that their money is being used to build village schools and provide other services, while in reality, these schools and other services are typically front ends for spreading hate filled propaganda and for mobilizing communalism and anti-minority sentiments among tribal populations.

The following article in Outlook (http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname= 20020722&fname=VHP+%28F%29&sid=1) provides an excellent account of how American NRI’s well meaning dollars are diverted towards organizations that have a very clear connection with the Sangh Parivar, and is a must-read for everyone, so that we can be educated about this phenomenon.

– Bharath Sethuraman, Northridge, CA

MERA BHARAT MAHAN

Isn’t India akin to a captainless ship commandeered by pirates? Why can we Indians do no better? Are we victims of human apathy or divine displeasure? Aren’t our souls stuck in the quagmire of pettiness and paltry gains? Can’t you and I make some difference to this dismal scenario? Cannot agitated Indians turn their anguish into an instrument of renaissance? Cannot the pall of gloom be dispelled to let rays of hope brighten the land? Isn’t the silence of the gifted a betrayal of the less fortunate? Like the Mahabharata, a new alliance of the forces of goodness must emerge to combat evil. Are you willing to be an Arjuna, a Bhim, a Dronacharya, a Bhishma?

– Ashok Malik, Santa Clara, CA

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