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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

I-MAK Deserves Recognition

In response to the latest cover story (“Patents and Patients,” India Currents, March 2009), it’s great to see I-MAK’s work gaining such momentum. The Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge has already been recognized by some of the pre-eminent authorities on social entrepreneurship, but it’s great to see it start to gain mainstream recognition now, too. I expect this is just the beginning. Fantastic work—and kudos to the writer, Kalpana Mohan, for covering and conveying the scope of this effort.

Suneet Bhatt, online

Role Models for All Youth

I commend India Currents for profiling Priti Radhakrishnan and Tahir Amin (“Patents and Patients,” March 2009), thus recognizing their sacrifices and great service to society. What a role model couple for the Indian-American community and youth everywhere!

I have been an admirer of Priti’s for nearly two decades. I followed her as she founded the INDUS group at UC Berkeley and participated in Abhinaya Dance Company presentations. I have also watched Priti’s career as an attorney with pride, and I believe I-MAK will make a Gandhian impact on the world of medicine.

I will frame the March cover of IC, which features Priti’s image. I think it is a precursor to the day that Priti and Tahir are on the cover of Time magazine, when their noble work earns a Nobel prize!

G.S. Satya, San Jose, Calif.

Kudos for Academic Reflection

Kudos to Pavithra Mohan for writing an honest piece about the tribulations that cloud her pre-planned academic course of study (“Math for the A,” India Currents, February 2009). Like Mohan, I entered college confident in my writing chops and journalistic aspirations. My ego was quickly deflated when I was handed back my first news report, clad with red-ink corrections, and with 75% written on top of the paper. I resented the abstractness of liberal arts grading. Surely this “average” grade was unwarranted? I briefly switched over to the sciences in search of a more regimented and straight-forward academic experience, only to learn just because there are right and wrong answers in math and science, devoid of the “liberal arts grey area,” doesn’t mean these subjects are any easier to master.

Mohan may be stressed about finding her footing in the overwhelming academic playing field of college, but in my mind, she is actually ahead of the game. It took me two years of academic yo-yo-ing before I declared English as my major. Whether it’s words or numbers or organic compounds, I suspect a bright, impassioned student such as Mohan will naturally move toward the subject(s) that excite her most over time. Give it a quarter or two.

Rupa Dev, San Francisco, Calif.

Sans Fat, and With Punch

I have been an avid fan of India Currents for more than a decade and eagerly welcome a new issue in my mailbox each month.  The magazine confirms that good things do indeed come in small packages, because each issue, while slim in size, is nowhere lacking in quality content.

Apart from the tasty recipes, humorous stories, and political commentaries, as a writer I especially enjoy the book review section, which not only recognizes South Asian literary talent that we can be proud of, but also enlightens other writers as to which publishers are supporting our literature.  For this reason, wedged between the Vanity Fair and Details (and sometimes on top of them) are current and back issues of India Currents—sans fat and with a lot more punch.

Ghalib Dhalla, via email

A Freelancer On “Free”

The latest editorial (Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan’s “Free Lunches,” India Currents, March 2009) discussed something that I’ve thought about a lot as a freelance writer. I do believe we need to overhaul the system and think about how to attach value to what we provide on the internet. No one would imagine not paying a lawyer or a doctor for a consultation, but, very often, writing is not considered to be a tangible asset or skill. Just because something is easy to read, is it easy to create? Almost without exception, the easier something reads, the more work it entails, because the writer has taken the trouble to string the ideas into a cogent, seamless entity.

I look at some bloggers and the service they provide to their readership. Many of them are famous people who provide “consultation” through a free exchange of ideas on a given topic. I’ve heard someone say that when you give away something for free, no one will perceive its value; that’s why you have to attribute a dollar value, no matter how minimal, to everything.

Kalpana Mohan, online

Nutricious Lunches

In “Free Lunches” (India Currents, March 2009), Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan asks, “What happens when that someone [the third-party] can no longer foot the bill?”

Well, nothing special. It simply means that, as a business, a magazine is not immune from the effects of a recession. A similar problem would arise if readers terminated their subscriptions because of a recession.

What is fundamentally more problematic is that when a magazine’s economic survival depends largely on advertisers, its editorial freedom is often compromised. This may not be a serious issue for India Currents because it has a diversified base of small advertisers, but it is hard to imagine that Time andNewsweek can objectively critique the pharmaceutical industry, which purchases several full pages of expensive ads every week.

In case of radio and TV, the issue of editorial freedom has led to the evolution of PBS, which is largely funded by the government and the viewers. Such funding allows PBS to investigate and report on issues that the mainstream networks would be loath to do.

Ultimately it is for the consumers (readers) to appreciate that paid lunches can be more nutritious than free lunches.

Vijay Gupta, Cupertino, Calif.

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Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...