BOLLYWOOD CALLING

Reading Jeanne E. Fredriksen’s reviews of King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema and Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief (India Currents, September 2007) made me want to run right out and hit the local Hindi Cinema. I enjoyed this blended review and want to get to Borders to pick up both publications!

Bonnie Becker, online
HYPOCRITICAL TAKE ON HIPPOCRATIC OATH

I do not know if I should sympathize with diatribes of ignorance such as that in the letter by a reader named Vijay Gupta (“Violating the Hippocratic Oath,” India Currents, October 2007). I am fine if Gupta wants to walk the other direction on encountering a bone marrow donor drive or act as if he has never heard the desperate pleas for an increased South Asian donor pool. However, it irks the suffering patient, insults the donor and the drives, and irritates expert physicians when he maligns existing knowledge with his talk of benefits, the Hippocratic Oath, and so on.

Both my spouse and I are registered volunteer bone marrow donors and physicians. Not a month goes by in which I don’t get a phone call or email request from a South Asian friend, classmate, or relative informing me about a patient with leukemia. To answer some questions that Gupta poses: long-term survival after a bone marrow transplant is anywhere between 15-70%. In recent years, stem cells can be collected from peripheral blood after mobilization, and risks associated with the marrow harvest process are even more reduced. I am sure the “pain” experienced by the donor is never commensurate with the suffering or loss of human life. Gupta is blessed with not having lost someone personally or professionally for need of a marrow donor.

Vidhaarthi, via email
ANOTHER QAWWALI LEGEND

Thank you for the fine article on qawwali, “Roots and Legacies” (India Currents, October 2007). It is sad that most of the recent greats of qawwali have now passed on. It was not all that long ago that I was able to hear concerts by both Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri Brothers within a couple of months of each other in the Los Angeles area.

I do think, however, that Qari Muhammed Saeed Chishti should have been discussed in the article. His melodies are beautiful, and his rhythms are entrancing in a truly mystical way. His music puts me in an ecstatic state. I appreciated that he would occasionally sing verses in English.

Because of the way that Qari Muhammed Saeed Chishti reached out to a broader audience, I have learned a lot more about Shiite Islam. And thanks to YouTube and RapidShare, we are still able to see him in concert.

Richard Marks, Watsonville, Calif.
BETWEEN “IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE”

Many Indian-Americans are under the illusion that Democrats will ride into town like “Wild West” gang busters to drive out the bad guys and usher in a new era of honesty, integrity, and enlightened foreign policy. It is true that there may be a few minor gains in domestic policy but foreign policy will remain essentially the same. There has always been bi-partisan consensus that the United States must control major foreign resources to continue feeding the U.S. corporate juggernaut regardless of the human consequences. Under the smokescreen of “ushering in democracy” and ridding Iraq of our former ally Saddam Hussein, we planned to relieve Iraq of its oil and establish permanent military bases from which to launch future military adventures and offer protection to Israel so that it could continue its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The leading Democratic president contenders agree that we cannot forego our imperial designs and must remain in Iraq indefinitely.

No politician, Democrat or Republican, barring the courageous Dennis Kucinich, has categorically stated that he would withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq unconditionally. Instead, the candidates continue to support a policy of “order” and “stability” which are merely code words for continued American hegemony. Furthermore, instead of initiating impeachment proceeding to hold the president accountable for a host of high crimes, the weak and unprincipled Democrats granted the thoroughly disgraced Alberto Gonzalez and his boss unchecked powers by voting to grant legality to an illegal activity by rewriting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, euphemistically called the Protect America Act. Largely ignored is the inherent danger of granting the Bush administration such powers, which have been consistently abused to stifle dissent and intensify the propaganda war.

It is time for Indian-Americans to break their long silence and demand accountability from their elected officials.

Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, Calif.

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