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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

Music Tugs At The Heartstrings

As I write this, I am working at my computer and listening to old Hindi and Marathi songs. Sarita Sarvate’s column (Musical Memories, September 2010) touched my heart. In the last paragraph she hits the nail on the head. Every song (bhavgeet, bhajan or Hindi movie song) has a beautiful memory attached to it.  It tugs at my heart and I long to relive those moments, just once. Then I know it is an old, closed chapter.

Urmila Dabholkar John, via email

Indulge in Musical Nostalgia

Sarita Sarvate (Musical Memories, September 2010) waxes eloquently and endearingly on her fond memories of youth and musical nostalgia associated with it. Such flights of fancy into one’s memory banks are supremely self-satisfying.

Music is considered the finest of the fine arts. No patron can adequately describe the subjective feelings in words. Sarvate’s “Last Word” on it is pretty convincing indeed.

P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA

India Fears are Unwarranted

I found the article (India Fears, September 2010) too negative and derogatory.  All those problems in India are rooted in history and politics. It may startle the writer to hear this but, at some levels, India is a more progressive country than the United States. At the level of politics, diversity of language, and acknowledgment that different religions are legitimate paths to understanding the divine, India has a richer, even nobler heritage than America.

Varun Shekhar, online

Speak Up For the Dispossessed

I must say I was both amused and surprised at reader Gopal Chakravorty’s response (Letters, August 2010) to Sarita Sarvate’s article (Of Israel and Other Sacred Cows, July 2010). He says that he is impressed with Netanyahu speaking about the Arab child. Really? How about clothing the child, providing schools and clean water and medicines? Has the reader forgotten about the recent Israeli attack on Gaza and the unprovoked killing by Israeli soldiers of unarmed peace workers on the Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza carrying food and medicines? Or the recent building, in early 2010, of 1,500 settlements in the occupied territories over demolished Palestenian homes?

Sarvate is right in that our local media dares not criticize Israel. You only need to travel outside the United States and pick up newspapers in Canada and Europe to understand what she means.

How can the reader possibly compare Israel to India? Has India deprived its minorities of the right to a nation? Has it constructed a concrete wall, imposing apartheid and economically isolating its minorities, or deprived them outright of education and jobs? Thank god, no. Even if you use Kashmir as an example, there is no historic analogy between the militancy problems of India versus those of Israel.

Sarvate says she did not have as much to lose as Helen Thomas. But as civil rights leaders have emphasized, those who remain silent invite shame. I am glad Sarvate spoke up.

Sandhya Patel, San Ramon, CA

Keep Those Indian Names!

This was an interesting article (Should Indian Americans Simplify Their Names, August 2010). Both sides were very well written. I, for one, would vote with Anupama Oza against the proposition. Shortening the name to anglicize it is, oh, so 20th century!

Both my children have Indian names that they are very proud of. I think people deeply identify themselves with their names, far more than we realize. When parents give their children generic names like Sammy, Tommy, or Jimmy without a thought to their meaning and history, they are sending a message of self-hatred and denial of who they really are.

Nidhi/Sri, online

The Need to Belong

Cristina Chopalli has an interesting perspective (Because of the Bindi, August, 2010.) I think she nailed it by invoking the term, “The need to belong.” That need holds true for just about everyone of us, especially in this age and time when the entire world is a global melting pot of various ethnicities, races, and cultures. I could identify with and relate to the article because of that very need to belong. When we desis from a cricket loving nation wish to understand the details of a baseball or NFL game, it is perhaps the same as someone here wishing to keep up with the latest in Bollywood or, for that matter, sporting a dot on the forehead.

Jolly, online

Ethics and Business Success Often Clash

“Doing what’s ethical and right is always the better long-term strategy,” concludes Vivek Wadhwa (Ethics in Business, August 2010). I think this common business wisdom is fundamentally flawed. It suggests that as long as a business is focused on the long-term, its success (as defined by the bottom line) is best assured by being ethical. But this is not necessarily true.

Consider a chip company that produces toxic waste products during its manufacturing process. The CEO has a choice between two ways of disposing of these waste products. The first method is inexpensive and meets the legal requirements, but may contaminate the local water supply in future. The second method is environmentally sound, but costs significantly more. Can the CEO afford to use the more expensive (ethical) approach if all his competitors are using the less expensive one?

Or consider Cisco and Costco, two companies commended by Wadhwa for treating their employees well. Although paying employees well is good business strategy, it is not the same thing as being ethical.
Both these companies sell cell phones and related products. Suppose that a major new study shows that extended cell phone usage significantly increases the user’s risk of getting a brain tumor. Will Cisco and Costco provide this information to their customers promptly, voluntarily, and completely? Or will they, like most other companies, ignore the study, or spin the study’s conclusions to minimize the likely negative impact on revenues?

Being ethical is certainly good karma. It is good for the individual soul, for humanity, and for the environment. But it is not always good for business success (short-term or long-term). Sometimes ethics and business objectives are irreconcilably at odds with each other. In such cases, one needs some other criterion, e.g., spirituality (or dharma), to make the right choice.

Vijay Gupta, Cupertino, CA

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...