The results of India’s parliamentary election demonstrate that Indians know how to exercise their democratic rights. The National Democratic Allaince (NDA) failed to get a mandate only because their leaders were using religious flavor to run the government. Vajpayee and a few other leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were good, but they failed to stand up firmly for a secular India. It is proved beyond doubt that without a Hindutva platform, Ram Mandir agitation, and acceptance of Sangh Parivar’s agenda, BJP has not much to offer to the Indian public.

On the other hand, Congress and her khichadi alliance have received another, and maybe the last, chance to correct their old mistake of playing party and caste politics, and paying lip service to secular and social (friends of poor) ideals.

The major religious minority (Muslims) suffered under almost 50 years of Congress rule and much worse in Gujarat under the BJP government. The only difference was that after communal riots, Congress was at least putting bandage on their wounds, unlike the Modi government that rubbed salt on the wounds of victims. Indian Muslims are afraid that BJP in opposition may again use Singhal and Tagodia to pump up their Hindu votes.

Indian Muslims do not want appeasement or special treatment from Congress; they pray for equal rights, self-respect, security, and above all, justice.

Zen S. Bhatia, Ontario, CA



Krishna Prasad wrote about the disgusting state of Indian restaurants and the multi-ethnic movie theater (Letters, IC, May 2004). I suggest that people who are concerned about cleanliness should complain at the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health at (408) 918-3400. In the past I have registered complaints with them about Indian restaurants that handle food with their bare hands. The agency sends someone to investigate right away. You can even find this agency on the web. Lodging a complaint does not take more than a few minutes. I think a lot of Indian restaurants and other ethnic businesses get away with unsanitary conditions because people don’t complain to the authorities.

I have also found that DVDs purchased at Indian stores don’t last very long. I once contacted a manufacturer in New York to complain about the quality of their DVDs and was told that DVDs are being manufactured outside the country and sold here illegally under the labels of legitimate manufacturers. The DVD manufacturers are frustrated with battling this level of piracy. The manufacturer suggested that I ask the store manager to write down the name of the DVDs that I purchased. Then, if I had any problems with the DVD, I could contact the manufacturer with a legitimate complaint. Most stores will give you a small printout that does not list the names of the DVDs purchased.

My hope is that if all of us keep complaining to the authorities when we see unfair business practices, with time things will change.

Deepa Pai, Sunnyvale, CA



It is strange that we call gay marriage “same-sex marriage” and don’t call heterosexual marriage “two-sex” or “different-sex marriage.” The focus on “sex” when referring to gay relationships leads us naturally to look into religious texts for moral standards, perhaps because of a hint of something dirty and sinful to do with lust in sex. It’s even funny. All that is physical and sensual, not normal for sure.

During the intensive debate and public education on gay marriage in Canada this year, I learned that it is more about same-gender relationship (social, financial, and emotional) than sex. When I think of “same-gender marriage” and “different-gender marriage” it helps me to reflect on human rights in our changing society. Krishnamurti, in discussions with David Bohm, once said that Word is a Tradition. We make it, use it, fix it or change it. Accordingly, then word makes the thought.

Sultan Somjee, via e-mail



How ironic it is that President Bush opposes the publication of photographs of soldiers’ coffins out of “respect for the privacy” of the grieving families. Since when has this president shown any respect for our military people? If he truly wanted to demonstrate respect, Bush could start by admitting that he manufactured the need for this war using faulty evidence; providing appropriate body armor for those he puts in harm’s way in Iraq; providing adequate health care for soldiers to prevent delays in obtaining medical services; providing sufficient pay so soldiers don’t have to rely on food stamps to feed their families; attending funerals honoring our fallen soldiers; and not disparaging the record of American war heroes, such as Senator Kerry. Were the president to dare do this, it might aggravate his constituents and cause political damage, so I’m not holding my breath. Until then, this obsession with banning soldiers’ coffins from view smells awfully fishy. At best, it is a violation of the first amendment. At worst, it is a cynical expression of contempt for all who serve in our armed forces and for the truth and consequences of this ungodly war.

Cheryl Levy, Los Gatos, CA