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Modi Lovers, Modi Haters
This is in response to the article penned by Joe Samagond and Vidya Pradhan as well as the cover story by Vamsee Juluri (“The Modi Model,” “Speak Up, Prime Minister Modi!” September 2015)

Prime Minister Modi has been in office for only one year and has already sowed the seeds for a great future for India and surrounding countries.

i) The extremely complex border with Bangladesh has been resolved and a new fencing is taking place. This will stop illegal migration on that border.

ii) The Naga insurgency has put their trust in Mr. Modi and agreed on a negotiated solution (rather than an armed conflict) to their cultural heritage preservation concerns.

iii) Millions of poor Indians have been given the opportunity to open bank accounts whereby they can secure affordable bank loans rather than paying hefty interest rates to private loan-sharks.

iv) The River Ganges is being cleaned.

v) Mr. Modi has been able to secure the trust of like minded countries (Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) within South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), in establishing transport and economic links.

vi) Mr. Modi has started hydro-electric projects with Nepal and Bhutan
vii) Japan, UAE and other countries have already pledged large sums to tackle India’s complex infrastructure projects.

viii) Mr. Modi has convinced Australia to supply uranium.

ix) With France, India has agreed on nuclear power plants and defense equipment contracts and defense and agricultural research with Israel.

x) Mr. Modi has clamped down on government bureaucrats who were wasting the countries time and resources.

xi) To the Chinese, he had warned them that if they did not help equalize trade imbalance with India, he will pass anti dumping laws affecting Chinese goods. This is why China has invested US $20 billion in India’s infrastructure projects.

xii) Mr. Modi has been working 18 hours a day for the Indian people, as compared to Congress leaders who were busy looting the country, left and right.

In short, Mr. Modi is a blessing to India. Jai Hind.
Hemant Shah, San Jose, CA

The architect of the 2002 state-sponsored ethnic cleansing, including a series of gang-rapes and burning humans alive, is being called humanistic in your cover story by Vamsee Juluri? (“The Modi Model,” September 2015)

The 2002 riots was yet another holocaust except that the victims were not Jews. If Modi reflects any humanism, then Mussolini and Hitler are angels!

Those who have any conscientiousness need to examine:
i) Hindu fundamentalists referring to non-Hindus as bastards [RSS/BJP].

ii) While the cause of fire in Godhra’s  train remains unknown in spite of the conspiracy and aggressive manipulations by Modi’s government, the author is echoing  Modi’s justification of the prolonged gang-rapes and burning humans alive in 2002 riots.
iii) In most communal riots, 90% of the casualty is of Muslims, which comprise only 15% of the population. How? Why?

iv) The media is controlled by the 80% pro Hindu majority, portraying propaganda as truth.
Congressman Edolphus Towns once reported on India (1999): “… This ethnic cleansing has taken the lives of over 250,000 Sikhs since 1984, over 200,000 Christians in Nagaland since 1947, over 60,000 Muslims in Kashmir since 1988, and thousands  of … [other] minority peoples.”
Ron A. Patel, Watsonville

The September issue had two readable articles about India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (“The Modi Model,” “Speak Up, Prime Minister Modi”). Vidya Pradhan and Jawahar “Joe” Samagond basically rehashed what other Modi-bashers have been harping on ad-nauseum. What about the scores of communal riots in several other parts of India in the last decades—instigated and spearheaded by “other” politicians? Modi was cleared of all “charges.”

There is a pronounced bias against Indian culture, ancient Indian history and values, and Indian literature, which is evidenced everywhere with zealots trying to convert Hindus to other religions in India.

Yes, some NGOs have been shut down in India, Greenpeace being one example, but as per the report that CBI gave to the Indian Supreme Court recently, over 90 percent of these three million NGOs have not submitted their returns or balance sheets and other financial details to the authorities. Clearly there are glaring irregularities and financial problems—foreign donations/contributions included. That’s not a witch-hunt, it calls for strong action.
Talking about “slogans,” why forget that Mahatma Gandhi gave the slogan “Quit India,” Subhas Bose had “Dilli Chalo” and “Jai Hind” that stirred the country and brought freedom. Another inspiring slogan by Lal Bahadur Shastri was “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.” Vidya Pradhan and Joe Samagond write about Modi’s “Make in India,” but credit Nehru with that, forgetting the emphasis on “socialism” and the fact that the public sector was a disaster under the Nehru-Gandhi family leadership.

I suggest that the authors read the “Modi Model” article in the same issue of India Currents, written brilliantly by Vamsee Juluri, on what Mr. Modi is, what his vision is, what direction he has given the country, and what he hopes to achieve in 50 months as opposed to 50 years. Please keep an open mind, for a change.
Yatindra Bhatnagar, email

The article by Joe Samagond and Vidya Pradhan (“Speak Up, Prime Minister Modi”) is an example of pseudo-secularist thinking. Here are some key issues to keep in mind:
i) Fifteen months is too short time to change India’s 60 years of mis-rule and the culture of corruption.

ii) The Godhra burning of kaar sevaks,  (Hindus) was also a hideous crime, and none of these pseudo-secularists uttered a word of protest.

iii) India is a very strange country. We got independence from Queen Elizabeth and now we have Queen Sonia, attempting to  rule us. One thing to remember is that Mr. Modi is immensely qualified and 1000% better equipped to do the job than Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi.

Just cut Mr. Modi some slack. Wait a few years and then judge him, please!
Prakash Deshmukh, San Jose, CA

Go Ahead, Wear that Bindi!
Referring to Maya Murthy’s article (“Why is That White Girl Wearing a Bindi?” September 2015), yes, I am a white girl, and sometimes I wear a bindi in public. Not for decoration. For me it is the focus-point of the third (spiritual) eye. After morning-puja, trying to keep the attention there through the day.

Since I don’t like to attract attention from others (especially with the contrast of my very light skin) in public I use gopi-chandan instead of the bright red kumkum.

At your age being totally accepted by all your peers feels very important. But don’t let your mind twist that “proof of otherness” into one of second-class status.

When you clearly realize the great beautiful civilization that you are from, you will be met with respect.

Yes, there always will be some people who reject anything that differs from their own ways. Narrow-minded people. Not just in the United States; I experienced that in India, too.
Different doesn’t mean less.

I hope that if that bindi really has a true spiritual meaning for you, you will come to wear it with a relaxed attitude of someone proudly representing your  world, background, and inner being. Don’t wait till this world becomes perfect; it never will. But you can stand up and speak up to set straight the deformed representations that you encounter.

Also, being a Hindu is not something only Indians have a right to. Otherwise great souls like Vivekananda and Yogananda and several more, would not have bothered to come to the United States to share their wealth.
 Varenya, email

As I read Maya Murthy’s article on wearing the bindi (“Why is That White Girl Wearing a Bindi?” September 2015), I was reminded of Sandip Roy’s award winning cover story (“Dot busters or Cool Dots?” India Currents, March 1999). The cover picture was of several pre-teen girls—blondes, brunettes, and redheads, with a variety of skin colors—playing together while wearing bindis and saris. The article describes a program in which these young girls came together, learning about Indian culture as a way of combating bigotry.

Since then, I have played music at many Indian weddings, and have seen many heart-warming variations on this sight. I remember one overheard conversation between two teenage girls, one Indian, one blonde, both in saris and bindis, both with California Valley Girl accents.” Why don’t you come to the festival at my temple this weekend, girlfriend?” “Do you really think I’d be welcome?” “Totally! There would be lots of awesome food and music and stuff. And it would give us a chance to wear saris again.”

Ms. Murthy protests the wearing of the bindi by white women “without permission.” Does that invitation count as permission? Would the Indian girl be authorized to give permission if she was born in America and spoke nothing but English? If not, who does the authorizing, and who authorizes the authorizers? I realize that colonialism has produced deep emotional wounds on colonized peoples. Ms. Murthy might be conflating these wounds with the emotional vulnerability caused by being an intelligent and articulate young woman balanced between two cultures, and still finding her place in each.

Ms. Murthy, I am very sorry to hear that you have encountered classmates who have considered you “backward” for wearing a bindi. Encountering such people is an inevitable part of getting through high school, and they only have as much power over you as you are willing to give them. You don’t have to divorce yourself from your culture to keep your “place in society.” Any place in a society which requires that isn’t worth keeping.

You might try talking to the girls, both Indian and Anglo, who are wearing both bindis and blue jeans. They might have some fashion tips that will help you appropriate what you need from each of your two cultures to express who you truly are.
Teed Rockwell, email

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...