A Wake-Up Call

I am writing to thank you for publishing the cover story by Jayshree Chander (Hazards of Toxic Spills and Leaks, India Currents, July 2014) about the 1984 Union Carbide Gas Disaster in Bhopal, India and the chemical leak by Freedom Industries earlier this year in West Virginia.

Chander’s article is an important “wake-up” call to citizens and government regulators alike. Thank you to Jayshree Chander for the well-written article, and thank you to India Currents for having the courage to print such an important story.

David Strayer, Los Angeles, California

Reasonable Hindus

Gopi Kallayil’s article (How to Float to the Top, India Currents, July 2014) is a fine piece of literature. Life in this world is full of troubles. How to remain peaceful in a strife-torn world is the question on every mind. Gopi rightly says “Yoga is the answer.” Internet may cost money, but the  inner-net costs nothing. Connecting to self is connecting to God. A googler has become a bugler who blows his bugle in praise of yoga. This article is like a bottle of healthy tonic offered free of cost to an agitated mind. When you write, “… most reasonable Hindus. They may not care for the ultra-nationalism and minority-abusing that some Hindutva leaders did, but they do care about their religion, their nation and their place in the world,” you speak for the balanced nationalists who care about India and that goes for many people of Indian origin all over the world.

T.S Krishnamurthi, San Ramon, CA

Want Miracles?

Why are we allowing the Congress to be condescending to Mr. Modi and his achievements in the article by Minister of Parliament Shashi Tharoor (Narendra Modi 2.0?, India Currents, July 2014)?

Modi is the first Prime Minister since Independence who is attempting to do good for the country and make it secular and at the same time safe for the Hindus, and we want miracles. There was little to nothing accomplished in the 67 years prior, except divide and rule, and now we want a successful, rich, progressive India in a 100 days or less.

If only we were as critical with the past, we won’t be in such a sorry state now.

Three cheers to Modi.

Usha Kris, India

Teacher Evaluations

Regarding the editorial (Teachers—The Best of Us?, India Currents, July 2012) I think most of us recognize the complexity of teaching and the cognitive demands it makes. We can also agree that there is a small percentage of mediocre teachers with tenure. Mediocre teachers need coaching and mentoring as in any other profession. Firing them will certainly not help the looming crisis—a 1.2M teacher shortage over the next couple of years. The escalating fight against teacher tenure has less to do with firing bad teachers (frankly, if they were awful teachers, they should not have been granted tenure in the first place) and more to do with school boards and city governments manipulating and stonewalling to gain some advantage over teacher hiring to minimize their bottom line. As in most situations, “follow the money” to the source of the real issue.

I agree with Jaya Padmanabhan—Why join the conflict? Why not propose solutions toward effective professional development and fair evaluation processes? And if all else fails, then by all means, dismiss teachers through a peer review that guarantees due process. After all, tenure does not guarantee employment for life, it only enforces due process dismissal over employment-at-will.

Chandana Reddy-Sinha, Los Altos Hill, CA

The ruling by a California Superior court judge, Rolf M.Treu, declaring  that teacher tenure protection  in California schools is unconstitutional brings to mind a folk story from India in which a grandpa got upset when his visiting grandchildren complained that they were scared at night hearing mice in the attic of the house scratching on the wood frame. Grandpa chose the obvious remedy: he burned the house down to kill all the mice.

Jaya Padmanabhan points out  in her editorial that job guarantee is one important  incentive to attract and retain good teachers. The learned judge struck that down first. The much maligned teaching profession  is still the only group to whom we entrust our greatest asset, our children, during the most impressionable years of their early life. It is  very possible that the nine students who filed the complaint  with the court are just a front for the ideologically motivated backers to push their anti-union crusade against the teaching profession.

Perhaps these students have good teachers even now. They maybe  too distracted to notice the difference.

To be fair, I admit that a two year evaluation is inadequate to sort out the good from the bad teachers before granting tenure.

P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA

Motherhood, Change and Love

Several articles in your July 2014 issue resonated with me: Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan on the value of “change,” Dilnavaz Bamboat on the value of “motherhood,” and Vibha Akkaraju who clearly loves her Mac Air and her domesticity. All are beautifully written and make us stretch ourselves. They are curiously, connected.

Change being inevitable, be it babies, bodies, businesses, the issue actually is: how do we assimilate the new and/or let go of the old? Cultivating “motherly love” or “maatru bhava” helps. It requires of us a host of paradoxical qualities: devotion and dispassion, empathy and discipline, nurturance and sacrifice. We need both Eros and Logos qualities to grow life’s network, to keep it flowing, to keep it trim, to “see” value.

We can sense the presence or absence of this love-quality—be it a family, a website, a book, a business, a person. And of course, it need not be “tethered” to a uterus.

Mala Setty, Long Beach, CA

Contributing to America?

The article by V.V. Sundaram (The Journey to Citizenship, India Currents, July 2012) is great on paper but are the majority of the people immigrating to the United States doing this for their own selfish motives or just because it suits them and their children? How many are paying taxes on their world wide income and abiding by the laws of this country or even acclimatizing to the American way. There are so many immigrants who are using this for convenience of travel and to receive social benefits. Definitely NOT because they love this great land or for doing volunteer work for numerous organizations and helping others.

Path to Citizenship should not be this easy for this category who are mostly retired people. Majority of us are hard working tax paying American citizens and struggle to make a living each and every day. We are exhausting our resources by sponsoring people who are not going to really contribute to America but only be a burden on the system. How long will future generations keep paying for this? The children who sponsor them should be responsible for paying for their medical, not the states who are broke and cannot even take care of their tax abiding citizens.

Jessica, NY

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 36-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...