Congratulations to Anita Felicelli on the refreshingly bold analysis of the widely-publicized Delhi gang-rape and the ensuing outburst in the media (India Currents, February 2013, “Flames of Outrage”). Amidst the loud clamoring to lynch anything contributing to this outrage (coming more from the Indian writers based in the west than from the Western Press) Anita’s article brings sanity and objectivity to the debate. Arguing against the notion of “what happened is unique to India,” her comparison of American and Indian rape culture presents the proper perspective that rape is a universal problem that cuts across cultures, and there is a “frightening prevalence of negative attitudes towards women” common to India and America.
European, African and relevantly Chinese and Japanese experiences regarding rape need study and correlation to the Indian context. The quotes from the best-seller novel “A Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” by Stieg Larson (2008), the basic plot of the novel being the violent and incestuous rapes of a girl, relates some Swedish experience: “Eighteen percent of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man;” “forty-six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man;” “thirteen percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to aggravated sexual assault outside of a sexual relationship;” “ninety-two percent of women in Sweden who have been subjected to sexual assault have not reported the most recent violent incident to the police.”
Felicelli suggests parents educating sons in nurturing a healthy respect towards women. Traditionally this had been the practice in Indian families. One wonders whether this has changed recently. Her conclusion that the women’s dress has little to do with inciting such acts seems to be contradicted by the results of a recent survey in a Tamil newspaper. About two thirds answered that that was the root cause of most sexual crimes is women.
Arun Sekar, Morgan Hill, CA
Cubans are not Mexicans
Jaya Padmanabhan’s editorial (India Currents, February 2013, “The Shadows of Twelve Million”) addresses the issue of twelve million undocumented foreigners in the U.S. Most of them are from Mexico due simply to the two thousand mile land border between the two countries and the affinity between the demographics of the two countries. A sizeable fraction of territory in the U.S. now was Mexican territory about a hundred years ago. The U.S. is now working on legislation to comprehensively address this issue again. The Republican party has seemingly joined in the effort out of necessity rather than conviction, due to the recent national elections.
The spokesperson for the Republican party in this matter is the junior Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. He is of Cuban descent. His status in this is anomalous because, the only affinity he has with this large group is the common mother tongue, Spanish. There will not be a single Cuban in this group of twelve million due to special situations. Ever since Cuba was taken over by Fidel Castro (late 1950s) the United States government has proclaimed all his opponents as friends of this country. The doctrine could be called “enemy of an enemy is a friend.” Enabling legislation by the U.S. Congress such as the Cuban Readjustment Act, (1966) and the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy” (1994) are in effect now. The net effect is that a privileged position is offered to any Cuban fugitive who lands on American soil, a “fugitive status automatically.’ This prevents deportation and gives a work permit and a cash award for resettlement expenses. There is also a U.S. Government office in Havana which grants regular immigration visas to 20,000 Cubans annually. The twelve million group is denied any of these privileges, as we all know. They are treated Arizona style, shot at, chased by dogs, looked at suspiciously, and identity checked constantly. Any special role that Senator Rubio is given in the legislative processes is automatically resented by the twelve million group. Rubio is a dead weight on their shoulders hindering their progress.
Recent exposure of the senator through his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union speech has apparently not helped him much either. During that presentation, barring the gulping of vast amounts of water, he generously acknowledged the benefits he has received from the federal government through subsidized student loans for himself and Medicare coverage for his parents. A little later in the speech, however, he quickly reverts to the familiar “talking points” of his party such as smaller government, lower taxes, “makers instead of takers” et al. In this context, I am reminded of Dr. Manette in the famous work, “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. Manette, a British physician becomes a French prisoner of war during the revolution and is assigned the duty of repairing French army boots in a dungeon. Back in England after the war, Manette noticed that, under mental stress, he quickly forgets whatever he was before and involuntarily reverts back to the trauma days of war to rush back to his work bench to work on an old pair of boots. Senator Rubio is inconsistent and inarticulate in his speeches. In my view, he is either a consummate hypocrite or “a green eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on.” As for the legislation in slow progress, I have misgivings in believing that the opposition party will agree to any amnesty that enables these twelve million to become U.S. citizens in due course. In their short sighted view, the Republicans would rather not have a light at the end of the tunnel shine on the sign AMNESTY.
P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA
Embracing New Skills
Kudos to Gayathri for writing the article on education (India Currents, February 2013, “Is Rote Learning Really the Answer?”) Rote learning is a thing of the past. We are in the 21st century and should be embracing the 4Cs of 21st century skills—communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. These are the skills that our students need in their life and work. The examples provided in the article speak to that and we have to give our children the opportunity and encouragement to bloom.
Arati Nagaraj, Saratoga, CA
Great article (India Currents, February 2013, “Is Rote Learning Really the Answer?”) summarizing an important issue. We just returned from Hong Kong where we witnessed first-hand many facets of your argument, and concluded it is more important to be creative and innovative than “book smart.”
Chris G, online
The article on rote learning (India Currents, February 2013, “Is Rote Learning Really the Answer?”) by Gayathri Chkravarthy is excellent. I wish more and more desi parents read this article and stop pressuring their kids into going to all these classes. Lot of times I wonder if the parents are doing all this preparation for their kids or for themselves out of a compliance with peer pressure?
Best Issue So Far
I just came back from Canada and found the February Issue of India Currents waiting at home. It is the best issue so far and it is worse than the next issue that I will be looking forward to read.