Please accept our congratulations on India Currents’ editorial integrity and business acumen. It is such a pleasure to receive it every month and notice the quality, diversity and relevance of the articles.
Birendra Prasad, Canada
Train to Nowhere
I completely agree with Rameysh Ramdas’s views on the rail project (India Currents, August 2012, Forum—Should California Go Ahead with High-Speed Rail?).
The estimated cost of the total project, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, is $69 billion. When the voters approved this project in 2008, the cost was $45 billion for building the rail from Sacramento to San Diego. The distance has been reduced and the cost has gone up. If we calculate the distance, the cost has doubled in just four years. By the time the project progresses, the cost will continue to rise. I will not be surprised if it ends up at $169 billion by 2029, when this project is expected to be complete. We have a proven track record of projects being under the estimate and ultimately costing us three or four times more. Take for example the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge under construction, it rose from under $2 billion to more than $7 billion, and it is not complete yet.
The ridership was projected at 55 million passengers per year, and now it has been scaled down to 20-25 million per year. The fare was projected at $55 for San Francisco to Los Angeles, and now the new projection is $85, that too before the work has even started. At today’s rate a family of four has to pay $680 for a round trip to L.A. plus transport to the station at San Francisco and renting a car in L.A. My family can drive cheaper than that and it comes with relative freedom.
We are in a deep recession; schools are closing, police and fire services are being trimmed, cities are filing for bankruptcy, and billions of dollars are being wasted on this “train to nowhere” project. This project is Jerry Brown’s poster child. He was a disaster when he was Governor in the 1970s. He has not learned anything from his past mistakes. He is pouring money into this sink-hole, which our children and grand-children will have to fill up.
The latest public opinion poll shows only 39% people in California support this project. If we do the math it means 61% of the people in California are against this idea. We live in a democratic society. The laws are made by the majority will of the people. It is time to stop this project before Jerry Brown sinks California any further.
Virendra Jain, Concord, CA
The Insane Moniker
Thanks for your editorial comments regarding Holmes, the Colorado shooter (India Currents, August 2012, By Reason of Insanity). It brought to mind a comment I read regarding the Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, who killed eight people when he bombed some Oslo government buildings. Breivik wanted (as I understood it) to be found sane so he can be a political prisoner. Then there is the issue of police assisted suicide. This is the moniker used by the police to explain someone firing on the police and being killed. It is all very unsettling.
Keep up the commentary, we need it.
Patrick Golden, CA
Home Grown and Milk Fed
While reading Kalpana Mohan’s juicy dissertation on the varieties of mangoes in India (India Currents, August 2012, My Summer Tango with the Mango), I see our own mango trees, from my window. No, we are not in India. We are right here in our home in Fullerton in Southern California. We have three mature mango trees in our back yard, about 25 years old. They yield mangoes, large in size but not good enough in quality to compare with the supply in local markets these days.
These mango trees were planted from the seeds from Hayden mangoes that were available in Hawaii several decades ago. In a good season, we harvest about four to five hundred fruits and share them freely with friends in the community. They are called “Swathy’s mangoes” here because my wife insists that they are home grown and milk fed. By her. I won’t vouch for the latter qualifier. Let me share a voice mail message on our telephone a couple of weeks ago, “I am going to India for four weeks. Keep the mangoes for me. Do not give them to my husband.”
I question the brand fidelity of these fruits. Our back yard trees do not resemble the parent Hayden variety. I also recall two varieties in my village in Kerala: Kotta and Mylappu. I am sure they were not produced by grafting techniques More often than not, they were random seeds thrown by some one, some time that took seed. I am puzzled as to how any one of the fruits we pick up at random in India can be labeled Neelam or Banganapalli unless they were commercially grown from grafting saplings.
P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA
The all too familiar scene of violence came closer home for Sikh Americans with the horrific slaying and injuries to devotees at the Sikh temple near Milwaukeeby a lone guman. Early reports revealed that the perpetrator was a member of a white supremacy music group.
We don’t require the skills of a Sherlock Holmes to conclude that this was clearly a hate crime targeted against the Sikh community because of their distinctive appearance—the turban and beard. Sikhs are often mistaken to be Muslims because their articles of faith closely resemble the Afghan tribal people. At least 7,000 hate crimes have been committed against Sikhs post 911. Incredibly, the FBI does not collect data on crimes committed against Sikh Americans. 92 members of Congress signed a letter to the Justice Department urging the FBI to collect such information. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) led the effort warning that that Sikhs “were acutely susceptible to violence because of their appearance.” Better tracking would enable the FBI to be far more pro-active. Tragically, this request was ignored. Clearly, the thrust of such efforts should be to promote religious tolerance and not to single out the Muslim community. All violence is anathema to our society and must not be tolerated. The Obama administration and U.S. lawmakers have lost yet another opportunity to mount an assault on much needed legislation to control the purchase and use of these terrifying weapons. Columbine, Aurora, Milwaukee, Texas—what’s next?
Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, CA
There’s More to Spain
The travel article (India Currents, August 2012, Sensory Overload in Madrid) was very well written but it could be elaborated upon by adding details on Barcelona and Seville.
Barcelona is the second largest city of Spain, where the locals speak Catalan & Spanish, has long associations with our Chess wizard Vishy (Viswanath) Anand, has the fastest train connections with Madrid and has an effect local Metro system.
Seville is the third largest city connected with equally fast trains, has numerous cultural activities, and boasts of its buildings of one color as in Jaipur.
I hope Kalpana Sunder will find time for a second visit to Spain as her writings will be welcomed by your readers.
Des Khurana, Anaheim, CA
I’d like to express my appreciation for the cover story on the criminal justice system (India Currents, July 2012, The Color of Justice)
It was very well scripted, detailed and bold.
Shashi Desai, CA
Dr. Mahadevan’s article (India Currents, August 2012, Nobel Trivia) triggered some Nobel related recollections. I strongly recommend to readers the book Ordinary Geniuses written by Professor Gino Segre, which covers several aspects of Nobel Prize winners, including their political beliefs and social and intellectual friendships, which allowed them to get past all obstacles in the pursuit of knowledge. Many may not realize the contributions and impact of several quantum and astrophysicists to the science of Genomics. Professor Chandra’s works, his association with Niels Bohr and Hans Albrecht Bethe are well chronicled in the book.
Notable are the contributions made by institutions like Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Rockefeller Foundation, Caltech, and Columbia that promote and encourage scientists. I leave you with a quote from John Wheeler to mull over: “Matter tells space how to curve.
Space tells matter how to move.”
Viswanathan, San Jose, CA
A Stirring Column
For years I have been reading Sarita Sarvate’s column, (India Currents, The Last Word by Sarita Sarvate) from 2,500 miles away in Michigan and then from a closer distance of a little over 25 miles, while I lived in the Bay Area for seven years. It is once again from the other coast I say how directly her column speaks to me.
As a fellow Nagpurian Sarvate’s recent column (India Currents, August 2012, I am Gulliver, I am Sindbad) struck a chord, she began exploring the globe after being raised in this provinical town, while I am re-discovering the area I was born in after spending decades in different parts of India and America. What Sarvate wrote spoke to me long before I dared to take what my pen had to say beyond the acadmic compound. Now, as a writer in Hindi, Marathi and English, her words still continue to carry a special meaning.
Thank you India Currents for closing with Sarvate’s “Last Word,” a column that time and again has provoked me, encouraged and stirred me. Once again I found myself mulling over her thoughts as I read what she had to say about “travelling solo.” As someone who is still learning to look at each trip I take as an adventure, often begining with a little trepidation and ending with such exhilaration, Sarvate’s words made me realize, as she has done so frequently, a solo voice can take us on many paths we never thought were possible or even existed.
Waiting to read another commentary by Sarita Sarvate, who drew me to India Currents in the eighties.
Latika Mangrulkar, Michigan