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|April 16, 1998||
How readers responded to Varsha Bhosle's earlier columns
Date sent: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 23:46:29 EDT
Excellent journalist. Gives a direct slap on the face of pseudo-seculars. Keep it up. I always look forward for your articles.
Date sent: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 22:58:32 -0400
You are indeed doing a great job by fearlessly voicing and penning your opinions on many subjects. I read your articles on both the capital punishment and swadeshi subjects. Well, I agree with most of your views. Please keep it up and continue writing such enlightening articles. I am sure someday there will be a revolution which will change the state of India. Your articles might be the catalysts in achieving it.
Date sent: Tue, 14 Apr 1998 02:51:19 PDT
Brilliant! We need more forthright, no-holds-barred journalists who think clearly, and write what they mean.
P Kothari, Washington DC
Date sent: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 12:42:02 -0700 (PDT)
For once Varsha's article is without her (usual) right-wing, biased, and religion-based rhetoric! Only goes to prove her ability to write on non-confrontational issues.
The Indian consumer is again taken for granted! The BJP government (in the name of swadeshi), has delivered another blow to the crumbling economy. While the entire world (including some itsy-bitsy) African countries are competing globally, the BJP (in turn influenced by the right wing RSS) is contemplating self-sufficiency without external help! Without significant foreign investment in core industrial sectors, India's emergence as a strong economic force will remain a dream of the past!
But why will the BJP prefer development? It ain't going to happen. An enlightened population is less susceptible to manipulation (which Indian politicians are good at). Also, a commercially deprived society can easily be abused.
Of what use is swadeshi to India in a competitive global economy? Our insensible government has completely demoralised swadeshi. For instance, the obvious hypocrisy of a selective policies (allowing foreign investment in certain industrial sectors) is appalling. Such a piecemeal effort will have no contributory effect to the overall objective of a strong self-sustaining economy.
The irony is Indians continue to live on "stuff" (without which life will come to a grinding halt) that is not their creation. Ignoring this fact, the BJP wants to slap swadeshi on the Indian voter. Indians were just beginning to experience the (positive/negative) effects of an open market economy. However, with the current wave of swadeshi, Indians can only expect more poverty, a bloated bureaucracy, sick PSUs, inferior goods and services, and above all lack of choices.
For any country requires extensive investment if it has to grow and compete in a global economy. Investment ensures the improvement of infrastructure, increased communication, and better technology can improve Indian living standards. For long we have been subjected to the drudgery of bad choices. The Indian consumer does not need this anymore. This concept of Self-sustenance has indeed severe major drawbacks/consequences.
PS: Varsha, your irrelevant comparison of Sonia to a "Pesky Fly" was unwarranted. Can you refrain from such childish journalism?
Date sent: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 20:59:43 +0530
Dear Varsha Bhosle,
You need to learn one simple fact: Swadeshi is not equal to monopoly (aka: License Raj).....Get it, Got it? Good !
Jagdish B Talreja
Date sent: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 15:32:25 +0100
Full marks for the economics. Now, if only you could develop that libertarian streak just a little further, and cherish religious pluralism as well!
Date sent: Sun, 12 Apr 1998 21:26:44 -0400
I am relatively new to the Internet, but enjoyed reading Varsha Bhosle's article. I will try to follow up. Kindly send me the personal e-mail of Varsha Bhosle, or request her to reply to this letter. I would like to know where are you located in cyberspace physically, in India where exactly? I am in the Bahamas.
Dr Namjoshi, Rediff On The NeT is based in Bombay.
Date sent: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 16:36:20 -0700
You have finally written a column that I can whole-heartedly agree with. It is heartening to note that even among the breed of hardcore Hindutvawadis lies an individual who can look through the swadeshi farce that the RSS is promoting.
Most other articles that you write are filled with as many objectionable to obnoxious comments as valid assertions. The dubious parts of your columns compromise the very valid arguments that you sometimes make. This article was a refreshing change. Hope you keep up the good work.
Date sent: Sun, 12 Apr 1998 11:14:47 -0700
Desi "swadeshis," forget that MNCs like McDonalds have a past record of putting the money back in the communities where they conduct business. To the politicians, it is never enough!! The crap about national interest, anti-vegetarianism etc is nothing but hogwash. Varsha's article hit it right on the head. This is the first time that I read her column, and I plan to read it more frequently.
Dr Bharat Bhimani
Date sent: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 22:13:08 +0530
In my opinion, we need foreign help in strengthening our infrastructure, such as roads, airports, dams etc. But we will have to certainly protect our Bikaneri bhujiyas, Agra pethas or Mathura pedas from these foreigners.
Good article, but not the same as what millions of Hindus all over the world always expect from you Varsha!!!
Keep it up!
Shashi Bhushan Tyagi, Medellin Colombia
Date sent: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 08:15:45 -0400
I agree that many people are using swadeshi to meet their needs, but surely, I am against letting the junk food businesses flourish. Let us open the market for infrastructure. Already the US government bans the export of 300 MHz CPUs for computers and softwares with 128 bit encryptions outside the US.
We can do without burgers and other stuff and what's more, our people can cook better. When it comes to cars, some of the designs of the cars sold in India are at least 10 years old.
I somehow feel that internal liberalisation should be done first. Instead of opening up the food market and killing it, we should open the infrastructure sector like electricity etc. A stiff competition there will automatically counter the shortcomings of those areas.
When you ask for investments in key areas, they usually shy away or charge an arm and leg of the economy. All the previous governments have been rash in giving an edge to foreign investors. If you see the infrastructural development due to foreign investment, it has remained more or less the same since the liberalisation process.
No matter who is using swadeshi for their own personal ends, it is a better way of keeping the MNCs on their toes in order to get a better bargain.
Nagendra R Setty
Date sent: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 02:49:51 -0400
What nice words?
"Forget televisions and computers, but is there anything the West has invented and instituted that we can do without from minute to minute? We wake up in the morning, peer at the clock, switch off the electricity to the air-conditioner, brush with a toothpaste, flush the wc, activate the water-heater, use a shower, soap and talcum powder, shave with a safety razor, splash a cologne... And all this before the fully-awake stage.
Fact is -- cue for Hindutvawadis to faint -- we don't even make decently absorbent and comfortable sanitary pads."
As a scientist, I totally disagree with your writing. I think connecting words with the present situation are the prime weapon of the so called hot journalists. Inventions and their application are not restricted to boundaries. All you know is their applications and based on that you wrote the above words. None of the inventions that came in forms of your "toothpaste" etc is entirely invented by your "sasural," equal scientific involvement has been given by India in terms of scientific team work.
You may not believe in it by virtue of being a journalist that the precursor of science was given by India. There is nothing like swadeshi or videshi.
McDonalds and KFC are for you and the people in Bombay and Delhi, not for the people in villages. Do not try to compare two graphs on the same scale. Try to see both values. All village people in India believe in the "Holy Cow." Don't try to mess their beliefs. I hope you understand.
Allow McDonald to sell beef and become an open market for the betterment of Indian economy. As far as population is concerned, have you ever written a column on how to control the population of India? Or what could be done about it? You will say that is not your work? Wow!! I would suggest only one thing? Stop criticising any damn thing and confuse innocent people because neither you nor I have a concept of improving the situation.
What you have done besides writing/criticising the present situation.
"As I see it, what India needs today is not just foreign investment and foreign acumen, but also foreign business ethics and, above all, a sound foreign flogging on its swadeshi posterior."
Yes! Let the American come and rule you in the garb of teaching foreign ethics and acumen. When time comes they will do it. Just waiting for your signal. Please understand the business language while doing business in America. Spend 10 years, and I am sure you will rewrite the above words.
Shashi Kant Sharma
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 21:46:15 +0000
In her column Varsha writes: "Since Independence, apart from the stray J R D Tata (whose ancestors were foreigners, anyway)."
What difference does it make if his ancestors were from some other place. Does it make him any less Indian than Varsha? What is the need for passing such a comment?
I think it is completely unwarranted.
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 17:29:42 -0400 (EDT)
I wonder if Varsha is aware of a very widely acknowledged truth -- that foreign investment should only be allowed when it is somehow *beneficial* to the nation, and that a nation needs foreign investment the most in ventures that require high-capital investments. So naturally, the question arises -- is opening of a McDonalds beneficial to the nation?
Well, it *does* increase competition in the restaurant business (which is good), and it also *might* increase consumer spending (which is also good). So yeah, I definitely think politicians who oppose Mickey D's are a just a bunch of delusional hypocrites. However, it is *equally* true that India needs foreign help to build highways and bridges more than it needs it to make burgers for the rich children of Bombay's elite.
And as far I can tell, that is what swadeshi is all about -- it's about keeping our priorities straight. Our priorities are infrastructure and other ventures that need more capital than our homegrown businessmen can afford. So as long as the BJP sees to it that our policy vis-a-vis MNCs keeps with those priorities, I see no reason for anyone to oppose it.
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 13:20:27 -0600
Excellent article by Varsha Bhosle. The lady has a vitriolic pen and I must admit that I feel better when she's extolling the cause I espouse.
The only point I'd like to add to those put forth by Bhosle is that of the image portrayed by the swadeshibrigade. If a businessperson feels, even before s/he has set a foot in India, that s/he is not welcome, nay abhorred here, not many businesses are going to invest in India. And to this end, the swadeshi brigade is mostly succeeding.
It is always negative news that gets the most attention. One over-zealous (stupid?) Parag Alvani can undo the work of dozens of Manmohan Singhs and PVN Raos.
It's time for us Indians to open the windows just a crack and let the fresh air come in. Whether it is the air that'll sustain us or the smog that'll asphyxiate us, we'll decide later and deal with it.
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:37:32 -0600
Varsha Bhosle's tirade against the proponents of swadeshi is misguided. While I can understand her frustration with Ambassador and Premier Padmini cars, this in no way proves that India is incapable of producing its own consumer goods.
I'm all for privatisation and liberalisation. I wish to point out that India is the only nation apart from the US, which is capable of both producing nuclear weapons and testing them through indigenous supercomputers. As far as McDonalds and KFC are concerned, it would be ridiculous to allow them in India. India's culinary tradition is among the greatest in the world, and it is idiotic to allow these peddlers of junk food. This will also be detrimental to the interests of our indigenous fast food like chaat, dosa etc.
Multinational corporations, especially American ones are guilty of robbing the genetic wealth of third world countries like India. The patenting of products is intrinsic to India. Neem, Basmati etc should not be taken lightly. This outrage should be fought at all fora. I am not being xenophobic, nor am I a nut like George Fernandes to oppose the entry of Coke and Pepsi.
However, economic liberalisation does not mean giving MNCs unbridled rights to loot our nation's resources. One sordid side-effect of globalisation already visible is the proliferation of pornographic websites on the Internet featuring Indian women, specifically catering to the fetishes of dollar rich Americans.
It is also common knowledge that India is a destination for sex tourism and paedophiles. Therefore, MNCs should be taken with more than a pinch of salt in areas where their entry is unwarranted.
I have been a frequent reader of Varsha's articles on Rediff and admire her boldness on most issues. However, I must say that I objected to her diatribes against the Jain community -- "Vile Parle is not yet a Jain ghetto." I am not a Jain, but I have a healthy respect for their enterprise, their contribution to Hindu culture and our nation's economy.
Sanjay Magal, Albuquerque NM,USA
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 08:24:07 -0700
If people ever visit a slaughterhouse in USA they can see that even in killing a animal there is compassion. Take the cow lovers of India, they beat the bull to death, never feed him anything good, he eats at all the toilets and rotting vegetables by the street, people beat him with a stick and chase him away and, at the time of death he is carted to one of the abattoirs...Don't we love our Shankar Bhagwan's Bull.
Take the case of a cow: it is squeezed for the last drop of milk by a person who seldom gives it good nutrition, doesn't give it a bath or a rub, robs its baby of milk, and oh, we call her our gau mata. Anti non-vegetarians should only drum on the vegetarian stance for good health reasons, there are no religious reasons left.
Whether you kill a chicken, goat or a cow -- the pain is the same and the crime is the same. God never came and said that this is a cow and that is a pig or chicken, it was human beings who named them, so it is up to humans to eat them if they please.
When you bring McDonalds or KFC you are bringing in modern cooking, storing, serving and cleanliness to the front, it is not a lungi clad cook picking his nose while making your delicious meal. We cannot even provide a toilet near the temples which are islands of human refuse, does god still live in it? We don't know what is infrastructure, and all day long you hear people talking about the Vedas and Puranas. Few have read it, and fewer have interpreted it.
Nobody will come from outside India to clean our mess, we have to learn to clean it ourselves. Just like the late President Kennedy said, "It is not the riches of America that made the roads, it is the roads that made America rich." Family planning and toilets should be the national agenda, once we control our breeding we will win everything else. We love India and so we write from here. We do have a choice and we want our families to have in India also.
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:10:17 -0400
I read most of your articles and agree with all of them. Sometimes I feel as if you are putting all our thoughts, discussions and debates that we used to have in our hot, crowded hostel rooms into words.
But swadeshi, partly true.
For keeping our kitchens clean, to make good toilet papers, soaps, do we really need MNCs? I don't think so. We have technology and brains and resources to do these small but important things. Nothing will ever happen to those rotting, stagnating fellows. They will keep their kitchens unclean and still have enough customers to fill their stomachs.
What we need is strong law-enforcing agencies. And we know how these law-enforcing agencies operate. So with MNCs or without MNCs, the difference is going to be very less. Just simple and stupid politics. Remember those days when every illiterate in the country shouted against GATT?
"Whereas in India, profit is only for diverting to Geneva... It is against policy to plough it back for research and development, modernising machinery, or helping the country capitalise from exports. Such are the industrialists I should be laying down my Coke for. Simply blame everything on the license-permit raj and all's well with the swadeshi world..."
This is true even in pharmaceutical industries and many suffer because of side-effects and many more even die, still we get same medicines all over country. Nobody cares, neither industrialists not customers ....
Yeh hai India -- eat, sleep, reproduce and vanish.....
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 05:28:13 -0500
I am in agreement with your views. It's a bitter fact that ours is one of the biggest consumer market, but unfortunately we Indians have not tasted what real consumerism is. We never demand customer satisfaction for the money we spend. It looks like it's a sellers' market everywhere. You are right when you say entry of MNCs like McDonalds will tell Indians what cleanliness and customer service means. Your analysis of the Indian auto industry was superb.
So who is to blame? Government or public? Probably both. The omnipresent corruption has eroded the living standard to such a nadir that a common man feels happy if he can make two ends meet, forget about the dream words like expecting "value for money" or "customer-satisfaction."
We Indians are trying to enter the 21st century with 18th century thinking. It's not going to work unless we learn to stand and compete internationally.
Achyut Naik, La Crosse, WI
Date sent: Thu, 09 Apr 1998 19:14:38 -0700
I take very strong exception to Varsha's statement: "Since Independence, apart from the stray J R D Tata (whose ancestors were foreigners, anyway), how many have set up industries with national prestige and welfare foremost in mind?"
The fact is many would have contributed. Many have, as a matter of fact. They may not have the clout nor the fame, but surely they are there.
The socialist governments denied "private" enterprise of any kind which did not adhere to its socialist principles. The very fact that many Indians having gone abroad have done remarkably well in business, while they were denied such an opportunity (since many did not possess clout like the Tatas and Birlas) at home is a clear indication that it is not lack of skill or fear of competition. It was the deliberate subversion that denied them the opportunity. Swadeshi abhors such interference by the state in trade and commerce.
The fact that Indian entrepreneurship continued to suffer again both under Dr Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram is because they favoured foreigners at the expense of Indians.
The examples cited: Tatas and Birlas. Let us examine this a little further:
Traditional economy, which does not consist of the large-scale industrial economy, is responsible for 60 per cent of our national income and 70 per cent of our exports, against the rest of the western or large scale industrial economy. You don't have to be a Tata to contribute to the national income.
Furthermore, traditional economy is the largest creator of jobs. It employs more Indians than any "western" model. Close to 278 lakh towards the end of 1992. And that does not include agriculture jobs. While the industrial model employed a mere 97 lakhs. During the period 1990-1991, the western model "large scale industrial economy" received subsidies to the tune of guess what -- a whopping Rs 60 billion in the form of under-priced foreign exchange. The argument that MNCs can build better bridges, roads or set up "clean" restaurants also begs the question, what if the MNCs run away, what is the recourse? He would have run away with our money!
And we are back to square one. It is not our capability or skill that is in doubt. We have demonstrated ample times that we can build bridges, roads and set up "clean" restaurants. It is our attitude towards business that needs cleansing. Those who assume competition from MNCs would force us to do exactly that, are living in a la-la land. It requires more than that.
Furthermore, the view "big is better" runs counter to compelling facts. In America, since the beginning of 1980s to the present, the economy is driven by small business. So does Japan. Germany. Or any of the Asian Tigers.
Swadeshi is not an economic policy statement. Swadeshi is an attitude. Yes, I know you heard that before. It has to be oft repeated, so it is heard clearly.
Swadeshi means to instil pride in our product. Think of the flower vendor in Madras. He could take a banana leaf and demonstrates 100 creative ways of using the leaf. Swadeshi is a celebration of such ingenuity.
Ramana Murthy, East Meadow, NY
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 08:46:18 +0800
I really enjoyed reading this article. Brilliantly written. I agree with every word Varsha says. It is sentiments like these and the total frustration with the corrupt system, combined with the opportunities that the Western world offers, which makes people leave India. Most like me like to read whatever is going on, but have no intention of ever returning.
Keep going, Varsha. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article, and will hereafter read all your articles.
Date sent: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 00:04:38 EDT
The more I read Varsha Bhosle, the more I admire her courage, wisdom and wit. The best part is that she does not mince any words and tells it like it is. She does not let her loyalties come in the way of telling the truth. I hope the Swadeshiwalas will see the phoniness of their argument. I want them to show us how can they be selective beggars.
Thanks Varsha for telling it to these dimwits.
Date sent: Thu, 09 Apr 1998 14:54:44 -0700
One has to give it to Varsha. After reading her never-ending rambling about BJP and Thackeray, I didn't think I could expect a column with as much sense. Good job Varsha...and I mean in the most condescending way possible...
Date sent: Thu, 09 Apr 1998 17:12:17 -0400
Great, frank, sarcastic and humorous. Keep it coming, Varsha. And you gave me an idea. Exporting sanitary napkins from the US to India. Any takers?
Beef eaters! All bullshit. You will find many Hindus who eat beef. I am waiting for your next one -- on 'vegetarianism versus the meat/beef-eating.'
Fully agree with you views on competition. Our so-called industrialists cannot stand the heat of competition. Poor quality is also 'exported' indirectly. I bought some steel utensils, marked 'Made in India', (I am proud of many Indian products), though not SAIL steel, from one of the many Patel shops. Within the next one month the vessel cracked from the edges. The shop-owner did not even give me a receipt for the same and refused to take anything but cash when I bought that.
Date sent: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 16:41:51 -0400
Why do you always make sense, Varsha?
Date sent: Thu, 09 Apr 1998 13:07:02 -0700
Superb article. Can you make politicians read it?
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