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Letters from Readers

January 2016
Letters from Readers

Terror in the name of god

Kudos for accurately diagnosing the problem with extremism, whatever stripe it may arrive in (“ISIS, the American Right, and Hindutva,” December issue). As stewards of Indian thought, it should not be lost on us that the very points your editorial emphasizes are central to the philosophy Mahatma Gandhi brought to the world. Gandhi realized that committing acts of violence entails a level of certainty about our beliefs that is unattainable for us imperfect humans. Additionally, Gandhi knew that merely focusing on the most overt, physical manifestations of violence is ultimately futile and that one must reform him/herself before they can succeed in bringing change to the world at large. Given the daily and disillusioning acts of violence around us, the wisdom of the Mahatma is perhaps all the more needed today than ever before.

Sanjay Lal
Morrow, Georgia

Especially in the post-9/11 period, much has been said and written by many well-informed, ill-informed, and well-intentioned as well as ill-intentioned “experts” and charlatans on various aspects of terrorism and extremism. In most cases these have generated more heat than light. Therefore, in sharp contrast, I was highly impressed by the editorial on this topic in the December issue of Khabar.

The editor, known for his bold and brilliant commentaries on myriad subjects, has crystallized, summarized, and even “solutionized” the grave danger of extremism by focusing on ISIS, the American Right, and Hindutva. These three extremist movements have tied themselves to Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism, respectively.

I would urge readers to copy and share this powerful editorial with their non-Indian friends, co-workers, and others when confronted with discussion about extremism, terrorism, and radicalism. And I would urge Khabar to focus, in a future issue, on such extremism infecting other faiths, some of whose leaders and followers have victimized minorities in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, in predominantly Jewish Israel, and parts of Africa which practice traditional religions without much international remedial efforts.

Nizar A. Motani
Atlanta, Georgia

Your editorial was unfair to Hindus and an unfortunate attempt to drag Hindus into the discussion on terrorism by the Islamic and the Christian fundamentalists. There was no need to lump Hindus with the Islamic and Christian terrorists. The editorial shows your misunderstanding of Hinduism and Abrahamic religions.

The Hindu religion by definition is “inclusive,” meaning it accepts all faiths. The Supreme Court judgement of 1995 on Hindutva stated that “it is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption... that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practicing any religion other than the Hindu religion.”

The monolithic Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam by nature are extremely intolerant and not accepting of the other faiths. As a result, historically these religions have been conflict driven. Christianity began to reform about 500 years ago and has become somewhat tolerant of other faiths. Unfortunately, since 1970 the Muslims have become more intolerant with Saudi Arabia successfully pushing the archaic and extremely intolerant Wahhabi ideology all over the world with the help of petro-dollars.

You have wrongly described the violence by Hindus against the minorities. If anything, it is the tyranny of the minorities that is the root cause of intolerance in India. Books such as The Satanic Verses and Lajja were banned. In 2012, Salman Rushdie had to cancel his visit to Jaipur Literature Festival due to death threats. Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin of Lajja was forced to flee the Indian state of West Bengal for New Delhi. Then she had to relocate to U.S. after death messages were sent by radical Islamists.

Gautam P. Shah
Simpsonville, South Carolina

Bindi or no bindi?

Maya Murthy’s essay about white girls wearing a bindi (December issue) seems overly critical and prejudicial. White girls wearing a bindi is not considered as appreciation of someone’s culture, but imitation of someone’s culture. When people imitate someone’s clothing or jewelry, it is not because they understand the meaning behind it but because they like it. I have seen many white and black women wrap sari in nontraditional manner like evening gowns in shows like the Oscar award ceremony. Are you going to criticize them?

Similarly, Selena Gomez wears a bindi on the stage and not in a classroom as a student. Many black girls also imitate African culture as fashion accessory outside the school, even though they have the least idea of its significance. In short, live like Romans in Rome. Assimilate with the culture of the country you have adopted as your homeland and try to introduce your culture in a meaningful way. After all, America is made up of immigrants from all over the world and its people are open-minded and willing to adopt good things from other culture. Indians are late comers, so give it some time.

Rani Bhatia
Norcross, Georgia

I don’t agree. I have been married for the last 14 years to an Indian person. I keep Karwa Chauth vrat every year. I just don’t wear bindi for fashion but for purpose. May be you are posting this article in an Indian magazine because you are afraid of your own identity. Instead of embracing the fact Madonna or others wear it for some purpose, people like you who are stereotypical give it a bad name. Just like when you or your family came here, America embraced you, you should do the same. I am surprised that Khabar published this article.

Melanie Khanna
online comment

Maya, you have very intelligently defined cultural appropriation in a way that few adults can. You are an extremely talented writer, and I wish you all the best in your future writing endeavors.

online comment

Important obituary missing

We noted that in the December issue there was a list of important people who passed away in 2015. Missing from the list was one of the most important and well-known exponents of Hinduism and Vedanta of the past 50 years—Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Swamiji had many followers around the world and has an ashram in Pennsylvania as well as a large network in India. I think it would be of interest to the readers of Khabar to know that Swamiji attained samadhi on September 23, 2015. As The Hindu pointed out, “creating teachers in Vedanta along with setting up schools for the underprivileged under the Aim for Seva movement were some of his important contributions.”

Vijaya Veeraswamy
by email

No drama with Syam

It was fascinating and inspiring to read the Spotlight article on Syam Yellamraju in the December issue. While Suchita Rao has captured intimate details about this great thespian, she did not mention his modesty.

I attended three of his stage productions in the last two years and noticed that he is very modest about his creations. In Not Now Darling it was apparent that Syam had worked tirelessly behind the scenes in helping first time actors Ananth Kamath, Moiz Hussain, Anjali Chhabria, and Nida Shariff perfect their dialogue and acting, which can be measured by the many accolades they received from the audience.

Before the play started, he was busy setting up the sound system and giving last minute instructions to his team members. His last act was to pray with the actors behind the curtain. As soon as the curtain was lifted Syam slipped away and remained out of sight until the end. While Padma recognized the performers, Syam did not share the spotlight with his team. While everyone was enjoying a snack after the play and talking about it, Syam was busy dismantling the props and removing the sound system. Syam is a true inspiration to all those who love the performing arts.

Praful Shah
Alpharetta, Georgia

What’s on YOUR mind?

We welcome original, unpublished letters from our readers. You could either respond to a specific article in Khabar or write about issues relevant to our community. Letters may be edited for length and other considerations. Longer submissions by readers may be considered for the “My Turn” column.

Email: letters@khabar.com • Fax: (770) 234-6115.

Mail: Khabar, Inc. 3635 Savannah Place Dr, Suite 400, Duluth, GA 30096.

Note: Views expressed in the Letters section do not necessarily represent those of the publication.


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