A democracy of more than 1 billion people, many profiting from a reformed economy, India is turning itself into a primary player in the global marketplace. Readers welcomed the rise of a free society, although not without a few misgivings about the lingering effects of the caste system and corruption
It was with great pride that I read the cover stories about the boom time in India [July 3], a country in which the ancient and the modern coexist. On a recent visit to India, I observed that downtown Bombay appears to have stood still in time, while changes are more apparent in the city's suburbs. India's great strides in education, technology and medicine can prove to the world that the country is a force to be reckoned with.
Your report on the Indian economy presented a rosy picture. But not only is there a growing disparity between rich and poor, there is also an increase in deforestation and pollution of rivers, groundwater and air, which could lead to environmental collapse.
I thoroughly enjoyed your cover story on the rapid changes in India. As an Indian living in England, I often wonder what the true cost of this economic boom is, especially the impact on Indian values and culture. Extended families are becoming fragmented, the young have little pride in their culture, and there is contempt for everything that is old. In contrast, a developed nation like England is steeped in tradition and still manages to hold on to its history. There was a time when people didn't have much money but life was less complicated, a time when what you had mattered more than what you didn't have.
As an Indian from Bombay, I loved reading your stories on my home country. From Tarrytown, New York, to Tallahassee, Florida, people are thinking about India. They want to know where Chennai and Hyderabad are on the map. Colleagues in the Midwest are rushing to do a stint working in India, which has come to be seen as a rung on the corporate ladder. Unlike China, which gate-crashed into Western households with everything from kitchen knives to toilet-tissue holders, India has made an unhurried entry through communication portals. But the Indian Elephant must not allow corruption and bureaucratic incompetence to slow it down in the race with the Chinese Dragon.
Krish V. Krishnan
Wilmette, Illinois, U.S.
The cover story highlighting India's economic boom seems to have come at the right time. The country is changing in every area. India's middle class has been positively affected by growth in sectors such as information technology, telecommunications and the automobile industry. Shopping malls and multiplexes have mushroomed in many cities; young people are identifying with the latest brands in consumer goods. The big question is, What about the millions of Indians languishing in its dusty towns and villages, who still live a hand-to-mouth existence? After a hard day's work, one square meal is what they get, at most. Such basic amenities as power and clean drinking water are lacking. Caste still plays a malignant role, with upper castes dominating most high offices in government and the private sector. The Dalits should also get their share. Only then will there really be a new dawn for India.
The cover story on the rise of India was outstanding. Visitors in the past might have felt that India's problems were overwhelming, but there is hope for the masses of the subcontinent. It goes to show what can be accomplished by millions of people with a work ethic, an appreciation for education, a culture of thrift and family and a recognition of the value of being able to speak English well in the global marketplace.
Paul H. Gore
Oakland, Oregon, U.S.
It is admirable that India, a country that used to manufacture almost nothing, is the next great economic superpower. But the divide between the haves and the have-nots is so huge that economic consistency is hard to achieve. India's rich seem to get richer and richer, while the poor still find it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
K. Chidanand Kumar
In a world of quick changes and reversals, India continues to grow and prosper, setting its own pace, as your thought-provoking story clearly showed. The Indian system of democracy is seeking its own road to equality and social justice which will make it different from Western and American models. India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare offers a range of programs, including advice and services for family planning. Indians are saving more, eating better and enjoying a higher standard of living than ever before. Yet India has its contradictions. It is important to remember that many people still live in extreme poverty.
Vinod C. Dixit
I was impressed by your reporting on India's drive to become an economic superpower in the next decade. As an Indian living in the West, I know that India is still crippled by government ineptitude, graft and a weak infrastructure, but it has come a long way since it gained independence. India is not only a self-sufficient economic and nuclear power but also the world's largest democracy. India has tradition, culture, a sense of community and, best of all, values that have been passed down over thousands of years. I hope that those values are not lost in India's rise to the top because they are what makes me proud to call myself a 21st century Indian.
New York City
Your opening story noted how vital Indians have been to California's high-tech industry. Then in a sidebar report on outsourcing, you quoted an Indian executive's observation that "the jobs will go to those who can do them best, in the most cost-effective manner. Geography is irrelevant." So American workers are losing jobs to insourcing as well as outsourcing! We can't get a break.
Joseph Michael Simasek
Morganton, North Carolina, U.S.
Your reporting got bogged down in Bombay and Bangalore, but no description of booming India could be complete without a look at such cities as Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Jaipur. After all, northern India encompasses the wonders of the Taj Mahal, a growing software industry and the country's first shopping malls for the average consumer.
You did not mention one of the greatest reasons for India's economic success: of the country's hundreds of languages, the one spoken in common by the upcoming generation is English. China is just now catching on to the necessity of learning English. Just wait until China starts teaching English full bore! Are you listening, Mexico?
Pacific Grove, California, U.S.
Your story "Bombay's boom" provided an authentic encounter with the new Bombay. It is hard to believe that so many things are happening there. But Bombay is booming only because the rest of India is booming. The city's dynamism, as you reported, owes nothing to the inept and corrupt local government. Business is succeeding because the people, especially the local workforce, have taken their fortunes into their own hands.
In "My lost world," author Aravind Adiga noted the uncertainty he feels now when looking at the profoundly changed city of Mangalore, his provincial hometown. I feel the same way when I visit the city. Why do people who get out of small towns like that not want to go back? I asked a few friends who have left Mangalore. Their reasons varied from a feeling that the talents and knowledge gained over the years would be unappreciated in Mangalore to a sense that life there is dull. Money has brought a lot of changes to the city, and not all for the better. I always dreamed of going back to sleepy old Mangalore, beneath its canopy of coconut trees. But with every visit I realize that that dream will stay a dream because the place is rapidly changing.
Sharath R. Nayak
Hunting on the High Seas
Re "Revenge of the whale hunters" [July 3]: Japan's whaling practices are in full compliance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Japan supports the protection of endangered whales and advocates that only abundant cetacean species be harvested sustainably. Japan's commitment to whaling for scientific research is sincere and necessary to establish the proper conservation of whales. In fact, scientific knowledge from Japan has been highly commended by the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee. As the world's second largest donor of official development assistance, Japan provides aid to developing countries regardless of their position on whaling. That Japan is using "bribery to get its way" is a completely false accusation.
Jiro Okuyama, Director
Japan Information Center
Consulate General of Japan
New York City
I fear that an insufficient level of detail in the article will lead readers to believe that Norway is conducting an unnecessary and irresponsible slaughter of endangered whales, which is far from the truth. The Norwegian whale hunt is strictly regulated and scientifically monitored to ensure a continued healthy population of the target species, the plentiful minke whale. In a country where only 3% of the land is arable, maintaining a small capability to obtain a domestic source of food means looking to the sea and managing the resource carefully.
Helga Katherine Pratt
Battle Ground, Washington, U.S.
Your story seemed to suggest that all whaling is morally wrong, without distinguishing between harvesting endangered species and those that are plentiful, namely the minke whale. You stated that Norway "openly flouts" the rules of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Although the IWC banned commercial whaling, Norway is within its rights to object to the rules and set its own catch limits. Having eaten whale and enjoyed it, I fail to see any moral difference between eating whale and eating beef, as long as we are responsible in utilizing the resources of the planet.
Old Lyme, Connecticut, U.S.
Preparedness Pays Off
Re "Sharing the load" [july 3], on the progress made in providing assistance to Africa since last year's G-8 summit: When large populations are brought to the brink of crisis, international aid interventions are hugely expensive and logistically complicated. The solution is to give people the ability to be resilient in case natural disasters or armed conflicts occur. Preparedness does not require huge resources or sophisticated institutions. Small, steady cash transfers enable poor families to eat better and invest in equipment that would help them be more productive. Such aid programs are run entirely by local staff and villagers. The low volume of funds involved reduces corruption risks. Those programs don't require helicopters or fleets of vehicles, and they pay for themselves through the economic benefits that they generate. They fail to catch the public eye, however, and hence remain desperately underfunded. Yet it is by making modest investments in very large numbers of the most vulnerable people in the world that millions can enjoy a better, longer life. And the need for high-profile crisis interventions will be reduced.
Re "Officially wrong" [July 3], about the World Cup referees making bad calls: A single referee must linger near the center of the field and watch all the action from a distance. Since most penalties occur near the goals, it is understandable that refs make such bad calls. And with television cameras capturing every angle of play, we spectators know instantly that a referee has blown it. We get a better shot of the action than he does. Despite the advances in ball technology that have made the game faster, there has been no increase in the number of referees. I agree with retired ref Gilles Veissière, whom you quoted suggesting that football needs another referee so that there would be one ref to cover play on each side of the field.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Can the Feeling Last?
Thank you for the article "Party people" [June 26], which captured the Germans' sudden change in attitude toward the World Cup, their team and their national identity. The past few weeks have not only helped Germans get over the guilt that has been linked to any kind of national symbolism but also caused many members of ethnic minorities here to identify openly with Germany. In a country still grappling with the idea of being a multicultural state, this is particularly encouraging. But it is too early for enthusiasm. It remains to be seen whether Germans' newfound identity will survive beyond the final whistle of the tournament. Only if it leads to social progress and a dialogue about persisting split loyalties will it have merited all the praise it has been receiving.