In view of the alarming reaction to the impending publication of The Red Sari in India, I would like to categorically state that it was never my intention to bruise the feelings of Sonia Gandhi, her relatives or members of the Congress (Cong hits back at Spanish writer, says his book full of falsehoods, June 5). Readers can attest to the sympathetic and elegiac portrayal of Gandhi and her relatives in my book. I never intended to circumvent or violate Gandhi’s right to privacy. But because of a lack of access to her, I was compelled to resort to previously published accounts and rely upon interviews conducted with old acquaintances, neighbours and friends. Additionally, in order for the readers to comprehend the magnitude of the narrative, I had to weave the Gandhi family saga along with her inspiring personal story. And thus, eventually, I settled into a fictionalised version, as opposed to a ‘hard-fact’ biography. On several occasions before and after the writing, I tried to contact members of the Gandhi family so that errors and inaccuracies would be corrected before publication. And I would welcome their future contribution too. Despite the fact that the Spanish edition backcover clearly states that the book is fictionalised, I agreed to comply with the following disclaimer:
“This is a novel based on the story of Sonia Gandhi and the Nehru family. Neither Sonia Gandhi nor any member of her family has provided information or has collaborated in this book. Dialogues, conversations and situations found therein are the product of the author’s own interpretation and do not necessarily reflect authenticity.”
This addendum appears prominently in all new editions of the book on the first page in bold characters. Apart from our discrepancies, I want to reinstate that it’s always been my concern to portray Gandhi and her family in accordance with the sacrifices and contributions made by them to the ideals of securalism, freedom and equality in India, an example that serves as a beacon to the rest of the world. And I regret that the book, without being properly read, is being manipulated by those whose intention is to harm the family’s ideals, which are shared by me.
Javier Moro, Madrid
All IIT takes is hard work
Amit Kumar’s article The Super 30+ (Variety, May 30) made for interesting reading. Not only did Kumar recount the success story of the world-renowned coaching centre in Patna, Bihar, that helps poor children get through the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), but he also talked to some of its alumni. It is heartening that the centre is helping many deserving and diligent youngsters realise their dreams. The interviews of the alumni prove that a strong will to succeed is all that an individual needs to overcome all problems. Not many know that students from the remotest parts of Bihar constitute a large percentage of IIT graduates and civil servants in India.
Deepjot Singh Thukral, via email
Begs an answer
With reference to Indrajit Hazra’s article A press con job (Red Herring, May 30), the prime minister’s press conference on the completion of one year of the UPA 2 was a golden chance for the media to seek answers to national problems like terrorism, price rise, foreign policy, etc. However, the media did a disappointing job by asking unintelligent, mundane questions to the PM. Thanks to the press, today we know as much about the government’s future plans and its policies as we knew before the
PM answered the scribes’ questions.
Mahesh Kumar, Delhi
Not in the know
Manas Chakravarty’s article Uncle Kapil’s gifts (Loose Canon, May 30) should be an eye-opener for Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal. Introducing radical changes in the education system alone won’t help students. A proper implementation of these changes is of utmost importance. Also, the minister should realise that educational institutions in rural areas lack proper infrastructure. Reforms in curricula alone won’t benefit students in these areas.
Bhartendu Sood, Chandigarh
Let it fly free
With reference to Vir Sanghvi’s article Our politicians and their little playthings (Counterpoint, May 30), the recent Mangalore air tragedy has further eroded Air India’s credibility as the national carrier. While the officials concerned conveniently passed the blame on to the deceased pilot, they could not, thankfully, stop experts and the common man from contemplating the need to free Air India from bureaucratic shackles. The only way to restore people’s faith in the airline now is by privatising it.
Jitendra Kothari, via email
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