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August - September 2009
LettersFrom: Aline Dobbie, Scotland
I read with interest but also with some amusement one of your reader’s diatribe against me with regard to my review of the film Slumdog Millionaire. I would commend the writer to read my three books in which I take the reader down the paths of India’s history to the present day and in all three I present India – that great land of my birth and for which I have an enormous love and to which I am loyal and of which I am immensely proud.
In all three books I point out the various misconceptions held by others and how India has forged ahead in the decade between the 50th and 60th anniversaries of her nationhood. Readers might recall that I coined that phrase in 2006 because I loathe the expression ‘anniversary of independence’ which I found to be patronizing and specious because since the beginning of time India the land mass has had wonderful powerful empires and rulers though it was not a cohesive nation previously. Colonial rule was a mere blip in the history of this great sub continent and I pointed out with pride and loyalty that India has forged ahead in diverse fields to become a 21st century super power. Yes she has might, but she has brains and technical expertise as a country. Wed that with a committed programme to eliminate poverty and illiteracy and there is absolutely nothing that could hold India back because of her democracy, diversity and plurality of faiths and cultures.
In my second book published in 2004 I put my head above the parapet and foretold India’s wonderful potential as I saw it….so maybe your correspondent should actually read my books before becoming sarcastic about my writing. I gave the Incredible India lecture in November 2004 at the launch of that book at the Nehru Centre and spoke of responsible tourism in 21st century India. In my third book which has been reviewed by The Royal Society for Asian Affairs the reviewer considers it the definitive book on southern India; and then my first book was republished with a new part 2 which brought all that I had written up to date to the end of August 2008 thus completing my circle of writing about a significant decade in India and I wished the county well through its forthcoming general election – the very positive results of which we now behold. Attack they say is a good form of defence but attack in ignorance is to be avoided! Moreover my non commercial website www.thepeacockscall.co.uk and galleries linked to it promote India and now I have been appointed the India expert for www.responsibletravel.com and their subsidiary site www.Iknowagreatplace.com Believe me I care deeply about India!
t: ++44 (0)1899 221759
From: Dr Dalvi, Mumbai India.
Dear Ralleigh Sahib,
Recd. the June July issue of the magazine. As usual I read your editorial first and as always was thrilled to read it. It simply amazes me how you are able to analyse all that is happening here, separate the chaff from the grain and give most useful advice to improve the state of affairs both to the government and to the main opposition the B.J.P. I wish those who matter in the Govt. like Mrs Sonia Gandhi and the P.M. go through your editorial and learn things which could help improve our nation. Even the B.J.P. who disappointed me by not coming to power could learn from your advice to concentrate on taking a stand which will help the country rather than taking a stand for getting support of some splinter groups who are harming the country by their narrow politics for benefitting themselves and their party at the cost of harming the nation. I wish a great patriot like you could be requested to be an adviser to the Govt. so that it could follow the path of truth and honesty to benefit the country and its citizens without allowing any prejudice for religion , caste, regionalism etc.
I could write a lot in appreciation of so many things you have written but I am not a good writer to be able to pen accurately my deep appreciation for what you feel for your country and its citizens. The spiritual quotes were very appropriate even for today’s world.
Wishing you all the best, and with regards, Sincerly yours,
From: Sir Nick Young
Chief Executive, British Red Cross
This week (June 15 - 21) marks Refugee Week, a welcome opportunity to reflect upon the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers, and celebrate the contribution they make to life in the UK.
There are many myths and stereotypes around this vulnerable group, and that is why this year the British Red Cross is urging people to look beyond the refugee and asylum seeker labels, and see people as the individuals they are.
A British Red Cross commissioned ICM poll found that nearly a quarter of people believe 100,000 or more asylum seekers come to the UK each year. Four times the actual figure of around 25,000.
On average people also think the UK is home to one-in-four of the world’s asylum seekers, when in fact only around 3% seek refuge in this country.
Confusion and misunderstanding should not be allowed to erode the UK’s long tradition of providing sanctuary for people fleeing persecution.
Reassuringly, 92% of people have positive associations with refugees living in the UK.
Refugees and asylum seekers make massive positive contributions - socially, culturally and economically - to life here. Readers can see the stories of three people who have found refuge in the UK and rebuilt their lives by visiting www.lookbeyondthelabel.org.
Eric, Aldijana and Ticha are just three from thousands of people who, forced from their home countries, have found safety and a new life in the UK. Each has their own story to tell and their own contribution to bring.
Refugee week gives us the chance to not only celebrate individuals like these, but also to take pride in our own role in offering safety to those in desperate need.
Sir Nick Young
British Red Cross
44 Moorfields, London
Tel: 020 7877 7042