I look forward to each issue of Little India given the wide array of issues this fine publication delves into each month.I read with interest the article “The Moral Quandary” in the May 2006 issue that many Indians and Indian Americans face in the United States. The article states that Western vegetarian culture is primarily based on health benefits of the diet, as opposed to moral and spiritual basis of Hindu vegetarian culture.While this is partly true, the rising vegetarian movement in this country is also rooted in a firm belief in the evils of American slaughterhouses with their overcrowded conditions, inhumane breeding practices and use of antibiotics and hormones to more “efficiently” slaughter innocent animals. Furthermore, American vegetarians also protest against the environmental impact of the meat industry, with its water pollution, deforestation for grazing land, and using large volumes of grains, which could feed many more humans than the meat it generates. The moral and health issues go hand in hand with the vegetarian movements here in the United States and worldwide.My other “beef” with this article is the implication that to be a successful Hindu in America we must compromise our beliefs. I myself am a physician and soldier in the U.S. Army and have maintained my Hindu beliefs even in austere conditions. Contrary to some in the Indian American community who feel embarrassed by some aspects of their culture, I have found that my colleagues on the whole respect my beliefs and even take interest in them. The greatest aspect of this country is the ability to be your own person and practice your own beliefs.Although Hindus, and all of humanity, have the right to adhere to any moral standard to which they subscribe, a Hindu should not assume that there is any difference between eating meat, cooking meat, or selling meat. According to Hindu shastras, such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam, cooking and selling meat incur equivalent or even greater negative karma as eating meat (Canto 5, Ch. 26, Text 13). The Indian community in America has been blessed with many talents and good fortune. There is no reason for us to adulterate our beliefs. Here in Washington D.C., and many other cities in the United States, there are many successful vegan restaurants, including a few that are Indian owned, that are blossoming both from a moral and financial standpoint. We should not look for the easy road as it is littered with many dangerous pitfalls.Pramvir Singh Verma, M.D., Washington, D.C.The articles “Dreaming of Gucci” and “The Moral Quandary” (May 2006) are two sides of a coin. We hear about Indians moving back home, the blooming job market, the foreign boutiques, middle class growth and improvement of the quality of life in India. On the other hand we read about corruption, poverty, population explosion, etc. Every Indian struggles with this debate. We’re hard working and believe that success comes to those who work hard and aspire for a better life. Now the definition of success is changing, because living aboard in itself is not success.Vivek Dixit, Houston, TX The article “The Moral Quandary” (May 2006) made me heartsick. Your article made it sound like once an Indian national sets foot on American soil, he’s lost. I came away with the impression that purity of mind and actions is utterly impossible.Sure, sin is big business in the land of the free and home of the brave. Eating and selling meat, distributing liquor, cigarettes, lottery tickets, dirty magazines and sex aids – these are not requirements for citizenship. It seemed as if the people interviewed were full of excuses for having strayed from their upbringing. If people want to make their fortunes taking part in these dirty activities, they are free to do so, but do not blame the West for abandoning your moral principles in pursuit the almighty dollar. They should admit that they brought this love for money and moral turpitude with them.I have always envied Asians for having grown up in very ancient and rich cultures. Jains, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhist, Hindus and Muslims all have moral principles I look up to. The moral ideals expounded in of each of these faiths makes the planet a much better place. How can anyone just give up their belief system and surrender to the sinful ways of the West?How does compromising one’s core values help change things? The freedom found in the United States of America and Canada is a wonderful thing. Anyone who comes here can partake of that freedom, but why misuse it? Even if your family back home cannot see the evil you commit here, there are still sinful reactions tied to this evil. This great experiment in liberty needs people of high moral fiber; we already have enough of the other kind. If an individual wants to change and improve things, the best thing they can do is to live up to the ideals found in their own faith. If everyone did that, our problems would diminish.I am disappointed that those I have looked up to have surrendered their moral values, eating a sacred cow, or pork and other unclean animals. I have been a vegetarian since 1975 and have taken a lot of teasing from my workmates for it and experienced a lot of ridicule from my family and friends for this “weird” flesh free lifestyle, but I will not compromise my moral values “thou shall not kill.” Even if everyone in the world around me eats meat, I will not. I say, make the world a better place by living up to your moral standards.William Mills, Athens, GAI just read the “No Roof, No Roots, No Rights” article (April 2006) in your magazine. I think you can easily help resolve this problem.These men are willing to work. Train them for two weeks to be long distance truck drivers. Make them owner operators. The trucks are equipped with cabins superior to their existing living conditions and they can net over $50,000 per year if they are willing to work reasonably hard. Investors (minimal is required) can net over 20 percent annually without unreasonable risk. This opportunity exists because Americans are unwilling to do the job and the demand is huge. It may sound complex, but it in fact it is very easy and be put together in less than 30 days. It’s that simpleJustus Eapen, Via eMailTell these guys (“No Roof, No Roots, No Rights”) to go to a hardware store and buy a rat trap and get rid of the vermin. Stop complaining. You are in the best country of the world and lucky to be here. Make the most of it. The government is not going to rescue you. Get a life.G.K. Pandey, Via eMailI like your Star Gazing and Chandni Chowk sections. The magazine is well edited, printed and presented with good articles that I am interested in reading. I suggest you add a horoscope column in the magazine.Abraham, New York, NY“The Colors of Desi” by Lavina Melwani was great. It eased my heart to read the stories of those who shared thoughts on the issue. It’s not about marrying someone for their complexion, race, ethnicity, or their status. It is about marrying someone that from inside you know is right. This is all it comes down to – if it feels right.Some of us in North America grew up amongst ordinary folks, and have become accustomed to the “North American” lifestyle. Why after so much time experiencing their culture and accepting it resoundingly should someone go back to their former culture? Adopting new lifestyles and morphing into the new cultures is the way things will go for the future.There have been many changes in the last several decades and surely there will be many more ahead. Can we in the South Asian diaspora accept these changes? These will remain the questions and will always haunt those who haven’t confronted them head on!Anonymous, Via eMailThe article “The Microsoft Millionaires” (April 2006) is definitely inspirational. Thanks for enlightening us.J Mahadevan, Via eMailI am a regular reader of your magazine. You are doing a wonderful job reaching Indians and making them feel at home.Vimala Varanasa, Via eMailI love reading your magazine. It is very informational and entertaining. It is so well written and interesting that I look forward to each issue.Divya Narvekar, Via eMailOur school family loves your magazine every month in our library, where the children are 7th and 8th graders.B.N. Williams, Franklin Middle School Somerset, NJ I commend you on the recent upgrades to your magazine. For the most part these have been improvements. I am writing to express my disappointment, however, with an article in the May 2006 issue on the dominatrix. More than anything it devalued the entire issue. If your point was to further humiliate these individuals, surely it could have been done in another way and taken up less room. Certainly there were more newsworthy events in the world that were more deserving of the space.Amy Yeasayer, Via eMailI want to thank you for your article, “The Problem of Legal Immigration” (June 2006). You should also stress the difficulties of obtaining tourist visas to this country. As it stands, fewer than 29% of Indian applicants receive tourist visas to America and many are denied without proper reason or investigation.The visa law states: “All non-immigrant visa applicants are viewed as seeking to immigrate and need to prove to the consular officer otherwise.” So, one is guilty until proven innocent. To counter such an assumption, I believe you should allow ample time during the interview process to review documents and base a decision on individual merit. How can a proper decision be made after a 30 second interview at the embassy? As an American engaged to an Indian living in Delhi, I personally understand these visa challenges. My fiancé has still not been able to visit me in America for reasons known only to the consular officer.Fortunately, as I am a US citizen, his permanent visa should be approved quickly and without penalty. However, I feel for people like Kshitij and Shweta Bedi who are not as lucky. Four years! For a country that promises the dream of family, freedom and opportunity, perhaps we should walk the walk and not just talk the talk.Allison Hanken, Via eMailWhile I agree that India has made rapid progress in the fields of information technology and science (“Dreaming of Gucci,” May 2006), but what about the welfare of the poor and the less fortunate, specially in villages, where they don’t even have water, electricity, healthcare or educational facilities. Nearly half the people living in villages are deprived of the basic necessities of life. Most survive on under Rs 60 a day. It should shame us that 59 years after Independence we cannot even provide for the basic needs of the poor. The gap between the rich and poor is widening and there is a culture of corruption and fraud in governmental agencies and the judicial system. We need earnest reforms for real progress.Ramesh Chellani, Fremont, Calif.The article “What is Indian Supposed to Mean Anyway (April 2006), is well written, but the next phase is to understand how we stop attaching labels to ourselves or to others. This can only be done by inquiring about our true and real identity/nature and understanding that the physical body is not who we are. Our existence is not limited to just one body and its relations.Dipal Patel, Via emailThe article “What is Indian Supposed to Mean Anyway” (April 2006), is great. I am Indian, but was raised by Americans. My kids are Jamaican and Indian. It is so true that human beings are one, whatever their race. I really enjoy your articles and the magazine is great.Bindu Derksen, Via emailToday I celebrate my 64th birthday, grateful for my lengthening age after 20 years of diabetes. I thank you for continuing to feed my reading passion.Yaqoob Bawla, Long Island, NY Related Items
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