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Saturday, May 4, 2019


As is customary, when I visited my grand children this time round, I asked them for their wish list of books. The younger one, all of nine years, said she wants nothing but Roald Dahl. She has read them all and she thinks that, that is all there is to good writing. Roald Dahl, as we all know wrote for children, but wrote some titillating stuff for adult reading as well. To wean her away and to tickle her taste buds I had given her my favourite Thurber stories, Many Moons and 13 Clocks which she read with diligence but without much excitement. Her mental landscape is so taken up with Rohald Dahl that it leaves no space for other competitors. The elder one is into Harry Potter and is equally dismissive of others. She has also read Charles Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare and Romeo , Juliet and Merchant of Venice and The Tempest in the original. But to my utter relief she spared me the mortification of handing down some uncharitable judgement like, “A pair of boots is worth all of Shakespeare”, variously attributed to Lenin and Stalin. After having read the many abridged editions of famous authors she has decided that Dickens for her is a wasteful exertion, pouring over hundreds of pages ( never mind that Potter potters on into volumes adding up to thousands of pages) Jane Austen is too boring , Hardy she did not touch because names like Tess of the D'Urbervilles give her the creeps. Romantic Poetry for her is too prosaic and the prose of masters mere parody!
Children can rightly claim to have discovered truth with a capital T , simply because they haven’t mastered the lower case of the alphabet of experience . Many of our opinions and views are better enunciated in the lower case. That is the reason I find myself left out of much of the debate going on in the social media . There is so much certainty, so much confidence in the disputants that Truth is on their side that a timid person like me gets easily disheartened. When finality has been achieved, when the last word has already been spoken, where is the scope for debate? As of now truth has been incarnated in the form of two competing narratives about what is happening, one clearly emanating from the followers of Mr. Modi , and another from those who support Mr. Rahul Gandhi, the two claimants to the highest political and the social media is rife with believers arguing one way or the other, with an ecclesiastical fervour. But I am blown by currents of uncertainty, seeing a little logic in this position but some in that as well , so much so that my propositions are hedged in by so many ‘ what precisely and ifs and buts’ that they cease to win me friends on either side. In the end they are no propositions at all and I end up alienating both camps. Neither too left or liberal to be their fellow traveller, nor too right to be the mascot of the ‘new India .’
There was a time, in my early teens, when I had just imbibed a kindergarten version of Marxism, and on the basis of that small capital I could launch on a tirade against its evils. Armed with ideas culled from The God That Failed and the Encounter , that cultural weapon designed by the USA against the Soviet onslaught in its battle for the control of minds of Europe and the rest of the free world. Incidentally to be reading Encounter the intellectual thrill was the equivalent of the physical thrill of riding a Rolls Royce Cornice.( I guess, I have never been inside one!) In the end USA's cultural weapons proved more powerful than the Minutemen and the Midget men, the many versions of ICBMs that were built and kept in readiness. How ironic that the Cold war ended not through military conquest of the enemy but due to the abandonment of its ideological position by the USSR,.
Colin Wilson, and Koestler, Orwell and Isaiah Berlin, Sartre , and Simone De Beauvoir, Camus and Borges, Nadzehda Mandelstam and Evegni Evteshenko , Hannah Arendt, Andre Malraux and a hundred other names just cascaded from my tongue like a an avalanche of polemical onslaughts . Profligacy with words, overabundance of ideas, mobilisation of arguments borrowed from powerful minds buoyed me on the most stormy of seas. I would get into arguments, write polemical texts, and defend the indefensible ,all with the aplomb of a man in possession of the ultimate truth.
In my undergraduate days in college, my teachers appeared to be indulgent. In one of my cocky moments, I wrote a long tract on Eliots’s Wasteland as being the greatest intellectual fraud of the century . My teacher took the trouble of engaging with it with all the seriousness at his command. He made long comments in the margin, trying to point the flaw or fallacy in the argument, a few passages were heavily marked with some positive comments in the margin and interjections like ahem! I thought my teacher to be too timid to hold irreverent view on somebody so well established like Eliot or even opinions contrary to the established views.
But the world does not consist of amused, indulgent teachers alone. Ever so often you bump into unforgiving, judgmental people at crucial junctures of your life for whom this incautious abandon is a sign of impudence ,brashness and rudeness which must be firmly curbed. I ran into a couple of them at my only UPSC interview at the age of 20 years and a few months. I was appearing only for the IPS and English literature was one of my papers. The gentleman, a retired vice chancellor of a famous university, had taught English literature all his life . He recited four lines from a famous poem by Eliot and asked me to follow up, if I could. Eliot, Yeats, WH Auden , the Metaphysical , the Augustans, French symbolists among others were my favourite, as indeed they were, of my generation of Indian students. So I started with the last line of his quote with appropriate corrections and went on till I was stopped. Similarly I was asked to locate a few lines of a famous poem of Yeats and he then wondered if I could quote a few preceding lines. Again it was a juicy half volley –I started at the beginning and was stopped half way to be collared by a bureaucrat , retired or serving, I could not find out .Simla Agreement was the flavour of the season . It was also a sure provocation. I spoke what a man of my age and immaturity could say . All in all I came out mighty pleased with my performance , modestly rating my performance worth 70 %. 40 % is what I got ! Taken together with very high marks in the written examination I still sailed through, to be placed fairly high, in fact to be among the topmost , but it took me all these years to decode the grading.
I have been assisting the UPSC as a member on the interview board for the civil services examination for the last couple of years. I keep looking for some bumbler like myself ,as I must have appeared to the interview board before which I appeared , open , self assured, candid, even cocky and speaking the truth as revealed to me . I have looked for him, but looked in vain. Surprisingly I met many more of my own likeness , as I am now , careful, cautious, meticulous . They were so unprovokable, they were so prim and proper, punctilious and patient. May be because they were already approaching thirty, many in the middle thirties, they have seen quite a bit of the world already. They know there is no such thing as intellectual honesty , they know the value of opinion consumerism, so they always hold the correct opinion for the season. It is a procession of correctness, in matters of dress , of mannerisms , of smile , the slight forward bend at precise correct angle. You cannot teach youth to the not- so young.I think the species has become extinct and may be the UPSC discovered that I was paying more attention to my search for the lost tribe. I did not get the invite this year!

Monday, April 1, 2019



Garibi Hatao, a slogan that Mrs. Gandhi deployed to reap electoral dividends is still a blue chip issue and Mr. Rahul Gandhi has discovered the magical properties of the mantra, never mind that more than fifty years (out of which Congress was in power for forty! The BJP in its turn was too busy catering to the ultra-rich,) have elapsed between the two initiatives. The Indian National Congress is heavily invested in poverty, and helpfully, the poor who have stayed poor, come in handy for the grandson as well. When the NYAY YOJANA is being touted as a transformative project I thought it topical to share my considerable experience on the implementation of anti-poverty programmes.
I had the occasion to investigate many of the anti-poverty programmes, in united Bihar, one of the poorest states, during my various assignments where I closely observed the nuts and bolts of the delivery apparatus as well as the mechanics of the programme implementation. This post is a radically summarised version of a larger project -which has since been abandoned -The Parable of the Well Paid Public Servant: A Review of Three Major Poverty Alleviation Programmes (Targeted Public Distribution System, the Dhoti Sari scheme and the Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana, the whole ensemble of Roti, Kapada and Makan.)The write up referred to is more in the nature of a police report- heeding the advice of Pierre Bordeau, the noted French sociologist,- that one must avoid the temptation to turn these stories in to “literature”. The best thing Bordeau says is “to make our readers see that raw absurdity, without any special effects. …. to allow these stories to retain their extraordinary and almost unbearable violence.”
These generalizations draw upon my experience of investigating a slew of anti-poverty programmes but only Targeted Public Distribution Scheme (Red Card, Antyoday) has been cited, given the limited scope of an article and the fact that this particular incident has for long been in the public domain.
This relates to the pre ADHAR regime when identification and targeting errors were the norm.
I propose to state my conclusions in the first part. In the next two I would try to validate those conclusions on the basis of hard, documented facts.
1 In a market driven society the poor cannot create demand nor step up the market, hence they stand in stark contradiction to the logic of the neo-liberal order. Yet there is a very unusual political consensus that will not oppose, either on pragmatic considerations, or for reasons of economic viability, the allocation of resources to poverty eradication programmes, even though there has been routine and unedifying lack of achievement and orientation in meeting the targets. A certain agreed inefficiency in the management of these programmes is also perhaps part of the same consensus. Every culture obligates its citizens to set apart a sum of money towards charity, Dan, or Zakat, where the recipient is an anonymous, incidental medium for ensuring one’s own rites of passage. Poverty alleviation programmes, more than a palliative economic measure, may sometimes appear to be a mode of political correctness and expiation.
2 To introduce some clarity in our thinking, it would be useful to differentiate the role of various agencies. The professional economists, statisticians etc. devise the parameters for defining poverty and methods of arriving at poverty estimates . The government makes the necessary allocation and the budget is approved by the legislature. The problem of identifying the actual poor in accordance with given norms and ensuring that the subsidy reaches the deserving poor –essentially a managerial problem –is the exclusive domain of the bureaucratic apparatus of the state government. The focus of my write up is the numbing indifference and callousness of the bureaucracy and the formidable challenge that it can throw in face of the most determined efforts to unravel the glaring and gross miscarriages of the programme.
3 We are still wedded to the old colonial concept - salvation only at the hands of the district magistrate. The district administration is a preexistent arrangement to be assigned any and every task, howsoever, over worked, or ill equipped in terms of both motivation and skills it may be. The poor achievements in the poverty alleviation programmes can be largely attributed to the fact that the system geared to the task of delivering the benefits is rigid, attitudinally inadequate and unbending to the task in hand. Traditionally the authority of the district magistrate is rooted, largely, in the fact that he commands the obedience of the district police force. But whereas it is advantageous in –maintaining law and order, reigning in the malcontents, performing regulatory functions, the law –and – order – cast –of –mind has a countervailing disadvantage for this kind of a task. The poor, in their inability to articulate their concerns, in claiming their due are vulnerable and helpless like newborn babies. It is not enough to make allocations; it is more important to reach it to his doorsteps and empower him to claim it as his right. The newborn baby and the poor are alike in their helplessness- they are stricken with hunger but cannot articulate it, nor may reach for food howsoever plentiful the availability. Just as the baby has to be helped to the mother’s breast for nourishment a lot of flexibility and hand holding is required in reaching the relief to the poor households.
4 For the poor to benefit from any programme one has to understand the narrow realities of his life and above all have great compassion and commitment. The bureaucracy is also in the monopolistic possession of information, and it can always manage -and manipulate it, to its advantage. But more importantly, performance in this major sector of the state activity and the career rewards of civil servants are not aligned on the same plain. How cavalier can some civil servants be will be evident presently.
5 The poor are mere numbers in the government records and these numbers can be suitably manipulated, doctored and dressed up to paint a cosy scenario which is furthest from truth. So in the government records the poor may flourish, while they continue to languish in reality, hardly touched by the grandiose conception.
6 A fact that has escaped the notice of poverty economists is that the poverty alleviation programmes almost necessarily lead to a large scale impoverishment of the public sphere and the debasement of the values of the community. Since the per capita subsidy is extremely low a very large number of the poor have to be excoriated to make a decent pile. Thus a formidable nexus of graft and rent seeking and fraud on a grand scale develops which engulfs the poor also in a big way. It is the poor who underwrote the values of probity in public life and my contention is that these programmes have irredeemably driven us to this amoral swamp . Think of MNREGA and you will know what I mean!

Friday, March 1, 2019


Tulsi Das's memorable line, " Jaa Kee Rahi Bhavana Jaisee , Prabhu Moorat Dekhi Tinh Tasie"( God in his incarnate form appeared to his devotees in whichever image they wanted him to manifest ),can be said to be a universal and timeless rule of perception; you see , what you want to see. Reality is a mental construct.Imran Khan's decision to release the Indian pilot in captivity has now violently divided Indian opinion. The devotees of Mr. Modi have painted the town red,, claiming it as an instance of his prowess ,his self proclaimed 56'' . Those who are worshippers of other Gods and those who steadfastly mock Mr. Modi's 56” have awarded the game, set and match to Mr. Imran Khan. His statesmanship, his strong desire of snatching peace from the jaws of war are the subject of many analyses .As usual the reality is somewhere in between these extreme positions . Neither is Mr. Modi the God who will provide deliverance from the demon called Pakistan that haunts the imagination of his fanatic supporters nor is for that matter Mr. Imran Khan the peacenik that he is made out to be .
Mr. Imran Khan has the adavantage of his background, he is educated , urbane , he has international exposure he is charming and a glib talker . But make no mistake , he is no different, and the Pakistani establishment is no different from any other. whose raison de etre is the destruction of Inida or at least obstruction of India from economic progress.Mr. Imran Khan is no less a puppet that his predecessors were and he could not have possibly taken this decision without the consent of the military establishment . But ,yes he had the sharp sense of making virtue of a necessity.
There is no way he could have refused to release the Indian pilot in his custody. Everything from laws and conventions to international public opinion was loaded against Pakistan . The only thing that Pakistan could have done was to defer , delay ,and demure . And he tried to do that . Any one who cares to trace the time lines will mark the gradual climbing down and before he made the final dive the news was already out that the benefactor and friend of last resort Saudi Arabia had sent a special envoy of the Prince to IK and USA which keeps Pakistani Military fed and fighting fit , had put in a word . But in six hours flat from a mere offer with conditionality to a unilateral offer of release suggests that the word was accompanied with a suitable gesture as well . No wonder ,POTAS had let us know before IK did ,that we may expect good news emanating from Pakistan.
Mr. Modi's sang froid in face of the pilot's captivity could appear to be cynical but it must have been occasioned by his knowledge of the deveopments. Whether the intent of Indian government of suitably chastising the enemy still holds, will be seen in the days to come. But in the ultimate analysis, no matter how much our blood is on the boil and no matter how much we want to get at each other's throat we need USA's by- your- leave to indulge our blood lust. Not a very edifying assessment but that is how I feel about the whole situation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Thoughts of peace in times of war

I  know it is not the right time. My voice may also appear to be like an insistent out of tune. When the politically correct stance is to go gung ho and do some muscle flexing to advice sobriety and moderation looks like a load of weak livered lubricity.

Thoughts of peace in times of war
Pakistan based terrorists were playing havoc in India for a long time.Their patrons in Pakistani establishment turned a blind eye or evaded with ‘implausible’ deniability their responsibility on Indian pleas to take some action. This time round India has terrorised the terrorists and conveyed the message to their handlers, loud and proper. We have confirmation that the message has registered itself on Pakistani minds. As far as the task of protecting the nation is concerned it is done and dusted. Mr. Modi has proved that he could be as good as his word.
The needless gloating, however, takes away significantly from the moral justness and military logic of the situation. India is a vast country with superpower ambitions as such a muted, understated communiqué would have been quite befitting of its stature. Fewer words and bare facts! In fact complete silence would have impressed the enemy even more, that it was business as usual. It would also have given less cause to the beaten and bloodied bully to manufacture some kind of a response, also less of a chance to get on to the escalatory ladder. Reports emanating from Pakistan speak of mounting anger and rising pressure on Pakistani military to avenge the attack.( Ever since I wrote these words last night intense fighting has begun in some sectors)
The attempt to extract electoral advantage from a event which should be beyond such petty considerations immediately shatters the temporary consensus. It brings in other vultures of the political kind and for them it becomes imperative to deny the claimant the advantage. The competitive claim to spin off from the strike can go to the ludicrous length of reminding how and by whom Mirage 2000s were procured. In many quarters a serious reverse also becomes a secret wish .We know our politicians too well; they seem to be derived from( was it? I am not sure, ) François de La Rochefoucauld, an unsentimental French nobleman. Reputedly he could not sell his mother simply because he could not find a suitable buyer because of her extremely advanced age.
Their open laundering of dirty linen puts the India nation in disrepute because nothing is sacred to them . Already, the all knowing CM of Bengal has hinted at some conspiracy at Pulwama . Squabbling politicians have a made a laughing stock of the surgical strike, let us not drag again into controversy and doubt the professional and honourable gentlemen of the defence forces who serve the nation selflessly . Those who love their country more than others must be prepared to put national interest over electoral interest.
We are not only faced by a rogue, irresponsible state whose energising principle is hatred toward India, but we have also a third party to the conflict: the media on both sides emitting martial noises 24/7 and aggravating tensions. Since a strong booming voice that does not crack up is the only qualification needed for an prime time anchor , they have been quick to disseminate and infect the jingoistic masses with unmistakable symptoms of war hysteria. The Pakistan media is one up on our media in these matters . War is a mind game into which a huge amount of mindlessness is being injected by the social media blocking the last escape route to sanity . It is certainly not an aid to sound decision making.There are no precedent for such an eye ball to eye ball confrontation between nuclear nations so one can't venture any guess. Dangerous times indeed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Rilke the German poet in one of his letters to his beloved Lou Andreas - Salome said “Now I come to you full of future. And from habit we begin to live our past.” This remark, though made in amorous context, aptly describes the preoccupation of our leadership and the tragedy of our country.Saddled with the claims accrued in the past we have deferred thinking about our present and have prorogued the future. Looking back and walking forward, we are fighting tomorrow’s battle with yesterday’s weapons.
The two main issues which are engaging the mind of the nation are related in curious ways,and must be considered as part of an integral whole: they are both throwbacks to our past. It is along these axes that the democratic politics is active today. The clamour to construct Ram Mandir at Ayodhya as well as the more strident assertions for reservation, hew in to the same logic: they seek full reparation today for injustices done to aggrieved groups in historical past.
It is a large, general and undisputed fact of history that the Muslim invaders demolished countless temples and built mosques on the rubble and showed the contempt of a conqueror towards a subjugated populace in many other ways. Whether Babri Masjid was definitively one such is in a parlous state of confusion. Some groups like VHP and other hardliners demand three temples to indemnify them for the large scale destruction of temples by Muslims in the past irrespective of historical specificity of their claims.The combined wisdom of Indian judiciary is busy boning up the fine points of historical scholarship on the veracity of the claim that there was a Hindu temple at Ayodhya before Babari mosque was built. To this extent the juridical principle has been recognized that demand for specific reparation must establish the specific nature of grievance .
The forefathers of members of today's scheduled castes and tribes suffered inhuman indignities and denial of opportunities at the hands of the caste Hindus for ages and it is one of the most shameful chapters of our history. Reservation for them today , also called affirmative action,is by way of compensating them for the lost opportunities to their ancestors in the past . And what could be more affirmative and demonstrative than robbing the present day Peter to pay present day Paul!
Those who came of age in 1950s were discriminated against to advance the claim of their SC/St compatriots. They philosophized this deprivation as their share of the burden for promoting the newly born Republic. The rights of their children were similarly taken away to accommodate the children of the privileged father who had taken away their father’s right. To this generation philosophizing offered no solace. They recognized their helplessness and let the matter rest there. Now when the grand children and great grandchildren of the same groups are similarly being forced by the third and fourth generation of the newly privileged dynasties, they know they are victims of profane majoritarianism, political convenience and the palpable sense of frustration even anger can be seen all over.
Man, mineral and microbes live in different time spans. The constitution provided for a ten year limit to this arrangement which was consistent with the human life span, which is measured neither thousands of years nor in hours and days like mineral and microbes respectively .Many a ‘ten years’ have gone by and it is now seventy years and looks like going to go on forever and forever. For the proponents of social justice,it is an open ended programme which seeks reversal to the old iniquitous and unjust system. They now want to cast themselves in the role of the oppressor, because they are rich in votes, the currency of power today. If the reservation is to last for another thousand, even fifty years what is there to keep the many generations of Indians affected by reservation interested in democratic politics? What does equality of opportunity mean, after all you have only one life to live.
Reservation as envisaged only makes entitlement for Peter and disenfranchisement for Paul hereditary. Give it a free run and it will recreate the arrangement in the vilified Manu Smriti. The dalit should not only be uplifted, the Brahmin must be diminished and demonized .( Tilak , taraju aur talwar, inko maro jute char. BHURA BAL SAF KARO, Abki bar bahdo mein, gori kalayian kado mein). Is it any different from the desire of some ill-advised aggressive elements among Hindus, who would like the arrangement reversed, with Hindus at the top and Muslims relegated to secondary status like it was in the days of hegemony of Muslim rulers. Our politics does not aim at uplifting the outcast, it merely wants to put the tag on other groups by shutting out some castes- from opportunities and relegate them to illiteracy and poverty for long will.
Surprisingly the secular liberal opinion favours a judicial verdict on Ayodhya on the basis of concrete historical evidence but it also supports the strange jurisprudence of indemnifying the living and identifiable beneficiaries for the injustices caused to the anonymous, unidentified ancestors by robbing identifiable progenies of unidentifiable ancestors in the present.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


Several years back in an article ,That Pantomime Artist Known As Police , published in Indian Express( I was fond of seeing my name in papers in those years ) I wrote, “The growing ineffectiveness of state police forces in the face of powerful offenders creates a demand for CBI investigation. This occurs even in cases which are well within the professional and logistic competence of the state police. The CBI itself becomes eminently vulnerable to charges of bias once the affairs of the Central Government become the subject matter of enquiry. The state police forces are well on way to being reduced to a level where they will be good for nothing but ceremonial parades and watch and ward duties and a day may come when the CBI too may face an erosion of credibility. Who shall we turn to then? Interpol, the FBI, or Scotland Yard?". Has that dreaded day come to refer the standoff between the Kolkata police and the CBI to a neutral agency outside our borders.
"For the last several decades ambitious political leaders have sought to create fiercely loyal battalions of bureaucratic palace guards who, if they pass the loyalty test, are exempted from every other. The idea of the neutrality of civil service has long since been jettisoned in practice and the civil servant and political masters often show the internal cohesion of predatory gangs." From my blog Resurrected from Retirement
Mamta Banerjee makes an unprecedented intervention on behalf of her minion, Rajeev Kumar, who had investigated the chit fund scam as per the requirement of his master. Contrary to conduct rules, contrary to the canons of dignified behaviour Mr. Rajeev Kumar Police Commissioner is sitting on dharna along with his CM. The duo are protesting against the CBI which made it convenient to expedite investigation of the same Sarda case at a time and in a manner to help its master score some brownie points against his rival. Some time back the two top most officers of CBI Arun Verma and Asthana, owing allegiance to the two major political parties were engaged in a vicious no holds barred fight, dozens officers ranged on both sides. Big dads of both the political gangs were daring each other on behalf of their minions. We prefer to call these “gang wars” constitutional break down, because our self-image would not let us believe that notwithstanding our claims to maturity as a secular welfare state governed on the principles of west minster system, we are more akin to the earliest political formations where the master personally directed everything and men who owed personal loyalty and allegiance to the master were in charge. These officials “ slaves, household officials, attendants, personal ‘favorites,” were suitably compensated or opportunities were created for them to compensate themselves. Close your eyes, let your mind survey the situation, does it sound like a description of things closer home?
PS : I am reminded of an old aphorism . If you give the monkey a typewriter ( it is an old aphorism before word processors came in ) and let him type away to glory with no constraint on time , in a given period , he will have rewritten all of Shakesperare's plays etc.I believe our constitution is a mandarin text for us and given an infinite number of years we shall make it work . Not just now .

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Life and Death Of George Fernandes: Revenge Of The Grateful

The Emergency made a hero out of George Fernandes. Shackled but defiant, holding aloft the chains that bound him in captivity, he became the symbol of resistance of the free and indomitable human spirit that does not yield to dictators and autocrats.
George Fernandes, was perhaps one minority political figure in recent times whose minority status never cropped up in the context of his rise in politics and power. He needed no introduction other than being himself. Which religious community did he belong to, what was his caste, where did he come from, the highly caste ridden and sectarian constituency of Muzaffarpur in Bihar did not ask these questions before voting him to the Lok Sabha?
Since George Fernades did not live off politics but for politics, totally unrelated people contributed money and resources to get him elected while the man himself was incarcerated. He was such a simple man, his needs were meagre and even his elevation to the cabinet did not alter his life style.
He was a heroic figure hence tragic betrayal at the hands of those who stood deeply indebted to him was very much in keeping with the traditional fate of a hero. A man who created a party, cemented and sustained a durable political alliance and nurtured leaders, was ultimately betrayed by those who benefited from him the most. The giant killer and seven time parliamentarian was made to taste defeat due to the machination of friends and disciples. The grateful had their revenge. He never recovered from the ignominy of his drubbing and gradually slipped into Alzheimer’s leading to complete dissolution of identity. He was lost to himself a long time ago. Yesterday he was lost to the world. Adieu George

Brand Gandhi

The alacrity with which Indians welcome the heirs of their rulers points to the unpalatable fact that our genius is more suited to monarchy than democracy .Indians have loved their monarchs through the ages and foreign extraction adds to the glamour of exoticism .Our fetish for being ruled by those whom we adore is well known, and if the loved one is not available for some reason or the other to do the ruling, we make do with his sandal. Nehru Gandhi dynasty has fulfilled all our latent aspirations and that too while maintaining the facade of democracy.Had Sanjay Baru an adequate sense of history and causation he would not have called Manmohan Singh an “accidental” prime minister.
By the way does not the reversion of Ms Priyanka Vadra to Priyanka Gandhi disguise a cynical intent to exploit the Gandhi name. She already has the pedigree, she wants to add to the legitimacy a sense of piety as well. She is entitled to revert to her maiden name by virtue of belonging to Feroze Gandhi clan but who is this Feroze Gandhi. As a reference point Mrs. Indira Gandhi who had long tutelage under her father Nehru, and later became well known in her own right, sometimes let herself be called Indira Nehru Gandhi, because the name Nehru added stature, Nehru spelt substnace .But does reverting to Gandhi in case of Priyanka Vadra add the same value . Is Feroze Gandhi revered, even known , in the same way as Mahatma Gandhi is?If not, then Priyanka Vadra would have done just fine .In a country with an abysmally low level of literacy, the name Gandhi has the potential of deceiving people or at at least subliminally affecting their choices. ( Indira Gandhi was perceived to be the daughter of Mahatma Gandhi by many people in many countries!)The unusual degree of slavishness and sycophancy of intellectuals and media men at the service of the dynasty is already working hard to make the Gandhi magic happen.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

RANDHIR VERMA, I.P.S(.Bihar R R 1974) Superintendent Of Police Was martyred in an -encounter with terrorists who were trying to loot a bank in DHANBAD, twenty seven years ago.
(This obituary, REQUIEM FOR RANDIR, appeared in Sunday Observer, a paper which has now ceased publication. The present version is a slightly edited version from an old typed copy that I fished out for a forth coming book on Bihar Police. It may differ slightly from the original version that came out . )
Before the fateful day of the 3rd January 1991 there were two Randhir Vermas-RandhirVerma the man and Randhir Verma the legend. In his death the two coalesced. If anything the man far outstripped the legend. I knew a little of both, and it can be said that the manner of his death was perfectly in keeping with his whole character. In the line of duty he thought nothing of setting his personal security at naught. We have it on good authority that earlier on, on many occasions-in Begusarai, in Muzaffarpur, Bettia. Chaibasa-he had sometimes used his bare hands to good account against much better armed criminals. Contrary to the comic notion of police making its appearance on the scene in the last frame, he was there , sometimes in his Pajamas, some times with the shaving lather still intact on one cheek. Always ahead of every one else. In many a hair raising encounters he had left death panting far behind. It seems he was imbued with a sense that he was not born to die-one of the many ploys that death devises to trap its marked victims. But in an endgame with death-death has to have an upper hand.
Those who have served with him hold him in awe; his superhuman courage was matched by an equally formidable array of accomplishments ii the field of sports and athletics. Even in these unregenerate days his integrity remained beyond reproach. But above all was his ability to lead from the front, to chastise the laggards and the pusillanimous by the example of his personal valour. It found its apotheosis in the manner the end came. He went ahead and engagaged the terrorists in mortal combat, disregarding all rules of caution and close quarter combat. The fear of death failed to deter him. In fact he mocked at its capacity -to instill fear. It is in this context that the wisdom born out of hindsight of how he should have challenged the desperadoes becomes jejune even irrelevant. He had his own standards of courage and caution and I am sure he would have been utterly pleased with his own response had he come out alive of this encounter, as he was wont to. In this close encounter of the weird kind he gave with his vintage service revolver the terrorists armed with assault rifles back as good as he got and came out victorious. Destroyed but not defeated.
Superhuman courage was certainly the most spectacular and visible of his qualities but that was not all that the man Randhir Verma was about. It seems he was born to disprove many theories, to demystify many pet notions. He was so humble, so very eager to help and had such disarming and engaging manners that one had almost begun to question the axiom that great abilities are always coupled with a certain hauteur, a cold aloofness, even superciliousness.
He made the largest number of appearances in his familiar role of a troubleshooter for the government. Whether it was marginalizing the activities of the redoubtable and seemingly invincible Kamdeo-Singh or containing the tribal agitation in Chaibasa , success and fame fell to his share as a matter of course. Yet he wore them very lightly. The most remarkable thing was that his success and achievments were never tainted by controversies. One may have a few reservations here and there but the man stood apart, towered above his no mean achievements. Public adulations' and appreciation didri't turn his head. Didn't sweep him off his feet. He remained his own affable, approachable and very, very human self. In a competitive world where people are all the time selling themselves , he refrained from talking about his well-deserved achievements. He was in fact a little secretive about them. He didn't develop an image of himself,therefore, he was not obliged to be a prisoner of his own image. His qualities as an officer were intrinsic to the man. In spite of the enormous pressure of work he radiated warmth and a playful tenderness. His zest for life and the extremely positive attitude quite belied the notion of a harassed, cynical, or tense police officer.
It may appear to be an unashamed hagiography to those unfamiliar with his life but in all fairness to the man there couldn't be another mode of describing him. Any portrait of him has to be larger than life because he was in fact larger than life. It will be extremely difficult to rival his feat but his legend will inspire the generations of officers to come. Of him one can truly say what was said of Alexander “In the shadow of your gigantic achievements we pitch our miserable little tent.”