A colleague asked me a fortnight ago if I knew what had happened to Justice Katju. He had been uncharacteristically silent for the past six months. Was he ill? Had he suffered some family misfortune? Well, Justice Katju is alive, well and, as is his wont, making news. But first a cautionary tale. One afternoon I had gone to see A.B. Vajpayee when he was prime minister, and he was looking glum, not his jovial self. I asked him why. He told me, “After you, Jayalalitha is coming.” He said every time she came she brought a long list of names of bureaucrats, judges, I-T officers she wanted promoted or transferred. Mr Vajpayee said he quietly put the list in his pocket and did whatever he could. Justice Katju’s disclosures are shocking. Happily, they have now been confirmed. The unctuous ex-law minister H.R. Bhardwaj has been caught fair and square. No one will shed a tear at his discomfiture. Former PM Manmohan Singh’s motivations, while indefensible, make sense in view of keeping his government in power. All this, incidentally, is not presented as any justification for what he did.
However, Justice Katju, who is posing many questions, needs to answer a few himself. Why did he wait nine years before going public? Was he, as Fali Nariman suggests, looking for “cheap publicity”? Or was he trying to ingratiate himself with prime minister Narendra Modi, whom he had earlier called Hitler. Justice Katju claims judicial “discipline” prevented him from going public with the information earlier. Ram Jethmalani and Soli Sorabjee counter that, considering the import of the information, he should have resigned as a judge in the national interest to reveal what he has revealed now. Better late than never, says Katju. It is a good answer, but only half an answer.
The silly season for the media in Britain arrives in August. With parliament in recess and the entire cabinet on holiday, there is scarcity of genuine news. As a result, the media highlights stories of a 70-year-old couple arrested for making love in a mini van. If we go by the furore caused by the Ved Prakash Vaidik-Hafiz Saeed interview in Lahore, the silly season seems to have hit our shores too. I also know Mr Vaidik. He is a harmless fellow who floats around the India International Centre accosting people, just as the Ancient Mariner, regaling them with details of his fine deeds. Vaidik has been accused of several crimes and misdemeanours: name-dropping, pretending to be close to Narendra Modi, international mediator, South Asia expert, publicity hound, etc, etc. Are these ‘crimes’ so despicable? Half of Lutyens’ Delhi specialises in them. Come to think of it, all the busybodies denouncing poor Vaidik, indeed demanding he be charged with sedition, are bigger name-droppers and publicity hounds than him. Meeting and interviewing Hafiz Saeed should get him the Ramnath Goenka Award, while RAW should be debriefing him to get vital dope about Saeed’s frame of mind and living environment. Next time I meet Vaidik at the IIC, I will invite him for tea and a hot vegetarian samosa.
Get the Brits on
I never thought it would happen. Harsha Bhogle has met his match. Sitting in the commentary box at Lord’s was a person even more talkative, banal and irritating than our lovable Harsha. And the person happened to be a lady, so I better not write anything sexist. Her name is Isa Guha, which means she has a Bengali father. Why Star Sports hired her will remain a mystery. Ms Guha has an accent which I found impossible to comprehend and her voice is loud and screechy. She makes Harsha sound like an angel. One other grouse. Why is the commentary team full of our own boys? We get enough of Dravid, Ganguly, Manjrekar, Harsha Bhogle doing domestic matches. When an Indian team tours England, one looks forward to the views of Nasser Hussain, David Lloyd, Michael Atherton, Ian Botham. The usual practice used to be to invite one Indian commentator to join the team. Why has that practice been stopped? Finally, what a sight for sore eyes! India has beaten foreign teams at home and overseas mainly because of its spinners. Seeing Ishant Sharma bouncing out top English players with short-pitched stuff and five fielders around the bat, gladdened my heart. Can you imagine: India’s victory at Lord’s was made possible by two medium fast pacers!
A hectic search is on to locate the PM’s tailor/designer. Mr Modi’s Nehru jacket on his trip to Brazil was impeccably stitched and cut. I wonder what the RSS thinks about this pracharak’s wardrobe. I understand Mr Bhagwat is the owner of just two dhotis, which he washes himself, and in case of tear, repairs them himself too!
I enjoyed Bob Willis’s remark that there are more hookers in the English cricket team than in Soho.
Vinod Mehta is editorial chairman, Outlook, and its founding editor-in-chief; E-mail your diarist: vmehta [AT] outlookindia [DOT] com
Vinod Mehta in his Delhi Diary (Aug 4) lists four ‘myths’ conceived by Jean Dreze. What is not a myth is that our country, that occupies 2 per cent of the planet, hosts 20 per cent of its population. Does it have the wherewithal to do so? Our ecology is on the brink, infrastructure bursting at the seams, cities fast becoming cesspools. A world population study estimates India can barely support 650 million people; we’re already twice that.
Naveen Sood, on e-mail
One couldn’t agree more with Vinod Mehta that it would have been nice to hear more of Nasser Hussain, David Lloyd, Michael Atherton and Ian Botham from the commentary box on Star Sports’s telecast of the England-India series instead of the rather too loquacious Harsha Bhogle. I remember the exchange between Michael Holding and Atherton during the first Test at Trent Bridge when the telecast took place in the stadium shop where books by Hussain and Botham (nicknamed Beefy) were being offered at a discount. After a while, the telecast returned to the shop to find that only Botham’s book was on display. Hussain’s had presumably been sold by then. “Poor Beefy’s all alone,” drawled Holding. Atherton let go of one of those wry quips of his: “One hears Beefy’s working on his 13th authorised biography. The Great Writer.”
Raghu Krishnan, Bangalore
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Raja >> Ramki, VM could possibly answer your rather silly and irrelevant question. However, stooping to your level ot stupidity, maybe you can explain why your left nut is smaller than your right nut.
* Raja (n Raheja ???? !!!!!!!!!!!!! ) why do you want to resort to pseudo names and abuse me, why dont you directly assert that your beloved media house will be biased and refuse to be objective and be always a voice of one political party and dynasty that ruined India for 60 years?
Ramki, VM could possibly answer your rather silly and irrelevant question. However, stooping to your level ot stupidity, maybe you can explain why your left nut is smaller than your right nut.
Vinod Mehta >> However, Justice Katju, who is posing many questions, needs to answer a few himself. Why did he wait nine years before going public?
Mr VM, Shri Katju says he will be answering your question , the moment you explain us as to : How after a decade of hate mongering against NaMo, BJP, NDA and ilk, you have become soft and towards the evil hindoo party (aka BJP) especially after May 16 2014?
Care to answer Mr VM?
After a long time I agree with Mr.Mehta completely. Even if you are annoyingly biased all your writings and taunts and self criticisms make good reading
"The unctuous ex-law minister H.R. Bhardwaj has been caught fair and square. No one will shed a tear at his discomfiture. Former PM Manmohan Singh’s motivations, while indefensible, make sense in view of keeping his government in power."
People may now realise the motivation behind the 'supreme sacrifice' by Sainit Sonia. MMS knows it is he who has been sacrificed at the altar.
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