Advertisement
Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
the Secret Diary of

Jairam Ramesh

I’m happy to report that in the days to come I will be seeing more green signals on the horizon. Also, many more U-turns at roundabouts

Jairam Ramesh
Illustration by Sorit
Jairam Ramesh
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I still vividly remember an observation made in 1974 by one of my professors at IIT Bombay. “Jairam, mark my words, it’s all about spectacles,” he said one muggy August morning. I had then mulled over what he had said but left it at that. But today, as environment minister, I understand the significance of what he said 36 years ago. Very clearly, a man’s character is defined by the bifocals he wears. They shape his thoughts, his worldview and whether he prefers chalk to cheese or likes a mix of the two with his filter coffee with Karan Johar. In fact, I would go so far as to say that glasses also influence one’s sense of colour. When I took over at the environment ministry last year, I was gifted a pair of specs by Jean Dreze, Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander and Prashant Bhushan. It was indeed a unique  pair with the left lens twice the size of the one on the right. This made me see red whenever projects came for my approval. And at times (when I am behind the wheel), the traffic light would’ve turned green but I would still see the lal batti on. This led to several occasions when I kept my car stationary while those behind me honked away, raising the decibel levels at intersections. Interestingly, at times drivers ahead of me would also not engage the gears. Their logic: if Jairam Ramesh thinks there is no clearance given, then the red light must be on!

But one can’t keep seeing red. This was explained to me by Dr Manmohan Singh.”You are making a spectacle of yourself with those lop-sided glasses,” he said in his mild manner. “Jairam, you need new glasses and if not you will be remembered for being a chashme buddhu,” was Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s reaction. The long and short of all this was I sought Montek’s advice on where to pick up decent bifocals. He told me the right man to consult is Raghuram Rajan, advisor to the PM. So I fixed an appointment and caught up with him at Lodhi Gardens and we did our own version of Walk The Talk. “It’s all about what you see. In India, people don’t see clearly. That confuses the entire picture,” he said even as he drifted into a monologue on ferns while I hummed John Lennon’s Tomorrow Never Knows. Finally, at the end of the walk, he directed me to an IMF-World Bank-approved optician in Connaught Place. “Jairam,  ask him for U-turn bifocals. That’ll clear your vision.” I must admit he was absolutely right. I now only see green signals. And my driving has also become unique. I can suddenly execute several complex U-turns even as I clear one project after the other. Vedanta, Posco, Lavasa. You name it and I have cleared it. Of course, some of my former activist friends are very upset with me. But they should realise that I don’t report to them. And finally, I’m happy to report that in the days to come I will be seeing more green signals on the horizon. Also, many more U-turns at roundabouts. The new bifocals sure have done the trick....


Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Meet Parag Agrawal: The New Indian Origin CEO Of Twitter

Meet Parag Agrawal: The New Indian Origin CEO Of Twitter

The incoming CEO is an IIT Bombay graduate who joined Twitter a decade back after having worked at Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T in research positions.

Omicron: WHO Warns World Should Be Wide Awake

Omicron: WHO Warns World Should Be Wide Awake

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the emergence of the highly mutated omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is.

Omicron Scare Looms Over IND Tour Of SA, BCCI Awaits Govt Nod

Omicron Scare Looms Over IND Tour Of SA, BCCI Awaits Govt Nod

Several sporting events have been cancelled due to the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron. India are scheduled to tour South Africa for a full series.

How New Covid-19 Variant Is Impacting Travel Across States In India

How New Covid-19 Variant Is Impacting Travel Across States In India

India has issued fresh travel restrictions for international travellers coming from 'at risk' nations in the wake of the Omicron outbreak across several countries in the world.

Advertisement