Ever the insider, Jairam Ramesh is the ultimate outsider. Born in Chikmagalur, yet a chaalu Chemburite. An engineer by education but better known as an economist. A columnist, but not really a journalist. Half-Kannadiga, half-Tamil but a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh. Urban and urbane, but in charge of rural development. If the word ‘Smart’ needed a logo, the most oversized, overflowing pate in Indian politics has a headstart.
The late diplomat, Abid Hussain, once said “Jairam has the highest IQ I have ever come across in anybody”—and anybody who chooses Kautilya as his nom de plume for a newspaper column is making little effort to hide that. His now-defunct homepage unabashedly said, “This website is a public service so that you can leverage my knowledge and experience.” Mani Shankar Aiyar, with whom the Iyengar fell foul, is reported to have said, “The only thing Jairam Ramesh is interested in is Jairam Ramesh.”