……… 1962 ………. We were advised to always carry loose cash while travelling by car in New York and offer a $ 5 note to any traffic policeman who stopped us as the New York state police were notorious and corrupt.
We found that the American people were mostly self-centred and inward-looking. They were not concerned about the outside world but only their own town or at most their state capital. By Indian standards their knowledge of the history, economics, and politics of foreign countries was poor.
………. Wankhede Stadium for cricket……… It is said that one rather unflattering remark about Marathi-speaking people made by the president of the Cricket Club of India (CCI) so annoyed Wankhede, who was then the president of the Bombay Cricket Association (BCA), that he decided to have BCA’s own stadium ………. Instead of …… Brabourne Stadium of the CCI. Chief Minister Naik fully supported him, as once he was also reportedly not treated well in the CCI.
……….. I also noticed a curious phenomenon. Many people used to come from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to work. In the beginning one or two men would come alone. Later the would call all their male relatives who would then be followed by the family members. In one case I found that literally a whole village population had shifted from Uttar Pradesh. I noticed that politicians always interfered with the demolition of hutments because they treated them as their vote banks.
But in the ten years between 1977 and 1986, the chief minister changed six times. This political instability naturally affected the quality of governance. To add to it, Antulay played favourites and also bent government machinery to what he wanted to do or undo. The result was there for all to see. Maharashtra administration, which had been known for it's honesty, integrity and efficiency, was badly shaken and infected with the malaise usually seen in some of the northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Rajiv Gandhi ……… could not master his party’s political machinery and mould it in his own way. No doubt Rajiv Gandhi did try, as exemplified by his famous speech in Bombay in January 1986 at the centenary celebrations of the Indian National Congress, when he warned the powerbrokers in the party to behave or move out of the way. But the party machine was too strong for him.
The two factors that hurt him [Rajiv Gandhi] most were soft communalism and corruption.
The genesis of the Bofors affair lies in the practice initiated by Indira Gandhi and further refined by her son Sanjay for collecting funds for the Congress Party ………. Till the middle of the 1960s, during the regime of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, collection of funds for the party was a more transparent business ……….. Collection of funds for one’s party was then not a highly competitive and corrosive practice corrupting the whole social, economic and political fabric as happened later.
B. K. Nehru writes (page 582 of his autobiography)
The day after the funeral I asked Rajiv whether the money Sanjay had collected allegedly for the Congress was safe. He said all they found in the almirah of the Congress office was Rs 20 lakhs. I asked how much Sanjay had collected. He held his head in his hands and said ‘crores and uncounted crores’.
…….. I can say without any hesitation that neither Rajiv Gandhi nor any member of his family received any amount in the Bofors case. Though his personal integrity was beyond doubt, there was strong circumstantial evidence that he knew the names of the recipients but was reluctant to expose them, maybe because they were of the Congress party or close relations or friends of the family …………. I have no doubt at all that after a few more years of experience in politics he would have put his foot down and exposed and punished those guilty of such misdeeds, even if it was his own party or relation or friend……
I have always felt sorry for Zail Singh. I think he was basically a good man but started having ideas about his importance after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The sycophants around Rajiv Gandhi also unnecessarily raised the pitch ………
[Rajiv Gandhi] …….. was not a very lucky prime minister……… If he had been luckier he would have survived these adverse happenings, as happened in the case of many leaders who were infinitely worse than him but were luckier. If he had not been assassinated, he would have certainly come back to govern the country as a mellowed and mature leader and a better judge of men and events.
His years as prime minister should be judged and surveyed with more sympathy and understanding.
Devi Lal should have remained a district-level politician or, at most, a state-level politician; he was not only a disaster at the national level but turned out to be a destructive force also ……… Favour-seeking officers flocked to him, which aggravated the situation…….. Devi Lal was completely uncouth, used vulgar language uttering the choicest abuses in his mother tongue, Haryanvi.
Vishwanath Pratap Singh ……… was in the habit of adopting causes with missionary zeal some times bordering on mania, and one such cause was his drive to cleanse political life. He could have received widespread support for this if only personal vendetta and ambition were not mixed with it …….. he picked on Rajiv Gandhi as a target and his campaign against him appeared like a personal vendetta……….. St Kitts affair ….was a shameless political act by the previous Congress government to involve him and his son in a shady deal purely for political gains and that too in a most dishonourable way. But he was not vindictive ……… He took extra care that no centre of power …. Developed during his prime ministership …….. what a fine private person he is. I have read some of his poetry and seen two exhibitions of his paintings…..that reveal his sensitivity
Chandrashekhar …….. All the senior officers were highly impressed by his unfailing courtesy ………. As a private person he is a fine man. But some sort of bitterness has crept into his personality. He does not trust people easily and is always on his guard. He feels that senior bureaucrats and well-to-do people look down upon him, perhaps because of his earlier years when he had to struggle against adverse circumstances ……… He wanted to leave his mark in Indian history and be a good prime minister whom people would remember afterwards with pride and affection. …… as a private person he is a gem of a man. However, in his ambition to become prime minister he turned into a typical Indian politician. This made his prime ministership a failure ………
The Sri Lankan affair also created and nurtured a cult of violence in Tamil Nadu. The central government conducted training camps for Sri Lankan militants and liberally equipped them with arms. The state government gave them all help and full freedom …… The militants defiantly imported arms from outside which resulted in their free availability throughout Tamil Nadu. Local youth were attracted to the culture of violence ……… As a result it slowly spread into the adjoining states in southern India …….. This was a heavy price to pay for encouraging and harbouring Sri Lankan militants
Five songs - Judith und Holofernes, by Gustav Klimt, 1901 (detail) I've written before of my struggle to appreciate art songs (see "The Songs of Erich Korngold and Re...
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