Remembering Rajiv…

Sometime in 1986 I tore the middle page of my Arithmetic note-book and began scribbling a letter to Rajiv Gandhi. Fancy a junior school kid writing a letter to the Prime Minister. But, I did exactly this. In my letter to Rajiv Gandhi, I vividly recall writing more about my school and the problems I had with my teachers. I recall congratulating him on his achievements in Punjab. Call it ignorance or lack of understanding of politics as a child, I thought he was the good man and his achievements birthed the halcyon days in the state.Way back then, praises of his clean up of the state had reached a point of ad nauseam. Along with his role in Punjab, trumpets and bugles were blown for his efforts in introduction of the peace keeping forces in Sri Lanka too. Rajiv was the darling of the media. So much so, that even a third grader could predict what the daily news headlines would be. All news began and ended with Rajiv. I hated watching the news but for Rajiv Gandhi. The family by ritual sat to watch the daily DD news over dinner.Switching channels was not even an option. As I would play with the food on my plate, Rajiv would make an appearance. Dressed in customary white, with a starched Nehru cap on his head and his pale rose skin burnt and reddened under the blazing sun, Rajiv was undoubtedly the cynosure for the masses.

I would mimic Rajiv’s speeches. Rajiv was the founder of the banana republic. Every speech of Rajiv’a mandatorily included what he would do for the country and for the people. ” Hum yei banana hai, woh banana hai”.I had watched him amply on Doordarshan, he was the everyday headlines. Every telecast sang a new glory of the young Prime Minister in complete haleness. In the eighties there emerged a spectacular nimbus around Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv was young, dynamic and above all carried the Nehru – Gandhi dynasty clout. A good-looking man that Rajiv was, he surely had the women folk of the country firmly by his side. Now, I know the reason why I wrote a letter to Rajiv Gandhi. I could honestly not imagine writing one to Deve Gowda, not even if I were sent to the gallows and only the Prime Minister could save me!

Rajiv Gandhi was charismatic. Charisma does strange things to the psyche of people. Charisma overrides deficiencies. If I compare Rajiv Gandhi to the many Prime Ministers we have had after him, Rajiv Gandhi still has the edge on the charisma factor. But, due credit must be given to the man for his vision for a dynamic India.With his speech while addressing the Joint Session of the US Congress and India, he famously said, “India is an old country, but a young nation; and like the young everywhere, we are impatient. I am young and I too have a dream. I dream of an India, strong, independent, self-reliant and in the forefront of the front ranks of the nations of the world in the service of mankind.” Rajiv did live up to some of the expectations. Despite taking the office of the Prime Minister purely by riding the wave of sympathy post Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Rajiv Gandhi demonstrated his capabilities as a leader.He was the facilitator for important progress in Telecommunications and IT.

At a time like this with the nerve wrecking commonwealth games around the corner, one cannot help but miss the leadership capabilities of Rajiv Gandhi. Full marks must be given to Rajiv Gandhi who spear-headed the Asian Games. We had every reason to be proud of the games and Apu in 1982. Rahul Gandhi is not capable of following in the footsteps of his Father. I have never had any buoyant hopes on Rahul’s prowess as a leader or an organizer and his lack of involvement with the games has made it even more amply clear.

Bofors did Rajiv in and he was personally implicated in the scandal. But, we are at an age where much larger scandals are trending and Bofors pales in comparison in terms of quantum and significance. A man who took to the skies as a Pilot was reluctant to dabble in politics. But who isn’t? After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi too was a nay sayer and vowed not to venture into politics and look where we are today. As Lincoln famously said – “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

Congress do not appear to be going anywhere despite trying to revive Rajiv back by building statues, naming stadiums and schemes after him or grandly trying to celebrate his birthday. Despite Rajiv’s many deficiencies, he was a leader who represented India well, at least he did not make us cringe when we watched him represent us at international events.When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 in Sriperambadur, fate had the upper hand with him. The same fate kept Jayalalitha away from Sriperambadur. I recall watching images of Rajiv’s gory body splashed in newspapers and flashed on television. The only thing on him that bore semblance to its original form was the Lotto shoes he was wearing that night.

And yes, I did get a reply from him in 1986 and for the sake of Congress, he is much missed.

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115 Responses to “Remembering Rajiv…”

  1. Prashanth K.P. Says:

    Though I may slightly differ with his political acumen, I would agree that he was a PM with definite political potential but lacking political experience, naive and misguided lieutenants who took him elsewhere. However, he carried a charisma befitting a Leader and most certainly was a departure from the “OLD” Man Leadership image we endured until then.

    Anyhow, you have wonderful reminiscence of liaising with a Prime Minister of a great Nation, a feat not many have been able to achieve. And that wonderful piece of acknowledgement written with his own hand is a treasure you have to safekeep and cherish always.

  2. Hello Sharmila ..
    Feeling great as I m reading after a long time.Hope you are well and enjoying life !! Although,dont know alot about him but I heard that because of his letter,AB got a break.
    well take care .. bye.

  3. I loved reading your great piece of work. I was born in 1984 and as such I can not recall anything that dated to late 1980’s. Only thing I can recall that dated to those times was my father’s meeting with Giani Zail Singh, President of India at that time. That also, probably because I could see my dad’s photos with him.

    Charisma, I feel, should be one of the essential characteristics of a person heading a democracy as large as India where people are bound to have diverse opinions. I believe people could fall in line with his vision for Information technology due to his charismatic nature only. As you have correctly outlined, today there is noone who can influence others by his personal appeal as much as Rajiv could.

    It was great to see his hand-written note for you. It is heartening to note that PMs used to reply personally to the received greetings during those times. I would like to know what did you write to him, if possible.

  4. Varun – Thank you for your gracious comment.Lovely to hear about your Father’s meeting with Zail Singh.

  5. Sharmila,

    An interesting post…as is always expected from you!

    Your writing skills gathered momentum early in life, but also got acknowledged soon…that too from the PM – Great to know this!!

    Best Wishes

    PS – I continue to visit your Blog often, tho time constraints do not allow a fuller interaction…. apologies for this !!!

  6. Charisma is something that has always been associated with Rajiv Gandhi.
    Though I was too young at his time, I vividly remember the shock and distress exxpressed by people around me when he was assasinated. May the lord bless his soul.
    A leader like him would definitely boost this country today. Maybe some one is present, just hidden from our view. Hope he/she emerges soon to take charge of our nation.

    A nice piece again from you. Keep it up. Waiting for the next one.

  7. Rajiv Gandhi was India’s only PM who had star appeal in abundance. His persona was a refreshing change from the leaders before him and the fact that he was India’s youngest PM ever, added that much more to his appeal. He was the one who taught us to dream big. Off course, he did commit some very serious blunders but it is a pity that he was assassinated just when he was learning the ropes and evolving into a real statesman.

    • Melwyn – Good to see you back! Yes, dynamic that he was made blunders. But had he lived and went on to get elected for another term, India would surely have had a lot more to gain in the 90s. He would have eventually become a real statesman as you rightly point out,

  8. Rajiv Gandhi was like a breeze of cool fresh air in the vacuum created after His Mother’s assassination and among the bunch of old, stale flock of politicians then….
    He was a charming, charismatic man, loved by majority population of India. He had a totally opposite persona than his Mother Mrs. Indira Gandhi who was known as “The Iron Lady”. Some Used to quote that She is/was “The Only Man” in the Entire Nation. Who single handedly castrated All The Men Of The Country…. esp. politicians…. 🙂
    He always will remain in ppl’s hearts and remembered by as a Good Person and A Beloved PM.

  9. MonaLisa – Lol, the Indira Gandhi manly comparison is quite hilarious but so true, She was quite responsible for the acts you describe and one must not forget that Sanjay too was. There was a vulnerability about Rajiv which was completely absent in the rest of the family, Nehru included. I do not see this vulnerability in Rahul either. I always thought that Priyanka had more flair than Rahul but it looks like other than using her as a prop in Amethi she has been sidelined.

    • Sharmila,
      It’s not very nontraditional or obvious to promote ‘ The Boy ‘ than ‘A Girl’ in the family. A boy is considered to be the natural heir of the family, not A Girl…as she after marriage take her spouse’s last name. One can find ample examples of it. As for example- Junior AB followed his father’s foot steps and AB’s daughter got married at young age.
      Indira Gandhi had the privilege being The Only Child of her parents. Priyanka certainly has dim chances to be the heir of Nehru/Gandhi Dynasty in presence of Rahul.
      Rahul is The Prince in making. Many misjudge him right now. In future they might be forced to change their own opinions.
      Sanjay Gandhi is never forgotten. The reason I didn’t mention him here is- He castrated Men in physical sense, while Indira Gandhi castrated All Men morally. No man had courage to confront her in any sense or No Man was as powerful as She was…or nowhere near close to The Aura she possessed.
      One shall be Thankful to Rajiv Gandhi for his vulnerability , for bringing India in to New Age-Tech Age. The vulnerability of Rajiv Gandhi has played a very Big Role in changing India’s Image Globally too…No Matter who else claiming that credit now…but in True sense It was Him who opened The Doors for India which were tightly shut by the rulers before him.
      India lost a Good Man, A Good Ruler, A visionary too soon….

      • MonaLisa – I hope Rahul is a Prince in making for the sake of the country. There will be a day when he will become Prime Minister whether I like it or not, I only hope he is an able one. I do think Rahul is a duffer, but many thought so was Rajiv. Rahul is surrounded by vultures and they are probably kept at bay only by Sonia. The dynamics of the Nehru – Gandhi dynasty will change after Sonia, but not before. If Rahul does not come of age by then, we would have seen the last of the Gandhi’s.I agree in toto about Rajiv’s vulnerability, it did make a difference to India.

  10. I reiterate ur thoughts on charisma in leaders obliterating all other defeciences.
    Nice piece

  11. Lakshmi Jag Says:

    Very well done…..after a long time you have moved away from the shadows of Pritish Nandy, I hope you will not mind my comment, but something I have observed. He seems to influence your thinking a lot. You might be surprised by Rahul Gandhi, from what I hear he runs the show most of the time, specially when it comes to politics in Andhra…..you must have been thrilled getting a letter from the Prime Minister…good for you

    • Lakshmi – Thank you. Actually, he does not influence my thinking, but he is one person whose thinking matches with mine :). A bit obvious, but I have remained an ardent admirer of the man for a long time now, especially from his days as Editor of telegraph, Illustrated Weekly and TOI. He speaks his mind, no dilly dally and really does not give a damn about repercussions. It’s funny but your comment actually made me do one thing, I went on to AB’s blog and made a request to him to share his views on few important issues. I think he stays clear of pertinent issues, and to be honest there are not many days I find his blog addressing more important issues than acting as a diary. Not sure if many think so, but thought I should let him know..I am surprised you say this about Rahul, from what I hear he is surrounded by smart advisors while he remains a nincompoop.

      And Lakshmi, love reading your candid views. 🙂

      • Lakshmi Jag Says:

        Hi Sharmila….glad you like my candid views…lol. Mr. B’s blog is a diary sort of but he does address issues relevant to his field. I think the reason why I find his blog interesting is for the very reason, he is a ‘feeling’ person and addresses issues by talking through his ‘heart’, probably the reason why he is a great actor. While Pritish Nandy is a journalist and an editor, Mr. Bachchan is an actor….completely two different fields. Being candid is not being practical, specially when yellow journalism is on the rise and some journalists are ready to pounce on every word of his, misconstrue and rip it apart. You know what happened with Slumdog and other issues. I like it when he talks about his colleagues and how he prepared for some scenes, giving an insight for upcoming actors. My worthless two cents, anyway. But one thing for sure, I enjoy reading yours, you are candid and choose subjects that are relevant

    • Fair enough, But I am not comparing the journalist to the actor at all. In fact it does not matter what each one do in their own capacity, but when blogging it would be good to be candid than playing it safe even if one is a celebrity. Yes, AB has been in the spot in the past re slum dog, but so what? He is entitled to his opinion and he should stop letting the media affect him so much. I wish AB speaks his mind on the going ons of the country besides his views on cinema alone. Note that even when it comes to cinema, he never is critical of any one or anything. I am sure he has a myriad views but he blocks himself from sharing it.

      • Sharmila,

        Where are you? So far as I know there is no desert in Hong Kong or Bangalore. So you don’t have any excuses like I do!

        Top three things that you must take from Amitabh Bachchan. (As far back as I can remember)

        1. He writes everyday (even if it may only be about a trot from Jalsa to Prateeksha.)

        2. He checks and replies to emails and text messages.

        3. He is visible.

        Top three things he does that is not necessary:

        1. He under-rates his audience. This makes him swing between the obvious and sophisticated.

        2. He does not exhibit idealism off-screen; does not preach or profess beliefs.

        3. Is commercial about aesthetic creativity – does not let it prevail over him.

        Seems like you are flying again. Be sure that the pilot is not a Kangaroo. I am told that they like to hop while landing…

      • Where art thou now?

      • Present Ma’am…

      • And where is Aishwarya? Have you heard from her?

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Hi Reader,

        Yaad kiya dil ne kahaan ho tum…
        Pyaar se pukar lo jahaan ho tum…:)

        Here I am…back after Onam…

        Aish.

      • Aishwarya,

        Hope bahubali made your day.

        Sochtaa hun ki tujhe milke mayn jis soch mein hun
        Pehle us soch ka maqsoom samajh lun to kahun

        … … … I think these thoughts that stir me upon our meeting
        … … … Let me learn it’s consequences, before I say anything

        Mayn tere shehr mein anjaan hun, pardesi hun
        Tere altaaf ka mafhoom, samjah lun to kahun

        … … … I am a stranger in your town, a foreigner
        … … … Let me learn the meaning of your grace, before I say anything

        Sahir

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        Teri umeed tera intezaar jab se hai
        na shab ko din se shikayat, na din ko shab se hai…
        (Faiz)

        Not sure if Mahabali made my day, but Sahir always does…and no one quotes him better than you do. Thank you.:)

        Mahabali is the grandson of Prahlad. Who is Bahubali?

      • Aishwarya,

        Oops I am sorry… mixed up names…

        Not Bahubali… Mahabali…

        Bahubali is a Jain monk. He stands in a trance in Belur/ Halebid. Bahubali means the one with strong arms.

        Mahabali is Maha-bali… the great sacrifice… he was a dravidian brahmin king who was dispossessed of his rule by Vishnu to protect Indraprastha in the North…

        Sometimes I feel the chonicles of Vishnu avtaar began in the Purana after this episode…

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        That is interesting… Is it because Vamana was the first human form of the Dasavatar?

        Bali Padyami is the third day of Diwali and falls on Oct-Nov. Onam is in Aug-Sep. Both are celebrated every year in honor of the day Bali returns to the earth. Shouldnt the dates coincide?

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        That is interesting… Is it because Vamana was the first human form of the Dasavatar?

        Bali Padyami is the third day of Diwali and falls on Oct-Nov. Onam is in Aug-Sep. Both are celebrated every year in honor of the day Bali returns to the earth. Shouldnt the dates coincide?

      • Aishwarya,

        I am not clear about this. The Vishnu mahapurana does not mention Onam.

        If Vamana is Vishnu, why would he kill himself? Or is Bali another person?

        Who knows…

      • Aishwarya,

        I have checked this just now in the Bhagwatam.

        It says Vamana killed Bali. Bali was not a brahmin. He was an Asura. Bali was only a devotee of Vishnu. Cool.

        So, Bali Pratipada that occurs during Diwali is the day when the devaloka was liberated from Bali.

        There is no mention of Onam. Wonder where this occurs. When was Onam marked as a day in the calender?

        Vamana and Bali are mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharat both. Thats why I said the Vishnu avtaar chronicle must begin from Bali. The calender then was lunar same as we have today.

        Keeping all these Sanskrit literature in mind, I think I am going to die of Alzheimers.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        Onam is as per the Malayalam calendar. The Malayalam calendar was adopted in 825 CE – the year Shankaracharya attained samadhi.

        Retaining all these Sanskrit literature wont kill, but just in case…would you like to grow that beard now?

        Kidding. 🙂

      • Aishwarya,

        I have noticed that I don’t have to remind my chin to grow a beard. It grows by itself.

        I have only to stop knocking it off, which would easier once I start forgetting things…

      • Aishwarya Says:

        And I have noticed that you look good clean shaven…so lets shoo off all dismal thoughts for now…shoo shoo…:)

        Thank you for always taking the time to explain our literature…you make it most interesting.

      • Aishwarya,

        Its not dismal. Remembering too many things can cause an electrical surge and a migraine.

        Losing it all may be good in a way.

        How does it matter if I know anything or not. In my case, discovering anything doesn’t lead to any action. I am not a creator.

        I am not in search of creators either.

        So, nothing can be more blissful than a peaceful memory-less death.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        How can losing our way, forgetting our address, being unable to recognize our home, not knowing how to handle money, and relying on another person for our routine activities be blissful? I dont know if there’s such a thing as a peaceful death, but I would consider being able to look after oneself till the last breath without depending on anyone as blissful. Whether one has a migraine or not, rather not be the cause of migraine for another…is what I feel. Yeh hum Onam se budappe par kaise aa gaye?:( I dont know about AD, but I sure seem to have insomnia – its 2 am! Good night.

        Tc,

        Aish.

      • Aishwarya,

        Too little too late.

        I might have done something about it if blogging and this exchange had occurred 15 years ago.

        I don’t restrict myself anymore. I feed my body with good food. And I feed my mind with good thoughts. I leave both of them to do their own thing – neither advise them nor guide them nor protect them nor bind them.

        That’s all the freedom I need and always had.

        But given the present states, I think the mind will wear out faster than the body.

        The two are not in synch. The mind is growing old faster than the body.

        The dichotomy is sure to take its toll. The mind will kick the bucket first.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        You remember things, be it literature, poetry, science, history, facts or figures far better than others. ‘Mind will kick the bucket first’ isnt a good thought, so let go. There have been promising developments in the methods of early detection and new drugs on trial for AD. Last week, my batchmate, an orthopedic surgeon at Chennai, died in a car accident. The way I see it, he didnt even have a chance at AD. So…lets have a healthy lifestyle – brain and body calisthenics…and choose to be happy…its never too late.:)

  12. Sharmila,

    I will comment on Rajiv Gandhi, Son of Feroz Gandhi and Indira Nehru in the next entry.

    For the moment allow me to quote about somone he left behind: Sonia aka Antonia Maino Gandhi

    Following is an extract published by Dr. Subramanian Swamy

    Do You Know Your Sonia? By Dr. Subramanian Swamy

    Patriotic Indians should thank the President of India for having the courage by citing a legal hitch to dissuade Ms. Sonia Gandhi from staking her claim to form the government in May this year. She therefore did not as expected on May 17th become the Prime Minister of 1 billion plus people of India. It can now be said that the nation has been saved from a monumental, devastating, and permanent injury to India’s national interest and patriotic psyche of Indians. And therefore every effort that can be made in a democracy should be made to ensure that Ms. Sonia Gandhi is permanently out of reckoning for any public office. For those who instinctively understand that, this Note is to explain the factual basis for this conclusion, and suggest what patriotic Indians can do now .

    My opposition to Ms. Sonia Gandhi is not merely because she is Italian—born. In other democratic countries, including in Italy, such an issue [of foreign-born aspiring to be head of government] would not even arise at all because the issue has already been settled by law, that a person cannot hold the highest public office unless he or she is native born.

    In India there is no such law, but the President according to my knowledge, correctly acted on a proviso to Section 5 of the Indian Citizenship Act[1955] which empowers the Union Home Ministry to lay down conditions that apply to Indian citizenship acquired by foreigners by registration, which conditions would be based on the principle of reciprocity, viz., in Ms Gandhi’s case such of those conditions that apply to Indians on becoming citizens of Italy would apply to her.

    The President reportedly told her that if she insisted on being invited to form the government, he would want first to clarify, on a reference to the Supreme Court, whether in view of this proviso her appointment as PM could be successfully challenged in the court. It is fair to assume that this report of the President’s decision, is correct since the President had before him my petition dated May 15, 2004 making just that point— that Ms. Gandhi’s citizenship is conditional, and in particular she cannot be the PM legally. The President had also given me an appointment at 12.45 PM on May 17, 2004 to explain my submissions in person, which I did. I also told him that I would challenge such a constitutional appointment in the Supreme Court just as I had in 2001 when the Tamil Nadu Governor illegally swore in Ms Jayalalitha as Chief Minister.

    In that case, the Supreme Court had after hearing me and many other institutional luminaries, upheld my contention that mere majority in the House is insufficient for being sworn in to a constitutional office. There must be no disqualification as well. Ms. Jayalalitha had therefore to step down because she was disqualified by a conviction handed by a trial court in the TANSI corruption case filed by me as private complaint [she subsequently was acquitted by the Madras High Court, and hence became eligible the next year]. I also cited to the President a 1962 Allahabad High Court case, which held that this proviso in the Citizenship Act was binding and lawful.

    The nation in the Sonia matter has thus got an unexpected but temporary reprieve, a reprieve received not only because her citizenship of India by registration is not equal to one by birth even by Indian law, but also a reprieve more because of what national security risk was averted. To comprehend that risk, we must first understand who Sonia Gandhi really is and what danger she, her family and her friends in Italy hold for India’s national security.

    Even for an Indian born citizen, we find it difficult to know a person’s true background, but for an Italian born it is extremely hard because of the remote access for most people to Italy in language and familiarity. This note is about that danger that Sonia represents to the nation, which the people need to know.

    II

    Ms. Sonia Gandhi’s background as is publicized by her and her Congress Party today, is based on three lies to hide the ugly reality of her life.

    First, her real name is Antonia not Sonia. The Italian Ambassador in New Delhi revealed this in a letter dated April 27, 1983 to the Union Home Ministry which letter has not been made public. Antonia is Sonia’s real name in her birth certificate. Sonia is the name given to her subsequently by her father, Stefano Maino [now deceased] following his return from Russia where he had been a prisoner of war. Stefano had joined the Nazi army as a volunteer. Sonia is a Russian not Italian name. While spending two years in a Russian jail, Sonia’s father had become quite pro-Soviet; especially after the liberating US army in Italy had confiscated all fascists’ properties including his.

    Second, she was not born in Orbassano as she claims in her bio data submitted to Parliament on becoming MP, but in Luciana as stated in her birth certificate. She perhaps would like to hide the place of her birth because of her father’s connection with the Nazis and Mussolini’s Fascists, and her family’s continuing connections with the Nazi-Fascists underground that is still surviving since 1945 in Italy. Luciana is where Nazi-Fascist network is headquartered, and is on the Italian-Swiss border. There can be no other explanation for this otherwise meaningless lie.

    Third, Sonia Gandhi has not studied beyond High School. She has falsely claimed in her affidavit filed as a contesting candidate before the Rae Bareli Returning Officer in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, that she qualified and got a diploma inEnglish from the prestigious University of Cambridge, UK.

    The truth is that Ms. Gandhi has never studied in any college anywhere. She did go to a Catholic nun run seminary-school called Maria Ausiliatrice in Giaveno [15 kms from adopted home town of Orbassabo]. Poverty those days forced young Italian girls to go to such missionaries and then in their teens go to UK to get jobs as cleaning maids, waitresses and au pair. The Mainos were poor those days. Her father was a mason and mother a share cropper.

    Sonia thus went to the town of Cambridge and first learnt some English in a teaching shop called Lennox School [which has since 1970 been wound up]. That is all her “education” is—learnt enough English language to get domestic help jobs. But in Indian society education is highly valued. Thus, to fool the Indian public, Sonia Gandhi willfully fibbed about her qualifications in Parliamentary records [which is a Breach of Ethics Rules] and in a sworn affidavit [which is criminal offence under IPC, severe enough to disqualify her from being MP]. In popular parlance, this is called 420 or 10 “numberi” [not to be confused with 10 Janpath].

    These three lies indicate that Ms. Sonia Gandhi has something to hide, or has a hidden agenda for India. We need to find out more about her.

    III

    Ms. Sonia Gandhi upon learning enough English became a waitress in Varsity Restaurant in Cambridge town. She first met Rajiv when he came to the restaurant in 1965. Rajiv was a student in the University, but could not cope with the academic rigour for long. So he had to depart in 1966 for London where he was briefly in Imperial College of Engineering as a student. Sonia too moved to London, and according my information, got a job with an outfit run by Salman Thassir, a debonair Pakistani based in Lahore, and who has a export-import company headquartered in Dubai but who spends most of his time in London. Thisfits the profile of an ISI functionary.

    Obviously, Sonia made enough money in this job to loan Rajiv funds in London, who was obviously living beyond his allowances [Indira herself expressed anguish to me on this score in late 1965 when she invited me to a private tea at the Guest House in Brandeis University]. Rajiv’s letters to Sanjay, who was also in London then, clearly indicate that he was in financial debt to Sonia because he requested Sanjay who obviously had more access to money, to pay off the debt.

    However, Rajiv was not the only friend Sonia was seeing those days. Madhavrao Scindia and a German by name Stiegler are worth mentioning as other good friends of Sonia. Madhavrao’s friendship continued even after Sonia’s marriage to Rajiv. Scindia in 1982 was involved in a traffic accident near IIT, Delhi main gate while driving a car at 2 AM. Sonia was the only other passenger. Both were badly injured. A student of IIT who was burning midnight oil was out for a cup of coffee. He picked them up from the car, hailed an auto rickshaw and sent an injured Sonia to Mrs Indira Gandhi’s house since she insisted in not going to a hospital. Madhavrao had broken a leg and in too much pain to make any demand. He was taken to hospital by the Delhi Police who had arrived a little after Sonia had left the scene. In later years, Madhavrao had become privately critical of Sonia, and told some close friends about his apprehensions about Sonia. It is a pity that
    he died in mysterious circumstances in an aircrash.

    The circumstance under which Rajiv hastily married Sonia in a Church in Orbassano is controversial but that was his personal matter that has no public significance. But what is of public significance is that Indira Gandhi who was initially dead set against the marriage for reasons known to her, relented to hold a registry marriage with Hindu ceremonial trappings in New Delhi only after the pro-Soviet T.N. Kaul prevailed upon her to accept the marriage in “the larger interest of cementing Indo-Soviet Friendship”. Kaul would not have intervened unless the Soviet Union had asked him to.

    IV

    Such has been the extensive patronage from the beginning extended to Sonia Gandhi from the Soviets. When a Prime Minister of India’s son dates a girl in London, the KGB which valued Indo-Soviet relations, obviously would investigate her and find out that she was the daughter of Stefano, their old reliable Italian contact. Thus, Sonia with Rajiv meant deeper access to the household of the Indian Prime Minister. Hence cementing the Rajiv-Sonia relations was in the Soviet national interest and they went to work on it. And they did through their then existing moles in the Indira Gandhi camp.

    After her marriage to Rajiv, the Soviet connection with the Mainos was fortified and nurtured by generous financial help through commissions and kickbacks on every Indo,Soviet trade deal and defence purchases. According to the respected Swiss magazine, Schweitzer Illustrate [November 1991 issue], Rajiv Gandhi had about $ 2 billion in numbered Swiss bank accounts,which Sonia inherited upon his assassination. Dr. Yevgenia Albats, Ph.D [Harvard], is a noted Russian scholar and journalist, and was a member of the KGB Commission set up by President Yeltsin in August 1991. She was privy to the Soviet intelligence files that documented these deals and KGB facilitation of the same. In her book,The State Within a State. The KGB in Soviet Union, she even gives the file numbers of such intelligence files, which can now be accessed by any Indian government through a formal request to the Kremlin.

    The Russsian Government in 1992 was confronted by the Albats’ disclosure; they confirmed it through their official spokesperson to the press [which was published in Hindu in 1992], defending such financial payments as necessary in “Soviet ideological interest”.

    When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, things changed for Ms. Sonia Gandhi. Her patrons evaporated. The rump that became Russia was in a financial mess and disorder. So Ms. Sonia Gandhi became a supporter of another communist country to the annoyance of the Russians.

    The national security ramification of this ‘annoyance’ is now significant: The President of Russia today is Putin, a former dyed-in-the-wool KGB officer. Upon Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government taking office, Russia called back it’s career diplomat Ambassador in New Delhi and immediately posted as the new Ambassador a person who was the KGB station chief in New Delhi during the 1970s. In view of Dr. Albats confirmed revelation, it stands to reason that the new Ambassador would have known first hand about Sonia’s connections with the KGB. He may have in fact been her “controller”. The new Indian government which is defacto Sonia’s, cannot afford to annoy him or even disregard Russian demands coming from him? They will obviously placate him so as not to risk exposure. Is this not a major national security risk and a delicate matter for the nation?

    Of course, all Indians would like good normal and healthy relations with Russia. Who can forget their assistance to us in times of need? Today’s Russia is the residual legatee of that Soviet Union which helped India. But just because of that, should we tolerate those in our government set up having clandestine links with a foreign spy agency? In the United States, the government did not tolerate an American spying for Israel even though the two countries are as close as any two countries can be. National security and friendship are asdifferent as chalk and cheese.

    In December 2001, I had filed a Writ Petition in the Delhi High Court with the photocopies of the KGB documents, and sought a CBI investigation, which the Vajpayee Government was refusing. Earlier, Minister of State for CBI, Vasundara Raje [now Rajasthan CM], on my letter dated March 3, 2001, had ordered the CBI to investigate. But after Sonia Gandhi and her party stalled the proceedings of Parliament on this issue, the then Prime Minister Vajpayee cancelled Vasundara’s direction to the CBI.

    The Delhi High Court issued a direction to the CBI to ascertain from Russia the truth of my charges. The CBI procrastinated for three years, and finally told the Court without an FIR registered the Russians will not entertain any such query. But who stopped the CBI from registering an FIR? The next hearing of the case is on September 8th.

    ————–

    V

    After Sonia married Rajiv, she went about minting money with scant regard for Indian laws and treasures. Within a few years the Mainos went from utter poverty to billionaires. There was no area that was left out for the rip-off. On November 19, 1974, as fresh entrant to Parliament, I asked the then Prime Minister Ms. Indira Gandhi on the floor of the House if her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi was acting as an insurance agent of a public sector insurance company [Oriental Fire & Insurance], giving the Prime Minister’s official residence as her business address, and using undue influence to insure all the officers of the PMO while remaining an Italian citizen [thus violating FERA]? There was uproar in Parliament, but Mrs. Indira Gandhi had no alternative but to cut her losses. She made a rare admission that it was so, and that it was by mistake, but that Sonia had resigned from her insurance agent status [after my question]. But Sonia was incorrigible. Her contempt for Indian law continued to manifest.

    The Justice A.C. Gupta Commission set up by the Janata Party government in 1977 came out with a voluminous report on the Maruti Company then owned by the Gandhi family, and has listed eight violations of FERA, Companies Act, and Foreigners Registration Act by Sonia Gandhi. She was never prosecuted, but can be still prosecuted because under Indian law, economic crimes not subject to the statute of limitation.

    In January 1980, Indira Gandhi returned as Prime Minister. The first thing Sonia did was to enroll herself as a voter. This was a gross violation of the law, enough to cause cancellation of her visa [since she was admittedly an Italian citizen then]. There was some hullabaloo in the press about it, so the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer got her name deleted in 1982. But in January 1983, she again enrolled herself as a voter! Such is her revealed disdain for Indian laws and that is her mindset even today.

    VI

    The bottom line observed in Sonia’s mindset is that she can always run back to Italy if she becomes vulnerable at anytime. In Peru, President Fujimori who all along claimed to be “born Peruvian”, faced with a corruption charge fled to Japan with his loot and reclaimed his Japanese citizenship.

    In 1977, when the Janata Party defeated the Congress at the polls, and formed the government, Sonia with her two children, abandoned Indira Gandhi and ran to the Italian Embassy in New Delhi and hid there. Rajiv Gandhi was a government servant then [as an Indian Airlines pilot], but he too tagged along and hid in that foreign embassy ! Such was her baneful influence on him. Rajiv did snap out Sonia’s influence after 1989, but alas he was assassinated before he could rectify it. Those close to Rajiv knew that he was planning set things right about Sonia after the 1991 elections. She did too know of it because he had told her. Ever wonder why Sonia’s closest advisers are those whom Rajiv literally hated? Ambika Soni is one such name. Ever wonder why she asked the President of India to set aside, on a mercy petition, the Supreme Court judgment directing that Rajiv Gandhi’s LTTE killers be hanged to death, when she was not similarly moved for Satwant Singh who killed Indira Gandhi or recently for Dhanajoy Chattopadhyaya? The explanation for this special consideration for the LTTE lies in what Rajiv had told her in 1990.

    Those who have no love for India will not hesitate to plunder her treasures. Mohammed Ghori, Nadir Shah, and the British scum in the East India Company made no secret of it. But Sonia Gandhi has been more discreet, but as greedy, in her looting of Indian treasures. When Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were PrimeMinisters, not a day passed when the PM’s security did not go to the New Delhi, or Chennai international airport to send crates and crates unchecked by customs to Rome. Air India and Alitalia were the carriers. Mr. Arjun Singh first as CM, later as Union Minister in charge of Culture was her hatchet man. Indian temple sculpture of gods and goddesses, antiques, pichwai paintings, shatoosh shawls, coins, and you name it, were transported to Italy to be first displayed in two shops owned by her sister [i.e., Anuskha alias Alessandra]. These shops located in blue-collar areas of Rivolta [shop name: Etnica] and Orbassano [shop name:Ganpati] did little business because which blue collar Italian wants Indian antiques? The shops were to make false bills, and thereafter these treasures were taken to London for auction by Sotheby’s and Christies. Some of this ill-gotten money from auction went into Rahul Gandhi’s National way into the Gandhi family account in the Bank of America in Cayman Islands.

    Rahul’s expenses and tuition fees for the one-year he was at Harvard, was paid from the Cayman Island account. What kind of people are these Gandhi-Mainos that bite the very hand of Bharat Mata that fed them and gave them a good life? How can the nation trust such greedy thieves?

    Since I failed to persuade the Vajpayee government to defend India’s treasures from plunder by the Mainos, I approached the Delhi High Court in a PIL. The first Bench of the court issued notice to the Government, but since the Indian government dragged it’s feet, the Court directed the CBI to seek Interpol’s and Italian government’s help. The Italian government justifiably asked for a Letter Rogatory for which a FIR is a pre-requisite. But the Interpol did oblige and submitted two voluminous reports, which the Court directed the CBI to hand over to me. But CBI has refused, and has claimed privilege! The CBI has also been caught lying in court by telling the judges that Alessandra Maino is a name of a man, and Via Bellini 14, Orbassano is a name of a village [not the street address of the Maino’s residence]. Although the CBI counsel had to apologise to the court stating he made a mistake, he has been promoted to Additional Solicitor General by the new government! The Vajpayee-Sonia mutual assistance pact is in full view. The case now comes up on September 8th.

    But the most sinister aspect of Sonia Gandhi’s character is her connection with terrorists. I am still working on it, but she has had long connection with the Habash group of Palestinian, and has funded Palestinian families that lost their kith and kin in a suicide bombing or hijacking episode. This, Rajiv Gandhi himself told me and was confirmed to me [the funding] by Yassir Arafat when I met him in Tunis on October 17, 1990 at the request of Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi and I were good friends from 1978, but became very close buddies after V.P. Singh had betrayed him in 1987. We met practically every day, mostly in the early hours from 1AM to 4AM. It was at my suggestion that he made Chandrashekhar the PM. And contrary to public impression, he was not mainly responsible for the fall of Chandrashekar government in which I was a Minister.

    Besides the Palestinian extremists, the Maino family have had extensive business dealings with Saddam Hussein, and surprisingly with the LTTE [“the Tamil Tigers”] since 1984. Sonia’s mother Paola Predebon Maino, and businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi were the main contacts with the Tigers. The mother used the LTTE for money laundering and Quattrocchi for selling weapons to earn commissions.

    Sonia’s conduit to the LTTE has been and is through Arjun Singh who uses Bangalore as the nodal point for contact. There is a string of circumstantial evidence pointing to the prima facie possibility that the Maino family may have contracted the LTTE to kill Rajiv Gandhi. The family may have assured the LTTE that nothing would happen to them because they would ensure it is blamed on the Sikhs or the evidence so much fudged that no court would convict them. But D.R. Karthikeyan of the CBI who led the SIT
    investigation got the support of Narasimha Rao and cracked the case, and got the LTTE convicted in the trial court, and which conviction was upheld in the Supreme Court.

    Although on the involvement of Congress Party in the assassination, DRK soft peddled on a number of leads perhaps because he did not want political controversy to put roadblocks on his investigation as a whole. The Justice J. S. Verma Commission, which was set up as the last official act of the Chandrashekhar government before demitting office on June 21, 1991, did find that the Congress leaders had disrupted the security arrangements for the Sriperumbudur meeting. The Commission wanted further probe into it but the Rao government rejected that demand. In the meantime under Sonia’s pressure, the Jain Commission was set up by the Rao government, which tried to muddy the waters and thus exonerate the LTTE. But the trial court judgment convicting the LTTE came earlier, and that sinister effort too failed.

    Nowadays, Sonia is quite unabashed in having political alliance with those who praise Rajiv Gandhi’s killers. No Indian widow would ever do that. My investigations into Sonia’s involvement in Rajiv’s assassination is therefore still on. I am also author of a best seller titled Assassination Of Rajiv Gandhi,Unasked Questions and Unanswered Queries [published by Konark in 2000] in which I have given some indications.

    Is it not significant that the political career of Sonia Gandhi advances concomitantly with a series of assassinations and apparently accidental deaths? How did Sanjay’s plane nosedive to a crash and yet the fuselage not explode? There was no fuel! Why was there no inquiry conducted? Is it not a fact that Indira Gandhi died because of loss of blood from the wounds and not directly due to a bullet impacting her head or heart? Then is it not strange that Sonia had insisted that the bleeding Indira be driven to Lohia Hospital — in the opposite direction to AIIMS, which had a contingency protocol set up for precisely suchan event? And after reaching Lohia Hospital, did not Sonia change her mind and demand that they all drive to AIIMS thus losing 24 valuable minutes.

    The same kind of mystery surrounds the sudden deaths of Sonia’s other political roadblocks such as Rajesh Pilot, Jitendra Prasad, and Madhavrao Scindia. Such things happened in the dark ages in Italy. Should we allow it India like dumb cattle?

    What Can We Do?

    We have to ensure that the Maino clan does not stay in power. Dr. Manmohan Singh may be PM, which is a small relief, but he is not a fighter. The real power in government today is wielded by the Maino mafia gang. Can they be dethroned?

    In Indian democracy, only a shocking scandal can unseat a government other than by losing majority. Today’s priority is not for toppling the Congress government as such since Manmohan Singh is a decent and scholarly person, but in driving the Maino clan out of India. It will however not be long before Sonia will give Manmohan Singh marching orders, and he will march out meekly. We should not expect him to resist.

    With Sonia’s defacto government in place, it is also unrealistic to expect that I can get an early victory in the courts on the KGB and antique smuggling cases.

    The most potent weapon therefore to dislodge the Maino clan [including Rahul and Priyanka] is by exposing their Italian citizenship. In 1992, Sonia revived her citizenship of Italy under Article 17 of the Italian Citizenship Law [Act 91 of 1992]. Rahul and Priyanka were born Italian citizens because Sonia was Italian when she gave birth to them [Italian law based on jure sanguinis]. Hence, they continue be Italians since they never renounced it. Both have been traveling abroad on Italian passports. They may now acquire Venezuela passports since Rahul’s girl friend Veronica is a Venezuelan. That means one more foreign bahu for us tolerant Indians. The Maino-Gandhis are certainly getting globalized. So what can patriotic Indians do?

    • Reader – Thanks for this link. I recall reading this on Swamy’s website. Sonia is somebody I find extremely difficult to trust to say the least. Her biography is like a jig saw puzzle, there may be a lot more that is yet to be discovered about her or her mafia connections. Scindia was not the only one who died in mysterious air or car crashes, there have been a few more. Starting with Sanjay, Scindia, and even Rajshekar Reddy from Andhra. Rajesh Pilot died in a car crash. From a mourning widow post Rajiv’s death, she has ensured that she firmly holds the reins of power. Even in the Bofors scandal when Rajiv was implicated, Quattorocchi the main link is a close friend of Sonia’s.

      • Sharmila,

        Swamy makes many pragmatic points. The loose ends may remain forever. We don’t have a 30 year limit as in US & UK.

        For example, if Quattorocchi was supplying ammunition to Prabhakaran then the RDX packet that Dhanu blew Rajiv with came from one of those consignments.

        My personal opinion on Swamy’s article is:

        A country cannot be illuminated by a few glow-worms. For that the darkness of the night has to be eradicated… there has to be a sunrise…

        A Sun-rise not a son-rise…

        🙂

      • Sharmila,
        It is surprising though that both Scindia and Pilot’s sons are in politics. They both won election and serving holding good portfolios.

    • Reader,
      ” With Sonia’s defacto gov. in place, it is also unrealistic to expect that i can get early victory in the courts on KGB and antique smuggling cases.”
      What exactly do you mean by that…!? I feel totally lost in this matter… 😦

      • I await the reply from Reader too.

      • MonaLisa, Sharmila,

        These are Dr. Swamy’s words. He has a Public Interest Petition (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court based on all his findings. The case is pending. This is one of the reasons Sonia has not filed a defamation suit against Swamy.

        Sonia was questioned by the President when she was listed as one of the probables for the PMs post. The PIL made it difficult for her to stage a fight.

        Swamy has also claimed that Sonia is the daughter of a Nazi, which makes it impossible for her to defend herself as he adds further that the KGB converted her father into a Soviet agent after the war.

  13. Sharmila,

    राजीवपत्राक्षो Rajiv-patraksho occurs first in the description of Lord Rama. It means the Lotus eyed…

    It may or may not apply to Rajiv the Gandhi.

    Genetically, Rajiv Gandhi was a true blood Aryan. His father Feroz was a Persian of Zoroastrian descent and mother Indira was a Kashmiri Pandit.

    Indira Gandhi’s accidental marriage to Feroz was also a story of trans-national dimensions.

    Indira Gandhi was devoted to a German who was studying with her in Rabindranath Tagore’s school Shantinekatan. Tagore reported her to her father Nehru. The German left India without further ado.

    Feroz caught Indira Gandhi in one of her weakest moments in Switzerland where she was nursing her mother, Kamala Nehru.

    In India, the children carry the name and religion of the father. So Rajiv was born Rajiv Feroz Gandhi. (Not related to Mahatma Gandhi in anyway).

    His children are christened Raul and Pianka – names common to Indians and Italians.

    Have you heard of R. K. Dhawan? He was Indira Gandhi’s secretary and confidante. He was walking behind her when she was shot by her guards, but refused to give witness in the court. Ram Jhetmalani, who was the defense lawyer for the assassins, made a lot of noise about Dhawan’s silence.

    R. K. Dhawan was feared by every politician in the country. He maintained a file on every politician and eventually established what is very commonly called today as ‘The Congress High Command’. One word from him and a Chief Minister would submit his resignation without a whimper.

    It was Dhawan who guided Rajiv in the initial days after Mrs Gandhi’s assassination. Sonia has inherited a wealth of dark information.

    Rajiv was not a statesman. He was a good friend and a kind person. He was not keen on history or political sensibilties that prevailed during his time in the Congress. I think Sitaram Kesari was the CWC President then.

    The coterie of spin doctors and international brokers was lead by Narsimha Rao.

    Rajiv Gandhi’s short stint at the helm was a political suicide for the congress in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India. His coterie sidelined the most powerful leader in UP then – V. P. Singh.

    Vishwanath Pratap Singh was a popular socialist and a descendent of the royal families in UP. He was a Finance Minister in Rajiv’s government. The Bofor’s case was a fallout of their rift. The sleaze money that was allegedly used by Rajiv to support Benazir’s election in Pakistan.

    One of my ex-bosses was an army officer in the IPKF corps that was sent to Sri Lanka to clear the estates adjacent to Jafna.

    Rajiv’s assassination after that reminds me of a verse from the Rig Veda

    नीचावया अभवद व्रत्रपुत्रेन्द्रौ अस्य वधर्जभार |
    उत्तरा सूरधरः पुत्र आसीद दानु: शये सहवत्सा न धेनु: ||

    Rig Veda 1.32.9

    Translation

    Daanuh, the mother of the evil force ‘Vrtra’, lowered her arms;
    Indra flung the striking weapon below her |

    The mother was above, the son below;
    Daanuh lay asleep like a cow with her calf ||

    • Reader,
      What do you mean by “He(Rajiv) was a good friend and a kind person.”
      Was ‘Rajiv Gandhi’ your Good Friend…!?

      • LOL…Reader is getting his sniper ready now.

      • He was a good friend and a kind person. Here is an example:

        Actor, Producer, Director Mehmood was once looking for a hero for his film ‘Bombay to Goa’.

        He was sitting on Feroz Khan’s terrace chatting about the film when he saw a tall lanky Amitabh Bachchan walking in through the lawns accompanied by a fair handsome friend.

        Mehmood quickly picked AB’s friend for the role and said so to Feroz Khan. (FK)

        FK asked him to talk to them as they came up the stairs.

        AB shook hands with the two and introduced his friend as Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi, the PM.

        Mehmood looked around himself and quietly signed AB for the film!

        That’s how good Rajiv was as a friend. He supported AB in his earliest days.

        In return AB dropped all his commitments when Rajiv called him to join his political battle against V. P. Singh in UP.

        But when things didn’t work out he let AB resign and step-out.

        AB left the Gandhi fold only after Rajiv’s death. And I guess for good reasons as we note from Swamy’s version.

  14. Reader – One thing I would love is a peek at the dossier of RK Dhawan’s 🙂

    • Lol…..Sharmila..! That makes Two of us…..The curious cats…! 🙂

      • Sharmila, MonaLisa,

        Behind every iron lady is a quiet unassuming man…

        R. K. Dhawan was a one-man nightmare for corrupt politicians.

      • Reader,
        AB definitely is a Sun Worshipper it seems…. ‘A Rising Sun’…! worshipper…! 🙂
        Its hard to believe the way you defending him…I don’t believe AB did any favor to Rajiv entering into politics. Who doesn’t love to be in power..!?
        Another victim is Amar Singh. Did JB favor him becoming MP…!? It was other way around yet she didn’t resign and support Amar Singh but stuck to her chair. Now when it back fired she refused to run for the post again on a very later stage…duh..!
        They dropped Amar Singh like a Hot Potato after he resigned…! hehe…. That’s what I heard…! 🙂

      • MonaLisa,

        The politics of Rajya Sabha is very peculiar. Members are nominated by parties.

        I had predicted long back when Amar Singh was in the hospital in Singapore that Jaya Bachchan is going to struggle keeping her Rajya Sabha post which was up for grabs in May.

        The news was that the sectarian lobby in Mulayam’s inner circle had already drawn battle lines against the two most powerful leaders in their party – Amar Singh and Kalyan Singh.

        Jaya Bachchan is now permanently on government pension and facilities as she has been a Rajya Sabha member once. She doesn’t need to be in politics anymore.

        I don’t believe there is anything called brotherhood in Amar Singh’s politics. AB submits to Amar Singh’s wishes probably because of the strings that Amar Singh holds on him.

        Amar Singh is one of the directors of ABCL. And AB is one of the directors in that Power Company in Calcutta owned by Amar Singh. It’s plain business.

        I don’t believe there was business between Rajiv Gandhi and AB. Both were not into politics till the sudden deaths of Sanjay Gandhi and Indira Gandhi.

        There is no reason to believe that AB is a social worker. He seems too private a person for public service. He stood for elections from UP only at the behest of Rajiv and undermine V.P. Singh’s clout in the state.

        V.P. Singh fired back with the Bofors 155 mm Howitzer gun. The rest is history.

  15. Some points of Swamy are credible while some are not. His assumption on Rahul taking up Venezuelan passport id ludicrous. Also, I may be missing the point here but how could Rahul file his nomination in Amethi if he did not hold an Indian passport? Or is anybody not checking?

  16. Rahul & Priyanka’s claim to Italian passports is by virtue of their birth in Italy to an Italian citizen.

    Their father Rajiv was an Indian, so they are automatically Indians.

    But you cannot tell anything these days, if you have heard the news about Viswanathan Anand being asked by the HRD Ministry to prove that his an Indian.

    Going by this rule of proof, I am sure 80% of the tribals and villagers in India cannot prove that they are Indian… !

    This is a real good opportunity if anyone is prepared to invest in it. We can outlaw the entire population outside New Delhi and start a new nation of believers…

  17. Sharmila,

    A renowned religious scholar and a very close friend once asked me,

    “R, tell me… how can such a lot of people on this planet believe in a Godless world?”

    I took about 3 hours over half a dozen mugs of coffee to answer that. And after I had finished he had tears of joy in his eyes…

    Very sensitive these scholars…

    Following is the gist of what I told him:

    ‘Sir, knowledge is not a vehicle of escape. It is lighter than a vacuum yet stronger than the Sun’s gravity.

    ‘There is a word in Sanskrit called ‘Dharm’ . I cannot translate it into English. But, believe me, Dharm is all one needs to live in this world. No one needs God.

    ‘Let me explain Dharm as much as I can.

    ‘The Hindu scriptures are full of eulogies for dharm. In the Mahabharat it is said, “Dharma eva hato hanti; dharmo rakshati raksitah” . Which means, ‘It is dharma that annihilates and it is dharma that protects’

    ‘It is ironical that Duryodhana’s mother Gandhari says, “yato dharmastato jayah” Duryodhana was killed for his adharma – his injustice and unethical conduct towards his brothers.

    ‘Dharm can be translated variously as Religion, Law, Duty, Ordinance, Rite, Code of Conduct and so on.

    ‘Everything in this world appears to have a beginning and an end with an interim period of consciousness.

    ‘It is natural for human intelligence to conceive a beginning of this creation and to posit a God who existed before the creation.

    ‘For example, Sadeva somyedaamagr aasit, ekamevaadvitiyam… tadaiksata bahu syaam prajaayeya iti Chandogya Upanishad

    ‘Which means, “My dear, in the beginning Truth (Reality) alone existed, the One without duality. It reflected, “May I become many!”

    ‘The Many needed an integrating law or a principle. This is called Dharm

    ‘In Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad it is said,

    Tat sreyorupam asrjata dharmam… Tasmaat dharmaat param naasti… yo vai sa dharmah satyam vai tat

    Which means, “This singularity created that Dharm.. in the nature of the highest moral state… there is nothing greater than that… Dharm verily is the Satya – the Truth

    ‘The Mahanarayana Upanishad calls it Dharmo visvasya jagatah pratistha i.e. Dharma is the founding principle of our world.

    ‘In the Rig Veda Dharma is mostly used as Duty which was abused later in the caste system as varna-aashrama-dharma – Caste, vocation and duties…

    ‘In the Bhagwat Gita, Dharm is righteousness, the basis of Purushaartha

    ‘In the Ramayan, the first of the two epics, Valmiki says, “Raamo vigrahavaan dharmah” Lord Rama is Dharm personified…

    ‘Dharm is pragmatically first defined in the second epic Mahabharat . It calls it “Dhaarnaad Dharmam ityaahuh dharmo dharyaate prajah” – Which means, They call it dharm since it upholds (Dhr means support); it is dharm that sustains the world.

    ‘The word Dharma is used to denote ‘Self’ or ‘Soul’ or ‘Atman’ in the Katha Upanishad it says Anuresa Dharma .

    ‘There are volumes of codes written for the constitution of human societies. Each one is called a Dharma-Sutra. There are also Dharma Systems called Smriti and Mimamsa and Vaisesika. Manu Smriti is one of the oldest of them.

    ‘There is one last thing I would like to point out. Manu, the earliest of these great gurus has also written that when a dharm is hated or disliked by people (Lokvikrata) it must be given up. (Manu Smriti)

    ‘Very democratic Dharm… na?

    ‘So you see, from cosmic divinty that is metamorphosed into social ordinances every principle is covered by this one concept called Dharm.

    ‘Now you tell me Sir, do you still think that they do not believe in a volitional God?’

    I don’t remember what he said after that. The six mugs of coffee were already making my intestine swing like a python having an epileptic fit… so I excused myself…

    🙂

    • Reader,
      What are the definitions of “Dharma” and “Adharma”…..?

      • Dharma is all that I have said above. Law, Righteousness, duty, code of conduct, social order etc.

        Adharma is its opposite.

        Duryodhana’s mother says before the war that Dharma will win the war.. her son is killed by Krishna to prove that…

        A humanitarian law, Righteousness, Sense of duty and a proper code of conduct in a just social order is all that is required for progressive nation…. not the omnipresence of God… Dharma is Godliness…

  18. Reader – here I am:) enjoyed your note on dharma, those scholars would have learnt a thing or two.

    • Its mutual. They are scholars. I am only a student. I learn more from them than they do from me.

      Also, each one has a beard that hangs upto the waist… i am no match!

      🙂

      • Reader,
        A Beard makes one a scholar or is it must have for scholars..!?

      • Doesn’t it look good?

        Its one of my dreams before I hand in my dinner pail. I shall grow a beard that I can tweek while I talk!

  19. Reader,
    I understand Adharma is opposite to Dharma but
    If ‘Dharma’ is code of conduct,law etc etc….then it changes time to time,country to country,person to person…..
    There can’t be any Universal thing like Dharma…..

    • MonaLisa,

      Yes it does. Philosophy is the relationship of a person with the living universe around him. I need a full body cover on the arctic and light clothes in the desert.

      Also, as Manu says in his book, Dharma if rejected by the people must be scrapped and written a-new.

      Dharma is not a Universal Constant. But it is enough to live on earth.

      • Reader,
        If Dharma is not Unvrsal constant then How does one decide what’s right and waht’s wrong…..All do not possess the same Intellect and power to differentiate right and wrong….
        What’s good for one could be bad for the other…..one’s loss is the other’s gain…
        So probably that’s where religion steps in….To decide code of conducts for that particular masses.
        Yet that doesn’t provide the clear cut idea of Dharma…
        So whatever one’s discration allows is one’s Dharma..!? Then where & when do Right & wrong step in…!?
        Is that the meaning of “Dharayate iti Dharma.”

      • Dharayate dharma means dharma upholds your conduct.

        What is right-wrong, true-false, good-bad has to be decided be each person and that decision leads him to his destination.

        Krishna calls the action, Karma.

        In earlier days, these codes were written for the society in books called Dharma-Sutra.

        Today, we have its equivalent called The Constitution. Each nation has its own… and the people are at peace or strife depending on the constitution of the country and its upholders.

  20. Reader,
    Whose Son was killed by Krishna…!? Krishna didn’t participate actively in The War Of Mahabharata as far as I know….

    • Duryodhana was the King of the Kauravas. He was son of Gandhari. Gandhari said, ‘The righteous shall win’.

      Krishna was out to prove that. Bhima killed Duryodhana but after being instructed by Krishna.

      BTW, Gandhari was the daughter of the King of Gandhar, todays Kandahaar in the Hindu-kush mountains of Afghanistan. Thats another long epic. Some other time.

  21. Reader,
    The code of conducts and laws written in the constitutions can be amended. There can be many loop holes ppl can take advantage of. So that’s hard to believe and can’t be true meaning of Dharma by The Scriptures.

    • It is the true meaning as per the scriptures.

      Dharma has many loop holes. Thats how Krishna won the Mahabharat and Rama lost his wife.

      A dharma-sutra is not a diktat. It is not a bible. There are no sins. Only Laws that if broken are punished here and now in real life. Nothing happens after death.

      In the Vedas there is no Satan and no hell… only a heaven.. everypne pays for his karma here and now on earth… either by re-birth or in current life.

      There were many laws that were amended in later versions by Asoka, Chanakya etc.

      A dharma-Sutra is simply a constitution.

      • Reader,
        It sounds more like ” Everything is Fair In Love And War ” kind of situation.
        One can play with the laws, can find loop holes and take advantage of the system/constitution and be A Winner…!
        Yet can claim himself to be The Righteous one amongst All. How justful would that be..!?
        Does that mean ” The Powerful is The Righteous one”..??
        If it is True that there is nothing like Hell then there should not be anything like Heaven either.
        In my opinion Heaven or Hell is right here….The quality of life we live and whatever we make of ourselves determine
        whether we live in Heaven or Hell.
        Why do Scriptures give more weightage and focus on/about “Moksha”…. than anything else…? Why worry about what happens after Death over Living Life Happily and Peacefully…..A Righteous way…!? If anyone at all knows…. 🙂
        I love winners so…. I am happy Krishna won…probably being The Most Righteous One ….
        About Rama…It was the choice made by Him to leave Sita to project himself as The Most Righteous King In that era……
        In that event He forgot /overlooked/sacrificed his duties/dharma as A Husband and A Father of his Children on their way to enter this world. The irony is He never ever tried to look for them until his children defeated his army…..Where was his Dharma then..!?
        Are we all here on earth because of our some kind of Karma..!? How did that start…? Who decides that..!? There should be sometime The First..! What is First…!? An Egg or A Hen..!?
        If there is nothing like Sin then what would you call and consider A Murder..!? Only Adharma..!??
        Does that mean Adharma= Sin…?

      • MonaLisa,

        Contradictions don’t exist. Check the premises.

        Life is not as complex as that.

        The conflicts in dharma occurs when the Sutra (the code or constitution) are no agreeable to a person, a community or a society.

        For example, I want to own property but the constitution of India does not grant property rights to its citizens. All property belongs to the state. So, I write my own code.

        Similarly the Indian constitution is not accepted by Muslims who follow the Shariyah. So, we have a Hindu Marriage Act, A Muslim Marriage Act, A Christian Marriage Act, A Persian Marriage Act and a Civil Marriage Act….

        Those are our failures as a country and you have touched upon their effects.

        There are success stories like the US Constitution… but those are rare and in between.

        Regarding the epics of Rama and Krishna:

        Rama is far more righteous than Krishna. Rama was a Prince who became the King. Krishna was a cow-herd (yadav) who destroyed an evil civilisation.

        Rama followed the rules and his Dharma. Krishna broke every rule in the book!

        In Yoga Vasishtha, Valmiki describes a 14 year old Rama completely disgusted with life and preparing to quit.

        Dashrath, Parshurama, Vishwamitra and Vasishtha are lost for words. The asuras led by Raavan had by then reached today’s Madhya Pradesh conquering the entire forest down south.

        Rama was taught Dharma of the day by Vasishtha. That book is called Vasistha Yoga.. the Sutra is called Vasishtha Dharma Sutra.

        Rama simply did what was required of him by the book.

        Krishna, on the other hand, threw all the books away. He wrote his own rules. He changed the game. Thats why he is called Yuga-Purusha. He changed the yuga. The Kalyuga started after the Mahabharat.

  22. Reader,
    ‘ Tweek ‘ or ‘ Tweak ‘…!?

    Not sure how would a beard look on you…..but one thing is sure that you love to ” Tweak/tweek and Twirl “….. 🙂

  23. Reader,
    ‘ Tweek ‘ or ‘ Tweak ‘…!?

    Not sure how would a beard look on you…..but one thing is sure that you love to ” Tweak/tweek and Twirl “….. 🙂

  24. Reader,
    Pardon me…! Krishna was born as a prince too. His fate/circumstances took him from his biological parents where he grew up as the son of a cow-herd(in your words) leader. In my opinion that does not make him less of a person than Rama.
    Rama’s Righteousness as a King might be agreeable and appreciable to All , yet his failure to live upon righteously as a husband and a father is quite unpardonable in my opinion.
    Bailing out a pregnant wife in any Era is not a righteous thing to do. It wasn’t her fault that Ravan abducted her. She didn’t go willingly and lived with Ravan in his palace as one of his Queens.
    Sometimes to break rules for betterment of the society is far more Righteous in my eyes than to stick to and live by rules written in some book hundreds/thousands years ago. And I believe Krishna was far more courageous to do so, whatever he did…was not for his own benefits alone. wow….! what a Man..!

    • MonaLisa,

      Krishna is no less a yuga-purusha than Rama. No two ways about that.

      Rama lived in the Satyuga. Hundreds of years before Krishna’s time. Different scenarios.

      The difference between their righteousness is that Rama applied the same rules to himself and his wife as applied to the his nation at large.

      Krishna changed the rules.

      Every Pandav except Yudhisthir was married to a woman in addition to Draupadi. When Arjun wanted to marry Krishna’s sister, Krishna asked him to abduct her. There was no other way she could marrry a Kshatriya. Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu was Krshna’s sister’s son, not Draupadis.

      But when it came to rescue Abhimanyu during the war, Krishna let him die instead of breaking the cordon.

      Same with Bhima. Bhima married Hidimba and their son was a giant called Ghatatkocha.

      Krishna sacrificed him during the war to save Arjun from peril.

      Krishna had different rules for different people. His righteousness was in winning the war and destroying the evil empire of the Kaurava.

      If Rama had fought the Mahabharat, he would have certainly lost it in his attempt to be fair to all.

      Rama was able to kill Raavan only because both were in the Satyuga. Raavan fought a fair battle regardless of victory or defeat.

      Today’s era is also different.

      This is the Kaliyuga. Deception and ethnic cleansing are the norm.

  25. Reader,
    So….No matter what era/ yuga it was…A Woman has been a loser all the time…whether in name of culture or social norm or anything else.
    Whether it was Sita in Sat Yuga or Draupadi in Dwapara yuga. Mary Magdalena during Christ period or Joan Of Arc in medieval time. There is no Era where A Woman got a proper respect, justice and not being harassed anyway.

    • MonaLisa,

      I don’t think that is true.

      Women have been respected by men, if thats what you are aiming at. Women may or may not respect each other, I can’t say because I have never been a woman.

      Starting from the Vedic period to the present you will find a long list of women who have made it into the history books.

      Saraswati, Savitri, Laxmi, Parvati, Durga, Sita, Urvashi, Ganga, Kunti, Gandhari, Draupadi, Subhadra, Rukmini, Gargi (Brhid Arnayka Upanishad), Janaki from the past… Laxmibai, Kasturba, Indira Gandhi etc of the last generation… Mayawati, Mamta, Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharati etc in the present…

      All stars in their own way…

      I have never understood what women crib about when they talk about respect, justice etc. Men usually fight battles to protect their women and children. Its the women who have no such chivalry when it comes to their own types.

  26. Reader,
    You are right..! When it comes to their own type for any gender, feeling of competitiveness is always there.
    However sending Sita to an exile wasn’t a woman…It was her own husband.
    Draupadi- A very interesting character in Mahabharata….was forced to accept all five brothers as her husbands while only Arjuna won her hand in that “Swayamvara”.
    It was her husband Yudhishthira who put her at stake in that game and lost…which led to a shameful stripping attempt in the court in presence of all courtesans..!? Don’t think any woman was involved in that episode..! Boy ! India never progressed or changed in that matter since ages….such episodes still occur in some villages in this era…..I heard..!
    Is a woman the other name of sacrifices…!?

    • MonaLisa,

      The custom of one women marrying 5 men is still prevalent in Nepal. Its not new.

      In order to avoid a young woman being left widowed, the Punjabi’s allow the younger brother to marry his sister-in-law.

      Rama was sent to exile for 14 years by a woman – his step mother.

      Yudhisthira put his wife at stake in a gambling game. That was the custom in those days. Women were part of the wealth of a man.

      India has changed since then. Thats not the case anymore. We are in the 21st century now. Women are worthless in a gambling joint.

      Women is not the name of sacrifice anymore. She gets half the property of the man. She gets alimony. Social protection. And there is no love lost.

      An independent woman is a blessing in disguise for a man if he knows how to hide his earnings. Women are more pragmatic than men.

      The episodes of the past are not very relevant today.

      The incidents you hear on TV are ‘news’ because they are exceptions. If they were common they wouldn’t be news.

      I don’t think women are discriminated by law as they were in the past.

  27. Reader,
    Must I say that its a great custom that offers a woman an equal right to polyandry. However I find it a gruesome act to pledge her in the gambling considering her one of his properties and lose her… which led to an event to humiliate her, violate her in front of all….
    Rama’s exile was a political event. An effort to stop Ravan coming further North.
    While Sita was sent to exile by Rama even after she passed the Fire Test in front of all…..and that too when she was pregnant…..How pathetic..!
    BTW ‘Love’ is so…..and such an over rated thing these days….so there won’t be any Love lost for women either…
    I am glad in property matters a woman gets half of everything on plate.
    Yet the situation of a woman in remote rural areas need some research….

    • MonaLisa,

      I am sure there are many research papers done by NGO on the state of women in rural areas.

      The only common missing element is no one has yet asked the women in the rural areas if they want the freedom of the rich ladies in the cities. Do they want to learn Shelley’s poetry, or Shakespeares Sonnets? Do they want to drink beer or wear jeans? Do they want to waka-waka with men at random?

      The women folk in the rural areas know about herbal medicine, metrnity care, raring children, house-making, etc.

      Women in the villages of Punjab and Himachal also do farming and kick their men’s butts if they come home drunk.

      What exactly are you looking to change?

  28. Aishwarya,

    Technically, I guess losing memory might have something to do with a protein called TDP-43 or an illness like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis caused by pounding the brain repeatedly.

    But I am a die-hard romantic. I prefer to imagine myself lost in the wilderness of a forest and being reminded of love by an angel in the mist…

    Here is a dream (with my beard missing unfortunately) …

    • Aishwarya Says:

      Reader,

      AD has been associated with amyloid beta and tau proteins. ALS is a motor neurone disease that leads to muscle weakness and atrophy, usually sparing cognitive function.

      We will give the beard a miss in the mist.:) Lovely song…

  29. Aishwarya,

    The mount that is seen in the first frame of the song is called ‘Doddabetta’.. it is the highest point in South India at 8700 feet above MSL… The forest is the famous Muddmalai Tiger Reserve…

    I live 10 minutes down the same route where the clouds are shown drifting against the wall of the valley…

    South of Ootacamund… the pallad… near Wodehouse Villa

    • Aishwarya Says:

      Reader,

      I have been there, to Doddabetta and Mudumalai…heavenly place…lucky you…

      The signboard said ‘Wood House’…hehe…

      • These are the lyrics of the song:

        The second verse has been cut on the editor’s table but its available in most audio albums of Asha Bhonsale.

        Interestingly, the lyricist S. H. Bihari was better known for his songs in Bengali. He wrote in Urdu for bollywood.

        Also, O.P. Nayyar, the composer, never signed Lata Mangeshkar for some reason. All his songs were sung by Asha and Rafi. That’s unfortunate.

        The high pitched ensemble at the end could have been replaced by flutes, if Lata had sung this song!

        Here it is:

        Yahee wo jagah hain, yahee wo fijaayen
        Yahee par kabhee, aap hum se mile the
        Inhe hum bhalaa, kis tarah bhool jaaye
        Yahee par kabhee, aap hum se mile the

        Yahee par meraa haath me, haath lekar
        Kabhee naa bichhadane kaa waadaa kiyaa thaa
        Sadaa ke liye ho gaye hum tumhaare
        Gale se lagaakar humei ye kahaa thaa
        Kabhee kam naa hongee humaaree wafaayen

        Yahee par wafaa kaa nayaa rang bhar ke
        Banaayee thee chaahat kee tasaweer tumane
        Yahee kee bahaaron se fulon ko chunakar
        Sawaaree thee ulafat kee takadeer tumane
        Woh din aap ko yaad kaise dilaaye

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Reader,

        Romantic lyrics…Lataji’s voice would have given it a magical quality…

        What if a beautiful spirit tries to jog the memory?:)

        Mere naina saawan bhaadon
        Phir bhi mera mann pyaasa…

        Baat puraani hai, ek kahaani hai
        ab sochoon tumhen, yaad nahin hai
        ab sochoon nahin bhoole, woh saawan ke jhoole
        Rut aaye rut jaaye deke
        Jhoota ek dillasaa, phir bhi mera mann pyaasa

        Barson beet gaye, hamko mile bichhde
        bijuri bankar, gagan pe chamki
        beete samay ki rekha, maine tum ko dekha
        mann sang aankh-micholi khele
        aasha aur nirasha, phir bhi mera mann pyaasa

        Mere naina saawan bhaadon
        phir bhi mera mann pyaasa…

  30. Aishwarya,

    I have Sharmila’s permission to behave like AB’s Angel. I am going to use that privilege today on this subject.

    This is what I mean by missing Lata’s voice for such songs.

    Same actress, similar song but Lata’s voice. Note the use of the flute.

  31. Firstly, I should congratulate you for writing this beautiful piece on Rajiv. I was still a baby when Rajiv was assassinated, and hardly know what kind of charisma you talk about, but for the first time, after reading this, I wanted to be born in those times, when I could admire Rajiv.

    Coming to Rahul Gandhi, apart from the good looks, you say he doesn’t have enough fizz. I really feel sorry for him, because he has to prove himself in times where there are so many things wrong in the country. For instance, the Vedanta case, where Rahul stepped in. Rahul actually took a bold step by speaking against Vedanta, little did he know he would be photographed with a Naxal leader. Is this a general case of mis-information, because Rahul was not aware?

    Also, Rajiv did not have as many political parties constantly pointing daggers at him, as Rahul has. I would say Rahul has to be doubly as aware and sharp, than his father. A trivial gesture as Rahul having a meal in a Dalit abode sparked off controversy by other political parties. This could partly be because of the media. That could go onto become another debate.

    Am I wrong in judging Rahul Gandhi, who hasn’t had a chance to prove himself?

    • Priyanka – Thank you for your gracious comment. I am tempted to stick to my stand that Rahul may fall short of his Rajiv. I do not see him doing anything concrete as such. Yes, Rahul is born in a different time and he needs to double up. But, in a country like ours he is lucky he is getting a lot of chances buy yet just fails short…

      • I disagree!

        He is not falling short on any count as he is not showing / working on anything to measure up. His position, as you concur, is cemented as a future PM and he is using that time to get good at dealing with all the minor irritants to Congress and spreading his clout. He knows that he is The Turup ka Ikka and is no hurry to use the BrahmAstra, and is whiling away dissidents till the right time comes.

        What scares me is the over-reliance of Congress on him. His magic did not, recently, work in the Delhi University elections. Also a pretty visible lack of any viable opposition is unnerving.

        All this, combined, gives one SOLID, unshakable grounding to Bhai Rahul and he, methinks, is in no hurry/need to test it or the waters.

        Ra.

      • Rahul – That is right, the over reliance is one part and the lack of opposition is another. Lets see where his “magic” leads to.

    • Priyanka – And yes, the 80s was a golden era for the Congress with Rajiv at the helm. It will be tough to better this period. I had more hopes on Priyanka frankly.Pity, she has blipped out.

  32. madhanmohanc Says:

    Hey absolutely amazing stuff! thanks for the piece !

  33. Hey Sharmila,

    Quite an interesting post. I don’t know much about the good or bad achievements of Rajiv. But, surely India is in need of a young and go-getter Leader.

    Regards,
    Aniruddha

  34. Niice post Sharmila ! Inspite of everything,,, He was a charismatic leader !! U ve got a letter from him , and I had garlanded him when we were school girls ! nice to know that !:-)

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