## What media missed out on in Rahul Gandhi's “escape-velocity” speech

Vivek Kaul
Nitpicking is not a good habit I am told.
But there are times when the opportunity is too good to resist.
Rahul Gandhi in a recent speech which has become famous as the “escape velocity” speech said “
To Jupiter ki escape velocity kya hoti hai? Agar koi Jupiter pe khada hai aur Jupiter ki kheech se nikalna ho to use 60 km/sec ki acceleration chahiye. (So what is the escape velocity of Jupiter? If you are standing on Jupiter you need to go at 60 km/sec).”
Rahul had defined escape velocity a little earlier in his speech. “
Escape velocity matlab agar aap ne dharti se space mein jana hai… agar aap hamari dharti pe hai to 11.2 km per second aap ki velocity honi padegi. (There is a concept of escape velocity if you want to go into space from Earth… your velocity has to be 11.2 km/sec).”
There is a very basic flaw in this small lecture on escape velocity. Acceleration and velocity are two different concepts. As Rahul said “
Agar koi Jupiter pe khada hai aur Jupiter ki kheech se nikalna ho to use 60 km/sec ki acceleration chahiye.”
The word to be used here was velocity and not acceleration. Acceleration, as anyone who has studied basic eight standard physics will tell you, is the rate of change of velocity per unit of time. Lets consider the following table which shows the velocity of a moving object:

As we can see clearly from the above table, the velocity is constantly going up at the rate of 5 metre per second, in each second of time. Hence, the object has an acceleration of 5 metre per second squared (m/s
2).
So that is the difference between velocity and acceleration. They are two different words, with two different meanings, which cannot be used interchangeably.
So that was the nitpicking bit.
The “escape velocity” comment has been a subject of lot of ridicule since it was first made. But there was a bigger joke in Rahul Gandhi’s speech, which people haven’t latched onto. He recounted a story that his late grandmother Indira Gandhi had told him about how s
he had cheered a team playing an ice hockey match against Germany, which was then ruled by Adolf Hitler. As Rahul said “It was a match between Germany and some other team. The other team was being thrashed and the crowds were cheering….My grandmother (Indira Gandhi) felt very bad and got up to cheer the weak team, but was shouted at. She sat down out of fear.” (As reported in The Time of India)
“The whole stadium (full of Germans) shouted against her. She sat down in fear but decided that never again in her life she will ever sit down in fear… If somebody is doing anything wrong never sit down,” Rahul said (
As reported in The Telegraph). This it seems had an impact on Indira Gandhi and she resolved never again to be cowed down, while doing what she thought was right.
This is the bigger joke in the speech. Indira Gandhi only did those things that ensured that she continued to be in power. She destroyed the democratic institutions in this country. The lack of governance today in India is because of all that she did when she was the Prime Minister.
As Gurucharan Das told me in an interview last year “The damage that Indira Gandhi did was far greater. Her license raj combined with the mai baap sarkar, this double whammy gave the illusion to the people that the state would do everything…The second was the damage she did to our political institutions…During the period she was the Prime Minister, I think she dismissed fifty nine elected governments in states…She tried to change India’s culture and change our political system. A lot has been written about the emergency and so on. But the enduring damage we don’t realise. Before her, Chief Ministers were a little afraid when a secretary said no sir you can’t do this. And if you tried to do it, the secretary wouldn’t bend very often. Now they just transfer…Also after Indira Gandhi the police became a handmaiden of the executive. The police lost its independence.  Even the judiciary was damaged. She wanted committed judges.”
Other than destroying the democratic institutions of this country she turned the Congress party, into a party which thrives on
chamchas and chamchagiri. Historian and writer  Ramachandra Guha explains this in an essay titled A Short History of Congress Chamchagiri which is a part of his book Patriots and Partisans.“Most Indians are too young to know this, but the truth is that until about 1969 the Congress was more or less a democratic party,” writes Guha.
Indira Gandhi had been planning to settle in Great Britain. After Nehru died in May 1964, she was invited to join the cabinet as the minister of information and broadcasting by Lal Bahadur Shastri who took over as the next prime minister.
“When Shastri died in January 1966, Mrs Gandhi was, to her own surprise, catapulted into the post of the prime minister. There were other and better candidates for the job, but the Congress bosses (notably K Kamraj) thought that they could more easily control a lady they thought to be a
gungi gudiya (dumb doll),“ writes Guha.
But she was not a
gungi gudia and made all the right moves to consolidate her power and finally split the Congress party in 1969 and what was a essentially a decentralised and democratic party till that point of time became an extension of the whims, fancies and insecurities of a single individual.
Thus started an era of
chamchas and chamchagiri in the Congress. Dev Kant Baruah who was the President of the Congress Party between 1975 and 1977 went to the extent of saying “Indira is India and India is Indira”. What was loyalty to the party earlier became loyalty to the individual and the family.
Also, Indira Gandhi took total control over the system effectively overriding democracy and imposing emergency on June 26, 1975. During this period she also formed a mini government within the government. This effort was led by her PN Haksar, her civil service secretary.
As veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar recounts in
Emergency Retold “Haksar…organised the system in such a way that everything would revolve around the prime minister’s secretariat. Not even a deputy secretary was appointed without its concurrence. He set up a mini government…Haksar’s main contribution was that he politicized the setup, in the sense that for the first time in the country’s post independence history, government machinery came to be used for political purposes, if need be for Congress party purposes.”
The prime minister’s office is currently run by Pulok Chatterjee, who was earlier the officer on special duty to Sonia Gandhi.
Getting back to the emergency, Indira’s mini government had total control over how the system worked. A
famous cartoon made by Abu showed President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in his bath during the emergency signing ordinances and saying “if there are any more ordinances just ask them to wait.”
Indira Gandhi also ensured that the Congress party effectively became a family run concern. As Guha writes in the essay
Verdicts on Nehru “Mrs Gandhi converted the Indian National Congress into a family business. She first bought in her son Sanjay, and after his death, his brother Rajiv. In each case, it was made clear that the son would succeed Mrs Gandhi as head of Congress and head of government.”
Once the model was established firmly in the Congress party, it spread to most other political parties. “Indira Gandhi’s embrace of the dynastic principle for the Congress served as a ready model for other parties to emulate…The DMK was once the proud party of Dravidian nationalism and social reform; it is now the private property of M Karunanidhi and his children…Likewise, for all his professed commitment to Maharashtrian pride and Hindu nationalism Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray could look no further than his son. The Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janta Dal claimed to stand for ‘social justice’, but the leadership of Mulayam’s party passed onto his son and in Lalu’s party to his wife,” writes Guha.
In doing what she did Indira Gandhi basically destroyed Indian democracy. Indeed, if she had not done what she did, Rahul Gandhi would not be the vice-president of the Congress party. He would at best be a middle level manager of a private sector company (as Guha puts it). Rahul Gandhi is honest enough to realise this. In October 2008, while addressing girl students at a resort near Jim Corbett National Park, Rahul Gandhi referred to “politics” as a closed system in India. “If I had not come from my family, I wouldn’t be here. You can enter the system either through family or friends or money. Without family, friends or money, you cannot enter the system. My father was in politics. My grandmother and great grandfather were in politics. So, it was easy for me to enter politics. This is a problem. I am a symptom of this problem.”
Hence, it is not surprising Rahul is inspired by what his grandmother, Indira Gandhi, told him. If it was not for her, he would be largely irrelevant today. He would pop up in the media once in a while, as a subject of stories on what are the descendants of Indira Gandhi doing today. Meanwhile, Rahul’s “bigger” joke, I talked about initially, is really on us, the citizens of this country.

(Vivek Kaul is the author of Easy Money. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

## Was Haryana CM Hooda, Robert Vadra’s political stooge?

Vivek Kaul
Crony capitalism has been alive and kicking in India for a very long time.
One of the original crony capitalists in this country was Sanjay Gandhi, son of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Sanjay was a Doon school drop-out and had apprenticed as a motor mechanic at Rolls Royce in Great Britain in the 1960s.
He wanted to build a low priced people’s car called Maruti. His mother was the Prime Minister of the country and her colleagues in the government and the Congress party went out of their way to fulfil Sanjay’s dream.
In November 1970, a letter of intent was handed over to Sanjay Gandhi by Dinesh Singh, the then minister for industries. As Vinod Mehta writes in The Sanjay Story “The letter of intent was granted ‘on the basis of a paper proposal with no tenders called for and no impartial study’ for the mass production of 50,000 ‘low-priced’ cars per year made entirely of indigenous materials. In short, Maruti was licensed to match the total output of the other three domestic car manufacturers.”
But just a letter of intent wasn’t enough to get the project going. Land was needed to build the factory where cars would be manufactured and before that money was needed to buy that land. In stepped Bansi Lal, the chief minister of Haryana. “To his credit it must be said that Bansi Lal was the first to spot Sanjay Gandhi as a man of the future, as a man to hitch your bandwagon to,” writes Mehta.
Bansi Lal offered land to Sanjay Gandhi for the Maruti factory and at the same time gave him a loan to buy that land. As Kuldip Nayar writes in Emergency Retold about Bansi Lal “He was unscrupulous; means never mattered to him, only ends did. From being a briefless lawyer he had risen to be chief minister in less than a decade, and he wanted to go still higher. It was he who gave Sanjay, a 290 acre plot for the Maruti factory at a throwaway price along with a government loan to cover the amount.”
Despite all the help from Bansi Lal and the union government, Sanjay Gandhi’s people’s car never got going till he was alive. Production started only when Japanese car manufacturer Suzuki was roped in after Sanjay’s death in 1980.
Something similar has played out in Haryana where the current chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda seems to have gone out of his way to help Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
The IAS officer Ashok Khema brings out this nexus in a 105 page reply to the report of the committee constituted by the Haryana state government (dated October 19, 2012) to inquire into the issues raised by Khemka when he was the director general of land records.
This is how the story goes. Sky Light Hospitality Private Ltd bought 3.531 acres (or 5 bighas 12 biswas) of land from Onkareshwar Properties Private Ltd for a consideration of Rs 7.5 crore. This sale was registered on February 12, 2008.
Publicly available data on the MCA 21 portal of Ministry of Corporate Affairs, shows that Sky Light Hospitality is a company that was incorporated on November 1, 2007. As on March 31, 2008, the company had a paid up share capital of Rs 1 lakh. Upto September 30, 2011, its total paid up share capital was Rs 5 lakh. Robert Vadra owned 99.8% of the company and the remaining 0.2% was owned by his mother Maureen.
The company selling the land i.e. Onkareshwar Properties was incorporated as a company on September, 28, 2004. Its paid up capital as on September 30, 2011, stood at Rs 25 lakh. Of this 98% was owned by one Satyanand Yajee and the balance 2% by Godavari Yajee.
Paid up capital is the total amount of the company’s capital that is funded by its shareholders.
Various media reports have clearly established the link between Yajee and Hooda. A report published in The Economic Times today points out that “Satyanand Yajee, director of Onkareshwar Properties, which sold 3.5 acre in Shikohpur village to Vadra’s Skylight Properties, is general secretary of the All India Freedom Fighters Organisation(AIFFO) and is in charge of constructing and maintaining a memorial in the name of Hooda’s father Chaudhary Ranbir Singh in Rohtak.”
A report published in the Business Standard in October 2012, goes into even greater detail about the relationship between Hooda and Yajee. It points out the strong ties that Hooda has with the All India Freedom Fighters Organisation i.e. AIFFO. “Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, too, has strong ties to this organisation. Before his death in 2009, Ranbir Singh, Hooda’s father, was working president of AIFFO. And, Hooda is a founder-member and working president of AIFFO’s sister body, All India Freedom Fighters’ Successors’ Organisation(AIFFSO), according to his profile in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha website.”
The report also mentions that AIFFO had spent lakhs of rupees in full page advertisements which praised Ranbir Singh’s contribution to the freedom struggle. As mentioned earlier Ranbir Singh was Hooda’s father.
Of course, just because Hooda and Yajee share a relationship does not mean that Yajee could not have sold land to Vadra.
So let’s get back to the land deal between Yajee and Vadra. Yajee’s Onkareshwar Properties sold 3.531 acres of land to Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality. The price of the land was worth Rs 7.5 crore and over above this there was a stamp duty cost of Rs 45 lakh, for registering the sale.
As per Khemka’s reply, Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality issued cheque number 607251 of Corporation Bank on February 9, 2008, to pay Yajee.
The question is how did Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitaliy with a paid up capital of just Rs 1 lakh(as on March 31, 2008) manage to pay an amount of Rs 7.5 crore for the land and Rs 45 lakh as stamp duty?
The answer lies in the fact that Sky Light Hospitality’s balance sheet as on March 31, 2008, shows a book overdraft of Rs 7.944 crore. This is almost equal to the amount of Rs 7.5 crore that needed to paid for the land, plus the Rs 45 lakh that needed to be paid as stamp duty for registering the sale.
What this basically means is that even though Sky Light Hospitality issued a cheque to Onkareshwar Properties, but the latter never got around to encashing it. As a report in the Business Standard dated October 16, 2012 points out “A book overdraft is not an overdraft at a bank but an excess of outstanding cheques on a company’s books over its reported bank balance.”
The notes to the account of Sky Light Hospitality also mention the same. “The overdraft shown in Corporation Bank account is book overdraft due to cheque issued before balance sheet date but not presented up to balance date, which is cleared after balance sheet date,” it is stated in serial no. 6 of the Notes To Accounts.
This can be confirmed from the balance sheet of Onkareshwar Properties as well. “Onkareshwar’s balance sheet as on March 31, 2008, showed an entry of Rs 7.95 crore under ‘sundry debtors’. This corresponds to the entry of Rs 7.944 crore book overdraft entered in Sky Light’s books. The land price was Rs 7.5 crore, and the balance Rs 45 lakh could have been registration and stamp duty costs. It appears Onkareshwar happily footed even these costs,” a report in the Business Standard dated Ocotber 27, 2012 points out.
So not only did Yajee’s Onkareshwar Properties not encash the cheque (it would have bounced if it tried to do so), it also happily paid the Rs 45 lakh stamp duty that needed to be paid to register the transaction.
The question of course is that if money did not change hands can the sale of the land to Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality by Onkareshwar Properties be considered as a sale at all? This is something that Khemka points out in his reply. “If there was no payment as alleged in the registered deed, can it be said that the registered deed No. 4928 dated 12.02.2008 conferred ownership title over the said land upon M/s Sky Light Hospitality by virtue of the sham sale? Section 54 of The Transfer of Property Act, 1882 defines “sale” as a transfer of ownership in exchange for a price paid or promised or part-paid and part-promised. There was no promise to pay in the future in the registered deed. No price was paid as claimed in the registered deed No. 4928 dated 12.2.2008. The “sale” registered in the said deed cannot, therefore, be called a “sale” in the true sense of the term, legal or moral, and it cannot be said that M/s Sky Light Hospitality became owner of the land in question by virtue of the “sale.””
On March 28, 2008, department of town and country planning of the Haryana government issued a letter of intent to Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality for grant of commercial colony license for 2.701 acres out of the total area of 3.53 acres. This was done within a mere 18 days of application, writes Khemka.
He further points out that “Sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Act of 1975 mandates that an enquiry will be conducted by the Director of Town & Country Planning, particularly with respect to the title to the land and the capacity of the owner-applicant to develop a colony.”
The phrase to mark here is the capacity of the owner-applicant to develop a colony. In order to check this capacity the owner-applicant (in this case Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality), under Rule 3 of The Haryana Development and Regulation of Urban Areas Rules, 1976, needs to furnish among other things, particulars of experience as colonizer and particulars about financial position as to determine the capacity to develop the colony, Khemka points out.
So what experience did Sky Light Hospitality have in developing colonies? If one looks at the memorandum of association of the company, stamped by the Delhi government as on October 27, 2007, the main objects to be pursued by the company on incorporation were as follows:

So this makes it very clear that building colonies was not among the main objects of Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality, when it was incorporated. As the Memorandum of Association clearly shows the main object of the company was to be in hospitality business, as was suggested by its name.
Nevertheless that did not mean that the company could not build colonies. Just that it did not have any previous experience in doing so.
As far as the financials of the company go, as I have previously pointed out as on March 31, 2008, the paid-up capital of the company was Rs 1 lakh. The company did not earn any income upto March 31, 2008. It had an expenditure of Rs 43,380 which was met through borrowed money. Hence, the company really did not have any capacity to build a colony.
As Khemka puts it “The “capacity” of the applicant-Company was nothing else other than Mr. Robert Vadra. The man became the measure of everything and the entire statutory apparatus a castle of sand.”
Once Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality got the letter of intent from the Haryana government for a commercial colony license on 2.701 acres out of total 3.53 acres of land, things got even more interesting. Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality now had the land title as well as the letter of intent for grant of colony license in its possession. This made it possible for it, to enter into a collaboration agreement with with M/s DLF Retail Developers, on August 5, 2008.
After this Sky Light Hospitality received a huge amount of advance or interest free loan from DLF. The balance sheet of the company as on March 31, 2009, clearly points out entries of Rs 15 crore and Rs 10 crore as advances received from DLF.
And this money paid by DLF was finally used to clear the dues of Onkareshwar Properties. As Khemka points out “this funding from the DLF Group was used to clear the dues of Rs 7.95 crores, i.e., Rs7.5 crores towards cost of land plus Rs 45 lakhs towards stamp duty, to M/s Onkareshwar Properties, the vendor-company in registered deed No. 4928 dated 12.02.2008.”
This is how the transaction was completed. This could not have happened without the Haryana state government granting a commercial colony license within 18 days of application to Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality, which had no previous experience of developing a colony. The license was renewed on 18th January, 2011 for a further period of two years up to December 14, 2012, Khemka points out.
Vadra’s Sky Light sold off the 3.53 acres of land to DLF for Rs 58 crore on August 18, 2012.
In doing this Bhupinder Singh Hooda turned out to be Robert Vadra’s Bansi Lal. The moral of the story is that behind every successful crony capitalist there is a successful politician.

The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on August 13, 2013
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

Vivek Kaul
During his heydays in the 1990s and the early 2000s, Lalu Prasad Yadav never organised political rallies.
He organised
Railas.
These were very big political rallies held at the Gandhi maidan in Patna. And they were deemed to be so big by Lalu that the feminine sounding word ‘rally’ proved inadequate to describe them.
Hence a new word
Raila was coined.
But time passed and the world went around, and in the end the old adage ‘you can’t fool all the people all the time’, came true in case of Lalu as well.
These days Lalu is a minor player both at the state and the central level. Given this, every few months you can hear him saying nice things about Sonia Gandhi, whenever the opposition parties choose to attack her.
A couple of days earlier Lalu went back to his favourite method of political engagement. He organised a
parivartan (change) rally in Patna (and not a Raila). News reports suggest that Lalu hired thirteen trains to ferry his supporters to Patna for the rally.
This is a huge change from the usual. In the Bihar, that this writer grew up in, a rally would mean an open invitation to the supporters of Lalu to board any train that they wanted to.
Also like any good father would, Lalu used the occasion of the
parivartan rally to soft launch his sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi into big-time politics. Tej Pratap is a BA drop out and Tejashwi was a budding cricketer who played one Ranji trophy match for Jharkhand in November 2009. He was also a part of the Delhi Daredevils IPL team, warming his bum on the bench for a few seasons.
It is interesting if we compare this launch with that of Lalu’s own launch into serious politics which happened in the early 1970s. Lalu had quit student politics in 1970, after he lost the election for the post of the President of the Patna University Students Union (PUSU) to a Congress candidate. Before losing this election, Lalu had been a general secretary of the PUSU for three years.
As Sankarshan Thakur writes in Subaltern Sahib: Bihar and the Making of Lalu Yadav, “On the eve of elections of Patna University Students Union (PUSU) in 1973 non-Congress student bodies had again come together, if only for their limited purpose of ousting the Congress. But they needed a credible and energetic backward candidate to head the union. Lalu Yadav was sent for.”
The trouble of course was that Lalu was no longer a student. He was an employee of the Patna Veterinary College by then. But then those were the seventies and the state was Bihar, so not being a student was a small problem that could be fixed.
As Thakur writes “Assured that the caste arithmetic was loaded against the Congress union, Lalu readily agreed to contest. He quietly buried his job at the Patna Veterinary College and got a backdated admission into the Patna Law College. He stood for elections and won. The non-Congress coalition in fact swept the polls.”
And this set up Lalu for the big league as the agitation launched by Jai Prakash Narayan, against Indira Gandhi, gathered speed. The next year i.e. 1974, the agitation against Indira Gandhi spread throughout the country. As Thakur writes, “An agitation committee was formed, the Bihar Chatra Sangharsh Samiti to co-ordinate the activities of various unions and Lalu Yadav as president of PUSU was chosen its chief.” These events catapulted Lalu Yadav into the big league from which he never looked back. He became a member of the Lok Sabha in 1977 at a very young age of 29. He became the Chief Minister of Bihar in 1990.
But the fact of the matter remains that he if he wasn’t asked to contest the 1973 PUSU elections, Lalu might have never returned to politics and probably retired by now from the Patna Veterinary College.
Lalu was lucky because he was at the right place at the right time. His sons are lucky because they are his sons. The next generation of politicians(even those who are not a part of electoral politics) is always luckier to that extent. They already have a base that has been built to work from.
But the question does the next generation respect this base because of which they get lucky? And they answer seems to be no, as a spate of recent examples show. Robert Vadra, with his land dealings in Haryana and Rajasthan, has been a huge embarrassment for Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and the Congress Party.
Sharad Pawar had to recently come to the rescue of his nephew Ajit, after he made insensitive comments in drought hit Maharashtra. Mamata Banerjee’s IIPM educated nephew Abhishek stands accused of running Ponzi schemes in West Bengal. News reports suggest that UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has been spending a lot of time trying to settle ‘who gets the government contract’ dispute between his step brother Prateek and his first cousins. Pawan Bansal, had to recently quit as the Union Railway Minister after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) caught his nephew Vijay Singla for running a jobs for bribes racket in the Indian Railways.
And there are examples from the past as well. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s spotless reputation as the Prime Minister of the country was marred by the dealings of his foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya. J Jayalalithaa’s weakness for her foster son V Sudhakaran tarred her reputation. The late Pramod Mahajan’s son Rahul was and continues to be an embarrassment.
The late Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao’s son Prabhakar was accused of being involved in the urea scam in the 1990s. If we go back a little further, Moraji Desai, the fourth prime minister of India, had to deal with allegations of graft against his son Kanti Desai. Kanti Desai had allegedly collected Rs 80 lakh for party funds misusing his position as the PM’s son. Raj Narain a minister in Desai’s cabinet, even came up with the slogan “
Hamse kya parda haiKantike haath mein garda hai (Why hide it from us, Kanti’s hands are muddied).”
Jagjivan Ram could have become the first dalit Prime Minister of independent India if he hadn’t been embarrassed by his son, Suresh Ram. Nude pictures of Suresh were published in a magazine called Surya, which was edited by Maneka Gandhi. The pictures showed him in a compromising position with a 21 year old student of Satyawati College, Delhi University, called Sushma Chaudhury, who he eventually married (On a slightly different note Suresh’s sister Meira Kumar is the speaker of the current Lok Sabha). “If the Kamasutra has 64 poses of making love, this one certainly had 10,” wrote Khuswant Singh in a later column, with regard to these pictures.
As veteran journalist and editor Inder Malhotra has been quoted as saying “In fact, in many ways Suresh Ram tried to emulate Sanjay Gandhi and received the same shelter from his father which Sanjay got from her mother. It was a game of one-upmanship.”
And Sanjay Gandhi, among all the sons, daughters and relatives of politicians, was the biggest embarrassment of them all. His dictatorial ways ensured that the Congress party was thrown out of power for the first time since independence in 1977 (For a detailed study on this Vinod Mehta’s The Sanjay Story is an excellent read). Indira Gandhi who was known to be very stern otherwise continued to be a mother when it came to Sanjay.
The broader point is that the politicians’ weakness and love for their progeny (or even other close relatives) puts them in embarrassing situations. At times, the progeny are acting as fronts for the shenanigans that the politicians indulge in and at times they are on their own. But in either condition there is a cost that is to be paid for.
A major reason that Lalu Prasad Yadav finally lost in Bihar was because of the shenanigans that his
saalas (brothers in law) Sadhu Yadav and Subhash Yadav, indulged in. They had the political patronage of Rabri Devi, who was the Chief Minister of Bihar. News reports coming out now suggest that Lalu’s two sons are also not the best of buddies. And this can’t be good news for Lalu Yadav whose political fortunes have taken a huge beating since 2005.
All the politicians who promote their progeny in politics and allied areas, need to thank Indira Gandhi. If it wasn’t for her, politics in India would have never become a family owned business. As historian Ramachandra Guha said in a lecture titled
Verdicts on Nehru: The Rise and Fall of a Reputation (Second V. K. R. V. Rao Memorial Lecture, Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, 20 January 2005) “After Nehru the Congress chose Lal Bahadur Shastri to become Prime Minister, a post on which he quickly stamped his authority. Mrs (Indira) Gandhi herself may never have become Prime Minister had not Shastri died unexpectedly. She was chosen by the Congress bosses as a compromise candidate who (they thought) would do their bidding. But once in office Mrs Gandhi converted the Indian National Congress into a family business. She first brought in her son Sanjay and, after his death, his brother Rajiv. In each case, it was made clear that the son would succeed Mrs Gandhi as head of Congress and head of Government. Thus, the ‘Nehru-Gandhi dynasty’ should properly be known as the ‘(Indira) Gandhi’ dynasty.”
India is still paying the costs of this monstrous mistake as almost all politicians now want to pass on the baton to their progeny and other relatives close to them. Professor Pulin Garg of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad used to say with regard to family owned businesses in India “
Haweli ki umar saath saal ( a family owned business lasts for 60 years).” It will be interesting to see how long political hawelis last on an average? That will be a big determinant of which way India goes in the decades to come.
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on May 17,2013

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

## Is Manish Tewari’s media diktat a sign of Cong returning to 1970s?

Vivek Kaul

Manish Tewari, the minister of information and broadcasting, who probably spends more time in television studios defending the Congress party, than in his office, recently issued what his ministry called an ‘advisory’ on the way television channels have been covering the protests against the gang rape of a 23 year old women in a moving bus in Delhi.
A part of the advisory had this to say “It has been observed that some private satellite news TV channels in their 24X7 coverage have not been showing due responsibility and maturity in telecasting the events relating the said demonstration and such a telecast is likely to cause deterioration in the law & order situation, hindering the efforts of the law enforcing authorities
.
Whereas Rule 6(1)(e) of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, which contains the Programme Code to be strictly adhered to by all private satellite television channels, provides that no programme should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitude.
After Tewari’s senior in the party as well as the government Sushil Kumar Shinde equated the protesters in Delhi to Maoisits, Tewari wants the nation to believe that the coverage of the protests in the heart of the capital could promote an anti-national attitude. What has the world come to?
I can’t help but compare this situation to the scenario in the mid 1970s when Indira Gandhi, as the Prime Minister had declared a state of internal emergency and the politicians of the day directed the newspapers to fall in line. (There were no television channels back then other than the state owned Doordarshan).
As Vinod Mehta writes in
The Sanjay Story “The Chief Censor of India issued a dictat to the press…: ‘No criticism of the family planning programme. This includes letters to the editor.’”
Indira Gandhi’s younger son Sanjay had unleashed an ambitious male sterilization programme to control India’s burgeoning population. “The problem, of course, was that Sanjay did not have the time for gentle act and sustained persuasion. He wanted results, latest by day after tomorrow. A young man in a hurry he disastrously miscalculated the quantum of ‘motivation’ necessary to get people to the operating table,” writes Mehta.
Given this, Sanjay’s ambitious programme came in for a lot of criticism and one of the impacts of that was that the press was asked not to criticise it. The same thing albeit in a milder way is happening right now. Tewari’s veiled threat against covering the Delhi rape protests comes after his predecessor Ambika Soni ( a known Sanjay Gandhi crony) stopped government advertisements to the
Daily News and Analysis (Read about it here) for a while late last year.
The state of internal emergency was declared in India with effect from the midnight of June 25, 1975. That morning most Delhi newspapers did not come out because the Congress government had ordered power supply to be cut in Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg where most newspaper offices are based in Delhi. As Tavleen Singh writes in
Durbar “But with typical Indian ineptitude, the officials had forgotten that the Stateman and the Hindustan Times had their offices in Connaught Place.”
Soon Inder Kumar Gujral who was the information and broadcasting minister was dismissed given that he wasn’t deemed to be effective enough. “Sweet, mild Inder Gujral was replaced by Vidya Charan Shukla. The story of the minister’s sacking that drifted around newspaper offices was that Mr Gujral, an old friend of Mrs Gandhi, had objected to Sanjay ordering him around and Sanjay had responded by ordering his immediate dismissal. The unsmiling brutish Shukla warned us at the first press conference he held that any defiance of press censorship would be dealt with harshly. He was soon dictating which stories we should give ‘prominence’ to and these were usually related to an event attended by Sanjay Gandhi or an idea that had come from him,” writes Singh in
Durbar. While it is difficult to see Manish Tewari morphing into another Vidya Charan Shukla, his recent dictat to television channels is a milder form of what Shukla did with the newspapers in the mid 1970s when emergency was in operation.
The period of emergency also saw the power in the Congress party pass onto the next generation i.e. from Indira Gandhi to Sanjay Gandhi. As Mehta writes “Around November ’76 Mrs Gandhi was finally sold on dynastic succession not only on the ground of filial devotion but because she thought that the country’s destiny safe in her son’s hands…No coincidence then that in December ’76 the Censors issued a written directive to the press asking it to refrain from using the prefix ‘youth leader’ in connection with Mr Sanjay Gandhi.” Sanjay Gandhi became the real leader ‘overnight’ and gradually took over the running of the government of the day from his mother Indira, despite never being a part of it.
Along similar lines Rahul Gandhi, the proverbial prince in waiting, will lead the Congress party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it was recently revealed. What remains to be seen is whether Rahul gradually takes over the running of the government from his mother Sonia as well, like his uncle did from his mother nearly 36 years back. Sonia Gandhi despite never being a part of the government wields tremendous control on it.
The emergency was a blot on the Indian democracy. But it didn’t really impact the man on the street, the average Indian, the man who actually goes out and votes, and who we now know as the
aam aadmi, in any major way. “In February ’76 a Bombay monthly, now undeservedly extinct, sent a reporter to the interior of Maharashtra to determine what impact the Emergency had had at the grassroots level. The reporter returned with the not unexpected news that most villagers didn’t even know there was an emergency in the country,” writes Mehta.
Until of course Sanjay Gandhi caught onto the idea of male sterilization to control the Indian population. But he was a man in a hurry and soon forced sterilizations were being carried out through out North India and states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Quotas were set for different chief ministers. Navin Chawla, another known Sanjay crony, who rose to become the Chief Election Commissioner of India, and who was one of the bureaucrats helping Sanjay Gandhi implement his hair-brained scheme, said “One had to prevent poor people living like animals and breeding more poor people.”(As Vinod Mehta quotes him in The Sanjay Story).
Soon forced sterilizations were happening all over the place. Even the beggars around the Taj Mahal in Agra were rounded up and forced to undergo
nasbandi. And this finally made people realise that an emergency was on in the country. As Mehta writes “Before June ’76 the Emergency was a peripheral phenomenon in rural India. The constitutional changes, detention of opposition leaders, curtailment of fundamental freedoms, censorship of the press, were hardly likely to affect life of the Indian peasant….This ignorance was rudely shattered with the launching of the sterilization programme. And it was this which took Emergency to the heart of India, to its hamlets and small towns.”
When elections finally happened in 1977 this turned out to be a major issue and the Congress party was booted out of power the first time since independence. The entire frustration of the emergency came to be consolidated largely around one issue and that was
nasbandi. Mehta quotes author Sasti Brata as saying “The elections have not proved that democracy flourishes in India, the elections have only proved that men don’t like to lay on tables and have their things cut off.”
Is something similar happening in an India, which is clearly more urban now than it was in the 1970s, right now? Has the frustration of being under nearly eight and a half years of misrule of the Congress party led UPA, all getting consolidated under the issue of a 23 year old women being raped in Delhi? The nation has forgotten the 2G scam. The commonwealth games scam. The nexus between Robert Vadra and DLF. The coalgate scam. We have adjusted to the price of almost everything going up at a very fast pace and the fact that our salaries are not going anywhere. We don’t seem to mind the high EMIs.
But will we forget the fact that a 23 year old women who had her whole life in front of her and who was getting back home from watching a movie on a late cold Delhi evening, happened to board the wrong bus, only to be raped and almost killed by a set of goons?
That time will tell!

The article was originally published on www.firstpost.com on December 27, 2012.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected]

## Top 10 in Indian non-fiction books: More reasons to skip Chetan Bhagat

Vivek Kaul
It is that time of the year when newspapers, magazines and websites get around to making top 10 lists on various things in the year that was. So here is my list for the top 10 books in the Indian non fiction category (The books appear in a random order).
Breakout Nations – In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles – Ruchir Sharma (Penguin/Allen Lane -Rs 599)
The book is based around the notion that sustained economic growth cannot be taken for granted.
Only six countries which are classified as emerging markets by the western world have grown at the rate of 5 percent or more over the last 40 years. Only two of these countries, i.e. Taiwan and South Korea, have managed to grow at 5 percent or more for the last 50 years.
The basic point being that the economic growth of countries falters more often than not. “India is already showing some of the warning signs of failed growth stories, including early-onset of confidence,” Sharma writes in the book.
When Sharma said this in what was the first discussion based around the book on an Indian television channel, Montek Singh Ahulwalia, the deputy chairman of the planning commission, did not agree. Ahulwalia, who was a part of the discussion, insisted that a 7 percent economic growth rate was a given. Turned out it wasn’t. The economic growth in India has now slowed down to around 5.5 percent.
Sharma got his timing on the India economic growth story fizzling out absolutely right.
The last I met him in November he told me that the book had sold around 45,000 copies in India. For a non fiction book which doesn’t tell readers how to lose weight those are very good numbers. (You can read Sharma’s core argument here).
In the Company of a Poet – Gulzar In Conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir(Rainlight/Rupa -Rs 495)
There is very little quality writing available on the Hindi film industry. Other than biographies on a few top stars nothing much gets written. Gulzar is one exception to this rule. There are several biographies on him, including one by his daughter Meghna. But all these books barely look on the creative side of him. What made Sampooran Singh Kalra, Gulzar? How did he become the multifaceted personality that he did?
There are very few individuals who have the kind of bandwidth that Gulzar does. Other than directing Hindi films, he has written lyrics, stories, screenplays as well as dialogues for them. He has been a documentary film maker as well, having made documentaries on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. He is also a poet and a successful short story writer. On top of all this he has translated works from Bangla and Marathi into Urdu/Hindi.
In this book, Nasreen Munni Kabir talks to Gulzar and the conversations bring out how Sampooran Singh Kalra became Gulzar. Gulzar talks with great passion about his various creative pursuits in life. From writing the superhit kajrare to what he thinks about Tagore’s English translations. If I had a choice of reading only one book all through this year, this would have to be it.
Durbar – Tavleen Singh (Hachette – Rs 599)
Some of the best writing on the Hindi film industry that I have ever read was by Sadat Hasan Manto. Manto other than being the greatest short writer of his era also wrote Hindi film scripts and hence had access to all the juicy gossip. The point I am trying to make is that only an insider of a system can know how it fully works. But of course he may not be able to write about it, till he is a part of the system. Manto’s writings on Hindi films and its stars in the 1940s only happened once he had moved to Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. When he became an outsider he chose to reveal all that he had learnt as an insider.
Tavleen Singh’s Durbar is along similar lines. As a good friend of Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi, during the days when both of them had got nothing to do with politics, she had access to them like probably no other journalist did. Over the years she fell out first with Sonia and then probably with Rajiv as well.
Durbar does have some juicy gossip about the Gandhi family in the seventies. My favourite is the bit where Sonia and Maneka Gandhi had a fight over dog biscuits. But it would be unfair to call it just a book of gossip as some Delhi based reviewers have.
Tavleen Singh offers us some fascinating stuff on Operation Bluestar and the chamchas surrounding the Gandhi family and how they operated. The part that takes the cake though is the fact that Ottavio Quattrocchi and his wife were very close to Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi, despite Sonia’s claims now that she barely knew them. If there is one book you should be reading to understand how the political city of Delhi operates and why that has landed India in the shape that it has, this has to be it.
The Sanjay Story – Vinod Mehta (Harper Collins – Rs 499).Technically this book shouldn’t be a part of the list given that it was first published in 1978 and has just been re-issued this year. But this book is as important now as it was probably in the late 1970s, when it first came out.
Mehta does a fascinating job of unravelling the myth around Sanjay Gandhi and concludes that he was the school boy who never grew up.
“Intellectually Sanjay had never encountered complexity. He was an I.S.C and at that educational level you are not likely to learn (through your educational training) the art of resolving involved problems… He himself confessed in 1976 that possibly his strongest intellectual stimulation came from comics,” writes Mehta.
The book goes into great detail about the excesses of the emergency era. From nasbandi to the censors taking over the media, it says it all. Sanjay was not a part of the government in anyway but ruled the country. And things are similar right now!
Patriots and Partisans – Ramachandra Guha (Penguin/Allen Lane – Rs 699)
The trouble with most Delhi based Indian intellectuals is that they have very strong ideologies. There sensitivities are either to the extreme left or the extreme right, and those in the middle are essentially stooges of the Congress party. Given that, India has very few intellectuals who are liberal in the strictest of the terms. Ramachandra Guha is one of them, his respect for Nehru and his slight left leanings notwithstanding. And what of course helps is the fact that he lives in Bangalore and not in Delhi.
His new book Patriots and Partisans is a collection of fifteen essays which largely deal with all that has and is going wrong in India. One of the finest essays in the book is titled A Short History of Congress Chamchagiri. This essay on its own is worth the price of the book. Another fantastic essay is titled Hindutva Hate Mail where Guha writes about the emails he regularly receives from Hindutva fundoos from all over the world.
His personal essays on the Oxford University Press, the closure of the Premier Book Shop in Bangalore and the Economic and Political Weekly are a pleasure to read. If I was allowed only to read two non fiction books this year, this would definitely be the second book. (Read my interview with Ramachandra Guha here).
Indianomix – Making Sense of Modern India – Vivek Dehejia and Rupa Subramanya (Vintage Books Random House India – Rs 399)
This little book running into 185 pages was to me the surprise package of this year. The book is along the lines of international bestsellers like Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist. It uses economic theory and borrows heavily from the emerging field of behavioural economics to explain why India and Indians are the way they are.
Other than trying to explain things like why are Indians perpetually late or why do Indian politicians prefer wearing khadi in public and jeans in their private lives, the book also delves into fairly serious issues.
Right from explaining why so many people in Mumbai die while crossing railway lines to explaining why Nehru just could not see the obvious before the 1962 war with China, the book tries to explain a broad gamut of issues.
But the portion of the book that is most relevant right now given the current protests against the rape of a twenty year old woman in Delhi, is the one on the ‘missing women’ of India. Women in India are killed at birth, after birth and as they grow up is the point that the book makes.
My only complain with the book is that I wish it could have been a little longer. Just as I was starting to really enjoy it, the book ended. (Read my interview with Vivek Dehejia here)
Taj Mahal Foxtrot – The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age – Naresh Fernandes (Roli Books – Rs 1295)
Bombay (Mumbai as it is now known as) really inspires people who lives here and even those who come from the outside to write about it. Only that should explain the absolutely fantastic books that keep coming out on the city (No one till date has been able to write a book as grand as Shantaram set in Delhi or a book with so many narratives like Maximum City set in Bangalore).
This year’s Bombay book written by a Mumbaikar has to be Naresh Fernades’s Taj Mahal Foxtrot.
The book goes into the fascinating story of how jazz came to Bombay. It talks about how the migrant musicians from Goa came to Bombay to make a living and became its most famous jazz artists. And they had delightful names like Chic Chocolate and Johnny Baptist. The book also goes into great detail about how many black American jazz artists landed up in Bombay to play and take the city by storm. The grand era that came and went.
While growing up I used to always wonder why did Hindi film music of the 1950s and 1960s sound so Goan. And turns out the best music directors of the era had music arrangers who came belonged to Goa. The book helped me set this doubt to rest.
The Indian Constitution – Madhav Khosla (Oxford University Press – Rs 195)
I picked up this book with great trepidation. I knew that the author Madhav Khosla was a 27 year old. And I did some back calculation to come to the conclusion that he must have been probably 25 years old when he started writing the book. And that made me wonder, how could a 25 year old be writing on a document as voluminous as the Indian constitution is?
But reading the book set my doubts to rest, proving once again, that age is not always related to good scholarship. What makes this book even more remarkable is the fact that in 165 pages of fairly well spaced text, Khosla gives us the history, the present and to some extent the future of the Indian constitution.
His discussion on caste being one of the criteria on the basis of which backwardness is determined in India makes for a fascinating read. Same is true for the section on the anti defection law that India has and how it has evolved over the years.
Lucknow Boy – Vinod Mehta (Penguin – Rs 499)
One of my favourite jokes on Lucknow goes like this. An itinerant traveller gets down from the train on the Lucknow Railway station and lands into a beggar. The beggar asks for Rs 5 to have a cup of tea. The traveller knows that a cup of tea costs Rs 2.50. He points out the same to the beggar.
“Aap nahi peejiyega kya? (Won’t you it be having it as well?),” the beggar replies. The joke reveals the famous tehzeeb of Lucknow.
Vinod Mehta’s Lucknow Boy starts with his childhood days in Lucknow and the tehzeeb it had and it lost over the years. The first eighty pages the book are a beautiful account of Mehta’s growing up years in the city and how he and his friends did things with not a care in the world. Childhood back then was about being children, unlike now.
The second part of the book has Mehta talking about his years as being editor of various newspapers and magazines. This part is very well written and has numerous anecdotes like any good autobiography should, but I liked the book more for Mehta’s description of his carefree childhood than his years dealing with politicians, celebrities and other journalists.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo (Penguin – Rs 499)
As I said a little earlier Mumbai inspires books like no other city in India does. A fascinating read this year has been Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Indians are typical apprehensive about foreigners writing on their cities. But some of the best Mumbai books have been written by outsiders. Gregory David Roberts who wrote Shantaram arrived in Mumbai having escaped from an Australian prison. There is no better book on Mumbai than Shantaram. The same is true about Suketu Mehta and Maximum City. Mehta was a Bombay boy who went to live in America and came back to write the book that he did.
Boo’s book on Mumbai is set around a slum called Annawadi. She spent nearly three years getting to know the people well enough to write about them. Hence stories of individuals like Kalu, Manju, Abdul, Asha and Sunil, who live in the slum come out very authentic. The book more than anything else I have read on Mumbai ( with the possible exception of Shantaram) brings out the sheer grit that it takes to survive in a city like Mumbai.
So that was my list for what I think were the top 10 Indian non fiction books for the year. One book that you should definitely avoid reading is Chetan Bhagat’s What Young India Wants. Why would you want to read a book which says something like this?
Money spent on bullets doesn’t give returns, money spent on better infrastructure does… In this technology-driven age, do you really think America doesn’t have the information or capability to launch an attack against India? But they don’t want to attack us. They have much to gain from our potential market for American products and cheap outsourcing. Well let’s outsource some of our defence to them, make them feel secure and save money for us. Having a rich, strong friend rarely hurt anyone.
And if that is not enough let me share what Bhagat thinks would happen if women weren’t around. “There would be body odour, socks on the floor and nothing in the fridge to eat.” Need I say anything else?
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on December 26, 2012.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected])