Dec 05, 2023
Dec 05, 2023
No, I’m not going to talk of a redo of the 1979 Hollywood movie Kramer vs. Kramer, telling the story of a married couple’s divorce and its ripple effect on all concerned around them. Ted Kramer, brilliantly played by Dustin Hoffman, and his estranged wife Joanna – an equally shining performance – Meryl Streep, are locked in a legal conflict. Mine, instead, is the possible script of an entirely new genre of real-life drama awaiting a film script. Any venture capitalist ready to put his money?
You know as well as I that suppliers of defense equipment, like CIA, can do anything. Yes, almost anything, including put plants anywhere in this world or the world beyond. Before she clamped the Emergency on the country, Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s own household was a hotbed of intrigue and counter-intrigue in relentless chase of very lucrative defense orders. Prospective bidders from all developed countries for the aircrafts and defense equipment to be bought, had their contact men feverishly at work in India.
That they didn’t spare the Gandhi family is news. Hot news indeed! That’s revealed in the latest tranche of Wikileaks published by that intrepid newspaper the Hindu.
Maruti Udyog – remember the company founded by Indiraji’s enterprising son, Sanjay renowned for his murky wheeling dealing in collaboration with his dear sister-in-law Sonia Gandhi – bagged the agency of the British Aircraft Corporation in its sales efforts in India during the 1970s. This is authenticated by a U.S. embassy dispatches obtained and released by WikiLeaks.
To cover all the flanks, the Swedish arms suppliers Saab-Scania solicited the services of an influential so-called expert, Rajiv Gandhi at that time working as a pilot with Indian Airlines. So, one Gandhi vs. another Gandhi! And both operating from the same address.
So whoever may get the order – ultimately it was bagged by the wily Brits for Jaguars – the handsome commission money – all tax free – stayed in the family. Even if Indira Gandhi knew about it –she in turn had her own sources to know everything – she wouldn’t have really minded. She must have been happy, in fact. Here was a self-declared socialist practicing, what economist call, perfect competition. And secondly, money, finally, stays in same safe place – at No. 1, Safdarjung Road in New Delhi.
Thank the Good Lord, Sonia and Maneka had not yet got into the same business. Four addresses under the same roof would have been little too much.
A series of 41 cables between 1974 and 1976 give glimpses into the “fighter sweepstakes” in India, with one supplier wryly observing that the Swedish company had “understood the importance of family influences in the final decision in the fighter sweepstakes.”
There are several good reasons to name the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as the Neo-Mughal Dynasty. The first and foremost, is to absolve the Old Man, M K Gandhi of any vestige of association with the dynastic goings-on.
Indira Gandhi literally killed two birds with one matrimonial stone. The first was to find a man to marry and more importantly, to get married to a much-sought label to adopt for herself like the good Bengali practice of double-barreled names. In her case Nehru-Gandhi a la Roy-Choudhury and Datta-Roy.
The second reason is the close resemblance to the dynastic upheavals of the Mughals. Take the preparations of take- over’s, always brewing while the reigning sovereign was still on throne. You recall the revolt of Prince Salim while Akbar was still around. The drama was repeated in case of Jahangir. Recall, also, the very intricate web of intrigue the future Aurangzeb wove merely on hearing the news of his father, Shah Jahan’s illness.
The latest round of Wikileaks reveal that a year after the emergency, the inner circle around Indira Gandhi, led by her darling son Sanjay, was getting ready to capture the prime ministership just in case Indira died unexpectedly or was shot dead – the likelihood of which possibility was never ruled out, given the wide-spread resentment against arbitrary ways of law-enforcement.
Given the atmosphere of tension, “the ‘inner circle’ could attempt to use their sympathizers in the intelligence and security services and the Delhi administration to establish their claim, and in these circumstances, the role of the President and the Army could be crucial. If the ‘inner circle’ should succeed in capturing the Prime Ministership, the likelihood of sharply enhanced authoritarianism in India would increase substantially,” reads a cable emanating from the American Embassy.
It wasn’t only the inner circle at 1 Safdargung Road that was deeply worried. Equally worried were the Americans.
Think of France and things French. Remember the famous three B’s: Bordeaux, Baguette, and Barrett? The attributes associated with the Gallic people that readily come to mind are: enjoying life by drinking Bordeaux, having leisurely five-course lunches – lobster, frog leg et al, - a good siesta after lunch and whatever else you associate with good living. (It covers what you and I want to do but need not talk about.)
I was, naturally, shocked to read in BBC News that some thirty years ago more than half of adults [in France] were consuming wine on a near-daily basis but the figure, today, has come down to 17 per cent. Before you collapse out of shock, hear further the bad news: the proportion of French people who never drink wine at all has doubled to 38 per cent. What do they drink instead? Certainly not water which most French regard as something for external use. It’s these God-damned sodas - that American curse – that have made inroads in the world’s last citadel of good eating and drinking.
Look at our fat young population, fed on burgers and coke and ice-cream. Can someone explain why bad food habits travel much faster than their counterparts? Is it just the taste or the impact of another American curse called advertising? If fifty times a day you see an ad about potato chips or a high-calorie soda, you’re very likely to get hooked.
We have had in our society a dismal record of appalling leadership extending right up to present times. I plan to write a book on this to share with a wider readership some crucial issues of leadership. One attribute that is currently facing us, is: is there a time in the life of a leader when he should call it a day or only wait for the benign hand of death to create a situation that his successor emerges?
Let’s first have a look at our political leadership. Since 1947 how many of our self-declared leaders have quit while still alive to make room for someone to take over? Most of them carried on and on, sparing their families their funeral expenses too.
The only political leader I can think of who had the moral courage at the height of his glory, when everything around ensured that he could carry on without the slightest challenge from anyone, was Nelson Mandela. In the middle of his first term (from 1994 to 1999) as the first democratically elected President of South Africa he declared that he won’t seek a second term. He is, fortunately, still around and could have carried on without any obstacle. This is, I believe, a rare case of someone deeming political power merely as a means and not an end in itself.
What’s true of our politics is equally applicable to our sports world, particularly cricket, the biggest money-spinner of all. There are clear signs that the innings of three big names of yesteryears Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan are over. Should they have at some stage called it a day themselves and gone into the twilight voluntarily to do things more worthwhile in life?
History would have judged Nehru far more positively if he announced his retirement after finishing his second term as Prime Minister. But his tender concern for his dear daughter’s political future heaped on his head the humiliations of his last years.
The Christian Science Monitor recently carried a report that last year, the Swedish Language Council published a report of words that had, to its dismay, entered the Swedish lexicon in 2012. One of the intruders was ogooglebar . It can be translated in Queen’s English as – ungoogleable. This dismayed Google. The American giant promptly shot back to ask for the deletion of the word. The proud Swedes fired back: “we decide together which words should be and how they are defined, used and spelled.”
You may wonder what Google’s problem is. Well, to put it simply, Google is worried that if everyone starts using the word ‘google’ as a lower-case verb or noun, won’t it dilute the name?
When I mentioned that to my grandson, he was unreservedly for capital G – always and every time. I can well understand. The bloke works for Google and doesn’t want his employer’s status diminished, and thereby his.
Confidence, said Anthony Storr, English psychiatrist and author, that everyone of us is of value and significance as a unique individual, is one of the most precious possessions which anyone can have.
Supposedly, all of us are endowed with this, but how many are really aware and proud of it?
More by : Sakshi
|"everyone of us is of value and significance as a unique individual, is one of the most precious possessions which anyone can have".|
Your observation on how many of us are really aware of this natural endowment within us? - is the real question.
As far as I see, there are two main reasons for this:
1. Our social, religious and education systems, particularly at the early age of development, are either ignorant, ill-eqipped or simply unfit to make our youngsters see, feel and blossom this awareness within themselves.
2. Even if our youngsters are technically aware of this the odds are stacked up against them to dervie happiness from within by realising this potential. All the examples they see in our society point to self-promotion and self-enjoyment as the prime movers for attaining "happiness" and therefore appear as the apparent foundation of our value system.
We are a BAD role mopdel for our children (of course there are exceptions - it is always the others).