I shall miss his humour, ebullience and generosity of heart.

 

At 8.15 am on 6 August 1945, a US B-29 warplane, Enola Gay, piloted by Paul Tibbets dropped a single Atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan, destroying the city, killing 140,000 men, women and children. Those who survived suffered deadly burns. For over 60 years many children were born deformed. Three days later on 9 August, a second atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The results were horrific. President Harry Truman expressed no regrets at the loss of human lives.

I have always wondered if the war in Europe had lasted till August, would President Truman have sanctioned using the atom bomb on Germany? It is a tantalizing question.

***

Amar Singh died in Singapore on 1 August. He was being treated in the Mount Elizabeth Hospital for the last six months for a multiplicity of serious ailments. We were intimate friends for a quarter of a century. He was only 64 years of age.

For almost a decade, he skilfully played the political game at the highest level. In 2008, he saved Manmohan Singh’s government from being voted out in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the nuclear deal. The government did not have a majority. Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav was against India signing the deal. Amar Singh, then a prominent member of the party, was very close to Mulayam Singh and said to his leader that “without our vote Manmohan’s government would fall”. He convinced his leader that the BJP must be kept out. Finally, Amar Singh got his way and the UPA government survived and the nuclear deal was passed in the House.

He did not get a flying start in life. He was brought up in humble circumstances. By the age of 35 he was on the way to becoming a multi-millionaire. His verbal resources were formidable. When provoked he could hurl the choicest abuses in Hindi and English. His self-assurance was striking.

He could be erratic—fell out with Mulayam Singh, was expelled from the Samajwadi Party. In politics, for a short while, he lost his way. He neglected his health.

He leaves a void in the lives of his many friends. I shall miss his humour, ebullience and generosity of heart.

***

Ebrahim Alkazi (1925-2020), the theatre guru, passed away at the Escort hospital on 4 August. I only met him briefly twice but was impressed by his remarkable talent. One of his pupils, M.K. Raina wrote that Alkazi was like M.F. Hussain, Homi Bhaba and Uday Shankar, a product of the Nehru era.

He was the director of the National School of Drama from 1962 to 1972. He directed Girish Karnad’s “Tuglak”, Balwant Gargi’s “Razia Sultan”, Mohan Prakash’s “Ashad Ka Ek Din”. All were hits.

***

Priyanka Vadra’s comment on the Ayodhya puja surprised me. Newspapers reported what she is alleged to have said. Lord Ram was part of every Indian and that she hoped that the ground breaking ceremony would serve as a mark of national unity, brotherhood and cultural harmony. The sentiments are laudable but factually questionable. She belongs to a secular family. Lord Ram is by no means a part of every Muslim, Christian or Parsi. I doubt if her great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru and grandmother Indira Gandhi would have approved.

***

From time to time Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan comes up with pronouncements that clearly indicate that the processes of his mind are atrophied. His latest anti-India tirade is to hawk a map of India in which parts of India are shown as parts of Pakistan. A moratorium on truth and decency is all too visible in Pakistan. What has Prime Minister Imran Khan achieved by this cartographic folly? The influence of China on Pakistan is not a secret. Some decades ago Jawaharlal Nehru told Chou En Lai that maps brought out by China showed parts of India as parts of China. The reply of Chou En Lai was ingenious. He said to Nehru that these maps were a legacy of the imperialist era and would be soon corrected. That “soon” never arrived.

Revised atlases will not be produced in any country (except China) to please Imran Khan. Similarly, taking Kashmir to the UN Security Council frequently makes delegates yawn.