The latest outrage is his ‘intemperate letter’ to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

 

Maharashtra is among the largest states in the Indian Union. It is also the wealthiest. Mumbai is the business capital of India. Bollywood impacts most of India. Mumbai produces the largest number of top class cricketers. Inevitably, the choice of Governor for the state is a serious exercise. In the past, well known public figures have held the post. A few examples: Raja Sir Maharaj Singh, Smt Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Ali Yavar Jung, Dr Jivraj Mehta, Air Chief Marshal Mehra and Sadiq Ali.

The selection of Governors by the NDA government leaves much to be desired. The choice of Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari as Governor of Maharashtra is, to say the least, unfortunate. At the time of his appointment he was no doubt uninformed with the complexities of the job. He should have made every effort to learn the intricacies of governorship. He failed to do so.

The first faux pas was committed soon after his appointment. In November 2019, he invited the BJP leader, Devendra Fadnavis to be the state’s Chief Minister at 7 am, without the presence of the Leader of the Opposition and large numbers of the media. Devendra Fadnavis did not have a majority and soon had to resign.

The latest outrage is his “intemperate letter” to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in which, apart from other follies, he questioned his secularism, a fundamental tenet of the Constitution. The Governor wished to have temples open at an earlier date. He could have spoken to the CM on the phone. Instead he mocked the Chief Minister by saying, “our gods and goddesses have been condemned to remain in lockdown” and wondered if the Chief Minister had “suddenly turned secular”. Discourtesy piled on discourtesy. Even Sharad Pawar objected to the tone and content of the letter.

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A lot of us delude ourselves by persuading ourselves that we are intellectuals. I am on the periphery. The Indian Foreign Service has produced one world class intellectual, P.N. Haksar (1913-1998).

The second in my judgement is a former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran. He writes lively and eye catching articles in several newspapers on a number of vital issues which the pandemic infested world is facing. His book How India looks at the World was widely read and much appreciated. A few weeks ago, he wrote a brilliant and original article, “India as teacher by negative example: Chinese perception of India during British colonial period and their impact on India-China relations”.

Reading it, I could only conclude that the Chinese have little respect for Indians. This is not a recent development. This contempt has been in evidence for centuries. “…India was regarded as a teacher by negative example, a failed and fallen country which has been subjugated and enslaved virtually without resistance from its people” said one Chinese scholar.

One of Empress Dowager Cixi’s officials, Kang Youwei, while in exile visited India in 1901-03 and in 1909. He wrote to a pupil of his: “My 4 million compatriots, if you wish to become a fallen nation of slaves, then quickly support the fight for independence in all provinces like the Indian people have done. But if my compatriots, you do not wish to become a fallen nation or an exterminated race, then you should deem useless India’s fight for independence…”

One writer commented on our laziness and lack of vigour, because of the weather.

These Chinese worthies forgot being bounded, crushed and conquered by the Mongols in the 12th and 13th centuries, the European powers in the 19th and 20th centuries. It must, however, be conceded that China never was to be fully conquered in its history. Large parts of it were, but never the whole.

I was particularly impressed by the concluding paragraph of this enlightening article. “…This points to the need for more intensive China studies in our country in particular on its history, its culture and society and the patterns of thought that are ingrained among its people. This exercise has two advantages. One, it points to the way to slowly but steadily removing the sludge of prejudice which animates much of Chinese behaviour towards India. Two it opens the way for chipping away at our own prejudices and uninformed nations about China and the Chinese people, Thereby making a more productive India-China engagement more likely even if not inevitable. Both sides need to shed the stereotype images they harbour about each other.”

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Sonia Gandhi gave her resignation to Sonia Gandhi which Sonia Gandhi contemptuously rejected because Sonia Gandhi said that Sonia Gandhi’s resignation was not a solution.

Sonia Gandhi declared that Sonia Gandhi was not the problem. Sonia Gandhi was the solution. Sonia Gandhi asked Jairam Ramesh to write a speech Sonia could circulate to Sonia and Rahul and Priyanka. This is going round South Delhi.