There's no miracle cure for corruption

There's no miracle cure for corruption

He was a widower and there were quite a few women in his life including Padmaja Naidu and Edwin Mountbatten. There was also Shraddha Mata, a Tantric, mentioned by Panditji’s private secretary M G Mathai in his scurrilous book as having borne a child through her. She was an attractive Sadhvi who I got to know well. I went to meet her when she was staying in Nigambod Ghat amongst burning funeral pyres. She shifted to Jaipur where the Maharajah gifted her a small fortress in which a few families were living among snakes and black dogs. I called on her whenever I was in Jaipur. She admitted she had an affair with Panditji but could not marry him because he was a Brahmin and she a Kshatriya. In any event she did not try to influence his judgments.

Holy men came into their own during Indira Gandhi’s time. The most prominent was Dhirendra Brahmachari. He was provided a government bungalow with a large garden where he kept a flock of black cows whose milk he claimed had medicinal properties. He was a handsome, bearded Bihari who wore flimsy white kurta and dhoti even in the coldest days of winter. He was a daily visitor in Indira Gandhi’s home and office. He did well for himself. He had a gun factory in Jammu and flew his own aircraft between Delhi and Jammu. He was killed when his plane crashed.

Then there was Chandraswami. My memory fails me as I don’t remember what he did besides being much in the news for his closeness to many VIPs before he faded out.
And now we have Baba Ramdev, the most formidable holy man with a large following. He is basically a teacher of Yoga. Yoga is a scientific way of keeping fit -nothing more. To claim that he can cure cancer by Yoga is utter nonsense. But his threat to fast till his demands were met put the government in a tizzy. What exactly he wants the government to do to wipe out corruption is not clear. But before assuming a holier than thou pose he must explain how he came to owning vast landed property in and around Hardwar.

Corruption is all pervasive. There are no miracle cures for a disease which has afflicted our society for ages. We have to tackle it from all sides. Teach little children from nursery classes that it is a sin and let a whole new generation come up which is free from this taint.

Young media baroness

Between them the two Sarkar brothers - Aveek and Aroop own pretty well the monopoly of the print media of West Bengal. They own the Anand Bazar Patrika, The Telegraph and several magazines. They provide sustenance to Bengali writers and poets as well as stand by the exiled Bangladeshi writer Tasleema Nasreen. It appears they have decided to pass on managerial responsibilities to their next generation. I do not know the details but know Aveek’s daughter Chiki. A couple of years ago she took over Random House, a rival publishing house to Penguin-Viking (India) of which her father held 42 per cent shares. I represented him as a consultant drawing an honorarium and got all its publications free of charge.

When I first met Chiki Sarkar, I assumed she must have just come out of school. She looks a lot younger than her years. She is an Oxford University graduate with experience of publishing with Bloomsbury. The authors she handled included Jhumpa Lahiri, Anita Desai, Mohammed Hanif, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Rujuta Diwekar and Shehan Karunatilake.
A year later she took over as head of penguin-Viking. She came over to say hello to me. She is a cheerful lady and twitters away like a sparrow. She asked me if I had any advice to giver her. I replied, “Your first priority should be to look your age. You are 34 but look ten years younger.”

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(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)

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