Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Life and Times of Dr Subramanian Swamy: Some Glimpses

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Evolving with Subramanian Swamy: A Roller Coaster Ride
By Roxna Swamy
New Delhi 2017.                               

Writing the biography of a major political personality is beeset with challenges. And when a spouse pens the biography, it is likely to be dismissed as laudatory, biased and uncritical. Fortunately the biography of Dr Subramanian Swamy by his wife of over 40 years, the noted lawyer Roxna Swamy is not a wide eyed adulatory account of a major political personality of contemporary India. Of course, she is not overly critical of him but Subramanian Swamy emerges from the pages of the book under review as a determined, courageous, unforgiving and at times vengeful man. At the same time, the tenacity with which Dr Swamy has pursued the powerful and the corrupt is ably documented in the book. If India did not have a Subramanian Swamy, I have no hesitation is saying that the goonds politicians would be running the country with impunity, Single handedly he took on the might of the Indian state has has brought to the bar of justice Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Kanimozhi, Raja and scores of other corrupt political figures. It requires immense moral courage to do this and Dr Swamy has demonstrated that.

For persons of my generation, who came of age during the Emergency, Dr Subramanian Swamy will ever remain a Hero. The book gives us details of how he escaped from India during the Emergency and his dramatic reapearance in Parliament disguised as a sardar is legendary. The petty minded Indiara Gandhi and her Congress party expelled Swamy from the Rajya Sabha on patently fraudelent grounds, but Dr Subramanian Swamy reentered the Lok Sabha from the Bombay North East Constituency, the largest Lok Sabha Constituency in India. He had been promised the New Delhi seat, but the machinations of Atal Behari Vajpayee seems to have put paid to the hope of getting that seat. Vajpayee himself contested that seat and I was his booth agent in 1977 in the R K Puram polling booth.  Roxna seems to suggest that Vajpayee was bent on subverting the political carreer of Dr Swamy and ensured his exclusion from the Janata Party Ministry which was formed, The other pet peeve was Rama Krishna Hegde who tried to marginalize Swamy but the great Machiavelian that Swamy is, made Hegde eat crow by getting him to resign following the telephone tapping scandal.

Dr Subramanian Swamy is a towering figure in Indian politics and owes his palce entirely to the splendid intellect that he commands. Indian politics has seen two great intellectuals, Dr Ambedkar and Dr Swamy and both possess a doctorate from US Universities. Dr Swamy was educated at Harvard University from where he received his Ph D under the guidance of Simon Kuznetz. In his political life, Dr Swamy has been faithful to two very important principles: he is a beleiver in Capitalism as an economic system that promises equality and prosperity and he has always advocated a good diplomatic ties with Israel. In the pursuit of these goals he has not sververed during his long years in public life. Dr Swamy has utter contempt for the Nehruvian brand of state socialism which promoted corruption, inequality and mediocrity.

James Joll once wrote a book, Intellectuals in Politics. In India, Dr Swamy is the closest we have ever had of a politician who is highly educated, a power house of ideas, dedicated to the principle of a free society and above all a dogged and determined crusader against the endemic corruption. He is a broad minded individual as his personal life demonstrates his open mindedness.

I enjoyed reading this book.

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