Here are some of the exciting events from Dr Swamy’s inexhaustible experiences.
Subramanian Swamy passed through London forecasting improvement in UK-India relations post-Brexit and sharing the values of Dharma. Between appointments, the titan of Indian politics afforded me a chat. Previously Swamy has related many political events during his exciting career, but the length and breadth of his experience are inexhaustible.
Seated elegantly in a pale rose kurta and black socks with pink spots, he says Swamy is actually his first name, his father’s name was Subramanian and the family name is Iyer. During the Emergency, Gandhi persuaded people to give up their last names as it represented caste, in this case, Shaivite Brahmins. His name Swamy was chosen because it was shorter than the traditional Tamil names; since his Harvard days when his Professor asked what to call him as he was listed as S. Swamy and the reply was Subramanian, he has been the inimitable Subramanian Swamy ever since.
Swamy proposed that various journalists accompany him, but they could not afford the round trip from Delhi to Mumbai to get their visas stamped in their passports.
Swamy and his mother adored each other; it wasn’t long before she appreciated his talents and rebel instincts. A friend tells me that as a child he was a wonderful cartoonist and singer. At a Christian school in Delhi, he learnt nothing of Hinduism; during the Emergency there was plenty of time to study religion; the houses of the folks he hung out with were filled with wonderful books, so his knowledge is self-taught.
The greatest influence in his political life was Mahaperiyava Chandrashekarendra Saraswati the late Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Swamy says his turning point came in 1977 while he was campaigning for the Janata Party in a remote village in Tamil Nadu; he was curious about a posse of parked fancy cars and Swamy wanted to see who was gathering such a large crowd. The Shankaracharya was then in his 80’s, people were bringing their problems to him, Swamy listened, then the Swamigal turned and entered a small cottage and closed the door, Swamy began to walk to his car but a priest came to call him back. On entering the cottage, the Shankaracharya asked him “How did you leave without my permission?” and gave him a newspaper cutting featuring his photograph and the question “Is Subramanian Swamy a Tamilian?”, then Swamy was informed he could depart. Swamy continued his campaign and at the end of the day returned to the cottage to ask the Shankaracharya “Why?”. Mahaperiyava advised that the Soviet Union would begin to unravel in five years and that Swamy should cultivate other relationships, with China and Israel, Swamy was doubtful but the Sage insisted he follow his advice. At the time Israel was persona non-grata with India and her allies, and after the Indo-China war of 1962, the atmosphere in 1977 was that any notion of friendliness towards China was treasonous. The Shankaracharya also offered another piece of advice “Never go after a post, whenever it is necessary a post will come after you”. Destiny stepped in and Morarji Desai was elected as PM and Swamy became an MP. Morarji admired Swamy and wanted to support him following his apparent refusal of the position of MoS of Finance, in fact, Vajpayee, not liking the competition had misled Morarji, saying Swamy would be General Secretary of Janata Party. Morarji and Swamy got on like a house on fire, they had 6 AM meetings in the mornings to share ideas and insights. Morarji blessed Swamy’s overtures to China and Israel.
Swamy telephoned the Chinese Embassy and proposed meeting up; he received a royal treatment and was invited to the October 1st Celebrations of the PRC, the China connection was successfully established. In 1978 Morarji had asked Swamy’s advice on what to do about the territories of Arunachal and Kashmir, Swamy explained that the Chinese psychology values support when at a low ebb, he suggested to the PM that if India gave China support over the disputed sovereignty of Chenbaodao Island in the Ussuri River, China would never forget it. At the time the Soviet Union had amassed troops there and China was weak pre the US détente, USSR invoked Indira Gandhi’s Indo-Soviet Treaty and requested to put troops on the Indo-Tibet border via India. Swamy advised Morarji not to allow this and the PM wrote a letter of support that Swamy presented during India’s first official visit to China since 1964, preparing the ground for Vajpayee’s 1979 visit, Swamy recalls the delight of his hosts and says they have never forgotten this gesture of solidarity.
At the time India had a Trade Council for Israel in Mumbai, but diplomatic relations were non-existent. Swamy decided that Indo-Israeli relations need the touch of a more Hindutva type, different from the approach of the anglicised elites. He arranged a secret meeting in August 1977 for an incognito Morarji with the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. In 1982 Swamy was invited by Menachem Begin to Israel. Swamy proposed that various journalists accompany him, but they could not afford the round trip from Delhi to Mumbai to get their visas stamped in their passports. Swamy turned his official residence into an ad-hoc Israeli Consulate, including flying the Israeli Flag of Zion, everyone made the trip and Swamy was feted as a national hero.
Swamy expected UK-India bilaterals to improve after Brexit, emphasising innovation in AI, tech, health and education are what matters not geographical landmass; he said in the past 200 years advancement has not come from labour and capital investment but from ideas.
Throughout life’s journey, Swamy and the Shankaracharya talked, Mahaperiyava only spoke politics to Swamy. One difficulty Swamy sought advice about was when the LTTE leader announced he and Rajiv Gandhi would be killed. The Swamigal replied, “Why don’t you kill him?” Again, destiny intervened and Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa cornered Prabhakaran at Mullaitivu and was looking for clearance to “bump him off”. Swamy met Manmohan Singh at a wedding and because of the years of friendship between them MMS agreed and Sri Lanka’s government forces moved in.
On the Ram Mandir he said the core issue is waiting for the Supreme Court to give a decision on the property, he said it was possible the mediation process will accept his written submission that was invited by the committee. Later in Westminster, he acknowledged a historic case in the UK that had provided some evidence for one element of his petition.
Swamy says it would not take long to deliver double-digit growth to India’s economy, apparently only two weeks. If the indirect tax system was simplified, new notes were printed to pay for workers on large scale infrastructure projects and farmers were enabled to export, he said the people would be thrilled with this.
In Westminster at an event organised by Bob Blackman MP in the House of Commons Swamy recalled sitting in Parliament Square as a fugitive from the Emergency, he looked at the edifice of UK’s democracy and had the idea to return to India and give a speech and disappear, that turbaned escapade is now a legend. The legend in his own lifetime continued to say he expected UK-India bilaterals to improve after Brexit, emphasising innovation in AI, tech, health and education are what matters not geographical landmass; he said in the past 200 years advancement has not come from labour and capital investment but from ideas.
Swamy shared his understanding of the definition and degrees of Dharma and the cerebral benefits of learning Sanskrit Shlokas, it seems you can take Swamy out of India but you can never take India out of Swamy.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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