[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]E[/dropcap]very time I talk or write about Dr. Swamy, I find that there are so many areas that have not been covered. He has been a Teacher, an Economist, a Mathematician, a Politician, Rebel, Crusader against Black Money, appreciated by the Chinese/ Israelis and US leaders, Dog lover and looked at with awe and worry by his opponents. He is the closest in definition to what an Ashtavadhani would do.
…that India can grow at 10%. In those days, it was considered radical. It just goes to show really how far-sighted he was…
When I joined Indian Statistical Institute [ISI] in the early seventies and came to know that Dr. Swamy was an Alumnus, my interest in him started. After his studies at The Hindu College where he stood 3rd in the university, he joined the ISI for a Masters program. I came to know that he was not afraid to criticise P C Mahalanobis, the founder of ISI–about one of his papers.
It should be remembered that Mahalanobis was the brain behind setting up of the Planning Commission, something that Prime Minister Narendra Modi after many decades in 2014 dismantled.
He was the kind of person that no one –not a student under him- dared to question his research etc. But Dr. Swamy was very good at crunching numbers and developing theories.
Dr. Swamy’s famous paper ‘Notes on Fractile Graphical Analysis’ published in Econometrica, 1963 had questioned a Mahalanobis statistical analysis method as not being original but only a differentiated form of an older equation. That really pitched him as a giant killer in those early days.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]endrik S Houthakker the American economist who was the referee for the paper published in Econometrica recommended Swamy’s admission to Harvard. He got Rockefeller’s scholarship and completed his Ph.D. in 2 and half years when he was just 24. That was really a record. By 27, he was teaching at Harvard.
He co-authored a paper in 1974 on the theory of Index numbers with Dr. Samuelson—the first American to get Nobel award in Economics- and it was a pioneering effort.
He then in 1975, wrote a book titled “Economic Growth in China and India, 1952–70: A Comparative Appraisal” which is considered as the most authoritative work on the subject. When someone challenged him to learn Mandarin – a tough language in one year, he learnt it in 3 months! Till this day, Swamy is considered an authority on the Chinese Economy.
He met his future wife a Parsi woman – Roxna – at Harvard where she was doing her mathematics research. Later she studied law to practice in Supreme Court of India.
Then he was invited by Delhi School of Economics – by Prof. Amartya Sen – to join Chinese studies as a Chair Professor. But when the powers that be at DSE learnt about his free market thinking and views on nuclear energy— and changed their mind. Upon landing in India, he found out that they offered him a Readers’ job when he was already a Professor at Harvard. Feeling slighted, he rejected the offer.
He then joined IIT Delhi in 1969 from where he was expelled in 1972 by the then government for his anti-communist views. He wanted five-year plans to be scrapped and argued in the seventies that India can grow at 10%. In those days, it was considered radical. It just goes to show really how far-sighted he was since today everyone is talking about it.
In 1970, Indira Gandhi “dismissed” his economic views as that of a “Santa Claus with unrealistic ideas”. The same views were to be implemented by Dr. Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister in 1992 under PVN Rao as PM. That is the irony of our politics and shows that he was far ahead of his time.
After his expulsion from IIT Delhi, he fought a court case and got re-instated in 1991. He joined for a day just to prove his point before resigning.
He was invited by Nanaji Deshmukh the doyen of Indian politics to join Rajya Sabha in 1974. That changed his professorial life to that of a political leader.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]hen Emergency was declared in 1975 he went underground –travelled extensively in the USA to expose emergency. He made a dramatic appearance in Parliament—10th August 1976- to “condole the demise of democracy” and wanted an obituary reference on the same. He immediately left the Parliament and disappeared into thin air. That electrified the entire opposition to Emergency for the “audacity” and Dare Devilry against Indira Gandhi.
Post emergency he was one of the founder members of Janata Party and he continued with the party till the party merged with BJP in 2013. From that angle, he was never a party hopper.
He also had the unique distinction of being a cabinet rank member in P V Narasimha Rao cabinet even though he did not belong to Congress. He was appointed by the then Prime Minister in 1994 as Chairman with Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade with a cabinet rank.
The other aspects about him pertaining to exposure of 2G scam or protection of Sethu Samudram project and National Herald case are recent and well known.
Not many know that he was instrumental in removing the so-called “Single directive” by which permission from Government was needed before CBI proceeds against any official.
Swamy took this to the Supreme Court which struck down this clause giving investigating agencies freedom to act against possible culprits.
He was solely responsible for the opening up of Manasarovar route to Indians after his meeting with Deng Xiaoping in 1981.
It is an interesting journey of the Mathematician/ Economist as a public interest political leader, a person whose home Goddess Saraswati has taken residence.
His current journey as Rajya Sabha member will create tremors and put the fear of action into the heart of the wrong doers.