Book Reviews

Book Review – Evolving with Subramanian Swamy

I am a fan of Dr. Subramanian Swamy … I feel he should be awarded the Bharat Ratna for sticking to the truth and showing the mirror to many larger than life “dirty” politicians. His wife Roxna Swamy has written the book so yes, its a biased version, but the bias is well founded in facts that can be corroborated. Historical events and the numerous cases that he has been involved in are all recorded in the public space, so they cannot be “invented”. Her interpretation of Dr. Swamy’s behaviour in all the events is obviously biased and why not. What is interesting though, is Roxna is wealthier than Dr. Swamy, she is a Parsi lady so has the license to behave crazily and she is well educated – so except for love, there was really no reason to remain married to Dr. Swamy. She is a lawyer who seems deeply committed to being a law abiding citizen whether she likes a certain law or not and she certainly doesn’t look the kind who would condone Dr. Swamy’s actions if they went against the law.

For me – the book was “delightful”. Kabir passed on this book to me after he had read it. I didn’t even know that this book existed !! To realise that Dr. Swamy who strongly supports the “Ram Setu” and was instrumental is stopping the DMK from breaking it and the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, actually never knew much about Hinduism while growing up is fascinating. He was almost a religious agnostic and seems to still be that way. Its interesting that he understood Hinduism and the Indian history because of some of his friends in the US and then researched the stuff on his own.

That he co-authored a paper with the great economist Samuelson way back in the 70’s tells us of Dr. Swamy’s brilliance. Do read his tribute to Samuelson – Now that explains why he took on Chidambaram and Raghuram Rajan and of course the brilliant lawyer-turned-finance minister Arun Jaitley. The book refers to how Dr. Swamy was wooed to join IIT and Delhi School of Economics and then a group of left leaning folks tried to throw him out when they realised that he was anti-left. The role that Dr. Manmohan Singh played in retaining Dr. Swamy at IIT Delhi is hilarious and sad at the same time. From the book I realised that our late PM Mr. Narasimha Rao had infact asked Dr. Swamy to lead the economic reforms in the 1990’s as it was Dr. Swamy’s blueprint being actioned, but laid down a condition that Dr. Swamy should join the Congress which he refused. Hence the birth of Dr. Manmohan Singh who got hailed as a great economist for bringing in the reforms but who never dared to acknowledge the support of Mr. Narasimha Rao because it would have upset his party’s President, Sonia Gandhi.

Dr. Swamy’s relationship with Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi is brought out beautifully – He was inordinately fond of Rajiv Gandhi and heartbroken when he was killed, he got off on the wrong foot with Indira Gandhi but they managed to have a cordial relationship but Sonia Gandhi was in his gun sights from day one … when she became LIC’s biggest agent even as her mother-in-law was the PM ! Of all the dynasts, Rajiv Gandhi seemed untouched by the family’s main source of income, “corruption” – not sure if that is true but it does seem likely, especially after seeing how events have unfolded after he was killed.

Even Roxna is surprised that Dr. Swamy has friends in all political parties. The dark side of Vajpayee is also  brought out in the book … while the hints were always there, this book actually brings out in the open, Vajpayee’s pettiness and the whispered womanising. That Dr. Swamy met our current PM Narendra Modi way back in 1972 and was treated to amazing ice creams in Ahmedabad by him is just a golden nugget and it also tells you about their friendship which many of us never knew about. Dr. Swamy’s run-ins and friendship with Jayalalitha actually made me feel sad … because I feel the same way that Dr. Swamy felt about Jayalalitha – a potential that was wasted.

Do read the book … Roxna Swamy calls her life with Dr. Swamy as a roller coaster ride and the book takes the reader on that roller coaster ride through five decades of Indian politics from the early 70’s to nearly till now with a dog-loving incorruptible brilliant economist who has his moments of eccentricity. I wish Dr. Swamy gets his Bharat Ratna and I certainly hope to meet him someday. I have fleetingly seen him at the Chennai airport many years back where his security guards tried to push me away and I asked them if Dr. Swamy was some God and not a human being ! Dr. Swamy didn’t seem to have noticed that interaction otherwise am sure he would have asked  his security guards to not push and shove people.

Wishing Dr. Swamy good health and a long life so that he continues to be the watchdog of India’s politics, a role that he relishes and a role that is much needed. Thank you Roxna Swamy for this delightful book.


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