Teesta Sitalwad: arrest of an activist who is descendant of a legendary family.

Teesta Sitalwad has been arrested last week by Anti-terror squad (ATS) of Maharashtra from her residence in Juhu, Mumbai. Her arrest was such a big event that the United Nation spokesperson expressed concern and in reply a spokesperson of Foreign Affairs of Government of India had to issue following statement:

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said that we have seen a comment regarding legal action against Teesta Setalvad and two other persons by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The comments are completely inappropriate and set an example of interference in the independent judicial system of India. Bagchi further said that India works strictly against violation of law as per judicial procedures. Labeling such legal actions as harassment for the sake of activism is misleading and unacceptable.

The question arises as to who is Teesta Sitalwad?

She was destined to be a lawyer, like her father and grandfather but she left law and passed out as a journalist. He credentials as a journalist remained foggy but after 2002 she emerged as a professional public interest litigant. Her case would eventually land up in Supreme Court before a particular judge and she would get some relief or the other. Few years back she was arrested on the charge of misappropriation of money from Charities created for victims of 2002 riots in Gujarat but she was released on bail as it was granted on an alleged phone call from Kapil Sibal.

The Sitalwad Family:

Like many in lime lights of the media, the Sitalwad Family has an illustrious past.

Her great great great grandfather, Ambashankar Setalvad (1782–1853) worked for the East India Company.

Her great great grandfather Harilal Ambashankar Setalvad (1821–1899) was awarded the title of Rao Sahib by the British for his loyalty to the crown and in the process he made substantial wealth.

‘Sir’ Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad (1864–1947) was one of the
member of Hunter Commission which gave ‘clean chit’ to Reginald Dyer for Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919. He was awarded title of ‘Sir’ in 1919 & appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE) in 1924 by the British. He was also a family friend of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Motilal Chimanlal Setalvad (1884–1974) was India’s first & longest serving Attorney General (1950–1963).  He helped Nehru in imposing a tax on salt from retrospective effect in the name of cess. Courts had struck it down. (Remember slat agitation of Gandhi called Dandi March?) He also helped Nehru in keeping Rowllet Act in Constitution of India as article 22 by strongly defending it in courts.

Atul Motilal Setalvad (1933–2010) was a left leaning  Mumbai based lawyer with a rather not so illustrious a career but had left behind aan ancestoral home in Juhu, Mumbai which has a personal garden of 3 acres. Nobody, even the richest men of India namely Ambani and Adani enjoy this luxury in the heart of Mumbai.

Teesta Javed Setalvad (1962– ) is a journalist cum activist who married Javed Anand who is also an activist cum journalist. Presently she is under arrest for forging affidavits, manipulating litigation and abuse of legal process for 16 long years. The matter is under investigation.

Few other British loyalists:

Sitalwad is not alone. The British left behind their loyalists who shifted loyalty to the Nehru family immediately after 1947 and their descendants continue to do so thereafter.

Kunj Bihari Thapar gave a saropa to Governor Dyer who was the Governor of Punjab when Jalainwalan Bagh massacre took place. His illustrious descendants include General Thapar who lost 1962 war to China. Romilla Thapar and Karan Thapar are the other descendants continuing the legacy of Raj.

Khuswant Singh was press secretary of Nehru who was fired after a picture of Lady Mountbatten in night gown kissing good bye to Nehru in London, appeared in Newspapers. His father Sir Sobha Singh became a British loyalist who was awarded acres of land in and around Delhi at throw away prices after he testified against Bhagat Singh and B.K.Dutt, the freedom fighters in courts to ensure their hanging till death. Khuswant Singh defended his father as he spoke the truth.

There are many such illustrious British loyalists who joined Nehru and his descendants in doing what the British did to India namely LOOT away wealth. British looted 45 trillion dollars. So much so they refused to pay what they owed for war supplies in 1947. It was about 2 billion pounds. Nehru never mentioned it.

Arrest of Teesta could be a trend setter that these dynasts in media who represent British legacy of personal loyalty and not merit may soon become a thing of past. It is important that this happens as meritocracy is not possible with dynasties of loyalists.

A Requiem to Ahmed Patel, the Political Guru of Sonia Gandhi

Ahmed Patel breathed his last in the early hours of November 25. He was 71. He was diagnosed with the Chinese virus (Sars Cov-2) on October 1 and was under treatment at Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon district of Haryana from November 15.

Ahmed Patel, at a Swearing-in Ceremony, at Parliament House, in New Delhi on August 28, 2017.

Ahmed Patel, was called by Frontline magazine as a key strategist, a back-room crisis manager, troubleshooter and anchorman of the Congress. It is an understatement. He was designated as political advisor to Smt. Sonia Gandhi, th President of Congress Party which is a euphemism for a Guru. Frontline Magazine also called him a man with exceptional organisational skills, he was also instrumental in forging coalitions of the most unlikely partners. A case in point is the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra, comprising the Shiv Sena, the Congress, and the the Nationalist Congress Party.

Master of 3 M’s.

These tributes do not do justice to Patel. He was master of three M’s, these being 1) Media, 2) Money and 3) Muslims. He was master manager of media and after his death a few journalists have called him the super-editor of Lutyens Media. His quality was that he never failed to oblige any journalist of any hue. This brought in tremendous results till Arnab Goswami arrived with his Republic TV. Patel is also credited with dirty tricks department of media, which helped the defeat of of BJP government in 2004.

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Identity Politics in Democracy

What is the most attractive way to enjoy power?

It is the power without responsibility. Governance without accountability is the dream come true for a politician. Identity politics is right method to achieve this fate. It has been tested from country after country. Nobody can say who invented it but British pioneered this method of governance in it’s empire by promoting different identities and keeping them at each other’s throat at all the time and act as nice pacifist arbitrator of bloody disputes.

Shashi Tharoor in his book ‘An Era of Darkness’ has given the details as to how census operations were used to shoe horn different communities into ‘caste’ identities and then promote some and oppress others for 15 years and then patronize different caste and oppress other.

Transfer of Power in 1947:

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Farmer’s Freedom of trade bills passed demolishing another Nehru’s Citadel.

Farmer are free to sell the agricultural produce as they may choose. It may come as rude shock that until today every farmer was bound to sell it’s agricultural produce at the ‘specified market’ which was a euphemism of a close corporation consisting of politicians rather their proxies. The ‘Management’ of ‘Market’ had the power to dictate the price of the produce.

The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) was introduced as a reform to uplift the living of farmers but it subjugated them forcing them to make ‘illegal’ sale to outsiders without intervention of APMC. It was a cause of corruption and hardship for farmers. India had a unique institution called ‘Aadhatiya’ which was a mixture of middle man for sale and a money lander to finance agriculture operation. These Aadhatiya which were to be replaced by APMC but they became management of APMC. Three bills will pave the way for the sale of agricultural produce free from traders / Aadhatia/Dalal/Middle man. It will also protects to the farmers from market fluctuations through ‘Contract Farming’.

In most APMCs, buyers have to route all purchases through licenced Aadhatiyas(middlemen). These middlemen charge a commission for their “services” — many times, both from the buyer and seller. The Aadhatiya is also often a moneylender, supplying seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to farmers on credit. They, then, are forced to sell through him and settle their dues in perpetuity. Also, mandi fees ranges from 0.5% to 5% on the value of the sale, while varying across states and commodities. (Here is a good article explaining the issues in detail.)

Here is Congress leader Kapil explaining the the Dalal or Middleman at work:


The three Bills named as Agriculture Reforms Bill 2020 Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Price Assurance and Contract Bill for Agricultural Services and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill were enacted as Ordinance on 5 June 2020. Continue reading

Where Rahul Gandhi and Congress party are going?

With 44 seats in Parliament in 2014, the Congress Party today has 52 seats in Parliament after the election of 2019 which was fought under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi as it’s President. After election Rahul resigned and as a family party mother of Rahul became interim President. Presently the spin off is being created to make Rahul President again. The question which no one is answering is:

Where the Congress Party is headed in future?

Predicting future is not any easy business but that is what every professional is supposed to do. A lawyer tells a client what he is supposed to do to avoid a possible future. A doctor tells a patient what to do do to postpone certain death, as long as possible. My point is that it is not the astrologers who grapple with problem of predicting the future. All professions do it all the time. So how they do it?

Professionals other than astrologers tell future on the basis of history. Since I consider myself as in-adept in most of the field especially marketing and politics, I borrow these words of a successful entrepreneur and marketeer who founded and sold PayPal, who explained a fundamental principle of marketing:

Like acting, sales works best when hidden. This explains why almost everyone whose job involves distribution—whether they’re in sales, marketing, or advertising—has a job title that has nothing to do with those things. People who sell advertising are called “account executives.” People who sell customers work in “business development.” People who sell companies are “investment bankers.” And people who sell themselves are called “politicians.” There’s a reason for these redescriptions: none of us wants to be reminded when we’re being sold.

[Peter Thiel in Zero to One (Notes on Startup) (2014)]

This is what was expected of Rahul Gandhi in his election camapign of 2019 or before and this is what is expected of a politician. He must be able to downplay his own ambition and present himself as a “protector of the realm” something what Narendra Modi did and is doing spectacularly well. On the contrary, Rahul Gandhi was and is doing something which is very well explained by another ex CEO (of Proctor and Gamble) directly referring to Rahul Gandhi’s electoral policy in 2012, in these words:

“Middle-class Indians won some dignity when they won political independence in 1947; they gained some more when they attained economic liberty in 1991; but only now, twenty years later, have they begun to feel the full meaning of dignity after the economic rise of India…
classic division between those who look ahead and aspire versus those who look back and complain. India’s political parties still tend to cater to the second—to the victim in us—through their politics of grievance. A very few reflect the spirit of a rapidly growing India. No one thinks big, when it actually is criminal to think small in India.
…While grievance admittedly can be a powerful motivator to action, it is surprising that India’s electoral politics do not cater to the aspiring middle class.

[Gurucharn Das in IndiaGrows at Night (A Libral Case for Strong State) Penguin India]

The Congress Party was voted with 20 Crore votes in 2019 as against 37 Crore voted to BJP and this makes it a pan India force, as “Shekhar Gupta” would subtly put and argue that if these many votes can be polled to Congress in a strong wave against Congress, then this is the base vote of the Party which can not go away any time soon. Remember the same Shekhar Gupta had denied any wave in favour of BJP or against Congress during entire election campaign. At the same time, after the election campaign, candidly admitted his mistake. The point is that he can change his opinion any time soon and is not reliable source to predict future. This is unlike two gentlemen I have quoted above, who have run successful businesses and have no track record of foot in mouth like Shekhar Gupta. In fact it is the people like Gupta who who have surrounded Rahul Gandhi persuade him to do what he does. But I am not here to advice him or any body for that matter. I am here to predict the future.

What will happen to Congress in next ten years?

To answer this question we have to go back into the past and visit USA in 1800, when it’s democracy was taking roots. It was the ere of “Rubber Barons” as the crony capitalis cum robbers of state resources were then called. There was a party known as “Federalist Party”. (Read about it here https://www.history.com/topics/early-us/federalist-party as also the wikipedia) The most famous jurist, the Chief Justice Johan Marshall belonged to Fedralist Party. He had barely studied law for six weeks but he is quoted in every democracy to determine the scope of judicial review. He remained in Office for 34 years long after the Fedralist Party was gone. This is how the end of Federal Party looked like:

In the minority, Federalists at last accepted the necessity of creating a system of organized, disciplined state party organizations and adopting democratic electoral tactics. Because their greatest strength lay in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Delaware, the Federalists also assumed the aspects of a sectional minority. Ignoring ideological consistency and a traditional commitment to strong national power, they opposed Jefferson’s popular Louisiana Purchase of 1803 as too costly and threatening to northern influence in government. Largely as a result, the party continued to lose power at the national level. It carried only Connecticut, Delaware and part of Maryland against Jefferson in 1804.

Notice the words in bold. As regards the internal democracy, it has not even occurred to anybody in Congress party which is proprietary entity of a family. There are enough material about the Federalist Party, it’s corruption, it’s association with Gangsters etc. which makes it a comparable case with Congress Party of today in India. Let me quote from Wikepedia page, more similarities between the two parties:

…As time went on, the Federalists lost appeal with the average voter and were generally not equal to the tasks of party organization; hence they grew steadily weaker as the political triumphs of the Republican Party grew. For economic and philosophical reasons, the Federalists tended to be pro-British—the United States engaged in more trade with Great Britain than with any other country—and vociferously opposed Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 and the seemingly deliberate provocation of war with Britain by the Madison Administration. During “Mr. Madison’s War”, as they called it, the Federalists made a temporary comeback. However, they lost all their gains and more during the patriotic euphoria that followed the war. The membership was aging rapidly, but a few young men from New England did join the cause,

Note the words in bold and substitute “China” for Britain and Congress for Federalist and read again. There are too many similarities except that Federalists were far more democratic and was not a family owned party.

The writing is on the wall for those who want to read it.

Others can blame FaceBook, Twitter or whomsoever they like.

There is one more thing. People tend to dismiss Rahul Gandhi as pappu which is utterly wrong. He is as smart, cunning and ruthless as his great grand father Jawahar Lal Nehru. Actually both of them were too dependent upon their advisors and both thought nothing about the India or the corruption. Both were ruthlessly ambitious but the Nehru got the chair of Prime Minister without fighting any election in 1946 and he was able to build an image in six years by the time elections were held in 1952. Rahul is looking for that opportunity. If you make him Prime Minister he will see that these bloopers which are viral on social media and which make him pappu, will disappear forever.

Note: The remaining squeals on Atal Bihari Vajpayee will appear soon.