Dr Manmohan Singh

Congress’ Fundgate Scandal: Spot the enemy in your newspapers

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I am not sure if you have followed the “FundGate Scandal” which is engulfing Congress party and the Gandhi clan, Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka.

Or you know about funds to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF), controlled by Gandhis, coming through Chinese government and PM National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Or that in 1991, the then finance minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, later prime minister, had in his maiden Budget speech announced Rs 100 crores to Rahul Gandhi Foundation.

I am also unaware if you have weighed the import of Congress party signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ruling Chinese Communist Party in 2008, that is if you even know about it in the first place.

Let’s say some of you know. And that some of you don’t know. Either way, now let’s see if you understand its ramifications.

FUNDS FROM OFFICIAL CHINESE SOURCES

Under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule, the ruling Chinese party and its embassy in India donated over a crore to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Thereafter, The Foundation encouraged Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China in its studies. An FTA with China is suicide. For China, being authoritarian, can control its prices. What it costs Indian manufacturers Rs 12, China could sell the same product for only Rs 2 by subsidizing its producers. Indian makers ruined. China captures Indian market. Get the import? Please also reflect that India’s trade deficit vis-à-vis China increased by 33 per cent during the UPA rule.

Don’t you think you deserve to know how India became a stooge to China, tradewise. Or if it was a quid pro quo between the Indian and Chinese governments. Or that India could’ve become a vessel state of China through FTA. Of if it explains why we looked the other way when there were 640 Chinese army’s incursion inside Indian territory under UPA.

FUNDS FROM PM NATIONAL RELIEF FUND

Again, under the UPA, funds from the PM National Relief Fund were transferred to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. More than once. Now PMNRF is for disasters, natural or man-made. After two days of upset stomach, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala has today said it was in the wake of Tsunami in 2004.

Don’t you think you deserve to know if such a transfer was for Tsunami alone, why it was done again and again in subsequent years.  Or if that makes PMNRF-Rajiv Gandhi Foundation complicit since both had Gandhis and their men in controlling seats. Or if the recent tears Gandhis have shed on migrants—India’s poor—are no better than crocodile’s since we now know money meant for poor under PMNRF were being diverted to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

MoU BETWEEN CONGRESS PARTY AND CHINESE GOVERNMENT

So, you now know that the Congress party and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between them in 2008. You don’t know the details. I don’t know either. Nobody has asked Congress. Congress has not volunteered the information either.

Don’t you think Indian citizens deserve to know the agreements signed under MoU. Did Congress take permission of this MoU from All India Congress Committee (AICC), its apex body. Were letters of its content shared with its members. If not, could we trust such undemocratic elements to run our democracy.

So you have questions but no answers. I too don’t have all the answers. Who do you think should provide these answers?

It’s our newspapers who should give us answers. All your national English dailies are silent on these questions. No Front Page screamers. No OpEds by your Sardesais-Guptas-Barkhas-Sagarikas or by distinguished scholars, think tanks, human rights group, lawyers, professors, vice-chancellors, historians, philosophers etc. No editorials by those who sit in AC cabins, overlooking the Arabian Sea. Yet we trust them daily. Pay for their poison. Give control of India to those who are breaking it up. Don’t delude yourself that you don’t share the blame. If we don’t make our newspapers accountable, we are party to India’s enemies.

 

Manmohan Singh and the winter of public life

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

The winter of public life is setting upon Dr. Manmohan Singh.  By all accounts, it is doing no good to his feeble frame. Or self-esteem, never mind it wasn’t on rack under the canopy of the Gandhis in the first place.

The 87-year-old former Prime Minister, twice over, is battling on many fronts and it isn’t just the aftereffects of multiple cardiac bypass surgeries he has had to endure on self. He seems to have been let down by his own women and men, or mother-son duo if you may, though the news doing public rounds is his anger the ruling dispensation of BJP at the Centre.

The latest bit is Dr. Singh’s refusal to accept the trimmed numbers of his personal staff to five—two each personal assistants and peons and one lower-division clerk—against the 14 he perceives is his right. Dr. Singh has been pretty dogged in pursuing the matter and given the number of letters he has shot across to PMO, one could only say that his one lower-division clerk is worth every single penny.

It’s a cry in wilderness for nothing. A man who was used to 500 persons crowding PMO for a decade, is now left with just five. It’s a cut as drastic as the surgical strike he did on state-command economy in the 90s. The setback is as much functional as psychological. You need translators and stenographers; Photostat operators and dispatch riders, drivers, carpenters and even cook!  There are weekly offs, one or two on leave due to marriage in neighbourhood, and who pays for overtime in case the assistant is asked to stay back for second shift?

There are bound to be letters and invitations to a man who once presided over the destiny of 1.30 billion people, even if by remote.  Phones must be ringing incessantly. Door bells being pressed all so often. A posse of doctors and nurses pacing up and down the hall. Rent-a-quote journalists from The Indian Express and The Hindu spread on the couches of the living room. It’s a fair bit of nuisance.

A prime minister leaving his office is still worth the rank of a cabinet minister, says the rulebook. But it’s only for five years after he demits his office. It’s Modi’s second term now. Privileges aren’t for life, you see.

Can’t Dr Singh engage his own staff? But then he is no longer a Prime Minister drawing a salary of Rs 1.6 lakhs. He is no longer a Member of Parliament from Rajya Sabha too which is worth a lakh of rupees every month. (How he must be cursing the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi who moved heavens to get an Ahmed Patel elected to Rajya Sabha but didn’t twitch an eyebrow in dumping Dr. Singh’s candidature).

Don’t you believe that only because he presided over a scam-ridden UPA regime, Dr. Singh is cash rich. For many a years, he drove Maruti 800. If Khushwant Singh’s book, “Absolute Khuswant” isn’t as fake as his Sikh history, and he wasn’t under the influence of wine or women or both, Dr. Singh once borrowed Rs 2 lakhs from him to fight the 1991 Lok Sabha elections. Dr. Singh’s progenies are academicians like him. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are saving for the rainy days. Besides, what could you expect from a man who publicly tore your policy papers in front of whirring cameras? Or a Congress who saw him fit for no role during the 2019 General Elections even though the party was fighting for its’ life?

Modi doesn’t look a man who would junk the rulebook. On his person too, Modi has a cash of only Rs 38,750 even though the fixed deposit is Rs 1.27 crores (as per the details in his 2019 Poll affidavit).  How could the present PM help an ex-PM? Could Dr. Singh appeal to former vice-president Hamid Ansari and his Muslim brethren given how charitable he was in declaring Muslims to have the first right on India’s resources? Could Capt. Amrinder Singh listen to the wails of a fellow Sikh  and override his seething anger against the High Command who have unleashed a barking Navjot Singh Sidhu on his coattails?

Dr Singh has practically come to an end to his public life. Neither his own men and women want him, nor does the ruling dispensation have any affinity for him. Public base for Dr. Singh in any case was flimsy.  He flourished on the benign grants of Congress’ aristocracy. The plank has now been pulled from under his feet. And he doesn’t even have a straw to clutch on to. But then when Lutyens Delhi has been kind to even its own deities?

 

The riddle Ramanujan left unsolved

Watching the movie, “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” would tell you a great deal about mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan but there’s a puzzle to his life which remains a riddle. Nobody has come close to solving it. Nobody would ever, either.

Ramanujan said it often that Goddess Namagiri Thayar came in his dreams and solved the theorems for him. He also saw the design of his goddess who, his superstitious mother claimed, told her in dream “not to stand between her son and the purpose of his life,” by refusing him permission to go to England.

It’s worth interjecting at this stage on Goddess Namagiri. Ramanujan’s mother was from Erode (Tamil Nadu) and Goddess Namagiri was a deity in Salem district nearby. An equation held no meaning for Ramanujan unless it held forth the God’s views.

His life is a testimony to a man without formal education matching his wits against the best of West, the world of rationality and logic, and leaving it in thrall with his often irrational and intuitive approach.

As his mentor GH Hardy was to say: “A poor and solitary Hindu putting his brains against the accumulated wisdom of Europe.”

I. T. Bell, in his “Men of Mathematics” wrote:

“When a truly great one, like the Hindu Ramanujan arrives unexpectedly out of nowhere, even expert analysts hail him as a gift from heaven: his all but supernatural insight into apparently unrelated formulas reveal hidden trails leading from one territory into another…”

There sure was an invisible hand guiding his rather maniacal quest for theorems and formulas. He was born to a poor clerk, Srinvasa Ayyangar, in Kumbakonam, a temple town in Thanjavur district, some 300km south of Chennai, on December 22, 1987.

The signs of his genius were visible quite early. While in sixth form, he got hold of Carr’s synopsis of “Pure Mathematics.” It wasn’t a book of much great value but since then has been viewed as a seminal work for it stoked the imagination and hunger of Ramanujan’s mind. He began solving the most difficult formulas and equations without the help of other books or teachers. Some of the methods he chose were quite inventive.

In due course, he became so immersed in mathematics that he neglected other regular subjects and failed his junior F.A examination. It was a period of wilderness and distress. When 22, he married a nine-year-old girl Janaki Ammal in 1909, a “bright-eyed wisp of a girl,” after their horoscopes were matched. That forced him to look for a job which he duly secured as a clerk with the Madras Port Trust.

Then came that monumental moment in his life. Seshu Aiyar, a professor at presidency college, Madras, asked Ramanujan to write to celebrated mathematician GH Hardy, already a fellow of the Royal Society and a lecturer at Cambridge.

Ramanujan’s first letter to Hardy had about 120 theorems. This was 1913. It evoked no response. Ramanujan wrote again: “I am already a half-starving man. To preserve my brains, I want food and this is now my first consideration. Any sympathetic letter from you will be helpful to me here to get a scholarship either from the University or from government.”

This intrigued Hardy. He showed this letter to his colleagues in Cambridge. He asked University of Madras to consider Ramanujan for a scholarship.

It wasn’t an easy passage though. How could the University of Madras grant scholarship to one who didn’t have a bachelor’s degree? His numbers in maths were not spectacular either: 85 out of 150. The syndicate of university duly met on April 7, 1910, to discuss whether he could be enrolled as a researcher. Vice-chancellor P R Sundaram Iyer at this stage made a decisive say: “Did not the preamble of the act establishing the University specify that one of its functions was to promote research? And whatever the lapses of Ramanujan’s education, was he not a proven mathematical researcher?”

Ramanujan was now on board, at a princely scholarship of Rs 75 a month, along with permission to access the university library for his research reports. Much of his reports found its way to Hardy, his mentor. The invitation to cross over the seven seas came in fall.

He landed in England in early 1914. Thus became an association between Hardy, an avowed atheist and rationalist with Ramanujan, a devout and often irrational. It was to become one of the most famous associations in the history of mathematics.

Ramanujan reached Cambridge and was admitted into Trinity College. Prof Hardy, and Littlewood, became his teachers but often admitted that Ramanujan was an extraordinary piece of good fortune to themselves. “His profound and invincible originality…the flow of which showed no signs of abatrment.”

The most famous Hardy-Ramanujan number, the number 1729, came in 1918. In Hardy’s words: “I had ridden in a taxi-cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one.” Ramanujan replied: “No. It’s the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.” Fame soon overtook him and Ramanujan became both fellow at Trinity College and Royal Society. Ramanujan’s work flowed into the best of European mathematical journals and launched others’ works.

Within three years in England though, his health had begun to fail him. In May 1917, he was suspected to be suffering from tuberculosis. But he couldn’t leave for India due to ongoing World War. A newspaper report said that once Ramanujan attempted a suicide by jumping in front of a London underground train. The police didn’t arrest him after Hardy came to his rescue and testified that Fellows of Royal Society were not arrested in England for committing an offence.

Less than five years after he landed in England, Ramanujan returned to India on March 27, 1919. He died a year later on April 26, 1920. However, the work he did during this spell of illness was profound. The mathematics that Ramanujan developed after he became seriously ill held a high potential for applications in number theory and also in physics. Writhing in pain, he still worked till four days before his demise.

By the time he died, at a terribly young age of 32, Ramanujan had 3,900 theorems to his credit. He largely scribbled his formulae on scraps of paper.  They continue to be relevant at the frontiers of mathematics. His infinite series for Pi (symbol) was among his most applauded work.

His home in Kumbakonam has been converted into a museum, now called Srinvasa Ramanujan International Monument. There is still that wooden cot by the window through which Ramanujan looked out while he solved the world of numbers, all by himself, a slate and a piece of chalk. His home isn’t visited by many. Some who go to the temple nearby, seem to drift in at times.

In 2012, Dr Manmohan Singh dedicated his birthday, December 22, as the National mathematics day. An international journal is published in his name by Indian-American mathematician, Krishnaswami Alladi, at the University of Florida. It chronicles all the work in mathematics influenced by Ramanujan.

Ramanujan’s wife, Janaki, died decades later in 1994 in a flat in Triplicane, Chennai. The two were without a child.