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In Conversation With Subramanian Swamy

Ranjani Saigal

Almost everyone in India has heard of Dr. Subramanian Swamy. The first response in India of even his political opponents on hearing his name is that he is very intelligent, highly educated, very courageous and completely honest. Born in Mylapore, Chennai on September 15, 1939, Dr. Swamy holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, where he also taught for ten years, and has published famous joint papers on the Theory of Index Numbers with Nobel Laureate Paul A. Samuelson. He is recognized internationally as an authority on the economy of China. Dr. Swamy, author of 14 books, continues to teach every summer session at Harvard two courses in Economics, one on mathematical methods, and another on China. He has been elected five times to Parliament since 1974[three Lok Sabha, two Rajya Sabha], and has held senior Cabinet rank position twice[1990-91&1994-96].  
 Dr. Swamy is a catalyst in India's public life.He entered politics in 1970. In the ensuing decade Dr. Swamy created a national stir by challenging Indira Gandhi's Soviet influenced socialist planning.  He published a "Swadeshi Plan" as an alternative to the Five Year Plans. In 1991 Dr. Swamy became senior Cabinet Minister in the Prime Minister Chandrashekhar's government and authored the reforms package which the successor Narasimha Rao government implemented with great success. Dr. Swamy also held a Cabinet rank post in Rao's government.  
 In the 1980s, Dr. Swamy set about catalyzing India's foreign policy changes from being utterly pro-Soviet to a more balanced policy with better relations with China, Israel and US. With Prime Minister Morarji Desai's support he became the first politician to travel to China and Israel and hold discussion with top leaders of those two countries.  After having successfully catalysed and initiated changes in economic and foreign policy, Dr. Swamy has now dedicated himself to help usher a Hindu renaissance in the country.      

Ever since the shocking arrest of the Kanchi Shankaracharyas on a bogus charge of murder in November 2004, Dr. Swamy has moved into the forefront of the campaign to warn the nation of the threat to Hinduism from sinister and camouflaged enemies.  He has documented this in a recent book titled Hindus Under Siege—A Way Out [published by Haranand].   Dr. Swamy is determined to catalyze the movement to usher a Hindu renaissance. That determination enjoys credibility with all the prominent dharmacharyas of India. In mid October 2005 he was the only political leader to be invited by Swami Dayananda Saraswati to address the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha second conference held in Mumbai.  In 2005 and 2006, on behalf of the Kanchi Forum he traveled to many cities in the US where Hindus live and addressed meetings to speak about the need for a new mindset for the Hindus.

He spoke to Lokvani about his long and interesting career in Indian politics and about his book, Hindus Under Seige.

What motivated you after your PhD in economics from Harvard to get involved in Politics?

I returned to India and started teaching at IIT Delhi. As a professor of economics I strongly advocated a market economy.  The students loved my ideas which were considered revolutionary at that time. I was asked to talk at different forums. I proposed "Swadeshi Plan" as an alternative to the Five Year Plans. In it I  advocated a market economy with self-reliance for India in which full employment, minimum sustaining consumption, and defense expenditure of the nation be integrated with development planning to generate a 10 percent growth rate. I became a pioneer in advocating nuclear weapons for scientific growth and industrial modernization. I also suggested that agriculture be lifted by exports and a national water grid. People, especially youngsters were very taken with my suggestions.

My suggested alternatives became that Mrs. Gandhi had to take the floor on March 4, 1970 during the Budget Debate to denounce me as "a Santa Claus with dangerously unrealistic ideas". Later in 1991 I felt vindicated when as a senior Cabinet Minister in the Prime Minister Chandrashekhar's government I authored the reforms package which the successor Narasimha Rao government implemented with great success.

The State of Emergency really drew me into politics and I became one of the founding members of the Janata Dal.

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You played a very critical role in ensuring the collapse of the State of Emergency. How did you help end the State of Emergency?

During the State of Emergency[1975-77] I  helped organize the underground movement. For half of the Emergency period I escaped abroad to mobilize the Indians in US, Canada and U.K ., to demonstrate against the atrocities at home. To prove that the underground organization was well networked in India, I arrived suddenly in New Delhi from London on August 10, 1976 undetected despite an arrest warrant pending against me, entered Parliament, made a point of order intervention when the Vice President of India was reading the obituary resolutions to the House, then walked out to fly back to London. Mrs. Indira Gandhi and her cabinet colleagues were all left astounded. The world wide publicity to the event made everyone realize, as the Washington Post wrote, that the Emergency had become a joke. This one event propelled Mrs. Gandhi to declaring for a General elections a few months later-- that she lost.

You were instrumental in making many foreign policy changes. Could you describe your work in creating new directions in India’s China policy?

In the 1980s, I set about catalyzing India's foreign policy changes from being utterly pro-Soviet to a more balanced policy with better relations with China, Israel and US. With Prime Minister Morarji Desai's support I became the first politician to travel to China and Israel and hold discussion with top leaders of those two countries. In China I was received by Chairman Deng Xiao ping and in Israel by Prime Minister Menachim Begin, and the process of thaw in relations began with those two Replica Rolex Watches visits. At that time I also persuaded Chairman Deng to open the Mount Kailash--Manasarovar route in Tibet to Hindu pilgrims, and in 1981 became the first Indian after 25 years to be allowed by China to trek to that holy spot. Since that effort, every year 500 pilgrims are trekking to Kailash and I am very proud of that.

You moved away from the center into the State of Tamilnadu after having served as an MP from Mumbai. What made you shift your moorings?

The Mandal commission helped regionalize politics. After winning two elections from Mumbai the regionalization of politics made me realize that being a Tamilian it would be better for me to run from Tamilnadu. I also felt it was an opportunity to bring Tamilnadu’s voice to be heard in Delhi. I have been successful in doing that.  People in Tamilnadu have accepted me with open arms.

You have had an interesting political relationship with Jayalalitha, sometimes you have worked with her and at other times you have not got along with her. How would describe the AIADMK supremo ?

Jayalalitha is a very intelligent woman. She has the capacity to understand issues and has the courage to take actions. Unfortunately the cinema world has warped her mind and at times she has done things that are quite unacceptable which has made it difficult for me to work with her at different times. 

She was responsible for the arrest of the Kanchi Shankaracharya, a case you have taken a deep personal interest in. Could you give some insights into the case?

A false murder case was foisted on the Acharyas of the 2500 year old Kanchi Mutt.  The Supreme Court has however held that the case has “no worthwhile prima facie evidence..”. The case thus is without basis and is bogus because since then the Tamil Nadu police have failed to uncover any further or new evidence to sustain the case.  It is very clear that this atrocity could not have been heaped on the Mutt without the aid and abetment, or even the instigation of the power behind the throne in Delhi, a devout foreign-born Catholic. 

The sad part of this whole issue is that the majority of Hindus have been just passive or at most satisfied with discussing gossip.  It is incredible that in a nation of more than 80 % Hindus the democratically elected state government dared to foist a bogus case on a Shankaracharya without a spontaneous uproar and mass protest by Hindus. The time has come for Hindu renaissance

Recently you have been working hard to support the Hindu cause. Why now?

This is not new at all. From the very first day when I entered politics I have advocated that the nation needed Hindu renaissance, and a national identity as Hindustan-- which means that India is a nation of Hindus and those others who proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus. India is of an indigenous people. I refuted the  Aryan Dravidian theory as bogus in 1968, in a paper I sent to the Indian History Congress, which of course took no notice of it, and refused even to list it for discussion. Now modern research on Indian DNA has clearly shown the validity of my argument and the BBC in its broadcast in October 2005 denounced the theory as inherently racist.  
Today as never before Hinduism is under an invisible multi-dimensional siege. The manifestation of this siege can be seen by those who are alerted to it. I am working on creating the awareness in the US. In my book Hindus Under Siege – The Way Out, I have detailed the problem and the solutions.

What has been the reaction of the Hindu Dharma Gurus ?

They have whole heartedly supported my efforts. My book was endorsed by His Holiness Sri Jayendra Sarasvati and by Sri K. Sudarshan, and formally released by the respected Sarsanghchalak of the RSS in New Delhi on September 17, 2006. In October 2006, I met Pramukh Swami in Chennai who not only blessed my efforts for justice for Hindus, but encouraged me to visit Swaminarayan Mandirs all over the world to propagate the cause of Hindus. I have also got the blessings of the Sringeri Mutt Shankarcharya, His Holiness Bharati. On November 3, 2006, Swami Dayanand Sarasvati lauded the Tamil edition of the book which was released by the International Vice President of VHP Sri Vedantam at  function in Chennai. Sri Amma Melvaruthur Adigalar also blessed the book when he met me in October 2006. On December 23, 2006, at a public meeting in Gorakhpur U.P., the Jagadgurus Shankaracharya of Puri and Dwarka jointly blessed the book and released the Hindi edition. The Mahant of Gorakhnath, Sri Avaidyanath presided over the meeting in which three lakhs sadhus and devotees assembled.  In mid October 2005 I was the only political leader to be invited by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati to address the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha second conference held in Mumbai.  In 2005 and 2006, on behalf of the Kanchi Forum. I was also invited to address gatherings in BAPS temples of the Swaminarayan Movement in Florida and Illinois.  I feel honored to have the trust of all these Gurus.

What can NRI’s do to help bring about the renaissance?

You can do a lot and many of you are doing a lot.  The government of Andhra Pradesh under Y.S Rajashekara Reddy, (btw S stands for Samuel) had made a move to take over four of the seven Tirumala hills in Tirupati, which house the sacred Balaji Temple to give it away to other faiths. The protest organized by Swami Dayananda in Chicago forced them to take back their move.

I also appreciate the efforts of groups like the Hindu American Foundation who are working on correctly the misrepresentation of Hinduism in History textbooks. We need to work on teaching the correcting the Indian History.
I would urge all of you to talk to the Acharyas who come to speak to you to find a way to campaign for the abolition of the caste system. As Dr. M.V Nadkarni says in his essay – it is essential to demolish the myth that the caste system is an intrinsic part of Hinduism.

You also advocate the use of Sanskrit as a link language. Why?

The base for most Indian languages is Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a vehicle to connect all Hindus. As you all know NASA too had concluded in its journal that Sanskrit is the most perfect language.
Karunanidhi, that man who is a Tamil fanatic himself has a Sanskrit name. I am very appreciative of the efforts to teach Sanskrit.

What does the future hold for Dr. Swamy? A Primeministership?

(Laughs) Well I came close to getting the Priministership at one point. Astrologers have predicted that I will have an opportunity again. I am not worried about the future. I will continue to be in politics and do the best I can to help the people of India.

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1.Dr Subramanium Swami January 12, 2011Dr Gour Mohanty 
2.Dr Subramanium Swami January 12, 2011Dr Gour Mohanty 
3.veeramani k January 27, 2009swamy 
4.Dr swami's interview with ranjini September 11, 2007parvathy ayyar 

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