An Untameable Beast

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I know the rule. I know law. I know economics. I know parliament. That’s an explosive combination.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy

What better could have encapsulated the essence of his personality than the words of the genius himself. It would not be an overstatement to say that perhaps he is the most controversial political figure India has ever seen. Even his greatest rivals and ardent followers would agree that you can love him, you can hate him but you cannot ignore the inexorable being that he is. We, here at Sanely Written happen to fall in the first category. Here is a humble attempt to present to you the mathematician who once wrote research papers now exposes scams, the only politician who has the audacity to criticise the government while being in the government, the economist whose models have been adopted to run the economy, the lawyer who cannot be defeated in the courts, the author whose pen can give many a bad night’s sleep. The man, the devil, the rebel, Dr Subramanian Swamy.

Dr Swamy was born on September 15, 1939, to Sitarama Subramanian, the statistical adviser to the Government of India and Padmavathi, a housewife in a Tamil Brahmin family, an identity that he takes great pride in. Even in the second wave of Modi magic, when the multitude of the majority was busy campaigning as “Chowkidar”, here is what Dr Swamy had to say

I cannot become a Chowkidar because I am Brahmin. Brahmins can’t be Chowkidars. It’s a fact.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy

Having obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Hindu College ( he finished third in D.U.), he moved to Kolkata for his post-graduation in Statistics from Indian Statistical Institute. At that time, the institute was headed by PC Mahalanobis who was a professional rival of Swamy’s father. So when Mahalanobis learnt about Swamy, the latter began to get lower grades. But as Swamy is known to date, he never tolerates nonsense from anyone. With Hendrik .S. Houthakker (noted American economist of the time) as his referee, Swamy wrote a paper ‘Notes on Fractile Graphical Analysis’ published in Econometrica, 1963 and returned the favour back to Mahalanobis by criticising his work as the poor derivation of older equations. This was the first time Swamy inked the unsaid rule that one should never mess with him. Being impressed by his superlative research, Houthakker recommended Swamy to Harvard for a PhD in economics on a full Rockefeller scholarship. With Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets as his thesis advisor, Swamy became Dr Swamy at the age of 24. He attended MIT as a cross-registered student. Working at the United Nations Secretariat in New York City as an Assistant Economics Affairs Officer was one among the many feathers in his cap. He started teaching as an assistant professor at the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

By now, many of our readers would have drawn the mental image of Dr Swamy as a hardline Brahmin who happened to be a genius too. All that wouldn’t be wronged but somehow drastically changed after the revelation of the fact that Dr Swamy married Roxna Kapadia, a lady of Parsi ethnicity to whom Dr Swamy got acquainted in Harvard where she was pursuing her PhD in mathematics. But only a mind of puny stature can be judged on behalf of his family and years have taught us that the height of Dr Swamy’s intellect is far too high to be comprehended by conventional measures. After all, how can a man, if not extraordinary being a father-in-law to a muslim say

If Muslim [population] becomes more than 30 per cent [in any country], that country is in danger.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy
Dr. Swamy with Dr. Roxna (newly wedded, 1966)
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Dr Swamy learned mandarin when Dr Roxna dared him to learn a language that was difficult to be learned in a year. He learned it in three months. Till today, no-one in India has a grasp on the knowledge of the Chinese economy as Dr Swamy does. Due to this feat, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen invited him to chair the Chinese studies in the Delhi School of Economics (D.S.E.) in 1968. But he was found to be too radical about his beliefs of economic reforms, therefore he was offered a Reader’s rank at D.S.E. He joined IIT Delhi in 1969 as a professor of Mathematical Economics (one of the hardest subjects in the field). He caught the eye of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who tried to do away with Dr Swamy by tagging him as ‘Santa Claus with unrealistic ideas’. He was eventually sacked from teaching in IIT Delhi in 1972 (Although he got reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1991, he resigned after a day.) due to his open propagation of the free market economy model (Dr Manmohan Singh made it fashionable in 1991 but it was Dr Swamy who thought of it nearly two decades ago) over command economy, a model of Indira’s father. It was but obvious that even in her rejection of Dr Swamy, she was taking note of him. Till then, a professor with no political grounds yet was able to bother the apex national leader.

With a young wife, a newborn daughter and no job in India, Dr Swamy was thinking about going back to the USA when Nanaji Deshmukh ( posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna in 2019), leader of Jana Sangh chose Dr Swamy to represent the party in Rajya Sabha.

Dr. Swamy disguised as Sikh during Emergency to avoid arrest.
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During the emergency (1975-1977), various attempts were made to arrest Dr Swamy but he kept escaping the arrest by using his wit. He disguised himself as a Sikh and kept moving back and forth between India and the USA. In one instance, he made it into the parliament, attended a Lok Sabha session and flew back to the USA, making an absolute fool of Indira’s security cordons. The RSS had given Narendra Modi the responsibility to pick and drop Dr Swamy during his low profile, emergency days in Gujarat or Rajasthan. His wife Dr Roxna recalls those days as stressed days when Police use to take everything but the immovable house to threaten Dr Swamy to come up. Mrs Gandhi fell on her nose down the Karma road post-emergency. Dr Swamy was one of the founding members of the Janata Party that swept the Indira Gandhi emergency regime out of power in 1977. The credit for China re-opening the ancient Kailash Mansarovar route for Indian pilgrims also goes to Dr Swamy. To make it happen he went to meet Deng Xiaoping in 1981.

Dr Swamy had been India’s commerce and law minister in Chandra Shekhar’s short-lived term in 1990-91. But his genius was acknowledged even by the opposition. In Congress’ P.V. Narasimha Rao regime he was made the chairman of the Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade in 1994 which was a cabinet minister rank post.

He was the chairman of the Janata Party when it merged with BJP in 2013. Once remarked as a general without an army, Dr Swamy had always fought his battles vigorously. He was hated by Indira Gandhi but he was a good friend of Rajiv Gandhi. He had filed a case regarding the National Herald case making Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi the prime suspect. His love for Rajiv Gandhi shows that he doesn’t retain a single speck of grudge for his enemies (Rajiv being Indira’s son) and the case against his good friend’s family further solidifies the point that Dr Swamy has no soft spot for his acquaintances when it comes to the national interest.

Dr Swamy is an exceptional lawyer who had proved his worth in the 2G spectrum scam, striking down of single directive provision which once forced CBI from seeking permission from the Government of India before investigating persons at or above the ranks of Joint secretary, the introduction of the right to faith angle in Ram Janmbhoomi case. Despite being so direct in his allegations, it is sometimes assumed that he had crossed the line but not even a single defamation case has ever succeeded against him in the courts.

Dr Swamy propagates Hindutva through his idea of the restoration of the temples of Kashi and Mathura after Ayodhya. To rediscover the true identity of an Indian Sanatana Dharmik, he has created Virat Hindu Sangam. He has always advocated for Ram Setu to be awarded the status of national heritage. Dr Swamy has the most formidable intelligence network throughout the world. His true ideals are known to him alone because there can’t be a rational explanation for a man who had once termed BJP and RSS as fascists now stays in the BJP while calling himself the adopted son of the RSS, for a man who had once conspired with Jayalalitha to bring down the BJP government, had also helped sentence Jayalalitha to jail for corruption. It is safe to say that he dances to the tune of his own. From Independence to post-partition stress, from internal emergency to the wars at the borders, Dr Swamy has seen it all and has rich experience in every aspect of the social sphere. It is too generous of him not to ask for credit for the great works he had done and is still doing to serve India but it would be a huge mistake to ignore his capabilities. It will be best for the interest of India to treasure and tap in his proficiency for the best, for he is a beast, an untameable beast.


The paradox called Subramanian Swamy

Virat Hindu Sangam

Subramanian Swamy – 21 Things Most Indians Don’t Know About the Tough Guy

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