“Savarkar And His Times” by Dhananjay Keer

Firstly, let me make a confession. I really didn’t know as much about Swantraveer Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, 1883-1966) as I ought to. Having lived in Mumbai briefly, I knew of course that the old Cadell Road in Mumbai had been re-named Veer Savarkar Marg. I had no idea he had died just a few years before my time there.

I had heard of course about his long years of imprisonment by the British in the notorious Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. However, there was much about his life and career that I did not know. Continue reading ““Savarkar And His Times” by Dhananjay Keer”

“Glimpses” features in the OL Assembly

I must congratulate the Old Lawrencians Association, (OLA) the alumni association of my alma mater, The Lawrence School, Lovedale for their new initiatives. One of them is called the OL Assembly. You will remember from your schooldays that the morning Assembly was an integral part of school life. Here, the OL Assembly is positioned as a Variety Entertainment of sorts and features hymn singing, interesting features relating to the school and its alumni, etc.

In the recent edition of OL Assembly, held on November 14, we the OLs who contributed towards the writing of “Glimpses of a Glorious Past: An Informal History of The Lawrence School, Lovedale” were pleased to feature in a video made for the occasion. This describes the genesis of the writing of this book. You can see the OL Assembly-7 of November 14, 2020 in the OLA’s YouTube Channel.

For those who may not know about the book, I had spent the better part of 2015 to 2017 editing this book which covers the history of The Lawrence School, Lovedale from 1858 to 2008. The 150 years are divided into 3 books which reside in the website of the Old Lawrencians Association.

Should you be interested, you will find the links to access these books in my blog post of August 21, 2020.

The future editions of the OL Assembly, which are held on the second Saturday of every month, will have more about “Glimpses” in them.

I hope you will watch future editions of the OL Assembly on the OLA You Tube channel.

Mumbai Indians: Worthy Winners of IPL 2020

There’s a sudden void these days for old folk like me! The reason is not far to seek: the Indian Premier League (IPL) which kept us busy for the last two months is over! We have to wait for the next edition which they say may be in 4-5 months time! The Mumbai Indians (MI) were the worthy winners. I think they richly deserved the top honors. You may recall they had 9 wins out of the 14 matches they played in the league stage. In the knock outs, they first beat Delhi Capitals to go directly into the finals and a few days later defeated them once again in the finals!

The Mumbai Indians have the distinction of having won the tournament 5 times in the last 8 years: in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and now in 2020. Also they are only the second team after the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to have won two successive editions of the IPL.

To K L Rahul, captain of the Kings XI Punjab goes the credit of scoring the most runs in this tournament: 670, but his team finished 6th missing out on the knock outs. They say that every ball and every run is important in the IPL. Rahul was unlucky in that an umpiring error cost them one match versus Delhi early in the tournament.

If the Orange Cap for the most runs went to K L Rahul, the Purple Cap for the most number of wickets by a bowler in the tournament went to Kagiso Rabada of Delhi Capitals for his 30 wickets in 17 matches.

I was delighted to see the promising Devdutt Padikkal of Royal Challengers Bangalore ( RCB) get the coveted Emerging Player Award amongst tough competition. This young left handed opening batsman scored 473 runs in 15 matches and took some great catches too. Certainly this talented man is one for the future, for RCB if not for India, provided he keeps a steady head on his shoulders.

For the team I support, RCB it was another disappointing year in that we thought, like we do every year, that we may finally win the IPL title. However, the good news was that RCB finished 4th compared to 8, 6 and 8 in the last three years, so that’s progress.

As always the standards of catching and fielding were brilliant. A few catches and fielding efforts stood out, as captured in this article. You can see them again and again, that’s how great they were!

Hat’s off to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for doing what seemed the impossible! While the pandemic raged all over the world, the BCCI brought some cheer to cricket fans by pulling off this spectacular tournament in the UAE.

In the next year, 2021 again there will be changes, swaps, buys and sells in the teams. The managements will reflect on how they can improve. This year’s winners -the Mumbai Indians- will think what they need to do to keep the title for an unprecedented third year!

IPL: The Last 4 Standing!

We are in the last lap of the prestigious Indian Premier League (IPL) arguably the richest sporting league of its type in the world. In past editions, a couple of teams raced ahead and were clear favorites for the title while a few were laggards. This year, the 13th edition being played in the United Arab Emirates, proved to be one of the most interesting and closely contested events.

Here are the four left standing after the league phase of 56 matches in which each of the 8 teams played their 7 opposing teams twice. The Mumbai Indians were the first to qualify with 8 wins. They have won the tournament in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. No other team has won so many times!

Their supporters say Rohit Sharma’s team will lift the Cup this year as well with their formidable batting and bowling squads. Yet every team can be beaten. Mumbai have lost 5 matches, including one in a thriller super over against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In any case, their opponents say they win only in alternate years so probably won’t win this year!

The Delhi Capitals, having had one of their best seasons qualified to be No 2 by beating the Bangalore team. Not having won the title so far, their motivation will be very high driven by their Head Coach, the Aussie Ricky Ponting. They will play the Mumbai Indians in the first match of the knock outs on November 5. The winner will go straight into the finals. This is the biggest advantage of finishing first or second in the league phase. This team has never qualified for the finals so far.

The loss to Delhi Capitals pushed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to the third place but at least they made it to the last four. This is indeed creditable because they finished 8, 6, and 8 in the last three years! They featured in three finals- in 2009, 2011, and 2016 but have never won the IPL trophy so far. Will this year end on a magical note for them?

Until the very last match, we didn’t know who would be the fourth team to qualify for the play offs. However in that match, Mumbai Indians were given a bloody nose by the Sunrisers Hyderabad who not only won but crushed them with a rare 10 wicket victory. It is not as if the openers had to score 50-60 runs to win. David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha scored all the 151 needed for a match-winning opening partnership. With this victory, Sunrisers Hyderabad vaulted to the No 3 position going ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore by virtue of a better net run rate. They have won the title in 2016 so will be trying for their second title.

Who do we expect to shine in this last lap? While every player is important and matches have been lost by extremely narrow margins because of a small lapse, each team has a few stars they count upon. For Mumbai Indians, I rate Bumrah and Pollard to be the most dangerous players on their day. For Delhi Capitals, their Purple Cap holder with 25 wickets so far this season, Kagiso Rabada and their seasoned opener Shikhar Dhawan will be key. I expect David Warner and Rashid Khan to be the best performers for the Sunrisers just as Virat Kohli and A B De Villiers will, as always, be banked upon by the Royal Challengers.

So, let’s wait and see what happens as the last four matches will decide who will lift the 2020 IPL trophy on November 10.

More IPL Records

Those you interested in cricket might recall my earlier post where I had written about the existing records in the ongoing Indian Premier League 2020 . I had hoped that some of these records might be bettered this year. As far as I know, those current records haven’t been broken yet.

To our delight, two new ones have entered the record books. Playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mohammed Siraj returned the astonishing figures of 3 wickets for 8 runs in his 4 overs in a recent match against Kolkata Knight Riders. In his spell, he became the first man ever in the history of the IPL to bowl two maiden overs in a match. That means, in a game dominated by batsmen’s strike rate – a run a ball being considered pretty mild these days – he actually bowled 12 out of his 24 balls (in two overs) without a run being scored off him. That’s a truly astonishing feat!! Do enjoy watching his bowling brilliance in this video! He showed the others what he was capable of on a responsive lively pitch.

The other record was established by that veteran left-handed opener, Shikhar Dhawan. Playing for Delhi Challengers, he recently scored an unbeaten 106 off 61 balls against Kings XI Punjab. This knock came just after he had scored 101 against the Chennai Super Kings in his previous match. Dhawan had sores of 90 plus in earlier editions of the IPL but had never passed the magical 100 mark. Now he has scored two centuries, one after another- becoming the first man in IPL history to have scored two successive centuries. Indeed, another amazing feat!

The record for the most Sixers in a match was equalled when 33 Sixers were hit in the match between Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings. K L Rahul, the captain of Kings XI Punjab also created a record. When he scored 132 not out against Royal Challengers Bangalore, he became the IPL captain with the highest score in an innings till date. He also became the highest scorer amongst Indian batsmen in the history of the IPL, the previous highest being 128 not out by Rishab Pant.

We still are in the league phase of the IPL, Match 47 will be played today. There are 9 more matches to go before the knock outs start amongst the Top 4. As the fight to make the last four gains ground and the knock out follow, here’s hoping more records are smashed on the way- adding to our entertainment!

Stereotypes & Bollywood

Bollywood- (the general name for the Hindi film industry headquartered in Mumbai, the erstwhile Bombay, hence the name) has been very much in the news for the last few months. It began with the death on June 14, 2020 of the rising super star Sushant Singh Rajput. Whether it was a suicide or whether he was killed remains a mystery. Several months have gone past with a flurry of activity. The Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI) India’s premier investigative agency is still on the job and when this mystery will be solved, is at present, anybody’s guess.

However as a fallout of investigations into Rajput’s death came the arrest of Rhea Chakraborthy, the late actor’s’ live in girlfriend/partner by the Narcotics Control Board. Recently, she was granted bail by the Bombay High Court which with some strict conditions. Television channels have been talking about very little else other than the Sushant Singh Rajput case. Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor were called by the NCB for questioning in the drugs case. This got a lot of media attention as did reports on national television channels about drug parties in Bollywood.

Defenders of Bollywood were quick to say a few people taking drugs should not result in the entire industry being tarred with the same brush. They accused their critics of being guilty of stereotyping . It seemed that every Bollywood party had its share of drugs, sex and what have you. Indeed the clothes worn by Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor when they appeared for the NCB investigation gave rise to a lot of comment. They were dressed the way most people are. Yet the comments came in thick and fast because that day they wore far more clothes than they are usually seen wearing!

What is stereotyping? In Simply Psychology, Cardwell calls it, ” a fixed over generalized belief about a particular class or group of people”. There could be more detailed definitions but this one, for me, is a smart summary. We have both positive as well as negative stereotypes. We have come to believe through this process that fat men are jolly and cheerful, ( have you come across any thin Santa Claus?), judges are cold sober and upright and so on. However for every positive stereotype there are innumerable negative stereotypes. For example, you may have heard that squint eyed people are devious, lawyers are only after money etc etc. Stereotypes are commonly used to characterize races, communities and professions. That’s where the troubles start.

The defenders of Bollywood forget that through their movies and sometimes their own conduct in real life, they has been in the forefront of stereotyping for decades. Perhaps now they are getting a taste of their own medicine! Through the use of social media like Twitter, ordinary people now have an opportunity to share their views. The Indian Express in January 2019 wrote of how people at large in India are calling out the stereotypes in Bollywood.

From the time I was a kid, watching Hindi movies for more than five decades I can recall how the Hindu bania was always the lecherous guy out to get his pound of flesh if the poor man ( usually a farmer) couldn’t pay back his interest on time ( leave alone the capital). The bania was prone to make advances on the womenfolk of the family indebted to him almost as a matter of right. The South Indian ” Madrasi” spoke Hindi with an atrocious accent typified by Mehmood in Padosan. The Police force usually were represented by the bumbling Havildar ( usually called Shinde) or the suave and often corrupt Police Commissioner sahib. The Army officer generally carried a big drink in hand and a bigger moustache. The Christian man was either a smuggler, drunkard, or priest while the women were promiscuous and wore short skirts. The Sardarji was an amiable fool, well meaning but the butt of many jokes. In all this the Muslim was seldom stereotyped – other than being of the Nawabi type who attended “mujras” held in his honor.

So, in India too, like anywhere else in the world, stereotypes created over the decades have taken deep roots. It is for us to realize that while there could be some characteristics we have in common with others, each of us is distinctly different. We have – every single one of us- unique personalities built on what we have inherited (nature) and what we have experienced ( nurture).

As I write this, Bollywood seems determined to make a fight of the recent goings on. Four cine associations and 34 production houses, including well- known Bollywood personalities like Aamir Khan, Karan Johar, and Farhan Akthar, have filed a case against the popular English news channels Times Now and Republic for damaging their reputation, tarnishing the image of the industry etc etc . However, the news channels seem to be ready to fight it out. Navika Kumar of Times Now tweeted ” If fighting for justice invites court cases, bring it on”. That case and how it plays out should be interesting!

In any case, Bollywood would do well to reflect on how stereotyping – used by them for decades – can also be used against them.

To Mankad Or Not?

Cricket lovers will of course recognize from the title of this blog post that “Mankad” here is used as a verb. But isn’t Mankad a name of a cricketer of yore? Yes, it is and Vinoo Mankad, one of India’s best all rounders has the distinction of having a type of dismissal named after him! If I am not mistaken, this is the only form of dismissal in cricket named after an individual!! Caught, stumped, bowled, and so on not being the names of players!!

This subject- which I hadn’t thought off for long- came back to my attention in yesterday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) match. Ravi Ashwin of Delhi Capitals gave the Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman, Aaron Finch, a warning that he could ” Mankad” him if he left the crease and wandered out before he (the bowler) delivered the ball. He later tweeted that batsmen should take this as a final warning!

For the uninitiated to the rules of cricket, this manner of dismissing a batsman came into being during the India vs. Australia Test series in 1947-48. Vinoo Mankad, then Indian’s premier all- rounder did what from then on came to be called a “Mankad”. He ran out Bill Brown in the Test Match in Sydney when Brown the non-striker batsman strayed outside his crease before the ball was delivered by Mankad.

At that time, the media howled about the lack of sportsmanship on Mankad’s part. They complained that it was a pretty cheap way of getting a batsman out. The legendary Don Bradman though said it was entirely within the laws of the game.

In future years there have been more cases in test cricket and International one day matches where batsmen have been ‘ Mankaded” so to speak! Ravi Ashwin brought this mode of dismissal to the Indian Premier League ( IPL) in 2019. Bowling for Kings XI Punjab, he “Mankaded” Jos Buttler of the Rajasthan Royals without giving him any gentlemanly warning! This incident created quite a controversy at that time.

But to return to Ashwin and Finch and the present. Ashwin’s not running Finch out, in this case, didn’t matter at all. Finch scored only 13 and RCB scored 137/9 chasing a target of 197. But imagine if Finch had scored a hundred! What if -after that friendly warning -he had scored a brilliant and match winning innings? Sure, some would have applauded Ashwin’s sporting spirit in warning Finch. But had the match been won by RCB, many would have blasted Ashwin. for being too considerate in the modern game. You know the high stakes involved in a tournament such as the IPL.

I can think of at least one match where a sporting gesture lost a team the match. Coutney Walsh the West Indian fast bowler did not run out Saleem Jaffer of Pakistan in the 1987 World Cup. He just warned him but Pakistan went on to win the match. You may recall that the West Indies were then knocked out of the tournament. So much for the sporting spirit!

Batsmen, in today’s T20 cricket, already have so much in their favor than the bowlers. Look at the rules regarding field setting in the first six overs; the strictness shown by umpires for wides and no balls; the number of balls they can bowl ( a maximum of 24 legal deliveries in 4 overs vs many more a batsman can face, the maximum possible being all 20 overs) etc. etc. You will agree that it is really tough being a bowler in the modern T20 game.

In my view Ashwin was very kind in letting off Finch with a warning. Ashwin’s team won the match so the matter ended there.
I go back to my earlier question: making the most of a chance and warning, what if Finch had gone on to make a match winning contribution with the bat?

Tewatia’s Triumphant Turnaround!

To many avid cricket fans like me, Rahul Tewatia was just another name. I knew he was an all rounder of sorts, primarily a left arm spinner who could also hit the ball hard. He had been with different franchisees during varying seasons of the Indian Premier League ( IPL). I remember him with the King’s XI Punjab and the Delhi Daredevils. This year he has gone back to Rajasthan Royals (RR) where he started his IPL career. Yesterday he played the game of his life for them!

Thanks to Mayank Agarwal and K L Rahul, King’s XI Punjab seemed at one stage all set to reach 250. To their credit, the Rajasthan Royals (RR) bowlers pegged them back in the second half of their innings and the Punjabis finished with 223. A very good score considering that most teams who batted first had won matches. Indeed when Steve Smith chose to field on winning the toss, many felt it was a wrong decision by the RR captain- one of several where he was to prove people wrong!

Thanks to Sanju Samson, RR got a good start and were making a fight of the match. Tewatia was sent in to bat at No. 4. Obviously his brief was to hit out and accelerate the scoring. Unfortunately for him the opposite happened. Try as he did he could not get the ball away. Doubt turned to scorn and anger as he crawled to 8 in 19 balls, when the acute need of the hour was to press on-regardless.

They say that the never say die spirit sets some people apart. We saw it in Rahul Tewatia yesterday at Sharjah. His team needed 51 runs to win in 18 balls. In the 18th over of the RR innings, he hammered 5 Sixers off the bowling of the West Indian quick Sheldon Cottrell. This equalled Chris Gayle’s record of the most Sixers in an over! After 17 runs off 23 balls he blasted an astonishing 36 runs off the next 8 balls!! He deserved to stay till the end but he fell in the 19th over but his batting had brought his team to the cusp of victory.

This was an amazing turnaround for the fortunes of RR- and for Tewatia of course. Those who were cursing him a short while ago, now praised him to the skies. Those who criticized his skipper Smith’s decision to send him at No. 4 were now saying that was sheer genius! It proved beyond doubt that there is so much truth in the old adage- one over can change the game.

RR won with three balls to spare and King’s XI suddenly found themselves having lost two of their first three games. Indeed the first game against Delhi Capitals should have been won easily by them. They bothched up the Super Over and now this!

Rahul Tewatia has established himself as an accomplished hitter of the cricket ball. I dare say his fortunes will change for the better thanks to that one over which got him and his team 30 most valuable runs. His team created a IPL record – the highest total chased down – scoring 224 to win the match. The millions watching the match all over the world were treated to some amazing cricket yesterday. In the heat of the battle, West Indian Nicholas Pooran of the King’s XI did some extraordinary fielding which will be remembered for a long, long time! He had scored a duck in the Super Over in the last match!

The low profile Tewatia suddenly finds himself hitting the headlines every where. He will now have to live up to this reputation. I wish him all the best in his future career.

He has shown he is a young man with a depth of fortitude and very high on self-belief.

Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020: Records To Be Broken!

Fingers crossed! If everything goes off well for the next 53 days, we can say that even the pandemic Covid 19 -also called the Wuhan Virus- could not halt the triumphant march of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The 13 th edition of what is arguably the richest cricket tournament in the world is being played in the UAE this year. From September 19 to November 10, 2020. Being one of those die hard cricket fans, I must have seen most of the matches- on television of course- since the inaugural match at our own Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru way back in 2008.

For the statistically inclined cricket fan , the IPL is a delight. Records are created and records are broken with regularity. Every year the standards of the game go up, especially in the fielding and catching. The batsmen and bowlers too strive to master something new and innovative to beat their opponents.

Today’s blog post is written with the millions of record tracking cricket fans in mind. All data is taken from the IPL website . Let’s see how many of these records will get beaten in this year’s IPL, even without the customary roar of supporting crowds to egg on the players!

With 5412 runs, Virat Kohli, the skipper of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, (which, by the way, is the team I support) is far ahead of the others as the man with the most number of IPL runs under his belt. I don’t see Rohit Sharma go past him this year as he is 500 runs behind. I wonder if anyone will beat Kohli’s record for the most runs in one season- 973 in the 2016 edition with 4 centuries and 7 fifties. The record for the most wickets for a IPL season is held by Dwayne Bravo, who took a staggering 32 wickets in 2013.

I don’t expect the records for sixers to be broken this time around. Chris Gayle has a total of 326 sixers while De Villiers the man next is way behind with 212! Gayle also holds the record of most sixers in an innings (17) with 13 being the next highest. The record for the highest individual innings also belongs to Gayle: 175. I hope someone breaks it this year! I don’t foresee anyone beating Andre Russell’s overall strike rate of 186. Likewise, Chris Morris’s 38 runs in 9 balls to give him the best innings strike rate of 422 will take some beating!!

The fastest 50 record belongs to K L Rahul ( 51 off 14 balls). Some explosive batting like this could well happen this year. Let’s hope so for the sake of the game. Gayle scored the fastest 100 – in 30 balls. I am not sure if anyone will better this in 2020.

In the bowling department, Lasith Malinga’s overall tally of 170 wickets could well be broken this year as he himself is not playing. The best figures for an innings of 6 wickets for 12 runs by Alzarri Joseph is up for the grabs though only two others have ever taken 6 wickets in an innings like him so far in the history of the IPL. Rashid Khan has the best overall economy rate of 6.55 in 45 matches. One record that I wish will be broken is for the most expensive spell ever : 4 overs for 70 runs by Basil Thampi, an average of 17 runs per over!

In the inaugural match of IPL 2020 yesterday, we saw Piyush Chawla don the CSK colors for the first time, after being so used to seeing him for Punjab and KKR . But in the record for playing for most number of franchises, he is far, far behind! You may know that 4 players ( Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv Patel, Ishant Sharma, and Thisara Perera) have played for 6 different franchisees. But “their baap” – as we would say in India – the eternal traveller- has to be Aaron Finch. The Aussie, who has already passed through 7, will be playing for his 8th franchisee when he turns out for RCB this year! I hope he performs better than ever before!!

So let’s get down to the game and hope IPL 2020, despite all the problems, will provide us with some fabulous entertainment!

Remembering Mr Gupta!

A subject that I dreaded in School was Hindi. Perhaps it was more my fault than that of my teachers. To start with I could not understand , for example, why a chair was of the feminine gender and cloth was of the masculine gender. It was not surprising that I struggled all through School!

Mr Ganesh Prasad Gupta, known far and wide as “Gupu” was one of our Hindi teachers at The Lawrence School, Lovedale. He could pack a punch and I write with considerable personal experience in this matter. This was, of course, long before the days when corporal punishment was frowned upon. Masters could- and frequently did- slap us to put some sense in us. Whether they succeeded or not is highly debatable!

For reasons best known to himself, Gupu used the phrase, ” steady slap” as against the more common, “tight slap.” He once asked us to write an essay on ” Urban vs Rural” expecting us to write about the differences in outlook, facilities, economies etc. He was a sticker for exactitude. If he expected 1000 words, by God that’s exactly what he accepted. 999 was not good enough. You had to pass the magical 1000 mark.

I was on 950 words or so and the clock was ticking. We had to hand in our papers soon. To cross the much wanted finish line, from out of the blue, I made the Town Guy say, ( in rudimentary Hindi, of course! ) : ” Hey, look at that guy! ” To which the Village Guy asked, ” Where? Which guy? ” Town guy, ” There, there! ” Village Guy, ” Just look at him, ha ha!! ” Town Guy: ” Yes, look, look, ha, ha ha,” There was more along these lines and the essay finished well past 1000 words.

Over 55 years have gone by but I still remember the walloping I got from Mr Gupta, much to the amusement of my classmates. They howled with laughter when he read out the last few paragraphs to highlight how an essay should NOT be written.

Mr Gupta perhaps prided himself on being a stickler for grammar as he would ( for reasons best known to himself) start with the future tense. ” Bewakoof ladka! You need a steady slap!” This was fair warning for fellows like me as to what was coming in the very near future. He shifted then, more hurriedly, to the present tense, ” I will give you a steady slap now.” That was the signal for me to take a deep breath and brace body and soul for what was imminent. Whack! There came the steady slap! Your head reeled and you could actually count the stars. Then seemingly in the distance you could hear Mr Gupta, as correct as always, summarize recent events with his customary, ” I gave you a steady slap!!!” As if you couldn’t make that out!!!

Sadly, Mr Gupta is no more. Wherever he is, if he could, I am sure he would have a chuckle on reading how his ” steady slap” – if not the Hindi he taught- is remembered even after five and a half decades.

The Keshavananda Bharati Case

I read today about the sad demise of Sri Keshavananda Bharati Swamiji of the Edaneeru Matha, Kasargodu at the age of 79. His name will always be associated with the Supreme Court Judgment of 1973 in what has come to be known as the ‘Keshavananada Bharati Case’ . This case was mentioned to us frequently by Professor K Karunakaran ( who taught us Labour Laws in XLRI in 1972-74) as being a landmark judgement. This led me today to go back decades in time and understand what that case was about.

To recapitulate, in 1960, Sri Keshavananada Bharati Swamiji became the Head of the over 1200 year old Edaneeru Matha in Kasargod. It was founded by Sri Thotakacharya , one of the first four disciples of Sri Adi Sankaracharya. In 1971 or so, the Government of Kerala sought to impose restrictions on the Matha property which led Sri Keshavananada Bharati Swamiji to take the case up to the Supreme Court. He questioned the right of the Government to alter the fundamental rights of the citizens of India.

The case was argued for 68 days before a Full Bench of 13 Judges of the Supreme Court of India. It became the centre of attraction during those times for the principles being argued before the highest Court of the land. The Government of the time ( headed by Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi) argued that Parliament was supreme in India and the Government of the day could amend the Constitution if it was for the benefit of the people. The illustrious lawyers Nani Palkhivala, Fali Nariman, and Soli Sorabjee represented the petitioners against the government.

The Supreme Court held by a narrow margin of 7-6 that while admittedly the Parliament had wide powers it did not have the power to alter the basic structure of the Constitution. The judges who upheld Swamiji’s plea were then Chief Justice of India S M Sikri, and Justices K S Hegde, A K Mukherjea, J M Shelat, A N Grover, P Jaganmohan Reddy, and H R Khanna.

In the decades that followed this judgement of 1973 has served to be the cornerstone for determining the ” basic structure” doctrine in constitutional law in India. It covers the supremacy of the Constitution, the independence of the judiciary etc. It was often alleged that Smt Indira Gandhi was very annoyed at the outcome of the case and consequently the judges who ruled against the Government were not given promotions due to them. It is a fact that Chief Justice Sikri retired the day after the verdict, and the Government appointed Justice A M Ray in his place. He superseded Justices Shelat, Grover, and Hegde who had ruled against the Government in the process.

While the residents of Kasargod will for long remember Sri Keshavananada Bharati Swamiji for all the good work he did for the Edaneeru Matha, students of law, politics and the Constitution, all over India will never forget him for this landmark case, settled 47 years ago.

Om Shanti, Shraddhanjali to Srimath Swamiji.