16th September 2016
I’m noting here my interaction with a Zareer Masani, son of the great Minoo Masani.
I had never heard of this man till he poked his nose in the affairs of Swarna Bharat Party.
An article was published in Freedom First regarding SBP’s recent annual conference [Swarna Bharat Party Emulates Swatantra Party].
This unearthed Zareer Masani from the bowels of perpetual silence. Never having done ANYTHING in his entire life to promote political liberalism in India, the man surfaces and starts litigating the use of Masani’s name in that article.
This is what the article stated:
The Swatantra Party, founded in 1959 by C. Rajagopalachari, Minoo Masani and N. G. Ranga was the last liberal party in India. In 1967, it won 44 seats in Parliament (incidentally the Congress also wins 44 seats in the general elections of 2014) and Masani was elected as the acting Leader of the Opposition. Unfortunately, the Swatantra Party voted to dissolve itself in 1974. However, Masani, S. V. Raju and others kept the Swatantra flag flying by keeping the Maharashtra unit of the Swatantra Party which exists on paper to this day.
These are unambiguous FACTS. There is nothing to debate here. [Despite that, there was a bit of a debate – here. That debate is between Naozer Aga and Zareer Masani; none of my business. History can take care of itself.]
Thereafter there was an opinion expressed in the article which is not the official view of Swarna Bharat Party: “SBP is now taking the Swatantra Party’s efforts further and wishes to emulate the Swatantra Party.”
SBP does not refer to Swatantra Party in its manifesto. There was, some time ago, a reference to Swatantra Party on SBP’s website, but I think that was removed, to avoid any misperception that SBP is Swatantra Mark II.
SBP is a liberal party and recognises that Swatantra Party was the previous liberal party in India (but so was Sharad Joshi’s Swatantra Bharat Party). I personally believe that Rajaji’s and Masani’s Swatantra was a rather feeble liberal party – its 21 principles (which, by the way, I was the first to publish on the internet, when Raju sent these to me) do not reflect the cutting edge analysis of economic incentives which underpins the manifesto of Swarna Bharat Party.
Yet, I admire and have long admired (since I chanced upon their work – well after I had started my work) Rajaji and Masani (and SV Raju). In fact, I maintain a Facebook on these two personalities – apart from maintaining a Facebook page for other liberals, such as Ambedkar, Gokhale, Chankaya, Macaulay, John Lilburne and the Levellers, and Julian Simon. I also maintain a group on Milton Friedman, Hayek and on Classical Liberalism (only for the active promoters of classical liberalism). My FB group on Classical Liberalism has on it almost every great classical liberal alive today. Entry to it is highly restrictive and Zareer Masani will NOT be allowed entry into that group, particularly given his recent shoddy approach to liberty in India.
And, of course, I started the page on liberalism in India on wikipedia and I included Masani’s name in that, etc. That page has been steadily growing.
My books, blog and writings on the internet and social media activity have promoted liberalism to thousands of Indians, some of whom have incrementally started seeing the value of liberty.
And yet these, below, are the kinds of comments that Zareer Masani made (plus my response) and I’d like this blog post to be part of my overall response to him:
ZAREER MASANI’S COMMENT
Mr Aga and his group are wrong to try and assume some mantle of legitimacy by retrospectively claiming my father’s endorsement almost two decades after his passing. I think I knew his mind a little better than them, and I suspect he would have been less than enthusiastic about Swarna Bharat, not least for its chauvinistic name and ethos.”
MY RESPONSE (WHICH WAS LATER FORWARDED TO ZAREER MASANI)
to help Dr. Masani tone down his ego and the delusion that SBP needs any approval from Masani’s progeny, you may wish to mention to him that the liberal political effort that underpins SBP was started by people who had never in their whole life heard of Swatantra Party or Masani, and only chanced upon these efforts/names well after their own effort to promote/ defend liberty in India had started in the late 1990s. That SBP is willing to reference Swatantra Party once in a while has nothing to do with this party’s motivations. We are not Swatantra Party Mark II, nor a subsidiary owned by anyone who had anything do to with Swatantra Party.
It should help him understand that India is a land of 1.2 billion people, each of whom has a fundamental right to liberty and independent thought. No one owns a copyright to liberty. Dr Masani is welcome to form his rapid-fire, ill-informed views about SBP, but if he wishes, he may wish to park his extraordinary self-congratulatory approach (based on the accident that he is Minoo Masani’s son) to the side for a moment, and actually explain which part of SBP’s manifesto he thinks is chauvinistic.
DIRECT RESPONSE BY ZAREER (COPIED TO ME):
As a historian, not a politician, I have no particular axe to grind here, unlike your eponymously named Mr Sabhlok (if he actually exists!?). My accident of birth, as he puts it, has left me with no special ego or sense of privilege, just a closer, more intimate and continuous engagement with my father’s personal and political thinking than anyone in SBP. Of course that gives me no special birthright to criticise SBP, nor would I wish to do so, [Sanjeev: well, he just did, and now won’t explain!] so long as you stop dragging my father’s name into your publicity.
MY FURTHER RESPONSE TO ZAREER
Dr Masani, instead of explaining why you think SBP is chauvinistic, you are now asking that Mr Aga “stop dragging my father’s name into your publicity”.
The work of Mr Minoo Masani in Swatantra Party was for the country – not a family property of yours. I operate a Facebook page for him: https://www.facebook.com/
minoomasani/. I have his books in my possession and have the highest regard for him. Swarna Bharat Party will – at its discretion – cite Minoo Masani’s work, like we may cite any eminent Indians’ work.
Please be sure, we won’t cite your name or work.
ZAREER’S FURTHER RESPONSE
Please be aware that the legal copyright in all my father’s published work is with me. I can and will also take legal proceedings for libel/defamation against any attributions to him that I consider false and harmful to his reputation.
I am astonished by your temerity and presumption in “operating a Facebook page for him”. Now that you have drawn my attention to it, I shall be taking legal advice in the matter and taking this up with Facebook management. Perhaps in remote Victoria you have not heard of intellectual property rights.
I did not bother to response to this. However, I now gather he is going around sending emails to people that “SBP is fraudulently running a Facebook page on his father, Minoo, indicating that Minoo is still alive and also thereby obtaining legitimacy and endorsement, from his late father.”
Surely Zareer Masani jests? All publicity is good publicity at this early stage for Swarna Bharat Party. But two things:
(a) I made clear that I operate that page, not Swarna Bharat Party;
(b) I do so in his HONOUR. The idea that I operate a page that purports to be the man himself, is absurd nonsense. No one in his right mind (particularly someone born in 1905) runs a page calling himself “Minoo Masani a great Indian liberal”. There was a clear link to his wikipedia entry which shows he passed away in 1998.
However, I’ve made this even clearer today by replacing the previous “about the page” with the following: “This page, in honour of Minoo Masani (1905-1998) is run by Sanjeev Sabhlok. This page promotes the ideas that Masani stood for.”
I firmly believe that Minoo Masani WOULD have supported this liberal political effort that I’ve been undertaking since 1998, and which has now led to the formation of one of India’s very few liberal parties since independence.
And I have ALL rights to run a page in honour of a man I have regard for. What kind of a man is this who threatens “defamation”/ “legal proceedings” against those who promote the work of his father?
Zareer Masani should be clear: his father was a PUBLIC FIGURE and his work belongs to the whole of India.
Zareer’s only remedy is to start his own FB page on his father to promote his father’s ideas in his own way. He has no business interfering with the work of those who are DOING something to promote liberty in India.
And he had better explain his words “chauvinistic” in reference to SBP. That’s pure defamation. And to suggest through emails that there is any FRAUDULENT work going on – that’s pure defamation.
How much better would it for India (and for the world) if Zareer supported liberty instead of blocking it.
Turns out that Zareer is a socialist and former Congress party member (he did not support Minoo Masani’s Swatantra). No wonder he is not happy with his father’s name surfacing. He probably wanted his father’s name buried and forgotten.
Not content to smear me, SBP and those who have been fighting for India’s liberty, this man had the temerity to post this on the Masani FB page that I run:
The text says:
This profile is a fraud and an example of how Facebook can be abused. My father Minoo Masani die in 1998 and would have been appalled to see his name and image being hijacked by this unscrupulous group. The very name Swarna Bharat would have made him cringe. His own staunchly secular liberalism was miles away from these people’s celebration of a mythical “Golden Age of India”, presumably before Muslims, Christians and Parsis came along to tarnish Hindu India.
This is beyond pathetic. Gurcharan Das, who has been actively involved in promoting liberty in India for the past 20 years, says that my book should be read by all Indians. And this socialist son of Masani who lives in London since the 1970s doesn’t bother to read/ understand anything but makes the most scurrilous comments about my work and those who are working with me to take our God-forsaken country forward.