19th May 2015
Reminiscences of my interactions with SV Raju over the past 15 years
It is impossible to record all my interactions with Raju – these being just too many of them (mostly by email). But the key sequence is worth noting, for my personal record.
1) Initial interaction circa 2000
In February 1998 I formed a mailing list called India_policy which became one of India's most popular mailing lists in India at a time when there were no yahoo or google groups. The list attracted enough attention to be converted into a policy institute (India Policy Institute).
2) Engagement prior to the 2003 5-day IPI workshop
Raju was pivotal in suggesting that Sharad Joshi be invited to my workshop-seminar. He managed to persuade Joshi to attend.
3) At the January 2003 workshop
Raju played a prominent role at the workshop. More importantly, he brought along a number of publications, which were pivotal in educating me about Indian liberalism.
After the workshop he wrote an editorial, very critical JP of LokSatta. I was not sure why he had formed such a strong opinion against JP. But events proved him right. JP is a man without values or substance, willing to go wherever the wind blows.
4) Writings in Freedom First from 2008 to 2011
I wrote around 20 articles in FF during this period (see this list); then gave up since there were just too many other things going on.
Each was a pleasure to write. I was ENORMOUSLY GRATEFUL to Raju for letting me write. Second, he would also be my proof reader, assuring my that any residual typos would be cleaned up. One couldn't possibly expect a more encouraging editor.
5) Active engagement with Raju as FTI was developed, including participation of FTI members in the 50th anniversary of the formation of Swatantra party
This was a period of active engagement between Raju and a few FTI members from Mumbai. Sometime during this period he also wrote an excellent review of Breaking Free of Nehru in FF.
6) Meeting in 2010
In February 2010, Raju came to meet me in the hotel when I arrived in Mumbai for FTI's first annual conference. He brought along Meera Sanyal and Iris Madeira. It was my first meeting with Raju since 2003.
We discussed how the Indian Liberal Group was going to be revived, etc.
7) Meeting in 2012
I've already provided the photo here. This was a huge meeting. I went to his office and spent half an afternoon with him. He showed me the room where valuable records of the past fifty years of work were kept. These records are INVALUABLE and must be carefully preserved.
I've published photos of this meeting here, including photos of these valuable books and related records.
8) Constant email engagement
SV Raju was a key member of my "senior leaders" mailing list. We have had constant interactions over the years, excluding his monthly email attaching the latest edition of Freedom First.
Just a few months ago, I had sought his opinion on the editor/s of Swarajya. I have shared his opinion among close friends. Suffice it to say, it confirmed my very lowly opinion about this BJP mouthpiece which has NOTHING whatsoever to do with liberty or values – or with Rajaji's Swarajya.
In other words, since 1999 or 2000, I had extensive interactions with Raju.
9) Publication of the Executive Summary of Sone Ki Chidiya Agenda
Just recently, the March 2015 edition of Freedom First included the Executive Summary from the SKC agenda. He supported FTI/ SKC (and I believe, SBP).
He was political. Most others are non-political 'liberals' , of not much use to India. True, his political work didn't go very far (after Rajaji's death), but he had that as a constant goal – e.g. through his petition re: Swatantra Party and its opposition to the ROP Act.
I don't know much about his personal life, nor about his family. I hope someone who knows him at a personal level will tell us more about him.
He was a mentor and colleague. I learnt a lot from him. Without him Indian liberty would have had none to illuminate people like me. In recent years he managed to raise funds to digitise all editions of FF. And he was internet savvy. In his late 70s. When he died he was a very young 81. I'm sure that if the infection (which he wrote about in his last email) had not got to him, he would have been as sprightly as ever.
Anyway, he has left behind a HUGE legacy – 50 years of writings. I hope the liberals will come together both to remember his contributions and to preserve – and continue – them.