Maverick Unchanged – Jethmalani’s Tour De Thought

By Sunil Kumar

A book review after some time. Just finished reading noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani’s book “Maverick: Unchanged, Unrepentant”. Although I’ve never been a fan of the loud, opinionated blabbermouth that he is; there is a lot of informative detail, insight and genuine patriotism in this book. Managed to appreciate Jethmalani’s views better.

Published three years back in 2014; at the start of what can be called the Modi Era(now); it is a forthright critique on the ills of Indian democracy and a searing litany of faults of the “Con”gress.

Especially liked Jethmalani’s views on the duplicity and double-speak of secularism as practiced in India. There is no country on the globe like us; with its unique mix of a passive majority and  overbearing aggressive minorities. He rightly points out that even though secularism means protecting the plight of the disempowered; it does not mean stripping away the last vestige of majority rights. Uniformity means equal rights for anybody.

Long-winding discourses aside; Jethmalani lists the series of errors perpetrated by the Congress pre-independence and their 58 years of rule in the world’s biggest democratic republic.

He points out the dangers of Wahabbi Islam and India’s self-abnegating policy towards the Jewish state of Israel. It is only now when Netanyahu and Modi have met that there is increased co-operation between the two countries. But anybody with a degree of intelligence would have realized that global geopolitics is a vicious game of self-interest and if India could maintain diplomatic relations with wolves like Pakistan and China intent on destroying this country; its policy towards Israel reeks of sheer stupidity.

The so-called “liberal” brigade have also not really critiqued Nehruvian socialism and its accompanying “Nehru rate of growth”; instead ascribing every possible evil on the Hindu religion and the perennial bete noire; the RSS.

His speech on Syed Ahmed; the founder of the AMU; and a loyal servant of the British Empire reveals that the two-nation concept and fundamental isolationism of the Muslims was a fact from 1857; which he terms as a rather limited uprising; and not the mutiny or the First War of Indian Independence; names given by rival camps of historians.

Jethmalani reveals a lifetime carrying a brief as an obnoxious, argumentative lawyer; a skill he possesses in ample measure; a validation of his notoriety and fame. In his mid-90s now; he still has not lost his legendary zeal; and everybody who reads the news knows of his angst against minister Arun Jaitley. 3 Years of Modi rule has spawned many disgruntled BJP members such as Yeshwant and Shatrughan Sinha; Arun Shourie and a whole host of characters who keep the murky slime of Indian politics churning.

As a middle-class citizen interested in the progress of this country; interest rate cuts; petrol prices; demonetization and the insidious farce of AADHAR linking have had the maximum impact on my existence; although the million fires perennially burning in the country’s heart are now increasingly routine and led to some amount of desensitisation.

Jethmalani’s old school analysis; his frank admiration for a flawed but somewhat fair colonial setup and non-stop criticism become jarring; but nevertheless are somewhat entertaining; even though you can ideally skip the boring and preachy parts. Some things that every informed Indian knows; the troika of China, Pakistan and local termites that pose the biggest threat to the state are tropes Jethmalani likes to repeat; although in defence he sounds genuine in the book.

He classifies M.K Gandhi; arguably India’s most famous icon as a canny lawyer and ascribes his movements as a result both of his law school training and the pacifist non-violent cultural heritage(Indic/Hindu-Jain) of his home state Gujarat.

When it comes to God; Jethmalani comes across as agnostic and a skeptic; a malady that afflicts any reasonably well-read and thinking individual. However; unlike the malady that seems to affect many Hindus in India; Jethmalani comes across as a person who recognizes the reality of Muslim terrorism and the threat it poses to this world.

Refreshing to see this for a change. Jethmalani has also attained notoriety for defending many doubtful and shady individuals; and this book is ample evidence for both Jethmalani’s obsessive fixations and legal acumen.

Overall; it was boring in parts but informative.

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