THE HINDUTVAWALLAS have got another reason to feel convinced about their ways. After coronavirus hit our shores, self-congratulatory memes praising the safe and superior old-fashioned greeting of ‘namaste’ with hands duly folded as against the Western handshake or a soft peck on the cheeks flooded social media. RSS-BJP leaders in particular had all along insisted on saying ‘namaste’ rather than shaking hands or smooching on the cheeks to greet someone. The late Arun Jaitley, one of the more open-minded BJP leaders who also wasn’t averse to socialising with the Page Three types, in fact, would flinch whenever a young thing at a social event excitedly came forward to peck him on the cheek. He was happier saying ‘namaste’ from a safe distance. Meanwhile, seeing the opportunity, the saffron-clad yoga guru-cum-entrepreneur Ramdev has injected himself into the panic-driven Covid-19 debate. On a social media post, he too commended ‘namaste’ over a handshake while prescribing a couple of morning exercises and a potion made of tulsi, haldi, kaali mirch, etcetera, to ward off the deadly virus. Vegetarians, meanwhile, cannot seem to stop emphasising that Covid-19, as the WHO calls this virus after severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), spread from animal meat to humans.
While still on coronavirus, an extract from a book End of Days by Sylvia Browne, supposedly a psychic, is being quoted extensively to make the claim that she had predicted it way back in 2008. ‘In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting known treatments… .’ Some suggest that before her, the 16th century mystic Nostradamus had predicted coronavirus a good 500 years ago in the 16th century when he warned of ‘a great global plague’. But what use are these predictions if the best of medical research failed to anticipate the pandemic to be ready with a vaccine or a drug to tame the new virus from the old corona family?
Meanwhile, lazy bones like myself who had stopped taking their morning constitutionals in the Lodhi Garden, or lately, in the equally large and pleasing Sundar Nursery Park in Nizamuddin East at the onset of winter, have found yet another excuse to skip the trouble for a few days more thanks to the advent of coronavirus in the capital. Aren’t you supposed to keep away from public places as far as possible? That’s the excuse to sleep through the mornings till Holi ushers in the real Delhi summer next week.
IF MEMORY SERVES me right, the eminent jurist-cum-public commentator, Nani Palkhivala, first put together his post-Budget speeches to crowded Mumbai audiences in a book form. Nani’s dissection of the socialist-era budgets was a big event in the annual calendar of woke Mumbaikars who would try and secure a place in the designated hall where he was scheduled to speak hours before the start of the address. A few years later, they shifted the venue to an open maidan in order to accommodate the surging crowds who were earlier locked out of the enclosed hall. The compilation of the annual post-Budget Palkhivala lectures in book form helped to popularise economic reforms and entrepreneurship in the heyday of the dirigiste economic order. Next, one saw journalist Arun Shourie compile his newspaper articles-cum-exposés in book form and self-publish it. These books did pretty well, considering that Shourie by then had become a household name in big metros.
Now, Abhishek Singhvi, one of the top Supreme Court lawyers, has come out with a book.
From The Trenches is about the most important cases he fought: from the Sabarimala temple case (he argued against the right of women to worship there) to Cyrus Mistry against Tata Sons, and many more. A rather colourful man, Singhvi juggles many hats, as the back flap notes with ease: an eminent jurist, third-term parliamentarian, columnist, thinker and commentator… and seniormost national spokesperson of the Congress. Singhvi has dedicated the book to his mother and his wife ‘for being an inseparable part of [his] life’. Readers can profit from the backstories of some of the more newsy court cases the author, an ultimate insider, relates in the book from his perspective.