Arvind Kejriwal, Arundhati Roy and Arnab Goswami
A representational collage of Arvind Kejriwal, Arundhati Roy and Arnab Goswami | Siddhant Gupta
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From Amitabh Bachchan to Gen. Bipin Rawat, from Arundhati Roy to Sri Sri, these unlovely individuals infest every aspect of the luckless nation’s life.

As befits a country with a preposterously large population, India has far too many people who belong on the negative side of life’s great ledger. Indian public life abounds in charlatans, criminals, bullies, windbags, braggarts, and thieves. While mostly in politics and religion, these unlovely individuals infest every aspect of the luckless nation’s life. What follows is my list—confined arbitrarily to a dozen—of some people we could really, really do without.

In alphabetical order…

Mani Shankar Aiyar

The personification of a certain sort of Nehruvian arrogance, Aiyar is a New Delhi elitist who’s lost his bearings in Modi’s mofussil-flavoured India. Ignoring the many legitimate ways in which the PM might be criticised, Aiyar resorted to a public disparagement of Modi’s humble social origins. “Neech,” he said. Low-born. This cost the Congress party an election.

Amitabh Bachchan

Big B—his baritone on every voice-over, his mug on every product—offers us a textbook lesson in the art of overstaying a welcome. People tire, even of superstars, especially those who never seem to give others a break. Added to India’s Bachchan fatigue is a track record of…remarkably little, except for years as a shill who’s never taken a stand on any issue of national significance. And then there are the Panama Papers.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani

The most mulish of Kashmir’s “azadi” brigade, Geelani has yet to meet an offer of peace that he couldn’t refuse. More viciously anti-Indian than anyone in the Hurriyat, he was even opposed to the Manmohan-Musharraf formula on Kashmir, the most dovish deal of all. An Islamist hardliner, his idea of Kashmiri independence is a merger with Pakistan.

Arnab Goswami

It’s true to say that Goswami is the most consequential Indian journalist—even at the risk of enlarging an ego that’s already full blown (and of testing the definition of ‘journalist’). Boorish, vindictive and biased, he has destroyed the once-civil genre of the TV debate, replacing it with a form of verbal mudwrestling of which he’s Rustam-e-Hind. (Except when he’s interviewing Modi, when he’s Pussycat-e-Hind.)

The IPL cheerleader

She represents nouveau riche India at its gaudiest. As if the teams’ names weren’t crass enough—Super Kings? Knight Riders? Royal Challengers?—the businessmen and movie-stars who own these mercenary cricket outfits give us underdressed white women to be ogled at in a televised mela of public voyeurism. Here, India’s fetish for white skin embraces India’s irrepressible sexism in one swift swirl of a pom-pom. “Whistle podu,” as they say in Chennai.

Arvind Kejriwal

Kejriwal promised to sweep away corruption, but has been a civic moralist short-circuited by his own righteous wiring. Surrounded by fellow moralists and showboats, Delhi’s chief minister turned quickly into a bickering, pettifogging whiner who’s as intolerant of criticism as those old-school politicians he’s sought to shame. In spite of having his hands full in Delhi—pollution, anyone?—he went a-meddling in Punjab. A truly bad idea (but one of many).

Dipak Misra

This is the man many senior advocates agree is not quite the best Chief Justice in the history of India’s Supreme Court. Misra should be in a hall of fame for the quality of his writing alone—his sentences seemingly composed with words picked at random from a thesaurus, with syntax and grammar optional. But there’s more to Chief Justice Misra than mind-boggling verbiage. Google “land allotment in Odisha”, “Kalikho Pul”, and “medical college admission”. Unanswered questions, right?

Bipin Rawat

Gen. Rawat is disconcerting because he speaks unfiltered in an institution that’s revered by almost all Indians. As Chief of Army Staff, he’s constitutionally subordinate to the civilian government, which means leaving politics to the politicians, not playing the fauji panjandrum in the manner of his Pakistani comrades. The general’s political opinions hit the headlines with such regularity that one wonders why Modi hasn’t suggested an early retirement. Ten-sion!

Vasundhara Raje

Perhaps a Maratha isn’t quite right for Rajputana: Raje’s Rajasthan is the most mismanaged state in India. Not only have social indices plummeted shockingly under her tenure, but Rajasthan has become a byword for religious violence and cow-hatya. The gau-rakshak terrorists operate with deadly impunity, even as the state’s schools rewrite their curriculums to accommodate the very latest in Hindutva revisionist ideology.

Arundhati Roy

The caterwauling (and self-appointed) conscience of India’s radical enviro-left, Ms Roy is the Indian dissenter best loved in the West. She has described the Modi government as “totalitarian” and peddles the view that economic reform and foreign investment will leave India ravaged and dystopian, with its people beggared and its lands poisoned (Greenpeace-certified). There is nothing so tedious as a Manichean moralist, even with a Booker prize, especially one who has no qualms with Maoists in the motherland.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

One of many godmen who roam India unchallenged, Sri Sri is by no stretch the worst. He doesn’t imprison female devotees or foist godly noodles on a hapless public. But his is the smooth face of godmanship, which makes him, scarily, a Charlatan On The Inside. His recent pronouncements on the Babri Masjid—he says that India will become like Syria if the dispute isn’t resolved—suggests that he doesn’t know Syria at all. Or India, for that matter.

Justin Trudeau

OK, he’s not Indian. But he does dress like one, and make his family do the same for photo-ops. And he does surround himself with Indians in that lovely “I’m-Canadian-not-American” way that makes our aunties smile and say, “So cute!” A pity, then, that some of those Indians in his orbit were Khalistanis.

It took a snub from Modi to make Trudeau aware that there were terrorist cuckoos in his multiculti nest. O Canada!

Tunku Varadarajan is the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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51 Comments Share Your Views

51 COMMENTS

    • “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact. Even the Indian Government has accepted this.”
      When She says this, i don’t think its incorrect to put her in the list.

  1. Haven’t you made yourself notorious!!!? Next time you write sensibly I will still remember that you came from thrash. Thankfully for u our legal system allows you to get away with such outrageous stuff. Just read through the comments…it’s unanimously against you dude

    • Why? Because it hurts your precious feelings? Its sad that a large percentage of Indians are too willing to be offended by every small thing however not serious.

  2. I also don’t agree the inclusion of Amitabh Bachchan and Gen Rawat in the list. This man, Tunku Varadrajan, is he some kind of moral locator of humans in India, while he savours the preposterous and swanky American diet in Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Am sure he doesn’t know anything of India and has written something what he heard from some old grandpa’s idyllic siesta deprived squabble.

  3. Add your name from 1 to 5. Then the rest. Also I don’t agree with name of Amitabh, Gen Bipin Rawat & Sri sri. Also you forgot Raul vincy, owais

  4. Tunku bhai, in my native language there is a saying- U can get famous if you build a temple and u can get popular if you throw rubbish at it. (I have actually putting it midestly). I used to ask my mother, why would people throw rubbish when they can do something good. As I grow up, I understand that adult brain is much sluggish to understand this. It is possible to become a human once born one. At the least, use brains. Next time you feel the call to write something, then please give it a read when u are sober. Why is the Print acting as a dustbin. If we collect garbage without knowing how to recycle it and use it for something good, we stink. (No intellectual or standard talks are applicable here. So I have used this informal language.)

  5. You forgot to mention your paymasters….Raul Vinci, Sonia Maino…Etc…..Sick of you bootlicker type so called columnists

  6. Tunku?
    Who is this guy?
    And who asked him to give his opinions?
    If you are in a mood to irritate, why cant you stick to irritating the people at your home? Why do people like you have to come out and irritate the public with unasked UN-valuable opinions.
    Arundhati Roy is a good woman. She deserves more attention than she is getting.

  7. A grammatically correct commentary with face firmly away from the mirror. Some inclusions like AB, COAS, etc are really surprising

  8. Wonder who allows the publishing of such juvenile posts…. pathetic and smacks of ignorance. It’s misleading the nation
    Who so ever says that Constitutionally the Army is subordinate to the Civilian Government ???? Indian Constitution is a System of Checks and Balances wherein The Defence Services are NOT supposed to report to the Politicians… its A-Political and The PRESIDENT of INDIA is their SUPREME COMMANDER and NOT the PM or the RM. Its the President’s prerogative to Command the Defence Services NOT the Politicians and it is through the Defence Services that the President keeps a Check on the correct & proper functioning of the Politicians. The Min of Defence is ONLY an Administrative Channel to facilitate the Administrative Requirements of the Defence Services as is the case of the Law Ministry in the JUDICIARY of India…. the PM or the Law Minister have no say in the functioning of the Judiciary…. In fact the functioning and role of the President itself has been subverted in India by selling the idea propagated by this gentleman….. this perspective needs to set right….. come on General do it….

  9. I don’t agree, there is more to all of them n in a riot of colours that is india’s mindscape there is place for you n me n all of them. Definitely the likes of mani shankar, geelani n arnab could tone down a bit as they live in influential spaces n self discipline themselves please

  10. Tunku should have added (his brother ?) Siddharth Vardharajan on this list as a journalist who professes to run an independent publication, but is completely aligned to an ideology that says absolutely nothing is good about Modi or BJP. He is the sophisticated version of Arnab Goswami, but has chosen the escape route of giving away his Indian citizenship and has become an US citizen, so that if going gets tough, he has a Plan B.

    • Your obsesssion with The Wire and SV never ceases to amaze. “Tunku should have added….” Tunku has the column here not you. If you have a long list of Indians you can do without, publish it in the comments section.

  11. What amazed me is that this kind of article, myopic as it’s view maybe, does not bemoan the fellow Indian to list his own list of ‘people we can do without’. Kudos to the author. Keep writing.

  12. India can do without “theprint” as well. To say that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar doesn’t understand Syria reduces the article and the author to a joke. And for your information, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar did not say that India will become Syria if the dispute isn’t resolved. He said that there will be a Syria-like situation if a court ruling favors any one community over the other. It is common-sense, really.

  13. Leave the Army and the Chief out of it, and don’t speak in the mannerism of a political party who forgot our Field Marshall.

  14. One will not comment on the names included and excluded from this list. A country as large and diverse as India would surely be incomplete without many who set the teeth of quite a few on edge. However, entirely without malice, it can safely be said that Arnab Goswami is not the most consequential journalist in India. Many colleagues in the profession would wonder whether he still belongs to the tribe.

  15. I want to ask Mr TUNKU VARADARAJAN that and I quote “what’s your height?”. Assuming him to be an average Indian male, He replies “ I am 5’8’’. Me “ I have never seen a pile of shit so high”.

  16. We could also do without such self-righteous commentators from America who love to pontificate on India from their ivory towers It was fun reading the piece though even though I disagreed with some of the names.

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