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Jairam: From nowhere to everywhere

delhi Updated: Dec 04, 2009 00:23 IST
Kumkum Chadha
Kumkum Chadha
Hindustan Times
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Union Minister Jairam Ramesh’s claim to fame is Sam Pitroda, currently adviser to Prime Minister of India. Jairam worked with Pitroda on the technology mission in the eighties.

Of course, he has come a long way since then, from a nowhere man to being everywhere. You name it and he has done it: Engineering, MBA, economics, industry, public life, writing, television and politics.

In the early seventies, he did a quiz duo with Nandan Nilenkani, in IIT Mumbai. It is another matter that Jairam could not take Nilenkani, currently Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, on his offer of being an early investor in Infosys, an IT services company.

Jairam has worked with senior politicians, apart from advising the Finance Ministry, working in the Planning Commission and helping rework Rajiv Gandhi’s election campaign after Congress lost power in 1989.

When Mrs Indira Gandhi contested from Chikmagalur in Karnataka, his birthplace, both Jairam and Chikmagalur were unknown. He was all of 24 years but the election helped his identity in one sense: “Mrs Gandhi’s made Chikmagalur internationally famous. I was abroad and made it a point to tell everyone where I came from” Jairam recalled.

Dubbed as one among Rajiv Gandhi’s “backroom boys”, Jairam was out in the cold after Gandhi’s assassination.

Jairam’s resurrection in the Congress was thanks to late Sitaram Kesri who took a fancy to both Jairam’s looks and
language: “Tumhare mein kuch hain” (There is something about you) Kesri often told Jairam.

A conversation with Jairam is as tedious as one with Union Minister Jaipal Reddy: heavy and loaded with adjectives. Sample this: Jairam says he is a Hind-budh: A practicing Hindu influenced by Buddhism.

This is Jairam Ramesh Iyengar for you.