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Where is yesterday’s news?

For some days our papers and TV channels are full of news of proceedings in law courts; then suddenly they disappear and we are left guessing about their outcome, writes Khushwant Singh.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2007 00:50 IST

There are some things about our judiciary and the media that continue to baffle us. For some days our papers and TV channels are full of news of proceedings in law courts; then suddenly they disappear and we are left guessing about their outcome.

Stories break out but seldom come to a conclusion. Some have even stuck to my mind. Years ago the house of Pandit Sukh Ram, Minister of the Central Cabinet, was raided by the police and crores of unaccounted cash was recovered. Both he and his lady friend were accused of accepting bribes. Sukh Ram is still active in Himachal Pradesh politics. But does anyone know whether he or his lady friend were ever acquitted or convicted? What happened to the money that was recovered?

Then there was case of Ravi Inder Singh Sidhu, who as Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, selected hundreds of officers in return for cash. Crores worth of currency notes were recovered from his house. He spent some years in jail before he was let out on bail. What happened to the cases piled against him? Where does he hide his face now?

The case against ex-Chief of Naval Staff-turned businessman Nanda’s grandson, Sanjeev Nanda, for running over and killing six men sleeping on the footpath received extensive publicity for a few days and then mysteriously went into oblivion.

The more notorious is the case against former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, his son Jagat and his buddy Sehgal. They were involved in the Oil-for-Food scam worth thousands of crores. Associated with their name was the colourful Mathrani appointed as an ambassador by Natwar. This ambassador was reported in some journal to be a patron of prostitutes and took a couple of his lady friends with him when representing his credentials. Where does Mathrani hang out? We know more about Natwar.

He tried to sow seeds of discord between the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi. When that failed, he rubbished both of them; he swore loyalty to the Congress party one day, and was seen with the Samajwadi’s the next day. As representative of the Congress he proposed the name of the man opposing the nominee of the Congress Party for the President of the Republic. How does anyone deal with a character like him? What happens to all the tainted cash seized by the police? By now it must run into thousands of crores. Is it accounted for as revenue from corrupt practices? We would like to know, but there is no one to tell us about them.

Peggy

Peggy Holroyde was the most unusual English woman that came into my life. She had a slightly masculine sexy voice, blonde, blue-eyed, bosmy, bouncy, open-air type, full of zest for life.

Most men who met her, fell for her. She came from a well-to-do family and did her schooling in Roedem, the girls equivalent of Eton and Harrow. She went on to Oxford and attended classes in Indian philosophy taught by Dr Radhakrishnan and became hooked to Hinduism.

She married Derek Holroyde of BBC who was posted to Delhi. She fell for everything that was Indian: people, places, rituals — for her if it was Indian it had to be good.

Despite a few unpleasant experiences like witnessing a stampede at the Kumbh Mela in which over 40 people lost their lives, she remained firm in her affection for India. She was, and is, an incorrigible Indi-phile.

After their tenure in India, the Holroydes returned to England, and Peggy made an abortive attempt to enter British politics as a Liberal; it came to a sticky end. On retirement the Holroydes migrated to Australia and settled down in a suburb of Perth.

Peggy even named her new home ‘Chidambram’. There is hardly a year when she did not spend a few days in India to see her friends and catch up with the latest developments.

Peggy’s great passion is classical Indian music. She wrote a book on the subject which was widely acclaimed by critics. Peggy lost her husband a few years ago. She is a grand-mother now — perhaps a great-grandmother. With her progeny spread around the globe. Every Christmas she sends out a long cyclostyled circular letter informing her friends how her extended family is doing.

Last month Peggy came out with yet another book on India, An ABC of Indian Culture: A personal padyatra of half-a-century into India (Mapin). It is a remarkable achievement: a one-volume encyclopedia of everything Indian starting with abheyam (fearlessness) to zimmi. It has religions, literature, music, dancing matrimonials, Indian-English and much else, written in a chatty anecdotal style. At the end she quotes Professor Hodgkin: “All beginnings are elusive, all endings are definite; the geometry caught in the minds’ net, does not have lines ending.” And typical of Peggy is the find blessing “Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.” Bhagwan’s blessings on Peggy Holroyde.

Fantastic changes!

How fantastic is the trick of fate!
It changes the connotation of Shrimati
Pratibha who is a Rajput’s Patni
Is set to become Rashtrapati !
Vajpayee is often flexible
Though Atal Bihari is his name
Sonia Gandhi was averse to politics
Now she excels in this very game!
Mayawati is now a formidable reality
Earlier, she was just an illusion
She will fail to win a clear majority
Her rivals were labouring under the delusion!

(Contributed by GC Bhandari, Meerut)