In a political career spanning over five decades, governor Ram Naik faced several interesting incidents that form a part of his memoir ‘Charaivati-Charaivati’ (Marching ahead, marching ahead) written in Marathi and now translated into Hindi, English, Urdu and Gujarati, which will be released by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on November 9.
In Lucknow, his memoir would be released on November 11 in the presence of Union home minister Rajnath Singh and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
In his labour of love, Naik has included interesting things he had to deal with right from rechristening Bombay to ‘Mumbai,’ use of edible colours in sweetmeats, preservation of INS Vikrant and even finding the Constitution of India written in Hindi on gold leaves!
“As an MP, I was required to handle a plethora of diverse matters. One of them was prohibiting sweetmeat makers from using edible colours in their products. Union health minister AR Antulay was among my acquaintances. The makers argued that it would be more reasonable to order them to use only permitted food colours of specified quality. However, if the ban was implemented in toto, there would only be white sweets. Imagine eating white jalebis and pedhas,” said Naik.
From sweetmeats to INS Vikrant, Naik quickly changes track and recalls how the INS Vikrant was declared a national monument but it had to be disposed off as a scrap due to the failure of Maharashtra and Central government in preserving the warship that helped India win the 1971 war against Pakistan.
Recalling another interesting anecdote, the governor said how his initiative led to Bombay being rechristened as ‘Mumbai.’ And a simple query about the Hindi manuscript of the Constitution of India in the Parliament Library literally led him to the ‘golden book.’
“While I was reading in the Parliament Library, I came across the original English edition of the Constitution. Curious, I asked to see the original Hindi edition of the Constitution. Quite an amusing tale unfolded from this simple query. The original Hindi edition was written down by Vasant Vaidya, a Maharashtra calligraphist. Gold plated pages were imported from Germany and a special kind of ink, used for writing this edition, was brought from a reputed firm in China. The writing instrument was a special pen, crafted by the famous Watkins Company, made in Washington State, USA. It had taken Vaidya a full year to complete the writing of the Constitution on the gold plated pages. The Hindi edition is decorated with sketches of Lord Shri Ram, Shri Krishna, Gautam Buddha, Rani of Jhansi and several personalities from our cultural and historic past.”
Changing tracks once again, Naik while referring to his tenure as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says, “One of the major assignments of the PAC is to investigate in case of any dubious transaction made by various government agencies after they are recorded by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). I created a record by submitting eight reports of PAC in one year. The most sensational of these reports was about the misuse of official aircraft belonging to railway ministry by the then railway minister CK Jaffer Sharief. The charges against the minister were proven that put the government in a bind.”