Open Letter to Sonia Gandhi


Hi All,

For this Sunday’s column, I did an open letter to Sonia Gandhi. As always, welcome your comments and suggestions, and encourage you to read others’ too. Columns have word limits, and thus, comments help in expanding and aiding the discussion. Besides, you never know who is reading!

If you prefer reading on the TOI website, the column link is here.

Chetan

——

Dear Soniaji,

I’ve never been much of a fan of open letters. After all, why make public something meant for one person. However, I don’t have your email ID; you don’t seem to be on Facebook (and certainly not on Twitter). Regular mail will never get past your sycophants and reach you. Hence, this seems to be the best option. Also, i don’t speak only for myself. It’s something a lot of young Indians currently feel. However, we don’t know the right channel to express this and get it addressed. The issue is simple: India must get rid of corruption. Whatever the solution, you will have a pivotal role in implementing it.

I don’t think you would have a personal interest in being corrupt. Money would hold little significance for you at this stage of life. Neither do you come across as someone who aspires to a lavish lifestyle. Yes, the compulsions of running a political party require vast amounts of funds. This brings in cronies and moral compromises, which have become part of any Indian politician’s life. In recent times, however, there have been too many of these compromises. Amounts have reached levels that cannot be computed on a digital calculator. Scam after scam (and these are only the unearthed ones) show how we have created a monster of a system that rewards the evil and threatens the dream of India becoming a “first world” country. Recently, your son spoke about how corruption prevents the benefits of globalization from reaching the common man. This is absolutely true. In fact, it not only cuts existing benefits, it cuts out future opportunities for the young. Corruption is worse than terrorism. Terrorists blow up existing infrastructure such as roads, airports and power plants. Corruption prevents such infrastructure from being made in the first place. Terrorists take innocent lives. Corrupt politicians prevent hospitals from being built, which means innocent lives that could be saved are not.

You say corruption is a disease. But that sounds a little defeatist. A disease is something inflicted upon us by nature. Corruption isn’t caused by little bugs falling from the sky. Corruption comes from unchecked power. Take the example of electric power, a wonderful invention that brings light and comfort to our homes. But, before this power reaches us, it is kept under control at various sub-stations to limit voltage and current. If electric power is unchecked, it can burn our homes. Political power is unrestrained in India. Like little kings, our MPs roam around with their sycophants, blocking traffic, openly defying quotas and doing anything and everything possible to exploit their power. If you want to fix this ‘disease’ —and you can do it – you need to pass a ‘political accountability Bill’ in Parliament. Also, an independent council against corruption needs to be set up. It should not be under the control of politicians and should have the power to prosecute politicians (almost all “first world” countries have this). Without these changes, no matter how many wonderful speeches are made, the disease will remain uncured.

Mechanisms to punish errant politicians are one aspect. It’s equally important to understand why so many politicians err in the first place, and the reforms required to prevent that. Some of your party’s ideas seem well intentioned – particularly the massive push to bring young people into politics. Your son has travelled across the country to spread this message. But, i want to ask -—what happens when a young man joins Youth Congress (or another party’s youth wing). To do well, he will need to spend most of his energies serving the party. Parties do not have a formal stipend or salary system, so how is the young man expected to survive except through petty corruption? This is how a fine young man is forced to take small steps towards becoming corrupt. In such a scenario, would you advise educated, intelligent young people to join politics? Instead, if a proper stipend system were put in place, strong performers would have a mechanism to rise and contest elections and you would have a whole new class of talent in the profession of politics. Unless these reforms happen, including youth in our politics will be nothing but one of the specialties of our politicians – empty talk.

Other nonsensical rules in Indian politics include the Rs 25 lakh limit on electoral campaigns. The actual average spend, my MP friends tell me, is around Rs 6 crore per constituency. Where does this unaccounted money come from? Obviously, one stands little chance if one is not corrupt. Can we not remove these impractical and outdated limits? Why not define legitimate fundraising methods? If we do that, many good people would enter politics and change the face of this nation. As a nation we have enormous expertise in covering our backs and not rocking the boat. Right from school, Indians are taught to shut up and not question anything. Thus, even though some of the above things are obvious, nobody important will sit up and say ‘We need to change things’. It isn’t easy to change things but it needs to be done. And you, of all people, have the best chance of taking this archaic bull by the horns and showing it the right direction. The question hundreds of millions of young people are asking is: Are you up for it?

Respectfully,

Young India

——-


155 Comments

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  1. Nupur Mehta says:

    chetan bhagat looks quite oversmart.He should do something in reality rather than just showing his writing skills to the world and gain name,fame and money.

  2. Nupur Mehta says:

    chetan bhagat looks quite oversmart.He should do something in reality rather than just showing his writing skills..

    • Nitesh belwal says:

      Nupur by viewing your commnts i am totally astonished & surprised, it’s seems that u had forgotten the power of pen which is sharper than sword, at one hand chetan bhagat motivational thought’s tries to evoke people to take ahead some serious step regarding this whooping monster of corruption, & on the other hand u r criticising him , i am sorry to say it, but u are really stinck…………..!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ae Pagal Chup kar. Dumb dumb dumbo

  3. Nupur Mehta says:

    chetan bhagat has written this in a very diplomatic way..chetan bhagat you have gained the name of a good writer.The way films r made on what you write there is no doubt now u r trying to make out your way into politics through such diplomatic open letters.If you reallly feel bad for your country spend some of the money you earned on your country rather than just writing high sounding words..

    • isac daniel says:

      instead of arguing for wat chetan stated,think whthr u can add anythn productiv to his views..i dnt fl tat he said anythn wrong..politics has becom a filthy professn n politicians d money launderin factories..first u undstnd wat others views r..u sayin its diplomatic..my dear,do u actually knw d meaning of bein “diplomatic”..???

    • Anonymous says:

      Ae Pagal Chup kar. Dumb dumb dumbo

  4. Nupur Mehta says:

    chetan bhagat has written this in a very diplomatic way..chetan bhagat you have gained the name of a good writer.The way films r made on what you write there is no doubt now u r trying to make out your way into politics through such diplomatic open letters.If you reallly feel bad for your country spend some of the money you earned on your country rather than just writing high sounding words.Its easy to write but hard to do something for ones country..The entire gandhi family is hopeless and sonia gandhi should be thrown out from INDIA.But Mr bhagat you also dont act oversmart..everyone knows you r very brilliant and smart..dont do show offs please,..

  5. Nupur Mehta says:

    chetan bhagat has written this in a very diplomatic way..chetan bhagat you have gained the name of a good writer.The way films r made on what you write there is no doubt now u r trying to make out your way into politics through such diplomatic open letters.If you reallly feel bad for your country spend some of the money you earned on your country rather than just writing high sounding words.Its easy to write but hard to do something for ones country..The entire gandhi family is hopeless and sonia gandhi should be thrown out from INDIA.But Mr bhagat you also dont act oversmart..everyone knows you r very brilliant and smart.please stop boring

  6. Nupur Mehta says:

    chetan bhagat has written this in a very diplomatic way..If you reallly feel bad for your country spend some of the money you earned on your country rather than just writing high sounding words.Its easy to write but hard to do something for ones country..The entire gandhi family is hopeless and sonia gandhi should be thrown out from INDIA.But Mr bhagat you also dont act oversmart..everyone knows you r very brilliant and smart.please stop boring

  7. Shrey says:

    I agree with you, on your view to bring our intellectual youth into Indian Politics. But what Rahul Gandhi has been doing is far from bringing youth ideology into politics. He is just busy collecting votes from poor in rural areas by wooing them by having a lunch with them.
    But coming back to the main topic, Congress’ stand on removing Corruption is questionable looking at their resistance against the Lokpal Bill and disclosing Minister’s names having Black Money in Foreign Banks. Moreover, requesting Sonia Gandhi to take initiative against Corruption is like expecting the Sun to rise from West, as even she is alleged to have stashed Black Money abroad.

  8. Anubhav Chopra says:

    @ nupur mehta……..
    Its not Chetan Bhagats money that could bring about a change in the current senario………… itz his ideology…… And yes he is smart enough to understand that…..
    But anyways everyone has their own veiw…

  9. christina cherian says:

    chetan,i appreciate your spirit to reform india. .i can’t agree with the last statement.school chidren are forced 2 shut their mouth.by taking advantage of that they may question everythng.ofcourse,they shud question the wrong things.but when they question elders,they have to follow moderate decency..as you have a massive young fans,kindly give them positive directions. .

  10. sidharth taneja says:

    @nupur……
    read the blog “why i am still here” and u will come to know that he is doing well at his level to change the india. And tell whats wrong in this letter to greedy sonia gandhi. Rahul gandhi is just here to show the stunts to collects the votes. If they really like young youth then why there is no young candidate in congress accept rahul n menka???
    miss nupur, think before speak.

  11. ravi bele says:

    Nupur Mehta is a Congreesi Girl. It seems that she loves Sonia Gandhi.

  12. Sanjeet says:

    Chetan,
    Your intentions are good and inline with most of the youth. You are in a position where you can be heard and I must congratulate you for your efforts.
    This, however, is just a beginning. We need to bring positive thinkers together and ask them to contribute to the cause. We need people who can come up and politely raise an issue. Being polite is very important as it separates logical from the irrational.
    My humble to request to everyone who is commenting on this post is to strengthen the cause and not dilute it with anything else. Take the idea from the post and add suggestions that would make this a fruitful effort.
    I personally feel that a lot can be done when positive minds and politicians willing to change the system come together!

  13. ankit rewari says:

    hi chetan i agree with you but what about how to inspire youth to join politics. you should lead voice of youth as you are youth icon, forcing govt to make amendment in rules so that educated intelligent youth could join politics.but it is not easy to convence youth as they had a bad image of politics and ministers in their mind.but the youth should understand that the salary & respect they are offered in politics they can never get it in their life.there should be an entrance exam to join politics.as it will avoid pariwarwad in politics.

  14. kamal sharma says:

    i feel proud to have efficient young people like chetan bhagat in my country.
    Every revolution springs from a thought. Please keep it up.

  15. Rumade Akash says:

    An excellent letter to the Silent lady Hitler of India…..but will she change or the party change as your demands…lets hope they will for the better future of our Country or else they might fall into an terrible abyss created by themselves….Let 2012 begin with fulfillment of the promises mentioned in your letter. Best Wishes-A.V.R

  16. Ashish says:

    Nupur Mehta,

    After seeing your comments, please do tell your real identity. Are you from Congress’ media wing ?

    Pity we still have differences on this issue. Don’t use much brain, just say

    STOP CORRUPTION !

    Not anymore.

  17. parth narang says:

    can anybody tell me wat is chetan bhagat’s email id

  18. Veronica says:

    Chetan,

    What i feel is that this letter is very diplomatic. Too much diplomacy in presenting your views. at one hand you are writing this letter to show that “yes i can dare to point a finger at you” while on the other hand you cant simply call a corrupt person “Corrupt”

    Read this letter

    http://www.telugudesam.org/tdpcms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17875%3AA+daring+letter+by++an+IITian++to+Rahul+Gandhi&Itemid=18

    you will get to know what a real letter looks like

    • Antony says:

      Well put lady, What a banana republic our great democracy has become, or in fact as George Orwell rightly mused, aren’t all democracies Animal Farm’s ?

  19. Ravi says:

    @Nupur Mehta, dhed dimak

  20. deshpande sanjeev says:

    Sonia gandhi has looted more than british she is the third most richest politician of this slave land

  21. aditya says:

    chetan bhagat is a writer ? lol

  22. Anil says:

    I agree with you Chetan. However all this is not as easy. We need to have a leader & a core team who intends to drive change. If we have the intention rest is a cake walk.

    We have dearth of good competent leaders in the Goverment. Our leaders are corrupt and are busy fire fighting rather than being pro active.

    Great competent leaders walk the talk and the message goes down to all levels below.

    We should immediately have electoral reforms so that good competent people are able to be part of driving this country to its past glory.

    Am sure we have many selfless, patriotic, and competent people in our country to take over the reins…

    Am optimistic about the future of India and believe there will be a change and we the youth will drive it.

  23. Bharat says:

    From top to bottom everything is crap here. No difference of anything. This is the country of jokers. You can be anything here. Do you understand, at least, what you do?? Shameless.

    Sonia Gandhi: The visionary leader
    Amir Khan: The social activist
    Chetan Bhagat: The writter.

    God save the nation. And the open letter written here can be better composed by a school going lad..lol..

  24. avishek says:

    well, Chetan’s intensions seems to be noble. however, i guess he has been too gentle to Sonia Gandhi, and as already evident from other comments, its no use talking about the ills of corruption to a family who are themselves corrupted. I guess most of us are aware of the legacy of corruption the Gandhi family members are known for…so even if the objective of the letter is noble, it will fall into deaf ears

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  28. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Edvige Antonia Albina Maino was born December 09, 1946 to Stefano and Paola Maino in Lusiana, a little village 30 km from Vicenza in the region of Veneto, Italy. Edvige Antonia Albina Maino spent her adolescence in Orbassano, a town near Turin, attending a Catholic school. In 1964, Edvige Antonia Albina Maino went to study English at the Bell Educational Trust’s language school in the city of Cambridge. She met Rajiv Gandhi, who was enrolled in Trinity College at the University of Cambridge in 1965 at a Greek restaurant while working there, as a waitress to make ends meet. In all three years of Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure at Trinity College had not passed a single examination. Edvige Antonia Albina Maino and Rajiv Gandhi married in 1968.Rajiv Gandhi changed his so called Parsi religion to become a Catholic to marry Edvige Antonia Albina Maino. Rajiv became Roberto. His daughter’s name is Bianca and son’s name is Raul. Quite cleverly the same names are presented to the people of India as Priyanka and Rahul. What is amazing is the extent of Indians’ ignorance in such matters. The press conference that Rajiv Gandhi gave in London after taking over as prime minister of India was very informative. In this press conference, Rajiv Gandhi boasted that he was NOT a Hindu but a Parsi.

    Edvige Antonia Albina Maino was given the name ‘Sonia’ by her late mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi. But there is no notification in the gazette regarding this change in name. This change of name runs in Nehru family is to fool the Indian public for their votes. Indira Gandhi’s real name was Indira Priyadarshini. In 1935, Indira joined Shantiniketan,a school set up by Rabindranath Tagore. When Indira was found in the bed with her German teacher at Shantiniketan she was chased out of the Shantiniketan Rabindranath. Subsequently, she went to England and sat for the University of Oxford entrance examination, but she failed, and spent a few months at Badminton School in Bristol, before passing the exam in 1937 and enrolling at Somerville College, Oxford where she never finished her degree. Khushwant Singh, who has personally known Indira Gandhi, has said that she felt uncomfortable around educated people because she had no real education. During her stay in the UK, she frequently met Feroze Khan, whom she knew from Allahabad, and who was studying at the London School of Economics. Before Indira’s marriage, the then Governor of Maharashtra Dr Shriprakash had warned Nehru in a meeting and through a letter, that Indira was having an illicit relationship with Feroze Khan. Feroze Khan was quite sympathetic to Indira and Indira married Feroze Khan in a London mosque as per Islamic rites Feroz Khan after converting herself to Islam. Indira’s muslim name was Maimuna Begum and later both had changed their name to fool the public of India by an affidavit in a court to Indira Gandhi and Feroz Gandhi.

    After Rajiv’s birth Indira and Feroze lived separately, but they were not divorced. Feroze used to interfere in Nehru’s political activities. Nehru got fed up and left instructions not to allow him into the Prime Minister’s residence Trimurthi Bhavan. The death of Feroze in 1960 before he could consolidate his own political forces came as a relief to Nehru and Indira. Feroze had even planned to remarry. The second son of Indira known as Sanjay Gandhi was not the son of Feroze Khan. Sanjay’s real father was Mohammad Yunus who served as India’s ambassador to Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq and Spain. Mohammad Yunus represented India at the Non-Aligned Summits at Lusaka, Algiers, Colombo, New Delhi, and Harare. Baby Sanjay had been circumcised following Islamic custom, although the reason stated was phimosis. Incidentally, Sanjay’s marriage with the Sikh girl Menaka took place quite surprisingly through a civil ceremony(on 23 September 1974)in Mohammad Yunus’ house in New Delhi. And the marriage with Menaka who was a model (she had modelled for Bombay Dyeing wearing just a towel) was not so ordinary either. Sanjay never attended college, but took up an apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce in Crewe, England. Sanjay Gandhi’s name was actually Sanjeev Gandhi. He was arrested for a car theft in England. Since his passport had been seized, the then Indian Ambassador to England Krishna Menon changed his name to ‘Sanjay’and procured a new passport for him. Mohammad Yunus who cried the most when Sanjay died in the plane accident.

    At the end of Rajiv Gandhi’s five years in office, the Bofors Scandal broke out. Ottavio Quattrocchi an Italian business man believed to be involved was a friend of Sonia Gandhi, having access to the Prime Minister’s official residence.

    In 1980 Sonia’s name appeared in the voter’s list for New Delhi prior to her becoming an Indian Citizen. At the time she was still holding Italian Citizenship. A violation of Form 4 of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, which states that “Only the names of those who are citizens of India should be entered on the electoral rolls.” When she did acquire Indian Citizenship, in April 1983, the same issue cropped up again, as her name appeared on the 1983 voter’s list when the deadline for registering had been in January 1983.

    Swiss magazine Schweitzer Illustrierte in 1991 claimed that Sonia was controlling accounts worth $2 billion US dollars in her son Raul’s name.

    Harvard scholar Yevgenia Albats cited KGB correspondence about payments to Rajiv Gandhi and his family, which had been arranged by Viktor Chebrikov, which shows that KGB chief Viktor Chebrikov sought in writing an “authorization to make payments in U.S. dollars to the family members of Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi” from the CPSU in December 1985.

    Payments were authorized by a resolution, CPSU/CC/No 11228/3 dated 20 December 1985; and endorsed by the USSR Council of Ministers in Directive No 2633/Rs dated 20 December 1985. These payments had been coming since 1971, as payments received by Sonia Gandhi’s family and “have been audited in CPSU/CC resolution No 11187/22 OP dated 10/12/1984.

    In 1992 the media confronted the Russian government with the Albats disclosure. The Russian government confirmed the veracity of the disclosure and defended it as necessary for “Soviet ideological interest.”

    In 2008 Sonia’s party appointed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Manmohan Singh was the only international leader to initially refuse data provided by the German authorities during 2008 Liechtenstein tax affair.

    Indira didn’t have any knowledge about constitution and constitutional procedures.Indira furthered creation of democratic dictatorship, first kicked off by her father Nehru. Indira never trusted anyone but her family only and so made Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi heroes without any deed during her lifetime. Her leadership plunged India into depths of darkness. India needs enlightened leaders. But it has been getting stupid leaders because the population at large is not “enlightened.”

    For India to get decent leadership, Indians have to change. Indians have to demonstrate that they can take the long view, that they are not willing to vote criminals into office.

    Indians have granted “their obedience by their own consent” to dictators for a long while. The most recent in living memory is Indira Gandhi. Before that it was to their British overlords. Before that to the Islamic invaders.

  29. Rajiv Ranjan says:

    Dear Chetan Jee,

    I can understand your position of choosing the milder words across your letter. This is shear irony on hour part to write a letter on curbing corruption to Sonia Gandhi, who detrimentally do not appear to any public forum to answer any question raised by the people be it common or celebrity. Simple reason I can understand is that she is afraid of answering the big question, might she might not know what to answer, might be she do not have any vision, only mission is vote bank so that she may remain in power, who so ever is the PM.

    The oldest political party of our beloved nation has been belittled by the dynastic rule of Gandhi family and being headed by people of shallow character, who do not consider herself answerable to the people of nation, keep seating inside the safe circle of CWC, never orate any interview, not at all accessible to anybody in total contrast to what a leader of people should be.

    To question such a person is immaterial and that’s the biggest curse to our nation.

    Regards,

  30. Balakrishna says:

    Hi All,

    What happen at the end, have we all received any response by any means from the concern. No, right.. I hope its all waste of time and energy.. Even, if you check regular news we are all coming across Robert Vadra (Son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi), all the news is wrong or by-mistake news channels are discussing everyday for making news. I believe somewhere it is true that’s the reason they won’t reply by any means.

  31. Piyush says:

    i think Chetan sir is absolutely correct… according to constitution we have the right to speech. Since we have elected our country representatives, its our duty to check whether they are doing their duty properly or not. And yes, we can suggest some solutions to these corrupt and idiot politicians.

  32. Chiranjiv Mehta says:

    Brother, you better write one book on Gandhi sorry Nehru Family. Describe the weakness of the congress.

    & Most important Chetan Bhai come forward to support MODI Ji.

    Thank you

  33. Abhishek Das says:

    Chetan Bhagat is a great writer and those people says against him dont have the power to distinguish between wrong and write.

  34. darisa sumanth says:

    hey..did u got any reply for this letter .i mean from officials who u mentioned in this one

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