Born at Karachi (Sind) in 1927, I spent the first twenty years of my life under British Rule. Many may be surprised to know that I learnt to read and write Hindi only after 1947, when India became independent, and simultaneously suffered the trauma of partition.
Until that year, the only two languages I was familiar with were Sindhi, my mother tongue, and English, the medium in which I had had my education.
I had first read my Ramayana and Mahabharat in Sindhi, and later on the English versions written by Shri C. Rajagopalachari, and still later, the unabridged versions in English published by the Gita Press, Gorakhpur. After partition I first moved from Karachi to Rajasthan. It was here that I learnt to read and write Devanagri. Two authors whose Hindi books I read a lot while I was in my early twenties were Dr. K.M. Munshi (these were translations from Gujarati) and Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Mahatma Gandhi’s close associate.
Last week when I visited Bangalore to participate in a felicitation function of Dr. G. Venkatasubbaiah, a great literary giant, who had become a centenarian this year. This function was presided over by Shri Jagadish Shettar, Chief Minister of Karnataka. At this function I had occasion to recall an essay written by Vinoba Bhave with the caption “At what age does a person become old?”
Vinobaji began this essay with recalling that he had read the Quran in Marathi and English, but he was keen to read the original in Arabic. So he started learning Arabic. A visitor remarked: “Learning Arabic? And at this age?” Vinobaji responded: “What’s the problem with my age? I’m just sixty five!”
He went on to complete his essay whose theme was that a person should be deemed to have become old only when he comes to believe that he was at a stage of life where he could not learn anything new.
I remarked at the function “G.V., as he is fondly known to his numerous admirers, has not only scored a spectacular century, it is full of sixers and boundaries. He fully deserves the appellation of Shabda Brahma given to him. And judged by the touchstone given us by Acharya Vinoba, I would say that one who keeps writing books right up to his late ninetees must be regarded a life long young man. GV will never ever become old!”
Former Supreme Court judge Ruma Pal, while delivering the fifth V.M. Tarkunde Memorial lecture on ‘An Independent Judiciary’ in November 2011, highlighted the key idea that the independence of the judiciary and the judicial system were ultimately dependent on the personal integrity of the judge. She then went on to list the seven sins that were undermining the judiciary and threatening its independence.
The first sin is to brush things under the carpet, turning a ‘Nelsonian eye’ to the injudicious conduct of a colleague. Ironically, she said these (people) were fierce in using the independence of the judiciary as a sword to take action in contempt against critics while also using the same as a shield, to cover a multitude of sins, some venal and others not so venal.
The second sin is hypocrisy.
The third is secrecy. For example, the process by which a judge is appointed to the High Court or elevated to the Supreme Court is ‘one of the best kept secrets in the country’.
The fourth sin is plagiarism and prolixity.
Arrogance is the fifth sin. Judges often misconstrued independence as judicial and administrative indiscipline.
Intellectual dishonesty is the sixth sin.
The seventh and final sin is nepotism.
03 October, 2012