"Good evening sir, my name is Shourie"
"Sir, you and I have lot of similarities.We share the same name. You are a writer, I also like writing and write articles".
"You are a journalist, I am also a journalist. You worked for Times of India, I also work for Times of India. I write for them as my school correspondent"
"So sir, my question to you is - Being a journalist and writer, why did you decide to come into politics?"
The above question was posed to Arun Shourie, last evening at Hyderabad, by a ~10yr school going kid!! It was really surprising to see such nice articulation coming from such a young boy, and Arun Shourie was genuinely happy too :). He praised the boy for his articulation, and quipped " I am sure you will become a much better journalist if you write for Indian Express than Times of India" (entire audience burst into laughter here!).
Arun Shourie then told us that he got a call from the then BJP President Kushabao Thakre and was told that Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi thought that it would be a good idea to send him to Rajya Sabha - so would he be interested. Arun Shourie quipped, since I was unemployed as I was for a long part of life, I said ok :). Immediately, the moderator asked "Has there been an exit?".
Arun Shourie stammered a bit, said pretty much yeah. Like he has been saying for the past few days, after Atalji's exit, there has not been much to look forward to. He told the audience that some leader in BJP said "They were Atalji's imports. They went with him. For them, it might have been a witty remark but to us, it is a badge of honour". And therein lies our tragedy I feel.
The tremendous decline in the levels of policy and public discourse during the past couple of years is testimony enough to the huge loss we have encountered because of these "imports" leaving.It is our misfortune that we had to lose people like Arun Shourie who always bought in the much needed sanity, dignity and content into our discourses and debates. Just one example - take a look at how neatly he decimates Raja's and Manmohan Singh's defense of the 2G scam. He has done this before - on this same topic - but our TV media will forget it and ask him the same banal questions again and again!
Last evening, he was signing his latest book "Does He know a mother's heart?" in Hyderabad. To me, it is plain impossible to even imagine how a person who has endured (and is enduring) so many crises in life can achieve so much and inspire millions across the country. One lady even asked him to tell us about how he felt when he first knew and all along. He said they were ofcourse shocked but there was so many needs of the child to attend to, we accepted it very quickly. I am yet to read the book, but from what I have read and from what I have heard last evening, the book does not just talk about the suffering of just Arun Shourie's wife and their child, but digs into what explanations do the scriptures and saints give for suffering.
In his speech, Arun Shourie gave us multiple examples of different faiths and persons (like the most revered, Mahatma Gandhi).that give very insufficient explanations to suffering. You will be amazed at the kind of research he has done, reading all those scriptures, questioning many things, explaining why he questions so - like I said, it is impossible to imagine how and when he finds the time to enlighten people like me with tremendous knowledge (not just last evening, his other books on "Eminent Historians", Ambedkar, Reservations, Governance etc - all loaded with vast information and little rhetoric).
One more good thing about last evening was that there was no media - so no banal questions! Audience asked good questions and Arun Shourie answered them well too (as expected!).
I had a chance to talk to him for a few seconds, when he was signing the book. Told him that I bring with me wishes of a lot of people from the online community who hope that, amidst all that you have gone through, he will find solace in the fact that his works have inspired millions of people. He smiled :). Also told him, we miss an informed discourse and hope that we will come back to good old times. He again smiled :).
If this post sounded to you like a fanboy writing, then it is bang on target! I have no inhibitions to accept that fact. I consider it my good fortune that I have been able to watch him from close, speak to him for a few seconds and that I now proudly own a signed book of his! If his life does not inspire, then whose life will?