I have been considering who have been the ministers in the last 42 years who have really contributed to the country, I mean, apart from making money, given back something to the country. I can think of only a handful.
Jawaharlal Nehru, of course, all the great dams, the hydel projects, have been started by him. He though big and practical, and as he always used to say: these were the temples of tomorrow. Compare him with the present ministers who are fighting over Ram Janmabhoomi.
It was also Nehru who set the precedents of democracy, its institutions, its customs. Without him India would not have lasted these 42 years, at least not in the present format.
Next, Lal Bahadur Shastri: he also set principles, the principle of owning responsibility and resigning (over a train accident, when Arit Mohammad Khan has failed to do so over and air-crash which has led to the grounding of 50 per cent of the Indian Airlines fleet).
There are other matters in which Lal Bahadur Shastri has contributed to the country: the war in which he quietly and subdued Pakistan, minus all the drumbeating that the present prime minister is indulging in, every day a bigger drum. And the lessons in humility and prime ministerial behaviour that he left for succeeding generations to follow and which they failed to do, except, perhaps, for Mr. V.P. Singh.
Who else? I would say Mr. Vasant Sathe. It is only because of him, his energy, his drive, that India today has colour television. And he did it so fast, in a matter if months. (How many years has Mr. Sam Pirtoda spent doing whatever he was supposed to do?) Without Mr. Sathe, I think, we would have still been in the black-and-white age.
Then there is Mr. Vasantrao Naik, who was the chief minister of Maharastra for a decade. He undid all the damage that Mr. Morarji Desai had done to the state and the city, including prohibition, and by his own long tenure he ensured a certain amount of stability in the state.
I do not know who is responsible for the development of Nariman Point, Mr. Naik or Mr. Antulay or Mr. Pawar. Whoever it is has also contributed to the development of Bombay, it has changed the skyline of the city, put it at least 30 years ahead of other cities in the country. This is development, whatever environments my say.
And who else? I cannot think of a single other minister in the last 42 years who has contributed to the progress of the country in any specific way. They have all come, warmed their seats, and gone.