By Manuwant Choudhary
I did not know Sauvik Chakraverti...a pink paper editor/columnist...since I do not know too many editors or the newspaper owners...but a centre piece in support of the Swatantra Party...written in the Times of India caught my attention.
It was a very well written article on how India's socialist politicians have ganged up and banned a great party like the Swatantra only because the party refused to swear allegiance to a socialist constitution.
The author was Sauvik.
I cannot think of any Indian liberal who could have been more expressive...and no journalists for sure.
In India there are liberals and there are shopkeepers...and non like Margarette Thatcher who was both.
Sauvik was a great Indian liberal.
In fact, I got to know Sauvik in bits and pieces from then on..at conferences mostly....and through his blog Antidote.
We were both journalists but on another journey....and in Bombay we got to conduct a session together...
I loved it....since Sauvik did all the talking...he did not need a mike...he was loud all right and forceful..but if you did hear him out you would see the point he was making and always end up with a smile.
There were no Holy Cows in his vocab and he would even attack Mahatma Gandhi !
But once I spoke up for the old man and was quite surprised to see Sauvik hearing me out.
It was this that endeared him to his young fans....he would treat them at par...and let them argue over a point for hours.....countering it only with reason.
At Hyderabad I had an early morning flight to catch and I hear this knock at my door...and when I opened the door I found Sauvik...."I hope I am not disturbing you..May I come in..."
I said, "Yes, yes,...sure..."
He sat on one of the chairs wearing his silk gown....with a cigar...and his trademark sideburns...it was almost like having Winston Churchill there....
He then asked me, "Manu what flights have you taken to get to Hyderabad and return?"
I listed him the entire list....Spice, Jet Airways and even Air India....
He then tells me, "Manu don't ever fly Air India....we must fight the socialists at every level."
The blog gave us both that freedom to write for a lost cause.
I followed his intently...and what a journey.
Occasionally he would appreciate mine and even leave comments...like when I wrote on why Indians should not vote, he wrote, "Excellent post about the true condition of Bihar and its politics. Congratulations on your truthfulness and courage. DO NOT VOTE...this is the most powerful message yet...."
Sauvik was deeply influenced by Austrian economist Friedrich August von Hayek and French journalist Frederic Bastiat.
Its a happy coincidence that Sauvik became the recipient of the first Bastiat Prize for Journalism.
But more than that I will miss Sauvik for what he was...warts and all....in a bus returning from Gurgaon...the heat was getting to him..so he burst out..."They say Allah has an umbrella over Delhi !"
At another time he quietly asked me, "Manu what school did you go to?"
I replied, "North Point and St. Pauls', Darjeeling."
There was a smile on his lips, "I thought so...I went to Goethals. See we both went to Darj."
Sauvik was a Superintendant of Police when he went to the London School of Economics to study local government..he returned to India to quit the police service and become a journalist/writer.
In his book "The Essential Frederic Bastiat he writes, "One reason why Bastiat remains outside Economics classrrooms is that university professors do not accord much academic credit to the writings of a man they consider a mere journalist and pamphleteer. I, on the other hand, believe that the freedom we Indians aspire for today requires more and more such journalists and pamphleteers, who can write simply, teasing the intellect, and exposing the dangerous fallacies in the arguments of statists, socialists and protectionists. Every journalist should read this book. After all, the professors of freedom have won their battles it remains for journalists now to sell the idea of freedom amongst the people; to echo these simple ideas of natural liberty amongst our long suffering populace."