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India - UK: Margaret Thatcher, Chandraswami and Natwar Singh

12 April 2013

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RATIONALIST INTERNATIONAL - Bulletin (12 April 2013)

by Sanal Edamaruku

A winning team: former Indian cabinet minister Natwar Singh and polit-tantrik Chandraswami

Natwar Singh is a gifted story teller. But he does not mind to use his talent for a dirty job. His pretentious tale of Margaret Thatcher’s alleged admiration for Chandraswami, that is hitting the media these days, is a brazen-faced attempt to bring the shady polit-tantrik, entangled in numerous high profile criminal cases, back into the match. It is appalling to see the former Indian cabinet minister and professed rationalist prostituting himself for such a service. But alas, if his story is true, it’s not the first time.

Back in summer 1975, Natwar Singh did not only misuse his narrative skills. He abused his position as Indian Deputy High Commissioner in London. Representing his secular democratic country and committed to its constitution that enshrines the development of scientific temper as civil duty, one would not have expected from him to pimp for India’s miracle mafia. But that was what he did - if his story is not completely made up that is. He is describing non-chalantly and tongue-in-cheek how he got the prodigal, power-hungry saffron conman access to influential members of the British government and assisted him in duping Thatcher with his “miracles”.

The story is deliberately presented like “something out of a weird novel”, and the author has carefully seen to it that there is no way of substantiating his claims. There is no living independent witness either. It is quite suspicious that the piece was only recently included in Natwar Singh’s forthcoming book, while the former Iron Lady was already suffering with Alzheimer’s to a degree that she did not get who David Cameroon was. The ‘news’ was broken the moment when she had finally seized to be there to deny it.

It is a well-known strategy of astrologers, faith healers and godmen to employ false witnesses to promote their business. Does Natwar Singh go to that level? Is Thatcher the victim of a perfidious master plan – recruited without her knowledge posthumously to bear witness to the tantrik’s claimed supernatural powers? One cannot exclude it. On the other hand it is also imaginable that Margaret Thatcher – trapped with the Deputy High Commissioner’s help - got impressed with Chandraswami. But either way: Natwar Singh’s story is deliberately and skillfully created to promote superstition. And that is one of the dirtiest games reckless politicians play. It is a crime, pressing millions of people in India back in the vicious circle of helplessness, fear and exploitation.

But he does not seem to be bothered. Though he plays hypocritically with the idea that there was something inappropriate about his promotion of a tantrik, he itches to present his role in glossy details. He even makes it point that he was personally a rationalist who “could not accept mumbo-jumbo” but “neither dismiss Chandraswami as a complete hoax”. What he finally tries to sell us as the most stunning miracle of Chandraswami that allegedly swept both the Iron Lady and the reluctant rationalist go-between from their feet is this: He read questions written on a paper without looking into it. Nice, but it is a simple trick that even amateur magicians can replicate. There are several methods for it. Since I was not there when Chandraswami allegedly performed it to win Margaret Thatcher’s heart, I can’t say what method he used; if at all the story is to be believed. If Natwar Singh, however, is confident about the magic powers of his protégée, I invite him to get Chandraswami do his magical feat in fraud-proof conditions.