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The variety, zest and strength of India



By Hugh & colleen Gantzer

We are coming to the end of history’s greatest exercise of civic strength. Never before have so many people expressed their opinion about which of their leaders will guide them for the next five years. Our Indian Elections are an unmatched saga of good order and civic discipline of which every Indian should be proud and the whole world should wonder because of the many innovations that we have introduced to ensure that every Indian has the right to express his or her choice of lawmakers. But miracles such as this need careful planning and they are exhausting to execute. It is natural that our politicians who stand much to gain or lose at the end of this mammoth endeavour will become exhausted at the end of the long National Election journey. Extreme fatigue was probably the reason for the outburst made against an international achiever named “Sam” Pitroda. It can be argued that this famous man should have known better than to describe the magnificent variety of India’s ethnic youth in terms of the colours of their skin. It could be concluded that Indians are the most colour conscious people in the world. An enormously large number of our people advertise for brides who are “fair”. We have even created a new colour designation called “wheat” or, as a compromise “wheatish”. It is a fact also that our great subcontinent was colonised over the ages by various groups of people with a wide range of skin tones depending on the environmental conditions in which they had evolved. We still have the little negritoes in the Andamans and the proto Austrics in Maharashtra’s Dangs. We have seen one of their religious musical instruments which was exactly like the didgeridoo of the Australian aboriginal people.

In the course of our travel around India and the world we have also speculated on the pre-Aryan civilization of the Rann of Kutch, its connection with Haryana’s Rakhi Garhi and possible links with the original Garhwalis. Were these Dravidians descendants of James Churchward’s legendary lost continent of MU? Did the Aryans migrate from the North Pole in three batches of creatures who became Iranians, Our Aryans and the fish-eating Saraswati Brahmins? Did our Tibetans migrate across the Bering Strait and become the Red Indians of America? And did our North-eastern people assume their distinct identity because they originated from the areas of China swept by the cold and fine yellow dust of the loess which also gives the Yellow River of China its name? As an added protection against this wind-blown irritant, did they develop the epicanthal fold often referred to as slit-eyes?

We could go on but, in short, every racial difference is a direct result of the extraordinary ability of the human body to adapt to, and survive in, the varied environmental conditions of our planet. So, when Sam Pitroda pointed out the differences between one Indian and another, he was highlighting the extraordinary ability of our people to adapt.

Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, 81, was born to Gujarati parents in Odisha and completed his early education in Vallabh Vidyanagar, in Gujarat. In 1964 he became an MSc in physics and electronics from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara. Then he went to the USA and obtained a Master’s Degree in

Electrical Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. According to his website he has around 20 honorary PHDs, about 100 worldwide patents and has published 5 books, numerous papers and has lectured widely all over the world.

Clearly, his achievements caught Rajiv Gandhi’s eye. Gandhi was intent on hauling India into the modern telecommunication’s age.  Because, at that time, he had to book trunk calls which cost a lot and took a long time to mature. He and Sam Pitroda swept all outmoded equipment into the dustbin of history and launched our modern direct dialing system and the MTNL. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi has rightly been called “Father of Information Technology and Telecom Revolution of India”.

Rajiv and Sam came together to promote the common interest of India’s telecommunication’s efficiency. That makes them an unforgettable Rajiv Sam Syndicate which continues to empower our incredible Elections.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.) (The opinions and thoughts expressed here reflect only the authors’ views!).