Dear Mr. Munshi,
Thank you for your email.
You have written therein "it is unfortunate that you should feel dismayed at my comments". Let me tell you that I never mind people disagreeing with me, provided it is done in a courteous and gentlemanly manner. In a democracy two people often disagree, and a debate is healthy. But in your note you described me as a person with a "prowl for glory, and a place in history". Was that fair ? Should you not apologize for that remark ?
As regards my comment that 90% Indians are fools, I have already clarified what I meant in my letter to the two students who threatened legal action against me (my letter is on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.in entitled 'Reply to young students Tanaya and Aditya), which you may read. ( http://justicekatju.blogspot.in/2012/12/mreply-to-young-students-tanaya-and.html )
However, I may again state my reasons why I called 90% Indians fools.
(1) In India when most people go to vote in an election they do not see the merit of the candidate but his caste or religion. What else is the meaning of vote bank politics in India ? And that is why we often get such rotten representatives in our legislatures, many of them having a criminal background. Does this not show the backwardness of most of us ? And it is not just illiterates who are casteist. I was a lawyer in the Allahabad High Court for 20 years and I saw that in the High Court Bar Association elections most Brahmin voters would vote for Brahmin candidates (for the posts of President, Vice President, Secretary,etc), the Kayasthas for Kayastha candidates, the Yadavs for Yadav candidates,etc. When even the so-called 'elite' in our society behave like this am I not justified in my remark ?
(2) 90% Indians believe in astrology, which is pure superstition and humbug. Even a little commonsense can tell us that the movement of stars and planets does not affect our lives , but most people in India (including much of our so-called educated class) believe in it. Before finalizing a marriage most parents consult the 'kundali' of the proposed boy or girl, and the poor 'mangali' girl is often rejected.
When I went to take oath as Chief Justice of Madras High Court I was told not to take oath in 'rahukaalam ' i.e. the inauspicious time. Many Ministers, Judges, etc. consult astrologers to find out the 'auspicious' time to take oath. A very senior Tamilian lawyer practising in the Supreme Court told me that many of his clients tell him not to start reading their brief during 'rahukaalam' time. And his clients are all educated people, not illiterates.
(3) 'Honour' killing, that is killing of young people who have fallen in love and want to marry,by their relatives or caste or community members who disapprove of such marriage (because it is inter caste, inter religious, or for some other reason) is widespread in many parts of India, and so also are dowry deaths, casteism, communalism, etc.
(4) Some years back it was announced in India that Lord Ganesh is drinking milk, and there was a rush of huge crowds in many cities of people who wanted to offer milk to Ganesh idols. Similarly, a 'miracle' chapati was announced some years back. Many of such 'miracles' keep recurring in India from time to time, and most people believe in them.
(5) Ours is a 'baba-bound' society. Consider the large number of 'Godmen' we have, and the huge properties they have amassed taking advantage of peoples' credulity. The latest one claimed to have a third eye, and he became very popular on T.V. channels. He advised people to eat kheer, samosas, pakoras, and golgappas for solving their problems, and all this was lapped up by his large followers who donated huge amounts to him.
(6) When I was a Judge in Allahabad High Court it was announced that someone in Tamilnadu had discovered a way of converting water into petrol (by putting some leaves into it). Some of my colleagues said that now we will get cheap petrol. I told them that this was a fraud, since in science there is a principle that everything moves from a higher energy level to a lower energy level. Petrol is at a higher energy level, while water is at a lower energy level. Water is really burnt hydrogen, it is like ash. You can convert wood or coal into ash, but how can you convert ash into wood or coal ? And later the 'discovery' was found to be a fraud. My point is that when many High Court Judges are so unscientific you can imagine the intellectual level of the Indian masses
(7) Once when I was a Judge of the Allahabad High Court I was having dinner with some colleagues of mine. Some of them said that in ancient India we had atom bombs, guided missiles, aeroplanes, etc I told them they were talking nonsense. Everyone in the world knows that the first aircraft was invented by the Wright brothers in America in 1903, and that the first atom bomb was exploded in Los Alamos in U.S.A. in 1945. We make ourselves a laughing stock before the whole world by talking like this. One of my colleagues said that there is mention of pushpak vimaan in the Ramayana, (on which Lord Rama is said to have brought Sita from Lanka to Ayodhya) and this prove that there were aircraft in ancient India. I replied that it is true that there is mention of pushpak vimaan in the Ramayana, but what is the Ramayana ? It is an epic poem (mahakaavya). Poets have what is known as 'poetic licence', that is, they can exaggerate. So one should not take mention of pushpak vimaan literally. It is a poet's imagination.
I can give several other examples of the foolishness of the vast majority of us. But I want to make it clear that I made that statement not to harm, humiliate or demoralize Indians but to make them conscious of the present backwarness of most (not all) of us. I love my people, and so I do not want them to remain backward. I want to see India in the front ranks of the most highly industrialized countries in the world, and its people happy and prosperous.
There was a time in the past when we were leading the whole world in science and technology, as I have mentioned in my letter to the two young students (see my blog ), but today we are indeed largely backward compared to Western countries. There is massive poverty in India, and over 75 % of our people are surviving on 25 rupees a day in these days of skyrocketing prices. There is massive unemployment in India. 48% of our children are malnourished, which is a rate far higher than the sub Saharan countries like Somalia and Ethiopia, where the child nourishment rate is about 33%, and The Indian Prime Minister admitted in a speech that this is a matter of shame.
There have been 250,000 farmers suicides in india (47 per day which is still continuing) , which is a world record of farmers suicides. Healthcare for the masses in India is almost non existent (there are of course very good hospitals for the rich and powerful) because doctors and medicines are too expensive for them. Consequently most of them go to quacks having no proper medical qualification.
Education in India is in shambles. The Government no doubt gives a lot of money for I.I.Ts and some other institutions of higher learning, but hardly any money is given to primary schools (particularly in rural areas) where the foundation of knowledge is to be laid. And of course most of these I.I.T. products migrate to the West, which means we Indians pay for their education, but Western countries (not Indians) benefit from it
It is only when we get rid of our mental and social backwardness and spread science and the scientific temper to every nook and corner of our country that our people can progress and become truly prosperous. At present the prosperity in India is of only a tiny section of our people, while the rest are poor. The 'India Shining' slogan is a myth for our vast majority.
As regards my statement that India and Pakistan should reunite (and I should have said Bangladesh too) I have already given my view on my blog in the article 'India and Pakistan--The case for Reunification'