Monday 9 April 2012

The 90%

The 90%
By Justice Markandey Katju

            Someone told me “Justice Katju, you say you wish to keep away from controversies, but why it that controversies keep chasing you ?”
            I replied that while it is true that I wish to be uncontroversial, but at the same time I have a great defect, and that is this: I cannot remain silent when I am seeing my country going downhill. Even if others are deaf and dumb I am not. So I will speak out. As Faiz said:

“Bol ki lab azad hain tere
     Bol zubaan ab tak teri hai”  

In our Shastras it is written:

                               “Satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat satyam apriyam”

Which means “Speak the truth, speak the pleasant, but do not speak the unpleasant truth”

            I wish to rectify this. The country’s situation today requires that we should say “Bruyat satyam apriyam” i.e. “Speak the unpleasant truth”.

               When I said that 90% Indians are fools I said an unpleasant truth. The truth is that the minds of 90% Indians are full of casteism, communalism, and superstitions. Consider the following:
1.         When our people go to vote in elections, 90% vote on the basis of caste or community, not the merits of the candidate. That is why Phulan Devi, a known dacoit-cum-murderer was elected to Parliament merely because she belonged to a backward caste which had a large number of voters in that constituency. Vote banks in India are on caste and community basis, which are manipulated by some unscrupulous politicians and others.
2.         90% Indians believe in astrology, which is pure superstition and humbug. Even a little commonsense tells us that the movements of stars and planets has nothing to do with our lives. Yet T.V. channels showing astrology have high T.R.P. ratings.
3.         Cricket has been made into a religion by our corporatized media, and most people lap it up like opium. The real problems facing 80% people are socio-economic ---- poverty, massive unemployment, malnourishment, price rise, health care, education, housing etc. But the media sidelines or minimizes these real issues, and gives the impression that the real issues are lives of film stars, fashion, cricket, etc. When Rahul Dravid retired the media depicted it as a great misfortune for the country, whereas when Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th century it was depicted as a great achievement for India. Day after day the media kept harping on this, whereas the issues of a quarter million farmers suicides, and 47% Indian children being malnourished, was sidelined.
4.         I had criticized the media hype of Dev Anand’s death at a time when 47 farmers in India were committing suicide on an average every day for the last 15 years. A section of the media attacked me for doing so, but I reiterate that I see no justification for the high publicity given by the media to this event for several days. In my opinion, Dev Anand’s films transported the minds of poor people to a world of make believe, e.g. a hill station where Dev Anand was romancing some girl. This gave temporary relief for a couple of hours to the viewers from their lives of drudgery. Such films, to my mind, serve no social purpose, but act instead like a drug or alcohol to send the viewer temporarily from his miserable existence to a beautiful world of tinsel.
5.         In the recent Anna Hazare agitation in Delhi the media hyped the event as a solution to the problem of corruption. In reality it was, as Shakespeare said in Macbeth:
            “A tale, told by an idiot
            Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”    
At that time if anyone had raised some logical questions he would have been denounced as a ‘gaddaar’ or ‘deshdrohi’. The people who collected at Jantar Mantar or the Ramlila ground displayed the mob mentality, which has been accurately described by Shakespeare in ‘Julius Caesar’.
            After Caesar’s murder Mark Antony stirred up the Roman mob, which went around seeking revenge from the conspirators. One of the conspirators was named Cinna. The mob caught hold of another man, also named Cinna, who protested that he was Cinna the poet and not Cinna the conspirator. Despite his protest the mob said “Hang him for his bad verses” and lynched him.   
The Janlokpal Bill, 2011 (whose full text is available online) defines an act of corruption as an act punishable under Chapter IX of the Indian Penal Code or under the Prevention of Corruption Act vide section 2(e). Section 6(a) of the Bill says that the Lokpal will exercise superintendence over investigation of acts of corruption, and section 6(c) empowers the Lokpal to punish for acts of corruption after giving a hearing. Section 6(e) authorizes the Lokpal to initiate prosecution and section 6(f) authorizes him to ensure proper prosecution. Section 6(i)(j) authorize him to receive complaints.
Section 2 (c)  of the Prevention of Corruption Act define a public servant very widely. It includes not only government servants but also a host of other categories  e.g. an employee of a local body, Government Corporation, judge, certain office bearers of some co-operative societies, officials of Service Commission or Boards, Vice Chancellors and teachers in the University, etc.
As pointed out by me in my article” Recreating Frankenstein’s Monster” published in “Indian Express” on 31.3.2012 there are about 55 lac, (5.5 million) government employees in India (13 lac in Railways alone), and there would be several lac persons of other categories coming within the definition of public servant in the P.C Act. Obviously one person cannot supervise and decide the lacs of complaints against them which would pour in. Hence thousands of Lokpals, maybe 50,000 or more, will have to be appointed to deal with them. They will have to be given salaries, housing, offices, staff, etc. And considering the low level of morality prevailing in India, we can be fairly certain that most of them will become blackmailers. It will be creating a parallel bureaucracy, which at one stroke will double the corruption in the country. And who will guard these Praetorian guards? A body of Super Lokpals ?
All this was not rationally analyzed and instead the hysterical mob that gathered in Jantar Mantar or Ramlila ground in Delhi thought that corruption will be ended by shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Inquilab Zindabad”.
            It is time that Indians woke up to all this. When I call 90% of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished, I want the standard of living of the 80% poor Indians to rise so that they get decent lives.
            But this is possible when their mindset changes, when their minds are rid of casteism, communalism, and superstitions, and instead they become scientific and modern.
            By being modern I do not mean wearing a nice suit or beautiful sari or skirt. Being modern means having a modern mind, which means a rational mind, a logical mind a questioning mind, a scientific mind.  At one time India was leading the whole world in science and technology (see my article ‘Sanskrit as a language of Science’ on the website That was because our scientific ancestors like Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Sushrut, Charak, etc questioned everything. However, we subsequently took to the unscientific path of superstitions and empty rituals, which has led us to disaster. Today we are far behind the West in Science and Technology.
            The worst thing in life is poverty, and 80% of our people are poor. To abolish poverty we need to spread the scientific outlook to every nook and corner of our country. It is only then that India will shine. And until that happens the vast masses of our people will continue to be taken for a ride.                 


  1. Sir, One day I will surely reach that level, when you will feel that now you can answer my question about "Appropriate and workable Scientific Approach to Convert India in to a True Developed Nation", learning a lot from you and your write-ups, thank you.

  2. I personally had similar thoughts several times and I agree very much with your article.

    1. Once the corrupt registrar of my university asked me to keep mum quoting "satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, apriyam satyam ma bruyat". I knew exact where was the genesis of this phrase in sanskrit. The cunning Brahminical conspiracy to fool & rule people.

  3. Sir, I am strongly agreed with you on all the aspects. One thing I had slightly different opinion is the definition of "fool".
    In India, we have vast majority of illiterate people with little knowledge. On the other side literate and knowledgeable people (On Paper). I think a fool is one, who is literate and still denying the knowledge. (Application of knowledge). An Educated Fool.

    On Lokpal, I feel that It would be the sister of “Anti dowry Law”.

    Thank you.

  4. i completely agree with your views tat 90% indians are fools as superstitious par with impractical rituals , worst is cricket. but i am not agree with your comment on jan lokpal agitation- as i you seen the condition of commons u'll come to know how he/she suffering from the drudgery of bribery in every sections . how will you curb corruption ??? your views

  5. sir if not lokpal then what should be the way to curb corruption.. as u say that there are so many provision in existing system.. then why they are not working...

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  8. Mr Katju, I highly respect you as a supreme court judge and an excellent human being. I suppose your criticism of the intellectual standard of the Indian masses comes from the frustration felt at the sorry state of affairs in our motherland, which was once considered the fountainhead of knowledge, religious thinking and refined philosophy. But supertitious masses and unscientific thought are not unique to India. Even in the US, a highly developed nation, astrologers, psychics are quite popular and Linda Goodman's Zodiac signs is a best seller. The lamentable level of general knowledge of the masses in US has always been a butt of popular internet jokes. Whether a candidate believes in "darwinian evolution" or "intelligent design" is still a poll issue in USA. The people in almost all the countries of the world are crazy for one kind of sports or the other. But, the culture of peaceful co-existence, a desire not to inconvenience your fellow beings and a basic honesty in your dealings is what distinguishes a developed society. These societies have largely kept their public institutions transparent and free from nepotism and undue favoritism emphasizing merit. Thus, what unfortunately is weighing us down are our deplorable standards of morality and contempt of the law. I would much rather have 90% of the masses as God-fearing superstious "fools" who would be afraid to lie, steal or harm their fellow human beings. The general lack of scientific temper can always be compensated by a few "Galileo"s" ready to challenge authority, however, the loss of morality in public cannot be replenished.

  9. Respected Mr. Katju, in today's IE editorial I read your corollary of 90% Fool. I adore your statements and your sense of restraints in writings and your recent briefings including on Mamata.
    I feel happy reading your article mainly because while you comment you strictly keep debunking various myths created across India by various lobbies and pressure groups. I am greatful that you highlighted the right flaws, if Lokpal is spread in each states and in each districts .So, need of the hour is social movement.

    Before I conclude, I would like to point out one critical point missed out in your article -It is FOOD RACISM.
    Non-vegetarians living and mingling with vegetarians in a state called the laboratory of Hindusim, whether one is a Muslim or a Hindu,or Parsi, are socially harassed or vegetarian neighbours would discreetly boycott those families. Being a Hindu, and a Brahmin as I am, I too am facing and watching this discrimination for over 2 decades My kid who had faced various food related prejudiced comments from his class mates and that has made him psychologically upset many times. NEED OF THE HOUR is to create a healthy attitude towards foods if India is to remain an integrated cultural cosmos. Unless people can sit together and each each one's food of liking, there will always be fear and mistrust, for flimsy reasons.

  10. "By being modern I do not mean wearing a nice suit or beautiful sari or skirt. Being modern means having a modern mind, which means a rational mind, a logical mind a questioning mind, a scientific mind."
    absolutely right sir.

  11. Sir,
    you are very much against corruption. but what is the way out to bring out the change, everyone is fed up with successive governments who only fill their pockets and do not bother about the common man.
    which field is there in India, that does not have corrupt people. right from the birth of the child, the parents mind become corrupt...... schooling,education, best school, etc. by the time they complete their graduation, engineering, medicine, the fee and donations paid are so exorbitant, the way to reecvoer is only corruption. i mean set up high level clinics, etc. and charge a hefty sum. how may of us would have got a simple ration card, a licence, UAIDAI, passport, etc. without standing in queues, spending days in the counters, and so on. as you say hardly 10%, all other 90% are fools in your own words.
    i doubt whether you can do something about this evil. each and every individual, have to fight the same at all places, be it the purchase of any item abvoe rs.100.00 (it should be properly billed with service tax, / registration number . etc.). when each and every individual starts askign for such bills, the unacounted money will have no value and corruption should be under control. how much black money (converted from white) is paid to teh builders, jewellers, retailers, multiplexes, and so on. list out and it would be observed that 99% dont bother to collect the bills, rather intend to save on the small taxes which the seller misguides. he is not declaring the sale, and cutting on his taxabale income, just by helping you save on some paltry service tax / sales tax. how long should we remain silent on such matters.

  12. Mr Katju,

    I take strong exception to your article. While you go on about the unscientific nature and behavior of the majority of Indians you are making the same mistake. How do you come up with the 90% number? How do you decide that 80% are crazy about cricket? Who are you to decide what should be telecast on television channels?

    The west has made great advances in science and technology, but you still have channels running nothing but game shows all day. You still have shows with fake courts where people fight over petty things. The current presidential primary in the Republican party brought forward the fight over abortion and the idea of creationism. How do you explain this growth in the west with the idea of creationism? Every society has its nuances, its idiosyncrasies and regulation is not the answer to anything that you find objectionable.

    For every Phoolan Devi that you cite there is a Nitish Kumar. Bihar was and still is one the most backward states in the country and Lalu Yadav has famously said that development will not win you elections. One has seen what has happened there in the last two state elections and the parliamentary elections in 2009.

    If you had such a scientific thought process before throwing random numbers like 90% and 80% and what you said in your followup statement that Tamilians are amongst the finest Indians. Are these not your own idea of how things are? Is there some scientific basis for anything you have said in these statements? When you yourself do not follow the scientific thought process how do you make a statement that others are not doing it and should be doing that?

    You do not have a right to make tangential comments. The Supreme Court of India has a lot of respect: don't undermine that with radical comments.

    1. Justice Katju is absolutely right. 90% means a vast majority just as in our sastrs we say he lived for 1000 years and do on implying he had long long life.
      You other comments are worthy to be ignored.

    2. No, I think Sandeep does have a good point. "What he means to say" and what the people reading take from it are completely different things. The standard taken for being "poor" is BPL and 80% is an inflated figure by any account. Most of the readers, after reading this will assume that 80% Indians are actually under BPL which is NOT true. Smallest amount of research on the internet can prove that it's an inflated figure and care should be taken before a random number is thrown out as it will make everyone question the credibility of an otherwise valid argument.

  13. My Lord,

    I am extremely delighted to announce that I completely agree with you.

    I was also branded as a 'Deshdrohi' when I opposed Anna Hazare's fasting and drama associated with that. I also dream of a corruption free India, but I was against the way chosen by them.

    The only thing that motivated me to look forward was a phrase that I read somewhere,'Only dead fish swim go with the flow'. Now I am really happy that Your Lordship subscribes to the same view as that of mine.

    We all support you. We are with you.

    Go Forward.

    Warm regards,
    Nebil Nizar,
    Government Law College Thiruvananthapuram,
    University of Kerala, India.

  14. Dear Sir,
    Sir,U said, "90% of Indians r fools".
    Now who is running our country?-that 10% or 90% or BOTH?

    Sir,U r against the astrology and favoring the science. But astrology also is a science. It is not humbug. It gives the characteristics of person by analyzing KUNDALI. If the astrologer is scholar in his art, he will give accurate characteristics of the person by analyzing KUNDALI. He can tell even the futuristic incidents which may happen in our life. Sir, if u want to try, try it.
    Sir, i agree with many of your thoughts, but i disagree to generalize such things that 90% r .......
    I would like to describe one funny joke about fools,which sir, i think u also will cherish:

    *In Florida , an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case
    against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days. *
    *The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate
    presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, "Case dismissed!" *
    *The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, "Your honour,
    How can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas,
    Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my
    client and all other atheists have no such holidays." *

    *The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, "But you do. Your client,
    counsel, is woefully ignorant." *

    *The lawyer said, "Your Honour, we are unaware of any special observance or
    holiday for atheists." *

    *The judge said, "The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm
    14:1 states, 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' Thus, it is the
    opinion of this court, that, if your client says there is no God, then he
    is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. *

    *Court is adjourned." *

    *You gotta love a Judge that knows his scripture! *


    1. Justice Katju is only reiterating the fact which have long been their in social consciousness, whether it was the first maker of modern India, RamMohanRoy, or Balasaheb Ambedkar, or EV Ramasway. The above story of a judge pronouncing april fool day is a bunkum and defies every logic. Let us file a PIL and decide whether god really exist. I hope to win this suit.

  15. @ justice katju- 1. where were u when Phoolan Devi was getting rapped again and again. she was paraded naked in fornt of whole village what u did as being a responsible citizen. what she did was right otherwise she would have been killed and she was finally. if you have courage then take the name of real criminal who are running the whole show of democracy. the media is fully sponsored by the corporate gaints and the goondas.

    2. You are biased if you yourself says "90 percent of Tamilians are intelligent. Please don't generalise everything.

  16. Sir, you are right that there are many idiots who have no brains in their heads. But there are also a good percentage of highly intellectual persons who are idiots. They are far away from the realities of what is happening around them in this country – the everyday injustice which a common man has to face. They have no idea how a common man has to struggle every day to carry out his responsibilities towards his family. They think that everything is fine in our country. Our rulers are governing as they should. There is no requirement of any change in our system. They participate in TV debates and thrash anyone who tries to give his suggestion for any change in the system. I feel that such intellectual idiots are posing more threats to our country than normal idiots.

  17. I completely agree with your views sir, because the condition of our country is becoming bad to worse day by day.Rule of law and democratic values are in grave in danger, majority of people have nothing to do with the nation, we can have gujratis, marathis , rajasthani's in india but no one says that i am Indian. The present system of our nations has changed the concept of " We the people of India" to "Who the people of India?". I also agree with that Anna's lokpal is not going to do any miracle becoz unless and untill each individual act as lokpal for himself, anna 's lokpal can't do anything, after Lokpal will also be individual not a person imported from Mars. We have literate population but not a "educated" population which can think beyond caste, religion , creed etc.

  18. i concur with your thoughts sir.

  19. Good Solid Article ! Keep doing what you are doing Sir. I like the "unpleasant truth" part of the article in particular. Very true.

  20. Mr. Katju you fell just short of being an atheist. I invited you to join my twitter campaign "Atheism for a better India", which has remedy to all that you cited, superstition, communalism & casteism. What say?

  21. Mr. Katju, I agree to most of your views expressed here but question the method you may or may not have chosen in arriving at the percentage like 90% etc. Besides this may I ask you if you have studied astrology formally. If not then PLEASE keep your uninformed opinions to your self and try not to harm our ancient knowledge system. I am from a scientific back ground and working in scientific field. I have formally learnt astrology and tested its many principles on my own test bench. Finding it extremely accurate I am pursuing it with vigour. Going by your comments I can't help but count you among 90% Indians who are fools. It won't be a surprise if you choose to write about brain surgery or rocket science tomorrow without studying the subjects. And also bear with 90% Indians when they say anything about constitution, jurisprudence or any other subject of their liking with studying it. After all this right you have already exercised and so now you can't deny it to others. This is my contribution towards your "Satyam bruyat apriyam". And for god's sake stop acting like McCauleys child.

  22. Mr. Katju, I agree to most of your views expressed here but question the method you may or may not have chosen in arriving at the percentage like 90% etc. Besides this may I ask you if you have studied astrology formally. If not then PLEASE keep your uninformed opinions to your self and try not to harm our ancient knowledge system. I am from a scientific back ground and working in scientific field. I have formally learnt astrology and tested its many principles on my own test bench. Finding it extremely accurate I am pursuing it with vigour. Going by your comments I can't help but count you among 90% Indians who are fools. It won't be a surprise if you choose to write about brain surgery or rocket science tomorrow without studying the subjects. And also bear with 90% Indians when they say anything about constitution, jurisprudence or any other subject of their liking with studying it. After all this right you have already exercised and so now you can't deny it to others. This is my contribution towards your "Satyam bruyat apriyam". And for god's sake stop acting like McCauleys child.

    1. Mr. Drihta I have read the above article of Mr. Katju and your reply too, it is clearly depicted from your reply that you are an astrologer and you appreciate it a lot.

      I too appreciate astrology but what I feel the point raised in Mr. Katju's article is not about the interest of people in astrology makes them idiot , it is the tendency of people to give more importance to thing which makes no difference in their life makes them idiot. We all know that program like teleshopping does not show the any astrologial thing it is just a program to promote product at any cost. High TRP of such programme is really alarming situtaion for our country.

  23. Sir u r wrong it's not 90% it must be 99%...

  24. Justice Katju,
    God bless you sir. No one dares/bothers so speak about our problems so frankly today. the people of this country look up to you. I agree with you entirely and you have my fullest support.

  25. Sir the problem is the Education system of our country. Kids are being taught about Constitution when they are most concerned with Games period. After 10th there is a Crowd rush towards Science as a subject and the Constitutional subjects - Political Science, History all are left behind.
    Even few who study , just study for the sake of passing and getting a certificate. They dont get the the essence of a subject and hence somewhere are lost in a different world.
    Most of the Service Class people dont their Precious time on such petty things and their minds run on Conceptions and Perceptions. What they hear during skipping channels irrespective of the authority of the media , it enters their mind and they are stuck with it without knowing other things which Media doesn't cover.

    I feel Citizens of this country must be educated about the History of our country so as to know what was wrong and what was right instead of going with their perceptions.

  26. i am fully agree with yu sir.....

  27. i fully agree with you, and wonder when will people start actually thinking one things rather than losing their superficial heads and to scream (this itself being an example)
    If we wish to see a good change, we must first change ourselves and be ready to make amends for better and subsequently people around us, but yet we fail to cross the first step
    Here "we" I mean most of us.

  28. Completely agree with you Sir. The nation will never even progress towards development unless casteism and communalism is abolished from the society. The hidden problem is that the majority of all beliefs, views, and actions is embedded within these 2 concepts and it would take decades or probably even centuries to abolish them from one's minds. We should discourage people who empower these concepts, Sir. Logical reasoning = sound mind!

  29. India needs people like you. India needs people who can speak the truth no matter if it's bitter. I'm a big fan of yours.

  30. Lawyers Against Corruption13 December 2012 at 18:43

    Mr.(Ex Justice) Katju,
    We have already posted out pointwise disagreement which seems to have been removed from the page. No blues to us. We didnt commented on point 2 i.e. Astrology. We beg to submit that your information of science is out dated. Unfortunately our Univ. are out of sync. Entanglement is one such idea which many us have not heard of. It proposes that the phenomena that appear separate are not so separate as you would like them to be. All are entangled and any activity has its implications for other entities of Universe. Since you are resourceful and can aford books please do read " Self Aware Universe" and Entanglement the greatest mystery of Physis.
    Astrology proposes some interdependence. I dont know if any or some of our Astrologers know their stuff and can do predictions. But interdependence exists. So your calling it humbug does not make it so.
    Shoting from hip like western movies donot work when it comes to life and sciences.

  31. Well spoken truth....nice article...only rational thinking can save our nation..

  32. Mr. Katju Sir,
    I agree with your thinking. Most of the so called educated persons know the incidents occurring around us but they have no guts to write against them because they are someway connected with those corrupt politicians. Sir we are always with you and your views. Educated illiterate are more dangerous than poverty.

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