Friday, September 9, 2016



VASANT SATHE.(1925-2011)

"Indianness means equal respect for all religions. This is the core of Indian philosophy. Atal Behari Vajpayee's vision is soaked in this Indianness. His becoming PM is the victory of this 'sanatan' Indianness. If Atal Behari had not talked about this 'sanatan' Indianness, His party would never have come to power.

wrote Shri Vasant Sathe, in the March 29, 1998, issue of Panchjanya.

He was from Nasik. Well read, sharp and an upright person .He was a connoisseur of fine Arts and a lover of Kashmir.  

 Sathe  was well versed in Sanskrit .Though he  was staunch believer  in Secularism , Socialism  and   known  for his   leftist leanings , Bhagwat Geeta remained close to his Heart. His favourite quote   was:

“ Nasto Vidyate Bhavo  n’ Bhavo Vidyate satah “

“The unreal can never come into existence and the real can never cease to be “

He belonged to a reputed Chitapavan Brahmin Family that was closely associated with Freedom Struggle. His father was a well known High Court Judge . Vasant Sathe was a trained Lawyer.

He took active part in the freedom movement and removed the British flag and unfurling the Indian Tricolour at the district court in Nagpur during the Quit India Movement.

                                           ( With Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan )
Sathe  was known for holding his own free and Frank views on many issues .He was a vociferous supporter of Presidential Model for Governance of the country. He made his views clear on this issue both within his party and outside .

He authored about 8 Books out of which "Memoirs of a Rationalist" published in 2005 proved a best seller.In this Book Sathe pays a grand Tribute to Mahatama Gandhi . I quote :
'The most worth while facet of this great strength led by a frail person...was the tremendous spiritual influence of non- violence.'

His maiden speech in Lok sabha won him thunderous applause from all members when he pleaded for pension to Freedom Fighters. He went on to criticize the then Finance Minister Shri Y .B. Chavan, for his failure in not attending to this issue . This was something New to be seen when member of ruling party attacked his own minister. But that made all happy as he never intended to play politics over an issue . He said that he wanted to settle the issue for so many freedom fighters of the country as early as possible .

His line of thinking was always unorthodox. His style of writing was simply engaging.
As I&B Minister , He brought Colour Television to India . He commissioned Manohar Shyam Joshi to produce HUM LOG and engaged Ramanand Sagar for producing Televised version of RAMAYAN. He encouraged and fully supported Richard Attenborough to produce Gandhi.


I have something more to add.

I have heard Vasant Sathe( during early eighties of the last century ) in Srinagar . He had come for Shamim Ahmed Samim Memorial Lecture. He was impressive in his demeanor and oratory . He spoke inside the large Shamiyana erected near Residency Road press enclave quarters ( Near State Motor Garages ) .He quoted some memorable anecdotes relating Shamim Ahmed Shamim and was all praise for his friend and fellow Parliamentarian . His language was Hindustani, a mixture of Urdu and Hindi .I vividly remember the couplet of Allama Iqbal that he added to finish his speech .

Amal Se Zindagi Banti Hai Jannat Bhi, Jahanum Bhi
Ye Khaki Apni Fitrat Mein Na Noori Hai Na Naari Hai

About this Visit of Vasant Sathe , Noted Journalist Mohamed  Syed Malik Adds:

"Shortly before that first Shamim Ahmed Shamim Memorial lecture  ,  Vasant Sathe   had come to srinagar and  met Shamim Saheb to enquire about his health on behalf of Mrs Gandhi. In a letter delivered personally by Sathe , the then prime minister had recalled Shamim's outstanding role as a parliamentarian. She pointedly mentioned how she missed his lively speeches on issues of National significance. As was his nature, Shamim asked us not to make public this private letter from Mrs Gandhi. He replied thanking her for her concern and politely told her he needed nothing for than her prayer and good wishes for recovery. Only after Shamim's demise on May 1, 1980 we published the letter in the first volume of AINA NUMA containing reproduction of selected writings and speeches of Shamim.  Vasant Sathe's memorial lecture reflected his intellectual caliber."

I came to know later that a senior leader of his party from Kashmir valley had gifted him a Karakuli cap during that visit. He would use that cap occasionally for some time.
Som Nath Dhar also has a word of praise for Vasant sathe . I add the relevant excerpt from the Book.

by Som Nath Dhar

I quote.from the book ..

“ I was lucky that the first minister I worked with as Director News AIR was Vasant Sathe . I found him to be fair minister , ready to accept reasonable suggestions from those who reported to him. He did not interfere in day to day functioning of the news room and allowed us a degree of autonomy. He was that rare breed of ministers who actually stood up for his staff , as he did for me on at least one occasion.

In 1982, Vasant Sathe was replaced by HKL Bhagat as minister for information and broadcasting .As Minister he was not only interested in furthering the interests of  congress party , but in bolstering his own image as well……. One day Bhagat asked us to cover three day SATSANG ( Religious function ) of his guru in Hissar . This was a bit too much for me .There were many such unreasonable requests resulting in tussles , but I managed to keep the worst out of the AIR news bulletins . Door Darshan did not always fare so well.”

For all his  Democratic , socialistic and liberal outlook, however, Sathe defended the Emergency.  And he remained steadfast in his Loyalty to Indira Gandhi even during her worst time . Post  emergency when Indira Ji Lost her 1977  Lok sabha election  from Rae Bareily to Raj Narain , sathe was among a few stalwarts who won  his seat. 
  ( In 2008 Dr. Manmohan Singh released a Book  authored by Vasant Sathe )

He breathed his last on 23rd September 2011 due to a massive heart attack. He  had willed that all his body organs be donated to AIIMS after his death .This will was honoured by his son Subash Sathe with whom he lived at Gurgaon after the death of his wife. Subash  Sathe is an Industrialist .

So Long so much on Vasant Sathe…

( Autar Mota )

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