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Katju terms ‘fools’ barb a wake-up call

New Delhi, Dec. 10: Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju has defended his statement that 90 per cent of Indians are fools, but clarified that his intention was not to hurt anyone but to wake people to the ills blighting the country.

“It is true that I have said that 90 per cent Indians (not all) are fools,” the former Supreme Court judge has written to two students from Uttar Pradesh, Tanaya and Aditya, who had sent him a mail complaining that his remark had caused anguish and defamed Indians in general.

“My intention in saying so was not to hurt anyone but to awaken people to the realities, that is, the widespread casteism, communalism, superstitions, and other backward traits in the mindset of a large section of our people, which is blocking our progress and keeping us poor,” Katju added in his communication, a copy of which he mailed to The Telegraph.

Katju’s comment about 90 per cent of Indians being fools was made at a news conference a few days ago.

To the two students, Katju wrote: “The figure (of) 90 per cent is not a mathematical figure; it simply means that in my opinion a large proportion of Indians... are fools.

“I never named you, nor any community, caste, or sect, and I never said that you are in the category of (the) 90 per cent. Hence I do not see how you are defamed.”

He added: “I love the Indian people; they are my people, and I wish them to prosper and have decent lives, which is only possible if the Indian masses develop the scientific outlook and scientific temper.... The truth is sometimes bitter, but sometimes bitter medicine has to be given to an ailing person.”

He added that he did not regard Indians as inherently stupid or foolish. “It is only at present that large parts of our people are foolish. But there was a time when we were leading the whole world in science and technology, and India was perhaps the most prosperous country in the world.

“Today there is no doubt that India is a poor country. While there are some pockets of affluence, about 80 per cent of our people are afflicted with poverty, unemployment and other evils, and one major cause of this is the mental backwardness of a large part of our people (though there are also brilliant people like the Indian scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley).”

In justification of his statement, Katju said: “When most of our people go to vote, they cast their votes on the basis of caste or religion, not the merit of the candidate. What else is the meaning of vote banks?”