Salman Khurshid: A Rare Mosaic of Talent, Charm and Diligence
If sophistication and charisma, wit and sobriety, looks and thoughts, style and speech, vision and mission, work and art – all these can blend into one body, the product would be Salman Khurshid. He has the looks, the height and the style that would shame film stars; when he speaks – in English, Hindi or Urdu, the chasteness of his language makes the literary masters of these languages rejoice; and when he works, in Supreme Court or Union Cabinet, sincerity and devotion reach their zenith. He is surely a rare mosaic of talent, charm and diligence. He may not be liked by some for his political ideas and may be criticised for his personal likings and disliking, but the truth remains that his successes as a political leader cannot be denied by his severest critics. Even a greater truth is that it will be wrong to judge him by merely analysing his political achievements; his role as an educationist, his credibility as writer and his expertise as a lawyer in the highest court of the land have also to be acknowledged and admired if we want to have a comprehensive glimpse of his life. It may well be right not to rank him as an Indian leader of Muslims, but he truly has been a Muslim leader of India who thinks of not one section of humanity but the whole mankind. He may not have believed in making a show of his religious identity and conviction, as his Muslim critics often argue, but he has been proud of both, and has always tried within his own limitations to find practical solutions to the plight of Indian Muslims. After a highly successful educational career, he joined legal profession; and after scaling great heights as one of the top lawyers of Supreme Court, he joined politics ultimately heading the Ministry of External Affairs, which is regarded as one of the topmost positions in the Indian Cabinet.
Saman Khurshid was born in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh on January 1, 1953. His father Khurshed Alam Khan was a former Union Minister of External affairs, Government of India, and he is maternal grandson of Zakir Hussain, the third President of India. Coming from such prestigious family background, he proved himself to be an idle heir of their legacy. The website devoted to him sums up his profile as follows:
“Salman Khurshid (b 1953, Aligarh) did his schooling at St. Xavier's School (Patna), Delhi Public School (Mathura Road, New Delhi), and college from St. Stephens College (Delhi University) and St. Edmund Hall (Oxford). He then taught Law at the Trinity College, Oxford. A renowned legal thinker and a practicing senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, he is known for his varied interests in different fields. He leaves a monumental impression in every field of endeavour he engages in and always looks for new vistas of action. As an educationist his calibre is unparalleled. In the capacity of President of Delhi Public School Society he took remarkable steps to expand this elite institution network from 14 to 75 schools in India as well as abroad. He established in Mewat, Haryana (a totally backward area where literacy is abysmal) 3 satellite branches of DPS for the poor and disadvantaged. His vision to impart modern education in the schools like the Islamia Schools without disturbing the basic religious ethos will become the guiding spirit for other institutions of Muslims and perhaps a harbinger of modern education amongst them. He has also taken bold initiatives to introduce languages of different linguistic groups, like Urdu in the DPS curriculum.
Salman Khurshid plunged into politics as an heir to a political legacy but because he wanted to do that uniquely with a difference. He abhors the stereotype Muslim leader model, surviving on emotional sloganeering and pushing the community to political suicide. Nor does he see himself as a "secular leader" sadly cut off from the mainstream. The image of Salman Khurshid is of a national leader who is by faith a Muslim, whose family legacy points to the issues of Muslims, but who sees the solution to their grievances in educational advancement. He repudiates the thesis of their shedding their identity to prove their Indianness.
With very clear views about the Urdu speaking uneducated Muslims, Salman Khurshid took up the issue of Urdu as a means of imparting education maintaining all along that Urdu is the language of national integration. Abandoning Urdu means abandoning the history of five hundred years. History, even when we do not like it, is precious as a memory of a nation. Hence, he committed himself to the agenda of inclusion of Urdu in the secular education system. He has a clear understanding that Urdu can survive only if promoted at school level education. He believes that traditional discussions and debate on Urdu literature, culture and identity will be ineffective for the survival of Urdu language. Hence, the only way for Urdu is in reviving formal Urdu education in its own script. This will be the rallying slogan of the coming times and Salman Khurshid hopes to lead that movement.
Salman Khurshid has actively addressed many public concerns. He has devoted himself to the welfare of common masses and has opened various big and small educational institutions including schools, ITIs for girls, Computer Centres with Urdu DTP; an orthopedic hospital and other welfare projects such as water-management. His work has enthused the common people of Farrakhabad and the district is emerging as a model civil society.
Most recently he has planned a university for technical education of the minorities that will be set up in the vicinity of Lucknow. Initially an Engineering college will be established. This will be ready by 2004 and will eventually grow into a university. A College for Rural and Agriculture Engineering, School of Nursing, a Dental college and a Medical college will follow the Engineering College. For this purpose the Modern Education Foundation has been established which has purchased 200 acres of land near Lucknow.
The Modern Education Foundation also intends to establish a chain of English Medium High Schools and Senior Secondary Schools. The idea behind this is that in absence of such schools, aspiring Muslim students will not be able to cope with the modern competition. They need schooling of high quality that will enable them to compete with the best in the world.”
Beyond Terrorism: New Hope for Kashmir Selected Writings of Dhiren Bhagat:
Salman Khurshid had politics in his blood. His family background coupled with his success as a lawyer in Supreme Court, gave him an easy entry into politics. Congress was the automatic choice. He started his political career when he was in his early thirties as an Officer on Special Duty in the Prime Minister's Office, during the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi in the early 1980s. In 1991, he became a Member of Parliament from Farrukhabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Later he became the Deputy Minister of Commerce in the Government of India, and then Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India from 1991–1996. During this period he was the Member of Parliament from the Farrukhabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh. In the General Election of 2009 he was once again elected as Member of Parliament from Farrukhabad, winning as a candidate of the Indian National Congress, with 1, 69, 351 votes. He became the Union Minister of State (with Independent Charges) of Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs in the Government of India. He took over as Minister on Friday, 29 May 2009.
In the Cabinet reshuffle of 12 July 2011, he was made Cabinet Minister for Law and Justice, and Minority Affairs in the Government of India. He then became Minister of External Affairs, in which capacity he continued till the General Elections in 2014, which UPA lost to BJP. He too lost his elections.
In an interview to a newspaper (Telegraph India), he shared his earliest experiences in politics,
“I was very young and junior, the equivalent of an undersecretary. It was a small office — there were seven or eight of us starting with Dr P.C. Alexander. I was the junior-most under her towering figure. But I had the good fortune of travelling with her (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) and sitting in on her meetings with important people….The experience was a bit restrictive as well. I came from university, from a free society where you did not have to mind your Ps and Qs…
“Rajiv Gandhi gave me my first big break in politics. I was attracted and impressed by what he was doing. He was still switching into politics. I got the chance to fight an election (in 1989). He lost his government and I lost my election (from Uttar Pradesh’s Farrukhabad). I got a ticket again (in 1991). Rajiv Gandhi came once (to the constituency). He was to come a second time but we lost him just two days before that.
(On Narsimha Rao) “I never thought of him as a leader and as a Prime Minister. It took a while to get accustomed to his style of functioning...
(On Rahul Gandhi) “I spent a lot of time discussing political structures with him and saw him blossom.”
Excerpts from an interesting article in the Hindu on Salman Khurshid’s political fortunes, especially the ups and downs in recent past, are worth quoting here:
“Indeed, the last year hasn’t been good for Mr. Khurshid: first, there was the controversy over his announcement of a quota for Muslims in the midst of the Uttar Pradesh elections, the defeat of wife Louise, in Farrukhabad, a throwaway remark about Congress president Sonia Gandhi shedding tears after seeing photos of the Batla House encounter, and more recently, the accusations of financial irregularities levelled against an NGO of which he is the chairman, followed by an unseemly spat with TV journalists. As Mr. Khurshid immersed himself in filing defamation suits against the TV group, activist Arvind Kejriwal demanded that he be dropped from the government altogether. Congressmen told journalists he would be lucky if he kept the law portfolio. And then on Sunday morning, he became External Affairs Minister, apparently without making any effort.
“Mr. Khurshid hides a sharp intellect, behind an easy charm, a gift for words, a genius for mimicry (anyone from Mulayam Singh to Arun Shourie) and the appearance of being a dilettante in politics. He makes it all look too easy, whether it is being Law Minister or dashing off a play — his “Sons of Babur” was staged with actor Tom Alter in the lead. In part, it is because he was born well: maternal grandfather Zakir Hussain was India's first Muslim President, father Khurshid Alam Khan a Congress Minister and later a Governor. Mr. Khurshid is the ultimate Lutyen’s insider, who grew up in the heart of political Delhi, moving from the elite St. Stephens College to Oxford, where he acquired a law degree, before embarking on a teaching stint at Trinity College in the same university.
“In part, it is because he can’t bear to take himself seriously: it is seldom that he can resist cracking a joke, something that has landed him in trouble more often than before as he has acquired a greater public profile, especially after the Anna Hazare crisis catapulted him to political centre stage. After colleagues Kapil Sibal and P. Chidambaram got entangled in arguments with Team Anna, Mr. Khurshid was asked to step in to help the government deal with the confrontation with civil society activists on the Lokpal Bill issue. He subsequently emerged as the government's spokesperson on virtually every subject.
“At times, Mr. Khurshid’s penchant for obscure references has been misunderstood totally: when he recently said at a public meeting, “I have been made the Law Minister and asked to work with the pen. I will work with the pen, but also with blood.” Mr. Kejriwal interpreted it as meaning that he would kill him. But Mr. Khurshid was on a different planet: he was referring to a book on the American Constitution, “In blood and ink,” written at the turn of the 20 century by an American politician, Maury Maverick: the book’s thesis is that a Constitution is not just written in ink, but with the blood – or sufferings – of a people.
“Indeed, despite his impressive lineage, an enviable political legacy, a gilded education and oratorical skills, his political career has not always been smooth. In 1981, he returned from Oxford to a job in Indira Gandhi’s PMO – as OSD. Thereafter, he struggled to stay afloat in U.P. politics, losing a Lok Sabha election from Farrukhabad in 1989, when the Congress’ fortunes were on the wane. But in 1991, he won the same seat, and became MoS for External Affairs in the Narasimha Rao government. He had his moment in the sun: a historic image captured a beaming Mr. Khurshid in a bear hug with BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee, head of the Indian delegation to the U.N., after they tasted diplomatic success in the international body. His detractors seized on that photograph and displayed it as evidence of his “cosy” relationship with the BJP during the 1996 polls. His ambivalent stand on the Shah Bano case and the demolition of the Babri Masjid did not help either with the Muslim faithful. At heart a liberal, Mr. Khurshid has publicly swung from liberal positions to hardline conservatism. He often complains that Muslims don’t see him as Muslim enough, whereas for many Congressmen, he is just a Muslim. This dilemma has sometimes led him to err on the other side as he did when in a burst of political pragmatism he supported the ban on Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.
“After his 1996 loss, his two stints as president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress unit didn’t help take his career forward. His detractors accused him of promoting factionalism; his supporters said his laidback style was unsuited for the rough and tumble of Congress politics. Next came a personal tragedy when his teenaged daughter, Ayesha, died of a kidney ailment: overnight, he greyed.
“In the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, he and Jairam Ramesh transformed the Congress catch line Congress ka haath garib ke saath into Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath. Mr. Khurshid explained that the object was to expand the party’s focus from the poor to include the common man – i.e. the middle class. In the event, it was a very successful slogan, and one of the many elements that saw the Congress come to power in 2004. In 2009, Mr. Khurshid won the Farrukhabad seat and was inducted into the government, moving from MoS with independent charge to a Cabinet berth. He has held several portfolios since — Water Resources, Corporate Affairs, Minority Affairs, Law and Justice and now it is External Affairs.”
On the occasion of his appointment as External Affairs Minister, Hindustan Times paid a glowing tribute to him,
“New foreign minister Salman Khurshid is the latest member of India's most illustrious Muslim family to be entrusted with one of the highest offices in the world's largest Hindu-populated country. The 59-year-old Khurshid, who is 21 years younger than his predecessor SM Krishna, was the most eye-catching appointment in a cabinet revamp designed to reinvigorate a government which has shown distinct signs of fatigue…..
“As he moved into his new office in New Delhi, Khurshid made clear that he would get straight to work and said that he had been briefed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 80, to bring fresh thinking to his post.
"I have a lot of home work to do ... as I want to take India's foreign policy ahead," he told reporters shortly after he was officially elevated from his post law minister.
"In the last few years, foreign policy has vastly changed ... We have to do out of box thinking and go beyond theology.
"We have to think of the great opportunities the world offers today," added Khurshid who is India's first Muslim foreign minister in 16 years. While Muslims -- who numbered 138 million in last year's census -- have held some of India's most senior positions including the post of president, they are one of its most marginalised communities. The percentage of Muslims to hold jobs and the level of literacy lag well behind those of other major religions such as Hindus, Christians and Buddhists, the census found.
“As for any foreign minister in New Delhi, Khurshid's most delicate diplomatic dossier will be relations with India's troubled Muslim rival Pakistan. The two nuclear-powered neighbours last year resumed their tentative peace process, which collapsed after Islamist gunmen from Pakistan killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008. The two countries have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided by a heavily militarised Line of Control and which both countries claim in full….
“Analysts said Khurshid, who served as junior foreign minister in the 1990s, was likely to demonstrate a surer footing than his predecessor.
"One thing is clear, the man knows his job," said SK Jha, a professor of international relations at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. "He has a grip on diplomacy and will not be a cause of embarrassment like Krishna," Jha told AFP.
“Labelled "Mr. Confident" by the media, Khurshid hails from a family which has been at the heart of Indian politics ever since independence. His father, Khurshid Alam was the first Muslim to serve as a minister in the foreign office and his great-father, Zakir Hussain, was the president of India.’
Congress might have lost elections in 2014 but Khurshid’s tenure as Foreign Minister largely remained unsullied.
Khurshid has also been criticised in the mainstream media for his diatribes against Modi who became a darling of corporate-sponsored media in the run-up to the 2014 elections. Obviously, Khurshid’s hatred of Modi emanated from his long perceived image as “Butcher of Gujarat” and Khurshid did never hide his dislike for Modi. He was also criticised for alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes people along on his foreign trips to amass crowds. A news portal, Drishtikon, clearly sided with Modi when it made a frontal attack on Khurshid,
“This is gutter-level politics not expected from a seasoned politician like Salman Khurshid. Many things he said here are laughable….If indeed amassing crowds on foreign soil was so easy then what prevented the Congress party from arranging similar crowds during the foreign trips of Manmohan Singh, which were no less in terms of number of foreign trips as compared to Modi’s? Why squeal about it now and show to the world that you are green with envy?
….If planeloads of people are being sent abroad to work as cheerleaders of Modi during his foreign trips it smacks of a scam and Khurshid should confront the Modi government with facts and evidence. If Khurshid cannot do that it only means that he is behaving like an irrational cry baby.… Khurshid may have a pathological hatred for Modi – and he is entitled to his opinion – but he should have held back his punches till Modi returned home…..Not too long ago Khurshid was snubbed by Rahul Gandhi for calling Narendra Modi “impotent” in context of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Khurshid made the “impotent” remark in February this year when he was the foreign minister and the nation was inching to the April-May general elections.
The Congress Vice President immediately disassociated himself from this remark. "I do not appreciate this kind of comment... the kind of language," Rahul Gandhi had then said. However, Khurshid remained unapologetic and insisted that he did nothing wrong as there was no other appropriate word to describe him in context of the Gujarat riots of 2002.”
Salman Khurshid has always been a talked about political figure. In particular, his role as Muslim political leader has been debated at length. He has often shown disbelief and anger at his being viewed by Muslims as not being sufficiently concerned about their plight. On several occasions, he has talked about the Muslim dilemma. Capturing this dilemma, a newspaper reported his dialogue in a conversation,
“Senior Congress leader and former minister Salman Khurshid is at his wittiest best when provoked. Unlike many other politicians who flare up into a rage when asked difficult questions, Khurshid fields the salvos calmly and with a characteristic detachment. So at the session “Whose Secularism is it Anyway? Do Indian Muslims Have to Prove Themselves?” someone asked if Congress can be cured of its ills, he shot back: "If I knew the answer I would not be speaking to you."
“The former minister whose book At Home in India: The Muslim Saga makes an engaging read, was in conversation with senior journalist Kumar Ketkar. “Why is it that the middle class Hindus who suffered the holocaust of partition rejected communalism but in the last decade the same middle class which didn't suffer the pains of partition have turned communal?," asked Ketkar. Khurshid plucked the famous last words of Mahatma Gandhi to elaborate his point. "Nobody has ever said that the last line of Mahatma--Hey Ram--was communal. Though the death of Gandhi was actually death of an idea, nobody can accuse Gandhi of being communal. This secularism is inherent in our culture and we have to protect it," he said. He admitted that the Congress did fail at times in upholding secularism. When someone asked why Indian Muslims are almost always spoken along with Pakistan during debates, Khurshid said now that has changed. "Unfortunately, another vocabulary has taken over. The Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS have thrown new challenges," he said. He recalled that Havildar Hameed snatched hand grenades from his Hindu fellow army man and detonated the Pakistani tank (in 1965 war) because he believed in true nationalism. "We have to keep that spirit alive," he said.
“Is there a danger of Ram Rajya getting rooted in India in the changed political situation? “Those who think that Ram Rajya will replace secular state have neither stood Ram Rajya nor secularism. Ram Rajya is like Nizam-e-Mustafa, based on principles of truth, justice, coexistence, and respect for the neighbours. It is not in conflict with a secular state," he explained. He also added that India should not fall in the trap that Pakistan finds itself caught in. "The dangers are too close to ignore. We cannot take our peace for granted. And we must protect the ideals that have defined us and kept us together," he said.”
His views on the issue can be gauged from another write-up,
“A self-professed liberal, Salman Khurshid, the newly appointed law minister, tells Radhika Ramaseshan that he is against any move that could lead to the ghettoisation of Muslims in India.
“Salman Khurshid is not a Mani Shankar Aiyar. Nor is he a Digvijay Singh. Aiyar and Singh are the Congress’senfants terribles for their constant snipes at senior leaders, including the Prime Minister.
“So Khurshid’s comments on the Sachar Committee report at a recent public function in Chennai left some of his colleagues a trifle bewildered. The 2005 report — the first of its kind in Independent India — conclusively established that Muslims in India had been given a raw deal, especially in education and jobs. The document went on to become a cornerstone for the UPA government in its policy formation for minorities.
“What then prompted him to say that the Sachar Committee proposals could lead to further ghettoisation of Muslims and should, therefore, be considered critically?
“It is just an honest appraisal,” he replies. “We enthusiastically support the issues raised by Sachar. But there are aspects that are unacceptable as legality and as strategy. Sachar’s underpinning is the principle of equality with integration. But certain aspects lead in a different direction such as raising a separate cadre of officers from the minority communities,” he says.
“The new law minister — who says his priority is the aam aadmi or the common man — is also not in favour of the committee’s proposal for enacting an all India Special Powers Act for the Waqf Board, which deals with Islamic religious property. “When there are Hindu trusts, how can you make an exception for the minorities? This leads to ghettoisation. Muslim groups protesting my statement did not look at the national picture. As a government we have to look at it because we cannot have separate enclaves for Muslims,” he explains.
“So while Khurshid, 58, applauds Sachar’s “vision and perspective”, he adds that he wants the recommendations to be endorsed as much by Hindus as Muslims. While no self-professed Hindu outfit has praised it so far, the minister says he was gratified that two days after his Chennai statements, which raised the hackles of Muslim representatives, one important person revisited his view. He was economist Abusaleh Sharif who worked from behind the scenes on the Sachar Commission and eventually wrote the report.
“He and I may be accidentally on the same side,” says a beaming Khurshid. If there is a divergence, it is perhaps also accidental and syntactic. “His issue is more of mainstreaming (Muslims), I call it integration. Mainstreaming means I have to join somebody else, integration is a two-way process.”
“Muslim politics is tough,” Khurshid concedes, with a faint worry crease across the forehead. “Muslims in politics have an even tougher job. Liberals are difficult to find in a spectrum that ranges from extreme Right, conservative, opportunist, progressive to extreme Left. Liberals are more vulnerable than secularists although you cannot be the latter without adhering to some aspects of the former.”
While Muslims have been accusing of him for not being sufficiently Muslim, Hindu communalists have been hounding him for his tough stand against Hindu communalism. When the erstwhile Home Minister Sushi Kumar Shinde gave the statement on Hindu terrorism, he vehemently supported him. According to reports,
“External affairs minister Salman Khurshid today backed home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s statement on “Hindu terrorism” saying it was based “entirely on facts” made available by investigative agencies.” The report further quoted him saying that terror has no religion and colour. “Let me just say this to you very clearly that our stated position, that is shared fully by the home minister and past home minister, is based entirely on facts as the investigative agencies have made available to the government.”
And of course, he was one of the fiercest critics of Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha election campaign. How much Khursheed was hated by the Hindutva lobby can be understood by the following remarks made on Hindutva news portal, Drishtikone,
“Salman Khurshid is an abettor of Terror, Defender of Jehadi Terrorists and Hindu-bashing communal guy. First, he has no business to be representing India, and Second, for sympathizing with the Indian Mujahideen organization, he should be under the Intelligence scanner.”
Salman Khurshid took his law degree from Oxford. He started his practice at Supreme Court and gained instant popularity. But soon he entered politics. He later became Law Minister of the country. After the defeat of UPA, he again joined the profession, and is extremely busy with many high-profile cases like those of Asaram and Tarun Tejpal. In the past too, he has been criticised for his fighting the case on behalf of SIMI. He strongly believes in keeping politics and profession away from each other. But the media does not allow the two to remain separate. Politician Khurshid has often been criticised as Advocate Khurshid too. According to reports, he had difficult time justifying his standing for Asaram. The report says:
“Khurshid describes himself as a “liberal”. “A liberal believes in equal respect for all human beings and, therefore, for their views. This causes disagreements with the Left and the Right from time to time,” he acknowledges.
“If his “liberal” legatee is one strand of Khurshid’s persona and politics, the other is his pedigreed inheritance from one of Uttar Pradesh’s eminent Muslim khandaans. How does it feel to be the grandson of Zakir Hussain, India’s third President? “It is difficult because of his high standards of personal and intellectual conduct. Every time I have a difficult moral choice, I try to image what he would have done.
“The former Union Law Minister, who is defending Asaram Bapu in the Supreme Court, was reportedly asked if it was fine to argue Asaram's case when the Congress had severely criticised the controversial godman in the past. Mr. Khurshid retorted strongly, "I do not think that I am here to answer professional questions about my professional conduct…Mr. Manish Tewari, who too has gone back to the legal profession, told NDTV, "As a professional, you are perfectly entitled to represent whoever you feel like or whosoever has approached you. And as a politician, you continue to do your job. There is a Chinese wall between the two." But eminent jurist Rajeev Dhawan disagrees. "Political lawyers have strings attached to them. Parties demand loyalty. Therefore, if a political lawyer, belonging to a party, goes against the grain of the party, he is tugged at in two directions - his professional lie and political life. And I think, in the end, if he has any doubt that the two are in conflict, he should not take up the case," said Mr. Dhawan.
“Many in the legal fraternity, though, are quite pleased to find the articulate politicians back in their lawyer's robes.”
On a previous occasion too he was criticised for defending the case of Students Islamic Movement of India, a group banned in India and frequently charged by Indian authorities with terrorist activities. Asked about his appearance, Khurshid had then said: “I would refuse a client only when I am personally satisfied that taking up the case would go against the ethics of the profession. A lawyer has to appear for an accused. It is my constitutional duty. A party and the government too cannot pre-judge an organisation.”
While an advocate in the court has the interests of his client paramount in his eyes, the judge sees that justice is done, and justice as a larger mission remains the primary objective of a Law Minister. As Law Minister, Khurshid has vehemently argued for justice. In an interview to The Telegraph, some weeks before his taking over as Law Minister, he had spoken at length about his vision of justice. The paper reported,
“There are inherent issues and problems in the administration of justice and delivery of justice,” he had said. “The fact is that some people die without their cases being decided.”
The minister clearly has plans to overhaul a ministry that can turn a nation around. “I would want to ensure that India has an outstanding justice delivery system that is efficient, affordable, equitable and predictable,” he says. He adds that he would like to see more judges and better equipped courts using modern technological platforms.
“Appeals have to be rationalised and fragmented courts transformed into collective authors of jurisprudence. Legal aid has to be raised to the level of iconic outreach programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, rights to information and education, health insurance and food security.”
When it comes to legal matters, his government has been floundering, with ministers in jail on corruption charges. But Khurshid doesn’t believe that UPA-II is in the dumps. “It is the outcome of acne breaking out on a beautiful face at an age when it should not. UPA-I was in its infancy; there was a new phase of governance in the Congress’s history. From there we have gone into the awkward teens. I am sure by the end of this term we will develop into adulthood.”
Salman Khurshid’s profile remains incomplete without a mention of his fondness for art, music and literature. He is a compelling writer and dramatist authoring several books and a popular drama, which has been successfully staged with high approval ratings from the audience. He told an interviewer that his maternal grandfather, Late President Zakir Hussain was a “great connoisseur” of art and music. “I once painted a portrait of his that looked nothing like him.
Everybody said it was an old man with a strange face. But he said, ‘No, that is me!’” he told.
The books authored by him are:
Sons of Babur: A Play in Search of India
Beyond Terrorism: New Hope for Kashmir Selected Writings of Dhiren Bhagat:
He also has penned some poems. When NGOs Zakir Husain Trust and Ustaadgah organised a musical tribute to Indian women, the compositions included poems by Salman Khurshid, which were a tribute the Delhi victim of gang rape. The ghastly incident of Dec 16, 2012 shook the nation and led to widespread protests across the country, especially among youngsters.
"I felt the pain. I felt the alienation young people feel. This is a tribute to her soul and to her parents," Khurshid told IANS.
"The tragedy inspired me. I was dying to say this," said Khurshid. The event featured video clips of Khurshid's tribute to her through his poems and rendition of his poetry in the form of songs, sung and composed by Ustaad Maa Zila Khan. (reported by Business Standard)
His play, Sons of Babur was staged in several cities. The play directed by Dr M Sayeed Alam, featured many well-known theatre personalities, including Tom Alter and Madeeha Sadaf. Talking to rediff.com, Khurshid narrated the theme of the play.
"The play establishes a link between present times and the Mughal era in India and is set in the backdrop of 1857 with emperor Bahudar Shah Zafar playing the role of the protagonist," he said.
"Sons of Babur connects the present to the past, leading the audience to an introspection of the Mughal era in India besides providing some unique reading of Indian history."
The term Sons of Babur is often used in a pejorative sense and in his theatre debut, Khurshid superimposes a search for India on that identity issue.
Here is a commentary on the play:
“The playwright's intellectual search takes him back to the Mughal era and its demise in the aftermath of 1857. The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar is the central figure of the play that features about 20 actors of repute with legendary Tom Alter in the lead role.
Bahadur Shah, while languishing in exile in faraway Rangoon, pines for his beloved Delhi and takes solace in his poetry….
The play swings between fantasy and reality, past and present, logic and emotion, fact and fiction as Rudranshu virtually does a supernatural act to meet Bahadur Shah in person.
He is taken on a guided tour by Bahadur Shah through various milestone events of the Mughal era and they effortlessly slide into the world of Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb -- all seen directing the course of medieval India.
Khurshid wrote the 121-page Sons of Babur in 2008. The Urdu and Hindi version Babur Ki Aulad is based on Ather Farouqui's translation.”
Khurshid’s wife, Louise is a former journalist and an active politician in Uttar Pradesh. Their common interests including fondness of art and theatre brought them together. He has three sons, Samar Khurshid, Omar Khurshid and Zafar Khurshid