Media reports show he’s been nice to his driver, very nice.
They also show he’s been even nicer to some strangers.
Indeed, he’s like the unknown uncle from South Africa or Australia who makes an appearance, if only in spirit, in English fiction of a certain vintage, and bestows a windfall legacy on an unsuspecting and usually impoverished protagonist.
To be sure, the veracity of these reports is yet to be ascertained—which means we still aren’t sure whether he has been nice to his driver and strangers—but I, for one, am most upset that a man who has (or may have) displayed the kind of altruism that Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari has, is being pilloried.
And for what?
There are many ways in which a politician can hope to improve the lot of the have-nots.
Some may, if they are legislators, dip into so-called local-area schemes that give them cash to spread around their constituency.
Others may seek to make policies that improve the national or local economy, thereby creating jobs, and directly or indirectly benefiting ordinary people.
Very few, however, would take the selfless and radical step of making people directors in their companies and this, again, if media reports are to be believed, is what Gadkari has done.
I don’t think it is fair to criticize the man for this. If there is anything he can be accused of, it is too much of philanthropic zeal.
To be sure, this philanthropic approach isn’t entirely unknown in India, although it has been more popular among businesses and businessmen who have been known to make their cooks and gardeners directors in their companies.
It is heartening to know that this trend is now becoming popular among politicians, too.