NITI Aayog member VK Saraswat, who created a controversy on Saturday by claiming that internet in Kashmir is only used to watch "dirty films," has worn many hats — not only is he the chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), he is also a former chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and a Padma Shri recipient.
On Saturday, in a response to a question by a reporter, Saraswat had said, "What difference does it make if there is no internet in Kashmir? What do you watch on the internet there? What e-tailing [sic] is happening there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing there."
Though Saraswat has apologised and claimed his comments were taken out of context, this is hardly the first time he has found himself in the eye of the storm.
Saraswat, recently weighing in on the ongoing protests in JNU against a proposed fee hike, in an interview with Economic Times reacted to the resignation of economist Amit Bhaduri as professor emeritus and the comments of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella by saying, "Just because the public opinion is turning in favour of the idea that students are being oppressed, he (Bhaduri) is also toeing the line. When intellectuals react without understanding things, it's a matter of concern. I also read Satya Nadella's opinion (on the Citizenship Amendment Act)...Many of them have not applied themselves adequately."
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that an anti-satellite weapons test had been conducted, Saraswat had said that the test could have been done during the UPA regime, but the then government did not give a go-ahead although the authorities had the capability. Saraswat, shortly before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, said that this may have been due to a "fear psychosis."
However, former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon contradicted his claim, saying permission was never sought during the UPA regime to test an anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile. Saraswat later claimed that Menon's comments were erroneous and that he had made an "informal" presentation to the then NSA.
While Saraswat has in recent times been critical of the UPA, it is significant to note that he had been awarded the Padma Shri in 2013, during the UPA government's tenure. However, as mentioned in an article in The Print, in the same year his tenure as DRDO chief was not extended. This, after a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that said the organisation was "developing equipment which is either sub-standard or has extended deadlines and additional budgets”.
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Updated Date: Jan 20, 2020 08:10:46 IST