02 October, 2020

See You On Saturday

It's exclusive, it's elitist. And many from this thinktank are in the government now.

Sanjoy Ghosh
See You On Saturday
When the long-forgotten Delhi editor of The Statesman, late Alfred Evan Charlton, decided in the mid-fifties to set up a Saturday Club—an exclusive dozen drawn from his friends who shared his dislike of Delhi’s cocktail chatterati—he little dreamt it would turn someday into India’s most exclusive power clique. Charlton’s idea was to meet at the now-faded Volga Restaurant over a contributory buffet lunch (price: Rs 2 per head) and do what intellectuals usually do: talk.

But some fifty years down the line, the Saturday Club, grown over four times its original size and shifted to a more discreet address at India International Centre, is less famous for its talk than for producing an assembly line of top executives, from a prime minister to vice-presidents, cabinet ministers and ambassadors, and dozens of top policymakers.

Take the present government: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has attended the club’s secret meetings, as a guest speaker. Information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy has rarely missed a Saturday lunch with the group since he joined...



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