"I have been misquoted in the press reports, but it is true that I have said that 90 per cent Indians (not all) are fools. 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 said in a mail to students Tanaya and Aditya.
The two students had reportedly sent a legal notice to the PCI chairman for making the remark. "The figure 90 per cent is not a mathematical figure, it simply means that in my opinion a large proportion of Indians (and again I repeat, not all) are fools," Katju said. "I never named you, nor any community, caste, or sect, and I never said that you are in the category of 90 per cent. Hence I do not see how you are defamed," he added.
The PCI chief said he had made the remark not to humiliate or harm anyone but because he loved Indians and wished them to prosper for which they have to develop a scientific outlook and and give up casteism, communalism and superstition.
"So you see I made that statement not to harm the Indian people, whom I love, but to benefit them. The truth is sometimes bitter, but sometimes bitter medicine has to be given to an ailing person," he said.
Katju said he wished to clarify that he does 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," he said.