Wednesday, July 04, 2007

சோனியா காந்தி - இந்தியாவின் சாபக் கேடு - பகுதி 1

ரொம்ப நாளா எழுதணும் எழுதணும்னு நெனச்சி இன்னைக்குத் தான் எழுத நேரம் கிடைச்சது. அப்படி உனக்கென்ன வெட்டி முறிக்கிற வேலைங்கிற விதத்துல என்னைப் பலர் முறைப்பது தெரிகிறது. அட நெஜமாலுமே வேலை இருந்திச்சிங்க. ஜனாதிபதி தேர்தல் பத்தி எழுதணும்னு ரொம்ப நாளா யோசனை பண்ணிட்டிருந்தேன். அப்புறம் ஒரு நாள் திடீர்னு பார்த்தா நம்ம துக்ளக்கில் நான் எழுதலாம்னு வெச்சிருந்தது போல ஒரு சரக்கை அவங்க போட்டுட்டாங்க. நானும் முடிஞ்சவரை இது என்னோட மேட்டர்னு அந்த ஏழு நாட்க்கள் பாக்கியராஜ் மாதிரி கத்திப் பாத்தேன். எவனும் கண்டுக்கலை. சரி இருந்தாலும் நம்ம நம்ம பாணியில அதை எழுதலாம்னு உக்காந்து ஒரு வழியா ஆரமிச்சாச்சு. எல்லாரும் நல்லா படிச்சி புரிஞ்சிக்கோங்க.


டிஸ்கி:
என்னடா முன்னாடி உள்ள பத்தில ஜனாதிபதி தேர்தல் பத்தி பத்த வெக்கப் போறென்னு சொன்னவன் தலைப்பை மட்டும் மறதில மாத்தி வெச்சிட்டானான்னு எரிச்சல் படவேண்டாம். நான் வெச்சிருக்கிற தலைப்புக்கும் மேட்டருக்கும் நிச்சயம் சம்பந்தம் உண்டு. அட குறைந்த பட்ச்சம் நம்ம தமிழ் சினிமா ஸ்டைல்லயாவது ஒரு சம்பந்தம் இருக்குமுங்க. அப்புறம் இன்னொரு விஷயம். சோனியா காந்தி தான் துர்கை அம்மன், ஜான்ஸி ராணி அப்படினு உறுதியா நம்புறவங்க இந்தத் தொடரை படிக்க வேண்டாம்னு கேட்டுக்கறேன்.

இன்னொரு பக்கம் நம்ம துர்கை அம்ம...... சை வாய் குழறுது பாருங்க... நம்ம சோனியா காந்தி திமுகவோட கூட்டணின் தலைவி. அவங்களை எதிர்க்கிறது மூலமா நான் திராவிடர்களையே (அல்லது தமிழர்களை ?)எதிர்க்கிறேன் அப்படினு சொல்லும் பகுத்தறிவுக் குஞ்சுகளும் மற்றும் 'ஜெ'யின் மூன்றாவது அணியையும் (என்னது இது ????) கொஞ்சம் வம்பு பண்ணி இருக்கிறதால ரரக்களும் இதைப் படிக்க வேண்டாம்னு கேட்டுக்கறேன்.


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நாட்டுல உள்ள எல்லா அரசியல் கட்சிகளும் அவங்க பைல இருக்கிறதா நெனச்சிகிட்டு நம்ம காங்கிரஸ் காரவுகளும் இந்த செகப்புத் துண்டு போட்டவங்களும் பண்ற அலும்பு தாங்க முடியலை. காங்கிரஸ் காட்டின ஆசாமிகள் யாரையும் கம்யூனிஸ்டுகளுக்கு பிடிக்கலை. அவங்க கை காமிச்ச ஆளுங்களை இவங்களுக்கு பிடிக்கலை. கடைசியா மாட்டினது பிரதீபா பாட்டில் தான். அட அவங்களை கொண்டு வந்ததோட சும்மா இருந்தாங்காளான்னு பாத்தா அதுவுமில்லை. நாங்க தான் இந்தியாவுக்கு முதல் தடவையா ஒரு அம்மாவை தேடிப் பிடிச்சிருக்கோம்னு மார் தட்டிக்கிறாங்க. எடுத்த எடுப்பிலேயே இவங்க பிரதீபாவை போட்டிருந்தா அவங்க சொல்ற விஷயத்தை ஒத்துக்கலாம். ஆனா அப்படி இல்லாதைக்கு சும்மா அழற குழந்தையை சமாதனப் படுத்தற மாதிரி இருக்கு இவங்க வேலை. இதுல மறைமுகமான இன்னொரு விஷயமும் இருக்கு. பெண்களுக்கு 35% சதவிகித இட ஒதுக்கீடு குடுப்போம்னு ஆரமிச்ச இவங்களால இப்ப வரைக்கும் அதை செயல் படுத்த முடியலை. அதுல நிறைய கஷ்டங்களும் இருக்கு. இப்ப பிரதீபா பாட்டிலை காமிச்சி 'நாங்கதான் முதல் தடவைய ஒரு பெண்ணை ஜனாதிபதியாக்கியிருக்கோம், அதனால் பெண்களுக்கு இட ஒதுக்கீடும் சீக்கிரமே வரும்' அப்படினு சொல்லி மிச்ச காலைத்தையும் சுகமா ஓட்டிடலாம்ங்கிறது கூட அவங்களோட எண்ணமா இருக்கலாம்.

காங்கிரஸும் அவங்க கூட்டணிக் கட்சிகளும் ஒண்ணு சேர்ந்து ஜனாதிபதி தேர்தலை ஒரு பெரிய காமெடி படமாக்கிட்டது தான் இங்க வருத்தப்பட வேண்டிய ஒரு விஷயம். அட இவங்க தான் இப்படின்னா நம்ம மூன்றாவது அணி மக்களுக்கு இன்னொரு விதமான அரசியல் நிர்பந்தம். பா.ஜ வோட வேட்பாளரை ஆதரிச்சா அவங்க மேல மதச்சார்புடைய கட்சினு ஒரு சீல் வந்திடும். அது மட்டுமில்லாமல் காங்கிரஸ் வேட்பாளரை எதிர்த்தே தீருவது என்று வேறு அறிவித்தாகிவிட்டது. எடுத்த உடனே பா.ஜ. வோட வேட்பாளரை ஆதரிக்கவும் முடியாது. அதனால அவங்களுக்கு ஒரு ஆள் தேவை பட்டது. சுத்தி சுத்தி பார்த்தாங்க... கடைசில 'நான் போட்டியிலேயே இல்லைனு' சொன்ன கலாமுக்கு தான் எங்க ஆதரவு அப்படினு சொல்லி அவங்க பங்குக்கு அவங்க இன்னொரு கூத்தாடினாங்க. இன்னொரு பெரிய லாபமும் உண்டு. கலாம் முடியாதுனு சொன்னப்புறம் ஷெகாவத்துக்கு ஓட்டு போட்டா அப்போ காங்கிரஸை எதிர்த்த மாதிரியும் ஆச்சு, மதச்சார்புடைய கட்சிங்கிற சீலும் இல்லாம போகும். ஆனா அங்க தான் சனீஸ்வர பகவான் நம்ம மூன்றாவது அணியோட ரொம்ப வெளையாடிட்டார். அவங்களே (மூன்றாவது அணியினரே) எதிர்பார்க்காத சில விஷயங்கள் நடந்தது தான் இங்க இன்னொரு வேடிக்கை. இந்த விஷயங்கள் கலாம் மேல் சற்று எரிச்சலை ஏற்படுத்தியது என்னவோ உண்மை தான்.

முதலில் 'நான் போட்டியில் இல்லை' அப்படினு சொன்னார். அப்புறம் எல்லாரும் ஒரு மனதா தேர்ந்தெடுத்தால் மட்டும் பதவி ஏற்பேன் என்றார். இது வரைக்கும் நல்லாத்தான் இருக்கு. கடைசியா ஒரு போடு போட்டார் பாருங்க 'வெற்றி நிச்சயம் என்றால் போட்டியிடத் தயார்' அப்படினு ஒரு அறிக்கை விட்டாரு பாருங்க அங்க தான் அவர் கொஞ்சம் கீழ விழுந்திட்டார்.

காங்கிரஸ் மற்றும் அவர்களின் கூட்டணி கட்சிகளின் ஆதரவு இல்லை என்று தெரிந்த நிலையில், 'வெற்றி நிச்சயம்' என்று எப்படி உறுதி செய்வது? குறுக்கு வாக்களிப்பவர்கள் கணிசமாக இருக்கிறார்கள் என்று நிச்சயித்தால் தான் மூறாவது அணி வேட்பாளரின் வெற்றியை உறுதி செய்ய முடியும். ஆக குறுக்கு வாக்களிப்பு கணிசமான அளவில் இருக்கும் என்பதை நிச்சயப்படுத்திக் கொள்ள அப்துல் கலாம் முனைந்தார் - என்று தான் அர்த்தம் ஆகிறது. என்னத்தை சொல்ல ? கலாமுக்கு வாய்ல வாஸ்து சரியில்லை. இருந்தாலும் அவர் இன்னொரு முறை அதிபரானால் நல்லாத் தான் இருக்கும்னு எனக்குத் தோணுது.

மீண்டும் அடுத்த எபிஸோடில் பாக்கலாம்!

13 comments:

dondu(#11168674346665545885) said...

அன்னை மாதா தாயார் சோனியா காந்தியை எதிர்க்கிறீர்களா? உங்களுக்குத்தான் வாஸ்து சரியில்லை.

க்வாட்ரோக்கி அக்கவுண்ட் முடக்கப்பட்டபோது அதை தாயுள்ளத்துடன் நீக்கச் செய்தார். அப்படிப்பட்ட அன்னையையா எதிர்க்கிறீர்கள்?

ராஜீவை திருமணம் செய்து 10 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு பிறகே இந்தியக் குடியுரிமையை யோசித்து பெற்றவர். ஆக எல்லாவற்றையும் தீரா ஆராய்ந்து முடிவு எடுக்கும் துர்க்கை சோனியா காந்தியையே எதிர்க்கிறீர்களே! கொழுப்புத்தான் உங்களுக்கு.

அன்புடன்,
டோண்டு ராகவன்

Anonymous said...

சார் நீங்க சொன்னால் என்ன சொல்லாவிட்டா என்ன!! சோனியாஜி இந்தியாவின் சாபக்கேடுதான். ஒரு ஆறுதலுக்காக நாகரீக கோமாளி என்றும் அழைக்கலாம். அனா சோனியாஜியை ஆதரிக்கும் இந்திய வாக்காளர்களை எப்படி அழைக்கப் போறீங்க?


புள்ளிராஜா

Anonymous said...

//சோனியா காந்தி தான் துர்கை அம்மன், ஜான்ஸி ராணி அப்படினு உறுதியா நம்புறவங்க இந்தத் தொடரை படிக்க வேண்டாம்னு கேட்டுக்கறேன்.

அவங்களை எதிர்க்கிறது மூலமா நான் திராவிடர்களையே (அல்லது தமிழர்களை ?)எதிர்க்கிறேன் அப்படினு சொல்லும் பகுத்தறிவுக் குஞ்சுகளும் மற்றும் 'ஜெ'யின் மூன்றாவது அணியையும் (என்னது இது ????) கொஞ்சம் வம்பு பண்ணி இருக்கிறதால ரரக்களும் இதைப் படிக்க வேண்டாம்னு கேட்டுக்கறேன் //

Hello, appuram yarthan unga pathiva padikirathu !!!!!

வெங்கட்ராமன் said...

நான் ஒரே வரியில் சொல்வேன்

சோனியாவை ஆதரிப்பவர்கள் தங்களுடைய சுய நலத்துக்காக தான் ஆதரிக்கிறார்கள்.

மதுசூதனன் / Madhusudhanan said...

//Hello, appuram yarthan unga pathiva padikirathu !!!!!//

நீங்க படிக்கலையா ? அந்த மாதிரி இன்னொரு நாலு பேர். :)

Anonymous said...

டோண்டு சார்!!

உங்களுக்கு கொஞ்சம் கொழுப்பு ஜாஸ்தி சார்!!
இந்திய வரலாற்றையே கரைச்சுக் குடிச்சவன் என்ற முறையில் இந்த சவாலை விடுகின்றேன். ஒரு கோடி பகவத் சிங், வ.உ.சி, சுப்பிரமணிய சிவாக்கள், ஏன் ஜான்சி ரானிகள் வந்தலும் பாரதமாதாஜி சோனியாஜிக்கு நிகராகுமா?

புள்ளிராஜா

Anonymous said...

She could have settled in her home land after Rajiv's assasination without any problems. But she sacrificed the security for life of her family and entered in to politics. She never had a necessity to earn money or fame by politics. She was completely against when Rajiv entered politics. What could be the reason for her to sacrifice peace of mind and secure life (without threats from LTTE etc..)by entering politics? She could have a better life in Italy after Rajiv's death. But for the sake of everyone's compulsion to lead Congress she stayed here accepting all. What is your answer for this? - Selva.

Anonymous said...

I admit that she is not very talented or honest or extremely better than any one. But what is the reason for you to claim "சோனியா காந்தி - இந்தியாவின் சாபக் கேடு - " when almost all the politicions are worse than her. Just because of her nationality...? than what is the difference between people who speak regionalism in acquiring higher positions and you? ie., Malayali has to come here... Bengali has to get this post etc...

மதுசூதனன் / Madhusudhanan said...

//She could have settled in her home land after Rajiv's assasination without any problems. But she sacrificed the security for life of her family and entered in to politics.........//

//I admit that she is not very talented or honest or extremely better than any one. But what is the reason for you to claim "சோனியா காந்தி - இந்தியாவின் சாபக் கேடு - " when almost all the politicions are worse than her. .........//

முதல் பகுதி பார்த்த உடனேயே ஆட்சேபம் தெரிவிச்சா எப்படிங்க. முழுசும் படிக்கும் வரை கொஞ்சம் பொறுமையா இருங்க. நானும் என் பதிவிலேயே சொல்லியிருக்கேன்; 'பதிவின் தலைப்புக்கும் பதிவுக்கும் நிச்சயம் சம்பந்தம் உண்டு' - அதனால நான் இந்த முழுத் தொடரையும் எழுதி முடிக்கும் வரை கொஞ்சம் பொருக்கலாமே... ? தயவுசெய்து :)

packi said...

Hai friends,

i am really enjoying your commends and comedy’s. But one thing any one can explain the purpose of this type of service???. plz do make some useful. our country have lot of resource. first u develop and concentrate in your areas and ur environment. After we come to society.

வெங்காயம் said...

பாப்பார பரதேசி பன்னாடை தெருப்புழுதிகளா,

ஜெயலலிதாவை கன்னி மேரி, துர்க்கை, அம்பாள் ரேஞ்சுக்கு போஸ்டர் அடிச்சு தமிழகம் முழுக்க ஒட்டி இருந்தாங்களே, அப்போ எங்கே போனீங்க? புடுங்கவா?

Stanley said...

Hello Sir,

Please have some time read this and then tell whether she is a curse or blessing to the country

Nexus Lecture by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi
Living Politics: What India has taught me
June 9th, 2007: Nexus Institute: The Hague

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Your Excellencies,
Mr Rob Riemen and Mrs Kirsten Wallgreen
Mr Ruud Lubbers
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I
I am delighted to be here in these beautiful surroundings. I thank you for this honour. Those of you who are familiar with India will know that we are famously loquacious. Indeed as Nobel Laureate and Nexus lecturer Amartya Sen has remarked in his book The Argumentative Indian, what grieves and frustrates an Indian most about the prospect of dying is that he will no longer be able to argue back! Not surprisingly therefore, public life in India is characterized by vigorous debate and vehement contention. The cacophony of politics is the very music of our democracy. However, outside the compulsions of public life, I must confess that I am not a frequent speaker. I still have a long way to go before becoming the proverbial Argumentative Indian. But when my husband’s friend Ruud Lubbers brought up the idea of delivering the Nexus Lecture, I could not refuse.

I was also impressed by the Nexus Institute itself, which is a significant European centre for the exchange of thought and ideas. The Nexus Lecture has become a prestigious event that commands respect far beyond the borders of Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, we are still struggling to come to terms with new and rapidly changing realities. I believe that the European viewpoint, if one can call it that, must continue to be heard. A forum such as the Nexus Institute can and should be central to how the debates of the 21st century are conducted, and how the emerging new world order takes shape. Mr Riemen and Mrs Wallgreen, founders of the Nexus Institute, have much to be proud of, and it is a pleasure for me to deliver the 14th Nexus Lecture.

It is appropriate that I speak to the theme of my lecture in this fascinating country, because the story I have to tell, is a bit like the works of two of your greatest artists. Like Rembrandt’s, it is a story of light and darkness, of mystery and the hidden hand of Destiny. Like Van Gogh’s, it is also a story of inner struggle and torment, a story of how the experience of loss can impart a deeper meaning to life.

I was born in Europe, but was soon claimed by another world more diverse and more ancient. Mine was a middle-class family from a provincial town in the north of Italy. It was a close-knit family typical of its time, conservative and in essence not very different from a traditional Indian family: strong in adherence to values such as loyalty and obedience, to modesty and truthfulness, to generosity and respect for elders. Yet my father, for all his forbidding ways, was progressive enough to encourage me to learn languages and travel abroad. At school, I learnt of the Risorgimento, of Mazzini and Garibaldi and the unification of Italy. But of India, its great history and its emergence as a modern nation-state, I was taught nothing. My discovery of India happened differently, through the encounter with a remarkable human being. This discovery would take up the rest of my life! That is, in fact, my theme today. I can speak only of my experience, of what I have seen, felt and thought. And if at times, I express myself too much in the first person singular, I hope you will forgive me.

II
I first met Rajiv Gandhi when I was enrolled in a language school in Cambridge. It was very soon evident to both of us that we would spend our lives together. Two years later, I came to India to marry him. That was almost forty years ago. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined then the course my destiny would take. My husband was not in politics when we began our married life. He was a pilot, absorbed and fascinated by the world of aviation; a devoted husband and loving father to our two children; a man of wide interests who pursued his passion for nature, wildlife and photography in the company of his family and a few close friends.

Though his mother Indira Gandhi headed the government, and we lived in the Prime Minister’s house, the life that we made together was essentially private. This was the life we had chosen, a life that brought us joy and deep fulfillment. Yet it was a life permeated by the turbulence of politics. Looking back, I can say that it was through the private world of family that the public world of politics came alive for me: living in intimate proximity with people for whom larger questions of ideology and belief as well as issues relating to politics and governance were vivid daily realities. There were other aspects of living in a political family that had an impact on me as a young bride. I had to accustom myself to the public gaze, which I found intrusive and hard to endure. I had to learn to curb my spontaneity and instinctive bluntness of speech. Most of all, I had to school myself not to react in the face of falsehood and slander. I had to learn to endure them as the rest of the family did.

My mother-in-law was regarded as a strong, rather formidable personality. Indeed, she had the calm authority of a natural leader. She had come a long way from the shy and agonized young woman she had been. But I knew her also as a sensitive, intuitive person with a love for the arts and for the conservation of nature, a sense of humour and the ability to laugh at herself. In the midst of preoccupation with affairs of state, she never failed to make time for personal concerns—a grandchild’s birthday, the illness of a friend or a relative, the problems of a staff member. Her breadth of spirit was evident: although rooted in a traditional society, she had accepted her son’s decision to marry a girl from a distant land. She opened her heart, her family, and her culture to me, treating me like the daughter she never had. Along with my husband, she guided me patiently through the confusions and hesitations of my early adjustments to India. In time I came to relish the flavours of India's many cuisines, to feel comfortable in Indian clothes, to speak Hindi and acquaint myself with the cultural heritage of my new homeland. The glorious and multi-hued palette of India came to be as dear and precious to me as it was to them.

Over the years we drew closer together. She shared her experiences about her personal life, her loneliness as a child with her mother ailing and her father imprisoned, of her involvement from her childhood in the freedom movement, of the values that took shape in those formative years. I watched her deal with crises and triumphs. I saw her interact with the common man and with heads of state, with allies and with opponents. She faced adulation and acclaim as well as criticism, slander, rejection and imprisonment.

At the time I entered my new family, India was not quite 21 years independent from British colonial rule. The Congress Party, now led by my mother-in-law, was still pre-eminent, but was beginning to face a resurgent political opposition. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, had passed from the stage less than four years earlier, and his successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was Prime Minister for less than two years.

Indira Gandhi, who succeeded him, was as yet untested in statecraft. She had come to power in the wake of two wars and two famines. Her first challenge was a trial by fire, as she strove to establish her authority over her party and government. In that struggle, her shield was her ability to connect directly with the people; her sword was her empathy with the poor, and the policies she initiated on their behalf.

My first political classroom thus echoed to momentous unfolding events. Two stand out in my memory. The first was the 1971 crisis which transformed Mrs Gandhi into a statesman. Following a crackdown by the Pakistan military in what was then East Pakistan, more than 10 million refugees flooded into India from across the border— that is, about two-thirds of today’s population of the Netherlands. Obviously India could not shoulder such a burden. My mother-in-law travelled to all the major world capitals, striving to convince the international community to intervene in what was a humanitarian catastrophe. She was met largely with indifference, and in some cases, opposition. When India was attacked, her response was swift and sure. She withdrew Indian forces immediately after a representative government took charge in the new-born country of Bangladesh. Evident here was the importance in politics of patience and tenacity, of daring and courage and, above all, of action at the opportune and decisive moment.

Another memory I have of her as a political leader is of her steely determination to raise India out of the cycle of famine and dependency on imports of foodgrains. She took tough decisions which laid the foundations of the Green Revolution that transformed our economy. Her actions saw India move from being seen as indigent and helpless to becoming self-sufficient in foodgrains production. This reflected the driving force of her passion to uphold the dignity and independence of her country. That was the mainspring of her political creed.

III
With all the political twists and reversals that formed the background of our first thirteen years of marriage, our domestic life had remained relatively tranquil. Then suddenly our world was devastated by a succession of tragedies. In June 1980, my husband’s only brother died in an air-crash. My mother-in-law was shattered. Her younger son had been active in public life. She now turned to my husband for support. He was tormented by the choice he had to make, between protecting the life he had chosen and stepping forward to his mother’s side when she needed him most. Months elapsed before I could bring myself to accept that if he felt such a strong sense of duty to his mother, I would stand by his decision. In 1981 he was elected to Parliament.

Though I often travelled with him to his constituency and became involved in welfare work there, my main concern remained to ensure a warm and serene environment at home. Politics had now entered our lives more directly, but I resisted its further ingress.

Four years later came the event that shook our nation and forever altered the destiny of our family. My mother-in-law, the pivot of our lives, was assassinated by her own bodyguards in our home. Within hours of her death, the Congress party asked my husband to take over the leadership of the party and government. Even as I pleaded with him not to accept, I realized that he had no option. I feared for his life. But his sense of responsibility to the country, and to the legacy of his mother and grandfather, were too deeply ingrained in him. The life we had chosen was now irrevocably over. One month later, he led the Congress Party to a landslide victory in the general elections. He was 40 years old when he became Prime Minister.

I now had official duties as the Prime Minister’s wife. But I also had to balance this with our family life, bringing up our children and ensuring they had as normal an existence as possible, given the extensive security restrictions around us all.

Our world had been overturned with the death of my mother-in-law. As often happens when one loses a loved one, I sought to reach out to her through her writings. I immersed myself in editing two volumes of letters between her and her father. Through most of her youth, while her father was in British jails, their loving and close relationship found expression in a flourishing correspondence, recording a rich and vivid interplay between two lively minds. These exchanges brought alive to me the freedom struggle as it was felt and acted by two people who went on to play important roles in shaping modern India. Along with the books of Jawaharlal Nehru, which I had read earlier, they provided a philosophical and historical underpinning to my direct experience of observing my husband as he carried forward their vision for India.

I accompanied him on his travels to the remotest and poorest parts of the country. We were welcomed into people's huts and homes. They opened their hearts to him, speaking of their sufferings, as well as their hopes and aspirations. I came to understand and share his feelings for them, to see what it was that drove him to work as he did with so much energy, enthusiasm and attention to detail. His commitment to making a real difference to their lives brought a fresh and vigorous approach to the imperatives of combining growth with social justice. He mobilized Indian scientists and technologists to tackle basic areas like tele-communications, drinking water, mass immunization and literacy. It is a matter of satisfaction to me to see so many of the seeds he sowed now yielding flourishing harvests. To name a few: India's recognition as an IT power in the world owes much to him; space satellites and telephone networks are improving the living standards of large segments of our population, especially the rural and urban poor; India's entrepreneurial talents, which began to be unshackled in the early 1980s, are now spearheading our country's impressive rate of economic growth; the revival of local self-government institutions is strengthening the foundations of our democracy. These were all cherished endeavours of his. But the time given to him by Fate was all too short.

IV
My husband remained Prime Minister for five years. Soon after came the moment I had been dreading since the trauma of my mother-in-law’s death. On May 21, 1991, while campaigning in the national elections, he was assassinated by terrorists. The Congress Party asked me to become its leader in his place; I declined, instinctively recoiling from a political milieu that had so devastated my life and that of my children.

For the next several years I withdrew into myself. I drew comfort and strength from the thousands of people who shared our grief, cherished my husband’s memory, and offered my children and me their love and their support. We set up a foundation to take forward some of the initiatives closest to his heart.

The years that followed saw change and turbulence in India. Economic growth was accelerating. New groups and communities, long deprived, were seeking their legitimate share. Democracy was making India much more egalitarian, but it was also giving new power to some old forces -- forces that sought to polarize and mobilize communities along religious lines. They threatened the very essence of India, the diversity of faiths and cultures, languages and ways of life that have sprung from its soil and taken root in it.

The Congress Party was being buffeted by these currents. This was the party that had fought for India’s independence and nurtured its infant democracy till it became a robust institution. It now found itself in the midst of uncertainty and turmoil. In 1996 it lost the national elections. Pressure began to build up from a large number of Congress workers across the country urging me to emerge from my seclusion and enter public life.

Could I stand aside and watch as the forces of bigotry continued in their campaigns to spread division and discord? Could I ignore my own commitment to the values and principles of the family I had married into, values and principles for which they lived and died? Could I betray that legacy and turn away from it? I knew my own limitations, but I could no longer stand aside. Such were the circumstances under which the life of politics chose me.

V
I was elected President of the Congress Party in 1998 when it was in Opposition. This gave me an opportunity to travel to all corners of the country. I found the people at large responded to me spontaneously. Intuitively, they seemed to understand that, like them, I too valued their traditions, their philosophy and their way of life. This seemed to build a bond between us, especially with the poor who welcomed me and opened their hearts without hesitation. Again and again, I have been moved and humbled by the gaze of trust and hope in people's eyes.

This link between successive generations of Indians and my family is no abstract one. I had witnessed it in the case of both my mother-in-law and my husband: the almost electric charge that sparked between them and the people: a meeting of eyes, sometimes hands, a communication that surged across all barriers. The attachment accorded so generously to this family is to some extent in recognition of their sacrifices, achievements and selfless devotion to the country. But perhaps their appeal also lay in their transcending the four basic markers of the Indian identity -- religion, caste, language and region. They came to embody the all-inclusive ethos of our country, its essential oneness.

At times people refer to the Nehru-Gandhi 'dynasty'. What this word fails to signify is two crucial elements: one is the sovereignty of the people. Through the democratic process, they have repeatedly vested their expectations in one or another member, and equally on other occasions, they have chosen to withdraw their support. The other essential factor, one that lies at the heart of this relationship, is not the exercise of power but the affirmation of a sacred trust. It is this love and faith that imposes its own responsibility and obligations, that has inspired even a reluctant politician such as myself to enter the public domain.

Success in the 2004 national elections came after six years of political work. I was unanimously elected as my party’s leader in Parliament. The next step was to form the government. But I always knew in my heart that if I ever found myself in that position, I would decline the post of Prime Minister of India. I have often been asked why I turned it down. In trying to explain that choice to my colleagues in the party, I described it as dictated by my “inner voice.” Indeed, that voice has been my wisest guide in political life. The plain fact is that power for itself has never held any attraction for me. My aim in politics has always been to do whatever I can in my own way to defend the secular, democratic foundations of our country, and to address the concerns and aspirations of the many whose voice often remains unheard.

Too often, we think of politics as a public arena, quite apart from our private world -- let alone the inner life. But experience has taught me that such separations are illusory: to pretend a distinction between the values we bring to our personal lives and to our public dealings inevitably deprive both of meaning. Practical considerations aside, I have tried to see that, as far as possible, the significant political decisions of my life flow out of the inner experience of emotion and belief, and of the need to be true to myself.

VI
The India to which I belong can aptly be likened to a mosaic in which each element retains its distinct identity but as part of a unified whole. No doubt it is flawed by cracks and fissures, some old and some new. Yet, it holds together with unmatched beauty because of our people's deeply ingrained commitment to it. Indeed, it can be difficult to comprehend the great mosaic that is India—a land which is home to no fewer than 22 major languages, more than 400 dialects and 4,635 distinct communities. It is a land that has given rise to four of the world’s major religions. It is home to the world’s second largest Muslim population. It welcomed Christianity long before Europe embraced it. It offered refuge to people fleeing from religious persecution, whether they be Jews or Zoroastrians. It is a land comprising different ecological and cultural regions, each with its own distinctive history. India is thus a multi-religious, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic and multi-regional civilization without parallel.

There is no better way of describing this than in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru himself who described India as, and I quote: “…An ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been previously written….though outwardly there was diversity and infinite variety among our people, everywhere there was that tremendous impress of oneness, which had held all of us together for ages past, whatever political fate or misfortune had befallen us.” (Unquote)

Soon after India gained her freedom, a British Army chief had remarked: “No one can make a nation out of a continent of many nations.” Against all odds, our country has remained united and moved ahead. In a world where nations are increasingly founded on the basis of common faith and common language, as we have seen in many of the new countries in Europe, the Indian experiment is a glorious example that unity can also be based on the values of pluralism and multiculturalism. The driving spirit of our country is its liberal and inclusive ethos. India has never sought uniformity or homogeneity. It seeks to integrate, rather than assimilate.

India is a secular country. For us, the term secularism means equal respect for all religions. Our nation is founded on the conviction that all Indians must be free to practice the religion of their choice, to speak and write in their native language, to give expression to their own regional ethos and culture.

Indira Gandhi had once memorably remarked that everything said of India, and its opposite, are equally true. This is a land of both magnificent diversities and painful contrasts, a land where poverty and prosperity co-exist, where perpetual struggles co-habit with burgeoning opportunities. This is a land where tradition and modernity go together, where science and spirituality intermingle. What appear as contradictions to the external world, are seen by us as two sides of the same coin. We recognize that these polarities are held in a certain balance by opposing tensions. The tendency to establish separateness is countered by the need to assert unity. These are the sources of our resilience.

There is, indeed, huge social ferment under way in India as age-old and stratified social and economic structures are being eroded, as political power flows to deprived people and communities and as aspirations rise. It might appear to some that contentions between different interest groups are hampering stability and progress. But I submit that this ferment is a natural process, it is a corollary to rapid social and economic change. In some cases, my own party’s interests have received an electoral setback from the rise of newly emergent groups or interests. I do see even this as a movement towards social emancipation.

VII
My life in India has been one of continuous learning. But being a direct participant in the rough and tumble of politics has been a whole new process of discovery. I am convinced that India can flourish only as a centrist democracy. Over half a century of elections and democratic governance have clearly demonstrated that no government can last if it is seen to pursue narrow interests and is insensitive to the concerns of all sections of our society. India’s many identities, languages, faiths and customs cannot coexist peacefully if any one assumes dominance, or if the collective will of the majority denies rights and space to any of the minorities. The defining principle of our nation has been ‘Unity in Diversity’; in practice, we celebrate these diversities in a manner that gives expression to the voices of all our people and by giving shape and flow to their aspirations.


There can be no doubt that India’s tradition of tolerance, synthesis and the ability to live with seeming contradictions has provided fertile soil for democracy to take firm root. Our Independence movement, unique in many respects in world history, firmly embedded democratic values in our consciousness. A generation of outstanding men and women created the foundations of the Indian nation-state with a magnificent Constitution as its bedrock. Affirmative action, anchored in law, has given the poor and the disadvantaged the largest stake in our democratic enterprise. Democracy is the most visible engine of social mobility and it is this that has ensured its flowering.

Challenges there are, some arising from the process of economic growth itself. Rapid development, ostentatious consumerism and social insensitivity can sharpen disparities and raise tensions. Unfulfilled expectations can lead to upheavals. Others arise from the forces of fanaticism and terrorism, those who seek to unleash violence and destruction on the innocent in the name of religion or region, thus attempting to polarize our society. Even so, I am confident that the centre of gravity is holding and will continue to hold -- because the spirit of our people wills it so.

VIII
I believe that while remaining representative of all interests, politics has a particular duty to those in need. As a politician in a country where many still live in poverty, it is my obligation and my responsibility to strive to empower the poor and the vulnerable. At times, this means being willing to fight entrenched social injustice. Indeed, the Indian, so long disempowered by poverty, has a greater claim on the fruits of our growing prosperity. To eradicate poverty, inequality and injustice from our society is an enormous task and it does remain our motivating goal.

There are some who argue that faster growth will in the long run solve problems of social inequality and poverty and narrow the gap between rich and the poor. This argument has been made in the context of other economies as well, including European ones where migrant communities are yet to be integrated fully. This is an old debate—the relative importance of growth and equity. To my mind, it is not a matter of choosing one over the other. Growth without equity tends to destabilize societies, while equity without growth simply cannot be sustained. Yes, if we had an infinite time at our disposal, economic growth alone would result in a transformation of our economies and societies. This was true of Europe two hundred years ago. This cannot be true of India or indeed of any developing society now.

As many of you know, in recent years India has achieved a greater integration with the global economy, it has reformed economic regulations that were not in keeping with the times, and has as a result achieved consistently high levels of economic growth. Our entrepreneurs and professionals are playing a critical role in generating and sustaining this momentum, and we are proud of them. Yet, as I travel across the length and breadth of our country, the limitations of growth alone stare me in the face. People constantly demand that the government respond to their basic needs. I am aware that the market in many quarters is seen as the new ruling deity, but our experience shows that there is still a critical role for the state and its institutions. Market-led growth is necessary, but it is not sufficient. That is why it is important to sustain programmes of poverty-alleviation, even though these need constant vigilance to ensure that the budgeted allocations reach the people they are meant for.

IX
Politics may be the art of the possible, but it must be anchored in truth. In India, we are fortunate to have the example of Mahatma Gandhi so clearly before us: a visionary who shunned expedient strategies, who frequently chose the most difficult way because it was the right way. For him, the means had to be worthy of the ends. His transparent commitment to truth was such that it inspired millions of Indians from all walks of life to participate in the freedom struggle and to face untold hardships, including long years of imprisonment. This created a new model for mass movements in the world: one based on an unflinching moral core, on personal sacrifice and a dedication to absolute non-violence.

Mindful of this history, I believe that politics must have at its heart one guiding principle -- to achieve its goals through just and ethical means. It is my conviction that coercion, expediency and the cynical manipulation of popular sentiment and public opinion to attain one’s ends, no matter how worthy they are, can never be justified. But I do recognize that this is easier said than done. Very often, practice and precept diverge, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. When we compromise, we must have the courage and candour to admit to it and not abandon our commitment to basic principles.

X
It is not easy, in the space of a single lecture, to distill all that India has taught me. It has taught me above all else that politics is not just the art of the possible; it can also be the art of the impossible. To have won freedom and forged nationhood through a unique non-violent movement and to have launched universal adult suffrage more than half a century ago, in a society that was then 85% illiterate and desperately poor, was a daring act of faith. To have helped democracy take root, and to have nurtured it through sixty years amidst continuous challenges, has been a stupendous achievement. Politics everywhere is an exacting mistress, nowhere more so than in India, with its multiplicity of political parties and ideologies pulling in different directions. Its sheer size, diversity and variety, the huge development tasks it is undertaking in a framework of open democracy, the growing aspirations of over a billion people, all make it a formidable mission. The exuberance and vitality of our people, especially our youth, gives me the confidence that India will continue to push the boundaries of the possible, for its own well-being and for that of the world.

My journey from the placid backwaters of a contented domestic life to the maelstrom of public life has not been an easy one. Yet, despite its sorrows and difficulties, I have found in my new existence both fulfillment and a larger sense of purpose. The family to which I first pledged my fidelity was in the confines of a home. Today my loyalty embraces a wider family – India, my country, whose people have so generously welcomed me to become one of them.

Thank you

மதுசூதனன் / Madhusudhanan said...

//பாப்பார பரதேசி பன்னாடை தெருப்புழுதிகளா,
//

உங்களுக்கு கோவம் இருக்கிற அளவுக்கு மூளை இல்லைங்க. நான் எழுதுவதற்கு சம்பந்தமாய் பேச எதுவும் இல்லை எனில் பேசாதிருக்க வேண்டும். எதிர்த்தே ஆகவேண்டும் என்பதற்காக ஏதாவது உளருவது..... என்னத்த சொல்றது போங்க.