My lasting memory of one of India's most famous sons, Rajiv Gandhi, was the printed acknowledgement that I received via snail mail in the 1980s from the PMO's office in New Delhi. I had sent a greeting card to Rajiv Gandhi wishing him a very Happy Birthday. I was too young then to understand what it meant to receive a thank you & acknowledgement card from the office of the Prime Minister of India.
But, I realise the character of the man very well today, based on that one card I so treasure. It was not just any other card - but a carefully worded thank you note that was sent out to me to MY mailing address with HIS autograph (even if printed & not his actual signature). It showed that the Prime Minister of India then cared for his citizens.
I just wish Rajiv were alive today. He looked every bit like a Prime Minister, spoke such terrific English in international conferences, had the conduct and personality to handle international affairs and people in the global league. The charisma apart, the man, I believe, had the forward-looking vision for India, that the current crop so sadly doesn't have.
He was the first guy to get computers to India. He understood the value and importance of sports for India, and got so many things approved on the sports front. He represented India in so many international conferences and made commitments that were followed up with some action or the other. He was one of the earliest to understand the meaning of a multi-national, long before liberalization hit India in 1991.
I think he was assassinated because he was good. Too good, for the other politicians who are regressive and not at all forward-looking. He was young too, which meant, he could have served the country for a longer time and done justice to his talent and India's potential. He also appeared to be a person, though foreign educated & a pilot, in tune with the realities of the country. I always recall his famous speeches, where one sentence or the other started off with the words, "humein dekhna hai..." (we have to see...), rather than a staid, "hum dekhenge... " ( we will see..."), that today's politicians chant (with no accountability).
The man was ahead of his times for me. And that one act of sending a citizen an acknowledgement for a birthday greeting, was a sign of his individual connect with the citizens of the country.
I just wish he were alive today. I am quite confident that he would have had some measures to root out corrupt politicians from the system, gotten in infrastructure and accountability within the system, and also done something about the inefficacies of the Home Ministry. We can always get a P.hd from Harvard or Oxford to run the Finance Ministry and provide dream budgets; but, we need a far greater visionary to run the affairs of the country. Rajiv Gandhi might have been that person.
I wonder if this blog will go to Rahul or Priyanka Gandhi now...and if I will get another card!:)