The spirit of Mahatma Gandhi will have conveyed its blessings to this remarkable daughter of India.
This has been a memorable week. A path breaking, historic seven days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi acted with political wisdom to select Shrimati Droupadi Murmu as the NDA’s Presidential candidate.
On Thursday, 21 July, she became the first tribal leader to be elected Rashtrapati of India, that is Bharat. She is 64 years of age, perhaps the youngest to hold the number one post. The spirit of Mahatma Gandhi will have conveyed its blessings to this remarkable daughter of India.
Her life has been no joy ride. Between 2009 and 2015, she lost her husband, two sons, mother and brother. This was tragedy with a capital T. She was devastated and “suffered from depression. It was when I visited Brahma Kumaris I realised I had to move on.”
She was born in June 1958 in Uparbeda village of Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj, in Odisha. She belongs to the Santhal tribe. After passing BA, she worked as a junior assistant in the Odisha Irrigation Department for four years. In 1979, she quit her teacher’s job in Raingpur and got elected as an area councillor.
Between 2000-04, she was Minister in Odisha in BJD-BJP government. In 2013, she was appointed BJP Santhal Morcha national executive member. Two years later, she became the first lady Governor of Jharkhand.
The population of the 700 Schedule Tribes is almost 100 million—10 crores. History has given them a raw deal. “The tribal community has been grappling with poverty, denial of rights, loss of agriculture lands…” poor educational and medical facilities. With Smt Droupadi Murmu as Rashtrapati, their needs will, I am sure, receive immediate attention.
It is being rumoured in some irresponsible and pessimistic quarters that she will be unable to do justice to the job. This is arrant nonsense. In my judgement, she will do very well, carrying the affection and respect of the people of India. After 75 years, India’s democracy has come of age.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a six-time Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has inherited an unprecedented mess—absence of law and order, acute shortage of jobs, food and medicines. Near non-functioning educational institutions and the economy in a dire state.
Ranil Wickremesinghe is apparently the nephew of J.R. Jayewardene, who was a very influential, long serving President of Sri Lanka for 12 years. I got to know him well during the appalling Indo-Sri Lanka crisis in the late 1980s. Mr Jayewardene was an adept and wily politician. At every step he got the better of Rajiv Gandhi. At that time India had no well-defined or consistent Sri Lanka policy. Too many of our intelligence agencies worked at cross purposes.
India cannot be indifferent to what happens in Sri Lanka. Mythological links go back several thousand years.
During the present chaos in Colombo, India has given $3.3 billion in aid to Sri Lanka. “As a close friend and neighbour of Sri Lanka and fellow democracy we will continue to be supportive of the need of the people of Sri Lanka for stability and economic recovery through democratic means and values.” Are the Rajapaksa’s history? I am not so sure. I wish R. Wickremesinghe both luck and success. He will need both.
Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 20 July. There was all-round relief, not only in Britain but in many other countries. He was, irresponsible, unreliable, non-serious and did not have regard for truthfulness.
On 5 September, UK will have a new Prime Minister. The two contestants are Foreign Secretary (Minister) Liz Truss (46) and Rishi Sunak (42) son-in-law of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy. Rishi Sunak was Finance Minister from 2020. The combined wealth of Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata is 730 million pounds.
Sunak has lived in London all his life. He should know that a non-white PM of the UK is nowhere in sight. Liz has already a 24% lead.
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres succeeded in making Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement for grain to pass through the Black Sea. Ukraine had mined the waters to deter a Russian naval attack. The deal will allow 5 million tonnes of grain to be shipped to relieve the world shortage of wheat.