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Remembering Indira Gandhi (19 November 1917 – 31 October 1984) – By Sonia Gandhi

On the occasion of 100th birth anniversary of one of the foremost women leaders of world, Congress President Sonia Gandhi remebered her as a veteran leader, a loving mother and as a head of family called India.

Following is the speech that Mrs Sonia Gandhi gave about the leader whom even the opposition called as an Iron lady and whom history will always remember as creator of Bangladesh.

“On this day one hundred years ago was born Indira Priyadarshini, who would become India’s first woman Prime Minister and be counted as one of its greatest. I came to know Indira Gandhi intimately as the head of our small family over the sixteen years that we lived together in one household, just a few meters from here.I saw her at close quarters, in every mood and circumstance, she said.

I came to understand how passionately she felt for her country, how deeply she cared for the poor and oppressed, how faithfully she followed the teachings imbibed from her father — from him, and from the other great men and women of the Indian freedom struggle who had been part of her growing up. It was that rigorous schooling in the Independence movement that made her so staunch in defence of India’s sovereignty, so committed to the ideals of secularism and social justice, and so determined to advance them through her policies and programmes, she said.

I have heard Indiraji being referred to as the Iron Lady. But iron was only one of the elements in her character; generosity and humanity were just as prominent traits. She fought, yes — but not for personal ascendancy. She fought for her principles, against vested interests and agendas”

“She fought for the poor and weak, where they were being oppressed and denied their rights. She toiled for their material well-being: it was her championship of the Green Revolution that freed India from endemic famine,” Sonia said.

She fought for secularism, against all those forces seeking to divide the Indian people on lines of religion and caste. She gloried in the rich diversity of India, its profound democratic and secular values. For her as Prime Minister there was but one religion, a sacred creed passionately held– that all Indians were equalchildren of the motherland, she added.

She fought for India’s dignity and independence as a sovereign nation, against the dominance of superpowers. And not only for India, but for all countries that resisted colonial and post-colonial forms of hegemony. Bangladesh’s creation, in which she played so vital a part, is a monument to that stand, but many are the instances through which she broughtIndia international respect and admiration.

She fought for nature, understanding well ahead of her time the kinship underlying all creation, and the devastation caused by human greed. She fought for India’s forests and rivers and wild life, to protect them and to hold back those who had no regard for the precious environment that sustains human life. Her contribution in so many other areas is also recognizedand celebrated: what she did for Indian science and technology, for culture, for the arts, for the artisans, the weavers — for our heritage as a whole.

In the sixteen years that were given to her to lead the country, many were the challenges she had to confront, from the endemic problems of combating poverty and inequality to the critical ones of war and terrorism. She faced them all with courage, fortified by her dedication to making India strong, united and prosperous.

“In all her efforts she was sustained by the faith reposed in her by her fellow countrymen and women. That love was her inspiration and her reward. I witness it to this day, in the thousands of people from all walks of life and all corners of the world who come here to pay their homage to her,” the Party President noted”

While there are some chapters that we in Independent would like to talk about in other days, but today, on her 100th birth anniversary we would like to agree with the Congress chief and thank her for making India a better place for all of us.

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