Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday in her welcome address at the Indira Gandhi centenary lecture, said she learnt from her mother-in-law about India, its culture and values, as also her earliest political lessons. She hailed the sacrifice of Indira Gandhi in preserving a united, diverse and an egalitarian India but said in the quest for shortcuts to greatness certain leaders are willing to undermine the very foundations of its national character.
* Indira Gandhi was not a figure of history for me she was my mother-in-law, we lived under the same roof, shared joys and sorrows. It is from her that I learnt about India, its culture and its values. It is from her also I imbibed my earlier political lessons.
* Indira Gandhi was a remarkable woman, the like of whom this country has not seen since, but she was much more than that. She led our nation through tumultuous battles of 60’s, 70’s, never faltering in her dedication to the masses who gave her their complete trust.
* She faced economic crisis and prevailed, she managed the greatest refugee crisis in history, she refused to compromise on India’s noble humanitarian traditions.
* Some dismissed her as weak and incapable, others called her a tyrant but with the trust of her countrymen painstakingly won and with her dedication to the cause she went on to serve her people, sacrificing her life.
* She saw an India that would not follow blindly a path led by the west. She saw it crafting its own future guided by its democratic and cultural ideals. This made her mission doubly challenging, but Indira was not a woman daunted by challenge.
* On the eve of her martyrdom, she declared, I quote, “every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation.” And indeed it did. Her sacrifice in preserving a united, diverse, egalitarian India will be remembered. All the more so at a time when, in the quest for shortcuts to greatness, we find leaders willing to undermine the very foundations of our national character.
* Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was one of those rare figures who shaped the destiny of her land. She was not just the daughter of one of the great statesmen of our age, Jawaharlal Nehru but a child of India’s freedom struggle itself, a witness to the birth of this nation and of the idea that is India. To her this idea was not a philosophical proposition laid down by her father, but a living experience as she travelled the length and breadth of this country, listening to the hearts of its men and women and giving them a voice.
* Friends, few human beings enjoy the privilege of shaping the history and altering the geopolitics of a sub-continent. Indira Gandhi did so. Few have been called upon to make the supreme sacrifice in the cause for which they have lived. Indira Gandhi did so.
* She had a vision for India in the world of the twenty-first century, but it was not a soulless vision that came at the cost of our pluralist diversity. She saw an India that would not follow blindly the path laid by the West. She saw it crafting its own future guided by its democratic and cultural ideals. Where others failed, she wanted India to show the world the way. It made her mission doubly challenging, but Indira Gandhi was not a woman daunted by challenge.