PM has enough of NRI meetings
Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it seems, has had enough of NRI receptions for the time being.
On Thursday, at the third gathering of NRIs, which included eminent literary persons from India, Mr Vajpayee looked ill at ease.
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan had organised a three-day conference on Indian literature and had invited the creme-de-la-creme of the Indian literary scene to mark the birth centenary of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan (JP).
Neither the organisers nor the Prime Minister referred to JP in their speeches, nor was homage paid to him or recollection made of his contribution to India’s freedom movement or the formation of the political party (BJP), which the Prime Minister today leads.
The show began on a sour note with Secret Service detail taking ever so long in allowing people inside the Manhattan Centre in downtown New York. Frisking, dogs, metal detectors, all post-9/11 procedures led to frayed tempers. The media was kept about 50 metres from the dais and not allowed to even get to the ‘raiser’ (American for platform). Barely half the hall was occupied when the Prime Minister walked in.
Eminent authors and poets, Sahitya Akademi award winners Indira Goswami, Sunil Gangopadhyaya, Urdu poet Gulzar, eminent author Nirmal Verma and several others were present there.
Mr Vajpayee breezed through his well-written speech in a most desultory manner. If it was an audience where the poet in him would have been awakened, it somehow did not work the magic. He had to be cajoled to recite his now oft repeated “Geet naya gaata hoon.” Mr Vajpayee said Indians should be proud of their heritage of languages. He also said culture had to modernise with time and modernisation was incomplete without culture. “Words may have limit, but not the feeling that goes behind those words”, “languages are the rainbow of Indian culture”, “in India, tradition still has more followers than laws laid down by the courts”, “necessary development and persistent continuity”.... all beautiful thoughts and expressions but somehow it just didn’t click.
It was the Prime Minister’s last public engagement in New York.
He leaves on Friday for home via a one-day stop over in Zurich.
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