Honouring the legends

On 25th of December 2014, the entire Indian nation honoured two legends of our contemporary history by awarding them the country’s highest civilian award, viz. Bharat Ratna, for their meritorious service to the freedom movement and the building of democratic Republic of India. Yes, this honour should have been given to them much earlier.  It has come to them late but it has come with honour and dignity.
On 25th of December fell the 90th birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and on this occasion, the entire nation felicitated him with the announcement of the award of Bharat Ratna by the President of India. Party leaders cutting across the political spectrum of the country joined hands in extending felicitations to this great son of India for the rarest of rare type of political leadership he provided the nation for over half a century and through the thick and thin of the march of our history.
Vajpayee is a legend and a man of parts. He has been educated, trained and brought up in the lap of the history and ethos of Indian civilization.  When he would speak, it was not an individual speaking; it was Indian civilization speaking.  In parliamentary debates of high order, he always made a mark not only as an orator par excellence but also as a politician who believed and upheld that politics was an art of compromise, a faculty for creativity. He was fearless, truthful and visionary. But he never compromised propriety and decorum of national politics. Outside Congress, he is the only Prime Minister who remained in power for the longest period. Mending fences with China, Pakistan and improving relations with the United States were the broad parameters of his foreign policy when he was the Foreign Minister under Morarji Desai regime. Nearer home, he gave the vision of building vast infrastructure for our country especially the network of roads. The major connectivity, the agenda of the Governments following his own, is precisely what he had envisioned when he was at the helm of affairs. When he found fault with something, he never stopped from censuring the defaulters. But when he found that there was sincerity and seriousness in effort he lost no time in appreciating it.
He will be remembered in our history as a politicians and a leader who brought value, grace and dignity to Indian politics. Though he remained associated with the right wing politics, yet he has been acknowledged by his friends as well as his political opponents as the strongest voice of moderation. More often than not, he would transcend party politics to emphasize the need and relevance of national politics which would ask for ironing out party-oriented angularities and project India as the compendium of diversities and differences lending grace, beauty and colour to this rose garden of civilization.
Some critics have found fault with his Lahore bus journey and shaking hands with Pakistani leadership. Their criticism generally springs from the Kargil episode. Yes, the episode happened. It was not within the powers of Vajpayee to stop that happening because he never knew what was happening behind normal political scenario between India and Pakistan. His Lahore trip is to be seen in the background of six decade long Indo-Pak acrimony over Kashmir and several wars fought. As an astute statesman, he believed that nations of the world and more particularly contiguous nations had no choice but to live in peace for the sake of prosperity and progress of their peoples. India, having emerged as a victorious state in the Indo-Pak conflict of 1971, could show large heartedness by taking concrete step in creating an atmosphere of peace and friendship and of initiating a dialogue on contentious issues. This all was based on international vision of bilateral relationship and was hailed by the world community. Very few people can understand that the destructive role of Pakistan army close at the heels of the Lahore trip brought great disrepute to Pakistan as its image got tarnished beyond repair. It was from that day that the world coined the phrase of Pakistan as the cradle of international terrorism.
Vajpayee has left indelible impression on contemporary history and politics of India. He is a politician, a leader, a social icon, a thinker, a poet and writer and above all the greatest orator India has produced in post independence period. His deep nationalism, his unflinching faith in Indian civilization and his optimism of greatness awaiting India, all make him the legend of our times. He has inspired millions of people across the length and breadth of India. We offer him our hearty felicitations on this occasion.
The second great Indian, who the nation has honoured with Bharat Ratna on his birth anniversary, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, stands out among the great stalwarts of freedom struggle. In his case again, the conferring of unique honour has come somewhat late. He deserved to have got it soon after the independence, Nevertheless, even if belated, it has come and thus the gratitude of the grateful nation has been recorded in the annals of history.
His life and career are inalienable part of our great saga of freedom struggle. Four times he became the President of the Congress while it was deeply involved in the freedom struggle. He was an active political leader, an educationist, a legal luminary, a social worker and a great moderator. He worked with great nationalists, Annie Besant, Moti Lal Nehru, Dadabhoy Naoriji, Jawaharlal Nehru and others.
He was versatile; he was a journalist of eminence and the founder of Hindustan Times’ Hindi edition and remained associated with it for 22 years. One of his great works that will remain imprinted on the pages of history is the founding of the Banaras Hindu University, now one of the largest universities in Asia continent. He remained its Vice Chancellor for a long period and was replaced by yet one more eminent Indian namely late Dr. Sarvapillai Radhakrishnan.
A good number of scholars, civil officers, engineers and professionals, the alumni of Banaras Hindu University, in Jammu proudly hold commemorative functions like elsewhere in the country, in which broad vision, nationalism and liberal educational outlook of Pandit Malviya are deliberated upon. In this way homage is paid to this great son of the soil in many parts of the country and abroad. It is this spirit that binds the intellectual segments of our society in nationalist bond. Pandit Malviya is one of the most brightly shining stars in the firmament of India political struggle for freedom and development.  We pay homage to him and invoke his spirit to guide our future youth leadership with the treasure of patriotism and nationalism. We hope that the excerpts from the life story of great luminaries like Vajpayee and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya will form the curriculum of history books in our schools and colleges so that our youth know and feel proud about their great inheritance.