Claims Jairam Ramesh At Release Of His Book On Indira Gandhi
New Delhi, Senior Congress Leader and former central minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh said that in 1966 then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi included RRS Chief M.S. Golwalkar in a committee of a few chosen members to discus and find a way to impose a ban on cow slaughter on all India level. The committee held meetings occasionally for close to twelve years. But was ultimately dissolved without any report filed about it’s proceedings or conclusions drawn by it.
While answering a question on the controversial cow slaughter issue which is a burning topic during today’s times, Jairam said that in 1966, Prime Minster Mrs. Indira Gandhi formed a high level committee to assess the need of cow slaughter ban nation wide after a section of “Gau Rakshaks attacked the Parliament in which 7-8 people had died in police firing. Home Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda had to resign. Indira Gandhi picked up the high level committee to put the issue in cold storage. She herself picked up members for this high level committee. Chaudhari Charan Singh, CM of UP, D.P. Mishra, CM of MP, Economist Ashok Mitra, Dr. Kurien, Founder of Amul and then RSS Chief M. S. Golwalkar. Every one was shocked at inclusion of Mr. Golwalkar in committee. But More surprising was that this committee continued for 12 years and couldn’t produce a single report. Finally Janta Party PM Morarji Desai got so frustrated and dissolved it. This committee couldn’t produce a single report.
“It was Sanjay’s mother who invoked emergency on 25th June 1975 and later it was Nehru’s daughter who withdrew it on 31st of March 1977.”
“It was Sanjay’s mother who invoked emergency on 25th June 1975 and later it was Nehru’s daughter who withdrew it on 31st of March 1977.” This is what Jairam Ramesh, former minister and member of parliament concluded during a talk on his new book ‘ Indira Gandhi: A life in nature’ with senior journalist Anant Vijay in Delhi on Sunday.
When he was asked where did she herself stand in this decision, he accepted that the decision was unfortunate but he added immediately that Mrs Gandhi was not the only one responsible for it. There were other people and circumstances too involved that brought her to a point where she felt that this was the only way left for her to deal with the situation at her hands.
This talk was organized for a selected audience by ‘दैनिक जागरण’, the national Hindi daily under the newspaper’s monthly program ‘जागरण वार्तालाप’.
The book written by Mr. Jairam and published by ‘Simon & Schuster India ‘ is based on many letters written by Indira Gandhi to her father, children, grandchildren and others; the speeches she delivered, the forewords she provided, the memos she dispatched, the notes she scribed, and the messages she sent.
Most of these were not included into her official work and obviously are not easily available. Mr. Jairam expressed his gratitude for some of this material to be made available to him by Sonia Gandhi. In essence this book is an unconventional biography of Mrs. Gandhi, in the sense that it deals with a very predominant but hidden from public eye that one aspect of her life; her love for nature.
According to Mr. Jairam though she was a quintessential politician for all practical purposes and definitions, a very strong and sometimes stubborn personality but in the heart of heart, she also was very deeply rooted in nature in it’s purist form.
One of the main reasons for her love for nature, according to Mr. Jairam was her childhood. Indira Gandhi had a very lonely childhood as a single child, whose father was mostly away in jail and mother was terminally ill. Major input to her days during that lonely childhood from her parents were the letters she got frequently from her father from jail and her routine visits to various hill stations owing to the sickness of her mother.
These occasional visits included almost all hill stations of India as well as her own schooling in Switzerland and Shanti Niketan. And that too during the times of Rabindra Nath Tagore. These inculcated into her a deep understanding and love for the nature.
The result was, she was often found to be in the company of a book on nature, sitting up in a tree for hours on a stretch and wanting not to be disturbed.
Jairam writes,”she got sucked into the whirlwind of politics but the real Indira Gandhi was the person who loved the mountains, cared deeply for wildlife, was passionate about birds, stones, tress and forests and was worried deeply about the environmental consequences of the urbanization and industrialization. “
she was the one who pushed through two laws, one for the protection of wildlife and another for the conservation of forests, which continue to hold. Today’s laws that deal with water and air pollution too were enacted during her tenure as the prime minister of India.
During the two hour talk while answering questions put forward by Mr. Anant, Mr Jairam expressed his personal views too about the functioning of Mrs Gandhi as the prime minister of India. According to him she had to walk a tight rope as the politician, prime minster and environmentalist.
For example, according to Mr. Jairam when the Mathura refinery project was given a go ahead, she categorically overrode the objections raised by a few that it was too close to Taj Mahal and Bharatpur. Her stance was that many a times development for a poor country like ours is more important than the conservation of environment and monuments.
On a light hearted question asked by Mr. Anant that what would have been one decision Indira Gandhi took and Mr. Jairam would not have taken, if he were at her place. He expressively said that he would not have allowed Mathura refinery to be constructed where it is standing today.
Her love for conservation of environment can be understood by the fact that after the environment ministry was formed on her behest in 1976 during emergency, she kept it under her wings till the day she was assassinated.
Mrs. Gandhi’s own words summarize the purpose and theme of this book on her love for all things and beings of nature are as follows:
“As an only child whose childhood was invaded by the turbulence of a vast national upheaval, I found companionship and inner peace with nature. I grew up with love for stones, no less than tress and for animals of all kinds. I have always felt that closeness to nature helps to make one more integrated personality. “