Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nation's loss

At the Frankfurt airport I heard about the sad demise of Bhaironsingh Shekhawat. He was the tallest political figure of Rajasthan. His journey from a constable to the Vice President of India is a true reflection of the spirit of Secular Democratic Republic that India is.
I knew him since the time he was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan (picture). The state and its history will never forget his contribution. Shekhawat ji was born in Sikar district of Rajasthan also known as the Shekhawati region in the tourist maps. I too was born in the adjacent district of Churu in the same region. There goes a saying in Rajasthan that the state has only one Singh and that is Bhaironsingh. Singh in Hindi means lion and it is a very common surname in the Rajput community. Shekhawat ji was at the centre of politics in Rajasthan and Rajasthan was very close to his heart. During his tenure as the Vice President of India in Delhi lots of Rajasthani pictures of historical and tourists’ interest adorned the walls of the house.
When he became the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for the first time he had introduced the famous Antodaya Project under which the five lowest income group families from each village got a loan for financial upliftment. The World Bank President McNamara and Mbandi of Ford Foundation after studying the Project had said that Shekhawat was the second Rockefeller.
He was the one who also introduced the law that if somebody had more than two children, he or she cannot fight panchayat or municipal elections. The Supreme Court had given a green signal to this decision.
He visited my residence in Kolkata as well and as the Vice President he also attended few functions organised by me. One was an award ceremony at the Hotel Taj Bengal where Dr Sarla Birla was honoured with the Pravasi Pratibha Puraskar by the Rajasthan Foundation Kolkata, an autonomous body of the Government of Rajasthan, of which I was then and at present am the current Secretary (picture)
As the Vice President of India whenever he visited Kolkata I used to call on him at the Raj Bhavan and he was always kind enough to give time to the various delegations on my request (picture). I met him last in Jaipur at the Civil Lines House after he retired from the post of Vice President of the Republic of India.
This was the third news of death I got during my overseas visit this time. I heard from Rajasthan that Smt Prabha Rao, Governor of Rajasthan, Shekhawat ji and just before his death Acharya Mahapragya, the religious guru of Jain Terapanthi community to which I born, had passed away. I met him last year in Sujangarh (picture) and discussed about the idea of establishing a Peace University in Jain Vishwa Bharti Ladnu. I felt that the resources and infrastructure of Jain Vishwa Bharti was under utilised and therefore I have come up with the idea that was in harmony with the Jain religion’s concept of Peace. Acharya Mahapragya ji took a keen interest and asked me to send a detailed project report on Peace University, which I did.
When someone of a political stature of Bhaironsingh Shekhawat or spiritual stature of Acharya Mahapragya ji dies it is a loss not just for the family or the community but for the entire society and nation.
ess bee

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