15 June, 2021

Meeting Mr Maino

"After Sonia's marriage, everyone thinks we have got rich. But the marriage has been an expensive thing for us."

Meeting Mr Maino

THE sparkling white colonnades of 10, Janpath are a long way in distance, time and the trappings of power from 14, Via Bellini, a nondescript house in a slushy lane of Orbassano, a grey industrial town on the outskirts of Turin, the city which exports Fiat cars and machines. That house was proudly built by the rough-hewn hands of Stefano Maino, a building worker who after years of effort had established a small construction business by the 1960s.

He took special pride in his work-worn hands and in the dignity of labour which had motivated him to build a bungalow for his wife and three daughters, Sonia, Nadia and Anoushka. He waved those hands before me some 20 years ago in Orbassano to illustrate that he was a self-made man who had created all that he owned with his own labour. He wished to disprove the allegations made even then that the Maino family had grown rich due to its Gandhi connection.

At that time, in the autumn of 1977, shortly after the Emergency, Maino was not too happy about his daughter Sonia's Indian connections. He resignedly noted: "After...

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