04 December, 2020

The Gentle Colossus

A scholar and diplomat, India's first Dalit President gave us an enlightened moral centre

The Gentle Colossus
In March 2000, when Bill Clinton visited India as the United States president, K.R. Narayanan was his host as the Indian head of state. At a banquet in Clinton's honour, Narayanan spoke without mincing words. "For us," he said, "globalisation does not mean the end of history and geography and of the lively and exciting diversities of the world. As an African statesman has observed, the fact that the world is a global village does not mean that it will be run by a village headman. In this age of democracy it will be headed by a panchayat. For us, the UN is the global panchayat, and that is why we want it to be democratised and sustained.... In such a globalised world society, there would be no place for war, for hegemonistic controls or cut-throat competition."

The message he wanted to convey was simple: globalisation must benefit all nations, big and small, rich and poor, and all peoples, especially those at the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, or else it won't be acceptable. In other words, economic policies must be crafted to help equitable development, a primary...


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