Sonia extolls Indian culture, youth dynamism

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New Delhi, Oct 4 (UNI) Born Sonia Antonia Maino in an Italian town in 1946, she assumed the famous surname of 'Gandhi' after her marriage with Rajiv Gandhi.

Her opponents raked up the issue of her foreign origin till they were quitened by the Supreme Court a couple of years ago, settling the issue once and for all and removing all doubts about her Indian citizenship.

Reminiscing over her eventful career in a signed article written exclusively in Hindi, Ms Gandhi, now the Congress president and UPA Chairperson, has extolled the dynamism of Indian culture, saying she has been deeply influenced by it.

In the article for Outlook (Hindi), the first in Hindi written exclusively for any Indian magazine or newspaper, she says this dynamism is well reflected in the Indian youth who are availing of great opportunities not only in India but also in the entire world.

The article almost coincides with BJP president Rajnath Singh's demand that the Congress president should relinquish her surname of 'Gandhi' if she did not believe in the Lord Rama. The demand was made in an apparent reference to the controversy over the Ram Setu issue.

Ms gandhi begins her article by quoting Indira Gandhi's interview to the French Radio in 1971 in which the latter had said: My roots in Indian culture are very deep because my entire upbringing and education were based on its ethos. I belong to a family which was fully involved in the welfare of the country and its people. I was also brought up in a manner to treat myself as a global citizen.'' Writing with a personal touch, Ms Gandhi acknowledges how her husband Rajiv and mother-in-law Indira Gandhi played a significant role in inculcating in her the spirit of Indian culture, which is inclusive and does not alienate.

She says Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had dreamt of an India that would be modern, yet not lose its identity. She also recalls how she travelled with her husband to distant villages and various states and how it helped her in developing an understanding of the culture and lifestyles of different regions of the country.

Underlining India's secular ethos, Ms Gandhi writes, ''We would be honest to our own religion only if we respect other people's right to follown their faith.'' About the dynamic political traditions of the country, she says in her article: ''Unlike in the West, Indian women did not have to agitate for the right to vote. The Indian Constitution has granted gender equality since women had partcipated equally in the struggle for freedom and basic rights.'' While acknowledging the strength of Indian culture, the Congress president, who was named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2004, also refers to the challenges of poverty and inequality that India still has to overcome.

UNI

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