President, PM condole death of Nirmala Deshpande

May 1st, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday condoled the death of veteran Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande. The prime minister called her a leader of the people who led by example. In a lengthy condolence message, Prime Minister Singh said: “Nirmalaji was a living Gandhian. She dedicated her life to the cause of the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalized in our society, as a true Gandhian.

“She was deeply committed to creating a good society based on Gandhian values of simplicity, decency and honesty. She was a leader of people and she led by example.”

Recalling a peace march Deshpande, a Rajya Sabha MP, organised in Orissa after the terrible murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines in 1999, Manmohan Singh said it inspired many and symbolised her commitment to human life and secular values.

“Nirmalaji’s activism saw her going beyond the struggle launched by Acharya Vinoba Bhave for ‘Bhoodan’, to offering Satyagraha for securing the rights of landless labourers who were allotted land,” he added.

Singh hoped her life would continue to inspire young and old alike in the fight against poverty, ignorance and disease and struggle for a just and equitable society.

“The nation had the privilege of honouring her with a Padma Vibhushan and we were also proud to honour her with the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award. Her voice was heard with respect by one and all in the Rajya Sabha.

“Nirmalaji also contributed to peace-building in our region, by going beyond our frontiers to spread sadbhavana (goodwill) and worked to establish goodwill and peace among neighbours.

“Her work at the Gandhi Global Peace Centre at Gandhi Ashram in Delhi is testimony to her deep commitment to the ideas and ideals of the Father of our Nation.”

Deshpande, popularly known as didi, was 79. She was born in Nagpur on Oct 17, 1929 to Vimlabai and P.Y. Deshpande, who was also a MP.

The diminutive Deshpande, a familiar figure who accompanied visiting presidents, prime ministers and other dignitaries at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Raj Ghat, started her career as a lecturer in political science at Nagpur’s Morris College.

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