Maharashtrian pride blossoms in President Patil

April 13th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil
(Lead, superseding earlier story)
By Liz Mathew
On Board Air India Special Aircraft, April 13 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil’s pride in her home state Maharashtra was visible as she recalled the contribution of a Maharashtrian in promoting bilateral ties between India and Mexico. Patil, who began her tour of Latin America Saturday, said that Mexico was the largest trading entity in the region and that India had “long civilizational and traditional links” with that country.

She added that it was a Maharashtrian who initiated the relations between the two countries.

“It was Pandurang Khankhoje - who was from Vidarbha and in fact from Wardha district - who initiated the ties. He was a person wandering through many countries during which he did all kinds of jobs - sometimes as a labourer and sometimes as a coolie. He finally landed in Mexico,” Patil told reporters.

“He became an agricultural professor there. And in 1949, the then ruler of Mexico sent him to (India’s first prime minister) Jawaharlal Nehru as an emissary. He had initiated the relations. Then in 1950, VIjayalakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister, was sent as an emissary to Mexico,” Patil said.

The president also recollected that India’s green revolution, launched by late prime minister Indira Gandhi, had Mexico’s contribution.

“The famous semi-dwarf wheat variety Sonora, which played such a major role in India’s Green Revolution, also came from Mexico. That is how we have entered the privileged partnership with Mexico,” Patil said.

The last high-level visit to Mexico was by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986. Mexican President Felipe Calderon visited India in September 2007.

The president will reach Mexico Wednesday and will visit Mexico City and Guadalajara province.

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