Mukherjee kindles memories of West Bengal

Wenceslaus Anthony – 

Mr Wenceslaus-Anthony
Mr Wenceslaus-Anthony

Pranab Mukherjee, the first President of India to visit New Zealand (from April 30 to May 2, 2016) brought memories of my days in Kolkata as a student.

People of West Bengal are known for their political awareness and are very passionate about exercising their franchise in municipal, assembly and federal elections.

During my time in Kolkata, a number of politicians made it to the National Parliament and the treasury benches. Among them were Pranab Mukherjee, Ajit Kumar Panja, Kamal Nath, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, A B A Ghani Khan Choudhury (all representing the Indian National Congress) and Somnath Chatterjee (Communist Party of India-Marxist).

Admired Leader

Mukherjee kindles memories- Sir Jerry, Pranab Mukherjee and Wenceslaus Anthony WebMr Mukherjee is widely admired and acclaimed for his role as a consensus builder on difficult national issues. He had an innate ability to forge unity amongst the diverse political parties that formed a part of India’s vibrant multi-party democracy.

Not many know that apart from being a diplomat, he was once a Lecturer teaching Political Science at Vidyanagar College and a Reporter at ‘Desher Dak,’ a Bengali newspaper.

Some Congress leaders have described him as a ‘Versatile Minister,’ saying that he is the only person to have held four major portfolios (at different times) including Commerce, Defence, External Affairs and Finance.

Born and raised in a middle-class family of modest means, Mr Mukherjee rose to occupy the highest office in the world’s largest democracy country of more than 1 billion people.

His visit to New Zealand brought great pride and joy to the Indian Diaspora.

It was historic moment for me since I was fortunate to be a part of three major events during his three-day stay in Auckland.

The first was the Sate Banquet hosted by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae at Government House on April 30.

In in speeches at various forums, he expressed confidence in India and New Zealand to forge a closer relationship to boost trade, commerce, tourism and education.

He also extolled the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and his contributions to peace and harmony and self-assertion through non-violence.

Speaking at a business meeting at Langham Hotel on May 1, he outlined education and tourism as two major growth areas.

The meeting, hosted by the Indian High Commission and India New Zealand Business Council, was attended by a number of current and former lawmakers, a cross-section of businesspersons, community leaders and the media.

Wenceslaus Anthony is Chairman, Mother Teresa Interfaith Committee and former Chairman of India New Zealand Trade Council. The above is a highly edited version of his report on the visit of India’s President Pranab Mukherjee to New Zealand last fortnight.


Pranab Mukherjee with Sir Jerry Mateparae and Wenceslaus Anthony at the State Dinner held at the Government House in Auckland on April 30.

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