Saturday, March 6, 2010

Of Letters Part 2 :)

The last week, Pranab Mukherjee's daughter Sharmishta had written a letter to her father about the budget she would like to see. Mr. Mukherjee replied to her. The following is his letter. I loved the letter, I believe that letters have their own charm , how much slow they could be, but there is this whole excitement about writing a letter and waiting anxiously for the reply... And we are losing that charm, when was the last time any of us got a letter.. I love letters and also posted one that I had written to a friend.. Coming back, note the wit and the humor.. it is amazing :) It remeinded me of Nehru's letters to Indira

I must confess that I was a bit surprised reading your open letter. I know you from the moment you opened your tiny mouth to take in your first breath and gave a hearty yell. Since then your mother and I learnt that we are not ingenious enough to make you keep your mouth shut for two minutes at a go. So it is not really correct to say that you were "silenced by my steely glance" (I wish it was that simple)! However, out of sheer pragmatism, I have learnt to shut my ears when you start your non- stop chattering. (This practice has also helped me somehow to tide over noisy situations in my long political innings). That could be the reason why I might have missed your wise suggestions on the Budget.

I have noticed that you have also adopted this trait very well. Consequently, all advices given to you fall on deaf ears. But I do hope that you read this letter and don't shut your eyes as well. I am happy that in your letter you have raised certain concerns like animal welfare, security of women and irresponsible social behaviour of some people. But here's a piece of advice -- do not except to have solutions to all the problems by just writing a letter to your father even though he happens to be the finance minister of the country.

The functioning of a democratic society is a collective responsibility of the government, the political leadership and the common citizens of the country. The state can not function in isolation for creating an ideal society where kindness to animals and respect to fellow citizens would be a norm not imposed by the state but out of genuine concerns for others. Only an active participation of all responsible citizens of the country can help us achieve this goal.

If you are seriously concerned about these issues, then be more proactive in addressing these concerns.Voicing these is just a preliminary step. As I have quoted in my Budget speech this year, "With development and economic reforms, the focus of economic activity has shifted towards the non-governmental actors, bringing into sharper focus the role of government as an enabler. An enabling govt.does not try to deliver directly to the citizens everything that they need.Instead it creates an enabling ethos so that individual enterprise and creativity can flourish. Govt. concentrates on supporting and delivering to the disadvantaged sections of the society".

To address some of your personal concerns, I wish to make no comment on your cooking. Only thing I may say that I empathise with your friends. As a father, I am left with no option other than to literally "lump" your food. As friends, they have the option to exercise their right to choose. But you may use your culinary skill as a litmus test for your friendship. A true friend will indeed endure your cooking occasionally as long as you don't try their patience too often.

Coming to the last point, ie, your demand for pocket money. I am willing to look into the matter as long as you are willing to negotiate reasonably. We may arrive at a sum through mutual consent but only if you promise to rationally discuss the matter and not try to get your way through emotional blackmailing.

Yours truly,
Pranab Mukherjee

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