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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 40

A PM’s Scrap Book

Tuesday 23 September 2008, by K S Duggal

BOOK REVIEW

Scrap Book of a Prime Minister by I.K. Gujral, edited by K.L. Nandan; Rajpal Publishers, New Delhi.

Due to the proximity that I have with the Gujrals, I have been persuading IK to write his memoirs in the format of an autobiography. I am glad, I have succeeded and not long ago, he started doing so regularly. The other day Mrs Gujral told me that early one morning not finding him in the bed, she went looking for him in the house and found him in the study, busy writing. The word has gone around and a leading publisher from abroad, I am told, came and has already undertaken publication of the work.

It seems, it is in this context that IK fished out his scrap book to revive his memory and locate the references. Lo and behold, an eminent Hindi journalist got the wind of it and has succeeded in giving the script shape and getting a publisher to produce it—an elegant publication of 134 pages in double demy format.

Reading through the title, I am convinced that it is going to form a segment of the proposed memoirs for an autobiography and need not necessarily be in the first person singular alone.

It is said that a man is known by the company he keeps. It is also true to say that a man is known by the books he reads. Truer from what he underlines and retains.

READING IK’s Scrap Book it is obvious that consciously or unconsciously the protagonist was heading for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if not destined to be the Prime Minister.

I cannot do better than to quote a few excerpts from the work under review to support my observation:

In diplomacy an ambassador regularly measures his success by the warmth of the relations he establishes with the government and the people of the country in which he serves.
— Memoirs of John Galbraith

A statesman’s heart must be in head. He must not let sentiments interfere with his policy. In operation of an empire the individual counts for little unless he is Napoleon.
— Napoleon

The cruelest lies are often told in silence.
— R.L. Stevenson

It took him a decade to learn that in politics a straight line is the longest distance between two points.
— The Age of Napoleon by Will Durant

The democratic party is democratic process. We have a right to disgrace without being disagreeable.

The gift of speech was given in order to enable us to conceal our thoughts.
— Tellyrand

When Napoleon divorced Josephine he told her, “I shall always love you, but politics has no heart; it has only a head.”
— The Age of Napoleon by Will Durant

Ruining one’s reputation for hospitality (as a diplomat) is slightly worse than losing your virginity in diplomatic moves.
Children empowered by parents are transformed into responsible citizens. Women empowered through respect assure a stable society. Teachers empowered with knowledge and experience transform students into good human beings. People empowered by their leaders and visionary policies can transform the nation.
— A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Diplomacy is the most beautiful profession. It builds good relations between sstates and prevents war! And if wars appear, it stops them.
— Former Ambassador of USSR to USA – Yury Dobrynin in Moscow Times

Let us beautify our lives; let us carry the message of beauty into every heart and every home. Let us make the pursuit of the beautiful our daily prayer.
— S.N. Roerich

The greatest curse for a man is to remain slave. The grossest crime is to compromise with injustice. The highest virtue is to battle against inequity, no matter what the cost may be.
— Netaji Subhash Bose

The author, a distinguished writer, is a former Member of the Rajya Sabha; he is also the President of the Punjabi Writers Meet.

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