Manohar Parrikar may have breathed his last but this statesman will remain in the hearts and minds of millions of Indians for a long time to come.
This four time Chief Minister of Goa and former Defence Minister of India was a man who truly imbibed Mahatma Gandhi’s well known quote, “Simple living, high thinking.” Dressed in a simple shirt, trouser and sandals with his spectacles hanging on his neck was how Manahor Parrikar lived even as he served on some of the most prominent positions of Indian politics. From travelling in auto when needed, standing in queues unlike most celebrities, getting his son married in a simple community center, washing his own clothes to living in a room of a government house when he was the Defence Minister, there’s a long list of things that describe the simplicity with which he lived his life.
After losing his wife to cancer in the year 2000, the year he first became the CM of Goa, he raised two sons while serving as the Chief Minister.
His dedication and love for his state Goa could be well deciphered from the fact that he shed tears when he was made the Defence Minister of the country which meant leaving behind Goa. As the Defence Minister of the nation, his involvement in the surgical strike after the Uri attack is well known to everybody.
Yet, this is not something I’ll remember him the most for.
He was diagnosed with advanced Pancreatic Cancer last year in February. Any normal human, you or me would have easily and conveniently resigned to the comforts of our home and left all the responsibilities. Yet, there must be something extraordinary in this man that even this fatal illness couldn’t deter him from working tirelessly for his state and nation. Notwithstanding the constant visits to hospitals in Delhi, Mumbai and USA, his duties as the Chief Minister of Goa were always his topmost priority. While getting his treatment done in the USA, he used to have daily conference via telephone with the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the CMO. Files and documents were scanned and sent to him by email and fax and the Chief Minister’s decisions are conveyed over phone, fax or email.
After returning to the country, he continued fulfilling his duties, going to office, attending important events with a tube running through his nose to support his breathing. His health continued deteriorating but his frail health couldn’t stop this dynamic leader to go about working for his people.
This is what India will remember Manohar Parrikar for. This is something which sets standard for all the leaders and for all of us too. For people like us who easily give up in adverse situations, Manhor Parrikar stands tall as an epitome of dedication and hard work. He will be remembered for his conscientiousness for generations to come.
He said in January this year “will serve Goa till my last breathe”. He stood true to his words unflinchingly.