Peres in India 311.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO))
An Indian parliamentary delegation was gratified on Monday to hear President Shimon Peres compare legendary political activist Mahatma Gandhi, known in India as ‘the Father of the Nation,’ to a Biblical prophet.
It was especially gratifying to Naveen Jindal, the leader of the delegation, who is a member of the National Congress Party, the party of which Gandhi was the leader.
The multi-party delegation, whose members were all first time visitors to Israel, included Naresh Gujral of the Shiromani Akali Dal party and Jayant Chaudhary of the Rashtriya Lok Dal Party, each of who is the son of a former prime minister of India.
Peres spoke of how much he reveres Indian culture, and how highly he regards the wisdom of India “which never ages but remains fresh.” He also demonstrated that he was au fait with the personal life of the Indian leadership and inquired about the latest grandchild of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
On the subject of bi-national relations, Peres expressed satisfaction at the degree of cooperation between Israel and India and noted that both are equally challenged by terrorism. He was pleased to see India’s progress in areas of modern science and technology, and said that Israel was following these developments and finds them fascinating.
Sharing an anecdote about one of his meetings with US President Barack Obama, Peres told the delegation, including Indian ambassador Navtej Singh Sarna, that he had told Obama that there was no truth to the adage that the future belongs to the young. “The present belongs to the young,” he said. “The future belongs to me because I have time.”
Jindal said that all the members of the delegation were very keen to come to Israel, and expressed the delegation’s joint admiration for Israel and the way it is handling terrorism. He declared that there was plenty of room for bilateral cooperation in the realms of information technology, homeland security, defense and agriculture.
“There are ways for Israel and India to work together not only for their mutual benefit but for the benefit of the whole world,” he said.
Regarding prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Peres, as usual, was optimistic, noting as he always does that the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians were narrower than ever before, while simultaneously warning that time was running out on opportunities in which to bridge those gaps.
Much of the conversation was philosophical, prompted to a large extent by the deep-seated respect that Peres has for Indian philosophy. He also spoke of the ever changing world and how social concepts will inevitably have to change in tandem with the way in which the world is being transformed by science.
Prakash Javadekar of the Bharatiya Janata Party came away from meeting
profoundly impressed. “He’s a great president and can guide
generations,” he said of Peres, noting in particular one of the
president’s credos that every generation should chart its own course.
Jindal was delighted to find Peres “so upbeat about India” and that
notwithstanding his age he was not bogged down with history, “but is
more concerned with the future than with the past.”