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Gursharan Kaur: India's First Lady's Autobiography

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India's First Lady's Autobiography

ECONOMIC TIMES





Behind every successful man, there is a woman, goes the cliché.

At the first press conference on the first anniversary of his second term as PM, Dr Manmohan Singh was asked about the role played by not one but two women in his life: his wife Gursharan Kaur and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. "I have the benefit of being advised by the Congress president and my wife. Both of them deal with different subjects," he added, much to the amusement of the journalists present.

The advice being offered by Sonia Gandhi is, of course, constantly being written about by the media.

The advice offered by Gursharan Kaur - India's First Lady and the first spouse to hold such a position who has fulfilled her role with competence, grace and aplomb - could be revealed in the autobiography she is reportedly working on. Journalists could even glean insights from the book that she is reportedly writing in consultation with editor-turned-columnist-cum-historian-cum-novelist, Khushwant Singh.

The PM's daughter, Upinder Kaur, a scholar in her own right, has authored books titled Ancient Delhi and A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India. Another daughter, Daman Kaur, has written a book titled The Last Frontier: People and Forests in Mizoram and a novel titled Nine by Nine.

When Tony Blair was the prime minister of the UK, his wife Cherie - a leading lawyer in her own right - came out with a book that was fairly critical of not just his political opponents but his eventual successor. When both the Bushes (father and son) were presidents of the U.S., their wives (Barbara and Laura) wrotebooks about how cute their pet dogs were! When Bill Clinton was the president of the U.S., his wife Hillary wrote a rather profound book titled It Takes a Village, which, some said, was meant to advance her own political career.

While Gursharan Kaur can be counted on to not spill the beans a la Cherie or to further any independent political agenda a la Hillary, any book with which Khushwant is reportedly involved should hopefully be more than just cute!



May 28, 2010
 

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After the White House dinner and state visit, covered extensively by US press, Gursharan Kaur started to become a person of fascination to many Americans. We have another story about her here in the forum. She is apparently known for her personal humility and modesty, always shying from the limelight.

The story I recall is of her attendance at a state reception in India. She helped herself to some appetizer and tea and sat off away from the noisy crowd by herself. She was approached by a very sophisticated and talkative lady who introduced herself and began bragging about her husband, his achievements and exploits. Gursharan Kaur listened with apparent interest. Finally when the "society matron" was finished, she asked Gursharan ji about her husband. "What does he do?" was the question. Gursharan said, "He works for the government." Not satisfied, the elegant woman asked more. "But where does he work?" Answer from Gursharan, "He has an office in the federal facilities." (I can't remember exactly the location, apologies from me.) The woman persisted. "But what is his position?" Only then did Gursharan ji reply, "He is the prime minister." Obviously this story left an impression on me. So much for status seekers. LOL
 

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