05/23/2009 11:50 PM
Dubai: Parpui Shaw, a 36-year-old Indian-born British said it was heartbreaking for her, to hear people calling India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a 'puppet or weak'.
"Uncle [Singh] is neither weak nor a puppet. He just does not talk much which in my opinion is misinterpreted as his weakness," said Shaw, a business development manager. She lives in Abu Dhabi with her British husband and two children.
Having developed a strong familial bond with Singh's family for over a decade, Shaw said: "I have known the family since 1992. I cannot describe how tense I was on May 16 when the vote counting was being held."
She said she heaved a sigh of relief when it became clear the Congress Party was set to sweep the country.
"One of the other reason as to why I wanted to let the readers know of the sentiments that I carry for Singh was Gulf News readers' opinion poll on the general elections. I was overjoyed to read non-resident Indians had favoured Singh as their prime minister."
On hearing of the election results, she stated that she telephoned Singh at his residence in New Delhi to extend her congratulations. "But he was obviously busy and so I got in touch with aunty (Singh's wife)," said Shaw, who has a special telephone number on which she keeps in contact with Singh and his wife.
Originally from the North Eastern state of Mizoram, Shaw came in contact with Singh through his second daughter, Daman.
"When I was in college I also used to work for the North Eastern Panorama magazine, which holds a distinction of being the first English magazine published from Shillong. I was introduced to Daman by the then chief minister of Mizoram. Since then Daman and me became good friends. It is through her that I got introduced to the whole family. In 1994 when I went to New Delhi I was touched by the simplicity of both uncle and aunty and the house in which they lived in. He was then the finance minister. Even though he was busy, he made some time to play with my children. I got the same feeling when I paid him a visit at his prime ministerial residence in 2004. Everything was simple that I hardly felt I was in the PM's residence."
Shaw said she can never forget the humbleness of the family when she carried a traditional Mizoram shawl as a gift to Singh's wife.
"I vividly remember the day even today. I was then working with Indian Airlines and keeping with the Indian tradition of carrying a gift while visiting a close family or friends, I brought a shawl for aunty and she just refused to take it. Upon my insistence she agreed to take it provided she pays for it. I was in a fix. The shawl came for Indian rupees 1500 (Dh 100). I had no choice but to take the money.
"The other example of their frugal lifestyle was an old film camera that is still used by uncle and aunty. Daman was clicking away photographs with that in the lawns of the PM's residence and she told me how old the camera was. I wanted to gift them with a new digital one but decided against it after the shawl experience," added Shaw. She also takes extra care about her dressing when she visits the PM's residence. "They are so simple that one has to take care and avoid any display of pomp."
Shaw said there is an impression that since she is close to Singh's family, she enjoys a lot of privileges. "On the contrary, uncle does not like misusing his power for personal favours and so does not even help his own brother. I am just glad that such a humble and ethical man is chosen to lead the country by the people," said Shaw.