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Monday, April 14, 2014

Redeeming Greatness

My visit to the Heritage Transport Museum near Rewari on the 12th was an eye opener. I could never have imagined that such an outstanding creation can emerge in India that too in a place regarded as backward by many. The museum that covers a wide cross section of road transport and a good genuine sprinkling of rail heritage with a little bit of air and marine heritage thrown in is a place to visit for an indian in love with his country and a visiting foreigner wanting to visit a place that the nation regards as a place of pride.

The visit was unique in that it reinforced in me the belief that there are still some good men (and women too) who care for their country and would go to any extent to live their dreams, dreams that are great in themselves and also contribute greatly in making this country great. That it is still possible to achieve so much despite the constraining environment is a thought that loomed on me for a long period after this brief visit.

Almost two decades back when I was appointed the director of the national rail museum, I inherited a file the subject of which was the creation of the nation’s first transport museum. In the backdrop of a dilapidated museum crying for attention, I perhaps rightly let that file rest in peace and concentrated on a number of minor improvements that to some extent redeemed the original glory of the place. Transport museum at that time appeared to me like an ambition whose time has not yet come.

And so when I walked into Tarun Thakral’s creation recently, I was pleasantly surprised but also satisfied that this national dream has finally been redeemed. Tarun Thakral, the managing trustee of the museum and the chief executive officer of Le Meridien in New Delhi has given to the nation many times over what the nation would have given him in his entire life. He has put his entire life’s savings and almost two decades of energy and effort in realizing his dream of giving the nation its first ever transport museum and in the process proved that there are many like napoleon for whom the word impossible simply does not exist. It is indeed men like Tarun who really deserve the Padma honors that the nation has been bestowing generally to the undeserving, in tune with the national policy of giving the cold shoulder to the meritorious.

Tarun’s achievement reinforced in me the belief that it is indeed individuals fired with inner zeal, conviction and commitment who are the real assets of the nation, that needs to nurture, encourage and reward such individuals if only with the selfish motive of inspiring many others to join this coveted league and propel the nation further towards progress.

The German nation is a classic example of being repeatedly led by individuals who have lifted the nation from pits to emerge as the most powerful nation in the world. Closer home Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia are examples of one man powerhouses who in their lifetime positioned their nation much ahead of what it was when they came on the national scene. Unfortunately we have awaited the arrival of a nation builder on the national scene since long.

Indeed history has repeatedly shown that it is single individuals who have propelled organizations and nations forward, never a collective. And therein lies hope for the future of this nation, hope that almost the entire population now has in one man who has already proved his mettle by taking his state forward by decades in a matter of years. The arrival of Modi, the epitome of integrity, commitment and deliverance on the national scene is indicative of changing times, a change that the nation has been yearning for since the famous midnight tryst with destiny. Perhaps now is the time for this nation to redeem its greatness and emerge in the frontline of the league of nations.   

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