Patil’s love for Maharashtra

By Liz Mathew, IANS

On Board Air India Special Aircraft : President Pratibha Patil could not hide her special love for her native state Maharashtra during her trip to Latin America that began Saturday.

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While interacting with media, Patil specially referred to the contribution of a person from her state to the bilateral relations between India and Mexico.

Pointing out that Mexico is the largest trading entity in the Latin American region and that New Delhi has had “long civilizational and traditional links” with that country, Patil recollected that it was a Marathi who initiated the ties between two countries.

“It was Pandurang Khankhoje – who was from Vidarbha and in fact from Wardha district – who initiated the ties. He was a person wandering through many countries during which he did all kinds of jobs – sometimes as a labourer and sometimes as a coolie. He finally landed in Mexico,” a visibly elated Patil explained the story to the media accompanying her.

“He became an agricultural professor there. And in 1949, then ruler sent him to (India’s first prime minister) Jawaharlal Nehru as an emissary. He had initiated the relations. Then in 1950, VIjayalakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister, was sent as an emissary to Mexico,” Patil said.

The president also recollected that India’s green revolution, launched by late prime minister Indira Gandhi, had Mexico’s contribution.

“The famous semi-dwarf wheat variety Sonora which played such a major role in India’s Green Revolution also came from Mexico,” she said.

“That is how we have entered the privileged partnership with Mexico,” Patil said.

The last high-level visit to Mexico was by former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986. The last Mexican visit to India was by president Miguel de la Madrid i n 1985.

The president will be reaching in Mexico Wednesday and will be visiting Mexico city and Guadalajara province.