PENG LIYUAN FIRST LADY OF CHINA
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Mme Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China is indeed a fantastic personality who loves people and in turn is loved by the people all over the world. It is a rare quality of hers and it is so because she is humane. She is ever ready to alleviate the suffering of common man, be it in China, India, Sri lanka or anywhere else in the world.
The First Lady plays no political role at this point of time. Will she play a role on the political permanent of the most populous nation in future? It is kind of hard to tell. It is after a long time that the world has come to know about the spouse of the present Head of State of China. In earlier years the First Lady was neither seen nor heard at public meetings. Last time we saw and heard of the First Lady was in the Mao era when the fourth living wife of Chairman Mao Dzdong, Jiang Jing, came on stage and was in the limelight in the waning years of life of the political colossus, Chairman Mao. It would be better for both the writer and the reader if no comparisons are drawn between the Present and the Past. Let us leave the matter at that.
The people of India came to know her from close quarters when she took a stroll along the banks of the Sabarmati Ashram along with her darling husband, President of China and Pradhan Mantri Narendra bhai Modi of Bharat. The First couple of China were on a 3-day State visit to India and were in Gujarat to appreciate the cultural aspect of the land that produced Apostle of Peace, Mahatma Gandhi. By the way, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, a great social and religious reformer of the 19th century, Sardar Patel, the unifier of Bharat and the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi are all from the great land of Gujarat.
Mme Peng Liyuan won the hearts and minds of people of Gujarat and through electronic media of the entire country, nay the world, when she sang a Hindi song from Raj Kapoor’s fabulous film, Awara. She has a lovely voice, a stately presence and a poise seen in the royalty of yore. The Press, especially the camera persons went breathless in moving from place to place to cover every moment through the lens for posterity. Indeed she was writing history of renewed relationship between the two neighbouring giants of ASIA. She advanced more than half way in sweetening the relationship between India and China that had gone sour a little over half a century ago.
Born in a non-descript small place in Shandong, a north-western province of China, she joined the Chinese Army at the age of 18 years. Rose higher and still higher by dint of hard work, merit and her amiable personality besides her sweet and melodious voice that endeared her to the rank and file of the Army and she never looked back in her career. She specialized in eulogizing the brave soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army who became martyrs and brought them to the fore in her Chinese opera. Young girl named Peng Liyuan became a legend in her lifetime. She was honoured by being granted the civilian equivalent of the high rank of a Major General in the PLA.
Mme Peng enjoys every moment of a new situation and takes little time to adjust to the new environment. She along with her husband, President Xi Jingping strolled along the Sabarmati river bank where the Gujarati folk singers, dancers and other artists were performing individually and in groups. She stopped by to understand and appreciate the folklore of Gujarat and the rural dress explained meticulously by Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi himself. At an indigenous swing they stopped by and Modi ji invited them to swing which they did. The photo of President Xi and Mme Peng on the Gujarati swing went viral on the social media all over the world. The media in China too published it appreciatively both in print and electronic media. President Xi invited Prime Minister Modi to share the swing with them but he politely declined. Perhaps Modi Ji did not wish to steal the thunder of the publicity and rightly so.
President Xi accompanied by Prime Minister Modi went round the Gandhi Ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati river but Mme Peng had excused herself from this event. Perhaps she was preparing for the walk along the river front and meet the folk artists. After all, she herself being a folk singer of international repute wished to spend more time with folk artists after she was refreshed and relaxed subsequent to a spending some moments away from the glare of the media and the public gaze. The dinner served to them, and other chosen guests that Prime Minister hosted in a Swiss tent was absolutely vegetarian served in the Gujarati thali. Just imagine how polite the Chinese First Couple were to relish one hundred fifty Gujarati vegetarian dishes on a platter called thali whereas they are purely non-vegetarians!
Indeed Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi played a perfect host and made the distinguished guests absolutely at home in his home State, Gujarat. It was a welcome break from the routine visits to mausoleums of brick and mortar or marble built on bones of dead persons. In contrast in Gujarat everything was vibrant and pulsating with life reflecting the culture of village folks who presented a welcome change. The credit for this innovation goes to Narendra bhai Modi, a man of vision who lives and breathes with the masses of rural Bharat.
Next day the day dawned in Delhi, the capital city of India. President Xi Jinping and his official entourage were busy for the next day and a half in diplomatic discussions sorting out the myriad problems to make the way to future smooth. Mme Pend Liyuan visited the Mother’s International School to be with the children. Chinese-Mandarin is taught as a subject in the school and students proved their knowledge of the difficult language by talking to the distinguished guest in the national language of China. They sang a Chinese song and the First Lady too hummed the tune. She said that she had sung it too in her younger days. She sang a song in her melodious voice for the children ad that was admired immensely.
If Music be the food of Love, Play On, so wrote Shakespeare in one of his plays and it came to be true in Mme Peng Liyuan’s visit to India. Music and melody did play a crucial role in sweetening the thought and words besides what the Gujarati dishes had done in the Swiss tent along the Sabarmati river. It was indeed Sweetness all the way all along.
Mobile: 0091-9811173590. Fixed line: 0091-120-2454622.