George Fernandes, an unassuming leader

Published: Tue 29 Jan 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Jan 2019, 9:36 PM

India's former defence minister George Fernandes passed away at the age of 88 after prolonged illness. He was the last true socialist leader India has produced. He was a self-made man, who came to Mumbai from Mangalore at a young age in search of better work opportunities. He slept on the pavement and worked in hotels to support himself. He was a fiery trade union leader and rose to become the undisputed leader of BEST, a civic transport and electricity provider public body in Mumbai. In fact, he was instrumental in introducing many welfare programmes for BEST employees. He was a strong supporter of Tibetan freedom struggle despite strong opposition from nearly all political parties. As the defence minister he will be remembered for overseeing Pokharan nuclear tests in 1998 and Kargil war in 1999. He was honest and diligent when every second politician in India is reportedly looking for easy money. RIP, George Fernandes.
- KM Divakaran, India

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