The passing away of Nelson Mandela received the highest notice possible in the Indian media with The Telegraph (December 7) beating everyone at the job with a full-page pictorial coverage under the title Mahatma of Our Times and an additional four pages covering the life and times of its icon, which must be a record of some kind. Mandela’s comparison with the Mahatma was indeed apt.
As The Indian Express (December 7) said, “Like Mahatma Gandhi before him, the anti-apartheid icon knew that the brutality of the White colonialist was not their ‘real’ nature.” Mandela, noted the Express, was ever ready to sacrifice his life “for a cause which made him stand out like a giant among his contemporaries and which will always make him shine like a beacon for future generations.” “It was because of Gandhi” said the paper, “and Mandela that the 20th century will be remembered as it produced two of the greatest personalities of our times.”
DNA (December 7) said Mandela’s “two greatest achievements were to see justice as a means to achieving lasting peace, not extracting a price for past sins and to renounce power when it would have been easy for him to choose otherwise.” The paper agreed that Mandela was no saint and made his mistakes “both personal and political”. It also conceded that he could be autocratic at times but it went on to say that “it is human greatness that runs deeper than the fallibility attributed to the bloodless figures history transfigures great men into.”
The Hindu (December 7) said “the world has lost one of the greatest figures of the 20th century” remaining “the country’s moral compass in the silence of his twilight”. The paper took note of the fact that he had appointed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, saving the nation “from a descent into bloodshed”. In conclusion it said that “by leading his country out of the horrors of racial segregation” he has “won his place in history” and “his successors must not seek their own”.
Hindustan Times (December 7) said Mandela is “a man who belongs to the ages.” It noted that Mandela lived his life, never blaming others for his misfortunes” and “never sought revenge”. Mandela, the paper said, also lived by the principle “that bitterness and hate can achieve no lasting good.” Saying that “it was not for nothing that he was called the Gandhi of South Africa.” The paper said “even those bitterly opposed to his politics could not but have respect and admiration for his towering intellect and impeccable integrity…. (since) he did not use his personal tragedies to score political points.” Added the paper: “His passing has created a cataclysmic upheaval of sorrow around the world.”
Deccan Herald (December7) pointed out that “Mandela’s passing is being mourned not just in South Africa whose people be freed from oppressive White rule, but worldwide”. Pointing out that during his 27 years in jail Mandela had attained uncompromising commitment to fight injustice.
The Asian Age (December 7) said that the world has again lost a Mahatma. Mandela, said the paper “set a memorable example” by declining to serve beyond a single five-year term.
The Economic Times (December 7) said it is a mark of Nelson Mandela’s stature that his death is “genuinely mourned almost as a personal loss” and that years after the struggle to end apartheid he still symbolises the struggle against discrimination.
The Times of India in a long and detailed editorial, said, “Mandela’s struggle was waged against a harsher environment than Gandhi battled” and once he also strayed off from the path of non-violence.
The Times of India incidentally also published in the very editorial column an article by Rajiv Bhatia, a former High Commissioner to South Africa and currently Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs. Bhatia reminded his readers that there was a time when, “at a particular stage in history” Mandela had concluded that non-violent means would not work against the brutal apartheid regime and consequently had become the architect and leader of ANC’s military wing. Only towards the end of the struggle did Mandela mould his party’s decision in the direction of peace, to turn South Africa “into a rainbow nation”.