New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the visit of a high-level delegation headed by him to attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela is to convey the 'intense grief and personal loss' India feels over his death.
In his pre-departure statement, Mukherjee said the former South African President was a household name and someone the Indians saw as their own.
"My delegation and I hope to convey to the government and people of South Africa the intense grief and personal loss that we in India feel over the sad demise of the great soul- our beloved 'Madiba'," he said.
Madiba is the name of Mandela's clan.
"My participation in the memorial service by a delegation, representing the cross-section of our political spectrum reflects the high degree of love and respect which Dr Mandela commanded in India," the President said.
"His life was a living example of human strength and courage in the face of brute force and gross injustice. He was the last of the giants who led the world's struggles against the colonialism and his struggle held special significance for us as we saw in him a reflection of our own prolonged anti-colonial struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi," he said.
Mukherjee is accompanied by a delegation which includes UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Members of Parliament Sitaram Yechuri and Satish Chandra Mishra as well as senior officers of the government.
"It is with sadness that I leave for South Africa to attend the State Memorial Service in honour of Dr Nelson Mandela who left his worldly abode on December 5, 2013," Mukherjee said.
He said India and South Africa are countries and peoples who have shared both the tragedy of colonialism and the triumph of the free spirit.
"Today, we stand together united in our determination to realise common goals and build a new world," he said....