As Fidel Castro passed away on November 25, Indians too shared their emotions on his death.
Fidel Castro remains a polarising figure and even more so after he passed away on November 25. Reports on reactions ranging from grief to celebrations in parts of the world are indicative of how deep an impact the revolutionary left on people across the globe. Being one of the first countries to recognise the socialist government of Cuba post the Castro-led revolution, India remains strongly connected to the leader. There are Cubans who still respect Castro for liberating their country from the domination of their hegemonic neighbour, the US, and ushering in changes ranging from the introduction of measures like free healthcare and education. Even today, Cuba stands strong on these parameters and ranks among developed countries despite being notorious for running under a regime that keeps a strict watch on dissenters and is alleged continual violator of human rights.
Cuban revolutionary leader Castro who served as the country’s leader for over five decades has often been credited for the strong relationship that India has historically shared with the country. Then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru publicly endorsed the country and Castro was known to remark, “The first person who came to see me was Prime Minister Nehru. I can never forget his magnificent gesture. I was 34 years of age, not widely known. I was tense. Nehru boosted my morale. My tension disappeared,” when Nehru visited Castro at a Non-Aligned Movement summit. Indira Gandhi carried on the relations and her son Rajiv Gandhi created history after visiting Cuba and interacting with Castro for over five hours at a meeting. Current Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari also visited Cuba, in 2013, and joined many others in mourning his death.
— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) November 26, 2016
Throughout history, India has extended its support to Cuba beyond a diplomatic stage. With aid ranging from the “Bread of India” during the early nineties as well as writing off of debt and providing Cuba with cash aid. Today, even as Indo-Cuba relations don’t remain as visible in light of growing Indo-US relations, Castro in particular holds a special place in the heart of Indians.
In memory of a revolutionary
His stance on dissent alongside the rigidity of his regime keep the legacy of Fidel Castro disputable, but his personality remains revered by many. Indians across the political spectrum took the occasion of his death to show their respect and grief over the loss of someone who actively shaped the discourse of anti-hegemonic politics.
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi was quick to condole his demise. “I extend my deepest condolences to the government & people of Cuba on the sad demise of Fidel Castro. May his soul rest in peace,” he tweeted, adding, “Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend.” The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee also said, “Heartfelt condolences on sad demise of Cuba’s revolutionary leader, former President and friend of India, Fidel Castro.”
Sitaram Yechury, a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) took to twitter to express his views.
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) November 26, 2016
Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal shared her thoughts as well.
The world has lost a truly great leader. A pillar of the Communist movement. Fidel Castro, Rest in Peace
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) November 26, 2016
Students held candle-lit processions to mourn the loss.
Agartala(Tripura): Students’ Federation of India paid their tribute to Former Cuban Pres. Fidel Castro, who passed away yesterday (26.11.16) pic.twitter.com/MWxlGXlHs5
— ANI (@ANI_news) November 27, 2016