A few weeks ago I had lunch with Vishwanath Anand – in case you’re wondering, yes, it’s the same man – the World No. 1 Chess Player and World Chess Champion from 2007 who defended his title against Vladmir Kramnik in 2008, and then did it again in the World Chess Championship 2010 against Veselin Topalov.
And what hit me most, was that the man is humility personified. He is clever, charming and easy to be with.So at dinner the next night, when a family friend (who is a friend of Anand’s and was the reason I got to meet him in the first place) was suggesting that he is a great candidate for the President’s job in India, I thought it was a radical – but brilliant – idea!
Here is a man who is inspirational to thousands of young people: the awe he inspired amongst the wide-eyed crowd of techies and students at a corporate chess meet I attended, was to be seen to be believed;is deeply rooted in Indian culture and ethos (he now lives in Chennai and was discussing the classical music concerts he had just been to); speaks many languages (German, Spanish and some French) and is well-travelled (he lived in Madrid for a few years as it was easier to travel to the many tournaments that are played in Europe every year); has a long list of achievements (has been awarded the Padma Vibhusan amongst other awards); is a good conversationalist and can (knowledgeably) discuss economics, world affairs and politics.
And the clincher? It would have to be his beautiful wife Aruna, for whom running the Rashtrapati Bhavan would be a breeze after the kind of organising and planning that she needs to do to ensure Anand can continue to do what he does best. Play Chess. And motivate people.
I don’t play chess. But like every other Indian I have followed Anand’s successes from time to time. However it was this article in the Crest that brought out the real character of the shy, smiling man that we all get to see in the papers (my mother-in-law told him in a slightly breathless voice – ‘You’re much taller than what I imagined. And so much cuter too!’) and gave me insight into what makes this man endear himself, even to his most bitter rivals.
So to cut a long story short, in a few years, I think Anand would be a worthy heir to the long list of remarkable presidents that India has been fortunate enough to have – starting from the iconic Dr. Rajendra Prasad to Zakir Hussain to Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Now if only someone could forward this to Rahul Gandhi & Co, we may one day have a whole new generation of promising young leaders, march us into the future.
Vishwanath Anand for President. Remember you heard it here first. 🙂