Saluting the spirit of the Iron Lady

As the world pays tribute to the iconic politician who passed away on Monday, City Express finds out how Chennaiites remember former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Published: 10th April 2013 07:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2013 07:51 AM   |  A+A-


There may be very few people in this city who know about Lady Margaret Thatcher’s achievements and political legacy, but her name is one that most people have heard. When City Express spoke to middle-aged people in the city, most of them said that they had always been impressed by the how she rose to become the prime minister of the United Kingdom.

“It was very inspiring. They say that many women across the world took to politics because of her,” said Usha Jhansi, a retired college lecturer who taught political science, “There was speculation that Indira Gandhi took a lot of inspiration from her.”

To mourn her passing the British Deputy High Commission in Chennai had its flag at half-mast on the day she died. “We will also have the flag at half-mast on the day of her funeral, to honour her memory,” said Mike Nithavrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai. Mike also said that a condolence book would possibly be kept at the High Commission on Anderson Road for people to leave messages for Thatcher’s family, “Ideally, this would be done between the person’s death and funeral so that the messages could be sent to the family, but we ought be able to do something soon,” he said.

Mike is one of the few people who met Lady Thatcher when she was the British Prime Minister, back in 1989. Even though it was only for a “few fleeting moments when she shook my hand”, Mike admits that it was a proud day for him.

“It was my first posting after I joined the diplomatic service and I was posted to Kuala Lumpur. She (Thatcher) had come there to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and I had the honour of meeting her,” he recalled fondly.

“The Iron lady was best known for her bold decisions, especially the move to wage war against Argentina over the Falkland Islands,” said Roy Rozario, president of the Anglo Indian Suburban Front, “We are not judging whether it was right or wrong, as war is never right. However, she was one who could not just sit around and watch,” he said.

“The Anglo-Indian community mourns Thatcher’s death. She was as tough as nails and completely committed to the progress of Great Britain, unlike our politicians who are only worried about their vote banks and keen on bringing their relatives and whole extended family into politics,” he said.

Ironically, several college students showed blank faces when quizzed about Margaret Thatcher; some had seen The Iron Lady, the biopic on Thatcher’s life starring Meryl Streep. “Oh yes, Meryl Streep was brilliant as Margaret Thatcher. After watching the movie, I went online and read about the woman. She sounds like Britain’s Indira Gandhi, a real go-getter,” said Malaika Bohra, a first year BCom student at a city college.

Her friend Athulya could not stop gushing about Thatcher’s elegance and taste in clothes. “She iconised feminine ties and bows, which are coming back into fashion now. Meryl Streep’s clothes in the movie did not do justice to the beautifully tailored suits that Thatcher used to wear, along with innovative brooches and classy hats. Thatcher was better dressed than even Princess Diana,” said Athulya, an aspiring fashion designer.

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