Two weeks before she left Rashtrapati Bhavan, former President Pratibha Patil told the media that she is “leaving with a sense of satisfaction”. While at that point of time, most of us did not understand the real meaning of her statement and why she was so glad to leave such a comfortable accommodation in the heart of green and clean Lutyens’ Delhi, today we certainly do: Ms Patil, the 12th President of India, is getting to keep many of the gifts that she got during her now-legendary 22 foreign trips. The gifts will be kept in a newly constructed museum in Amravati, her former constituency. The museum is the former president’s idea and will be run by the Patil family’s Vidya Bharati Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, which runs schools across the district. How lovely to keep it all in the family.
According to reports, the Pratibha Patil museum will house some 150-155 objects that the former president got as gifts and they will be on loan from the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s treasury. The gifts will probably include artefacts, statues and shawls, some of the stuff she got in the course of notching up air miles to all the destinations she went to around the world. Of course, the purpose was to spread enlightenment about the country, don’t get us wrong here. What we still don’t know is whether the museum will have an entry ticket or not. But like all museums in the West, it should also devise ways to earn pots of money just by selling Patil keyrings, fridge magnets, postcards, stationery and DIY books on how to wear the sari in an ultra traditional way.
However, the Pratibha Patil Museum should not stop at the gifts that the former president received and must expand its repertoire in the course of time. Here are a couple of suggestions from us : the museum should start a course on how to commune with those in the other world (Patil is, we are told, a pro at that); how to give life to a dead man (please refer to Ms Patil’s clemency gaffe), how to wrap yourself like a mummy and still manage to take the Republic Day salute and move around without much difficulty; and last but not the least, how to stay on top with very little achievement other than sheer good fortune.