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When UK First Lady was asked to come to front row at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Sir,

Apropos to the article ‘Padma Awards: Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa recounts meeting PM Modi’ by Prof. G.L. Shekar, recounting the celebrated author’s experience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Council of Ministers at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, published in Star of Mysore dated Apr. 10, I would like to add another noteworthy incident that I saw on TV.

UK First Lady Akshata Murty was at the majestic Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan as her mother, author and philanthropist Sudha Murty was conferred the Padma Bhushan award by President Droupadi Murmu.

Initially, Akshata Murty sat with her family members including father N.R. Narayana Murthy, brother Rohan Murty and Sudha Murty’s sister Dr. Sunanda Kulkarni, in the third or fourth row. The family kept their spot in the middle row alongside other families.

But Akshata Murty was later asked by the Rashtrapati Bhavan officers to move to the front row according to the protocol. She was courteously led to the front row by protocol officers.

Midway through the event, the UK First Lady was seen sitting in the front row next to India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and other dignitaries. Seated on her other side was the family of Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar. Union Minister Anurag Thakur was also in the same row. Akshata stood next to Jaishankar while the national anthem played at the beginning and end of the ceremony [see pic].

There was no UK security with UK PM Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty at the event and this showed her simplicity and her family’s down-to-earth attitude. The family is well-known for their humility and simplicity and they set examples at a time when some politicians and the elite in India openly flaunt their wealth and social stature even if they are acquired through ill-gotten means.  

However, all her other family members continued to sit in the middle row. Akshata Murty, daughter of Infosys Founder Narayana Murthy, married Rishi Sunak in 2009. They met each other while studying at Stanford University. Incidentally, Narayana Murthy was conferred with the Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and Padma Shri in 2000.

– Vidwat, Saraswathipuram, 11.4.2023

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