New Delhi: Former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh on Monday described former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as one of the very prominent international figures of the second half of the 20th century.
"She is undoubtedly one of the very prominent international figures of the second half of the 20th century. Not only was she the first lady Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, she also was the longest serving. She served eleven and a half years. During those eleven and a half years, she not only changed the structure and content of the Conservative Party, but also she did away with the influence of the trade unions which were at one time very powerful," said Singh.
"She was a great exponent of the private sector in which she had very good collaboration with President (Ronald) Reagan. In the Commonwealth with the exception of Smt. Indira Gandhi, she was the second most influential person. She was very tough person to debate with," she added.
The former diplomat also recalled his personal experiences of meeting Thatcher, who was famously known as the ``Iron Lady`` for her personal and political toughness.
"My own personal experience was that I met her at least a dozen of times. And when I was writing an article about her. So, I wrote to her that I am writing this article so it``s proper that I should ask your permission before I write it. I didn``t hear from her," said Singh.
"So, I wrote back again that I did the honourable thing by writing to you since I have not heard from you I am going ahead. Then e-mail came the next day that I have hurt my arm that``s why I could not reply personally, please go ahead," he added.
Thatcher breathed her last at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke.
Thatcher, who served from 1979 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party, was a towering figure in post-war British and world politics.
She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.
Thatcher made few public appearances in her final months, missing a reception marking her 85th birthday hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010.
She also skipped the July 2011 unveiling of a statue honoring her old friend Ronald Reagan in London.
In December 2012, Thatcher was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder.
Lady Thatcher will go down in history not only as Britain``s first female prime minister, but also as the woman who transformed Britain``s economy in addition to being a formidable rival on the international stage.
She was the only British Prime Minister to leave behind a set of ideas about the role of the state, which other leaders and nations strove to copy and apply. (ANI)