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Nehru was no god, we questioned his policies: Haksar`s daughter

Last Updated: Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 13:12

New Delhi: Former diplomat PN Haksar`s activist daughter Nandita has said that though the family had a special place for Jawaharlal Nehru in their home, her father allowed her to question the first Prime Minister`s policies, ideas and even values and, not treat him as a "god".
"We always had a photograph of Nehru in a prominent place in our sitting room so that he was always there listening to our conversations. But Nehru was not god and my father allowed me to question his policies, ideas and even values," Nandita told a news agency in an interaction here recently.

Haksar who served as the Deputy High Commissioner in London in the 1960s was later also the Principal Secretary to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Born in 1913 in Gujranwala in the then British India, his birth centenary was celebrated recently by family members and eminent people here, at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, to which Haksar had donated all his photography collections.

Describing her father as a "nationalist with a song of socialism in his heart", she took a trip down memory lane to share with people the ideals and ideas that made Haksar`s idea of "one secular India".

"All his life he tried to grapple with problems of nationalism. Even a year before he died he wrote in an article that `I am obsessed by words like Bharat, Hindustan, Al-Hind and India.` No religion was practiced in our home but only India was sacred," she recalled.

The legacy of PN Haksar a personality who wore many colourful hats than just of a diplomat was also celeberated.

"Apart from being a fine diplomat he was also a very good photographer, an excellent cook, a devoted gardener and also a father figure to many," former Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN Salman Haider said.

"Some of the portraits of our children taken by him, are still treasured by us. As per cooking, he used to delight guests with his culinary skills," Haider added.

Former Bureau Chief of BBC at New Delhi Mark Tully told a news agency that he wished there were "more Haksars today in India".

"I met him while he was in office and also post-retirement. And, there was something about him that was so different. I wished there were more Haksars today in India," Tully said.

Singh recalled an interesting incident with Haksar.

"I received a call on fine day saying that `I am Haksar and I wish to meet you.` At that time, I didn`t know him but he had read reports about my travel as a MP to Central Asia and thus wanted to see me. He later came to my residence at Teen Murti Lane and that`s how I got to know of this man," Singh said.

Parmeshwar Narain Haksar was educated at Allahabad University (1929-35) and called to the Bar in London right after. He was also India`s first Ambassador to Nigeria and later to Austria.

Noted danseuse Uma Sharma recalled how she met him in London for the first time as a young girl.

"I was the youngest dancer there and after the programme at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, I became closer to him and he was like my godfather," she said.

Youngest daughter Anamika Haksar also recalled the humourous side of the man "who never gave importance to academic grades but knowledge and learning".

"If I would tell him that papa I`ve failed in Maths, surprisingly, he would take us to the market and say `chalo chaat khane` (let us go and have some chaat). But, he said, always go for knowledge and learning and not after grades." she said.


First Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 12:35
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