P. N. Haksar

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P. N. Haksar
P. N. Haksar.jpg
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister
In office
1967–1973
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission
In office
4 January 1975 – 31 May 1977
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Personal details
Born Parmeshwar Narayan Haksar
4 September 1913
Gujranwala (now in Pakistan)
Died 25 November 1998 (aged 85)
New Delhi
Spouse(s) Urmila Sapru
Religion Hindu (Kashmiri Pandit)

Parmeshwar Narayan Haksar (4 September 1913 – 25 November 1998) was an Indian bureaucrat and diplomat, best known for his six-year stint as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's principal secretary (1967–73). In that role, Haksar was the chief strategist behind his inexperienced prime minister's rise to near-absolute power in the mid-1970s. After this he was appointed deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and then the first-ever chancellor of New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.

An advocate of centralization and socialism, he was a Kashmiri Pandit who became Gandhi's closest confidant in her inner coterie of bureaucrats, the "Kashmiri mafia". Prior to this, Haksar was a diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service, who served as ambassador to Austria and Nigeria.

Personal life[edit]

Haksar was born in 1913, Gujranwala (now in Pakistan) in a Kashmiri Pandit family. He studied Sanskrit at home and obtained an M.Sc. from Allahabad university, Uttar Pradesh. He went on to study in the London School of Economics.[1] As a student of Allahabad university, he was a resident of Mayo Hall & made frequent visits to the Anand Bhawan, the house of Motilal Nehru.[2] Parmeshwar was a voracious reader of art history & also a connoisseur of paintings.[2] During his interlude in London, UK, he was influenced by Socialism and become associated with the Marxists.[1][2]

During the latter years of his life, Haksar became associated with the Delhi Science Forum and initiatives on Human Rights, opposition to mindless neo-liberal policies and secularism. He lost his eyesight during the last 10 years of his life. Haksar died at the age of 85, on 25 November 1998.[3]

Career[edit]

As Indira Gandhi's (pictured) principal secretary, Haksar helped a beleaguered and inexperienced prime minister rise to near-absolute power.

Early career[edit]

Haskar had already made his mark as a lawyer in Allahabad, before he moved to the Indian Foreign Services in 1947.[4] and was quite close to fellow-Kashmiri-from-Allahabad Jawaharlal Nehru. A one-time student at the London School of Economics, he was a junior colleague of V. K. Krishna Menon at the India League in London.

Civil services[edit]

P. N. Haksar served as the Ambassador to Nigeria & Austria.[5] In the 1960s, he also served as a Deputy High Commissioner in London.[1] After twenty years of diplomatic service, he was appointed as the secretary to the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.[4] In 1967 he replaced L. K. Jha as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He authored the 'Stray Thoughts Memorandum' at the Congress Working Committee meeting in Bangalore which ultimately led to the defenestration of her political rivals like Morarji Desai.[6] Till the time he moved out from the position of Principal Secretary to Indira Gandhi, Haksar exercised significant influence on the formulation of domestic & foreign policies.[4] As Principal Secretary, Haksar fashioned Indira Gandhi's decision about the timing and level of support to be given to Bangladeshi freedom struggle.[7]

Administrator and strategist[edit]

Haksar was noted for his strategising on the nationalisation of banks, insurance & foreign oil companies, the 1971 Indo-Soviet treaty and the liberation of Bangladesh. He is also the chief architect of the Shimla accord with Pakistan, as he is of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)[3] As long as Indira Gandhi listened to Haksar,she was winning but the time came when she started listening her son Sanjay Gandhi bypassing Haksar and her bad days started.Election, operation blue star and then her own death

Author[edit]

Haksar wrote several books, including Premonitions (1979), Reflections on our Times (1982) & One more Life (1990).[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Singh, Kuldeep (2 December 1998). "Obituary: P.N. Haksar". www.independent.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Mitra, Ashok (12 December 1998). "The P.N. Haksar Story". rediff.com. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Praful Bidwai. "The last of the Nehruvians". Frontline. 19 Dec 1998.
  4. ^ a b c Vohra, N.N. "100 People who shaped India". indiatoday.com. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Indian Embassy, Vienna, Austria". Indian Embassy, Govt of India. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Austin, Granville (1999). Working a Democratic Constitution - A History of the Indian Experience. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 184–185. ISBN 019565610-5. 
  7. ^ Sarker, Monaem (11 November 2009). "Remembering P.N. Haksar: A true friend of Bangladesh". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 

External links[edit]