Girija Shankar Bajpai

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Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai
KCSI KBE CIE
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Girja Shankar Bajpai.jpg
Girja Shankar Bajpai with the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the first Commonwealth Prime Ministers conference in 1948 in London.
1st Secretary General, Ministry of External Affairs
In office
1947–1952
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Preceded by Null
Succeeded by N. R. Pillai
Personal details
Born 3 April 1891[1]
Allahabad, North-Western Provinces, British India
Died December 5, 1954(1954-12-05) (aged 63)
Nationality Indian
Alma mater University of Allahabad, Merton College, Oxford

Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai KCSI KBE CIE (3 April 1891 – 5 December 1954) was an eminent Indian civil servant, diplomat and Governor. Kanti Bajpai, the Indian academic, is his grandson.

Early life and education[edit]

Bajpai was born in Allahabad as the second son of Rai Bahadur Pandit Sir Seetla Prasad Bajpai CIE (1865 - 1947), who in the course of his career served as Chief Justice and Minister of Justice of Jaipur State and was knighted in 1939.[2] and to Rukmine Shukla (18?? - 1945).[3][4] He was a King's Scholar at Oxford, receiving a B.A. from Merton College, Oxford.[5][6]

Career[edit]

He entered the ICS on 16 October 1915,[7] and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1923 New Year Honours List.[8] The secretary of a Government of India delegation to South Africa in 1926, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in that year's Birthday Honours List[9] and was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)in the 1935 Birthday and Silver Jubilee Honours List while a secretary to the Government in the Department of Education, Health and Lands.[10] In March 1940, Sir Girija was appointed as one of the six members of the Viceroy's Executive Council, the colonial version of a Cabinet.[11] By 1943, he was the Agent-General (roughly equivalent to an ambassadorial post) to the USA for India. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India (KCSI) in that year's Birthday Honours List.[12]

Sir Girija was known for his ethics, oratory, strong will and far-reaching vision. It is said he warned Prime Minister Nehru about the potential for a Chinese invasion more than a decade before it happened.[13][14] He represented India in numerous international forums in the 1930s and 1940s, including at the UN during the Kashmir debate.[5] American diplomat Mr Vincent Sheean has mentioned in his book "Nehru – The Years of Power" that it was a technical error on part of the team headed by Mr Girija Bajpai which filed India's appeal to the UN Pakistan's invasion in Kashmir which led to the issue being considered a dispute rather than an act of aggression by Pakistan. The appeal should have been made under Chapter 7 of the UN charter rather than Chapter 6.[15]

Following the independence of India from the British Raj in 1947, Prime Minister Nehru retained Sir Girija as his principal foreign affairs adviser, appointing him the first Secretary General in the Ministry of External Affairs.[16] In 1952, he was appointed as the Governor of Bombay State, a position he held until his death two years later.

Death[edit]

Sir Girija died in office of a cerebral haemorrhage in the early morning of 5 December 1954, aged 63. He lay in state in the audience hall of Raj Bhavan, his body draped with the tricolour as citizens, political leaders and consular officials filed past. Later that day, with thousands of people lining the streets, his corpse was conveyed to the crematorium in a gun carriage drawn by detachments of the army, navy, air force and the Mumbai Police. He was cremated with full ceremonial honours, including a 17-gun salute, fired as his eldest son, Uma Shankar, lit the funeral pyre.

The then Vice-President of India, S. Radhakrishnan, delivered a eulogy in which he said Bajpai's life had been "an example of devotion and dedication" which would be long remembered.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Sir Girija Bajpai was known for his wealth and lifestyle. He always dressed impeccably and was considered an authority on clothes, fine wines and carpets. His ethics and strong sense of family responsibility led him to pay off his brother's debts, some of which were run up in his name, several times in an effort to preserve the family's reputation. He had four daughters and three sons; Uma Shankar Bajpai, Durga Shankar Bajpai and K.S Bajpai, went on to become diplomats.

He was an early notable in Scouting and Guiding in India, and worked to unify their scattered organisations during the pre-independence era.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The India Office and Burma Office List: 1945. Harrison & Sons, Ltd. 1945. p. 127. 
  2. ^ London Gazette, 2 January 1939
  3. ^ "Oxford Index BAJPAI, Seetla Prasad, Rai Bahadur (1865 - 1947), Chief Justice and Judicial Member of Council, Jaipur, Rajputana". doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U222158 (inactive 2016-09-26). Retrieved 13 May 2016.  line feed character in |title= at position 13 (help)
  4. ^ "Bajpai, Sir Girja Shankar (1891-1954), administrator and politician in India". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30544. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "BAJPAI, Sir Girja Shankar.". Marquis Who Was Who in America 1607–1984. Marquis. Retrieved 27 October 2012.  – via Credo Reference (subscription required)
  6. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 83. 
  7. ^ London Gazette, 2 November 1915
  8. ^ London Gazette, 1 January 1923
  9. ^ London Gazette, 3 July 1926
  10. ^ London Gazette, 3 June 1935
  11. ^ London Gazette, 16 April 1940
  12. ^ London Gazette, 2 June 1943
  13. ^ Bajpai, K.S. "Weightlifting". Outlook Magazine. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Letter from Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to Prime Minister Jahawarlal Nehru". The Tribune. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Sheean, Vincent (1960). Nehru: The Years of Power. Random House. 
  16. ^ Kapur, Harish (2009). Foreign Policies of India's Prime Ministers. Delhi: Lancer Publishers. p. 444. ISBN 9780979617485. 
  17. ^ "This day that age – December 6, 1954". The Hindu. 6 December 2004. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
Preceded by
Raja Maharaj Singh
Governor of Bombay
1952–1954
Succeeded by
Hare Krishna Mahtab