P. N. Haksar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

P. N. Haksar
P. N. Haksar.jpg
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission
In office
4 January 1975 – 31 May 1977
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
1st Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India
In office
6 December 1971 – 28 February 1973
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byV. Shankar
2nd Secretary to the Prime Minister of India
In office
1967 – 5 December 1971
Preceded byLakshmi Kant Jha
Succeeded byOffice temporarily abolished
Personal details
Parmeshwar Narayan Haksar

4 September 1913
Gujranwala, Punjab, British India (now in Pakistan)
Died25 November 1998 (aged 85)
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Spouse(s)Urmila Sapru
ChildrenNandita Haksar, Anamika Haksar

Parmeshwar Narayan Haksar (4 September 1913 – 25 November 1998) was an Indian bureaucrat and diplomat, best known for his two-year stint as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's principal secretary (1971–73). In that role, Haksar was the chief strategist and policy adviser 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 centralisation and socialism, he was a Kashmiri Pandit who became Gandhi's closest confidante in her inner coterie of bureaucrats, the so-called "Kashmiri mafia". Prior to this, Haksar was a diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service, who served as India's 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 and made frequent visits to the Anand Bhawan, the house of Motilal Nehru.[2] Parmeshwar was a voracious reader of art history and also a connoisseur of paintings.[2] During his interlude in London as a student, he was influenced by Fabian socialism and later become associated with Marxists.[1][2]

During the latter years of his life, Haksar became associated with the Delhi Science Forum, initiatives on human rights, and opposition to 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]


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

Early career[edit]

Haksar had already made his mark as a prominent lawyer in Allahabad, before he was selected in the Indian Foreign Service in 1947,[4] and was close to fellow-Kashmiri from Allahabad Jawaharlal Nehru, the latter who would go on to become independent India's first prime minister. 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 India ambassador to Nigeria and Austria.[5] In the 1960s, he also served as a deputy high commissioner in London.[1] After twenty years in the Indian foreign service, he was appointed as an aide to the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi.[4] In 1967, he replaced L. K. Jha as Secretary to the Prime Minister of India, and was promoted to the newly formed post of Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India in 1971, thus becoming the most powerful and senior civil servant in the prime minister's office. He authored the 'Stray Thoughts Memorandum' at the Congress Working Committee meeting in Bangalore which ultimately led to the defenestration of her political rivals such as like Morarji Desai.[6]. Until he vacated the position of Principal Secretary to Indira Gandhi, Haksar exercised significant influence on the formulation of domestic and foreign policies in Raisina Hill.[4] As Principal Secretary, Haksar fashioned Indira Gandhi's decision about the timing and level of support to be given to Bangladeshi freedom struggle, issuing directives from her private office to the top military leadership in some cases.[7]

Administrator and strategist[edit]

Haksar was noted for his strategising on the nationalisation of banks, insurance firms and foreign-owned oil companies, the 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty and India's support to the liberation of what would become Bangladesh. He is also the chief architect of the Shimla Agreement with Pakistan, as he was of the creation of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India's foreign secret intelligence agency[3]

Refusal of Padma Vibhushan[edit]

Upon his retirement from the civil service in 1973, Indira Gandhi offered Haksar India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, for his numerous distinguished services to India; however, in a letter to Govind Narain he declined the honour stating that "Accepting an award for work done somehow causes an inexplicable discomfort to me." The prime minister duly rescinded her offer.[8]


  • Premonitions (1979)
  • Reflections on our Times (1982)
  • One more Life (1990)
  • Genesis of Indo-Pakistan Conflict on Kashmir
  • Haksar Memorial Vol-1Contemplations on the Human Condition
  • Haksar Memorial Vol-2 Contribution in Remembrance
  • Haksar Memorial Vol-3 Challenge for Nation Building in a world in turmoil
  • Nehru's Vision of Peace and Security in Nuclear Age
  • Studies in Indo-Soviet Relations

[9] [10]


  1. ^ a b c 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. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. 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.
  8. ^ "Haksar and the Padma Vibhushan". The Hindu. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  9. ^ http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/157997.P_N_Haksar
  10. ^ https://www.amazon.in/Books-P-N-Haksar/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A976389031%2Cp_27%3AP.N.Haksar

External links[edit]