Jairam Ramesh, the Chikmagalur-born former Union minister and resident ‘Kautilya‘ in the Congress, has an excellent piece in The Hindu, on people hankering after prizes as Republic Day approaches.
To prove the exception, he provides the example of P.N. Haksar, the secretary to Indira Gandhi, who played a key role in the nationalisation of banks, the abolition of privy purses, the Bangladesh war, etc.
Ramesh reveals that Haksar, who quit in opposition to Sanjay Gandhi setting up the Maruti car factory, was approached by then home secretary Govind Narain, if he would accept the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour for his services.
Haksar wrote this letter to Narain:
You spoke to me over the RAX yesterday morning and asked me with a rare sense of delicacy, if I would accept the Award of Padma Vibhushan for the Republic Day of 1973. You said that was PM’s desire that I should do so. You were good enough to give me some time to think it over. And this I have done. May I, first of all, say that the very thought that I should be given an award is by itself a great reward for whatever services I may have rendered as a public servant. I am grateful for this to the PM. However, I have a difficulty in accepting the award. All these years, I have often said to myself that one should work so that one can live with oneself without regret. This gave me a measure of inner tranquillity and even courage. Accepting an award for work done somehow causes an inexplicable discomfort to me. I hope I will not be misunderstood. I repeat I am grateful for the thought that my services should be recognised. For me this is enough. I would beg you not to press me to accept the award itself. I shall be grateful if you will kindly convey to PM my deep and abiding gratitude for the privilege I had to serve under her.
Ramesh further reveals that before he was offered the Padma Vibhushan, Haksar had also advised Indira Gandhi to turn down the Bharat Ratna, an offer the then President V.V. Giri had made for her role in the Bangladesh war.
Since his ascension to power, many have compared Narendra Modi to Indira Gandhi, especially for his authoritarian ways. But the difference between them seems to be people like P.N. Haksar, who could say no to the prime minister.
And tell her what she doesn’t want to hear.
As Modi surrounds himself with babus and mantis who apply the ‘makhan’ on every side of the bread and tell him at every moment that he is the greatest thing since sliced bread, somebody like Haksar is a man he will sorely miss when things slip out of control, as they will, if they aren’t already.
Photograph: courtesy DNA
Also read: 18 things you might like to know about Jairam Ramesh
Highly inspirational piece of information…
our land has gave the world the concept of NISHKAMA KARMA .. it is dubbed as outdated now..but souls like Mr.haksar then, and few others today still makes us believe things are not hopeless..
Jairam ramesh should be given more prominent responsibilities in congress.. he has it in him to become the next manmohan Singh…well informed, articulate, believer in reforms with human touch.
Indiramma is not known to have suffered criticism gladly, no matter how subtly expressed. Of course, Jramesh is not going to tell us what malebolgia the dynastic megalomaniac consigned Haksar to. The real question is why any intelligent person in this country condemns himself to promote undemocratic values regardless of the party he aligns himself with. Bhagwan, Allah, Yahwe, aur Ravishankar guruji ham sabko salamat rakhe, not to mention the divine spirit of Benny Hinn.
Just wondering about Gabby, Doddibuddi, Vinay, AG,Sisya, and the rest of the ragtag nonconformists.
As we all know before 1973, Indira Gandhi was a humble politician just going around doing good for the people, primarily because she was guided in the right direction by well meaning individuals.
I won’t be surprised if Narendra Modi takes advice from such articles, changes his way to be politically correct, humble etc etc and still there are articles written on how much of a draconian leader he is.
I think we India citizens don’t deserve change(good or bad). We are quite happy to have a lethargic government that cares a lot for it’s people but does nothing good for them.
Because before 1973 Indira Gandhi was a humble soul whose aim in life was to uplift the people of her country, and she was able to do it primarily because of well meaning individuals.
I won’t be surprised if Narendra Modi, owes up to his alleged wrong-doings, undergoes punishment decided by a “secular” media, changes himself to be a politically correct, humble being , but still gets labeled as a draconian leader. Thankfully, he doesn’t care much for the opinion of a failed minister.
We as Indians don’t deserve change, we would have been quite content to be led by a party that, on paper, cares a lot for the people, but does nothing about it.
These were men who had self- esteem and sel- respect in themselves and we’re definitely not sycophants. Nice to know that there were ” souls”( roohan in Punjabi) who could refuse “awards”!
How can an intellectual giant like P.N.Haksar rally behind Modi, the latter will have his Amit Shah, Urjit Patel and Rajeev Kumar as the train bearers.
Wonder why no one told Indiramma to not impose emergency. Or did she not listen? Or did she not ask? Dont know, cant say? or Wont say? Ok either ways.