Here are three letters from elderly eminences whom I knew well.
My dear Natwar,
A line—which ought to have come before, but advancing years make one slack—to thank you for your good and seasonable wishes, also for your nice article on me; though am I all that shy? My birthday festivities went well, and I enjoyed them, and they ended in quite a magnificent concert given by the College Musical Society. I keep very good health for my age, and I hope you do for yours.
I have just finished B. Rajan’s (joined ifs, 1948, resigned, 1961) The Dark Dancer. What do you think of it? I am much impressed. I have seen a proof copy of Choudhuri’s “Passage to England”. What a talented but spikey chap he is! He actually goes out of his way to warn us British against the myth of Indo-British friendship, which I do think is a bit much. I must try to find out something more about him, apart from what he himself tells.
Harsha is out of college and working hard I fancy—anyhow I don’t see as much of him as I should like. Mrs Pandit has passed with benignity. There has been some good Indian music. And I have tried to talk to the Cambridge Majlis, but the exigencies of influence have compelled us to postpone till next term.
Oh! Yes, and Mahalenobis (physicist, statistician and member, Planning Commission) of Calcutta has become Hon. Fellow of King’s College—that’s all the strictly or semi-strictly Indian news that I can think of, so I will now conclude with my love.
(Author of A Passage to India)
24 November 1966
My dear Natwar,
I was so glad to read your letter of 22 November.
I shall indeed be very glad if you can get me the N.Y.T review of your anthology. I have not yet received the copy of the book from the publishers. Sea mail takes more time.
I am not surprised you so much like service under Smt. Indira Gandhi. She is splendidly endowed with all the graces of a good civilized lady. She grew up under the example of her gracious father.
I can never forget the moving gesture of her affection when she came and received my daughter at the Delhi railway station (Mrs Devadas Gandhi), when I took her to Delhi from Bombay after she unexpectedly and cruelly lost her husband. Indira Gandhi whom I did not except was at the station and led my daughter to the car like a sister. The touch was a consolation both to her and to me. This was August 1957, when I had already begun openly and severely to criticise Jawaharlalji.
(Last Governor General of India)
23 June 1964
My dear Natwar,
Thank you for sharing our sorrow (Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit is referring to the death of her brother, Jawaharlal Nehru, who passed away on 27 May 1964). The tears of his beloved India and indeed the world have been ample evidence of his place in the hearts of his fellow men.
You are so right when you say he was the most beautiful man in the world. Every action, every thought was beautiful and one cannot but be thankful that he died as he wished, in harness and in peace. In death the radiance and serenity of his face were quite extraordinary. We have much to live up to but I dare to believe the seeds he planted will bear fruit.
I will write more later. This is merely to send you my love.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
(First woman president of UN General Assembly, 1954)
Hundreds of right minded Indians must have hoped that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister would have severely reprimanded the Minister of State for Finance and Member of the Lok Sabha, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma for their foul mouthed, obscene, filthy verbal excesses.
The Election Commission’s response to these outrages has been feeble and inadequate. The two offenders should have been barred from campaigning till 4 February.
Incidentally, the fathers of the two were Chief Ministers.