Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday released Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s book `Intertwined Lives: PN Haksar and Indira Gandhi', describing it as a source of great inspiration for the younger generation.Captain Amarinder Singh said that Jairam Ramesh had lucidly brought out the multi-faceted personality of Haksar, with whom the Chief Minister shared personal ties during his serving days under Late Army Commander General Harbaksh Singh.The book, he said, took him down memory lane to his first meeting with Haksar in London, when Natwar Singh was the High Commissioner there. It was fascinating to hear him talk as the Bangladesh war, of which Haksar was a key architect, had ended, said the Chief Minister, adding that their conversation reminded him of his own Army days.Recalling his warm ties with Haksar, Captain Amarinder Singh said he was a man of few words but full of action, with whom he had enjoyed his interactions and intellectual exchanges during his younger days.An admirer of Haksar’s interactions with those who mattered then, the Chief Minister said it was an honour to know him. The book, he said, brought out the contribution of the great advisor to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and his unmatched caliber.Addressing a distinguished gathering at the book release function at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) this afternoon, Captain Amarinder Singh appreciated the exhaustive research that had gone into it.He lauded Ramesh for bringing alive the close relationship between Indira and Haksar with his astute understanding and writing skills.
Jairam Ramesh later said the book was based on primary sources, which included handwritten notes and letters, besides nearly 1500 files running into 40,000 to 50,000 pages. Ramesh said to write a biography is always a dangerous task but if this is done after proper research, especially by consulting original sources, it adds to the credibility, objectivity and genuineness of the contents. However, biographies written merely on the basis of secondary sources, memory and oral observations often have an element of subjectivity, which should be discouraged, he added.
The relationship between Indira and Haksar, which was both professional and personal, went back to the 1930s, when the two, along with Feroze, stayed together in London, where Haksar would cook for all three, said Ramesh.Describing Haksar as a top bureaucrat and political visionary, who had the courage and conviction to speak the truth to the powers that be, and to be a source of inspiration for the younger generations, Ramesh hoped the book would help in revisiting Haksar's glorious legacy and contribution to some path breaking reforms like nationalisation of banks, besides guiding the then Prime Minister on critical military operations, such as the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh.PN Haksar, with his conviction and courage to speak the truth, enjoyed the total confidence of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who gave him full powers, said Ramesh, adding that Haksar enjoyed the complete confidence of Mrs. Gandhi who had handpicked him to the PM Secretariat. Without Indira Gandhi, PN Haksar would not have been born, he existed because of Indira, said Ramesh, describing the bureaucrat as Indira’s `ideological compass.’
Haksar was a remarkable man who worked for a remarkable woman, said Ramesh, adding that as Prime Minister, Indira gave Haksar full powers. In fact, even after he left the PMO, Haksar continued to be a big voice in politics, said the Chief Minister, recalling that Indira’s son, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, had sent him to Beijing as a special envoy on one occasion.Quoting from his book, he also narrated how Haksar, who generally viewed former defence personnel joining politics in a dim light, actually held Captain's former boss General Harbaksh Singh in high esteem. Expressing his appreciation for the Chief Minister's writing skills, Jairam Ramesh said he had seen many Chief Ministers who had got books written for them, except Captain Amarinder Singh who had personally penned several books on Military history after thorough research and hard work.In his address, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the book offered a panoramic view of Haksar's personal and professional relationship with Indira and Feroz Gandhi. He said it was a must read book for anyone in politics, and hoped it would motivate young bureaucrats to draw inspiration from Haksar's life as a seasoned bureaucrat and an able administrator.On the occasion, Director CRRID Rachpal Malhotra welcomed the Chief Minister and eminent academician RP Bhamba proposed a vote of thanks.The ceremony was also attended by Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Former Union Cabinet Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, and Additional Chief Secretary Revenue Vini Mahajan.