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Outside the Archives

Outside the Archives
Item Code: NAG218
Author: Y.D Gundevia
Publisher: Sangam Books
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788173703034
Pages: 448 (18 B/W Pictures)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 326 gms

About the Book


The book presents a wealth of revealing information that not only describes Nehru and his policies, but frankly delineates other world Figures such as Lord Mountbatten, Stalin, and Krishna Menon. The truth about India's efforts to settle the Kashmir question with Pakistan (even to the point of a proposed transfer of territory) is told in full for the first time.


Also important is the inimitably forthright and humorous style in which the author describes these world figures and events, and reveals facts not yet out of the archives.


About the Author


Yezdzard Dinshaw Gundevia (1908-1986) graduated from Wilson College, Bombay in 1929. On entering the Indian civil Service in 1930, he was posted to the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), where he served in various districts until 1945. After a mission to Rangoon he served from 1948 to 1950 as Joint Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs under Jawaharlal Nehru. His next posting was as Minister Counselors at the Indian Embassy in Moscow. In 1953-54 he was the Indian Ambassador to Switzerland, and concurrently Minister Plenipotentiary to Austria and the Vatican. Subsequently he served as Deputy High Commissioner in London (1957-56) and High Commissioner in Ceylon (1957-60).


On his return to India after ten years abroad on these varied assignments, the author was Special Secretary, ministry of External Affairs, Commonwealth Secretary, Jawaharlal Nehru's last Foreign Secretary, and finally Secretary to the President, Dr. Radhakrishnan. He retired from the ICS in 1966, but was re-appointed High Commissioner in Sri Lanka where he served until 1969. Several of the chapters in this book, particularly 'The Last 100 Days' show the author working in close and informal contact with Jawaharlal Nehru during the late Prime Minister's last years of life.


He was the author of two other books: The Testament of Sheikh Abdullah-with a monograph and War and Peace in Nagaland.




"You must write all this down. This is history," Dr. Zakir Hussain used to say to me over and over again when I talked to him.


"If it is history, I must leave it to the3 historians, Sir," I would say.


When I returned to Delhi, after ten long years abroad, in 1960, Dr. Radhakrishanan was Vice President. I had been his Minister Counsellor in Moscow when he was India's Ambassador to the USSR, and I now made a practice of calling on him quite freque3ntly. I continued to do this when Dr. Zakir Hussain became Vice president in 1962 on Dr. Zakir Hussain was that he originally came from one of the lesser known town ships in Farrukhabad district, Kaimganj, and I had spent over five years in Farrukhabad in my early years in service. Zanier Hussain, a scholar in Persian and Urdu, was a staunch Muslim nationalist, who had devoted his life to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian Nation Congress. He had given up Kaimganj for Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, and he was always interested in my tales from Kaimganj and Shamsabad where our little Muslim Nawabs still lives in their rural palaces, a generous open hearted Muslim community, the pride of the Farrukhabad district of my days.


The scholarly Vice president was always pressing me to "write down everything". One day he spelt it out: "You are working with an international figure. Jawaharlal is an international and intellectual giant. You cannot work with him and not write about him, "he said. Nehru was certain to have plenty of biographers, I said in reply.


"Now you don't have to write a biography. Write about the man that he is, the way he works, the way he makes you work, the way he lets you work." Then he came back to it, "You can't work with a giant and not tell people anything about him."


No, I would not attempt a biography. Others would undoubtedly do this. But I would one day write about Nehru, the man. What he worked for, how he made us work and how he let us work.

There were already plenty of books on Nehru and on Nehru's Foreign Policy. I once heard Nehru say that India's Foreign policy was so simple that even an Ekkawalla in Lucknow could claim to understand it. I would take him at his word. Enough has been said and a lot more is going to be said about non alignment and Panch Sheel. I would try and show how all this worked in practice.


There were books on Pakistan and Kashmir. But in everything in print in the years following Nehru's death, I could not held noticing a blank. There never was and has not been till now, any serious mention of India having shown her readiness to settle the Kashmir issue in 1963 by even making territorial concessions or territorial adjustments. Was that being played down deliberately? Nehru was dead. Probably no one wanted to go that far in setting with Pakistan. If Nehru went that far in his lifetime, only a year before he died let the story die with him. I decided I would write the story of the six rounds of talks with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1962-63. I would record how far this Kashmiri pundit had gone in his anxiety to settle with Pakistan, in his anxiety not to leave this question unsolved behind him when he was dead.


I began by writing about our six rounds of talks with Pakistan, starting on Christmas Day of 1962. It was also necessary to explain the background on Kashmir that had been debated over the years in the United Nations.


In my retirement in Pune, a thousand miles from Delhi, among other things, I found myself defending Nehru why were we in the Russian orbit? I thought it was worth explaining that we were not in any orbit at all Basically we were only rotating on our own axis every twenty four hours, as part of the great galaxy of nations.


This done, hundred memories came back to me: back from Burma in 1948, I had found Nehru allowing you any amount of initiative and always appreciating what little a junior officer could do in his Ministry; there was the ten years' exile to Moscow, Switzerland, London and Ceylon; back in Delhi, the last four years of Nehru's life, and then the last hundred days.


Half way through the manuscript, I asked my one time colleague, Jagat Mehta, who was then the Foreign Secretary in New Delhi, whether I would be allowed to refer to some of my own notes on one or two subjects that were neatly tucked away, probably somewhere in our archives. The Government of India's rules on opening up the records to the public I had found when I was myself Foreign Secretary to be perfectly antediluvian. Jagat replied that although the "file" on the subject showed that we had started a discussion before I left the Ministry, there had been no progress in the matter thereafter. He was sorry he could not allow me access to the records of 1960-64. Originally I wanted to call my story book Little Bits and pieces but now it could only be called Outside the Archives.


It would be a story about the man that sat and talked to you across the table, not the larger than lifesize granite figure on a marble pedestal; the man that could laugh at a joke and ask you to repeat it hours later and laugh again; how this gigantic figure worked, how he made you work, how he let you work; and how his policies worked in practice. But it would have to be from outside the archives, from my own scattered notes and diaries written over the years, from the pictures that remain imprinted on my fading memory before they dissolve into nothingness.


There are many good people whom I must thank for the encouragement and a great deal of help they have given me in compiling these little bits and pieces from outside the archives. Without my wife, Rokshi, the book would never have been possible, and my daughter, Rapti, who also features so often in what I have written, has given the finishing touches to this storybook during her last holiday with us in Pune. I had begun by writing long letters to the late K. P. S. Menon, who was always ready with encouraging replies. I must mention G. Parthasarathi, who was so very much with us in our talks with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as our then High Commissioner to Pakistan. He was the spirit behind an important half of this book. When in doubt ask A. G. Noorani in Bombay. He can give you all the dates you want, all the names you want and specially any newspaper reports that you cannot trace in your own files. Ask and he can always come to the rescue. I did ask a hundred times and he gave me a hundred answers. Another friend that came to the rescue was Russi Shroff, who came back to India for some time after eleven years in the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. He went over all the chapters for me, when in the last four years, my vision did not enable me to read the script. Last but not least, somebody had to type out all the reams of manuscript and in this laborious job I was lucky to have all the assistance I wanted and ample co-operation from two young ladies in Pune, Philomena Welsh and Viviana Lobo. I cannot ever be sufficiently grateful to them.







 MY first Encounter



Little bits and pieces



Recovery of Abducted Women



Indians Overseas



Indians in South Africa












More bits and Pieces



Kashmir and the United Nations



Before the Talks









Let Seikh Try



The Orbit



Nehru and Mountbatten



The Last Hundred Days






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