Stories About Men

Remembering S P Varma and N C Chatterjee by A H Somjee

A H Somjee

A.H. Somjee received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the London School of Economics. He is a charter member of the Simon Fraser University, Canada, where he is also an Emeritus Professor of Political Science. He has taught at the University of Baroda, the London School of Economics, University of Durham, and the National University of Singapore. He was also appointed as an Associate Fellow at the Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University, and was invited to Harvard University, several times, as a Visiting Scholar.


Editor's note:

This article was written at the request of Prof. P C Mathur, a student and colleague of Prof. S P Varma at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, who believes that Prof. Varma brought about a major change in the field of Political Science in India, and wants Prof. Varma to be remembered

S P Varma retired in 1973 as the Head, Department of Political Science, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. He took his D.Phil. degree from Agra University. He was required to teach civics and politics during the British Rule, and he did a magnificent job of it. He deeply reflected on the nature of Indian democratic politics and produced a number of very useful books on the subject. He was widely regarded as a great teacher who produced a number of good students.

A Tribute to Shri A.J. Zaidi

Bal Anand

Bal Anand was born in 1943, in a village about 20 km south of Ludhiana, in a family of saint-scholars who practised Ayurveda. Graduated from DAV College, Jalandhar, and did Master in English Literature from Govt. College, Ludhiana. After a stint for a few years as lecturer, joined the Indian Foreign Service. Served in nine different countries and retired as India's High commissioner to New Zealand. Now reading, reflecting and writing in nest in Delhi, on the East Bank of Yamuna.

Having spent my childhood years in a village and later growing up in a town, both located in the closer vicinity of Malerkotla, the only princely state in the East Punjab ruled for centuries by the Muslim Nawabs, I had started wondering and pondering since long over the harmonies and divides between the Hindus and Muslims.

The small state of Malerkotla had remained comparatively immune from the mindless violence during the Partition of the country. I have a vivid memory of an inscription, intact in 1951 but decimated soon after, of the name of Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan on the front wall of the Gurudwara in Ahmedgarh for his donation of Rs. 500.00 - it must have been a princely sum in those days! I had instinctively developed a faith in the mutual accommodation among faiths long before I was destined to be an Indian diplomat in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Maldives!

Nek Chand – A self-made world-class artist

M P V Shenoi

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is

I felt sorry when I read the news that Nek Chand died at the ripe old age of 90.

My Grandfather, an Eminent Professor, and His Three Illustrious Sons

Ashok Sarkar

Ashok Sarkar (born 1929) retired as an Air Commodore from the Indian Air Force. He was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) by the Indian government. His career included commanding a number of Air Force field units, and a diplomatic posting at the Indian Embassy in Moscow during the 1960s. He was an outstanding student and sportsman in his youth, and after his retirement, he was an inspiration for young sports talent in Agra, his hometown. He continues to run a play-school for young children, a labour of love he founded with his late wife, Chitra, and enjoys a quiet life nurturing the prize-winning flower garden at his ancestral home in Agra.

My grandfather, Shri Beni Madhav Sarkar, was born in the 1870s in a well to do Bengali family of landlords. They grew Daab (coconut plants) in their fields in the Hooghly district of Bengal.

Unlike others in the family, he showed a great liking for studies, particularly mathematics. As such, he pursued higher studies at Presidency College, Calcutta.

My father - Professor Bhatla

Manmohan N. Bhatla

Manmohan Bhatla, born in 1939, studied at Punjab Engineering College, Roorkee University, and got his Ph. D. from Oklahoma State University. He worked for Roy F. Weston, Inc.  as an environmental engineer for 40 years, and was a Vice President of this company for 30 years. During this time, he led many high profile and cutting edge projects in pollution prevention and remediation for industries in the US and Europe. He received a Medal from the Water Pollution Control Federation for a "Significant Operations Contribution." He has over 25 publications to his credit.

Prof. Bhatla

Professor H.R. Bhatla 1911-1992.
Professor of Physics, Punjab, India

These are some of my memories of my beloved father, a very complete and a wholesome human being.

The Last Cheetah

Vijay Padaki

Vijay is a theatre educator. He has been a life member of Bangalore Little Theatre (BLT) since its inception in 1960. He has written over 40 plays, produced widely in India and abroad. In addition, he has adapted and translated several Indian plays into English. By professional training, Vijay is a psychologist and behavioural scientist, and has vast experience in management consultancy, policy research and training in the areas of Organization and Institutional Development..

My grandfather was a hunter. That is how my friends in school knew me, Cheenu, the grandson of a hunter.

He is still alive. If you walk down Seventeenth Cross in the evening between six and seven, you will see him seated in a wheelchair in the first floor balcony, facing the street. You can’t miss the house. It is the only two-storeyed building in that stretch, the figure 1952 decoratively embossed on the balcony front. All the other houses in this old area of Bangalore have been knocked down and replaced by five and six-storeyed apartment blocks. It is still called a residential area, but everybody knows that at least two apartments in each block are offices of commercial outfits. The cars parked on both sides of the roads have drivers, snoozing with their seats tilted fully back.


Vinod K. Puri

Born in 1941, Vinod was brought up and educated in Amritsar. He attended Government Medical College, and subsequently trained as a surgeon at PGI, Chandigarh. He left for USA in 1969, and retired in 2003 as Director of Critical Care Services at a teaching hospital in Michigan. Married with two grown sons, he continues to visit India at least once a year.

The word swami has entered the English language, thanks to the writer RK Narayan and hordes of hippie visitors to India. But in this personal tale, the word has a special resonance. 

By Swamiji, I refer to was my grandfather's younger brother. I do not even remember his given name. This was a bizarre incidence in the family's history! You would have to imagine that a family of middle class traders amongst them had produced a saffron clad personage who in his lifetime renounced the world for the good of humanity!

By the time I first had a look at the face of Swamiji, his older brother Lala Charan Das, my grandfather was dead. My grandfather was something of a legend in Amritsar because of the amount of wealth that he had accumulated and the fact that he had married three times! They were perfectly legal marriages, after the demise of consecutive wives.

Dadu, our grandfather (1869 – 1953)

Suchandra Banerjee

Suchandra Banerjee (left) was born in 1939 to Tapogopal and Usha Mukherjee. After she got married to an Army officer in 1958, she made her husband's family and the Indian Armed Forces' family her own. She moved with her husband from city to city, ending in Lutyen's Delhi when her husband, late Lt. General Ashish Banerjee PVSM, served as the Director-General of the National Cadet Corps. Known as a person of great spirit and generosity, she has helped several people, outside her family, whose start in life was disadvantaged. She nurtures a large extended family and contributes to endeavours and institutions serving to uplift communities and the arts. She lives in Noida in the home she retired to with her late husband.

Shreela Bhattacharya (right), born 1934 is the senior most scion of the present generation of the Mukherjee family. Upon her graduation, she married Dr Saurendra Kumar Bhattacharya, a brilliant bio-chemist. They lived in the UK over 1956-1959. They settled in Mumbai in 1965. Soon after his retirement in 1988, Saurendra passed away. Shreela continued to live in Mumbai, devoted to her family and close friends, Tagore's music and literature. In 2010, hampered by visual impairment she moved to her son's home in the Netherlands, where she lives a quiet life. She returns regularly to her home in Mumbai and ancestral home in Kolkata.

Editor's note: Suchandra Banerjee is the principal author. Her daughter, Leena Brown, submitted this story.

First President of the Republic of India - the Great Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

I C Srivastava

I C Srivastava was born in 1943. A student of English Literature, he joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1966. During his 37 years tenure, he served as Collector/ District Magistrate of three districts, rising finally to the position of Chairman, Board of Revenue, Rajasthan. Shri Srivastava worked as Secretary/Principal Secretary of as many as 17 Rajasthan State Departments, including Revenue, Irrigation, Education, Culture, Tourism, Sports, Women &amp\; Child Development Department. He retired as the Chairman. Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals Corporation.  Shri Srivastava has authored several books on Administration &amp Current affairs in Hindi and English. Nowadays, he is associated with various social and cultural voluntary organisations in Jaipur.

The following family story illumines the greatness, the innate goodness and polite nature of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India. This is reflected in his meeting with my eldest brother, Vishnu Chandra who went all the way to Delhi to have darshan (glimpse) of and draw inspiration from the head of the newly declared Republic of India.

Great Memories of a Great-Grandfather

Bal Anand

Bal Anand was born in 1943, in a village about 20 km south of Ludhiana, in a family of saint-scholars who practised Ayurveda. Graduated from DAV College, Jalandhar, and did Master in English Literature from Govt. College, Ludhiana. After a stint for a few years as lecturer, joined the Indian Foreign Service. Served in nine different countries and retired as India's High commissioner to New Zealand. Now reading, reflecting and writing in nest in Greater Noida.

It was October 2018. I realised – as if in a flash – on the night of 18th October that the next day was the 71st anniversary of passing away of my most beloved and esteemed great-grandfather – a unique Guru, a tactful teacher, a versatile scholar and renowned Vaidya of his time, Shri Pramatmanand ji.

As a child of about 4 years at that time, I have rather very vague - बहुत धुंदली सी - but distinct memories of the day. I had lost my mother about a year earlier, and, therefore, used to spend more time in the loving care of my Naanee (maternal grandmother) Bishan Kaur, though my two great-grandfathers - Giatanand ji and Pramatmanand ji, not to speak of the grandparents­- Dwarkanand ji &amp\; Dadee-maan Dhan Kaur, and the two paternal / grand paternal aunts simply adored me.


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