The Unforgettable

A meeting with Prime Minister Nehru

Reginald Masssey
Reginald Massey

Reginald was born in Lahore before Partition. He writes books on various subjects pertaining to South Asia. A former London journalist, he now lives in Mid Wales with his actor wife Jamila. His latest book is INDIA: Definitions and Clarifications (Hansib, London). A member of the Society of Authors, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Editor's note: This story is an expanded version of an excerpt from the author's book Azaadi!: stories and histories of the Indian subcontinent after Independence, Abhinav, Delhi 2005. It is reproduced here with the author's permission.

At the time of India’s Independence, my father, J. M. Massey, was in the Royal Indian Air Force, stationed at Lahore.

He opted to join India and the Indian Air Force, and we moved to Delhi. In 1948, he did some highly sensitive intelligence work, whose nature I cannot reveal.

Flying Officer J. M. Massey on his Harley Davidson motorcycle with his orderly, Nazir. 1947

Some time after Independence, my father had to call on the Prime Minister in New Delhi to discuss a sensitive intelligence matter. The appointment was fixed for the evening at the PM's residence.

My Memories of Dr. V. Kurien

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.

When I was a faculty member of the M.S. University of Baroda (now Vadodara), from 1956 to 1964, I had heard the name of Dr. V. Kurien from various colleagues and people in surrounding villages.

The man in charge of AMUL did seem to me to be worth meeting in Anand, which was then a small town, less than 30 miles from Baroda. I worked with my students in surrounding villages, one of which is Boriavi, hardly a few kilometres from Anand, but still I could not meet him, despite my great desire to do so.

In 1964, I left India to teach in Durham University in Britain, and in 1965, I joined Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. In Vancouver, I was very keen to find out how the villages of free India were shaping up. In 1968-69, I got an official opportunity to travel to India. I selected Anand for my study and landed there.

Indira Gandhi Interview 1971


Indira Gandhi Interview
No date or description available, but
the discussion is about tensions between
India and Pakistan over what was East Pakistan
and became Bangladesh.

Gandhiji’s Impressions of My Uncle

Raja Ramanathan
Raja Ramanathan

Raja Ramanathan was born in Independent India, in Calcutta. He has spent the last sixty years or so growing up in different parts of the world, Singapore, England, India, the Middle East, and, in the last twenty years, Canada.


Before Independence, Reuters functioned in India as the Associated Press of India (API). Soon after we got freedom, it became Press Trust of India, or PTI, as we now call it.

When Gandhiji was imprisoned in the Aga Khan palace, in Poona, between 1942 and 1944, my uncle, P S Gopalan, was assigned by API as the reporter to attend Gandhiji's daily press conference. My uncle later become PTI's Chief Editor.

Only the Brits would do something so crazy, arrest a person for alleged anti-Empire activities, imprison him in a palace, and allow him a daily press conference where leading news agencies sent their reporters. Can you think of any political power doing that today? The deepest and dirtiest dungeon is where they would throw their critics.

INS Valsura in the 1965 War

B C Chatterjee

B C Chatterjee was born in 1920, joined the Indian Navy, received the Ati Vishist Seva Medal, and retired from the Navy in 1972. After this, he joined M/s Standard Batteries Ltd., where he was responsible for the first indigenous production of Submarine Batteries in collaboration with a Swedish firm. He retired from Standard Batteries in 1995.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from a larger autobiography under preparation. The preparation of this article has been greatly facilitated by a person close to the author.

Over 1962-1965, I was the Commanding Officer, INS Valsura, Jamnagar. (Editor's note: INS means Indian Naval Ship. INS Valsura is a shore based training establishment of the Indian navy for electrical engineering.)

This job is akin to that of a Dean/ Principal of a large technical institution. A large number of naval technical and non-technical personnel as well as civilians are part of this establishment. The courses conducted here vary from simple technical training to advanced Post Graduate technical training for Officers and Sailors of the Indian Navy as well as foreign navies.

Can the basic structure of India’s Constitution be amended?

S M SIkri and A N Ray


Sarv Mittra Sikri was born in 1908, and started his law practice in the Lahore High Court in 1930. He became a Supreme Court Judge in 1964, and the Chief Justice of India in 1971. He retired on 25 April 1973.



Ajit Nath Ray was born in 1912, and was called to the Bar by the Society of Gray's Inn in 1939. He became a Supreme Court Judge in 1969, and the Chief Justice of India on 26 April 1973. He retired on 28 January 1977.


Editor’s note: On April 24, 1973, the Supreme Court of India ruled by a majority of 7-6, that Article 368 of the Constitution means that Parliament cannot alter the basic structure or framework of the Indian Constitution. The counsel for the petitioner was Mr. Nani Palkhivala. The article below provides excerpts from the judgements written by Chief Justice Sikri and Justice A N Ray. The full judgement is attached as a pdf file.

Chief Justice Sikri: No, the basic structure cannot be amended


Part I-Introduction

Treating Chatur Lal, India’s famous tabla player

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.

In 1965, I was being trained as a surgeon at Delhi’s Irwin hospital. (Ed. Note: His story is available here.) When our ward ran out of beds for the patients, they lay on thin red blankets on the floor-space between the beds. On a Saturday morning, when I went in to help with the new admissions, I would find some patients lying on the floor all the way in the corridor outside the ward.

One Saturday, I found a small, dark complexioned man lying on the floor. He had been admitted because he had blood in his urine. Very quickly, we realized that the man was Chatur Lal, a well-known tabla-player. His younger brother Ram Narain introduced himself, as did some more of his friends. Ram Narain played Sarangi, and later on became as famous as his brother.

Working with Muhammad Ali, the boxing champ

Reginald Masssey
Reginald Massey

Reginald was born in Lahore before Partition. He writes books on various subjects pertaining to South Asia. A former London journalist, he now lives in Mid Wales with his actor wife Jamila. His latest book is Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the Forgotten Indian Martyrs, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi. A member of the Society of Authors, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

In the mid-1970s, I was chairman of a small film and TV production company, Seven Stars Limited, which had offices in Piccadilly, London.

There were three directors: Omer Ahmed, a businessman from Calcutta, Marc Alexander, a prolific author from New Zealand, and I. We had a businessman friend in Dhaka named Ghiasuddin Chowdhury.

Ghiasuddin told us that Bangladesh wanted to be put on the world map. It had been devastated and needed foreign aid.

Muhammad Ali was a great boxing hero at that time. His stand against the American involvement in the Vietnam War had won him many admirers all over the world. We thought: who better than Ali to front a film on Bangladesh?

Omer Ahmed and I made many trips to the US and eventually persuaded Ali that it was his duty to help this new country.

In the meantime, Ali had just been beaten by Leon Spinks. (Ed. note: see the fight here). Ali was very downhearted. We told him that he was still a hero in Bangladesh.

Hectic days in Halwara (Getting ready for war) -1

Tapas Kumar Sen

Tapas Sen was born in Kolkata (1934), and brought up in what now constitutes Bangladesh. He migrated to India in 1948, and joined the National Defence Academy in January 1950. He was commissioned as a fighter pilot into the Indian Air Force on 1 April 1953, from where he retired in 1986 in the rank of an Air Commodore. He now leads an active life, travelling widely and writing occasionally.


Editor's note: This is an edited version of a set of articles that originally appeared on Air Commodore Sen's blog TKS' Tales. It is reproduced here with the author's permission.

Reaching Halwara Air Force Station: 02 December 1971

In October 1971, I was an Indian Air Force Wing Commander, Directing Staff at the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington.


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