The Unforgettable

Vanu Bhuta - the designer of Rajghat

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

The year was 1956. I had graduated in Civil Engineering in 1955 from National Institute of Engineering, Mysore. I wanted to appear in the Combined Engineering Services Exams, which recruited engineers for Central Government departments like Railways, Central Public Works Department, Military Engineer Services, Telecom services, etc. The Exams were conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, India. All young Engineering graduates who were ambitious aimed at appearing in this selection examination, which was considered prestigious. If you got selected, you would have a steady career. Moreover, Government was the largest construction agency in those days.

My meetings with Prime Minister Desai when he was out of power

Subhash Mathur

Subhash Mathur is a resident of Jaipur after superannuation from Indian Revenue Service in 2007. Presently, Subhash is engaged in social and charitable work in rural areas. Subhash is also Editor of, an online portal for preserving work related memories.

I had the privilege of driving Morarji Desai, India's future Prime Minister, when I was a young college student in Jaipur.

Humiliated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's decision to take away his Finance Ministry portfolio without consulting him, and disagreeing strongly with her decision to nationalise the fourteen biggest banks in India, he resigned from his position as Deputy Prime Minister on 16 July, 1969.

My father, Shri Khem Chand, had retired from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in April 1969. In his retirement, he was looking for ways to keep himself busy. (He passed in 2004).

A civil servant before he turned politician, Morarji Desai kept up a regular postal correspondence with my father. I, and my siblings, typed Daddy's letters on a portable, manual typewriter that we had bought from a foreign scholar who had come to Jaipur.

We do not have the letters my father wrote to Morarji, as he was commonly called. However, we have two letters written by Morarji to my father in 1970.

Victory day of the 1971 war

Krishnan Sankaran

Krishnan K. Sankaran studied metallurgical engineering at the Regional Engineering College, Durgapur, IIT Madras, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1978.  In 2012 he was elected as Honorary Member of the Indian Institute of Metals for his distinguished services and significant contributions to the metallurgical profession and research. He retired in 2014 after working for 36 years in the aerospace industry.  He recently published a book titled Metallurgy and Design of Alloys with Hierarchical Microstructures (Elsevier, June 2017). He now devotes his time to learning Carnatic music, Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures, and to traveling.

My elder brother, Sri K. K. Venkatraman was a Captain in the Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He actively participated in the 1971 India-Pakistan War. After the war, he joined Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari (the southern tip of India), and administered their residential schools for the tribal children in the Northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh (erstwhile NEFA), bordering China.

Memories of 1971 Indo-Pak War

Various atuthors

Filed Marshal Manekshaw on preparing for the war April 1971

Editor's Note\; The following text of Field Marshal Manekshaw's speech comes from . It is recorded as Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's Lecture at Defence Services College, Wellington on Leadership and Discipline 11th November, 1998. Note that the text below does not correspond exactly to the Field Marshal's speech.

What is moral courage? Moral courage is the ability to distinguish right from wrong and having done so, say so when asked, irrespective of what your superiors might think or what your colleagues or your subordinates might want. A ‘yes man’ is a dangerous man. He may rise very high, he might even become the Managing Director of a company. He may do anything but he can never make a leader because he will be used by his superiors, disliked by his colleagues and despised by his subordinates. So shallow– the ‘yes man’.

Air India's Inaugural International Flight

Air India

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Air India's website but is no longer available there. If you or someone you know has personal knowledge of this flight, please contact the editor at

June 8, 1998 marked the 50th anniversary of Air India's maiden international flight - a milestone in the history of Indian civil aviation.

His Highness, the Jam Saheb of Nawanagar, Rajpramukh of Saurashtra, looked at his watch. The golden dial caught the light and the bejewelled hands indicated the hour. The time has finally come! Jam Saheb rang the bell and asked for his luggage to be brought down. Europe would be wonderful at this time of the year he thought as his liveried servants loaded his heavily monogrammed, leather luggage into the boot of the gleaming limousine parked outside.

Soon the car was speeding towards the airport\; its crested flag fluttering in the night air.

In front of the Jam Saheb's car, another vehicle was also on its way to Santa Cruz airport, Mumbai. The car's occupants, the Jetha family, were excited. Mr Hasambhoy Jetha had explained, perhaps for the hundredth time, to his children that the flight would not leave without them. Nevertheless, the children persisted with their questions. "What kind of plane were they going to fly in? Where would they halt? What was the pilot's name?"

The cars finally reached the airport coming to a halt alongside a throng of journalists and photographers. Both drivers leapt out simultaneously to open the car's doors.

The Emergency: When the media went without power by G. V. Krishnan

G. V. Krishnan

Once a newsman, now a 'was-man', G. V. Krishnan retired in 1998 as a Times of India correspondent. During his two decades with Times of India, he was posted in New Delhi, Bhopal, Chandigarh and Chennai. He was earlier with the National Herald, New Delhi, and on the news desk of The Northern Echo, a British provincial daily, in the mid-1960s. Krishnan, settled in Mysore, blogs at My Take by GVK. His email is

Editor's note: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on

The Emergency rule of 1975-77 started on June 25, with late night arrests throughout India and a power shutdown in Delhi's newspaper offices. Those arrested represented a virtual Who's Who of opposition leaders.

Working with L. K. Advani by V. S. Gopalakrishnan

V. S. Gopalakrishnan

V. S. Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D., retired from the Maharashtra IAS cadre in 1995, and was subsequently the Director General, World Trade Centre, Mumbai, 1995-2005. He is fluent in French, and knows German, Italian and Spanish. He has a diploma in cartooning, Madhyama in Hindustani vocal music, and a certificate in music composition and direction. He has published five cartoon books and two books of poem, apart from a professional book WTO and India: Some Insights. He is now interested in social causes such as fighting injustice, corruption, etc. He lives in Mumbai.

Editor’s Note: This story is slightly adapted, with the author’s permission, from the original published on

I will say that if ever there was a thorough gentleman I have seen, it is Mr. L. K. Advani. It was only for two years I worked with him in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I &amp\; B). That was in 1977 to 1979, but I don’t think he would since have changed as a human being, whatever his political thinking and actions.

Barefoot from Burma to India, 1942 by Benegal Dinker Rao

Benegal Dinker Rao

Benegal Dinker Rao, born in 1917 in Rangoon, graduated from the University of Rangoon in 1938, and joined the Education Ministry, Government of Burma. After his walk from Burma to India in 1942, he joined the Refugee Government of Burma in Simla. In 1943, he joined the Indian Army Ordnance Corps. He resigned from the Corps in 1952 to work for a Calcutta-based British engineering company, from which he retired as Marketing Director in 1978 and moved to Pune. Presently, he is a consultant and partner in a Partnership firm.


Editor’s note: This story has three parts. Arvind Benegal, a nephew of Benegal Dinker, is the author of the first part, based on his uncle’s oral accounts, who remembers the events of 1942 clearly and precisely.

The Japanese Air Force first bombed Rangoon (now Yangon) on December 23, 1941. Then again on December 25, this time with incendiary bombs. Burma (now Myanmar) was part of the British Empire, and was now part of the Second World War. Soon after, the Japanese Army invaded Burma.

I was 24 years old, living in Rangoon as an employee of the Government of Burma. My family consisted of my mother, Kalyani Bai, and two younger brothers, Sumitra and Ramesh. We also had with us, Madiman Dutta, 80 years old, a faithful elder servant who had been attached to our family for so long that he was treated as a family member.

Escape from East Germany 1972 by Kailash Mathur


Kailash, called Chanda by his parents, is an electrical engineer, who was born in Tijara, which is even now a very small city in Rajasthan. He lived in East Germany from 1965 to 1971, where he married Annemarie, a German, in 1969. Since 1971, he has lived in Vienna, Austria. He became a widower when Annemarie died of cancer in 2004.

Getting in

Taking off from New Delhi’s Palam airport, the Aeroflot plane flew over the Himalayas and over the vast planes, lakes and mountains of Russia, which was a part of the Soviet Union at that time, and finally landed in Moscow. It was the middle of winter, 30 December 1964. What a shock for the 24 year-old Indian man from the desert state of Rajasthan who had never flown before in his life and had never even dreamt of seeing the snow covered Himalayas and other vast tracts of this planet! The young man was delighted.

Next day another plane took me to East Berlin, the capital of East Germany. It was snowing on that last day of the year, a special day in Europe, celebrated with lot of drinks and fireworks. Was it cold? It did not make me shiver, rather I was amazed, my mouth left wide open. Where was I, and how on earth was I going to cope with life here?

Taking a Photo of Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati by T.S. Nagarajan


T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.

(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on and is reproduced here with the author’s permission. The incident narrated in this article took place on February 2, 1975.)

As a photojournalist, I have had many opportunities to meet with the rich, the famous and the divine. But one of them stands apart as a great experience: my encounter with Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati, the late Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

The swamiji was known for his utter simplicity and austerity even during his active years. Rarely did he travel in a palanquin. He was content to walk from village to village in the manner of the sages of yore. Wherever he went, people swarmed round him. His very glimpse sanctified the devotees. To hear his discourses of profound simplicity was considered a rare experience.


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