He could be the only surviving Ambassador in the country who scored a ‘faultless and brilliant’ 101 not out in his bout with life. Ambassador V Madhavan Nair, born in the famous Chettur family of Kerala in 1919 had a silent but joyous 101st birthday in company of his wife and daughter in New Delhi this week. The new generation may not have heard of this illustrious son of India as he belonged to another era.
Nair entered the Indian Civil Service in 1943 and retired in 1977 after serving the country for 34 years. The career took him to various countries in Asia , Africa and Europe. The period 1950s to 1970s was known for coups in some of the newly liberated countries and he had the privilege to watch these developments from close quarters.
He was in Alexandria as India’s Charge’ d’ affaires when the then monarch King Farouk was overthrown in a coup d’état by Mohammed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952. Naguib was overthrown by Naasser himself and put under house arrest for decades. The King escaped to Italy by his personal yacht!
While he was serving as India’s Ambassador to Morocco and Tunisia, Nair was to witness an unsuccessful bid by the Morocco Army to upstage King Hassan II. The Ambassador could be the only Indian to get a special privilege to see the tooth of Budha preserved in Candy and that too out of turn. The Budha’s tooth is taken out for public display only once in seven years but the royal visit of the King of Nepal to the island nation offered him the rare chance to get a glimpse of it!
The Ambassador has sweet memories about Cambodia and Phnom Penh which he describes as a big town but scarcely a city. He had special relations with Prince Norodom Sihanouk and till day remembers clearly the sailing expedition undertook through River Mekong.
To some of the questions put to him by The Pioneer, the Ambassador chose just one query for answering. When asked why India was always under attack by most of its neighbours, he just replied; “”Is it the only country to be attacked by neighbours”?
Nair is one not to rest with his laurels. He is still obsessed with the world of diplomacy and wants to be a diplomat in his next birth too.