Dr. Karan Singh - The Portrait of a Statesman
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Dr. Karan Singh - The Portrait of a Statesman

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Item Code: NAR924
Author: Kishore Gandhi
Publisher: Allied Publishers Pvt. Limited
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9788184247305
Pages: 816
Other Details: 10.00 X 6.50 inch
Weight 1.25 kg
About the Book

The Portrait of a Statesman provides a unique insight into the multi-dimensitional and multi- layered personality of Dr. Karan Singh who has emerged as a champion of universal values in a decadent socio-economic environment. Dr. Karan Singh’s trek to transcendence has become an on- going process. He has not only asked questions about values and truth, but has also resolutely sought for answers, so much so that in the light of his later works and development he may well be claimed as a living representative of Indian wisdom. As the Prime Minister said at a function on Dr. Karan Singh’s 80th Birthday "I can think of no other Indian who has come to represent and symbolize the ethos of our great and ancient civilisation than Dr. Karan Singh. He is a man of great learning, of great wisdom, of great liberalism and great humanism."

The book is neither a full-fledged biography nor a critical evaluation, but it does bring out the range, consistency and integrality of his thought, and his long labour for a new India and a new World-order. While restating in contemporary idiom the eternal wisdom of Upanishads, he has developed an evolutionary worldview and articulated the need for a value-based political system and good governance structure. Synthesizing perennial values with emerging scientific advances, and recasting national priorities with emphasis on ecological and holistic technologies, he moves through evolutionary doctrines and possibilities and seeks new designs of living and the convergence of science and consciousness. Altogether this attempt illuminates a new hope and a new perception. It reveals a rounded personality, a lively mind with a refreshingly positive approach to the problems that mankind faces as it draws to the second decade of 21st century. An Indian to the core, Dr. Karan Singh emerges as a citizen of the world addressing himself to the great global issues of our times.

About the Author

Commuting between Marx and Sri Aurobindo, Mao and Aldous Huxley, Albert Einstein and Darwin, Freudian and Jungian epistemology, Prof. Kishore Gandhi has emerged as one of the perceptive thinkers of our times. A multi- disciplinary scholar and writer, he regularly contributes to the Indian and foreign press. He has travelled extensively over the world and covered the world network of British Broadcasting Corporation. Professor Gandhi has taught in Indian and foreign universities and is currently the President of the upcoming Rajiv Gandhi Tsunami University of Science and Technology, Gurgaon. He has been a Rockefeller Fellow and Member of the Indian National Commission for Unesco. He edited a major publication for Unesco: Destiny and. Diversity in a Multi-Cultural Planet. He has functioned as Unesco Project Director to feed the Unesco International Education Commission for the 21st Century, with intellectual inputs.

Professor Gandhi's major publications are: Contemporary Relevance of Sri Aurobindo; Issues and Choices in Higher Education: A Sociological Analysis; Aldous Huxley: The Search for Perennial Religion; The Odyssey of Science, Culture and Consciousness; Science and the New Paradigms of Development; Learning Across Cultures: The Indian Experience of Foreign Students; The Transition to a Global Consciousness; Sri Aurobindo and the Rebirth of India; The Student Power and Social Response; The Transition to A Global Society; India at Crossroads; The Evolution and Development of Banaras Hindu University; Education: The Challenges of the Twenty-First Century (A Global Context). He has edited One Man’s World by Dr. Karan Singh and The Challenge of Change by Vasant Sathe. India Beyond Sixty: A Leap Forward (Allied, 2010). Man and the Ganges is under production.


I can think of no other Indian who has come to represent and symbolize the ethos of our great and ancient civilization than Dr. Karan Singh. He is a man of great learning, of great wisdom, of great liberalism and great humanism. Dr. Karan Singh's life in public service is as rich as it is diverse. For most of his adult life, he has been a part and parcel of the political evolution of Jammu and Kashmir. As our Ambassador to the United States, he brought grace and dignity to a difficult assignment at a difficult time.

In his statement, "I Believe", Dr. Karan Singh says, "I believe that despite continuing animosity and hostility between nations, and growing violent divisions within nations themselves the human race will be forced by the end of this century to move towards some form of world order transcending national barriers. And although each one of us owes a deep debt to the country of our origin, as members of the human race we also owe a wider loyalty to the planet that has nurtured our kind for millions of years." This is a great exposition of India’s quest for internationalism and humanism.

In his role as a scholar and thinker, Dr. Karan Singh has combined his learning of Hindu philosophy with a deep understanding of other religions to look for, what he calls, "the golden thread that runs through all the great spiritual traditions of the world". He has been a strong proponent of the idea of inter-faith dialogue and has spoken often on the subject. We live at the cusp of great changes in the world around us. As we look back, then we see a century behind us of great contradictions — a century of conflict and freedom, of great deprivation and great progress, of the assertion of individual and national identities and of new internationalism.

But, as we look ahead, we see in front of us a century of great possibilities — a century in which poverty as humankind has known it can potentially be erased; a century in which every human being can hope to be literate and clad; a century in which all great religions can co-exist and thrive. I do sincerely believe that India’s rejuvenation, its re-emergence and rise, has an important message for the world. India’s rise is not merely the rise of a poor people, newly empowered. India symbolizes the freedom of the human spirit. In India’s rise the world finds hope for humanity because it is based on the principles of co-existence, of live and let live, of individual freedom and a solemn commitment to fundamental human rights.

India is not merely an emerging market. It is an emerging idea of the idea of pluralism, liberalism and secularism. Dr. Karan Singh has been a vocal and passionate advocate of India’s cultural diplomacy and soft power. As the President of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, he has been instrumental in expanding India’s cultural footprint across the world. There is renewed interest in India across the world and people are keen to know what makes India tick. I believe that India’s commensurate role within the comity of nations should encompass a much larger element of cultural diplomacy and exchange. It is through the wisdom and vision of people like Dr. Karan Singh that we can make this happen. In conclusion, I wish to say that we have all been inspired by the life and thinking of Dr. Karan Singh. I wish him a very long life ahead so that he can continue to be a beacon of learning and humanism. May his path be blessed.


This publication provides a unique insight into the myriad facets of Dr. Karan Singh who has emerged as a champion of universal values in a decadent political and socio- economic environment. A nation that is founded on the glowing motto of Satya-Meva-Jayate (Truth alone Triumphs) is sinking in the ocean of corruption. Glib generalizations about the corruption ~ which has established itself at almost all levels of public life and it is this above all that corrodes the idealism of youth — are far too common. The landmarks of the past fall one by one and none rise in their place. Where are the titanic figures, forward looking, young in mind and spirit, full of noble ideals allied with the constant endeavour to actualize them for shaping the destiny of the nation from a refreshingly ethical and spiritual perspective? In a press statement, Home Minister P. Chidambaram has reflected his agony and concern about the deficit of ethical values and deficit of governance. Everything seems desolate and outworn. It seems that times are out of joint and the leadership initiative is conspicuously absent. What explains the lack on the modern scene, the road not taken, is the neglect of transcendentals and an indulgence in the modish and untenable. This has led to a settled anarchy and confusion of functions when ersazzs litter a phantom world, in which the titanic and tawdry go cheek by jowl, and being and nothingness speak across the peaks and abyss. There has never been generation in the course of human history with so little ground under its feet. It would be easy to add to these depressing diagnosis which read like cliché. But behind these clichés, there looms the reality of a crisis, complex and cumulative: often self inflicted.

But even if the world were to end tonight, and the fin du globe mood is widespread that would not prove that values have ceased to exist. East or West, what matters is the struggle to be authentic and whole. Granted that no simple prescription can contain the crisis, neither dialectical materialism, triumphant technology, nor the undivinely dissatisfied youth of today. Where, then, is the cure for these wounds? Simplistic solutions, cure worse than the disease, can but prolong the agony. We are out of step with the nature, with the self, with the family, with the community, with the laws of nature and the evolutionary process of development. It seems we have gone out of focus. No wonder, we tend to magnify the least bit of our troubles and our slightest traumas are invested with cosmic overtones. Perhaps this too is part of the malady, a lack of proportion, sidetracking the law of consequence.

Nearly every sensitive person and Dr. Karan Singh is no exception, has a hunch where meaning lies. What Mahatma Gandhi has said about Jawaharlal Nehru could be aptly applied to Dr. Karan Singh, with slight modification. Whether one admits it or not, nobody can excel him in the love of the country. He is pure as crystal, he is truthful beyond suspicion. He is a practical statesman tempering his ideals to suit his surrounding. But for himself, he is an idealist who would ever strive to live up to his ideals. He is a born as Maharaja but I always address him as the Maharaja of the heart because of his humility, simplicity and affability. He is fearless and benevolent and always concerned about the sufferings of others. His transition from the feudal order to the democratic world-order was indeed very smooth and without any pain and pathos.

Incidentally, after his appointment as Regent to Maharaja Hari Singh at the age of 18, he was left alone in his hotel room by his parents who departed with their staff. Recapitulating the critical moment, he writes ‘For half an hour, I sat absolutely alone in my hotel room, poised between the weight of the past and the burdens of the future’. These words provide us a glimpse of a mature approach to life in a person of tender age. No wonder, the physical sufferings on account of the surgical operation in New York and the agony of loneliness shaped his inner life and giving it meaning and an insight well beyond his age. K. Natwar Singh has aptly put that ‘few individuals have made so spectacular an entry into history as Dr. Karan Singh’. Manoj Das writes, "Had Maharaja Hari Singh been keen to bring up his scion in his own image, the flow of events over the sub-continent would have been twisted into another bizarre end’. It remains a mystery as to what twist of destiny made the sole heir to the fabulous throne of Jammu and Kashmir emerge as musician, a poet of distinction and an acknowledged scholar of philosophy, religion, spirituality and mysticism.

Others abide questions, thou art free;

We ask and ask, thou smilest....

Opinion is sharply divided about Dr. Karan Singh’s living or creative politics; the pendulum swinging from one extreme position to another, ranging from admiration to sarcastic comments and criticism about his political choices. But in all, he can be accused neither of deliberate moralizing, nor to anticipate, of strict consistency. Consistency, he had once argued though wittingly, is the virtue of the dead fossil. He has himself admitted that for his present position would seem to be the reverse of many of his earlier enthusiasms. Verily, without contrariness, there is no progression. The powers of every mind are strictly limited, we have our inborn idiosyncrasies, our acquired sentiments, scale of values; it is impossible for any man to transcend himself. Dr. Karan Singh's trek to transcendence has become an ongoing process. He has not only asked questions about values and truth but has also stayed for an answer, resolutely sought for it, so much so that in the light of his later works and development, he may well be claimed as a living Representative of Indian wisdom. Speaking the language of Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda, he indeed tends more towards Vedantic thought and often shares the perception of Jawaharlal Nehru who has critically examined the plus and minus variables of capitalist and Marxian orthodoxies and perhaps found the answer in Vedantic socialism. The Vedantic socialism seems to be more compatible to the Indian sensibility and psyche because it flows from our philosophical and spiritual tradition.

But I have always viewed Dr. Karan Singh as an artist and statesman, with a benevolent and compassionate nature, committed to the welfare of the deprived and neglected segment of the population, specifically dalits and women. This mission he had imbibed from his mother and wife and made it an integral part of his life-style. This perception also flows from the aam aadmi and the intelligentsia of the India International Centre and Indian Council for Cultural Relations, including the media. It also flows from my extensive interactions with him, spanning from the early seventies till date and his own presentations at various conferences, symposia and summits, both at the national and international levels.

Here is an insight from Shakespeare that sharply and coherently brings out Dr. Karan Singh’s multi-faceted, multi-layered and multi- dimensional personality:

And what a piece of work is a man!

How noble in reason!

How infinite in faculties.

In action, how like an angel!

Ln apprehension, how like a God!

Dr. Karan Singh has emerged as one of the proverbial argumentative Indians and an articulate orator and perhaps his role model in his speeches is Dr. S. Radhakrishnan whose speeches were always punctuated with quotations from the Upanishads and Shakespeare. His emphasis was always on the moral universe which Shakespeare was able to present in his tragedies.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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