But he was clearly being wasted there. Shri Jagat Mehta summoned him back to Delhi in 1976, where he started work as the Spokesman of the Ministry and Head of the External Publicity Division. Everybody who came in contact with him was impressed by his outstanding efficiency and his tact.
In 1977 Papa predicted the end of Indira Gandhi’s reign shortly after visiting his village in Chhapra. He said a massive groundswell was building up against the Emergency. Dev Murarka, a long time friend and foreign correspondent, who was filing reports against the Emergency while staying with us, came under a cloud and Papa had to ask him to leave after he received a confidential warning from someone in Intel.
As the results rolled in, I remember standing outside the Indian Express building with my Dad. It was an electrifying night, as India finally regained freedom and democracy.
Papa brought back hilarious tales of high level visits and prime ministerial peculiarities (Morarji). Jimmy Carter’s visit and the conversation caught on mike, visits to Moscow, organising conferences in Delhi, meetings with the high and mighty, he was always in the middle of it all!
He loved working with Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, whom we met often formally and informally, even after Papa’s death. he accompanied him on his 1979 visit to China, which had to be cut short because China attacked Vietnam, an ally, during the visit, as I recall.
Vajpayeeji had enormous respect and affection for him, which was fully reciprocated. Vajpayeeji associated him in everything he did, and Papa had resolved then to quit the Indian Foreign Service after building us a flat, and join him in cleansing Indian politics and building a New India.
With his popularity, intellect, commitment to the people, understanding of their problems, his closeness to his roots, his mastery of several languages and India’s finest texts, I have no doubt Papa would have succeeded in transforming India and setting it on a path of high growth. Vajpayeeji believed in him and would have welcomed him. Papa’s pleas to remove corruption still ring in my ears. He used to say, there is corruption in all countries. India’s tragedy is that it peels the skin off the poor man’s back. It drives the poor man further into the ground and doesn’t allow him to ever dream of a better future. I mourned not just his passing, but also the passing of a dream for our country.