30 July, 2021

India’s Man For All Seasons

A.C.N. Nambiar was Azad Hind envoy in Nazi Germany, an associate of Bose and Nehru and later a diplomat. His glittering life has been told at last.

India’s Man For All Seasons

History, as Eliot says, has many “cunning passages and contrived corridors”, but there are some alternate pathways which requ­ire some effort to discover. One such—the life of A.C.N. Namb­iar—has been recovered by Vappala Bal­achandran. Nambiar lived in Eur­ope in the turbulent decades before World War II, was a journalist for various newspapers, was an associate of Pan­­dit Nehru and, later, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s representative in Nazi Germany. Then, he served as India’s amb­­assador to Sweden and West Germ­any. Balachandran retired as a senior officer in R&AW and was one of the two members of a committee tas­ked to look into the Mumbai police in relation to the 26/11 attack.

Balachandran’s book has given us an unu­­sual Indian perspective of the compli­cated 1920s and ’30s in Europe. Through Nambiar’s life and activities, Balachan­dran etches vividly the rise of Nazism, the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the chaos and confusion accompanying the...

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