He is a man who has donned many hats in the past – of a former administrator, of a diplomat and of a governor. That makes Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, more than just a legacy name. And in the latest, he has been chosen as the Opposition’s pick for Vice President.
On Tuesday morning, 18 Opposition parties unanimously decided to appeal to Gopalkrishna Gandhi to accept the nomination.
Click for all the live updates on the Opposition’s Vice-Presidential meet.
An Illustrious Career
A graduate from St Stephens College of Delhi University, Gandhi joined the civil services as an IAS officer in 1968. He served in various capacities of an IAS officer in the state of Tamil Nadu for 17 years, till 1985.
He then served as the Secretary to Vice President R Venkataraman for two years between 1985 and 1987. Later, he served as Venkataraman’s joint-secretary during his five-year term as President.
From Administrator to Diplomat
In 1992, he was made the Minister in the High Commission of India in UK. The very year he was appointed the Director of The Nehru Centre, an autonomous cultural organisation affiliated to the Ministry of External Affairs.
Following his stint in the UK, he took up diplomatic roles in various countries and served in various capacities, including that of High Commissioner of India to South Africa and Lesotho.
He returned to India for a brief period between 1997 and 2000 and served as the Secretary to President KR Narayanan.
He has also served as the High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka and as an ambassador to countries like Norway and Iceland.
Post his retirement as an IAS officer in 2003, he was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal. During those five years in office, he was given additional charge as the Governor of Bihar for a few months.
No Post-Retirement Blues
He headed the Kalakshetra foundation, premier institution for development of classical art forms, as its chairman for a period of three years from 2011. He was also appointed the chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and served until May 2014.
He has penned both fiction and non-fiction books. Some of his most famous works include Refuge – a novel based on Sri Lankan plantations – and Dara Shukoh – a play about the Mughal who did not ascend to the Peacock Throne. He is currently a faculty of History at Ashoka University and writes for various publications on history and politics.
Message For Modi
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected to office, Gandhi wrote an open letter to him, in the Hindu, saying how his “historic win should be followed by a historic innings”.
Imperial and ideological exemplars appeal to you. So, be Maharana Pratap in your struggle as you conceive it, but be an Akbar in your repose. Be a Savarkar in your heart, if you must, but be an Ambedkar in your mind. Be an RSS-trained believer in Hindutva in your DNA, if you need to be, but be the Wazir-e-Azam of Hindostan that the 69 percent who did not vote for you, would want you to be.Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Hindu
Not Just Gandhi’s Grandson
While it is no secret that Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s paternal grandfather is Mahatma Gandhi, he is also the grandson of C Rajagopalachari, who served as India’s last Governor General.
The position of Governor General of India was abolished post Independence and Rajagopalachari was succeeded by Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi is married to Tara Gandhi and the couple have two children.