ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Friend of Nehru and Bose

A Life in Shadow: The Secret Story of ACN Nambiar—A Forgotten Anti-Colonial Warrior by Vappala Balachandran; New Delhi: the Lotus Collection (An Imprint of Roli Books), 2016; pp 344, ₹695.

“Where is Nambiar?,” Subhas Chandra Bose asked his wife Emilie Schenkl on his arrival in Europe in April 1941 after his great escape from India. Bose tracked down his friend Arathil Candeth Narayanan Nambiar in Foix, France, and they met in Paris in August 1941. Nambiar joined the Free India Centre in Berlin as Bose’s deputy in January 1942. Once Bose left on his submarine voyage to Asia in February 1943, Nambiar took charge of the Free India Centre and the Indian Legion in Europe for the remaining years of World War II (S Bose 2011: 206, 227, 229). He suffered incarceration and interrogation by the British at the War’s end. Life came full circle when Jawaharlal Nehru appointed him as the first Ambassador of India to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955. A bridge between Bose and Nehru, A C N Nambiar was a remarkable, if somewhat elusive, anti-colonial revolutionary in his own right.

Vappala Balachandran must be congratulated for supplying a shaft of light to illuminate a life in the shadows. The author knew Nambiar only for the final six years of his life, from 1980 to 1986. While working on an intelligence assignment in Europe under diplomatic cover, he met Nambiar in Zurich and took care of the elder statesman’s needs under the instruction of Indira Gandhi. This was a social responsibility entrusted to him, not part of his official work. Nambiar had served as the young Indira’s guardian in Europe during the 1930s and remained an avuncular if not a father figure for her until her tragic assassination on 31 October 1984.

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Updated On : 30th Jun, 2017
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