Prof. (Dr.) Renu Nanda
Name of the Book: A Ringside Seat
to History – An Autobiography
Author: Pascal Alan Nazareth
Publisher: Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
New Delhi — Seattle
The book entitled “A Ringside Seat to History – An Autobiography” by Pascal Alan Nazareth has 256 pages and is a unique collection of the memories by the author spread over his personal journey of life from 1936 -2015. The book focuses on Ambassador Pascal Alan Nazareth`s service in India`s diplomatic missions in Tokyo, Rangoon, Lima, London, New York as DG (ICCR) and India`s High Commissioner to Ghana and Ambassador to Egypt and Mexico.
Nazareth’s father had a strong desire to see his son serving in Indian Administrative Services, his father served in different places of South India as judge. On securing a high rank in the competitive examination, Nazareth was called for an interview for selection into the IFS at the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi. He appeared for the interview and got selected. He certainly signed the acceptance letter against his father’s strong opposition to the IFS. Alan Nazareth appeared as a kind and gentle human being, correspondingly at home in philosophy, art, and literature, Indian as well as Western. As Indian Ambassador he served at Mexico from September 1992 to April 1994, which was considered as the smallest mission he had served in during his entire IFS career. On his arrival in Mexico, he momentarily realized the similarity between India and the Latin American country; through culture and trade he contributed in promotion of India in Mexico which proved beneficial in building a cordial relationship between both the countries. He instantly comprehended that Mexico’s cultural diversity was a productive foundation for the promotion of Indian culture that would lead to the strengthening of cordial ties between both countries.
He laid the foundation for highlighting India’s glory and ‘major, wide-spectrum Indian promotion in Mexico’ through a cultural program that included the screening of Indian films at Mexico’s palace of fine arts and a 10- day Indian festivals, among many other activities which changed the mindsets of Mexican masses. This is supported with an article published by ‘The Economic Times of India’ which states that “in an ambitious attempt to poster closer relations
between the two countries, the Indian envoy organized a month-long, multidimensional India cultural festival in the Mexico City and Acapulco with a total price of nearly US$1.5 million. It was the first of its kind in Latin America”.
Encouraging the publication of a scholarly work on the historical and cultural links between India and Mexico published both in an English and Spanish edition was one of his most extraordinary achievements. Ambassador Pascal Alan Nazareth’s efficacious time in Mexico (though brief), had a remarkable impression that made him India’s most outstanding diplomat as well as a renowned figure in Mexico whose significant contributions led strong ties between India and Mexico.
Unlike others who retire from services, Alan was not bemoaned over the loss of official powers instead, wrote two books on Gandhi`s Outstanding Leadership which came out in 12 Indian and 23 foreign languages and the other Gandhi: The Soul Force Warrior. Alan also disseminated his philosophy through delivery of lectures at universities in India and abroad, as well as on the cruises on the high seas. He cherished his retirement, utilized it fruitfully and is still continuing his legacy through his lectures. The only mar he faced post-retirement was the sudden collapse of his daughter, Seema, at the age of just 24. For a parent, to lose a child is the worst heartbreak. As an enlightened person deeply rooted in the ideals of Christianity, he always remained optimistic. His spirited immersion in spreading the essential message of Gandhiji- Satya, Ahimsa, Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava and Sarvodaya- in his post retirement life shows his dedication to serve the humanity. He is a visionary par excellence and a revolutionary writer and thinker. It can be said that Alan Nazareth: An Epitome of Knowledge and Communal Harmony.
(The author is Professor of Education, University of Jammu)
Prof. (Dr.) Renu Nanda