A communist, a renegade, a spy are some of the names in which ACN Nambiar is known in history. The life of this journalist and diplomat who has rallied, without much recognition, for India’s freedom in the West was at the centre of a talk held by the Mumbai Literary Club on Friday.
According to Vappala Balachandran, whose book A Life in the Shadow: The Secret History of ACN Nambiar was released recently, Nambiar was introduced to communism in Germany when he met MN Roy, the founder of Communist Party of India.
However, Balachandran denied allegations of Nambiar being a spy during his talk at the Asiatic Society in Mumbai. The allegations surfaced in 2014 when the British government declassified several documents from cabinet meetings. “The allegations are meant to defame him,” said the author, who has served as a former intelligence officer and special secretary to the government of India.
Balachandran, who was appointed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to help the old and ailing Nambiar, remembered his first interaction with Nambiar. “He came across as a very polite man,” he said.
Speaking of the relationship Nambiar shared with the then-PM, Balachandran said, “His world collapsed when Indira was assassinated.” Hand-written letters from Indira Gandhi to Nambiar, affectionately referred to as ‘Nanu’ in the letters, are published in the book.