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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 50

Remembering Hiren Mukerjee

Monday 3 December 2007, by Madhu Dandavate


How do I remember Hiren Mukerjee after his recent death? I took out a book from the shelf with the caption Gandhiji—A Study written by him and published in 1958.

In the ‘Last Phase’, in the concluding chapter of this book, Hiren Mukerjee wrote:

When at last, by devious pathways, freedom came to a partitioned India, Gandhi did not have long to live, and he was too anguished even to wish to live much longer. He had often before expressed the desire to live to be a hundred and twentyfive years old, but now, it seems, he had had enough. This last phase of his life, agonised as he felt like the Christ at Gethsemane, is perhaps greater than any other, more rounded, more superbly human, and more effulgent.

These remarks revealed the most human and sensitive aspects of Hiren Mukerjee’s personality.

I had the opportunity to have association with Hiren Mukerjee in the Lok Sabha for some years. I was often surprised to find this learned Professor expounding his proletarian ideology in chaste ‘Oxford English’. Those Members of Parliament who were conversant with the English language wondered whether even Englishmen could speak such chaste English. Those who did not follow Professor Hiren Mukerjee’s high-flown English were allured by his silver tongue and golden voice.

I recollect the moving speech of Hiren Mukerjee in the Lok Sabha on the occasion of Sikkim’s integration in India. He traced in his characteristic style the legacy of the cultural roots and the spiritual splendour of the Himalayas. In an emotional strain he observed that this heritage symbolised by Sikkim now beautifully blended with India.

During my association with Hiren Mukerjee in the Lok Sabha I had profound respect for his intellectual as well as human qualities which he reciprocated with warm affection for me. These reminiscences, I can never afford to forget.

The author, a renowned parliamentarian, is a former member of the Union Cabinet; he was in charge of the portfolios of Railway and Finance in his two stints in the Cabinet.

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