Former V-P Hamid Ansari gets candid about his life, shares that he wanted to become teacher

Although Ansari aspired to become a teacher, he sat for the civil servic examination on the insistence of his mother
Mohammad Hamid Ansari | Pic: Wikimedia
Mohammad Hamid Ansari | Pic: Wikimedia

Former Vice President of India Hamid Ansari wanted to pursue a PhD during his college days and teach in a university, but on his mother's insistence, he prepared and sat for the civil service examination. This was one of the several unheard facets about Ansari, which he shared during an interview.

Born on April 1, 1937 in Calcutta (Kolkata), after studying at St. Edwards High School, Shimla, he went to St. Xavier's College and then to the Aligarh Muslim University. Although Ansari aspired to become a teacher, his mother once said "you should go to the civil service", after which one of his professors persuaded him for it. He revealed that even as he was reluctant to appear in the civil service examination, he eventually sat for it. "When I was in university, I was planning to do PhD. After that I wanted to do teaching in a university but my mother thought that I should go for civil services," he said. "One of my professors further persuaded me and said that I should sit for the Civil Services examination. I had appeared in the examination but did not study or prepare much of that as I was not really willing to appear in the exam. However, I did clear the exam," the former Vice President said.

Sharing another aspect of his life, Ansari said: "I was an ambassador in Kabul and I had a close shave... by just 5 minutes. A blast had happened that day and had I been in my house, I would have been dead as my house was targetted." "That day I left my house earlier by 5 minutes... don't know why. Half of my house was blown away by the bombing. I was lucky." According to Ansari, there have been several "mini accidents", which we can also call coincidence, and that's why he named his new book "Buy Many A Happy Accident".

He revealed that his children wanted him to write the book. "I had finished my book before Covid-19 times, but due to the pandemic induced lockdown and closure, my book has come now." Ansari spent most of his time reading during the peak Covid-19 phase. On being asked about his experience of studying in Shimla, Kolkata and Aligarh, he said, "The experience was different everywhere... one cannot be mixed with another. All experiences are memorable. It was a memorable moment with friends... friends of that era, I still talk to them today."

Talking about one of his friends, he said, "I have a good friend who was a history professor in Jamia. I got a call from him recently and he said 'I am reading your book, you have included my name too'. Hearing such words from someone makes you feel happy." Ansari began his career as a bureaucrat in the Indian Foreign Service in 1961 when he was appointed as India's permanent representative to the UN. He was also the High Commissioner of India to Australia. "I was a diplomat from 1962 to 1999, ambassador in different countries from 1976, wherever the government posted me, I went," he said.

He had also served as India's Ambassador to Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, and Iran. The former Vice President also described his wife's opinions as 'very important' in his life. "Her opinion is very important in my life, when I was writing my book, I started forgetting some parts which she helped me to complete." Ansari won the 2007 Vice Presidential election. In 2012, his tenure was extended by five years. His term ended on August 10, 2017. He also spoke on some of the controversies created by his remarks related to 'insecurity'. "I did not say anything new in this, if you see my speeches, I spoke 500 times in 10 years. I have spoken about a lot of issues. It was wrong to say (by some sections) why I spoke on the subject on my last day in office. Those people have neither read my book nor bothered to listen to my speeches."

On being asked about the newly passed agricultural laws by the Narendra Modi-led Central government, he said: "Every citizen has seen what is happening, everyone's opinion is different." Are the laws creating a distance between the farmer and the government? Responding to this, the former Vice President said, "How do I say this? Both the farmers and those in the government are citizens. But yes, this matter should not have reached to such an extent and a solution should have been found."

He further said: "The government in our country has always faced problems at every stage... sometimes they go out of control." Ansari said that before bringing laws of such nature, a thorough discussion should be held in Parliament and everyone's opinion must be taken. He also felt that there has been less debates on the farm laws in Parliament. Expressing his views on India's relations with neighbouring countries, Ansari told IANS: "Both China and India are big countries and neighbours. They understand that there is a need to exist together. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said many times that we are in talks with China."

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