Mandala: An Awakening
Apa Pant
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A unique blend of political insights and philosophical reflection, this book covers a wide range of topics, thoughts and experiences in Ambassador Apa Punt’s career. It speaks of his early years on the princely state of Aundh, and comments on events in East Africa, Indonesia, the Himalayan states and Egypt, countries where he served as head of the Indian diplomatic mission.

The central core of the book, perhaps the part most significant in relation to India’s future, is his discussion of the Tibet-China-India relationship with reference to the years 1955 to 1961, which saw both the height of India’s amity with China, and the tense prelude to the 1962 war between them. Apa Pant, who was during that time India's Political Officer in Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet, asserts that India throughout had a policy of non-interference in Tibet’s political affairs, though deeply concerned with the preservation of its religious and cultural traditions.

Many unusual personal glimpses are given to us: the Dalai Lama and Jawaharlal Nehru; the rulers of Sikkim and Bhutan; Nasser dismayed at the 1967 war; the dour Chinese generals in occupied Tibet. The book concludes with u discussion of Western civilization and the Nation-State.

Pervading the book is Apa Pant's concern with man’s inner being, a consciousness that is never far from his writing, whether personal or political.

Apa Pant (1912–1992), was born into the princely family of Aundh in the Satara District of what is now Maharashtra. He took his M A, at Oxford, and was called to the Bar before his return to India in 1937. For the next ten years, he was involved in the “Aundh Experiment”, the famous constitutional exercise by which his father handed over power to the people of Aundh. Apa Pant was elected Prime Minister of Aundh in 1939, and was closely associated with this unusual experiment in the decentralized democracy of the Panchayati Raj. In 1948, after Aundh merged into free India, Jawaharlal Nehru called on him to be India’s first Commissioner in British East Africa, and this launched a long diplomatic career. Apa Pant was thereafter posted as Political Officer to Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet, all three of which figure largely in this book. His next three assignments were as Ambassador to Indonesia, Norway and Egypt. Subsequently, in 1969-72, during the Bangladesh freedom struggle, he was High Commissioner in the U.K., and lastly Ambassador to Italy, where he completed his term of appointment in 1975. In 1954, Apa Pant became one of the first recipients of the Padma Shri and in 1956, he represented India at the Bandung Conference when the Non-Aligned Movement was established.

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