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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Pandit Ajit Narain Haksar

First Indian Chairman of I.T.C.

By Dr. B.N. Sharga

To check the fast growing Ajit Haksarmonopoly of the American Tobacco Companies in the world market especially of James Buchanan Duke thirteen British tobacco and cigarette companies including the famous W.D. & H.O. Wills of Bristol merged together in 1901 to form the Imperial Tobacco Company to carry out their business in the global market under this new brand name. Mr. William Henry Wills of the leading W.D. & H.O. Wills group became the first chairman of the Imperial Tobacco Company on 24th August 1910. The company was incorporated as a Private Limited Company under a new name Imperial Tobacco Company of India Ltd. for manufacturing cigarettes and smoking tobacco in the country. Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar who joined this company in 1948 as a trainee in marketing became its Chairman in 1969. He was the first Indian to occupy that coveted post.

Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar’s ancestor Pt. Mahesh Haksar was originally a resident of Srinagar in Kashmir, where he used to live in Tankipora locality near Kani Kadal around 1680. He was a highly religious person with sharp intellect. He had a son Manohar Haksar who in turn had a son Roop Ram Haksar and a grandson Nand Ram Haksar. During the Afghan rule in Kashmir from 1752 upto 1819 the Kashmiri Pandits were subjected to all kinds of brutalities and indignities by various Afghan governors.

Many Kashmiri Pandit families migrated from Kashmir to the plains of North India to avoid their religious persecution during this period. Pt. Sita Ram Haksar, who was the son of Pt. Nand Ram Haksar came to the imperial capital Delhi in 1804 to seek employment in the Mughal court, whereas his brother Pt. Sahib Ram Haksar stayed back in Kashmir to look after their ancestral property there.

When Pt. Sita Ram Haksar came to Delhi he found the Mughal emperor Shah Alam 11(1759-1806) almost a puppet in the hands of the British as the British forces under the command of Lord Lake took over Delhi under their Marathas in the Anglo - Maratha War leaving little scope for the Mughal emperor to exercise his powers. Finding the employment opportunities quite dim in those uncertain conditions in a war zone. Pt.

Sita Ram Haksar after living in Bazaar Sita Ram for a couple of years then moved to the Gwalior state in Central India.

After some time he became a teacher in some school there. He had a son Jagat Narain Haksar and a grandson Pt. Bishan Narain Haksar.

He was an ardent admirer of Lord Krishna. He had four sons Dharam Narain, Prem Narain, Swaroop Narain and Shyam Narain alias Kathaiyya Lal.

Pt. Swaroop Narain Haksar who was born in 1828 at Delhi and had his education in Delhi College was the first member of this Haksar clan to take up a job in the Indore state around 1846 as a teacher in a school on the recommendation of his British Principal of Delhi College.

He was in the good books of Mr. RH. Hamilton, who was British Political Agent for the Indore state during the rule of Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar. Pt. Swaroop Narain Haksar became a ‘Mir Munshi’ of the British Political Agent in 1850 and than Dewan of Bundelkhand in 1856.

Pt. Dharam Narain Haksar who was born in 1824 left Delhi in 1849 after completing his education at Delhi College and became the editor of Malwa Akhbar. In 1856 the British appointed him as the Mir Munshi of the Indore state. His another brother Pt. Prem Narain Haksar became Dewan of Tehri state in Central India around 1854.

When Queen Victoria of England took over the administration of India on 1st November 1858 from the East India Company and conditions became perfectly normal at Delhi Pt. Bishan Narain Haksar who was at Alwar came back from Alwar to Delhi and found his ancestral haveli badly damaged and completely ransacked by the British soldiers totally unfit for living. The then commissioner of Delhi C.B.

Saunders helped him in getting a big compensation from the British government. Pt. Bishan Narain Haksar from that money purchased a big plot of land in Gali Prem Narain and built two havelis Rang Mahal and ‘Sheesh Mahal’ besides a temple of Lord Krishna at Mathura in 1870. He died in 1890 at the age of 85 years at Gwalior.

Pt. Dharam Narain Haksar after his retirement from the British service in 1879 shifted his base from Indore to Gwalior. Maharaja Jajaji Rao Scindia made him a Hony. magistrate and tutor of prince Madhav Rao Scindia. The British conferred the civilian title of Rai Bahadur upon him for his services in the Gwalior state. He died in 1892 at Gwalior at the age of 68 years.

He was Warned with Sushil Kumari the daughter of Pt. Pran Nath Raina of Kashmini Mohalla, Lucknow who later on migrated to Gwalior and became Principal of Victoria College there. Pt. Dharam Narain Haksar had a son Har Narain Haksar who was born in 1853 at Indore. He started his career as a translator in the office of Indore Residency.

He used to go to Gwalior quite often. He died suddenly due to heart failure at the residence of his elder son Col. Sir Kailas Narain Haksar in 1902 at the young age of 52 years.

Pt. Har Narain Haksar had two sons Kailash Narain and Iqbal Narain besides five daughter Swaroop Kumari married to Pt. Swaroop Narain Razdan the son of Pt. Bishan Narain Razdan of Amritsar, Ram Pyari married to Pt. Roop Krishna Kitchlu the son of Pt. Praduman Krishna Kitchlu of Lahore, Bilaspati married to Pt. Pratap Narain Shivpuri the son of Pt. Brij Narain Shivpuri of Aiwar, Maharaj Kumari married to Pt. Prem Nath Agha of Allahabad and Shivrajpati married to Pt. Brij Krishna Kitchlu the son of Pt. Praduman Krishna Kitchlu of Lahore.

Col. Sir Kailas Narain Haksar then became the Prime Minister of the Bikaner state in 1938. He went to Kashmir in 1940 where Maharaja Han Singh appointed him as tutor and guardian of Prince Karan Singh. In 1940 the University of Allahabad conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL.D. He became the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir state in 1943 and worked on that post till 1944. He. then devoted his life in social work.

He was a great orator and had an equal command on English and Persian. He died after a long illness in 1953 at the residence of his son Pt. Prakash Narain Haksar in Calcutta.

Pt. Iqbal Narain Haksar was born around 1890 at Gwalior. He had his education in the famous Victoria College and then joined the Gwalior State Scindia Railways as an Administrative Officer around 1929. Maharaja Jayaji Rao the Gwalior state from 1835 into 1886 sent Rs. 75 lacs to the British in 1772 for the construction of the Agra - Gwalior portion of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway and a similar amount in 1873 for the construction of Indore-Nemuch section of the Rajputana - Malwa railway line.

Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia died on 20th June 1886 and was succeeded by his son Madhav Rao Scindia from his fourth wife Sakhyabai. Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia appointed Pt. Iqbal Narain Haksar as the administrative officer of the Gwalior State Scindia Railways to look after its proper management and maintenance, which he did with great ability and farsightedness.

This Haksar family earned a great respect and honour in the Gwalior state.

Pt. Iqbal Narain Haksar was married with Shammo (Tej Rani) around 1992, who was the daughter of Pt. Jagat Narain Mulla a leading criminal lawyer of Lucknow. Pt. Iqbal Narain Haksar died on 9th June 1953 at Gwalior and was survived by three sons Anand Narain, Raj Narain and Ajit Narain besides two daughters Sheila married with Justice Ram Narain Gurtu the son of Rai Brij NarainGwtü of Kanpur and Ta* married with Pt. Suraj Narain Razdan the son of Pt. Chand Narain Razdan of Ujjain.

Pandit Ajit Narain Haksar was born in 1924 at Lashkar, Gwalior. He passed his Senior Cambridge examination from Doon School, Dehradun in 1940.

He then did his Intermediate from Victoria College, Gwalior in 1942. He then went to Allahabad and did his B .A. in Humanities from the University of Allahabad in 1944. He then went to America and did his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1948.

Pandit Ajit Narain Haksar after coming back to India started his career as a trainee in marketing with the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Ltd. in September 1948. He was a man with a vision and extraordinary managerial skills. He soon started showing his potential as a marketing expert by evolving new strategies. He gave new fillip and direction to this wing of the company. He was made the Marketing Director of the company around 1954 to implement his policies and programmes. The result was that on 27th October 1954 the company was converted into a Public Limited Company and apart from manufacturing cigarettes and smoking tobacco also started Lithographic printing business.

Pt. Haksar then became the Deputy Chairman of the company around 1960. He then diversified the business of the company by opening up new avenues and adopting new business priorities. He thus became the first Indian Chairman of a British Company in September 1969. Under his Chairmanship the name of the company was changed from the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Ltd. to the India Tobacco Company Ltd. in May 1970. It was due to his untiring efforts and meticulous planning that the company entered into the hotel business in 1972 and built a chain of hotels in the country. In 1973 under his stewardship the company received the approval of the government for setting up three processing plants.

On 1st April, 1974 the name of the company was again changed to Imperial Tobacco Company Ltd. In 1975 I.T.C. Ltd. purchased the net asset in India of India Leaf Tobacco Development Co. Ltd. (U.K.). In 1979 the name of the company’s chain of hotels was changed from Welcome Hotels to Welcom Group and the company entered into a marketing service and reservation agreement with the Sheraton International.

Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar retired from active service on 11th January 1983 after an outstanding track record of 14 years as the Chairman of the company.

Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar was then made the Chairman emeritus of the company to utilize his ability and fasight for the benefit of the company. A new company under the name Gujrat Hotels was incorporated under a joint venture agreement signed between the company and Gujrat Industrial Corporation to build hotels in Gujrat. In 1986 the company signed a joint venture agreement with Madhya Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation for setting up four hotels in Madhya Pradesh. The company introduced the new braid of Wills Flake Premium Filter and Scissors Filter in 1987 and acquired Neidoue Hotel of Srinagar, Kashmir on lease. In the same year the company added 30 rooms in Mughal Sheraton at Agra.

Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar was the President of Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries for two years. He was a Member Board of Directors of Reserve Bank of India, Industrial Development, Bank of India, Indian Airlines and Heavy Engineering Corporation, Ranchi. He was Chairman Board of Governors of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. He was Member Board of Governors of Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and Hyderabad Staff College. He was Member National Committee on Tourism and Government Committees on Public Sector.

The Hony. Membership of the Indian Institute of Industrial Engineering was conferred upon Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar in 1981. In the same year he got Man of the year Award from NIF. Modi Enterprises. He was given NIQA outstanding Industrialist Award in 1982 and Business India’s First Businessman, of the Year Award. He was elected in World’s Hall of Fame in 1982 and 83. He became an Honorary Fellow of All India Management Association 1987-88. He got Udyog Life Time Achievement Award 2005.

Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar during his school and college days was a voracious reader and a good sportsman. He was a god hockey and football player. He had a great passion for cricket. He also took a keen interest in theatre during his student life. Later on in service he switched over to playing lawn tennis. He! then started playing golf to keep him fit and mentally alert.

Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar was married with Madhuri the daughter of Pt. Trijugi Narain Sapru and granddaughter of Dr. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru of Allahabad. He had a son Anant Narain Haksar and a daughter Neena married to Pt. Kapil Narain Channa the son of Pt. Uttam Narain Channa. Pt. Anant Narain Haksar was born on 31st August 1951 at Gwalior. He had his schooling at Doon School, Debradun. He then did his graduation frm the University of Calcutta in 1971.He then went to London and did his graduation Economics from the London Schoolof Economics in 1975. He then did his Tar-at kaw from Lincoln's Inn,in 1977.He then came back to India to start his legal practice asan advocate in creation. This has implications at the societal level also, with Shaivism rejecting all differences of caste, creed or sex and allowing one and all to be initiated into it. The Shaivas maintain that Shiva manifests himself as the universe through his Cosmic Energy Shakti, who is inseperable from him. At the temporal level, these two cosmic principles, one transcendental and the other immanent, are represented by the male and female principal.

As Shaivas consider all females as manifestation of Shakti, they regard woman as equal to man so far as her social position is concerned. Even today in a Kashmiri Pandit marriage the bridegroom and the bride are worshipped as Shiva and Shakti.

In fact, Shaktism, which found expression in the mothergoddess cults, also became very popular in early Kashmir and is so even today. Considering God as a woman is something unique that Tantric vision of reality has contributed to religious thought. Intense devotion to the goddesses Sharika, Ragya, Tripura and Jwala as different forms of Jagadamba or the mother of the Universe, is an integral part of Kashmiri Hindus' religious life. The Shaktas regard ultimate reality as feminine in essence, as we have pointed out earlier, and this is a factor that has contributed to reverence for women in the Kashmiri Hindu society. Being Mother, she is kind and benevolent and grants all wishes of the devotees even as she upholds the cosmic order and destroys the demons, they hold. He became a senior advocate of the Delhi High Court in March 1992.

Pt. Ajit Narain Haksar was responsible for steering the change at ITC towards a company that may look more Indian than British. He took the company to new heights by introducing a new work culture in it.

He was one of the most dynamic and high profile Indian manager in independent India, He very successfully led the ITC into newer businesses beyond cigarettes. He will always be remembered as a great visionary and a pioneer in business management. In the words of William Hazlitt. If you think you can win, Faith is necessary to victory.

He died on 20th May 2005 at Delhi at the age of 80 years due to brain hemorrhage.


Kashmiri Writers B.N. Sharga


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