NEW DELHI: Narendra Singh Sarila, former aide de camp to Lord Mountbatten, India’s last viceroy, and former ambassador to France, died on Friday after a prolonged illness at his home in Geneva, Switzerland.
The 84-year-old Narendra Singh Sarila was recuperating when he breathed his last, Commodore (retired) Uday Bhaskar, a close friend, said.
Born in 1927 as a descendant of rulers of Sarila princely state in central India, Sarila had a multi-faceted career that included different roles as a diplomat, corporate leader and author-commentator.
He served as an aide de camp to Lord Mountbatten, a position that gave him an up-close view of the British Raj’s geopolitical and strategic manoeuverings that led to India’s partition in 1947.
He chronicled the devious designs of the British in engineering the partition in ‘The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition,’ a book that read like a thriller and became an international bestseller.
After India’s independence, he joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), where he worked from 1948 to 1985.
As a diplomat, he was a deputy permanent representative in the Indian delegation to the United Nations. He headed the Pakistan and international organisations divisions at the ministry of external affairs headquarters in New Delhi in the late 1960s.
He later served as India’s ambassador to Spain, Brazil, Libya, Switzerland (with concurrent accreditation to the Vatican) and France, from where he retired.
He has written commentaries on international affairs for numerous journals, both in India and abroad.
“He was a very perceptive analyst and an observer of the great game. He provided very valuable historical context to India’s security and diplomatic challenges. His book on partition is a definitive contribution in understanding the dynamics of partition and the Kashmir conflict,” said Mr Bhaskar said.
After retiring from the IFS, Sarila forayed into the corporate world. He also served as the chairman of the board of Nestle India.
Sarila narrated his variegated life that straddled different worlds in his autobiography entitled ‘Once a Prince of Sarila’.