Vivek Haldipur gentle beyond imagination

RK Nagar
RK Nagar



He was the only child of late Mrs Krishna and late Shri R N Haldipur, a former Lt. Governor of Arunachal and Pondicherry states. Mr Haldipur accepted Dr. Kurien’s offer and took over as Director, IRMA in 1982.

During his four years stay in Anand, I had only a formal contact with him. His wife, Mrs Krishna Haldipur was however my biggest support in my quest to start a NDDB managed school in Anand. It’s final outcome-Anandalaya now holds a place of pride in Anand school education circuit.

I was deputy director and heading planning function in NDDB. One day, a young man, fair complexioned and very sophisticated in manners came to my office and introduced himself as Vivek Haldipur. He had been appointed as Assistant Executive in planning and had come to join the new position.

Vivek Haldipur at lunch time. Mitali and Shirley from Administration and Chairman’s Office. Pictures above courtesy ~FA Siddiqui.


One day, when we were discussing something in my office, he said, ‘Excuse me Sir, Can I take my medicines’? He pulled out a little box from his pocket and took out six or eight differently coloured tablets.

Till I saw those tablets, I thought he probably has a mild fever or a stomach upset, but when I saw so many tablets, I was baffled. I asked him, “ Why are you taking so many tablets? What are these for?”. “Epilepsy”, he replied and in the next 15 minutes I learnt how he contracted it during a visit to Mumbai when his father was the Lt. Governor of Arunachal and how well he has managed this irreversible condition ever since he was a school kid. Before this I had never seen an epileptic so I had no idea of the medication that is needed to control the symptoms.

Despite this medical condition, he not only managed himself very well all along but also completed his undergraduate degree from Harvard university, worked with a law firm there but decided to move back to India to be with his aging parents.

After a brief stint with planning, he moved to administration. When I was interviewed for the position of Director, planning, it was Vivek who coordinated the interview. It was at his persuasion that I decided to go before the interview panel. During his brief stay with NDDB- I guess about two and a half years, we had become quite close. He used to drop in at my residence after office couple of times a week and we used to have interesting conversations on varying topics over a cup of tea. He however, never stayed back for dinner as he always preferred to have it with his parents.

One-Day he came and announced that he has resigned from NDDB and that he is moving back to USA. There were two strong reasons for it-one, he would easily get all the medicines he needed daily for controlling his epilepsy attacks and two, the law firm where he worked before moving to India wanted him back so he didn’t have to start from the scratch once he is back in US.

In June 1986, I moved to Bangalore and almost simultaneously so also did Mr. Haldipur. He had finished his tenure at IRMA and he wanted a quite retired life in Bangalore where he owned a small two room ground floor apartment in Malleshwaram. We often visited each other since neither he nor I had any social circle there.

One day Mr. Haldipur called me in office . It was unusual as he never called me during my work hours. He asked me if someone in Madras can help him and his wife urgently get a visitor visa for US. I immediately called my program coordinator, PVK Pannikar and asked him to call the secretary agriculture in the government of Tamil Nadu and seek government help if required. I also asked him to receive Haldipurs at the airport, go with them to the US consulate and drop them at the airport in time for departure to US. I called back Mr. Haldipur to convey that all arrangements have been made and that Dr. Pannikar will be with them throughout the day, till they take the flight to USA.

The urgency was because Vivek was admitted to a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona in a critical state and was on life support. He unfortunately had an attack of epilepsy when he was in a jacuzzi pool with his friends who didn’t know that he was epileptic and dismissed his drowning in the shallow pool as a mere prank. By the time he was pulled out of the water, chlorinated water had destroyed his lungs and he was unable to breath normally. 

Mr. Haldipur called me after a couple of hours. In a very calm  and soft voice he said, “Nagar, please inform Pannikar that we are not travelling to US. There is no need to. Vivek is no more”. 

I was dumbstruck, the phone receiver dropped from my hands. I froze. I didn’t know how to react. When I regained my composure I called my wife and asked her to be ready to go to see the Haldipurs. She took the news with total disbelief as only a couple of days before, when we had gone to see them, they sounded so happy at Vivek’s new position in the state government. He was to take up his new assignment in Boston soon after his return from this short Arizona holiday. 

When we reached his place in Malleshwaram, there were a handful of mourners who had never seen Vivek. As I hugged Mr. Haldipur, he pointed a finger towards the sky and murmured, “Nagar, HE gave him to us and today HE took him back from us”. Mrs Haldipur though herself broken from within tried to comfort a broken father who that morning, in fact only a few minutes before the news of Vivek’s critical condition came in, had changed into a new beautiful blue shirt that Vivek had sent him as Father’s Day gift. 

The tragedy just didn’t end here. Mr. Haldipur had to wait for whole one month for Vivek’s ashes to arrive. He had to go through an elaborate procedure. It was heartbreaking to see “SAARAANSH” (the famous Mahesh Bhatt movie) in real life. It is hard to imagine how deeply distressing this wait must have been for Mrs and Shri Haldipur. 

As his memory, I have with me a Corning bakeware that he had gifted to me. He had brought it specially for my wife when he had gone to US on a short trip while still working with NDDB.

Vivek, Nagars will never forget you. You will always be in our prayers.


Vivek contributed greatly among many other things like preparing counter replies to White Lie,the finalisation of reports for the Jha Committee etc. I  was transferred from OVOW to the Chairman’s Office. Vivek despite his medical condition volunteered tohelp us in proof reading, editing and doing odd jobs so that the reports could be prepared on time. 

As usual Bhandari our man in crisis and his colleaguefrom printing section and colleagues from other departments of NDDB and IDC all helped.We would have our usual all night sessions thatstretched for days.Vivek would join us after early dinner. 

Those days I used to smoke and so did Tom carter.Vivek will tease and make fun of us when we wouldget hyper and search late night or early morning for cigarettes including butts of cigarettes that we had already smoked.

I was in Canada / US and Vivek and I had planned to meet. But it was not to be…

I got the news of his drowning accident in a swimming pool while in Canada. Vivek came into our lives at NDDB for a very short period of time but he left for us “fragrance” of his interactions with people cutting across organisational hierarchy his simplicity and his exemplary commitment to commitment … Shailendra

I shared the above writeup by Nagar with Tom and this is what Tom wrote back to me;

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“Dear Shailendra,

Thank you for sharing it. Vivek was such a fineperson. I think he really enjoyed working with us during that marathon.

And I expect he never told a soul about the effort and its goals. I hadn’t known the reasons for hisdeath. In fact, somehow I was under the impression he had taken his own life. Sad as his drowning is,in some ways it is better to know that was his end and it was not as his own hand.

That was a wonderful time wasn’t it. I still remember Miss Patel opening the door and lookingin, seeing a cloud of cigarette smoke that you could have cut with a knife,looking horrified and exiting.”

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11 thoughts on “Vivek Haldipur gentle beyond imagination

  1. Rama Reddy, Hyderabad
    During 1970-72, Dr Haldipur was in Rajendranagar, a suburb of Hyderabad, as the Director of National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD). I too was at Rajendranagar as the elected President of Taluka Panchayat, Rajendranagar. Our campuses were neighbors. His commitment to local self-governments brought us much closer.
    Dr CD Deshmukh, former Finance Minister in the union government, and his spouse Dr Durgabai Deshmukh had settled down in Hyderabad heading a renowned NGO, Andhra Mahila Sabha (AMS), which chose to run a adult literacy program in Rajendranagar Taluka. Smt Krishna Haldipur was the Chairperson of the program. Thus, I was able to work closely with the Deshmukhs and the Haldipurs. They nominated me for one academic year post-graduate program in Princeton University, USA.
    At the end of my tenure in Rajendranagar in 1975, I chose to work in cooperative movement and came in contact with National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in Anand, Gujarat. Around that time, Dr Haldipur joined Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). Dr Kurien, Dr Haldipur and Mr Thomas Carter, FAO Resource Person, attached to NDDB, suggested that I join the IRMA Board. I had the privilege to be on the Board as long as Dr Kurien and I chose to leave it.
    During the stay of the Haldipurs in Anand, I did interact with Vivek. On my way back from Princeton, I did stop in England where Vivek was continuing his studies.

  2. Copy pasting a comment from Shri Jaideep Mehot (https://www.facebook.com/jaideep.mehrotra.7 )that he wrote on Vrikshamandir Facebook page.

    “Thanks for sharing this article. Vivek studied with me in Mayo College since 1966 and I was close to him after school too, then lost touch when I went abroad for 8 years. Couldn’t reconnect. So sad about his passing. He got Encephalitis just after graduating from Oxford, before going to Harvard. Couldn’t go anywhere unaccompanied after that. I took him out for a movie and dinner once, but he got an episode while in the car on the way back. Pretty scary. Wonderful person with an almost eidetic memory. Even though his life was cut short at such an early age, I happy to hear of this part of his life.“

  3. Vivek was my classmate at Mayo. We last met in UK way back in 1973 or so when doing A levels at different schools. Was unaware of the circumstances of his passing away till now. Was told it was Meningitis. This is a wonderful tribute to him and brings out his impressive achievements and personality.

  4. I knew Vivek very very well.
    He was my best friend in school (Mayo College Ajmer).
    I first met him in Gangtok Sikkim when he was 8 or 9 yrs old.
    He was absolutely brilliant and scored 5 points in the ISC exam.
    That was the highest possible!!
    I was associated with him right through his A levels in Scotland, his course at Harvard, and he used to visit me at AFMC Pune where I was pursuing my medical studies.
    AFMC is Armed Forces Medical College.
    I had heard about his career at Anand.
    I also got the sad news of his demise.
    A very rare individual who earned the respect of all his class mates!!
    Dr Ashish Banerji
    Class of 1971
    Mayo College, Ajmer
    Wing Commander, Retd

    • 🙏 Thank you for your comments. Nagar has written this piece on Vivek so beautifully .. Vivek left us at so early an age but his memory lives with us .. NDDB as an organisation was under attack from the so called l”activists” and politicians including the Minister in charge of Agriculture. However, our fight back was phenomenal (https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/economy/story/19840115-nddb-scientists-officials-resign-in-protest-against-operation-flood-article-mps-remark-770328-2013-07-12). It was during those days that Vivek volunteered to work with me and a small group in NDDB Chairmans office to reply to biased one sided articles and also prepare replies to questions raised by the Committee set up after intervention by the PM Smt. Gandhi and headed by Mr LK Jha to look into working of NDDB and IDC and recommend ways to strengthen it …Long story short answer India is now the largest milk producer in the world. India did not become dependent on foreign imports of milk powder and products but now exports small quantities.. Dooms day sayers proved wrong .. but the organisation is now totally Govt controlled !
      Vivek used to spend sleepless nights working on documents,drafting , proof readings .. coordinating and quality checking final product. His father would come early morning to pick him up as we would have worked the whole night ..He was a gem of a person .. We had planned to meet in US but that was never to be .. Sad 😞

  5. This is a moving tribute to the Haldipur family. I was in Mayo College with Vivek but was not aware of the circumstances of his death. He was a very soft spoken and gentle person and it is tragic that he passed away so young.

  6. I knew Vivek Haldipur at Harvard, 1976-77. He was a kind, gentle, good-humored soul, and I was sorry to hear of his passing.

  7. I remember Vivek and his parents fondly. Shirley and I would be his lunch companion and he would feed us with different variety of incredible pancakes!

  8. Shri RN Haldipur used to visit frequently to Madras when I was in Madras. I was arranging his stay and transport whenever he used to come. He was used to bring a very voluminous file on his son’s medical report and used to Consult Dr Ramamurthy in Alwarpet who was a very famous neurologist at that time in Asia. Dr was used to be there most of the time on outside India.
    Iused to spend time with him every time he used to come and he was very simple and a nice person.

  9. I met Mr Haldipur during the 80s when he visited MYRADA Projects in Talavadi in Tamil Nadu. I recall this was just after his son had passed away . He was on the Board of MYRADA which helped a few from IRMA join MYRADA . what a Gentleman and very charismatic . He also treated me as a guest when I visited IRMA

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