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Hamid Ansari: A diplomat and scholar
August 10, 2007 19:47 IST
Scholar-diplomat-writer Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who was Friday elected as the country's 13th vice-president, brings with him a wealth of experience having handled an impressive range of assignments in a career spanning over 45 years.
Ansari, 70, considered an intellectual with Left-of-the-Centre leanings, is expected to bring all his diplomatic skills to the fore when presiding over the Rajya Sabha in his capacity as the chairman. He will be the second diplomat after K R Narayanan to occupy the post.
Ansari, who has an aristocratic demeanour and known for his disarming manners, has impeccable credentials in public life and is known for his intellectual honesty, efficiency and commitment.
A grand-nephew of Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, who was president of the Indian National Congress in 1927, he belongs to Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh.
Born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on April 1, 1937, Ansari has a deep interest in West Asian affairs and often took positions inconvenient to India's official line on Iran and Iraq.
He studied at Shimla's St Edwards High School and St Xavier's College in Kolkata and Aligarh Muslim University.
Joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1961, Ansari has served as Indian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. He was also the Indian
High Commissioner to Australia and New Delhi's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.
Awarded Padma Shri in 1984, Ansari, who has written extensively on international affairs, was the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University before he was appointed chairman of the National Commission for Minorities in March this year.
Ansari has also served as a visiting professor at the Centre for West Asian and African Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and with the Jamia Milia Islamia's Third World Studies.
A distinguished fellow of the Observer Research Foundation, he edited the book Iran Today -- Twenty Years After the Islamic Revolution.
The book is aimed at exploring evolving perceptions and ascertaining their directions and the pace of change in Iran after the 1979 revolution that dethroned the Shah and brought
an Islamic government to power changing the contour of West Asian political scene.
Ansari has also written numerous academic papers and newspaper articles on West Asian politics and has served as the Petroleum and Natural Gas ministry's chairman of the
advisory committee for oil diplomacy as India launched its search for energy security by scouting for gas and oil reserves abroad.
He was also chairman of the India-UK Roundtable and a member of the National Security Advisory Board.
As chairman of the NCM, Ansari had sent a team of commission members to Gujarat this year to inspect camps housing victims of the 2002 riots in the state.
In its report, the NCM noted that most of the camps lacked basic facilities even five years after rioting.
Ansari, who will preside over Rajya Sabha proceedings, has no previous experience
"Any organisation is run on the basis of rules and regulations. the Rajya Sabha has excellent rules and regulations," says Ansari on how he will run the Upper House
without any parliamentary experience.