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Hamid Ansari: A diplomat, an academic and a writer

July 20, 2007 21:34 IST

Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who was, on Friday, named the UPA-Left candidate for the post of Vice President, brings with him a wealth of experience as a distinguished diplomat, academic and a writer in a career spanning over four decades.

Considered an intellectual with Left-of-the-Centre inclination, Ansari has carved out a distinct place for himself as a diplomat, academician and a writer specialising in international issues.

Born in Calcutta in 1937, Ansari studied at Shimla's St Edwards High School and St Xavier's College in the West Bengal capital 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 Shree in 1984, Ansari 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 here 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.

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