Obituary: Lovraj Kumar
IN 1957 Lovraj Kumar became one of a distinguished band of outsiders - outside the Indian Administrative Service - including IG Patel and LK Jha, who took on a large role in forming Indian economic policies. Jawaharlal Nehru called on Kumar to implement his conception of an integrated petrochemical complex. This he did as an adviser to the Ministry of Petroleum; and the Indian Petrochemical Corporation is justly regarded as his creation.
In the early 1970s I persuaded Pitamber Pant, a member of the Planning Commission, to create a new division, the Project Appraisal Division. I was delighted that Kumar was appointed as its head. But his most important and rewarding post was as Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum, where he did much to encourage the successful search for oil in India, and to develop the pipeline networks for the transport of gas and petroleum products. He loved to recount one of his diplomatic experiences. He was trying to obtain an assurance of supplies of oil from Libya. Negotiations were going well until Colonel Gaddafi announced that he wanted nuclear weapons in return. When Kumar demurred, the Colonel tried to win him over by saying that one or two bombs would be enough.
Kumar's last post was as Secretary of the Ministry of Steel, from which he retired in 1984. During his retirement he chaired many committees and institutions, including the Governors of the Doon School, the Wildlife Fund of India, and the National Council for Applied Economic Research.
Kumar was born in 1926 and educated at the Doon School, India's leading public school. After Independence, Indians could become Rhodes Scholars at Oxford, and Lovraj Kumar was the first, in 1947. He read Chemistry and played cricket for Magdalen College. On returning to India in 1950 he joined Burmah-Shell, an experience that shaped his future career.
Kumar's professional success was built on personal qualities which endeared him to all. Unlike many, he was always optimistic about Indian development. He was always enthusiastic about the causes he embraced and over-enthusiastic about the merits of his ancient Daimler car to which he attributed improbable speeds. If he ever felt cynical about the motives of bureaucrats or politicians he did not show it. He was good at choosing advisers and staff, and few failed to succumb to his quiet personal charm and good humour.
He and and his wife, Dharma, a distinguished economic historian, were very hospitable: their house was a haven for many visitors, both Indian and foreign. The talk one heard there made it a salon of rare sophistication.
From the blogs
As a reluctant vegetarian (so reluctant that I'm not vegetarian at all) and a reluctant risotto eate...
Time for the monthly treat from David Hayes, who writes about British politics for the Australian In...
Nadine Dorries talks freely about many things, but not whether she was paid to go on I'm a Cleberity...
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakes in bed one night to discover that the yew tree outside his house has ...
Stand by for another DECADE of wet summers, say Met Office meteorologists
'Jail reckless bankers': Report urges the Government to introduce new criminal offence for reckless management
Feat of engineering: Incredible photographs show construction beneath New York's Second Avenue
World news in pictures
Google challenges US surveillance gagging order
- 1 Disability campaigners celebrate 'victory' after government rethink over plans to make it more difficult to claim disability benefits
- 2 'Jail reckless bankers': Report urges the Government to introduce new criminal offence for reckless management
- 3 Breaking the Silence: In the reality of occupation, there are no Palestinian civilians – only potential terrorists
- 4 Uri Geller psychic spy? The spoon-bender's secret life as a Mossad and CIA agent revealed
- 5 Vice pulls 'breathtakingly tasteless' fashion shoot glorifying the suicides of famous female authors from Sylvia Plath to Virginia Woolf