M A I N   N E W S

Saroop Krishen — a son-in-law remembers
M.L. Sarin

He had dinner, enjoyed his dessert and sat up to pen his next middle, a middle he was not destined to complete. Within moments he was no more — the illustrious life of this extraordinary civil servant, a loving husband, a caring father and grandfather, spanning over nine decades, came to an abrupt though peaceful end.

We enjoyed his mental agility and wonderfully subtle sense of humour, but his body let him down. For a couple of years his movements were restricted to his house.

The eldest son of Sarb Krishen, Bar-at-law, and a gold medalist in law himself, Mr. Saroop Krishen chose to sit for the Indian Civil Service examination, which he topped in 1939.

He excelled in service, leaving an indelible mark not only on his subordinates but each and everyone he had public dealings with. He became the first chief secretary of Haryana in November 1966 and held that position for over six years.

His younger daughter Niti and I were married a week before his retirement. The guest control order was strictly complied with and there were less than 100 guests at our wedding. After his only son, Sanjiv’s marriage, he chose to donate money to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund instead of spending it on a lavish reception.

Within months he was offered Lt. Governorship of Delhi which he politely declined. “Had I not enjoyed retired life as I have, I would have probably said yes!” Instead he preferred to read, write, play bridge (very disciplined and regulated hours), support his wife, Kanta Saroop Krishen, in her pioneering work in the field of voluntary blood donation.

He was a wonderful teacher, especially of maths, for all his grandchildren, who found any excuse to spend time with him.

His passion, in the recent past, was writing middles for the Tribune. They were widely appreciated - especially by those who knew him. “Chisselled Prose”, “Wonderfully subtle humour”, “Superb” were some of the expressions used to describe his creations.

He was very thorough and one could not detect a single flaw, grammatical or otherwise, in his writings. He was also a passionate lover of Urdu poetry.

He was a very practical man; he found most ceremonies — religious or otherwise — illogical and avoidable. On November 21, 2006, their sixty first wedding anniversary, Mr and Mrs Saroop Krishen wrote to the Director of the P.G.I., expressing their desire to donate their bodies for medical research. They executed their respective wills, to this effect. Within hours of his passing, Mr Saroop Krishen’s body was in the P.G.I. according to his last wish. There was no cremation — but two blind people will be able to see again and one can only conjecture how many others will benefit from his selfless, noble gesture.

You may not be with us, but you will live on forever. I wish we could clone millions of you. We are lucky you came into this world and touched so many lives.

We shall celebrate your wonderful life. You were truly a miracle.

The family has lost a caring and loving father, a doting grandfather; the State, a true civil servant and the country a wonderful son.



A blood donor par excellence
Rajan Kashyap, former Chief Secretary

The length of his service with the government spanned 33 years (1940-1973), matching exactly his period of active support post retirement (1973-2006) to his wife Kanta, in their common passion for voluntary and safe blood donation in this region.

Following his high profile innings in the government, Saroop Krishan was delighted to be recognised as the man behind a successful women. As founder of Indian’s foremost Blood Bank Society, Kanta received rich recognition, including the award of Padma Shree. I was aware that Saroop gloried in this success. At the same time he rose from the position of a supportive spouse to become an active participant, and converted his children and grandchildren to the same national cause.

Initially a regular blood donor, he sought every opportunity to donate in cash and kind. Be it a birthday, an anniversary or any happy occasion, the Krishens would unobtrusively deliver a handsome cash amount to promote the voluntary movement. Considering that his own style of living was almost spartan, I could well assess the dent that these contributions would have made in his personal finances. His fervent and generous offerings continued over the years, culminating in his final donation, signed by himself and his wife Kanta, just 10 days before his death on their 61st wedding anniversary. Both wrote to Director, PGI pledging their body and organs for medical research and transplantation as deemed fit.

When he last spoke to me last week, Saroop Krishen requested me to locate some books relating to the Independence of India in 1947. He was researching on the Radcliffe Line, he informed me. This, at age 93!

A rationalist to the core, Saroop set no store by rites, rituals or ceremonies. Saroop Krishan’s mortal remains delivered to the hospital as per his last wish, we have been denied the privilege of being at his funeral, for there is none. “Thus unlamented let me die” was truly his credo.



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