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Hamid Ansari: Seasoned diplomat and scholar, respected leader

Saturday July 14, 2012 10:51:45 PM, Prashant Sood, IANS

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New Delhi: Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who was Saturday chosen as United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) candidate for a second term in the post, is a distinguished scholar, a seasoned diplomat and an amiable leader having wide respect across the political spectrum.

Ansari, 75, was elected vice-president in 2007 as common candidate of Left parties and the UPA.

A man of diverse interests, he is at home as much in a session of poetry as in the world of international diplomacy.

As chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Ansari handled the house over the past five years with tact, grace and firmness.

He has sought to make the best use of question hour - an effective tool to elicit information from the government - by repeatedly urging members to cut down on rhetoric and make pointed queries. He has striven to include maximum queries for oral answers by ministers in the question hour and has been forthright in conveying his unhappiness over disruptions.

Ansari presided over some of the most contentious and high-voltage debates in Rajya Sabha including the women's reservation bill, motion to impeach a sitting high court judge and the Lokpal bill.

His decision to adjourn the house late in night during debate on the Lokpal bill drew some flak but sources close to him later clarified that he could not have taken any other decision in view of the stance taken by the government.

Born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) on April 1, 1937, Ansari joined Indian Foreign Service in 1961 and served in Indian missions in Baghdad, Rabat, Jeddah and Brussels.

He has been India's ambassador to United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran and High Commissioner to Australia.

Ansari served India's Permanent Representative to the UN at a time when Pakistan had launched a diplomatic offensive on Jammu and Kashmir at the end of the cold war by speaking about alleged human rights abuses in the state.

He was vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University from 2000 to 2002 when National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was in power. He has also been associated with Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia.

A former member of National Security Advisory Board, Ansari chaired the working group on confidence building measures across segments of society in Jammu and Kashmir, established by a round table convened at the initiative of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Before being elected as vice-president in 2007, Ansari was chairman of National Commission for Minorities.

He was conferred Padam Shri in 1984.

Ansari has been deeply involved with India's engagement in the middle east and has written several academic papers and newspaper articles on West Asian politics.

He has authored a book "Travelling through conflict; Essays on the politics of West Asia."

Ansari's speeches are packed with facts, figures and analysis and are a valuable education to listeners.

As UPA's candidate in the vice-presidential polls, Ansari is likely to find the going easy as parties supporting him constitute a majority in the two houses of Parliament.

If elected, Ansari will be only second vice president after Dr.S. Radhakrishnan to get a second term in the office.

Ansari was also in contention as a candidate of UPA for the post of president.











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