Dear Friends and Well-wishers,
A patriot, journalist and freedom fighter, Nirmal Singh Nahar (28 July 1922—3 September 2012) hailed from the famous Zamindar family of the Nahars of Azimgunj, Murshidabad and belonged to the Swetambar Murtipujak Oswal Jain sect. He was the fourth child of Prithwi Singh Nahar—a noted sadhak, poet, litterateur, disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother—and mother Suhag Kumari.
Nirmal Singh Nahar received his early education at Santiniketan where he stayed with his family from 1929 to 1935. A born patriot, he joined the student movement when he was studying at the South Suburban Branch School of Kolkata. He was transferred to South Suburban Main School for having raised the national flag in the school building. In 1939, along with other students, he had raised funds for flood relief work and handed over the money to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who was then the President of Indian National Congress. During this period he was initiated to the freedom movement by Phani Majumdar, a leader of the Forward Bloc party who later became a minister in the cabinet of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh.
Due to his political activities, Nirmal Singh Nahar was directed by Phani Majumdar to go underground to avoid arrest in 1941. He gave up his studies and left for the Nahar’s Zamindari estate at Dinajpur where he joined his uncle Bikram Singh Nahar and elder brother Dhir Singh Nahar in starting the Nahar Farm and was entrusted to look after their agricultural farm at Nijpara, Birgunj in Dinajpur district (now in Bangladesh). He cleared the jungle and started farming after reclaiming 60 acres of land.
In 1943 Nirmal Singh Nahar joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry as an inmate. His father Prithwi Singh and other siblings had already become members of the Ashram. The Mother asked him to take up agricultural farming at the newly acquired ‘Cazanove’ garden which was put under his charge. On 15 March 1943 the Mother wrote to Prithwi Singh about Nirmal Singh Nahar: ‘As for Nirmal Singh, I am glad to have him here. I hope he will be happy and I am sure he will make himself useful.’ For three years, Nirmal Singh looked after ‘Cazanove’ where he grew various types of vegetables. Rice cultivation was also started by him at ‘Cazanove’. In 1946 when the garden was fully developed he requested the Mother to relieve him of the responsibility and eventually joined the Book Sales Department under Prithwi Singh.
In October 1947 Nirmal Nahar joined Reuters Associated Press of India and Press Trust of India as their special correspondent. In 1951, he was declared a persona non grata by the French Indian government and a warrant of arrest was issued for exposing French misrule in India as a journalist, but he was smuggled out of Pondicherry by the then Indian Consul General, Mr. R. K. Tandon. After his return to Kolkata he joined a Bengali daily Jana Sevak as its chief reporter. After leaving journalism he became a promoter of the Haldia Scooter Project in collaboration with an Italian firm, Armachie Harley-Davidson SPA, in 1964. Apart from several articles in English and Bengali on topics related to spirituality and economics, he also authored the book Sri Aurobindo: His Birth Place and co-edited a trilingual book on his younger sister entitled Sujata Nahar: Loving Homage.
A devoted follower of Sri Aurobindo, Nirmal Singh Nahar was one of the founder-members of Sri Aurobindo Samiti of West Bengal at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan in Kolkata, nominated by the State Government in 1972. He was also a member of West Bengal State Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Celebration Committee set up by West Bengal State Government in 1971. He, along with his brothers Noren Singh and Abhay Singh, and sisters Sujata Nahar and Suprabha Nahar, donated their collection of over 500 books and research papers on Sri Aurobindo and the Freedom Movement along with a large number of photographs on the said subject to the National Council of Education, Kolkata, and also Rs. 2 lakhs for research on Sri Aurobindo and the Freedom Movement in memory of their late father Prithwi Singh Nahar on his birth centenary in 1998. They also donated Rs. 80,000 in memory of their late mother, Suhag Kumari Nahar on her birth centenary in 2000, to Viswa Bharati University, Kala Bhavan (Art and Craft Department), to create two annual scholarships to the deserving students in craft.
Nirmal Singh Nahar was a member of the Governing Council of All India Sri Swetambar Murtipujak Jain Tirth Raksha Trust and Trustee of Murushidabad Sangh Nahar Family Trust. His other activities included:
- Founder Trustee-cum-Secretary of Jain Swetambar Society, Madhupur, Shikharjee (Paresnath-Jharkhand).
- President of the Insurance Underwriters’ Association of India and of General Insurance Agents Association of India.
- Advisory Committee member of Jain Panchayati Temple Trust, Tullapatty, Kolkata.
- Executive Committee member for several years of Murshidabad Sangha.
- Assistant Secretary of Santiniketan Ashramik Sangha.
- Assistant Secretary of Calcutta Art Society.
- General Secretary “Maha Sangeet Sammelan,” Kolkata.
- President, Indian Chamber of Consumers, Kolkata.
- Executive Committee member of: French India Journalist Association, Calcutta Press Club, South Calcutta District Congress Committee.
- Joint Convener South Calcutta District Congress Conference.
- Formed a co-operative society along with other Journalist Associates and published an evening Bengali daily, Sandhya, of which he was the Chairman.
- Sectional President, Junior Chamber International during All-India Convention at Kolkata.
- President, Zoological Garden Sramik Union, Kolkata.
- Partner, Nistarani Match Factory.
- Director of Utility Products Ltd.
- Founder-Member of Overman Foundation, Kolkata.
The Birth Centenary of Nirmal Singh Nahar was celebrated by Overman Foundation on 28 July and 29 July 2022. On Thursday, 28 July, 125 underprivileged tribal children of Jadavganj (situated in the district of Burdwan) were provided free lunch and sweets in his memory. A pictorial homage chronicling his life from his childhood till his ninetieth year was also released in the Youtube channel of Overman Foundation. Here is the link to the pictorial homage:
On Friday, 29 July an exhibition of Nirmal Singh Nahar’s photographs with famous personalities like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (first Prime Minister of India), Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (fifth President of India), Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy (Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1948 to 1962), Atulya Ghosh (Member of Parliament), members of the Mohan Bagan team (who visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1948 and played an exhibition football match in which Nirmal Singh participated as a referee) and Satprem (a charismatic figure and author who had considerable influence on the seekers of the path of Integral Yoga and best known for his thirteen volume series Mother’s Agenda) was arranged at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata (of which he was the Founder-Member). This exhibition also included facsimiles of letters written to him by Nolini Kanta Gupta and Dilip Kumar Roy, a poem written on him by Nishikanto Roy Chowdhuri (whom Sri Aurobindo had called, ‘the Brahmaputra of Inspiration), a birthday card given to him by the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry and signed books received by him from Sri Aurobindo.
In the evening of 29 July 2022, a memorial meet was organized by Overman Foundation at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan where the Birth Centenary of Nirmal Singh Nahar was celebrated with a bouquet of fond remembrances by his relatives and associates and a musical soiree conducted by the members of Nehru Children’s Museum. Smt. Prova Nahar, wife of Nirmal Singh Nahar and senior-most member of the Nahar family, was felicitated by the Nahar clan with a pearl necklace for being a pillar of inspiration and support. Shri Sekhar Nahar, son of Nirmal Singh Nahar, presented two cheques of twenty-five thousand each to National Cultural Association and Overman Foundation Trust on the said occasion.
Smt. Snigdha Nahar, grand-daughter of Nirmal Singh Nahar.
Shri Sudip Srimal, Director of Nehru Children’s Museum.
Shri Sekhar Nahar, son of Nirmal Singh Nahar.
Shrimati Uma Sriyasa.
Shri Naresh Jain, grand-nephew of Nirmal Singh Nahar.
Shri Biswajit Gangopadhyay, OSD and Ex-officio Secretary, Finance Department, Government of West Bengal and Managing Member of Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata.
To watch the video of the Birth Centenary Celebration of Nirmal Singh Nahar, kindly click on the following link:
With warm regards,