Girija Shankar Bajpai

Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai KCSI KBE CIE (3 April 1891 – 5 December 1954) was an eminent Indian civil servant, diplomat and Governor.

Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Girja Shankar Bajpai.jpg
Girja Shankar Bajpai with the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the first Commonwealth Prime Ministers conference in 1948 in London.
1st Secretary General, Ministry of External Affairs
In office
Prime MinisterJawaharlal Nehru
Preceded byposition established
Succeeded byN. R. Pillai
Personal details
Born(1891-04-03)3 April 1891[1]
Allahabad, North-Western Provinces, British India
(now in Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died5 December 1954(1954-12-05) (aged 63)
Bombay, Bombay State, India
(now Mumbai, Maharashtra)
NationalityBritish Indian (1891-1947)
Indian (1947-1954)
Children7 (4 daughters; 3 sons), including Uma Shankar Bajpai
Alma materUniversity of Allahabad, Merton College, Oxford

Early life and educationEdit

Bajpai was born in Allahabad to an orthodox Kanyakubja Brahmin family originally from Lucknow.[2] He was the second son of Rai Bahadur Pandit Sir Seetla Prasad Bajpai CIE (1865 - 1947), who in the course of his career served as Chief Justice and Minister of Justice of Jaipur State and was knighted in 1939.[3] and to Rukmine Shukla (18?? - 1945).[4][5] He was initially educated at Muir Central College, from where he received a King's Scholarship to Oxford, taking a B.A. from Merton College, Oxford.[6][7]


He entered the ICS on 16 October 1915.[8] He began his career in the (then) United Provinces as an assistant collector and magistrate, receiving a promotion to joint magistrate in May 1918.[1] In April 1921, he was appointed as a secretary to V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, and served in this capacity until November 1922.[1] He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1923 New Year Honours list.[9] From 1923 to 1930, Bajpai served in the Department of Education, Health and Lands, rising from under-secretary in September 1923 to deputy secretary (officiating) in March 1924 and to deputy secretary in June 1926.[1] The secretary of a Government of India delegation to South Africa in 1926, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in that year's Birthday Honours List.[10] He was promoted to secretary (officiating) in the department of Education, Health and Lands in December 1927 and to joint secretary in November 1929.[1]

From November 1930 to January 1931, Bajpai was a member of the British Indian delegation to the First Round Table Conference in London, and was promoted to the rank of collector and magistrate in October 1931. After a brief posting to South Africa from December 1931 to August 1932, he was appointed as a full secretary in the Department of Education, Health and Lands,[1] and was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1935 Birthday and Silver Jubilee Honours List.[11] In March 1940, Sir Girija was appointed as one of the six members of the Viceroy's Executive Council, the colonial version of a Cabinet, having previously served as a temporary member of the council from 1935 to 1936.[1][12] In October 1941, he was appointed the Agent-General (roughly equivalent to an ambassadorial post) to the USA for India.[1] He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India (KCSI) in that year's Birthday Honours List.[13]

Sir Girija was known for his ethics, oratory, strong will and far-reaching vision. It is said he warned Prime Minister Nehru about the potential for a Chinese invasion more than a decade before it happened.[14][15] He represented India in numerous international forums in the 1930s and 1940s, including at the UN during the Kashmir debate.[6] American diplomat Mr Vincent Sheean has mentioned in his book "Nehru – The Years of Power" that it was a technical error on part of the team headed by Mr Girija Bajpai which filed India's appeal to the UN Pakistan's invasion in Kashmir which led to the issue being considered a dispute rather than an act of aggression by Pakistan. The appeal should have been made under Chapter 7 of the UN charter rather than Chapter 6.[16]

Following the independence of India from the British Raj in 1947, Prime Minister Nehru retained Sir Girija as his principal foreign affairs adviser, appointing him the first Secretary General in the Ministry of External Affairs.[17]

Later years and deathEdit

Bajpai had experienced poor health for some years, and the pressures of the immediate post-Independence years took their toll. In failing health by 1952, he was appointed as the Governor of Bombay State by Nehru, in part to allow him to recuperate. He recovered his health sufficiently to represent India the following year at the UN conferences on the Kashmir dispute, which were held at Geneva. Following his return to India, Sir Girija fell seriously ill in early 1954.[2] He died in office of a cerebral haemorrhage in the early morning of 5 December 1954, aged 63. He lay in state in the audience hall of Raj Bhavan, his body draped with the tricolour as citizens, political leaders and consular officials filed past. Later that day, with thousands of people lining the streets, his corpse was conveyed to the crematorium in a gun carriage drawn by detachments of the army, navy, air force and the Mumbai Police. He was cremated with full ceremonial honours, including a 17-gun salute, fired as his eldest son, Uma Shankar Bajpai, lit the funeral pyre.

The (then) Vice President of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, delivered a eulogy in which he said Bajpai's life had been "an example of devotion and dedication" which would be long remembered.[18]

Personal lifeEdit

Sir Girija Bajpai was known for his wealth and lifestyle. He always dressed impeccably and was considered an authority on clothes, fine wines and carpets. His ethics and strong sense of family responsibility led him to pay off his brother's debts, some of which were run up in his name, several times in an effort to preserve the family's reputation.

Bajpai was married to Rajni Misra of Kanpur, with whom he had four daughters and three sons; Uma Shankar Bajpai, Durga Shankar Bajpai and K.S. Bajpai, all who became diplomats.[2] Kanti Bajpai, the son of Uma Shankar, is a noted academic.

He was an early notable in Scouting and Guiding in India, and worked to unify their scattered organisations during the pre-independence era.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h The India Office and Burma Office List: 1945. Harrison & Sons, Ltd. 1945. p. 127.
  2. ^ a b c "Sir Girija Bajpai: Architect of Indian Diplomacy". The Times. 6 December 1954.
  3. ^ London Gazette, 2 January 1939
  4. ^ "Bajpai, Sir Seetla Prasad, Rai Bahadur, (19 April 1865–1 Feb. 1947), Chief Justice and Judicial Member of Council, Jaipur, Rajputana". Oxford Index BAJPAI, Seetla Prasad, Rai Bahadur (1865 - 1947), Chief Justice and Judicial Member of Council, Jaipur, Rajputana. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U222158.
  5. ^ "Bajpai, Sir Girja Shankar (1891-1954), administrator and politician in India". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30544. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ a b "BAJPAI, Sir Girja Shankar". Marquis Who Was Who in America 1607–1984. Marquis. Retrieved 27 October 2012. – via Credo Reference (subscription required)
  7. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 83.
  8. ^ "No. 29348". The London Gazette. 2 November 1915. p. 10785.
  9. ^ "No. 32782". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1922. p. 10.
  10. ^ "No. 33179". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 July 1926. p. 4406.
  11. ^ "No. 34166". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1935. p. 3612.
  12. ^ "No. 34831". The London Gazette. 16 April 1940. p. 2252.
  13. ^ "No. 36033". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 May 1943. p. 2420.
  14. ^ Bajpai, K.S. "Weightlifting". Outlook Magazine. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  15. ^ "Letter from Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to Prime Minister Jahawarlal Nehru". The Tribune. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  16. ^ Sheean, Vincent (1960). Nehru: The Years of Power. Random House.
  17. ^ Kapur, Harish (2009). Foreign Policies of India's Prime Ministers. Delhi: Lancer Publishers. p. 444. ISBN 9780979617485.
  18. ^ "This day that age – December 6, 1954". The Hindu. 6 December 2004. Retrieved 28 October 2012.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Raja Maharaj Singh
Governor of Bombay
Succeeded by
Hare Krishna Mahtab