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KN Haksar

Full nameColonel Sir Kailas Narayan Haksar, CIE 1911, Kt 1932 (aka Kailash Narain (Munji) Haksar)
Born20 Feb 1878, Place unknown
Died24 Jan 1953, Calcutta, India

Born into a distinguished Kashmiri Brahmin family, KN Haksar entered the service of the Maharaja Sir Madho Rao Scindia of Gwalior aged twenty. In 1903 he became the maharaja’s Private Secretary and was appointed to Gwalior State Council in 1912. During WWI he served in the Gwalior State Forces, rising eventually to the rank of Colonel. The maharaja was a keen proponent of the Chamber of Princes, and upon his death in 1925 Haksar continued this work on behalf of the new Maharaja of Gwalior’s Council of Regency, and in 1928 was appointed Director of the Princes’ Special Organisation.

Colonel Haksar was an Indian States representative at the conference.

For additional biographical information, see the official delegate Who's Whos. See also Emery Kelen's caricature, from his portfolio of delegates at the Round Table Conference.


  • February 1928: preparations for the arrival of the Butler Committee (an inquiry into the future of the Princely States) were handed over to a new “Special Organisation”. It would run for five years, at great cost, and the Standing Committee of the Chamber of Princes, in Copland’s words “… chose to entrust the running of the new executive arm of the Chamber to the scholarly , urbane Kashmiri Brahman dewan of Gwalior, Kailash Haksar, and, more controversially, to the new boy from Patiala, Rushbrook-Williams…” (Copland, 1997:66). It secured huge publicity for the Princes’ cause.
  • December 1929: Patiala started preparations for the RTC, delegating this work to the Special Organisation, led by Haksar in line with his liberal disposition (Copland, 1997:74). Worked on a common front between the States represented by the Chamber of Princes and the large southern states of Mysore and Hyderabad, and links with Indian nationalists (being the brother-in-law of Tej Bahadur Sapru). Pushed for supporting nationalist demands for dominions status, using his new deputy, HM Panikkar. With Congress opting for civil disobedience in December 1929, this pact ended. (Copland, 1997:77)
  • February 1930: Haksar had forged connections with non-Congress British Indian politicians, but Irwin reacted by emphasising that British paramountcy in India was not up for debate (Copland, 1997:79)
  • Summer of 1930: Haksar and Pannikar responded to this crisis by backing an All-India Federation. It was dismissed by the majority of Princes during a July 1930 conference with the Viceroy at Simla, however. (Copland, 1997:80)
  • 18th August 1930, Haksar and Panikkar completed Federal India, in part a response to the disappointments of the Simla Conference. The majority was written by Panikkar, with Haksar making some amendments and adding an introduction. (Moore, 1974:140) 
    • Haksar and Panikkar audaciously argued that the divisions between British and Princely India were not a block to federation. On the contrary, it was proof that India was already, as they put it, "...semi federal" (Haksar and Panikkar, 1930, 36). What it lacked was the judicial machinery to effect closer cooperate and to protect Princely autonomy. While they might admit that the people of the States and British India had no association (and thus none of the sense of shared personhood necessary to make a federation work, Haksar and Panikkar, 1930:39) they could still insist that a federal Indian constitution in India would merely involve the formal ratification of existing conditions and the creation of appropriate institutions (Haksar & Panikkar, 1930:41, 147-150).
  • 11th October 1930: at the first Indian States Delegation preliminary meeting in London, Haksar raised the question of federation, but there was little enthusiasm throughout the October meetings. Haksar and other pro-federation advisors could not agree on a proposed federal structure, but worked constantly to develop the idea in London 
    • “Once the seed of understanding had been planted by this clever propaganda , peer-group pressure, and the dynamics of daily close confinement over a period of weeks in an environment far from home, and thus mildly disorientating, all helped to bring it to fruition.” (Copland, 1997:88)
  • 2nd November 1930: a deal with British Indian delegates was presented to the Indian States delegates. On 7th November Haig messaged the Viceroy informing him the problem at hand could be about to be completely transformed.
  • 5th November 1930: The Manchester Guardian came out in favour of Haksar’s scheme. (Moore, 1974:149)
  • 10th November 1930: Haksar was one of the Agenda Committee called by Benn, alongside Hydari, Ismail, Bikaner and Alwar. (Moore, 1974: 142)

First Session

  • 17th November 1930: Haksar was at the heart of debates on federation and a member of the Federal Structure Committee, though their recommendations held more in common with Hydari’s plan than Haksars. (Moore, 1974:151)


  • 1938-39: Prime Minister of Bikaner
  • 1943-44: Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir

Sources used

  • Ian Copland, The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917-1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1997)
  • R.J. Moore, The Crisis of Indian Unity, 1917-1940 (Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1974)
  • K.M. Panikkar, An Autobiography, trans. K. Krishnamurthy (Madras: Oxford University Press; 1977), pp. 70-71:

Selected publications

Secondary literature

  • Times of India, “Indian States Expert: Col. Haksar: Survey of his Work in Cause of Princes” (5 Apr 1932), p. 9
  • Times of India “Mr. K.N. Haksar Dead” (25 Jan 1953), p. 11
ImagesPhotograph of KN Haksar, from the published biographical guide to delegates at the second session of the Round Table Conference, 1931

"Colonel K. N. Haksar, C.I.E." From Indian Round Table Conference Second Session 1931: Biographical Notes and Photographs of the British and Indian Delegates (London: St. James's Palace). By permission of the British Library (shelfmark T 11187). Reproduced under Open Government Licence v3.0 (

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