Born: Lahore, 10 April 1941. Education: Welham and Doon School, Dehra Dun; BA Economics Hons, St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, 1961 (Ranade Prize for standing first in the University); MA Tripos in Economics, Cambridge, UK, 1963.
Other honours: D.Sc. (Honoris Causa), Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, 2006; Honorary Fellow, Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, UK, 2010.
Parliament: Elected to the Lok Sabha (Lower House) 1991-1996; 1999-2004; 2004-2009. Nominated by the President of India to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) for a six-year term, commencing 2010. Conferred the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award, 2006, by the President of India.
Served on the Standing Committees on Rural Development (1999-2004 and 2010 onwards), as well as the Standing Committee on Forests and Environment (1991-93), Human Resource Development (1993-96) and External Affairs (1993-96), besides the Joint Parliamentary Committees on the Constitution (73rd amendment), and the stock market scams of 1992 and 2001.
Ministerial career: Minister for Panchayati Raj (Rural local self-government), 2004-09 and simultaneously as Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas (2004-06); Youth Affairs and Sports (2006-08); and Development of the North-East Region (2006-09).
Diplomatic career: 1963-89.
Postings abroad: Brussels (1964-68 and 1973-76); Hanoi(1968-69); Baghdad (1976-78) and Consul General of India, Karachi (1978-82).
At Headquarters: Under Secretary, Economic Division (1969-1970); Private Secretary to the Minister of Industrial Developmen and Internal Trade (1970-71); Deputy Secretary (Bangladesh-Economic), 1971-73; Head of External Publicity and Spokesman External Affairs, and Conference Spokesman, Seventh Nonaligned Summit, 1982-83; Head of Division, United Nations, 1983-84; Information Adviser to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, 1984 (Aug-December); Head of Americas Division, 1985 (Jan-March); Joint Secretary to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, 1985-89.
Columnist: 1989-2004 with a host of magazines and newspapers, both in India and abroad.
A Time of Transition: Rajiv Gandhi to the Twenty-First Century (Penguin India, 2009)
Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist (Penguin India, 2004)
Rajiv Gandhi's India (Ed. UBSPD, 1997)
Knickerwallahs, Silly-Billies and Other Curious Creatures (UBSPD, 1995)
Pakistan Papers (UBSPD, 1994)
One Year in Parliament (Konark, 1993)
Remembering Rajiv (Rupa, 1992)