Keki N. Daruwalla
Lahore, British India
Occupationpoet, writer
Alma materUniversity of Punjab
Notable worksApparition, Keeper of the Dead
Notable awardsSahitya Akademi Award (1984), Padma Sri

Keki N. Daruwalla (born 24 January 1937[1]) is an Indian poet and short story writer in English.[2][3] He is also a former Indian Police Service officer. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, in 1984 for his poetry collection, The Keeper of the Dead, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.[4] He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 2014.[5]

Early life and education

Keki Nasserwanji Daruwalla was born in Lahore to a Parsi family in 1937. His father, N.C. Daruwalla, was an eminent professor, who taught in Government College Lahore. Before the Partition of India, his family left undivided India in 1945 and moved to Junagarh and then to Rampur in India. As a result, he grew up studying in various schools and in various languages.[6][7]

He obtained his master's degree in English Literature from Government College, Ludhiana, University of Punjab spent a year at Oxford as a Queen Elizabeth House Fellow in 1980–81

He joined the Police Service in 1958. Working as a police officer offered him various opportunities to work in different parts of the country. He witnessed the harsh realities of life from which he drew the substance for his literary pursuits. He has written twelve books and his first novel for Pepper and Christ was published in 2009. He received Commonwealth Poetry Prize for his collection of poems, Landscape in the year 1987.


He was appointed in the Uttar Pradesh cadre of the Indian Police Service (IPS) on 24 October 1958 after competitive examination.[1] On his first central deputation, he worked as Area Organiser, Chamoli, in Joshimath in the erstwhile Special Service Bureau (now, Sashastra Seema Bal) till 1965.[8] On subsequent central deputation, he worked as Special Assistant on International Affairs to the Prime Minister, Charan Singh from 2 August 1979[9] to 19 January 1980.[10] Subsequently, he resigned from the IPS to join the Research and Analysis Service (RAS),[11] the internal cadre of R&AW. Within R&AW he rose to the rank of Special Secretary.[12] When his batchmate,[13] Ajit Singh Syali, was promoted to Secretary, R&AW, Daruwalla was shifted as chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee, in the rank of Secretary, on 29 July 1993.[11] He retired as chairman, JIC in 1995.[14] Post-retirement, he was a member of National Commission for Minorities from 3 February 2011 to 2 February 2014.[15]

His first book of poetry was Under Orion, which was published by Writers Workshop, India in 1970. He then went on to publish his second collection Apparition in April in 1971 for which he was given the Uttar Pradesh State Award in 1972. His poems appeared in many poetry anthologies such as Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry [16] edited by Menka Shivdasani, and The Dance of the Peacock [17][18] edited by Dr Vivekanand Jha.

He won the Sahitya Akademi Award, given by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters, in 1984 and returned the same award in October, 2015 in protest and with a statement that "The organisation Sahitya Akademi has failed to speak out against ideological collectives that have used physical violence against authors".[19] Daruwalla did not take back his award even after Sahitya Akademi passed a resolution condemning the attacks on rational thinkers.[20] In an interview to The Statesman, Daruwalla expanded on why he did not take back his award, saying "what you do, you do once and you can’t be seen as giving back an award and then taking it back."[21] He received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Asia in 1987. Nissim Ezekiel commented "Daruwalla has the energy of the lion".


In popular culture

J. P. Dutta's Bollywood film Refugee is attributed to have been inspired by the story of Keki N. Daruwalla based around the Great Rann of Kutch titled "Love Across the Salt Desert"[22] which is also included as one of the short stories in the School Standard XII syllabus English textbook of NCERT in India.[23]

Appearances in the following poetry Anthologies

Further reading

Online poetry

See also


  1. ^ a b History of Services of Indian Police Service as on 1st January 1960, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 1961, page 108
  2. ^ Keki N. Daruwalla The South Asian Literary Recordings Project. Library of Congress.
  3. ^ "A long story". The Indian Express. 12 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012.
  4. ^ "Sahitya Akademi Award – English (Official listings)". Sahitya Akademi. Archived from the original on 11 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Padma Awards Announced". Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 25 January 2014. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Mapping memories". The Hindu. 4 June 2003. Archived from the original on 9 October 2003.
  7. ^ "Keki Daruwalla". Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  8. ^ Pandit Sriram Sharma Acharya as I Knew Him, Jagdish Chandra Pant, IAS (Retd.), 2013, page 182. Pant had relieved Daruwalla as A.O., Chamoli.
  9. ^ Gazette of India notification
  10. ^ Gazette of India notification
  11. ^ a b Gazette of India notification
  12. ^ Annual Report of the National Commission for Minorities, 2010-11, page 4
  13. ^ Alumni gallery of 1958 batch of IPS, SVPNPA
  14. ^ ‘Only political stupidities or atrocities excite me to write verse now’: Keki N Daruwalla, interview with K. N. Daruwalla,, 21 January 2018
  15. ^ Composition of the National Commission for Minorities, from official website
  16. ^ "Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry". BigBridge.Org. Archived from the original on 7 October 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  17. ^ Grove, Richard. "The Dance of the Peacock:An Anthology of English Poetry from India". No. current. Hidden Brook Press, Canada. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  18. ^ Press, Hidden Brook. "Hidden Brook Press". Hidden Brook Press. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  19. ^ "Daruwalla returns his award". Scroll. 14 October 2015.
  20. ^ "The Statesman: After 54 days, Sahitya Akademi breaks silence". Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  21. ^ Suman, Saket. "'We can only throw back our awards'". Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  22. ^ "Love Across the Salt Desert". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  23. ^ (iii) Supplementary Reader; Selected Pieces of General English for Class XII; English General – Class XII Archived 29 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine; Curriculum and Syllabus for Classes XI & XII; NCERT. Also posted at [1] / Archived 2 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Ten 20th Century Indian Poets". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  25. ^ "The Oxford India Anthology of Twelve Modern Indian Poets". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Book review: 'Twelve Modern Indian Poets' by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra". Retrieved 23 August 2018.