(As Secretary, Planning Commission), I received a telephone call from Madhavrao Scindia, Minister, Railways, inviting my wife and me for dinner. I had briefly known him before he became a Minister and I accepted his invitation under the impression that he was inviting us to attend a general party that he was hosting.
When we arrived at his residence the next evening, we found to our surprise that we were the only invitees in a sit-down dinner. After a liberal lacing of pre-dinner Scotch whisky, we were served the best of French wines with our meal.
Both the Minister and his gracious wife were at their charming best and my wife and I returned home a little bemused by their lavish hospitality.
During and after dinner I thought the Minister would raise the issue about the shortfall in the plan assistance provided to the Railways. There was not a word about that.
I appreciated the Minister's diplomatic finesse when the Chairman, Railway Board, rang me up the next day and I assured him that we would increase the plan assistance by Rs 50 crore.
Half-an-hour later, the Minister was on the line thanking me for this and it was my turn to thank him for the excellent dinner he had hosted for us. Madhavrao Scindia proved to be the best Minister the Railways had for a long time. He had the knack of combining business with princely hospitality and charm.