The 1960s through to the mid-1970s can be considered the golden age of Nepal's bureaucracy, when a few but able bureaucrats, led by redoubtable individuals such as Yadu Nath Khanal and Padam Bahadur Khatry, helped create the state infrastructure that has kept the country going until now. One of the best of this crop of world-class and worldly-wise civil servants was Ram Chandra Malhotra, who passed away at his home in Baneswor on the night of 22 November at the age of 73.
Malhotra was born in Jamal on 28 October 1928 to the family of Gokul Chandra Malhotra, a scholar who came from Lahore at the invitation of the Rana rulers of the day to teach at the Durbar High School and later at the Tri Chandra College. The son, Ram Chandra, himself studied at Durbar High School, finishing in 1945. After that, Malhotra completed his IA and then his BA at Tri Chandra College, and went on to earn a master's degree at Punjab University.
He started off in the civil service as deputy secretary in the Ministry of Transport, and in the following two decades held senior positions in a number of ministries. He was also variously head of the National Trading Corporation and Royal Nepal Airlines, and member-secretary of the National Planning Commission.
Malhotra retired in 1974 and was immediately picked up by what was then ECAFE (now Escap), the UN office for Asia based in Bangkok. In 1980, he joined the newly formed International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), where he served as Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, becoming one of the first Nepalis in senior positions in the international bureaucracy.
In February 1988, in his last year at IFAD, Malhotra suffered a heart attack after which he had open-heart surgery in the United States. He returned home with his wife Raj to their Baneswor Heights home in Kathmandu. In retirement, Malhotra headed the Arya Samaj society in Kathmandu. Besides his wife Raj, Malhotra leaves behind four daughters and a son, all settled abroad.
Prayag Dutt Tewari, a long-time friend and colleague of Malhotra in Rome, said "Ram Chandraji was one of Nepal's best bureaucrats. In the international arena also he did the country proud as a straight-talking, mild-mannered, extremely competent official. Those who know what he stood for will miss him dearly."