Symonds, Richard 1918-2006

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Symonds, Richard 1918-2006

(John Richard Charters Symonds)


See index for CA sketch: Born February 10, 1918, in Oxford, England; died July 15, 2006. Overseas development worker, educator, and author. Symonds was best known for his work in aiding India and Pakistan in association with the United Nations and with Quaker organizations. A Quaker and pacifist, he studied modern history at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was a member of the Pacifist Association. Because of his beliefs, when World War II broke out he joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) instead of the military. It was through this work that he eventually wound up in India, working on civil defense issues. While there, Symonds led the FAU's relief efforts and became a friend to Mahatma Gandhi. He also worked with the Government of Bengal in the ministry of relief and rehabilitation. With the war over, Symonds next went to Australia, where he was with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Soon, however, a new crisis erupted in India that would result in the break off of Pakistan into a new nation. Symonds returned to the subcontinent to be an observer for what was now the Friends Service Unit. The next year, 1948, he was hired by the U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan to help with negotiations over the disputed Kashmir region between Pakistan and India. Then, in 1950, in association with the U.N. Technical Assistance Board, Symonds worked on economic policy for newly independent nations. This work took him to New York, Geneva, Ceylon, Yugoslavia, and various African nations through the mid-1960s. From 1963 to 1965, he was also senior research officer for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at Oxford University. Remaining in academia for a time, Symonds was a professional fellow at the University of Sussex from 1966 to 1971, before returning to his U.N. work. He was assigned to Tunisia and Greece while working for the U.N. Development Program, retiring in 1979. Symonds taught at St. Antony's, Oxford, for the next three years, and was later a consultant to the World Health Organization and the Commonwealth Foundation. He was also a member of the Royal Commonwealth Society as a member of its Council. Symonds's extensive experience overseas resulted in his writing several books, including The Making of Pakistan (1950), International Targets for Development (1970), and In the Margins of Independence: A Relief Worker in India and Pakistan, 1942-1949 (2001). He was also an advocate of equality for women, which resulted in his books Far above Rubies: The Women Uncommemorated by the Church of England (1994) and Inside the Citadel: Men and the Emancipation of Women, 1850-1920 (1999).



Symonds, Richard, In the Margins of Independence: A Relief Worker in India and Pakistan, 1942-1949, Oxford University Press (Karachi, Pakistan), 2001.


Times (London, England), July 31, 2006, p. 40.