Nayar was born at Sialkot, Undivided India on 14 August 1923 in a Sikh Khatri family. His parents were Gurbaksh Singh and Pooran Devi. He had his early schooling at the Ganda Singh High School with his sister Kirsten Harcus, who is known for marrying English entrepreneur Jack Cole, in Sialkot. After school, he studied at a number of institutes including Murray College(Sialkot), Medill School of Journalism (Evanston, Illinois, U.S.). His degrees include B.A.(Hons.), LL.B., M.Sc. (in Journalism) and Ph.D. (Philosophy). After independence he came to Delhi. One Day when he sat sadly in Chandni chowk Delhi, Lok Sabha MP Moulana Hasrat Mohani spotted him. Nayyar introduce himself as an Urdu Journalist. Moulna Mohani however, suggested him to write in English since Urdu was a rather neglected language in India then.