Krishna v Rajan-The Ambassadors’ Club - The Indian Diplomat at Large-HarperCollins Publishers India (2012)

May 2, 2018 | Author: Harsha Vardhan Gara | Category: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan, India–Pakistan Relations, Muhammad Zia Ul Haq, Bhutan
Share Embed Donate

Short Description



THE AMBASSADORS’ CLUB The Indian Diplomat at Large

Edited by Krishna V. Rajan

Foreword by Shiv Shankar Menon
















Prabhakar Menon

Contributors Index

FOREWORD Shiv Shankar Menon


young man at a lecture last week surprised me by asking for advice. He had just got into the Indian Foreign Service, something that he had wanted all his lif e. But now his IAS colleagues and, more worrying ly, his girlfriend were dissuading him from joining the service. ‘Am I making a mistake?’ he asked. I told him my honest opinion that the IFS offers the best job in the world if you enjoy people, intellectual stimulation, dealing with the widest possible range of issues, taking the initiative, and travel. I do not know whether I persuaded him. But I now wish that I had just given him this book. Here is the Indian Foreign Service at its honest, understated and effective best. In these accounts of significant moments in t heir career, each former ambassador has shown us sides of Indian diplomacy that ar e seldom visible. This is not the theory of diplomacy or grand strategy. It is the daily practice of diplomacy, conscious of the great consequences that follow. The real value is that these accounts add a sense of time, place and person – the atmospherics – which formal works on international relati ons and negotiati ng accounts omit . The fact that these accounts do not shy away from the first person singular pronoun ‘I’ (something that we spend our lives avoiding in our official telegrams and work) is what gives this book its flavour. It is here that much of the joy o diplomacy lies, and t his book would have conveyed this pleasure to my young friend. Reading these accou nts it i s also clear that the Indian diplomat’s world is a lonely one. Th is is not only because Ind ia is unique in the world, or becau se non-alignment obliges us to deal with each issue on its own merits. It i s also because we are woefully thin on the ground, understaffed and under-supported. Reading these accounts, one is also prompted to ask whether there is such a thing as a uniquely Indian diplomatic style. I think there is one that is emerging here. Its elem ents include the high levels of individual initiati ve displayed by many of these authors (often without or despite the institutional conservatism of do-nothings in the ministry). An element of pedagogy is part of the mix. ( After all these are the successful ones in one of the world’s most difficult examinations.) And consistent throughout is a willingness and ability to find pragmatic solutions. I could cite several examples from the texts, but will leave it to the reader to enjoy making his own discoveries and draw his own conclusions. There is a wonderful chapter in Harold Nicolson’s Diplomacy called ‘The Ideal Diplomatist’. (The word ‘diplomatist’ itself is redolent of the tim e when it was written in 1938-39 .) Nicolson describes the qualities of t he ideal diplomat as he saw them. He thought that success in negotiation was based on influence, and that required seven specific virtues: Truthfulness, Precision, Calm, Good Temper, Patience, Modesty, and Loyalty. Each of them is necessary if t he diplomat is t o carry credibilit y with the country he is in and in his own country. And that is the ulti mate diplomatic vir tue, credibilit y. Nicolson ends his chapter by saying: ‘“But,” the r eader may object, “You have forgotten intelligence, knowledge, discernment, prudence, hospitality, charm, industry, courage and even tact.” I have not forgotten them. I have taken them for granted.’ I am not sure that this combination of admirable qualities ever was or will be more than an ideal. The earliest ideal diplomat in India was Krishna. In the six months of frantic negotiation and mediation that preceded the great war of the Mahabharata, his qualities are described in very similar terms to those Nicolson uses. Krishna had the added advantages, repeated often in the Mahabharata, of his reputation and of knowing all those involved personally. That a classical European diplomat of the early twentieth century and the Mahabharata describing events in a partly tribal society several thousands of years ago should use the same terms for a diplomat’s qualities is remarkable. It suggests that a diplomat requires the same qualities across vastly different cultures and over a very long period of historical time. As these texts show, India has much to be proud of in its diplomats. I do hope my young friend has a chance to read this book when he is in the Foreign Service. 13 August 2011 New Delhi



ew careers offer the rich diversity of personal and professional experiences as does a life in diplomacy, and if one has the privilege of representing a country as unique as India, the opportunities for making a contribution to issues of war, peace and development, as well as for introspection, self-education and srcinal insights are very special indeed. Unfortunately, the stories of former Indian diplomats are often never told. While in service, the official demands on a diplomat’s time are an undoubted deterrent; the Official Secrets Act (whether in or out of service) even more so. Indeed, fo r a reti red Indian diplomat attempting to write a memoir, the element of self- flagellati on involved in recollecting events of l ong ago only gets aggravated by the anxiety of not violating, either in spir it or deed, the OSA! Thus, when HarperCollins approached me to edit a volume of autobiographical recollecti ons of former ambassadors, I accepted with some trepidation. That the distinguished colleagues I approached for a contribution immediately accepted was a matter of agreeable surprise: I can only take it as a mark of their personal consideration for me, as well as evidence of the shared conviction in the ambassadorial community that the effort might be worth making, because there is indeed a story to be told. All the contributors are retired diplomats; some are in their late seventies, eighties or even nineties – so their recollections, insights, reflections (and prognostications for the future) constitute a valuable addition to the sparse reservoir of ‘oral histories’ available with us, presented possibly for the first time within the covers of a book in this way. The range of subjects covered is wide. Each writer was left free to decide which facet of a particular experience or event or professional challenge he wished to dwell on, and the style and approach to be adopted. The common thread connecting the very different styles is an unstated willingness on the part of contributors to open the doors of the ‘Ambassadors’ Club’ to a wider audience which includes non-specialists, to share some of the background, atmospherics, off-the-record interactions, personal details, assessments and conclusions which are rarely discussed in public. The reader is therefore likely to find quite a few ‘revelations’ embedded in the narratives, including on some sensitive issues on which diplomatic lips are usually firmly sealed. Some contributions might even resemble a piece o abstract art , to be interpreted one way or the other according to the reader ’s inclination. The contributions have n ot been grouped together under various heads, for this would have been difficult apart from being somewhat artificial. But if one were to attempt to give the reader some idea of what could be expected from this pot pourri of ambassadorial reminiscences, and the luxury of picking and choosing the piece to read, according to preference or mood, here is a rough and ready guide: ‘Transitions’ would sum up the recollections on Bhutan (A.N. Ram), Sikkim (B.S. Das) and Nepal (Krishna V. Rajan). India inherited from Britain and duly adjusted according to its evolving security perceptions, different treaty relationships with these three Himalayan ‘states’ when it became independent. Under new treaties, Sikkim was a ‘protectorate’, Bhutan enjoyed notional sovereignty and Nepal’s independence was made subject to certain limits. Preoccupation about China, which imparted to all three states their geopolitical importance for British India, only increased after 1947, but Nehru chose to deal with them in his own way, combining British Indian colonial strategic thinking with his progressive and democratic preferences. Calibration was the name of the game. Thus, ideas of the complete merger of Sikkim and Nepal with I ndia were discouraged by Nehru even wh en they were feasi ble. Successive governments in New Delhi adjusted their policies, depending on the level of local sensitivity to its concerns about China shown by the regime of the day in Gangtok, Thimphu or Kathmandu – and also the degree of warmth or otherwise in relations between New Delhi and Beijing. Eventually, the linkages with India have followed different trajectories , and thereby hang some fascinating tales. Ram had the distinction of several assi gnments in Bhutan, including one as part of the Bhutanese Permanent Mission in New York. He gives a fascinating (and necessary) reminder of how the shared vision of Jawaharlal Nehru and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, developed after an arduous and lengthy journey on horseback and foot by Nehru to Bhutan in 1958, resulted in the eventual ending of Bhutan’s traditional isolation and the emergence of a mature, friendly, fastdeveloping yet culturally very tradit ional neighbour in India’s sensitive northern periphery. Das, a senior IPS (Indian Police Service) officer-turneddiplomat because of his own inclination, was utilized in the latter capacity by the Indian government for nearly fourteen years. He was given the unusual responsibility of being the chief executive of Sikkim. The mandate given to him will probably be forever buried several fathoms deep. But the sun did set (with India’s encouragement) on its ruler, the Chogyal, and Sikkim proceeded to embrace democracy and eventually opted to become an Indian province. I happened at the time to be the special assistant to Foreign Secretary

Kewal Singh (described by Das as ‘the principal actor’), and can testify to the fact that the entire exercise was carried out with finesse and confidentiality in a manner which must be quite rare in the history of post-Independence India. A handful of officials (Kewal Singh, Mrs Gandhi’s principal secretary P.N. Dhar, the political officer in Gangtok K.S. Bajpai and later Gurbachan Singh) worked as a superb team and under the leadership of a clear-sighted prime minister who genuinely believed that the national interest of India coincided with the popu lar aspirat ions of the vast majori ty o the people of Sikkim, and approved and oversaw the implementation of policies which, in retrospect, can only be described as ‘successful’ – from the point of view of the people of Sikkim as well as of India. The chapter on Nepal describes India’s relative success in defining and maintaining a certain direction in Indian policies, despite changes of government in New Delhi and Kathmandu, against the backdrop of a monarchy reluctant to adjust to a purely constitutional role, a democracy struggling to consolidate, stabilize and deliver, and an incipient Maoist insurgency committed to challenging state authority and ending Nepal’s special relationship with India. Just when it seemed that the two countries had developed a certain maturity in their search for a stable and mutually beneficial relationship, political turbulence took over, with the spectacular rise of Maoist power, the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Delhi, the royal massacre and a palace coup against democracy. Could the subsequent unfolding tragedy in Nep al have been better anti cipated by India and even prevented wh en there was stil l ti me? That is the tr oubling and unansw ered subtext of the Nepal memoir. ‘Grand Stand Plus’ would probably well define the contributions by A. Madhavan, Prabhakar Menon, K.N. Bakshi and A.N.D. Haksar. Madhavan’s is a reflect ive flashback on one of the defining events of our t ime, the f all of the Berlin Wall. The backdrop to the tumultuous and unexpected people’s movement which led to the rapid reunification o Germany, and the implications of the latter for India and the world, are captured with imagination as well as objectivity. It was a time of turbulence and change: Gorbachev in the Soviet Union urging glasnost and perestroika; Tiananmen in China; the W all as a symbol of communist dict atorship as well as a challenge to aspirati ons for unity and freedom; German reunification, electi ons, eventually the unravelling of the Soviet Union itself. India’s efforts to ret ain the priorit y attention of united Germany were in some measure successful due to Madhavan’ s efforts and the support he received from Rajiv Gandhi, President Venkataraman and Narasimha Rao; but the fars ighted vision of successive Indian l eaders going back to Nehru, w ho had asserted that the Wall was a historical absurdity and a symbol of united rather than permanently partitioned Germany, always underpinned the robust bilateral ties. (Madhavan reminds us that Western leaders, including Margaret Thatcher, were opposed to reunification when it looked imminent, with Thatcher even writing to Gorbachev urging Soviet intervention to prevent this ‘disaster’ from happening). Menon’s analysis of the foreign policy of one of India’s enigmatic, successful and still underestimated prime ministers, P.V. Narasimha Rao, brings his foreign policy vision to life through a rare and hitherto silent insider’s account. It makes a compelling case for a better understanding of the achievements and services to India of Rao – a prime minister once caricatured as a ‘boneless wonder’ by a former foreign secretary for his alleged ineffectiveness as a member of Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet, even characterized recently (by an eminent Indian journalist) as ‘India’s most ruthless prime minister’. Menon is clear that Rao ‘brought to bear on India’s foreign policy . . . a density of thought rarely seen in the conduct of India’s foreign relations’ and that ‘his novel approaches . . . made him a pathfinder through some of the less charted t errain of India’s foreign policy’. Bakshi, a long-time Pakistan expert since his days even as a young member of the service, shares some remarkable insights on perennial India-Pakistan differences in his riveting memoir of the events leading to the Shimla Agreement. This was the agreement s igned between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi after Pakistan’s mil itary defeat at India’s hands, which was supposed to herald a new era of peace, and settlement of differences exclusively through bilateral dialogue. For Bakshi and his fellow professionals at the operational level, the agreement was a disappointment, representing a victory of the idealism of seniors and political masters over hard-headed objective understanding of the ‘psyche’ and indeed, the raison d’être of the Pakistani core establishment, which is to resist a comprehensive and irreversible state of normality in India-Pakistan relations. The fact that in the following decades, other Indian leaders have also tried to go the extra mile with Pakistan because of the same idealistic expectation, and failed because the fundamental strategic objectives of the ‘core’ in Islamabad remain unchanged, is a sad reflection of India’s inability or unwillingness to adjust to ground realiti es in its neighbourhood. Haksar gives a brief, elegant and reflective account of the impromptu India-Pakistan summit meeting between Ziaul-Haq and Morarji Desai during the funeral ceremony of Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, the unexpected degree of instant personal rapport struck between these highly dissimilar leaders, gently encouraging speculation as to why India might have been silent when Bhutto was executed by Zia the following year, and why Morarji has the distinction of being the sole recipient s o far of both the Pakistani as well as Indian highest civili an honours. A third category of contributions could be termed ‘Responses and Strategies’. Former foreign secretary and longtime strategic thinker (and China expert) Jagat S. Mehta, now in his nineties, reflects on the uneven course of IndiaChina ties and prospects for the future, while recalling his own hands-on experiences in dealing with China, and

incidentally questioning Nehru and his advisers in their judgements of Chinese intentions in the late 1950s/early ’60s. Could the India-China war have been avoided if Nehru had been a better judge, or better advised, and his devoted and overawed bureaucrats were not convinced that ‘Panditji knows best’? He is clear that India, warts and all, will ultimately triumph over China because of the former’s ‘global’ temperament as contrasted with China’s cultural conditioning to be chauv inistic and is olationist. T.P. Sreenivasan describes his unusual experiences as India’s man in Fiji after a coup aimed at marginalizing the Indian-srcin majority in Fiji’s affairs. Here is a good example of innovative diplomacy in a difficult and unstable situation. In his own words: ‘Contentious elections, change of governments, military coups, trade sanctions and expulsions are par for the course in diplomacy, but to face all these at one post and that too in a tropical paradise is extraordinary.’ L.L. Mehrotra arri ved in Sri Lanka at a parti cularly difficult moment in 1989. India’ s high-risk response to President Jayewardane’s request for troops to fight the LTTE had run into deep trouble under the new executive president, Premadasa, who was determined to secure the immediate withdrawal of the troops while following a policy o appeasement vis-à-vis t he LTTE and the JVP in an environment of brutal l arge-scale assass inations perpetrated by both organizations. How the daunting challenges to Indian diplomacy in a tense, complicated and tragic situation were tackled is graphically documented by Mehrotra. Was Rajiv Gandhi’s risky military intervention in Sri Lanka, in a violent and unstable internal situation (caused in part by India’s ill-advised policy under an earl ier government’s watch to harbour and support the LTTE’s activities from Indian soil), condemned to end in any other outcome than a humiliating withdrawal? Not every Indian diplomat makes it to a multilateral organization. Multilateral experience is considered to be specialized, and it is sought after for more reasons than one. But it can be a rewarding as well as challenging – sometimes frustrating – experience. Chand rashekhar Dasgup ta, one of the few acknowledged specialists who has been intimately involved with the tortuous route of international negotiations on climate change from the beginning, shares his recollections of the first breakthroughs achieved by India and the developing countries in their efforts to get the developed world to accept a fair share of responsibility in managing the threat to the planet on this score. Kant K. Bhargava, a former secretary-general of SAARC and one who has worked with steadfast zeal but not always with too much encouragement from his own government to making the regional grouping an effective and beneficial one, recounts his experiences, including post-retirement, over several decades (part of the training was to convince an EU interlocutor that papadams were different from spaghetti and hence entitled to duty-free treatment). And Prakash Shah reveals the disappointing episode of his appointment as t he UN special envoy to Saddam Hu ssein’s Iraq, again without much support fr om his home government, and in the face of t he determination of t he US to ensure that Saddam Hu ssein should be toppled before sanctions were ended through a s uccessful directl y negotiated understanding between the UN and Iraq. Three first-person accounts of the 1970s: of experiences in Kreisky’s Austria, in Allende’s Chile and in Idi Amin’s Uganda, complete this fascinating mosaic. K.L. Dalal describes his encounters with two women who were in the shadow of great Indian leaders, but melted away into anonymity after the leaders themselves died. Miraben was Mahatma Gandhi’s devoted disciple who abruptly left India and chose to retire in ashram-like austerity in a remote Austrian village; Emilie Schenkl, the widow of Netaji Subhash Chan dra Bose (who died in mysteri ous circumstances), cut off her Indian connections because of the Bose family’s reluctance to recognize her as his spouse. Dalal also contributed to removing the mis understandings which had croppe d up after the declaration of Emergency between Mrs Indira Gandhi and a close traditional friend of the Nehru family, Chancellor Kreisky. G.J. Malik, a veteran diplomat now in his nineties recollects the peculiar challenges confronting India’s ambassador in Allende’s Chile, including in the aftermath of the bloody coup that overthrew the president, in an era of deep suspicion about the CIA’s sinister activities against non-friendly regimes in developing countries. And Niranjan Desai paints in vivid colours Idi Amin’s Uganda, where he was sent as a junior officer from the ministry following the bizarre expulsion of the Asian community. Born and brought up in Tanzania, where he spent the first seventeen years of his life, Desai’s account of his personal travails as he tried to befriend the Indian community in its hour of need, ending with his being declared persona non grata, is of interest, not least because of the contrast with the aggressive pro-diaspora stance taken by the Government of India decades later in the after math of the Fiji coup, as described by S reenivasan. There has been a sea change that has occurred in the way India now treats its diaspora, but the basic dilemmas remain: how should India react if a foreign government mistreats people of Indian srcin who are not Indian citizens (as in Malaysia)? And what is to be done if a foreign government is unable to provide security for Indian nationals against large-scale racist attacks (as in Australia)? As India assumes a high profile in global affairs and ‘Indians’ become more successful and prosperous, the dilemmas may only become more acute. One hopes that this collect ion will be an eye-opener to anyone who thinks that the I ndian Foreign Serv ice is all about cocktail parties and luxurious living conditions. What comes across is the capacity of an Indian diplomat, by virtue o training and experience, for survival (physical and professional) in adverse situations, for objective assessment and

analysis, for reflection and introspection, improvement and improvisation, understanding of and contribution to historical events of which he or she happens to be part – often in anonymity, and always with professional discretion and dedication. KRISHNA V. RAJAN



ummit meetings have become a standard feature of international diplomacy in the twenty-first century. Leaders meet each other with a frequency which is no longer unprecedented. Thanks to modern technology, the meetings can even be virtual, as exemplified by the hour-long exchange between presidents Hu Jintao of China and Barack Ob ama o the US while the latter was travelling in his airplane during the Easter break of 2010. Did they only speak on this occasion, or also see each other as they con versed, is a detail as yet unrevealed. But it points to future possibiliti es. Frequency may dull their impact. Nevertheless the importance of summit meets in the conduct of world affairs remains unquestionable. Th ey are the highest level for decision making on matters of importance, and also for enabling the decision makers t o know and size up each other f or the future. Apart fr om providing opportunities for s uch personal interaction, they are important for image building and moulding public opinion. They also have great symbolic value. But all these possibiliti es presume careful and often protracted preparation in advance o f such meetings. Sherpa is a word which accompanied the word summit into the language of diplomacy. It refers to the lower level workers who prepare a mountain path to the top for their masters. Rare indeed are summits not preceded by such sherpas engaging in hard-nosed negotiation on all their aspects: policy and protocol, issues and images, final options and fall back positions. The eventual result may often even depend on such preliminary efforts. Despite the importance of preparatory groundwork, it is generally believed that the crucial aspect of an apex meet lies in the interaction of personalities. Prior planning may have a role even here, but the interaction can also take place without sherpa preparation or road-mapping. It is of course maximal in one-on-one meetings without the presence o aides, though their content can t hen only be surmised by others. This is one part of t he background to a singular summit meet here described by a witness to i ts star t. Another part o it is the chequered history of summit diplomacy in India-Pakistan relations as a whole. While the Shimla Agreement stands out as its best-known achievement, it is still an open question if the personal chemistry between successive leaders of the two neig hbour countries has con tributed meaningfully to building good relations between them since they became independent. Jawaharlal Nehru and the Pakistani leaders of his time carried too much historical baggage from the politics preceding partition to be able to establish any worthwhile rapport. Nehru’s successor Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistan’s first military ruler Ayub Khan, one a homespun Gandhian and the other a Sandhursttrained general, were too disparate in background to warrant much mutual understanding. The next generation of leaders, Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, signed the historic Shimla Agreement, the results of which have subsequ ently been questioned. Bu t any definitive assessment of their personal equation remains unclear, clouded ov er by their personaliti es. Legends also surround their children, Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto, who met as prime ministers of their countries and were both assassinated when out of office. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao held no fewer than five summit sessions with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sh arif. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had meetings with President Pervez Musharraf, including the long session at Agra which resulted in much speculation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also met General Musharraf and has continued summit meetings with Pakistani leaders after him. But all these are perhaps still too close to the present time to enable judgement on the personal interactions involved and the long-term effects on bilateral r elations which continue on a zig-zag course. A contrasting interlude within this scenario of rise and fall of relations is provided by the brief coincidence in office of Morarji Desai and Zia-ul-Haq. Both came to power at about the same time, one in the aftermath of the Janata electoral wave which unseated Indira Gandhi, and the other after toppling the elder Bhutto in a military coup. The Janata interlude was a comparatively cordial phase in India-Pakistan relations, despite or maybe because of its short duration. The relationship also featured what appears t o have been a rather un-orchestrated summit, one between a new milit ary leader and an old political veteran that was perhaps unique as much for its chemistr y and spontaneity as for i ts lack of publicity. The scene was the funeral of President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya in the summer of 1978. Many foreign leaders had come to Nairobi to pay tri bute to that pioneer of African independ ence. Among the prominent personalities who arrived at short notice were the prime minist er of India and the president of Pakistan. The two had never met each other before. The Kenyan authorities took care to give them due precedence in keeping

with protocol, and seated them in t he same row at t he funeral ceremony. P ossibly as a measure of prudence, they placed the Aga Khan between them The obsequies and orations continued for several hours. The distinguished foreign mourners at first sat in dignified silence, but eventually began to engage in discreet chit-chat with those seated near them. Prince Aga Khan could be seen making small talk with Prime Minister Desai and President Zia on either side. Gradually their banter included all three. To the distant but watchful eyes of India’s resident envoy, here the event’s chronicler, the first exchanges between Desai and Zia seemed brief and cursory. But after some time they got into a conversation and soon were talking directly, across the Ismaili chief sitting between them. At the end of the ceremony, when the envoy went up to his prime minister to escort him to his waiting car, he was told that the ‘General Sahib’ would be coming with them. It is not usual for previously unacquainted heads of state and government to travel together so spontaneously in a third country. But, as the car proceeded slowly through the crowded streets to Desai’s hotel, the envoy, squeezed in with the general’s AD C on the front seat , could discern that an India-Pakistan summit had commenced in the back. At the hotel the two leaders went straight to Desai’s suite where they remained closeted for a considerable time. Their respective delegations arrived and hung around the corridors, not knowing exactly what they were expected to do. Despite his protestations that the prime minister’s diet regime had been notified to him clearly and the president was observing the Ramadan fast, the envoy was persuaded to go inside and enquire if any refreshments were needed. This he did, but the summiteers engaged in relaxed conv ersation made it clear that they did not want any intrusion. Eventually the two men em erged and were surrounded by their entourages. A smiling Desai accompanied a beaming Zia to the elevator, and saw him off with great aplomb. Although unaware of what had transpired at their meeting, the envoy could sense its friendly vibrations. In keeping with subcontinental traditions, President Zia extended a courtly deference to the eighty-two-year-old prime minister, addressing him frequently as ‘sir’ with a toothy smile which later became his trademark. On his part Prime Minister Desai shed his usually dour demeanour and responded with unexpected warmth. What happened at their meeting may be known only through confidential records if any were made by the close associates of the two leaders. What seems clear is that both were still wary in 1978 of the much more charismatic and long-serving rulers they had recently replaced, even though Indira Gandhi had been politically discredited in the previous year’s election and Bhutto was already under arrest in Pakistan. Bhutto was executed in the following spring of 1979 by the Zia government despite pleas for clemency from many leaders and governments around the world. One which made no such plea was India, the Desai government taking the view that the matter was an internal affair of Pakistan. Whether or not the previous summer’s summit had any role in this can only be a subject of speculation. A variety of political factors contributed to the relaxed relations between the new governments in India and Pakistan. Determining the part if any played by the interactions of Desai and Zia in this is an aspect for historians to investigate. What is well known is that after Prime Minister Desai’s retirement President Zia presented him with Pakistan’s highest award, even b efore he was simi larly honoured in his own cou ntry. Morarji Desai is thus t he only recipient so far of the Nishan-e-Pakistan and the Bharat Ratna.

‘IT’S A BOY!’ The Making of the Shimla Agreement K.N. Bakshi t was around mid-day on the second of July, 1972. Senior members of the official delegations of India and Pakistan


were meeting in a closed room, oblivious to the heavenly ambience outside. Equally oblivious to the surroundings were a few of us juniors, listlessly waiting outside, and expecting the worst. Discussions had not been going well for the last few days. The door opened. Our foreign secretary, T.N. Kaul, emerged, looking somewhat annoyed and impatient. He walked towards us, threw up his hands in the air, and proclaimed, ‘Boys, it is all over,’ adding after a pause, ‘I am leaving for New Delhi.’ And so he did, in the next hour or so. Returning to the hotel where we were staying during the much-hyped Shimla summit, I looked back at the last two and a half years of my life.

Towards the end of 1969, I was transferred to Karachi, as head of post, with the designation of assistant high commissioner. Th e post had been down graded at the insis tence of Pakistan from that of deputy high commissioner (m y counterpart in the then East Pakistan still enjoyed that exalted title). So was the Pakistani post in Bombay. The Pakistanis felt that they did not have any special advantage in the presence of a senior official in Bombay. They had enough access in Delhi. Democracy , a free press, and the liberty t o meet anyone they liked gave the Pakistani diplomats a natural advantage, as compared to us. In Pakistan, we were hounded by Intelligence, followed aggressively everywhere, and hardly had any contacts with the locals as Pakistanis were afraid even to be seen with us. However, the so-called ‘muhajirs’ or migra nts from India were mostly settled in and around Karachi. That gave us some access to a section of the local population who still had relations in India and who came regularly to our post for visas and other consular services despite heavy surveillance. The first military dictator of Pakistan, General Ayub Khan, had already been dethroned by a massive popular agitation. Amongst others, this agitation was by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his one-time blue-eyed boy and foreign minister. Elections were held under Ayub’s successor, General Yahya Khan. This time, these were relatively free and fair. But the results disappointed not only the dictator and the army, but almost all political elements in West Pakistan. While Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party won a large majority of seats in West Pakistan, Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League had swept the polls in East Pakistan, convincingly winning all but two seats. Since East Pakistan had a lar ger population, it also held a majority of seats in the National Assembly. For the first time, this opened up the possibility of a Bengali leader, heading a Bengal-based po litical party, assuming the office of the prime m inister of Pakistan. And that exposed the major ‘fault line’ in the arrangement. The Punjabis, who were a majority in the West, and who dominated the armed forces, the bureaucracy and generally the state of Pakistan, were totally unwilling to share, much less cede, power to the Bengalis. In fact, the Punjabis looked down upon them as lesser Muslims: they loved their language and its non-Muslim poets like the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore; their women wore saris and ‘bindis’ on their foreheads like Hindu women; they were not a ‘martial race’ like their Western counterparts, and so on. How could they be allowed to rule over Pakistan? Eventually, Bhutto succeeded in preventing Mujib fr om becoming prime minister. At one stage, he had threatened all the elected members from West Pakistan that their legs would be broken if they dared to go to Dhaka for a meeting o the National Assembly. He used his relations with the armed forces and the bureaucracy, and manipulated public opinion, to prevent any compromise from emerging. I remember we had gone to Dhaka towards the end of 1970 for a meeting of the heads of our t hree offices i n Pakistan. The atmosphere in East Pakistan was highly charged. It was clear that if the aspirations of the people of East Pakistan, suppressed so far, were thwarted again, there was going to be a civil war. Perhaps, that is what Bhutto and Yahya wanted. That’s exactly what happened. In March 1971, the army began the ‘Rape of Bangladesh’. Once the military crackdown spread from Dhaka to other areas, there was a massive influx of refugees into India,

eventually reaching an astounding figure of over ten million. In fairness, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi tried to find a peaceful solution to this problem. She toured the world; she asked Pakistan’s friends to advise Yahya to work for a political compromise, in their own interest, which would also enable the refugees to return. Nothing happened. And then, on 3 December 1971, Pakistani planes attacked our airfields in the western sector and the third Indo-Pak conflict began. Apart from other developments, Indian diplomats in Pakistan were all put under house arrest. As it happened, a colleague and I were still in the office at Karachi when our building was surrounded by Pakistani forces; we spent the next few days and nights sleeping on the sofas and eating the meagre emergency rations we had kept for just such a possibility. Eventually, I was shifted to my residence but not allowed to meet or communicate with anyone, except the Swiss consul general, as the Swiss had been asked by our government to look after our interests in Pakistan. Our condition lasted ti ll t he 22nd December, when we were all r epatriated to India. On our return, A.S. Chib, our deputy high commissioner in Islamabad, became joint secretary (Pakistan) or head o the Pakistan Division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA); a little later, I was appointed his deputy secretary. Subsequently, Nareshwar Dayal, another colleague from Islamabad, joined us. We were the core team in MEA, along with a few others from the Bangladesh Division and the Legal and Treaties Division that prepared for the Shimla summit. Of course, Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul was directly and closely involved. So were P.N. Haksar, principal secretary, and P.N. Dhar, secretary i n the Pri me Minist er’s Office. At the political level, the prim e minister was naturally consulting her senior colleagues, particularly the minist ers for External Affairs, Defence, and Home Affairs. But, it was the suave D.P. Dhar, a former politician from Jammu and Kashmir, and a former ambassador to the Soviet Union, wh o had emerged as the major political adviser to her on IndoPak negotiations. The prime minist er had given him the formal position of chairman, Policy Planning Co mmittee in the MEA. It was he who led our delegation to pre-summit talks at Murree in Pakistan. It was he who had called me one day , and asked me to take ten days off to produce a draft of what could be the basis of a possible agreement at a summit meeting between the prime minister and Bhutto. I did produce a draft, which was changed around several times, and which was not the only draft considered for t he meeting. Dhar Sahib was coordinating our preparations leading to the Shimla summit. He was a charming, cultured and likable person, who inspired confiden ce and trust. But, he was also a realist with a sense of history, who understood the Pakistani mindset and our own national interest s. His preparations were so thorough that he had even got us t o envisage a possible dialogue between Mrs Gandh i and Bhutto during their very firs t one-toone meeting. He felt t hat since we had studied Bhutto’s persona well, and were familiar with his t hought processes, we should try and anticipate his pitch. We should also recommend how the prime minister might like to react and project our own point of view so that Bhutto was left in no doubt about our concerns and our minimum positions. The dialogue was duly prepared, vetted by our seniors and eventually shown by Dhar Sahib to the prim e minist er. (Unfortunately, he was hosp italized in Shimla after a heart attack.) In the course of all these preparations, we tried to highlight a few basic points: first, that Bhutto was not at all trustworthy, and that we could not depend upon him. He was hardly in his thirties and a virtual nobody in Pakistani politics when Ayub had picked him up and made him a minister. But what did he do to Ayub? He dumped him when he sensed that Ayub’s time was up and when he saw a chance to become the boss himself. There were several other instances of his having used people for furthering his interests and then leaving them by the wayside or worse. He was quite capable of changing colours to achieve his goals. Secondly, despite his newly assumed professions of peace, the real Bhutto was a true representative of the ruling classes i n Pakistan. Consisting of t he armed forces, the bureaucracy, the feudal elements (fr om which Bhutto came) and a bit of the Islamic right, these classes were intrinsically inimical to India. They wanted parity with India despite their size; their definition of Pakistani nationhood was simply that it was not India; they had dreams of flying the Pakistani flag on the Red Fort; they derisively claimed that one Pakistani soldier was equal to ten Indian soldiers. Apart from psychological and mythological reasons, an adversarial relationship with India was essential for the continuation in power of this oligarchy. No wonder that it was Bhutto who had talked of a thousand-year war with India. It was difficult to imagine that the leopard had changed its spots so soon, so easily. We tri ed to persuade our seniors that we could not afford to wait and test out his words against his future acti ons. Thirdly, Bhutto had taken a big risk by coming to India for a meeting with the prime minister. In 1965, when the Indo-Pakistani conflict had ended in a kind of a draw, President Ayub and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had met at a neutral Tashkent. Further, it was not a strictly bilateral meeting; the Soviets had facilitated it. In 1971, India had not only convincingly defeated Pakistan but also succeeded in creating an independent state of Bangladesh out of East Pakistan, captured over 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war, and was occupying about 5,600 square miles (about 14,504 sq. km) of territory in West Pakistan, displacing over a million persons. By agreeing to come to Shimla, Bhutto had raised expectations within Pakistan; he could not afford to return empty-handed. It was, however, difficult to convince most of our seniors about the rationale of these arguments. I remember a

meeting in the room of T.N. Kaul a few weeks before the summit. We were speaking on these lines and he was getting a litt le fed up. He interrupted one of us in mid-sentence and said: ‘Look, yo u fellows have spent a lot of t ime in Pakistan; your knowledge is excellent but your thinking has been coloured: you have become subjective; you should remember that the circumstances have changed. I refuse to believe that Bhutto and the other Pakistanis can afford to be so intransigent.’ In fairness to Kaul, I must mention another incident. After the first or second official-level meeting with the Pakistanis at Shimla, the foreign secretary had seen how different they could be from the warm, back-slapping and Urdu-poetry spouting buddies at a social gathering. Initially, they avoided even discussing a final settlement o Kashmir. The arrogance of Aziz Ahmad, leader of their delegation, could be irritating, if it was not comical. A long explanation of the economic benefits of peace to the peoples of the two countries by the economist P.N. Dhar had elicited mostly silence from the Pakistani delegation. All they wanted to talk about was the return of their territory and their prisoners. After the Pakistani delegation left the room at the conclusion of that session, Kaul turned to us and said, ‘Boys, you were right; these fellows are impossible.’ (Actually, he had used a different and rather colourful Urdu expression). In contrast with (and in spite of) the narrowness of focus and vision of the Pakistanis, the prevalent mood on our side was that of idealism and the ‘larger picture’. We wanted the opening of a new chapter in our relations; we aimed at ‘durable peace’ in the subcontinent; and we considered that moment a historical opportunity for ushering in an era o peace and prosperity. Of course, the one concrete thing we wanted was to sort out the Kashmir question once for all. We had all the cards. We had the POWs; we had the Pakistani territory; Pakistan was broken up; world public opinion was with us. We had defied the Americans; the Soviet Union was fully supportive. Even then, we were almost apologetic that we were the victors. We seemed to be bending backwards to accommodate the Pakistanis in our anxiety to sign some agreement or the other. Perhaps, we suffered from what can only be described as t he ‘Versailles Syndrome’. There was a f eeling that we should not repeat the blunders of recent world history; following the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles had imposed humiliating terms on the Germans; this, we believed, was the major reason for the Second World War. It followed, therefore, that we, the victors, should not impose any ‘harsh’ terms on Pakistan. As the bigger country, we should go more than the proverbial halfway. We were convinced that we must not only have the best of relations with Pakistan in all possible fields, but also that this could actually be done. We had this feeling, irrespective of the ground realiti es, irrespective of whether the Pakistanis were also willing and able to r espond positively, and irrespective of the lessons of the short history of India-Pakistan relations. To us, the logic was clear: since we could not change our neighbours, we had to live in peace with them. We could not continue to waste our resources on armament; we had to divert these resources towards the welfare of our peoples. We had to cooperate with our neighbour; only then could we ‘fulfil our destiny’. This thesis stood, as if on its own, without regard to whether the Pakistani ruling classes also wanted peace and cooperation or whether they judged tension and confrontation to be in their best interest s. Strangely, this kind of mindset continues ti ll t oday. In the joint production that was the Shimla summit, we had written the script so far; but, as the play evolved, the script came to be increasingly written and played out by Bhutto and the large contingent of ‘performers’ he had carefully chosen to bring along with him. Bhutto, who had repeatedly spoken of a thousand-year war with I ndia, was all sugar and honey, smiles and warmth, friendship and coop eration, peace and prosperity – in public or in private. All this was music to our ears. We were being wooed with sentences like these: the peoples of our two countries can make progress only in peace; we must put an end to the history of conflict and war between our two countries; believe me when I say that it is the only way we can go forw ard . . . He went to the extent of t elling Indian journalists t hat the new ceasefire l ine in Jammu and Kashmir, established after the 1971 conflict, should become the Line of Peace. He kept on emphasizing his democratic credentials: for the first time after a long reign of military rule, an elected leader was at the helm of affairs in Pakistan; he needed support in preserving democracy; only a democratic government (as opposed to mili tary dictators) could take positive decisions on fund amental issues l ike peace; therefore, he needed an agreement that he could take home and sell to his people. The group of Pakistani actors in this mass production was very well chosen and equally well rehearsed. Bhutto’s eightyfour-member delegation comprised politicians of all hues and colours, civil servants, intelligence officers, ournalists, intellectuals, military men, and many others. Almost all of them had friends or relations in India. For example, there was Wali Khan, the son of Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. There was the chief secretary o Pakistani Punjab, who was a Kashmiri and knew many people in India. And all of them kept on repeating the same ‘mantra’: we must help Bhutto; we can’t allow him to go back without an agreement that he can sell to his people; the army is waiting and watching; the political opposition will chew him up if we impose a harsh deal; that will be the end of democracy . . .

But, the talks had now failed; there was no agreement. W e had returned to our hotel and were preparing to leave Shimla the next day. There was only one official engagement left; that was the return banquet hosted by Bhutto. We were all there at the appointed time. There was a head table for the leadership of the two sides. On our side, apart from the prime minister, I recall ministers Swaran Singh, Jagjivan Ram, and Y.B. Chavan; senior officials included P.N. Haksar, P.N. Dhar, and S.K. Bannerjee. On the Pakistani side, there was Bhutto’s teenage daughter Benazir, Wali Khan, Aziz Ahmad, Rafi Raza (adviser to Bhutto) and others. On smaller tables spread around the dining hall, mixed groups o Indian and Pakistanis sat, making desperate attempts at small conversation. But the atmosphere continued to be depressed. Much of the dinner proceeded in a very vocal silence. We were waiting for dessert when Mrs Gandhi and Bhutto simply got up and walked out of the hall. Just like that! We didn’t know what was happening. We all stood up, not knowing what to do. Swaran Singh had the presence of mind to say something about sitting down after the two had left. And so we did. Dessert came. In-between, P.N. Haksar and Rafi Raza got up and left the hall. Coffee was served. A few more from both sides joined the two leaders. The dinner came to an end. We trooped out of the hall into the foyer. Slowly, most people left. But, some of us kept waiting; there were comings and goings, from one room to the other and so on. This took us almost to midnight. And then it happened. The scene is still vivid in my memory. Benazir, PM’s social secretary Usha Bhagat, Bhutto’s press secretary Khalid Hassan, Nareshwar and I stood outside the room where the two leaders were meeting. There seemed hardly any other persons in the foyer. Haksar Sahib came out of the room, slowly walked towards us and started lighting his pipe. Usha Bhagat asked him: Haksar sahib, ladki hui ki ladka? (Haksar sahib, is it a girl or a boy?) Haksar Sahib took his time, smiled a little, cleared his throat, and said Ladka hua aur woh bhi MA pass. (It is a boy – that too with a Master’s degree.) We had reached an agreement.

Unknown to us officials, a meeting had taken place between the PM and Bhutto in the late afternoon of the second o July 1972. No one else was present. Actually, there was nothing new in what Bhutto told the prime minister, but he conveyed it to her with an even greater passion than he demonstrated in public. In every turn of phrase, every gesture and expression, he emphasized that he wanted peace with India. He said he was fully convinced that conflict cannot resolve anything, that the future lies only in cooperation, and that they have a historic duty to write a new chapter in bilateral relations. He played upon his relatively short (and short-lived) democratic credentials. He emphasized that he had just been elected as president; democracy was new in Pakistan; he had enemies all around him – in the armed forces, in the establishment, in the political opposition. They would kill him if he was seen to have capitulated. He underlined that he represented a defeated nation, and that he did not have any concessions to offer; on the other hand, India was the victor and only India could give any concessions. In conclusion, he asked Mrs Gandhi to help him by showing s tatesmanship. Mrs Gandhi focussed on Jammu and Kashmir. She told Bhutto that the only solution to Jammu and Kashmir was the existing ceasefire line or the line of control becoming the international border; there would be no further division, no exchange of populations, no bloodshed. Bhutto agreed but said that all this could not go into an agreement. He could not go to his people on this understanding just yet. He would be thrown out. But what he could do was to go back and tell his people that Mrs Gandhi and he had decided to open a new chapter in bilateral relations. He would gradually prepare the public opinion in his country. Pakistan would recognize Bangladesh. Pakistani POWs could then be returned to Pakistan. Normalcy could be restored in India-Pakistan relations with the restoration of travel, trade, communications, and cooperation in other fields. We would move towards easing tensions and creating an atmosphere of friendship and trust. In the meantime, we would have a soft border in Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of the new line of control. Eventually, we would turn this line of control into an international border between the two countries. This was the understanding reached between them. To be sure, towards the conclusion of their conversation, Indira Gandhi specificall y asked Bhutto to confirm this understanding. B hutto specifically confirmed i t.

Soon, we received a copy of the agreement; it had to be typed and prepared for the formal signing. I had one look at it and was deeply disappointed. The agreement was signed, not on the second of July – the date it bears – but in the early hours of the morning of 3 July 1972. It should be obvious that the priorities of India and Pakistan were quite different. India aimed at using this opportunity to end the mistrust, confrontation and hostility between the two countries. India wanted to create conditions for long-term peace and cooperation. One of the means to achieve this was a final settlement of the cancerous issue of J ammu and Kashmir. An other was to ensure that all problems between the two countries were solved through bilateral, peaceful means. Still another was the early recognition of Bangladesh by P akistan so that a process o

subcontinental reconciliation could begin. On the other hand, P akistan had only short-term aim s. Their priorities were the withdrawal of Indian forces from the 5,600 square miles of territory occupied by them in the Punjab and Sind, repatriation of the 93,000 prisoners of war, and a postponement of any final solution of Jammu and Kashmir to some future date when they were in a strong negotiating position. Pakistan also did not wish to recognize Bangladesh at an early date but to wait for a more opportune moment to extract the best possible ter ms. Under the Shimla Agreement, Pakistan agreed to bilaterally settle all problems between the two coun tries. However, apart from two general references to the United Nations charter, a clause was added at the last moment, in the context of the establishment of a line of control in Jammu and Kashmir, namely, that this would be ‘without prejudice to the recognized position of either side’. The Pakistani position had always been that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory; we claimed it to be an integral part of India. As part of t he Shimla accord, we had agreed to withdraw our forces from the territ ory occupied by ou r forces in West Pakistan. We were doing this without anything concrete in return. We were also required to complete this withdrawal in thirty days. This was not even linked to the demarcation of the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir, which was to eventually become the international border in term s of the understanding between the two leaders. It can be argued that operative paragraph (2) of t he agreement contains a number of positive st eps. Both governments had agreed to prevent hostile propaganda against each other and to encourage dissemination of information for the development of friendly relations. Resumption of communications, promotion of travel, re-establishment of trade and economic relations and exchang es in the fiel ds of science and culture were agreed to in the context of the normalization of relations between the two. ‘A final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir’, resumption of diplomatic relations, and the repatriation of POWs had been postponed to the future. While India withdrew its forces from Pakistani territory in accordance with the agreement, most of the other provisions remained on paper. Hostile propaganda from Pakistan resumed. There were no signs of Pakistan recognizing Bangladesh. There was hardly any mov ement on the normalizat ion of relati ons; in fact, i t took another three years even for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, which could have practically happened in a few days or weeks. But, there was an orchestrated Pakistani propaganda campaign to get the POWs back, quoting Geneva conventions, emphasizing humanitarian aspects, and trying to put us on the defensive. By that time, some prisoners had tried to escape; some were shot; there were headlines in the inter national media and increasing pressure on us. So much so that there were voices from within, questioning our continued holding of the prisoners, who were eventually released without any conditions! Benazir Bhutto, in her autobiography Daughter of the East, offers an explanation. She describes a scene where Bhutto walks into her room after signing the agreement and asks her, ‘Why do you think I chose the territory?’ She is quite shocked and replies that she really did not know. She adds, ‘The people in Pakistan would have been much happier if the prisoners had been freed.’ ‘And they will be freed,’ he assures her. ‘Prisoners are a human problem. The magnitude is increased when there are 93,000 o f them. I t would be inhuman for India to keep t hem indefinitely. An d it will also be a problem to keep on feeding and housing them. Territory, on the other hand, is not a human problem. Territory can be as similat ed. Prisoners cannot (be). The Arab s have stil l not succeeded in regaining the territory l ost in the 1967 war. But the capturing of land doesn’t cry out for international att ention the same way prisoners do.’ Bhutto also discloses to her that Indira Gandhi had offered to return either the POWs or the territory. It is also relevant that, in one of the first statements he made in Pakistan on return, Bhu tto boasted that, ‘it is five years since the Arabs have been wanting to get their territ ory back. I got it within less than five months.’ Bhutto got the ter ritory back in terms of the Shimla Agreement. He also got the prisoners back a year later through a separate agreement (some academics and even former diplomats seem to erroneously believe that the release of POWs was settled at Shimla). We had difficulties even in the delineation of the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir, not to talk of it s transformati on into an international border, as promised by B hutto to Indira Gandhi. Unfortunately, as Rafi Raza, Bhutto’s closest adviser at Shimla, says in his book, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pakistan : ‘The so-called spiri t of Simla died soon aft er the ink was dry on the accord. In t rying too hard to avoid a post-Tashkent scenario, Bhutto lost the opportunity to open a new era in the subcontinent . . .’ Twenty-seven years after the Shimla Agreement, the Lahore Declaration (21 February 1999) between prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif uses almost the same words and phrases as were used at Shimla. For example: ‘Convinced that durable peace and the development of harmoniou s relati ons and friendly coop eration will ser ve the vital i nterests of the peoples of the two countries . . .’ As we all know, this declaration was followed by Pakistan’s aggression in Kargil. And this is not the only instance of its kind in our history of the past more than sixty years. It is true that Pakistanis no longer boast of flying their flag on the Red Fort or of one Pak istani soldier being equal to ten Indians or even of a thousand-year war. On the other hand, the world looks at them as a failed or a failing or a disintegrating state, which is the epicentre of Islamic terrorism. Some believe that Pakistan is at war with itself and is slowly committing ‘hara-kiri’. This may or may not be so. But, there is no change in either the ruling classes o

Pakistan or in their basic attitude of hostility and aggression towards India. Nor is there any hope for ‘durable peace’ and ‘harmonious relations’ in the foreseeable future. While we should still continue our efforts t owards fri endship with Pakistan, w e should also be cl ear that ‘you cannot clap with one hand’. Nor can we afford to let our guard down, in view of Pakistan continuing to sponsor terrorism against us as a part of their official policy. Th is is t he least we can learn from the story of the Shimla Agreement.



was having lunch w hen I got a call f rom Kewal Singh, the foreign secr etary, asking me to report t o him im mediately. It was 7 April 1973. I rushed to the foreign office. Kewal Singh welcoming me warmly said, ‘You are being sent to take over charge of the Sikkim government immediately. The Sikkim administration has collapsed and the Chogyal (ruler) wants immediate assistance. The people are on the streets demanding a democratic system. Everything is at a standstill with the government. You will have to fly out immediately and take over, restore normalcy and seek a political solution keeping in mind the demands of the people. It is a tricky assignment. We trust your diplomatic skills to handle the situati on.’ He cautioned me about Chinese reactions. The Indian Army was on the alert. He wished me good luck. After a day’s briefing by the Ministry of External Affairs, I reached Gangtok on 9 April. The radio broadcasts and newspapers carried headlines on my appointment describing it as a takeover of Sikkim by India. On reaching Siliguri, I was pushed into an Air Force helicopter and flown to Gangtok. The helipad was lined on both sides by anti-Chogyal demonstrators, led by Kazi Lhendup Dorji. Sudhir Devare of the (Indian) Political Office, the chief secretary of Sikkim, the police commissioner, and the Indian Army’s representative, all welcomed me. I was ceremoniously conducted to a dais from where the demonstrators took over, and I had to walk all the way to my earmarked house, earlier the residence of dewans. It was a long and tiring walk, but a thrilling experience all the same, with so much suspense throw n in. This was the first occasion in my long career to have been received in this manner! The next day, when I asked for a meeting with the Chogyal, his secretary informed me that he had to consult his royal astrologer to decide the auspicious date and timing of our meeting. I might have been deputed by India’s prime minister to take over the government, but the Chogyal was the ruler and constitutionally I was his appointee. I was received by him a day later, at a time that suited his s tars. Our meeting was disastrous and acri monious. After the usual exchange of ceremonial scarves, the Chogyal said, ‘Mr Das, please note tha t Sikkim is not Goa, which you have come to take over as administrator. We are independent, and your services have been lent to my government. Let there be no misunderstanding on this.’ Then he began to rail against the injustice of his situation, of how Delhi had treated him, and how Kazi Lhendup’s men were behaving like goons out to destroy Sikkim’s identity. He asked me to tell Delhi that it was he, the Chogyal, who was a true friend of India, and not those rogues who roamed the streets spreading terror and violence. He was shocked that in spite of being an honorary major general of the Indian Army, he had been insulted by this very arm y. It had taken over all the police stations, confining their personnel to the barracks. ‘I shall never forgive the Indian Army for this humiliation,’ he said. Finally he stated that he could not accept my designation as the administrator. I suggested very diplomatically that perhaps the title could be changed to chief executive. Though a very shrewd person, he missed the nuance of this title. ‘Chief executive’ automatically gives the status of a head, covering all executive powers. Without realizing it, he immediately agreed, and I obtained the foreign secretary’s consent. Thus, posted as administrator, I became the chie executive of Sikkim, heading the government with all the powers which the Chogyal exercised as a ruler, except udicial powers, whe rein he was t he ultimate court of appeal over Sikkim’s high court. On reaching Gangtok, I went straight to my friend Shankar Bajpai at India House. It was a historical building, constructed by the British in the early twentieth century as the Residency. It was the seat of British power, where the first political officer, Sir Claude White, presided in 1904, looking after Bhutan and Sikkim. In those very beautiful surroundings, we sat over a drink and lunch, little realizing that we would rewrite the history of Sikkim by correcting the errors of the post-Independence Go vernment of India. Shankar wanted to know the instructions I had brought from Kewal Singh. I had just jotted down the key points in a small diary. None of these indicated t he final objective. Typical of Mrs Gandhi, she never all owed herself to be pinned down to a political commitment, except in generaliti es, leaving her close advisers to draw conclusions wh ich fitt ed into her approach. Shankar and I smiled at one directive: ‘We must support the aspirations of the people of Sikkim, and should not allow the Chogyal to exploit them.’ In fact, this was the key to all future planning, and gave an answer that was in accordance with Mrs Gandhi’s thinking. The word ‘merger’ was never mentioned. Even Kewal, our ‘controller’ from behind the scenes, never uttered this word. But Shankar and I knew without being told. This enabled us to move

ahead in unison and we achieved all that we had to. Delhi came under virulent attack by China and Pakistan, and severe criticism from some Western nations including the US, thus bringing us under great pressure. While the Soviet Union was advising caution, others were attacking India, calling i t a colonial power. Bhutan, adjoining S ikkim, which did not like Sikkim, kept very quiet t hrough all this, though it relished the idea of the kingdom being delinked from Bhutan. Of all the countries which should have been happy, it was Nepal, with 75 per cent of t he Sikkimese being of Nepalese srcin, which was India’s biggest critic! The Chinese were right on the borders, at Nathu La, having an access from Tibet. This was once the main point o British political and economic dominance of inner Tibet. Based on historical evidence, there were two enclaves within Tibet which Sikkim claimed. These were occupied by China. Sik kim it self was cl aimed as a part of t he Chinese empire. It was obvious that China was concerned with the extension of India’s political presence after the fall of the Sikkim government. Delhi had not foreseen an international response that was so critical of India. India wanted a quick settlement of key issues, such as fresh elections based on one man, one vote. The Chogyal was vehement in his opposition to this demand. The electorate being 75 per cent Nepalese, but under Bhu tia domination headed by himself, he knew he would be defeated and lose all his powers. I was instructed by Delhi to restore normalcy in Sikkim, run its administration without any major incidents, and get rid of pro-Chogyal elements in the bureaucracy, who dominated the court. The Chogyal’s American wife, Hope Cooke, had close contacts in America, supporting her cl aim of being the queen of a sovereign, indepen dent country. I was able to restore the administration fairly quickly with all the offices functioning. The police were back on duty. But I failed to bring the Chogy al in l ine on the issue of one man, one vote, even though he w as agreeable to holding fresh elect ions. Sandwiched between the political officer putting pressure as India’s representative, and myself as his chief executive advising him to fall in line with the changed times, the Chogyal capitulated within a month of my joining. The famous agreement of 8 May 1973 between him and Kazi Lhendup Dorji, with India as a guarantor for maintaining his dynasty and providing justice to all et hnic elements, sealed t he Chogyal’s fate. I was all otted a senior IAS officer, R.N. Sengupta, as the election commis sioner. Between him and my three deputies, K.M. Lal, D. Manavalan and J.N. Sany al, also of the IAS, the electoral rolls were revised and election dates announced. I decided not to make any changes in the top echelons of the bureaucracy, knowing fully well that most of them were the Chogyal’s men. I was under great pressure from Delhi to remove all the key players of the palace coterie, but I evaded the issue and assured Kewal that I could handle them successfully. This confidence was based on my understanding of the Sikkimese psychology, which made them switch over to the winning side. I spared even the security chief of the Chogyal, Karma Topden, and moved him to the Sikkim Trading Corporation at Calcutta. He ultimatel y became India’s ambassador to Mong olia. With the 8 May agreement coming into force, and things beginning to settle down, the international criti cism cooled down. Hope Cooke, whose ambitions were to be a queen, realized that she had the status only of the Chogyal’s wife and nothing more. She decided to leave Sikkim. The Chogyal pleaded with her to be at his side, as he needed her at that difficult juncture, but she refused. I saw her off on 14 August 197 3. Her last words were, ‘Mr Das, please look after m y husband. I have no role to play now.’

Hope Cooke was an enigma to many. Some called her a CIA agent. No one knows the true story. But she had become the right hand of the Chogyal in his anti-Indian postures. She changed the school textbooks, bringing in anti-Indian stances through stories and cartoons. She had formed a group of young people, including some bureaucrats, who contacted visitors from abroad for propagating Sikkim’s independent status and criticizing India for destroying its identity. Cooke herself played an active role in deriding India before foreigners. It was suspected that she was in touch with some foreign elements inimical to India. On the one hand , she would act as a soft-s poken royal spouse, projecting herself as the queen for the benefit of VIPs; and on the other, she would shower harsh words on anyone when she lost her temper. Tragically, this dual role exposed her as an actor with no substance. The Chogyal’s excessive drinking infuriated her and led to fights, which the family and close friends did not appreciate. With Delhi intervening and taking over Sikkim, she realized she had lost the battle. Very wisely, she quit. She became withdrawn after that, realizing that her relevance was over . Preparations for fresh elections based on the one man, one vote principle began. The electoral rolls were finalized, keeping this aspect in mind. Before the elections, the Chogyal wanted to take a tour of south Sikkim, which consisted mainly of persons of Nepalese srcin. The environment was very hostile to him in this area and I advised him against such a tour, but he was insistent. He also wanted me to accompany him in order to prove that he was the ruler and I, merely a symbol of Delhi, was his chief executive, and therefore a subordinate. Being the head of the monastic order, the Chogyal started his tour with a visit to the monasteries in this area. In earlier instances, the lamas would line the streets, but this time they were missing. Apart from conducting a formal ceremony of worship, he found he had lost the eccl esiastical hold. It was a big shock. But the worst was to come when

he started the tour. He faced abusive slogans, witnessed shoes tied to his portraits, and heard the crowds threatening him. He had lost his charism a as a ruler. With tears in his eyes, he held my hand and said, ‘I did so much for my people. And now I am humiliated in this way. Why?’ I had no answer. The minority domination of Bhutias, constituting just 14 per cent of t he population, and the mi suse of power through an artificiall y created proportional representation had provided the Sikkim Congress a handle to beat the Chogyal with. I myself felt greatly sad. A tiny Himalayan kingdom, gifted with peace and unimaginable beauty , had become a hotbed of intrigue and exploitation. The elections were conducted without any violence or law and order problem. The Chogyal-supported Nationalist Party, consisting mainly of Bhutias, won only one seat out of thirty-two. The new ly constituted assembly was called to take oath, but the Sikkim Congress r efused to swear in the name of the Chogyal. His name was substituted by the word ‘God’. Then they refused to allow the Chogyal to address the assembly, as had been the custom. After great persuasion, they agreed to my reading out the Chogyal’s inaugural address, in which he highlighted the separate political and cultural i dentity of Sikkim. As Speaker, I had to preside over t he House under the new constituti on, framed under the 8 May agreement. I was not only the Speaker , but also had t o preside over t he Executive Council of Ministers of Sikkim, the replica of a cabinet. While Kazi Lhendu p Dorji led the council, there was no post of a chief mi nister. I was virtually the chief minister. The interim constitution drafted for the new set-up was full of contradictions. As president of the council, I was answerable for the actions of the government before the assembly. As Speaker, I could question these very actions as head of the l egislative wing, and even had pow ers to pull up the councillors! Very soon, some of the leaders of the Sikkim Congress started a whisper campaign, demanding the positions o prime minister and Speaker for the newly elected national assembly. The Chogyal supporters fed in the threat that Sikkim’s separate identity was likely to be lost unless the post of a prime minister was created. The Chogyal had appointed a Sidlon (somewhat like a prime minister) before the anti-Chogyal movement started. I.S. Chopra, a very senior retir ed IFS officer, was the incumbent, bu t he could not last long in the circumstances that developed. D elhi also refused to recognize him as the Sidlon. We feared that the Chogyal, having lost the first round, would instigate forces which demanded positions and power in the new government that would identify Sikkim as an independent entity. It also became very awkward for me as chief executive to be presiding over the cabinet, over the head of Kazi Lhendup, who was the rightful leader of the government. For me t o function as the Speaker as well was becoming untenable. Meanwhile, Kazi Lhendup realized that without coming to a closer political and economic association with India, a demand pending from 1947, he would lose the gains of his party’s victory. He was also apprehensive, and very rightly so, of the Chogyal and the Nationalist Party creating serious problems in Sikkim’s governance. He and his senior advisers decided to approach Delhi for an association with India, enjoying rights and privileges as did the states o India. This written request was accepted by the Government of India, to correct the mist ake made in 1947. A resolution was framed to be put up before the assembly, for its approval to approach India. It was a step towards Mrs Gandhi’s conception of Sikkim’s integration. The Chogyal realized the implications. He discussed the matter with me. Since I was his chief executive, he wanted me to be an instrument of opposition to this move, especially as I was the head of government as well as the Speaker. He also engaged a prominent person, a lady lawyer-friend, to question the legali ty of this resolution. I told t he Chogyal frankly of the implications of his opposition. Sikkim had no legal status as an independent entity. I reminded him that as he was a member of the Chamber of Princes of India and an honorary major general of the Indian Army, he had always been a part of the overall Indian political system. Also, the national assembly having been elected on one man, one vote basis, it gave the legislature the right to bring a resolution of this nature. I cautioned him on his own status. Through the 8 May agreement, he had become mer ely a constituti onal head, with an assurance by India to maintai n not only his position but t o ensure his dynasty’s succession. I advised him to maintain this position, because Sikkim could never be an independent entity as it had earlier been a protectorate of India, even under the British. For Sikkim’s own good, and for its peace and prosperity, a close link to India, as was demanded by the Sikkim Congress, would be the real answer. Sikkim’s cultural identity would always be protected, and so would the Chogyal’s dynasty. He listened but did not respond. When he realized the inevitability o Sikkim’s close political and economic links to India through the Indian system and wanted to redeem the situation, he came to me in July 1974 for help, bu t it was too late by that t ime. The resolution was carried through with only one member opposing it. Sikkim became an associate state of India. The government was to be headed by a chief minister, which Kazi Lhendup became. A Speaker was also designated. My post of chief executive was re-designated as that of a governor when Sikkim finally merged with India in 1975. B.B. Lal of the ICS, who succeeded me as the chief executive, took over as governor. From being an associate state, Sikkim’s merger as a full-fledged Indian state was a consequence of the ill-advised steps taken by the Chogyal when he went to Nepal in 1975 for the coronation of the king. His contacts with the Chinese, and some political statements he made, led to serious misunderstandings with the ruling government back home, as

well as the Government of India. Therefore the Sikkim Congress demanded removal of the Chogyal and merger with India. A referendum was held on these issues and both were voted upon by a huge majority supporting the demands. The Chogyal thus lost the final round and his kingdom too. Thondup Namgyal was a unique personality in many ways. He never wavered in asserting Sikkim’s separate identity. Even in the worst circumstance of losing his kingdom, he never compromised his dignity. A fighter that he was, he stood up to tremendous pressures. One could call him lacking in foresight, but his resolve to project Sikkim as a separate country never flickered. Only once he showed his acceptance of defeat, and tried to commit suicide. He had lost his eldest son, his successor, in an accident. Hope Cooke and two children from her had deserted him. It was too much to bear. He came to visit me in Bombay in 1979 when I was in Air-India. He poured his heart out and said, ‘Mr Das, I wish I had listened to your advice.’ He went to the US for treatment never to return. He died of cancer. The story of Sikkim was dominated by ladies of eminence. The prime player was, of course, Indira Gandhi, whose determination to correct the historical error of 1947 of not accepting the request for merger was firm and final. Hope Cooke came on the scene marr ying the maharaja of Sikkim t o be called the maharani or the queen. She played a crucial role in supporting the Chogyal’s anti-Indian tirade and tried to create a powerful lobby challenging India’s role in governing Sikkim. She was also suspected of being a conduit to external forces. The third lady to enter the political power play in Sikkim was Kazini, a formidable Belgian lady married to Kazi Lhendup Dorji, the leader of the anti-Chogyal forces. This lady threw her weight around by claiming to have been close once to Kemal Ataturk of Turkey and then Chou Enlai of China. She married the Kazi to be the first lady as the prime minister’s wife. She took charge of the anti-establishment movement and adopted a Nepalese, Nar Bahadur, as her son to be the leader of the movement. Kazi, a political leader of st anding, was used by her as a front for her own ambitions. The Chogyal and Hope Cooke hated her, treating her with utter contempt. I was often a witness to the enactment of this unpleasant drama. The American and the Belgian ladies played the most destructive role. In their ambition to be the lead lady, they manipulated the key players, the Chogyal and the Kazi. Both failed to retain the dignity of a small kingdom with rich cultural traditions. Narrowing down the larger issue of retaining Sikkim’s identity through a democratic process, they hastened the collapse of their mentors through misplaced actions. It was sad the way it all happened. The 8 May agreement could have been a sustainable process of merger with India. In f act, that was the way we exp ected Sikkim to accede to India, in the same manner as other states. Mrs Gandhi became the architect of Sikkim’s new personality. Her sheer grit and determination against foreign pressure was once again displayed after 1971 when she defied the US, China and Pakistan leading to the emergence o Bangladesh as an independent entity. She exhibited no emotions in decision making in spite of being a very emotional person. She was ruthless in pursuing her goals. No one matched her. The acceptance by China of Sikkim as a part o India and opening of the trade route between China and India through Nathu La are a consequence to the steps India took. In Bhutan, Mrs Gandhi went out of her way to sponsor its UN membership. Thus both Bhutan and Sikkim, shown by China as a finger of its palm, acquired their new status delinked to the claim of China’s suzerainty. It was my privilege to have been a major player in both cases. The ultimate reality of this Himalayan range constituting Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim being the outer perimeter of India’s security was thus established and recognized by the world community including China.

NEPAL Darkness at Noon Krishna V. Rajan had completed my tenure in London and was getting ready for another ambassadorial posting in Europe, for which I


had been named, when a flurry of t elephone calls from Delhi i nformed me that I was being diverted to Kathmandu as India’s next ambassador to His Majesty’s Kingdom of Nepal. I received the news with enthusiasm, but also a sense o surprise. I wondered why a career man was being sent to this sensitive and difficult post, traditionally reserved for political appointees; and speculated that the fact that I had little first-hand experience in dealing with Nepal, either at headquarters or in Kathmandu, was probably not considered a shortcoming, but possibly an asset at this particular uncture of India-Nepal relations! As often happens to ambassadors on transfer, not much time was given to pack and make an orderly exit. I was told that Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had personally instructed that I should join my new post immediately. I raced through my farewell meetings and dinners. At the last of the dinners on the night before my departure for Kathmandu, which happened to fall on my fifty-fourth birthday, the hostess had taken great pains to prepare a birthday cake in the shape of the map of Nepal, which I begged to be excused from cutting. A well-known journalist-astrologer came up to me and said, sotto voce, as in Oscar Wilde’s ‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime’, ‘Sir, it is good you refused to cut the cake. Nepal is hyper-sensitive about everything India does; it is a little like Mexico with the US. You will enjoy Nepal, but there will be t oo many problems. Its horoscope is like that.’ I arri ved in Kathmandu w ithout breaking journey for the usual briefi ng in Delhi, except for an extremel y useful chat with Shiv Shankar Menon, then joint secretary l ooking after Nepal, during my transit at Centaur Hotel in New Delhi. I arrived in Kathmandu on a bright and crisp spring afternoon and went straight to India House, a sprawling colonial mansion surrounded by centuries -old tal l trees. There the embassy priest (a short, wizened, Nepali gentleman who was on the government payroll to look after the temple in the embassy compound – a concession by secular India to a diplomatic profile considered necessary in the world’s only Hindu kingdom) did a quick puja for me, whispering a bit of advice between Sanskrit shlokas: ‘As long as Lord Pashupatinath is with you, you will succeed. But there will be problems.’ There was a high-level hydropower team in town waiting to meet me; in fact, with a new government in Kathmandu and a perceptible mutual interest in normalizing relations with New Delhi, there was a to-ing and fro-ing between the capitals with dizzying frequency. I had indeed hit the ground running; it was heady stuff, professionally very exciting, the kind of work I had always wanted to do w hen I joined the forei gn service. It was only towards the end of my tenure, five years l ater, that I remembered t he London astrologer and the embassy priest. A short backgrounder might be in order. The last decade of the twentieth century began for Nepal on a note of great hope, bordering on euphoria. The pro-democracy agitation spearheaded by the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal – UML (Un ified Marxist Leninist) had brought the monarchy to it s knees and succeeded, by 1990, in ushering in a constitutional monarchy with full multi-party democracy. India’s role in supporting the democratic forces, including indirectly through a border blockade (ostensibly precipitated by a trade and transit dispute) had earned it considerable cross-party and public goodwill, even if i t creat ed tensions with the monarchy. The first general election in 1990 had resulted in a victory for Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress. By 1994, however, India’s perceived proximity to Koirala and internal dissent within the Congress brought the Koirala government down in an atmosphere of nationalistic anti-Indianism. The new election led to the formation, in December 1994, of a minority government with veteran Communist leader Manmohan Adhikari as prim e minist er. India’s worries were on several counts. There was a clear prospect of political instability because of the hung parliament thrown up by the elections. It was necessary to quickly normalize relations with the UML, a party which had manifested a certain hostility towards India in recent years (Adhikari had even threatened to declare the Indian ambasssador, Bimal Prasad, persona non grata shortly after the elections). The controversy generated by the UML demand for abrogating the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship needed to be defused. The UML-led agitation against the Tanakpur agreement in the run-up to the elections had its own serious short- as well as long-term im plications. India had utilized a smal l portion of Nepalese land for construction of an afflux bund to

a barrage at Tanakpur. The barrage was on Indian territory and the project involved no consumptive use of water, but for some reason, the formal prior clearance of Nepal had not been obtained; the UML demand was that because use o Nepali land had enabled the dam to generate extra power as well as augment the water available for irrigation, Nepal must be given half of the extra power as well as water. India had been unsuccessfully trying to defuse the controversy through incremental concessions to the Koirala government both on water as well as power, but far from sati sfying the Opposition, this had added fuel to the controversy that Nepal was being ‘cheated’ of its entitlement, causing serious embarrassment to Koirala. The longer term question was whether any cooperation on water would ever be possible with Nepal: Tanakpur seemed to be a pointer that such treaties would inevitably get hopelessly politicized, and were therefore doomed to fail. Moreover, the constitution required that important treaties involving use of Nepal’s natural resources must be ratified by more than a two-thirds majority in parliament – a remote prospect in this age of coalition politics and minority governments. In short, the bleak reality seemed to be that India and democratic Nepal might never be able to have a major tr eaty on water, even if the people of both countries desperately needed it f or their future wellbeing. There was also clearly some preoccupation in New Delhi to repair the relationship with the monarchy, after the tensions generated by the st andoff of 1989-90 . Birendra was supposed to be only a constitutional monarch, but was still a highly important element in the Nepalese polity. The monarchy enjoyed respect and popularity at the level of the Nepalese masses; its hold on political leaders and political parties because of traditional linkages refused to die down; and its potential role as a stabilizing force in an evolving democracy could not be underestimated. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao clearly felt that the king could make a constructive contribution to a more mature relationship with India just as the king of Bhutan had, and w anted India’s links with the monarchy to be made fi rmer even as it sought to strengthen Nepal’ s democracy: what came to be known as the ‘twin-pillar approach’. My consultations with Nepalese political elders – Ganesh Man Singh, Manmohan Adhikari, G.P. Koirala, K.P. Bhattarai, Surya Bahadur Thapa – yielded new insights into Nepal’s turbulent politics as well as relations with India. They spoke with a historical perspective stretching back over several decades, and desp ite t heir political and individual differences, it was clear that they converged on the importance of strong India-Nepal relations for the latter’s wellbeing. Ganesh Man Singh, possibly Nepal’s tallest political figure, revered for his courageous leadership against the monarchy during the pro-democracy agitation, and his refusal to accept the prime ministership in the first democratic government that came into being in 1990, felt that Nepal’s democracy could be con solidated provided India resisted t he temptation to run its internal affairs. This was a fairly explicit reference to the damage done by (in the Nepalese perception) the blatantly intrusive role of some Indian ambassadors since C.P.N. Singh; he also referred to India’s propensity to play favourites with Nepalese political actors (an implicit reference to the perceived partisanship shown to Koirala in recent years). He was by now in very poor health, speaking in barely audible whispers. I could make out that despite his reservations about some aberrations in India’s past policies, he wanted India to be actively engaged in strengthening and protecting Nepal’s fragile democracy. Manmohan Adhikari, the firebrand communist prime minister, was surprisingly relaxed and positive about India even in my first meeting with him. He praised my predecessor as a good man who had been unfairly criticized (by him!) for favouring Koirala, suggested that India should not read too much into his anti-India election rhetoric; and emphasized his party’s commitment to build st ronger ties with India even if it would not agree to their being described as ‘special relations’. He specifically discounted worries about his opposition to the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship: ‘Excellency, Friendship treaties are not to be abrogated.’ He wanted the treaty to be ‘reviewed’, and suggested that in the end both countries would be happy with a ‘few full stops and commas being changed’. This, o course, was music to Delhi’s ears. Contrary to m y expectation, CP M (Communist Party of India – Mar xist) leaders did not seem very sure as to how the rise of the UML should be viewed in India. The W est Bengal chief minister, Jyoti Basu, for example, f elt that while we could strike a good understanding with a veteran like Adhikari, we should make our own assessments regarding the UML as a whole, especially about the extent of influence of ‘Naxalitetype elements’. When Adhikari visited Kolkata during his first official visit, the media commented on the lukewarm nature of the welcome he was accorded by the state government despite their shared ideological affiliation. Koirala, deeply sincere about ties with India, was not a man for details. He was a democrat to the core as far as Nepal was concerned, but had his own ideas about running his party. As a supreme tactician, he was dismissive of Nepalese politicians who made anti-India noises because of domestic compulsions. The anti-Indian rhetoric in Nepal was limited to the Kathmandu Valley urban elit e and India did not need to have worries about security i mplications. He mentioned a sampling of Nepalese attitudes towards India that he had personally conducted when India-Nepal relations were going through a particularly diff icult phase in 1989: an absolute m ajority of opinion found a seri ous confrontation with India to be ‘unacceptable’; as for the 130,000 ex-servicemen who had been in the Indian Army and were now islands o prosperity in rural Nepal, they would be prepared to actively resist any sinister attempt to undermine the relationship at

the cost of the interests of the Nepalese people. He was perhaps the only leader who had the style and stature to scold his peers, chide them i n public, bully them, or indeed engage in brinkmansh ip, if his political i nstinct led him to do so. The day would come when these qualities would enable him t o carve out his place in the hist ory books – for ending the Maoist insurgency and bringing the rebels into the mainstr eam of Nepal’s multi-party democracy. Bhattarai struck me as being a philosoph er-politician with a deceptively frivolous attitude to li fe. He had a wry sense of humour. He felt t hat decades of brainwashing by R ana and royal regimes, with the act ive guidance of the British, had created an aggressively nationalistic Nepalese mindset with regard to India which would take decades more of patient and transparent diplomacy and people-to-people contacts to change. He once narrated a hilarious story of a winter day he had spent on the lawns of India House during the Rana period, when the Indian ambassador and he had an animated discussion on the political si tuation, while fi nishing off an entire bottle of brandy. The ambassador’s spouse, irritated that several messages sent through the servant had not succeeded in ending their session, finally appeared in person and lambasted His Excellency in Marathi, assuming that Bhattarai would not understand. The ambassador (again in Marathi) pleaded not guilty, blaming Bhattarai for the unending conv ersation as well as the high beverage consumption. When Bhattarai, after passively witnessing the husband-wife exchanges, innocently enquired of the ambassador as t o what had upset Madam so much, the ambassador dismissed i t as a problem she was having with the cook. F inally, Bhattarai got up and took leave of his host i n impeccable Marathi, before riding off on his bicycle, chuckling at the look of stunned embarrassment on the faces of the ambassadorial couple as t hey saw him off! Surya Bahadur Thapa was possibly the most articulate of the leaders when it came to discussions on strategic approaches to various issues of concern, domestic or bilateral. One could not but respect his intellect and capacity for lucid analysis. Alas, he belonged to the wron g party, and his excellent administ rative skill s could not assist the country despite his frequent prime ministerial stints in subsequent years. Key leaders like G.P. Koirala, Surya Bahadur Thapa and the Madheshi (people of Indian srcin settled in the Terai region) leader of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party, Gajendra Narayan Singh, seemed to feel that the real danger to Nepal came not from the palace but from the strengthening of radical forces on the left. Their hope was that India would not take the minority UML government too seriously since it was likely to be short-lived, apart from not being either ‘democratic’ or ‘genuinely’ friendly towards India. It was encouraging to deal with the many capable next-generation leaders. I found them to be more developmentoriented than their seniors. Even those with a reputati on for being ‘anti-Indian’ seemed to be reasonably clear about the need for Nepal to have close relations with India. They were quick to understand the practical benefits to Nepal o cooperation on water resources, seemed to have a good grip over the technical complexity of the issues involved, and their bottom line was that the cooperation should be compatible with Nepal’s undiluted sovereign status, and bring maximum possible benefits to Nepal. It was clear that the best prospects for enhancing India-Nepal cooperation lay in forging consensus among a critical mass of this comparatively younger group, whether they were identified with the centre, left or right, while drawing on the goo dwill, leadership and motivational skills of the elder generation. But the role of the m onarchy needed clarifi cation. In my first audience with him, I found K ing Birendra to be affable, mild-mannered, soft-spoken and relaxed. He regretted that there had been so many misunderstandings with India, especially with the Nehru-Gandhi family, for whom there was so much respect. He was confident that with Narasimha Rao (whose intell ect and moderation he held in high esteem and with whom he had a good personal rapport) a new era of friendship and cooperation was possible. He was not unduly worried that communists had become such a strong political force – Manmohan Adhikari was a responsible leader who respected institutions, not a radical who was impatient for ideological change at any cost. However, democracy would take time to settle, and there might be turbulent times ahead – India’s role would be crucial. We agreed to remain in touch through a designated intermediary or directly, as the occasion demanded. An immediate outcome of this first meeting was Birendra’s decision to give a public signal of normal relations with India by agreeing to spend an evening at India House with his immediate family – after decades of a chill in such social-level contacts. The royal family, along with the entire political and civil society elite of Nepal, attended a concert on the lawns of India House by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan and Ayaan. It was quite an ambience: the setting sun, the tall pine trees, the birds singing as if on cue with the soul-stirring strumming of the sarod. Over dinner, the royal f amily real ly opened up. The conversation was a mix of banter and serious politics, anecdotes and personal reflections. Birendra said more than once that Nepal’s democracy was here to stay; he would not turn the clock back. However, he was mildly sceptical about the capacity of political parties to deliver on the people’s expectations. ‘Politicians have a very short-term agenda. They think about the next three or four years at most. Excellency, I have to t hink of the next three hundred years: the monarchy is an instit ution, it has t o think long term,’ h e said grandly as he sipped his favourite cognac. When Dipendra and his brother excused themselves for a longish absence, Aishwarya became restless; Birendra’s

comment that they were only trying to smoke a cigarette on the sly was hardly a tactful reassurance from her point o view. Birendra said good-naturedly, ‘My wife worries too much about Dipendra. He is a very peaceful young man who wouldn’t hurt a fly.’ (Months later, when Dipendra and I were applauding Kapil Dev’s magnificent sixers in an exhibition cricket match and I asked him whether he himself played cricket, Dipendra said that the only time he had done so at Eton, he had given his teacher a bloody nose with a particularly hard sweep to mid-on which had hit the poor master in the face. He had decided there and then never to touch a cricket bat again. The young man who would one day gun down his parents, brother and sister in a fit of inebriated rage, explained matter-of-f actly: ‘Excellency, I can’t stand the sight of blood, you see.’) In the following months, Birendra and his family would come to almost every social or cultural occasion hosted by India House, along with political and civil society leaders. This was despite the fact that, as Birendra admitted to me during a Ravi Shankar sitar recital, he did not enjoy Indian dance and music at all. I asked him why, and his response was that as a child, he was dragged regu larly (against his will) by his father, King Mahendra, to classical performances hosted by the Indian ambassador , and this had made him permanently all ergic to the cl assical performi ng arts! The Adhikari government did not last beyond a few months, but it was long enough for India to try out its new approach of beginning a new chapter on water resources cooperation on the basis of equal partnership and Nepali ownership and consensus. Hari Pandey , the water resources minist er in the communist government, was a businessmanturned-politician with an excellent grasp of hydropower projects. We had a quiet discussion on a new and positive approach to resolve the Tanakpur controversy which would be win-win for both sides. When our foreign secretary, Salman Haider, visited Kathmandu in March 1995, I arranged for an informal meeting with him on the lawns of India House. He proposed a new understanding on the integrated development of the Mahakali river which would have as its centrepiece a jointly designed and integrated power project of more than 12,000 MW capacity at Pancheshwar, a point on the river where it formed an agreed boundary. Each country would construct a 6,000 MW power station on its bank; Nepal would be able to sell surplus power to India at agreed premium prices, and would in addition be compensated for incremental benefits on flood control, navigation and irrigation accruing to India. The best part of this grand and ambitious project would be that the Tanakpur project, which had caused so much irritation and misunderstanding between the two countries, would get subsumed in Pancheshwar, for now there would be so much water and power that both countries would be able to satisfy their needs. Thus the idea of a Mahakali treaty, which would take care of the Tanakpur demands of Nepal in a much larger project, was born. As was not entirely unexpected, the nu mbers game soon undermined the stability of the minority communist regime. Koirala’s Nepali Congress, Surya Bahadur Thapa’s Rashtriya Prajatantra Party and Gajendra Narayan Singh’s National Sadbhavana Party registered a no-confidence motion against the Adhikari government. Adhikari promptly advised the king to dissolve parliament and set a date for elections, which Birendra did, performing his constitutional function o accepting the PM’s advice. Thereupon, the Supreme Court was petitioned by the Opposition to overturn the king’s action by restoring parliament and forcing the government to face the no-confidence motion. The court was sympathetic, but since the king could do no wrong according to the constitution, an i ngenious formulati on was devised. The judgement did restore parliament, blaming not the king but the PM, for having tendered bad advice to the king. Still, t his would be a blow to the prestige of t he monarchy; Birendra sent a message t hrough me to Narasimha Rao, w ho happened to be in Europe, basically enquiring about the implicat ions for the i nstitution of monarchy if the king were to reverse his own decision on a direction from the judiciary. A reassuring interpretation of the implications of the udgement from Indian experts, based on India’s own constitutional experience, was conveyed to the monarch; parliament was restored; Adhikari gave an emotional video response to the motion from hospital, where he was admitted with a chest complaint; the government fell; and a new coalition took charge under Sher Bahadur Deuba, a younger generation Congress leader. Rao accepted my suggestion that in a departure from protocol, he should send a warm message to outgoing PM Adhikari as well as to Deuba. I went to Bir hospital to deliver the letter addressed to the former. Adh ikari was in bed in a dark and depressing ward, quite alone, without company in addition to being without power. But his sense of humour was intact. He wanted to thank Rao for his gesture and also t o promise him that his part y would work constructively on strengthening bilateral ties. ‘I am going down,’ he wheezed, ‘but that does not mean that India-Nepal relations have to go down with me!’

This was one of those rare transitions when there was change of government without India being dragged into Nepal’s domestic politics. The new government was enthusiastic about taking India-Nepal relations to new heights, and the Opposition was not inclined to object. With a talented and competent minister for water resources like Pashupati Rana and P.C. Lohani as foreign minister, and Deuba himself willing to be proactive, the Mahakali treaty was revived in a novel way: even as government-level negotiations proceeded, Rana and Lo hani, with firm support from Deuba, tried to get the backing of other parties for a treaty based on the srcinal draft discussed between India and the Adhikari

government. There were countless informal interactions between the different players, including Salman Haider and myself: walks in the woods with Rana, unpublicized visits to Delhi, departures from protocol as meetings took place with increasing frequency at private homes, hotels, India House, on Kathmandu-Delhi flights, in transit lounges, even the Pashupatinath temple. Soon there was a critical mass of Nepal’s younger political leaders cutting across party lines who had taken the trouble to understand the basic elements of the Mahakali treaty and realized that its provisions regarding power and water were very much in Nepal’s interest. Nepal’s political elders were not quite in the loop, nor were they very interested in understanding the complexities of an agreement on water of this magnitude; they mildly grumbled at the speed at which they were being asked to approve a decisi on of this importance, but were not actively opposed to i t. The result of all this was that when Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Kathmandu on Republic Day, 1996, there was not only a cross-party consensus on the main elements to guide the Nepal government in its final negotiations on the treaty, there was also a sense of Nepali ownership abo ut the treat y itself, as something which w as in Nepal’s interest – a big difference from the past, when India used to propose treaties to harness Nepal’s water resources mainly to satisfy India’s irrigation and power requirements. After several hiccups and moments of high drama, the treaty was finalized and initialled in the presence of Deuba. The next morning, Nepal’s newspaper headlines announced: ‘Equality at last!’ The accompanying euphoria and self-congratulatory mood there was particularly satisfying to those of us from the Indian side who had laboured hard to prove a point: that transparency, consensus, equal partnership and prime consideration to Nepal’s needs were foundations on which water agreements with a democratic Nepal were possible. Deuba’s visit to Delhi in February 1996 was another major milestone. Not only did the two prime ministers sign the Mahakali treaty, the two countries were able to reach important understandings on a far-reaching trade treaty and on private sector investment and trade in hydropower. In a lesson on how small countries can make their big neighbours relent on major demands, Nepalese business leaders agreed on major recommendations they would make to the two prime ministers during the Deuba visit, basically permitting duty-free access to the Indian market for all goods manufactured in Nep al, without any restrictions as to minimum l ocal labour or material content. Deuba formally suggested this when the minister of commerce, P. Chidambaram, called on him at Rashtrapati Bhavan; Chidambaram conveyed his regret at India’s inability to accept this demand, since ‘Indian industry would never agree, as it would hurt their interests’. That evening, however, at the signature ceremony in the presence of the two PMs, the two business delegations presented their joint report containing precisely the same recommendation. With his characteristi c grace, Chidambaram walked up to Deub a and said that he would like to withdraw his objections, conveyed the same morning, to the Nepali proposal: ‘Who am I to turn your request down, Mr Prime Minister, when my own industry have said in my prime minister ’s presence that they w ant Nepal to get these faciliti es!’ As I joined Deuba in his VIP cabin on the special plane to Chennai at the end of the visit, I could not but agree with his assessment that this was the best of times for Nepal and for India-Nepal relations. Someone mentioned that back in Nepal, a motley group of people armed with khukris and other crude weapons, calling themselves Maoists, had attacked a police stati on in a rural area i n the mid-west. They h ad also issued a forty-point list of demands including ab olition o the monarchy and ending the special relationship with India. But this was champagne time. (Strictly speaking, no alcoholic beverages are supposed to be served on domestic flights, but such was the mood, MEA’s protocol not only looked the other way but participated i n the toasts ). No one took the report fr om Nepal seriously. Shortly after the visit, the two countries signed a trade treaty on the lines the Nepalese desired. Simultaneously, the Reserve Bank of India liberalized its rules for Indian investors in Nepal. The result was a quantum jump in two-way trade and a rem arkable increase i n investment in high-value manufacturing in Nepal, mainly f or export. Sadly, within a couple of years a combination of lax oversight in certifi cation procedures in Nep al, and effective protectionist lobbying on the part of small business groups in India succeeded in ending the experiment in liberalization just when it seemed to justify hopes of achieving its strategic objecti ves. Within days of Deub a’s return from India, i nstability surfaced again, and attempts were made, including from within his own party, to change the government. Clearly, a successful visit to India was not of much help in enhancing political survivability at home! Nevertheless, Deuba decided to go all out in trying to obtain parliamentary ratification of the Mahakali treaty by the required two-thirds majority. He succeeded, and in an exciting photo finish, the UML politburo approved the treaty by a single vote (Manmohan Adhikari was brought in on a stretcher from hospital to ensure this). The two H ouses of parliament in a j oint sitti ng voted by more than two-thirds majority t o ratify the t reaty. We seemed to have achieved the impossible! There were personal messages of congratulations from very senior levels in the Government of India which were heartwarming and extremely encouraging. But deep down, one knew that this might turn out to be a pyrrhic victory . Within days, governments changed both in New Delhi as well as Kathmandu. Elections in India brought Atal Bihari Vajpayee in as prime minister for a fortnight; he was succeeded by H.D. Deve Gowda for six months and I.K. Gujral for another eleven. In Kathmandu, Deuba was replaced by leaders of breakaway groups from the RPP and UML, and

Lokendra Bahadur Chand became PM with Bamdev Gautam as deputy prime minister. Interestingly, despite the fact that Chand and Gautam had opposed the Mahakali treaty, neither opposed its implementation now that they were in government: the instruments of ratification for the treaty were exchanged between Chand and Gujral when the latter visited Nepal shortly after taking over as prime minister in 1997. Thus Nepal had given a spectacular rebuttal to sceptics that an agreement on water was impossible in an era of unstable coalition politics. The detailed project report of the Pancheshwar project which was to have been completed within six months after ratifi cation (admittedly somewhat unrealistical ly) now got mired in mindset problems on both sides. The Nepalese side opted for maximalist interpretations of certain formulations in the treaty which in effect would have made the project thoroughly unnecessary if not non-viable from India’s point of view; and India too seemed stuck with rigid bureaucratic/technical approaches more suited to a local domestic project in India rather than a grand example of a path-breaking cooperation between neighbours. As one irrigation engineer who was a junior member of the Indian delegation said with a sense of patri otism which brooked n o questioning, ‘I don’t care if our PM has si gned . . . I’ll see how our water can be given to Nepal,’ just as on the Nepalese side the unspoken bottom line was: ‘Water is the only thing we’ve got . . . we can’t give it to I ndia at any price!’ Gujral’s visit to Nepal in May 1997 was an opportunity to showcase his famous doctrine of non-reciprocity. He had no hesitation in making Nepal his first foreign visit despite the political complexion of the government in Kathmandu which had just replaced the very friendly dispensation under Deuba. The visit resulted in India making the extraordinary gesture of agreeing to Nepal’s long-standing demand for a transit route through the sensitive ‘chicken’s neck’ strip to Bangladesh, by providing armed escorts for incoming or outward-bound cargo. The message to Nepal was loud and clear: India’s hand of friendship would be extended to any government in power, and we were now more willing than ever to accommodate their expectations and respect their sensitiviti es. On 15 August 1997, I hosted a massive Independence Day anniversary reception at India House. The royal family, entire cabinet, former prime ministers and Nepal’s civil society elite turned up. The mood was one of genuine celebration of India-Nepal friendship. Birendra reminisced about his memories as a child of four or five, when King Tribhuvan had sought asylum in the Indian embassy. He recalled Nehru trying unsuccessfully to teach him to play cricket on the l awns of Hyderabad House. On the spur of the moment, I thought of r equesting all the f ormer and present Nepalese leaders with the king and queen, my wife and I to assemble for a photo opportunity which would also be an assertion of bilat eral relat ions built on Indian suppo rt for constit utional monarchy and multi-party democracy . Birendra readily agreed, but whispered that I should sound the queen out separately, since her sari would get wet in the drizzle that had commenced. But the queen enthusiastically agreed, too, as did all the other leaders. The photograph taken outside the royal tent on India House lawns was front-page stuff in every newspaper and the subject of much positive public comment the following day. India’s twin-pillar strategy of supporting multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy was working well – or so it seemed! One expectation that was doubtless aroused by the ‘Gujral Doctrine’ was that the 1950 treaty, an irritant because it was considered unequal in the eyes of most Nepalese, could be renegotiated. In Kathmandu, Gujral himself did not dampen Nepalese hopes in this regard. In fact, at the joint press conference addressed by the two prime ministers, Gujral went to the extent of saying t hat he had si gned a ‘blank cheque’ for Chand. The result was a visit to Delhi within a few weeks by the foreign minister, Kamal Thapa, who took with him a draft of a new friendship treaty based on consultations with Nepalese experts. The 1950 treaty was signed between the Indian ambassador and a discredited Rana prime minister who was on his last legs. It was basically an updated version of an earlier treaty between British India and Nepal, which gave Nepal significant economic concessions in exchange of a virtual Indian veto in Nepal’s dealings with third countries on defence and security matters. Nepal had always been sensitive to the suggestion implicit in the treaty that its sovereignty was negotiable; what it was looking for, but was usually hesitant to suggest, was a new or amended treaty which would ensure respect for India’s legitimate security concerns, continue to offer the economic opportunities available to Nepalese nationals i n India, but remove constraints on Nepal’s freedom to have defence arrangements with other countries as l ong as they did not have security implicat ions for India. India had tradit ionally considered any such suggestion emanating from Nepal as an unfriendly act. The Thapa visit was an eye-opener for those who might have assumed that Gujral was soft with neighbours on all issues. In the discussions with Thapa, he was emphatically negative to any suggestion for amending the treaty. Thapa returned empty-handed, and probably not a little shocked at Gujral’s robust defence of the treaty. The diplomatic misadventure was soon forgotten as governments fell in both capitals. I was asked later at a conference as to how the Gujral doctrine had affected India-Nepal ties and recall saying: ‘The Gujral doctrine was strangled with the entrails o the 1950 treaty during the visi t of Kamal Thapa to I ndia.’ In fact, m y experience of working w ith three prime mi nisters – Narasimha Rao, Gujral and Vajpayee – was that Rao’s approach – support for constitutional monarchy and democracy without being partisan towards on e or the other politi cal leader, insistence on reciprocity on core concerns of India, and firmness in dealing with unreasonable Nepalese demands – was by far the best suited to the creation of stability and

maturity in India-Nepal ties. Vajpayee had a generous vision which could not always be implemented due to the preference for realpolitik on the part of some in his cabinet, and sympathy for ultra-right-wing Hindu activists in Nepal on the part of others; and Gujral’s doctrine of non-reciprocity created expectations which India could not possibly meet. Political instability, erosion of governance and democratic indiscretions now began to take centrestage along with increase in Maoist influence in one district after another. As prime ministers and governments changed with alarming frequency and parties joined hands and broke alliances with the sole aim of being part of the power structure, the institution of monarchy, and King Birendra personally, progressively attracted increasing respect. Generally he enhanced his credibility by seeming to be above the political games that were being played. Privately he expressed his distress t o me more t han once. It was fairly well known amo ng a small group of Western diplomats that, under pressure from some hardline rightist advisers to take advantage of the situation and demonstrate royal proactivism, he sent emissaries out to London; Washington, DC; New Delhi and Beijing to seek the concurrence of these capitals to interventionism of some kind with the democratic process in order to curb the growing Maoist threat. All the capitals except Beijing strongly discouraged adventurism of the kind contemplated; the Chinese, cautious and inscrutable as ever, said they would leave the decision to the king, in whom they had complete faith. Birendra, by nature somewhat timid, gave up the idea, w ent into a retreat and actually had a heart attack. There were situations when Birendra personally intervened to ensure that India’s concerns were taken seriously, when the elected political leaders seemed t oo distracted to do so. Thus, when a feared mafia don much wanted in India was believed to be staying at a particular place, i t was the king who arranged w ith the ar my to close i n on the premises, since the normal law-and-order machinery was not up to the job. Alas, the exercise was unsuccessful; someone from India tipped off the don, who w as able to escape i n the nick of tim e; but thereby hangs another tale. Soon after India exploded nuclear weapons at Pokharan in May 1998, President K.R. Narayanan came on a state visit. Koirala was by now again the PM in Nepal, Vajpayee in India. As it happened, Pakistan responded with its nuclear tests even as Narayanan was sitting down for talks with the king at Narayanhiti Palace. Narayanan was generally pleased with his interactions with leaders across the political spectrum, and especially the king. Within a few days I had a call from Foreign Secretary Raghun ath to say t hat it had been tentatively decided that King Birendra should be invited as chief guest for India’s Republic Day in 1999. Ho w would this be received by t he political leaders? Would Birendra accept if a formal invitation was extended to him? I told him that I had no doubt the king would be delighted to accept, but in the context of the turbulent political situation and against the background of the events of 1989-90 , I would consult t he political l eaders and revert. All the politi cal leaders without exception seemed to be pleased at t he idea, partly because by now Birend ra had won respect as a comparatively ‘democratic’ monarch, but mainly because they saw this as a gesture of friendship and goodwill towards the country as a whole, without any politi cal overtones. I met Birendra to inform him about the Government of India’s decision, and as expected, he accepted, expressing deep appreciation for the gesture – something most people would have considered as inconceivable a few years ago. When asked about the kind of programme he would like to have after the Republic Day function, he said simply: ‘Excellency, I want only to have one visit outside Delhi – to Puttaparthi. I would like to have a m eeting with Satya Sai Baba.’ Sai Baba’s following in many countries was considerable, and in Nepal huge. I was not entirely surprised by this royal request. In recent days, a number of Nepalese devotees of Baba had come back with the same message: Baba was very concerned about Nepal, and wanted to meet the king. In fact, only a few days earlier, the king’s aunt, Princess Helen Shah, had met me and requested for a darshan with Baba, wh ich I was able to arrange. She had clearly conveyed a very specific message from t he swami to the king on her return, and he was now anxious to have a personal darshan. Thus it was that the king, accompanied by his wife, son Nirajan and daugh ter Shruthi visited Puttaparthi immediatel y after a high-profile presence in New Delhi as chief guest on Republic Day. Nepal’s highly effective and respected ambassador, Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, and I along with our spouses accompanied them. Baba spent a fair amount of time alone with the royal family. Afterwards, Birendra invited us for dinner and seemed to be in a happy but quietly introspective mood. At one point he referred to his very important meeting with Baba and said, ‘Excellency, it is important that I come here to see Baba once every year, not as king of Nepal but as a private citizen. This is what he wants. Can you arrange that for me?’ I told him that when the time came I was sure something could be worked out. I had no idea how it was going to be possible to enable the monarch of a neighbouring country to visit India incognito, but by diplomatic training my response to difficult high-level requests was usually to accept the challenge and then examine ways of addressing it. Back in Nepal, preparations were on in full s wing for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Various permutations and combinations in coali tion governance had been tried out during the past few years, and Koirala was now convinced that only a stable government under a united Nepali Congress could help Nepal achieve its potential. He therefore decided that K.P. Bhattarai would be the prime ministeri al candidate at the next el ection. The result was a clear vote for

stability and development, indeed apparently for stable relations with India: not only did the Congress get a majority; every candidate who was perceived as being anti-India (which the voter seemed to equate with anti-development) was emphatically rejected. Alas, the sense of optimism generated by the results was short-lived. The clouds were gathering thick and fast, and the downhill journey for Nepal could not be easily reversed. The hijacking of IC 814 in December 1999 was a stunning blow to Nepal’s image and self-esteem, as well as to the goodwill it had always enjoyed in the eyes of the people o India. New Delhi for i ts part demonstrated a certain r ecklessness in encouraging the demonization of Nep al through the statements and insinuations of Indian leaders, obviously to distract attention from the government’s own mismanagement of the episode. I found this to be particularly regrettable at a time when the Nepalese authorities at operational levels were giving good cooperation to their Indian counterparts in identifying the hijackers (none of whom was a Nepali, although India let it be known that this was the case) and unravelling the details of the entire episode. When I pointed out to New Delhi that there was growing resentment in Kathmandu about the disproportionate blame being placed at Nepal’s door, the response was that India had to counter Pakistani propaganda that R&AW had cooked up the entire hijacking in order t o malign Pakistan! Later, there was more evidence of fairly crude attempts to discredit Nepal as much as possible. I was asked by New Delhi to facilit ate access i nside all areas of Kathmandu airpo rt for one of our well-known media chann els, ostensibly to project Nepal in a good light after the damage done by earlier official statements and media reports. I requested Prime Minister Bhattarai’s intervention to get the necessary permissions; the Indian TV reporters spent a couple of days interviewing airport personnel and taking shots of various restricted areas. To everyone’s astonishment, the ‘breaking news’ story that came out a few days later was that even several days after the hij acking, security arrangements were so poor that reporters from the TV channel had succeeded in moving around undetected even in the most sensitive areas! My protests with the ministry and the channel did not cut much ice – the atmosphere was too charged. But the longer term cost of t he breakdown of trust and goodwill at the people-to-people level, which has always been the foundation o the much vaunted special r elationship with Nepal, was possibly ignored. As Nepal again slipped into the mode of revolving-door governments, the Maoists made the most of the opportunities provided by collapsing govern ance, political i nstability and public disil lusionment with democracy itself. Curiously enough, they tried to strike an alliance with the monarchy against their supposed common enemies, parliamentary democracy and India. There were enough indications that some of Birendra’s advisers were encouraging him to take Maoist overtures seriously. Under an unsuspecting or compliant Indian security’s nose, Maoist leaders flocked on the Indian side of the border to conduct cross-border attacks in Nepal and also try to reach a deal on Indian soil with possible allies in their bid to bring the elected government in Kathmandu to its knees. The inability or unwillingness of Indian intelligence to check Maoist activities would give rise to Nepalese suspicions that India was deliberately hospitable to t hem in order to furt her its own agenda. I was posted back to Delhi as secretary in the ministry in June 2000 after more than five years. The period had been full of professional challenges, and there had been many rewarding and satisfying moments. Despite changes o government in India as well as in Nepal, political leaders on both sides had risen to the challenge of providing some continuity in direction, creating a basis for cooperation in water resources and hydropower, expanding trade and economic exchanges on a long-term basis, defusing old irritants like the 1950 treaty, and developing people-centred rather than security-dominated cooperation. The people of Nepal had tasted democracy and were impatient to gain access to the fruits of development, which they understood – better than politicians – was linked to harmonious ties with India. The hijacking incident and the rise of the Maoists had undoubtedly complicated the landscape of relations, but the key still seemed to lie in India’s ability to sensitively manage Nepal’s psyche of being India-locked and create a sustainable environment of mutual trust and confidence across party lines. In my farewell interviews, I said that the attempt to create a stable long-term relationship with Nepal would be very much a work in progress for some time to come. As I packed my bags, I recalled the celebratory mood during the signing of the Mahakali treaty: had this indeed been the best of times, or would it be remembered as t he worst of times, the beginning of the end of Nepal’s promise as a successful democracy? On the horizon was the gathering storm caused by the explosive cocktail of deteriorating governance and expanding Maoist violence. The monarchy was neither down nor out, democracy wou ld take years to stabil ize, and the Maoist s were coming! A three-way confron tation between the Maoists, political parties and the palace seemed t o be on the cards; the twin-pillar strategy favoured by N arasimha Rao might soon well be a thing of the past! King Birendra did not visit India again. I met him only once after my transfer to Delhi – in March 2001, when the ministry sent me to Kathmandu to make an assessment of the increasingly worrying situation there. Birendra was a very worried man. As I took leave, he mentioned his desire to visit Puttaparthi again, and said he would convey suggestions to the Government of India soon. Shortly after that, in April, when I was accompanying Prime Minister Vajpayee on a historic visit to Iran, I received a number of alarm ing telephone calls fr om Kathmandu, some on behalf of t he king. Something w as terr ibly wrong, and

the king wished to convey a message to the government urgently. Although I was no longer dealing with Nepal, I thought I should convey this to Jaswant Singh, the foreign mi nister, who decided that we must brief the prime m inister without delay. Jaswant Singh and I met Vajpayee in his hotel room well past midnight, just a few hours before we all boarded the return flight to Delhi. Vajpayee heard me out attentively and looked enquiringly at Jaswant Singh as if to invite his suggestion on how we should respond. Jaswant said, ‘Atalji, I think we should ask Rajan to go i mmediately t o Kathmandu, meet the king and come back with a detailed report.’ Vajpayee closed his eyes and was lost in thought for some time. Then he said, ‘It might be better for us to invite a special emissar y of the king.’ A few days after that, probably before this suggestion could be delivered, Crown Prince Dipen dra elimi nated the rest of the family in the infamous royal massacre. One of the few members of the royal family who survived was Princess Helen Shah, the king’s aunt, who happened to have absented herself from the room for the few minutes when the bloodbath took place. One eyewitness report had it that when she came to King Birendra’s blood-splattered body, there was one shining object around the neck which stood out: the chain and locket that had been presented by Sai Baba to Birendra when he visited Puttaparthi in January 1999. He was wearing this as an auspicious and protective omen, when he was gunned down by his son.



ife is a series of coincidences. In 1988, I happened to be posted as India’s deputy permanent representative at the United Nations, when Malta took the initiative of placing the question of climate change on the UN agenda. Few delegates were familiar with what was till then an esoteric meteorological subject. Scientists had only recently begun to express concern about the increasing accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In 1985 and 1987, two important scientific workshops sounded a call for action on climate change at the political level. Malta was quick to recognize the importance of the issue and bring it up in the Second Committee of the UN, dealing with economic issues. A. Gopinathan, a young officer of great ability, and I represented India in this committee. I thus had an early opportunity to familiarize myself with the climate change problem before leaving New York in 1989. In December 1990, the General Assembly passed a resolution to launch negotiations for a climate change convention. The convention was to be formally adopted by world leaders at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, scheduled for June 1992. This meant t hat the negotiati ons had to be completed in less than eighteen months. By another coincidence, I was appointed additional secretary (International Organizations) in the Ministry o External Affairs not l ong before the negotiations began. Th e Government of India was only vaguely aw are, at that ti me, of the implications of climate change. It was generally viewed as som ething that was best left to meteorologists and environmentalists. Fortunately, the reigning foreign secretary, Muc hkund Dubey, was one of our most brilliant multilat eral negotiators and it required littl e effort on my part to explain to him the environmen tal and economic issues involved in a climate change agreement. Since the negotiations were being held under the aegis of the United Nations – as distinct from the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) – it was decided under the government’s rules of business that the Ministry o External Affairs would take the lead in the negotiations, while the Ministry of Environment and Forests retained primary responsibility for policy matters. Hence it fell to me to lead our delegation, reporting jointly to the environment secretary and the foreign secretary. The arrangement worked smoothly. Rajamani, the environment secretary, was a very decent and intelligent human being. Neither he nor I had any time for petty inter-departmental skirmishes. We received st rong encouragement and support from t he dynamic environment minister, Kamal Nath. Not all ministries were equally cooperative. In the labyrinths of the finance ministry there dwelt a sage whose omniscience enabled him to judge whether India should be represented at any particular internati onal conference and, i so, by whom and for how many days. Under our financial rules, every proposal to send a delegation abroad was scrutinized by a mid-level officer in the finance ministry, whose recommendations were speedily endorsed, in almost every case, by the secretaries empowered to authorize overseas travel. Since I was elected as a vice-chairman of the International Negotiating Committee for Climate Change, the UN met my travel and other costs. My trips in connection with the negotiations did not entail the expenditure of a single paisa from the national budget; yet, the regulations required that the sage be satisfied as to the necessity for my travel on each occasion. This was not always easy. Penetrating questions were raised as to whether it was really necessary to be present on the opening day of a conference. Was this not reserved for routine questions concerning the agenda, etc? Or , for t hat matt er, was it necessary to be present for t he entire duration of the m eeting? Would a few days not suffice to enlighten foreigners about the right course of action and could we not depart thereafter? The lofty mind of the sage soared above such mund ane concerns as lobbying, bargaining or coalition building. Clearance for travel was usually received, or denied, less than twenty-four hours before planned departure, presumably to pre-empt any appeal to reason against a negative decision. I recall at least one occasion when clearance was not received till the conference was already in progress. Developing countries often lose out in multilateral negotiations because they arrive late on the stage, after the developed countries have already defined the issues and framed their proposals. Entering the game at this stage,

countries of the South adop t a defensive stance, seeking to protect t heir vital interests against demands advanced by the North. I was determined that this should not happen in the climate change negotiations. It was essential to define the issues appropriately and present our own proposals ri ght at t he beginning. Reflecting the views of the industrialized countries, the powerful Western media had already begun to define the problem as one arising from carbon dioxide emissions. This carried the implication that all countries were responsible for the problem, albeit in differing degrees. I proposed that we frame the issue somewhat differently, pointing out that the problem was caused not by carbon dioxide emissions, per se, but by excessively high levels of these emissions. Human activities have led to carbon dioxide emissions ever since the discovery of fire, but this did not precipitate climate change till very recently. Emissions srcinating from the developed countries have increased rapidly since the Industrial Revolution. The problem of climate change has arisen because of excessive levels of carbon dioxide emissions, past and present, in the i ndustrialized world. We maintained that every human being has an equal right to the atmospheric resource. The developed countries had exceeded their per capita entit lement and should, therefore, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Proceeding from these premises, we maintained that the industrial ized countries, which w ere responsible for causing climate change, should shoulder the costs of international response measures. They should reduce their emissions in a timebound manner and also provide finance and techno logy to developing cou ntries t o meet t he costs of mi tigation and adaptation to climate change. As I recall it, a paper on these lines was submitted to the cabinet for approval. During the next fifteen months, we regularly kept the cabinet informed of developments in the negotiations and sought its approval for our initiatives whenever this was necessary. I was fortunate in having access t o Prime Minist er Narasimha Rao, having served u nder him for many years when he was the minister for external affairs. I took the opportunity to brief him from time to time and seek his guidance on some difficult questions. I admired Narasimha Rao for his wide erudition and his sharp and subtle mind. His great intellectual gifts were not, however, matched by an ability to hand down clear-cut decisions. The prime minister was absolutely clear on the principle t hat we should reject any proposal which would retard our development; but his usual response to a request for approval of a specific initiative was to thrust his lips forward into a thoughtful pout and give utterance to something between a grunt and a ‘hmmm’. When this was accompanied by a slight nod, I interpreted i t as a sign of approval, qualified by the caution that the responsibility for failure would lie on my shoulders. This was sufficient for my purpose and I proceeded as intended. I was grateful to the prime minister for being generous with his time. The first round of negotiations was held in February 1991 in the town of Chantilly, near Washington, DC. It settled questions relating to the organizational structure of the negotiations. The conference elected as its chairman the leader of the French delegation, Jean Ripert, who had recently retired from the post of a UN under secretary-general. I was elected as one of t he four vice-chairpersons. Negotiations on the substantial issues commenced at the next session, held in Geneva in June. Even before the session, delegations had begun to advance their proposals or comments in the form of informal documents known in diplomatic parlance as ‘non-papers’. We presented a ‘non-paper’ setting out the draft of a full framework conven tion on climate change. This ensured that our proposals wou ld be on the negotiati ng table right from the beginning and that we would have a role as a demandeur, instead of playing a purely reactive and defensive role. The crux of our proposal was contained in the draft article on ‘commitments’. We intended to sharply focus the negotiations on the obligations of the developed countries, since they were responsible for causing climate change and since they also possessed the financial and technological resources needed to address the problem. The following extract from our draft convention might be of interest. The Parties agree to work towards a common long-term objective of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, at an appropriate level to be agreed upon . . . on the basis of an equitable formula requiring, inter alia, that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide from States should converge at a common per capita level, and which would take into account net carbon dioxide emissions during this century. Developed country Parties shall, as immediate measures: (a) declare, adopt and implement national strategies to stabilize and reduce their per capita emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide; stabilization . . . should be achieved by developed country Parties at the latest by the year 2000 and should be set at 1990 emission levels, with the goal of achieving at least a (20%) (30%) (40%) (50%) reduction on these stabilized levels by the year 2005; (b) provide new and additional financial resources for developing country Parties for the objective described in paragraph 4 below . . . ; (c) provide assured access to appropriate, environmentally sound technology on preferential and non-commercial terms to developing countries; and (d) to support developing countries in their efforts to create and develop their endogenous capacities in scientific and technological research and development directed at combating climate change. Developing country Parties may, in accordance with their national development plans, priorities and objectives, consider feasible measures with regard to climate change provided that the full incremental costs involved are met by provision of new and additional financial resources from the developed countries.

Our proposals received wide support among the developing countries. China declared that the Indian ‘non-paper’ ‘to a

large extent reflects the common views shared by many developing countries’. In informal conversations, some developed countries prai sed our ‘non-paper’ for its comprehensiven ess and logical consistency, even while crit icizing it as an ‘extreme’ position. We were amused to learn that a story was circulating to the effect that our ‘non-paper’ had been drafted by a high-powered twenty-four-member expert group. We did nothing to encourage this notion but, to be quite honest, neither did we deny it, since the rumour seemed to further raise the profile of the non-paper! The prosaic truth was that the document was drafted in the Ministry of External Affairs during a weekend since there was no time on working days. I drew up the preamble and the first three arti cles, including the ‘commit ments’, while Ajai Malhotra, an extremely able officer in the UN division, drafted the two other articles. The draft was approved, with very minor changes, by the environment secretar y, Rajamani. In presenting our proposals at Geneva, I explained the rationale as follows: In these negotiations, the principle of equity should be the touchstone for judging any proposal. Those responsible for environmental degradation should also be responsible for taking corrective measures. Since developed countries with high per capita emissions of greenhouse gases are responsible for incremental global warming, it follows that they have a corresponding obligation to take corrective action. Moreover, these are also the countries which have the greatest capacity to bear the burden. It is they who possess the financial resources a nd the technology needed for corrective action. This further reinforces their obligations regarding corrective action.

The debate in this session revealed not only a basic divide between the North and the South but also very significant differences within each of these groups. Most developing countries maintained that binding emission limitation obligations should apply only to developed countries since they were responsible for inducing climate change. Developing countries could only accept emission commitments of a conditional or contractual character, that is, commitments which would be implemented only if the developed countries agreed to meet the full incremental costs. Most developed coun tries pressed for binding commitments f rom all countries, including develop ing countries, though they added that there could be a ‘differentiation’ between their own emission commitments and those of developing countries. As regards financial commitments, OECD countries generally accepted the need for providing support to developing countries, but they viewed this as ‘assistance’ or aid, referring to ‘agreed’ rather than ‘full’ incremental costs. This fell far short of the position of the developing countries regarding the conditional and contractual nature o their own commitments. The US rejected outright the call for developed cou ntries to t ake on financial commitm ents. In short, while the poorer South emphasized the link between the commitments of countries and their historical and current responsibility for causing climate change, the affluent North sought to gloss over the connection, or ignore it altogether. The US maintained that all countries should respond to climate change ‘in accordance with the means at their disposal and their capabilities’, ignoring altogether the question of the degree of responsibility for causing the environmental problem. Though they were united in call ing upon the developing co untries to take on binding commitments, t he industrialized countries were divided on the question of their own commitments. The European Community (EC) called on industrialized countries to stabilize their carbon dioxide emissions at 1990 levels, individually or jointly, by the year 2000. Japan proposed a ‘pledge and review’ agreement, under which every country – developed or developing – would pledge to implement certain measures to limit emissions, providing targets or estimates of the expected reduction in emissions. The pledges and their outcomes would be subject to periodic reviews. The US wanted on ly a m inimal treaty containing no sp ecific commit ments for reducing emissions. There were significant differences within the group of developing countries as well. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), concerned that the rise in sea level resulting from climate change might lead to the disappearance o many of its member countries, wanted a convention with the strongest possible emission reduction commitments. On the other hand, a minimal treaty was favoured by countries whose economies were heavily dependent on oil exports. Due to these and other differences, the Group of 77 and China were unable to adopt common positions on many important issues. Nevertheless, it provided a forum for sensitizing developing countries to the implications of the proposals under consideration and eliciting support from a substantial number of like-minded developing countries. This proved invaluable later in the negotiations. Regardless of these sharp differences, relations between delegations were generally cordial, in contrast to the acrimony and distrust witnessed in the Copenhag en summit. We had excellent working relati ons with most delegations, both of the North and the South. Though we occasionally sparred at the conference, the American delegate, Bob Reinstein, became a friend and we kept in touch for many years after Rio. Reinstein had a particularly difficult task, since he represented the only major industrialized country that refused to commit itself to reducing its emissions or providing financial support to developing countries. He carried out his negative mandate with considerable diplomatic skill, judging accurately when to exercise his considerable oratorical skills and when a policy of masterly inactivity was the more appropriate option. He later told me that he was personally congratulated by President George H.W. Bush, Sr, after the successful conclusion of the negotiations in 1992. His moment of glory proved to be short-lived. The presidential elections later in the year brought a new administration into office and this able American diplomat lost

his job. Apart from interesting personalities among the delegates, the negotiations also brought me into touch with two men who were destined to become international celebrities. My efforts to delve deeper into the science and economics o climate change led me to a modest, two-storey building in the residential area of Jorbagh in New D elhi. This housed the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), whose head, Dr R.K. Pachauri, was made the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2009, Pachauri (on behalf of the IPCC) and Al Gore jointly received the Nobel Prize. Al Gore took a deep interest in the cli mate change negotiations, as also in the work of the preparatory committee for the 1992 UNCED. We met regularly on the sidelines of these negotiations. A strong critic of President Bush’s climate change policy, he spared no effort to keep himself fully informed about the l atest developments. I took the opportunity to sensitize him on the concerns of India and other developing countries. I have on my personal files a hand-written letter from Gore, appealing to me t o return to a meeting of the UNCED preparatory committee which I had to abandon midway because the finance ministry refused to permit me to stay on for the full duration. It took quite some time to compose a suitable reply since I could not, of course, explain the absurd nature of the problem!

Both the North and the South made efforts to bridge inter nal differences within their ranks in order to consolidate their respective coalitions. The EC explored the possibility of reconciling its own position with the Japanese ‘pledge and review’ proposal. On the last day of the Geneva session, the EC proposed that the convention should include a ‘pledge and review’ provision, while expressing the ‘view’ that its own stabilization target was only ‘an example of a commitment t hat should preferably be embodied in a protocol’. India and other developing countries made it clear that the ‘pledge and review’ proposal was unacceptable since it lacked clarity and transparency; failed to differentiate between the commitments of developed and developing countries, respectively; diluted the specific commitments of the developed countries; and sought to impose binding legal obligations on the developing countries. We also pointed out that the proposed ‘reviews’ could only be of an arbitrary nature since there were no agreed criteria and guidelines. We apprehended that, in practice, the ‘pledge and review’ mechanism would be used to shift to the shoulders of developing countries responsibilities which should properly be borne by the industrialized countries. ‘Pledge and review’ also came under heavy fire from the NGOs. The NGO bulletin ECO carried a devastating commentary, calling it a ‘hedge and review’ proposal! Under this barrage of criticism, the EC gave way and reversed its stand in the next session, held in Nairobi in September 1991. The EC clarified that ‘the concept of Pledge and Review has caused a great deal of confusion. We are quite ready to admit that this was also the case among the Member states of the European C ommunity. The Group of 77 was, therefore, completely right when it stated, through its chairman, that the concept of Pledge and Review lacked precision and transparency.’ The Group of 77 and China were somewhat more successful in reaching common positions. We have already noted the group’s effective role in rejecting the ‘pledge and review’ proposal. It was able to arrive at a common position on the section on ‘pri nciples’, proposed by Ch ina. The group also reached consensus on a number of specific formulations (on lines similar to our ‘non-paper’), such as the need for ‘adequate, new and additional resources, technology transfer on ‘favourable, concessionary and preferential t erms’; and that ‘ commitments that might be entered into by develop ing countries under this convention are contractually dependent on the fulfilment of the financial and technology transfer obligations that must be entered into by developed countries who are in the main responsible for the urgency of the present situation’. However, despite many efforts, differences remained on several questions and the group failed to arrive at a comprehensive consensus text for the centrally important article on ‘commitments’. By the fourth session, held in Geneva in December 1991, it was clear that further attempts to forge a consensus within the entire Group of 77 and China would prove infructuous. We therefore decided to work within a smaller, likeminded group. This resulted in the submission of a joint text on ‘commitments’, proposed by forty-three developing countries, including India. The proposal called for assessed financial contributions from the developed countries in order to provide ‘on a grant basis new , adequate and ad ditional financial resources t o meet the full incremental costs o developing country Parties’ for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. It reiterated the call for technology transfer on ‘concessional, preferential and most favourable terms’. Developing country parties were, ‘in accordance with their national development plans, prioriti es, objectives and specific country conditions, to consider taking feasible measures to address climate change, provided that the full incremental costs involved are met by the provision of new, adequate and additional financial resources from the developed country parties’. They might also, on a strictly voluntary basis, take additional nationally determined measures. The proposals did not cover the emission-reduction commitments of the developed countries, pending an agreed offer from those countries. (In fact, there was no agreement among the forty-three on the scal e of emissi on reductions to be demanded of the develop ed countries). Deepa Wadhwa, a young diplomat posted in our mission in Geneva, played a stellar role in our interactions with

other delegations. Gifted with a sharp mind and impressive powers of persuasion, she made a notable contribution to our efforts at coalition-building. She had an instinctive ability to sense the precise moment when our intervention would have maximum effect in the debate and I benefited fr om her advice on several occasions.

The UN General Assembly resolution launching the negotiations for t he framework convention had envisaged that the task would be completed in five negotiating sessions. An agreement was nowhere in sight at the conclusion of the fourth session. The meagre outcome of the negotiations was a ‘consolidated working document’ in which every paragraph of the core sections – covering ‘Principles’, ‘Objective’, ‘General Commitments’, ‘Specific Commitments’, and ‘Special Situations’ – was placed within square brackets, indicating that there was no agreement on the text. The negotiations took the form of a debating-and-drafting exercise, without any serious bargaining between the developed and developing countries. My assessment was that the US and EC were not ready to enter into substantive negotiations with us until they had succeeded in resolving the wide differences between their respective positions. In response to our soundings, EC delegations voiced stout optimism about the prospects of a shift in the US position, despite the total absence o supporting evidence. The fifth and final session commenced in New York on 18 February 1992. Even at this session, the OECD countries failed to arrive at a common position on their commitments. The US was still unprepared to accept even a weak formula requiring developed countries to take measures ‘aimed at’ stabilizing emission by a specified date. Thus there was a deadlock on the core issue of the convention – the emission reduction commitments of the developed countries. This session did, however, see some modest progress on the question of financial commitments. The EC hinted that it might be prepared to shed its earlier hesitation regarding a commitment to provide ‘new and additional’ financial resources to the developing countries. The US continued to maintain its reservations on this question but it now appeared ready to make a modest financial contribution to cover the costs of preparing the national communications or reports submitted by the developing coun tries. There was littl e progress in other areas. Crucial North-South issues remained unresolved. For example, there was no agreement on whether the financial resources to be provided to the developing countries ought to cover ‘full’ or only ‘agreed’ incremental costs. The developed countries also continued to insist that the convention should provide for ‘reviews’ of plans and strategies of all countries, including the developing countries, while India and many other developing coun tries vigorously oppo sed the proposal. The question of a ‘review’ relating to the commitments of the developing countries is of crucial importance because of its implications for the nature of these commitments. An international ‘review’ can be appropriate only where there is a specific, legally binding international commitment. If our climate-change policies and measures are to have a purely voluntary and nationally determined nature, they can appropriately be reviewed only by the competent Indian authorities. International reviews may relate either to the adequacy of implementation, or to the adequacy of the commitment itself, or to both. A review of the adequacy of implementation of our policies and measures would imply that these are in the nature of binding international obligations. A review of the adequacy of our targets, policies and measures is even more unacceptable since it implies that these may have to be revised in conformity with the review. The initial ‘voluntary’ proposals would only pave the way for negotiated t argets, policies or measures. Our position was that binding commitments should be required only of the developed countries. It follows that reviews could apply only to these countries. In the case of the developing countries, there can be no review, except in respect of any contractual obligation under which they agree to implement certain specific measures on condition that the full i ncremental costs are covered by the dev eloped countries. We were ready to report our policies and measures to an international body but these would not be subject to review. The reports would be provided only for the purpose o assessing global emission trends. We have recently witnessed some confusion in India on the question of reviews. The question has been raised why we should object to a review under the climate change convention, when we accept review or consultation procedures in the context of the WTO. The answer is that we have accepted certai n specific obligati ons under the WTO agreement and, therefore, reviews or consultations on the implementation of these obligations are in order. By contrast, the Framework Convention on Climate Change does not require us to assume any specific, binding emissi on commitments. Hence, there is no justifi cation for an inter national review , except where we hav e entered into contractual commitments to implement specific projects or programmes on condition that we are fully compensated under the provisions of the convention. Reviews or consultations can only apply to projects or programmes financed by the developed countries. At the end of ten days of negotiations – the planned duration of the session – a climate change convention was nowhere in sight. The OECD countries remained deeply divided about their emission-reduction commitments. There was little progress towards resolving basic North-South differences concerning the nature of the mitigation actions o

the developing countries and relat ed questions concerning financial support and t ransfer of technology. The deadlock in the OECD group effectively blocked progress in the negotiations for a convention. The problem of bringing the negotiations to a conclusion in five sessions was solved by resorting to a typical UN device – a ‘resumed’ session. It was decided to ‘suspend’ the meeting and hold a ‘resumed’ fifth session in May, in order to comply with the General Assembly decision to hold five sessions.

After the conclusion of what became the first part of the fifth session, I advised the government that ‘At the present moment the prospects of a successful conclusion of the negotiations in May are not promising. Nevertheless, it is possible that a last-minute effort will be made to bridge the differences between the US and the EC by adoption of an ambiguous formulation concerning stabilization and reduction of emissions of developed countries. This could be the basis of an attempt to shift the balance of responsibility from the North to the South. Our delegation would have to be prepared for this eventuality.’ I recommended that ‘there can be no compromise on our basic position on commitments of developing country parties. We cannot accept open-ended commitments, on a vague promise that “agreed” marginal incremental costs would be provided.’ On the question of reviews, I advised: ‘A review of national plans and strategies would certainly be used to bring pressure on developing countries to modify their strategies in the light of a “review”. Aid and trade conditionalities could be used for this purpose. Review and international accountability of our policies having a bearing on climate change would cover all sectors based on coal or petroleum – including power, transport, industry and agriculture – apart from forestry and land use. Moreover, when viewed in conjunction with the scheme of financing only “agreed” incremental costs the implication would be that developing countries would have to meet the cost of implementing their respective national plans and strategies, with international financing available to cover the incremental costs o only selected projects. While financing would be provided for the tip of the iceberg, the much greater burden o financing the submerged portion would devolve on the developing countries t hemselves.’ If my memory serves me right, these recommendations were duly reflected in a note approved by the cabinet. Our final instructions, however, also cautioned us against making confrontational or strident statements – a standard formula for accommodating the faint-hearted. Thus armed, we went into battle in the final round of negotiations which began on 30 April 1992 in New York. In the next ten days, delegations succeeded in resolving all the issues on which progress could not be achieved in the preceding fifteen months. The breakthrough became possible because the EC and the US were finally able to agree on a compromise formulation on the emission limitation commitments of developed countries. As we had anticipated, this was achieved on the basis of a text riddled with ambiguities in order to paper over the differences in their respective positions. The formulation was initially negotiated between the US and the UK in Washington and later adopted – with considerable reluctance – by other EC members. In New York, the negotiations began on the basis of a chairman’s text. This document, prepared by the French chairman, Jean Ripert, was weighted in favour of the developed countries. Reflecting the EC position, all countries were enjoined to ‘coordinate’ economic and administrative instruments, in order to avoid distortions in international trade. Developin g countries were to receive only ‘agreed’, not ‘full’ , incremental costs. As a concession to us, the term ‘review’ was not used in connection with developing countries. However, developing countries were to be required to link their proposals for financial support for any project to their national communications or reports. This could provide a backdoor entry for reviews of the policies and measures reported in the national communication. As soon as it was received from Wash ington, the US-EC text on emi ssions was incorporated verbatim i nto the chair ’s text. In view of the severe time constraint, the chairman proposed to confine negotiations on his text to an ‘enlarged bureau’, comprising some twenty-five ‘key players’. He said that plenary meetings were unnecessary since the formulations in his text were not new and had already been debated in earlier sessions. He also insisted that the new formulation on the emis sion commitments of the developed countries was non-negotiable since any amendment would be unacceptable to the US and its OECD partners. This received the full-throated support of the developed countries. The chairman’s proposal would hav e meant t hat negotiations would be restricted to the obligations of the developing countries and relat ed issues of finance and t echnology. This, in t urn, would confine us to a purely defensive approach, denying us all bargaining leverage. Thus, when he mooted this proposal in the ‘extended bureau’, I demurred, i nsisting that the entire t ext was subject to negotiation. I also proposed that the new US -EU text should be discussed in a plenary sess ion since, unlike other elem ents of the chair’s text, it had not previously been debated in the plenary. Ripert reluctantly accepted the proposal. The plenary discussion gave us an opportunity to seek a number of ‘clarifications’ on the formulation, in order to expose its ambiguities and limitations. The negotiations i n the ‘extended bureau’ at fi rst m ade slow progress. In most cases, the breakthrough s were initi ally

achieved in bilateral talks with OECD delegations and later ref lected in t exts negotiated in the ‘extended bureau ’. Thus, on 6 May, after the fi rst week of negotiations, I was able to report to Delhi that in informal bilat eral discussions, the US and other OECD delegations indicated that they were ready to accept specific references in the convention to the ‘differentiated responsibilities’ of the developed and developing countries, respectively; a statement to the effect that emissions from developing countries will grow to meet their development concerns; and that implementation of the convention by the developing countries will be dependent upon the implementati on of provisions regarding finance and technology. The EC was also prepared to accept that ‘agreed’ full incremental costs should be provided to developing countries. (The initial EC position was that ‘agreed’ incremental costs would be covered, while we pressed for ‘full’ incremental costs. The EC then suggested ‘full agreed’ incremental costs. We responded with a counter-proposal for ‘agreed full i ncremental costs’ and this was finally accepted.) These informal understandings had yet to be incorporated into the text. Meanwhile, we faced a worrying development. Many G 77 delegations began to give way under heavy pressure from powerful developed countries. At one point, Ripert privately advised me that, notwithstanding our objections, he intended to present for adoption the text as it then stood. He added that if I opposed the resolution, I would be isolated and the world would kn ow who was responsible for t he failure of the negotiations! These strong-arm tactics were a departure from Ripert’s normal courteous and accommodative approach, but I was not unprepared for the move. I replied that I would not vote against adoption of his text; I would only table an amendment. I handed him a piece of paper containing the text of an amendment to replace the new US-EC formulation on the commitm ents of t he developed cou ntries. The amendment would require each developed country party to ‘adopt national policies and take corresponding measures . . . [that] will, as a first step, stabilize its emissions of carbon dioxide at 1990 levels, in general by the year 2000 . . . thereafter, each developed country shall progressively reduce emissions consistent with t he objective of this convention.’ This was almost an exact reproduction of the srcinal EC proposal. I observed that, if the EC countries were to oppose this amendment, the world would know who had caused the negotiations to collapse by abandoning their own positions! I said that I would not formally present this amendment in the ‘extended bureau’ until all other issues had been addressed. I expressed the conviction that all issues, including my proposed amendment, could be resolved in a spirit of understanding and mutual accommodation. I think that this brief conversation helped to foster greater appreciation of India’s essential concerns. At any rate, over the next few days, it proved possible to resolve all outstanding issues and we did not press f or action on our amendment. A paragraph drafted by me was the subject of some particularly difficult negotiations. In its final form, it read as follows: The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty reduction are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.

The paragraph was vitally important for us. It made it clear that our commitments were conditional on receipt o adequate financial support; and, even more importantly, it recognized that we cannot be expected to implement any measures that may be detrimental to the ‘overriding priorities’ of economic and social development and poverty eradication. Lawyers in the US delegation were especially troubled by the implications of the word ‘overriding’. However, I finally succeeded in securing acceptance of this crucially important paragraph. It became article 4.7 of the convention. Negotiations on the question of reviews for developing countries were also extremely difficult. Towards the end o the first week, the EC indicated that it could accept a distinction between the ‘structured’ review to be required of the developed countries and a more general review for developing countries. This did not, of course, satisfy our concerns. We were prepared communicate information about ourtopolicies and measures solelyposition. for the purpose of estimating global trends. Afterto protracted negotiations, we were able secure acceptance of this The Framework Convention as it finally emerged contains a set of general commitments applicable to all parties, including an obligation to formulate and implement national ‘programmes containing measures to mitigate climate change . . . and measures to facilitate adequate adaptation to climate change’. In the case of the developing countries, these general commitments are of a conditional character. The convention provides that the extent to which the developing countries effecti vely implement their commitments will depend on the extent to which dev eloped countries provide the required finance and technology and will, moreover, ‘take fully into account that economic and social development and pov erty eradicati on are the f irst and overriding priorities’ of these countries. Develop ed countries are required to provide ‘such financial resources, including for the transfer of technology, needed by the developing country Parties to meet the agreed full incremental costs of implementing [agreed] measures.’ In addition to the general commitments of all parties, the developed countries have certain specific commitments concerning stabilization and reduction of these emissions. As we have already seen, these are couched in ambiguous and imprecise language in order to accommodate the US. Their policies and measures were to ‘aim’ at ‘returning

individually or jointly to their 1990 levels’ of emissions. They were also to ‘demonstrate’ through their policies and measures that t hey are ‘taking the lead in modifying longer-term trends in anthropogenic emissions consistent with the objective of the Convention’. The convention validates our position that developing countries have no obligation to bear the costs of mitigating climate change since they are not responsible for causing the problem. Development and poverty eradication are their first and overriding priorities. Developed coun tries have an obligation under the convention to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to provide financial resources and technology to developing countries to support mitigation and adaptation actions. However, the negotiations left some unfinished business. The convention did not specify time-bound emission reduction targets for the developed countries. It took another five years to reach agreement on these targets in the Kyoto Protocol. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol are equity-based treaties. They accord differential treatment in favour of the developing countries to an extent that is, arguably, unequalled by any other multilateral treaty. In the current climate change negotiations, the developed countries are making a powerful bid to drastically reduce the extent of differential treatment for the so-called ‘emerging economies’ by amending, or simply overwriting, basic elements of these equity-based agreements. India and other maj or developing cou ntries, on the other hand, defend the existing equity-based climate change regime and are calling for enhanced implementation of the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol by all countries.



lunch-time BBC news broadcast on 4 August 1972 suddenly caught my attention. The news item reported that Uganda’s strongman Idi Amin Dada, while addressing officers and men of an airborne regiment of the Ugandan armed forces i n Tororo, had claimed that God had directed him to expel all Asians within three months for ‘sabotaging the economy’. Amin added ‘Asians milked the cow , but did not f eed it to yield more milk.’ I was then the desk officer for East Africa, and duly recorded a note on this and forwarded it to the joint secretary (Africa) for his information. At that time, I, as many others in Uganda itself and perhaps elsewhere, was not unduly alarmed at this news item. General Idi Amin was by this time known for making frivolous and con troversial r emarks. As it tr anspired later, this time he was dead serious. O n 9 August 1972, he summon ed the high commissioners of t he UK, India and Pakistan as well as leaders of the Asian community in Uganda and formally announced his decision. Simultaneously, the Uganda government issued a decree which stipulated that all Asians must leave Uganda within three months, that is, by 8 November. Subsequently the order was modified to expel only Asians holding citizenship o the UK, India, Pak istan and Bangladesh presumably to avoid a racist label, which some African leaders and world press had affixed to the expulsion decree. The decision caugh t all concerned unawares and initially t he reports indicated that our small mission in Kampala had neither really grasped the implications of Amin’s expulsion decree, nor had any ideas as to how to prepare for the expected exodus of Indian citizens from Uganda. Besides, the mission had no reliable statistics about the number o Indians affected by the decree. At headquarters in Delhi, the ramifications of Amin’s action were very clear based on the earlier exodus of Asians from Kenya as a result of Kenyanization measures there in 1968 and the British government’s response to that, restricting the entry of British Indians to 1,500 families a year. The first decision taken was to impose the requirement of visas for all British-passport holders from Uganda to enter India. This measure was dictated by the need to ensure that the Br itish government took respo nsibility for al l British-p assport holders and gave them unimpeded entry home. One morning, the additional secretary dealing with Africa, the late ambassador M.A. (Ishi) Rehman, told me that he had recommended to the external affairs mi nister that I should be deputed to Kampala for a week to assess the sit uation and prepare a detailed report as how many Indian citizens were affected by the decree and on the various logistical issues involved. I did not take this seriously then because Ambassador Rehman was kno wn for his sense of humour, and also because those days it was rare even for joint secretaries to travel abroad, as they do now. However, in the afternoon he confirmed that the minister had cleared my visit and I had to leave next morning for Kampala via Bombay. I was accompanied by another colleague, N. Mukherjee, and two assistants who would be responsible for visa and consular work in the high commission in relati on to the repatriation of Indian citizens. We arrived at Entebbe in the evening of 20 October 1972 by an Air-India flight. The airport seemed chaotic with hundreds of Asian families who had decided to leave Uganda. We were met by the third secretary, K.P. Kesavan, who said that he would go ov er to the departure area to bid goodbye to some of his fr iends while we waited for im migration formaliti es to be completed. After a long wait, an immigration official informed us that we would no t be allowed entry as they had no information from t he foreign office to l et us in, and that we should go back to the aircraf t. I protested at this and demanded to speak to our high commission. However, this was of no avail and we could not even contact Kesavan. Finally, reluctantly, we boarded the same aircraft after insisting and ensuring that our luggage was loaded back as well. On the flight to Nairobi, I was worried about the implicati ons of not being allowed to land at Entebbe and the adv erse publicity it would generate in the press for the ministry. On landing at Nairobi, I called the Indian high commissioner but he was out. So I called the first secretary to ask whether he could help with the Kenyan authorities to get down at Nairobi. His reply was that it was too late in the day for anything to be done! I requested the Air-India staff whether I could speak to the immigration officials hoping that I might find some o my old friends among them. Incredibly, the immigration official in charge turned out to be an old friend; he shook his head in disbelief when he heard our story: ‘What, they (the immigration) refused to recognize this red (diplomatic) passport!’ He promptly asked the Air-India staff to unload our baggage and, as a special case, allowed us entry into Kenya. I

called my brother-in-law to send us transport and make lodging arrangements for my colleagues. When I called the high commission in the morning there was utter surprise that we had managed to land in Nairobi and saved embarrassment to the ministry! After spending three days in Nairobi while the two foreign offices sorted out the issue we left for Kampala. The immigration official at Entebbe airport again behaved cussedly and gave us entry for one day only and the high commission had to take up the mat ter again with the Ugandan foreign office to regularize our st ay in Kampala. It was a weird introduction to Idi Amin’s Ugand a, which seemed to be i n a str ange kind of paranoia with no regard for any kind of norms and rules! The first priorit y was to prepare a database for Indian citi zens and to work ou t logisti cs. Fortunately my East African connections helped me a lot and leaders of the Indian community in Kampala willingly assisted me in preparing a list of its leaders in each of the major towns. Next we prepared a template which asked for all relevant information from Indian citizens like the details of families, and their estimated date and preferred mode of departure. We dictated this template on the phone to each of the leaders and asked them to pass this on to all members of the community in their area. It must be remembered that the only quick mode of communication those days was the telephone; the telex machines had just come in but were not in common use. Despite of all these handicaps, we were, with generous cooperation from the local Indians, able to get a comprehensive picture of the numbers involved with all relevant details to plan the logistics for departure. While this was being done, word came from Delhi that Ambassador Rehman wou ld be visi ting Uganda for talks with the government. Of course, the Ugandans had no intention of changing or modifying their decision; the only concession that Rehman was able to get was the approval in principle for arranging special trains from Kampala to Mombasa in Kenya from where those wishing to depart by the sea route could take ship to Bombay. He also told me that he had obtained specific approval for my continued stay in Kampala to oversee the evacuation process now that I had prepared a report on the logisti cs involved. My first priority was to get some clothes st itched since I had come prepared for only a week’ s stay and now it looked like I would be staying for three months. This turned out to be easy as there were good Indian tailors and I was able to equip myself with an essential wardrobe for myself. The suddenness of the expulsion decree created panic and distress among the Indian community at the prospect o leaving the country that was home to them for generations, and settling in new unknown places. Most of them had never been outside Uganda or East Africa. Soon, however, a sense of resignation and stoical acceptance overtook the community. It carri ed itself with great dignity and forbearance. E very evening there used to be parties at various homes where there would be great cookouts and even gambling! The feeling was that since you could not take out the money it was best to blow it up in style. Amin’s decision was so sudden and impulsive that the Ugandan government had also not thought through the departure formalities for the Asians. Taking advantage of the confused situation, many of the smarter Asians used ingenious ways to transfer m oney and valuable assets out of the country. For example, for t hose who could afford i t, the simplest way to get the funds out was to buy round-the-world first-class tickets for themselves and family with hotel bookings paid in advance through MCOs (miscellaneous charge orders); these could be encashed later when they were out of Uganda. Some smuggled jewellery and cash in special hiding places in their vehicles and crossed the border into Kenya. Some sent out their furniture, carpets and other household valuables in the initial days; while others even took a chance to send out jewellery through postal packages. My sister, who was in Uganda then, was quite surprised and relieved when her package of jewellery arrived safely by post in London, where she subsequently settled. I had even heard that some were foolish enough to think that they would be able to come back at some point, and buried their valuables in their gardens! Here I must mention the yeoman community service provided by the local Bank of Baroda. Many families had left their valuables and jewellery in the bank’s safe deposit vault and these remained untouched all through the Amin regime, and most of them reclaim ed their deposits after t he change of regime; some as l ate as when I was high commissioner in Uganda from 1987 til l 1992. However, soon the Ugandans got wise to the situation and brought in strict regulations regarding departure formaliti es. Through a secret circular (but never communicated to the diplomatic missi ons concerned despite numerous requests), all departing Asian were only allowed foreign exchange worth 250 sterling pounds, 250 kilos of personal baggage and a few items of personal jewellery; they could only book their travel tickets with the specific permission o the Bank of Uganda. All Asian businesses were required to file with this bank a declaration of assets and properties along with current stocks of merchandise and goods already ordered. This was meant to offset future compensation claims. Those in business and with properties were not allowed to dispose off any of their asset s. Many of our citizens in remote towns in the north were not familiar with the new departure regulations and so my colleague Mukherjee and I decided to go to Lira and Soroti to personally brief them. This turned out to be a terrible experience. We travelled by car provided with driver by a close relat ion and the journey to t hese places was uneventful. We were able to bri ef the community t here on what was required of them, and also to bring t hem some comfort in their

dire predicament. The return journey, however, was nightmarish, with the car breaking down in the evening near the village of Bombo, about forty miles (64 km) from Kampala. With great difficulty we were able to get a farmer to tow the car with his tractor to Bombo. We presented ourselves as stranded diplomats at the local police station requesting their assi stance in getting back to Kampala. The officer in charge was sympathetic, and advised us that we should spend the night at Bombo as there were about five roadblocks between Bomb o and Kampala and the soldiers manning those were reportedly trigger-happy and on edge, for on that day guerillas belonging to former President Mi lton Obote had launched an attack on Ugan da. In the circumstances it would be unsafe for us to t ravel to Kampala. He took us to an Indian fami ly who graciously offered us hospitality for the night. In the morning they put us on the bus to Kampala and that forty-mile journey was perhaps the most frightening trip of my life! At the first checkpoint, we were asked to get down and questioned at length. But since the soldiers were Nubians from Amin’s tribe in the north, they could not comprehend Swahili. Our diplomatic passports and travel permits from the Ugandan foreign office als o did not make much sense to them. And all this was happening while automati c weapons were pointed at us! I could then only think of what might happen to us should they have a sneezing fit. I could only speculate that they could have mistaken us with our unshaven faces as Palestinians who were rumoured to be accompanying Obote’s guerillas! Finall y, with the help of f ellow African travellers we managed to conv ince them we were not part of Obote’s group. And this happened at each of the five roadblocks till we reached Kampala after more than four hours. The ourney had been frightening and so mentally and emotionally crushing that both us crashed out on reaching our hotel rooms. Meanwhile, the high commission was in a panic as we had failed to arrive the previous evening as srcinally scheduled and had not reported back. There was a sigh of relief when I called the high commission around 3 p.m. to inform them t hat we had indeed survived the ord eal! Later we used the Gujarati service of the external services of All India Radio (AIR) to daily brief the Indian community in Uganda on all aspects of departure formalities and also to remind them of the deadline of 8 November. From my experience of growing up in East Africa, I knew that most of the Indian community in East Africa listened regularly to this service of AIR for news on India. Once the word spread among the community about the high commission’s daily advisory on AIR, everybody started listening to the radio and we had thus effectively established communication with Indians there. Thus AIR, vilified at times, played a useful supporting role in the mission’s task at hand. Meanwhile the Indian and British high commissions became beehives of activity because of the evacuation process. At the same time many Asians lined up in Kampala at the immigration office to have their Ugandan citizenship verified and the majority failed as various technicalities were employed to render them stateless. Of the 23,000 or so Asians who had opted for Uganda citizenship, only less than half were able to meet the deadline for verifying their claims. After about three weeks, the ministry sent instructions that an agreement had been reached with the British government whereby British citizens of Indian srcin wishing to go to India could be issued visas provided their eventual entry into Britain was guaranteed through a suitable endorsement on their passports. I was asked to work out the precise modalities with the local British mission, where the team responsible for repatriation was headed by John Hennings, political counsellor at the British High Commission in New Delhi, who was deputed to Uganda for this specific task. When I arrived at the British mission, I had difficulty in getting entry to the office. Nonetheless, the meeting was held and, as it was inconclusive for want of some specific detail, it was agreed that it would take place the next day. I insisted that the meeting take place at the Indian mission because of difficulties in getting into the British mission. There was an immediate apology , but the explanation was that I must have been mistaken for one of the British Asians who were daily flocking at the mission. My reply was that if such was the case, it should have been doubly made sure that I was received properly as a diplomat should have been! So we had the meeting next day at the Indian High Commission and I made sure that the British team was received properly and with due courtesy, just to drive home the point. Another incident created mild friction with the British mission, with which we normally had a good working relationship during those difficult and trying times. The case related to the wife of an Indian citizen. She held a British passport and had applied for an entry visa to the UK. Her application was not considered and she was instead given a handwritten note on ordinary paper addressed to the Indian mission gratuit ously advising that since she was t he wife o an Indian citizen it was the responsibility of our mission to look after her. This was absolutely infuriating as it was a clear case of the British washing their hands off their responsibility for their citizen, and to compound it a most unusual form of communication with another diplomatic mission was used. I took up the matter in the strongest terms with Hennings, who apologized profusely about it and promised to set things right. His explanation was that most members of the British team handling this task were from the Home Office in London and were ignorant of diplomatic niceties. The team from London an d I were staying at the sam e hotel and for a whole week I kept getting apologies from them at

breakfast. Another issue which created some problem with the British High Commission was about certificates of birth, marriages and other events. Under some Home Office regulations, British Asians were required to produce birth certificates and marriage certificates of their parents in connection with their application for entry vouchers. Many o these persons were born in pre-Independ ence India and had no birth certifi cates; and of course, there was no question o marriage certificates of parents! So we found ourselves besieged by a huge number of requests from such persons and there was no way we could issue authentic certificates in the absence of any kind of verification. A practical solution had to be found quickly. So I called up Hennings to find out why the British were insisting on such certificates when he knew from his experience in I ndia that we had ‘a wretched government in I ndia those days – His Majest y’s government – which did not issue such certificates’. He appreciated the humour and agreed to my suggestion that the British High Commission would accept all such certificates issued by the Indian High Commission in order to comply with Home Office requirements. We must have issued such certificates in the thousands merely on the basis of what the applicant said without any k ind of verification to help out in a difficult situation. We had organized three special tr ains from Kampala to Mombasa for those of our cit izens who wished to take the s ea route to India. Special customs and immigration formali ties were arranged at Kampala so that they travelled st raight to Mombasa without any difficulties on the way. However, we had underestimated the propensity for greed and unnecessary harassment on the part of ordinary Ugandan officials and soldiers. Many of the passengers on the first train were relieved of some of their belongings while the train proceeded from Kampala to Tororo, the last station before the Kenyan border. To put an official stamp on these reckless acts of loot, some passengers were even given receipts of the items confiscated; some of them detailed items like underwear! When the report of this reached Delhi, instructions were issued that officials of the high commission should accompany the passengers up to the Kenyan border. So I and two staff members were asked to be on the second train. Nothing untoward happened till the train reached Tororo around 11 p.m., presumably because demarches had been made in advance to both t he Ugandan foreign office and the defence minist ry for saf e passage of t he train. At Tororo we were met by a captain of the local arm y detachment who informed us that a currency check wou ld be carried out before the train left f or Kenya. The captain certainly made an i mpression as he was simpati co and friendly; he had high regard for India having done a short course there under one of our aid programmes. When the check was complete, he asked me if I would like to say goodby e to my compatri ots before the t rain’s departure. We went around all the coaches and in the last coach, there were complaints that some of the passengers had been relieved of some of their personal effects. An elderly Goan woman was inconso lable as she was rel ieved of a gold chain with a crucifi x. I protested to t he captain that since this was only a currency check, personal effects could not be taken away as customs formalities had already been complied with at Kampala. He reacted positively and asked his soldiers to look into it. Some junior customs officers who were responsible for this were asked to return everything forthwith. When I returned the gold chain to the Goan lady, she embraced me with ‘God bless you!’ The smile which lit up her face has stayed with me as a high point of my career. At the same time, I realized that I might have put myself in some personal danger for there could be retaliation on the part of those who had been foiled in t heir thievery. I was to spend the night at a hotel nearby and anything untow ard could happen. So I asked the captain to join me for a beer. Initially he was reluctant, but I was able to persuade him and we kept drinking beer till earl y morning. Fortunately, thing s went off smoothly with the third and final special trai n. Gradually, the pace of departure picked up and by and large there were no major hardships faced by departing Asians, although there were petty cases of harassment by officials. The twenty-mile (32 km) journey to the airport at Entebbe was quite an ordeal as one had to go through a gauntlet of over five roadblocks manned by illiterate soldiers. Many were stopped at these control points, searched at gunpoint and had valuables, including jewellery and nonvaluables, confiscated. Occasionally, one came across actual cases of brutality. One evening a young man of mixed African-Indian descent came to see me in my hotel room. His story was that they were a fami ly of about twenty-five persons and becau se they were half Indians they were being pressured by some soldiers that they must leave Uganda or face horrible consequences. He pleaded for some kind of travel documents to leave Uganda. When I tried to explain to him that the process was complicated, he just took off his shirt to show me the marks of the beatings he had been given and broke down at the sam e time. I was really shaken because his body w as indeed black and blue! I consoled him and asked him to give me some time t o consider how to help his family. I consulted Mukherjee, who had head ed the consular side, and his advice was that while there was provision to issue emergency travel documents to Indian citizens, he was not sure whether we could issue such documents without an endorsement from the Ugandans that they could ret urn to Uganda. In any case a reference would have to be m ade to the ministry for specific approval. I agonized for several days over how to help this family in distress knowing fully well that a reference to the ministry would only entail a correct legalistic but unhelpful decision. So keeping in mind how the ministry functions

and at the same time to cover myself, I sent off a telex to the ministry that in view of the gravity and urgency of the circumstances and physical danger to the family, we proposed to issue travel documents to the family on humanitarian and compassionate groun ds unless we heard to the contrary from t he ministry within fi ve days. The telex was issued on Friday morning thus ensuring that no effective act ion would be initiated on i t before Tuesday and by that time the deadline would be over. And the gambit did work and we did issue these travel documents to the family. Of course, they never used these because of a change in the situation. Alarmed at repeated threats issued by Amin to send all stat eless Asians left in Uganda after t he three-month deadline to special camps i n the countryside, the UN stepped in and negotiated arrangements with a number of countries to resettle a limited number of such stateless persons. This family was a beneficiary of the UN initiative. Some who were not stateless also availed of this scheme in order to settle down in some of the European countries. Kesavan’s domestic help from India declared himself stateless and went off to some place in Europe! Another case of brutality relates to a family friend, Kanoo Patel, who had a flourishing pharmaceutical business in Uganda. One afternoon I had lunch with Kano o at a local Chinese restaurant and then I never heard of him again despite several efforts to trace him. Many months later I found out that he was picked up by Amin’s goons that very afternoon and beaten up badly for extortion and was let off after he had coughed up a huge amount. He immediately left Uganda to settle in the UK but still walks with a lim p because of that beating. All too frequently one came across cases where suddenly someone was required to leave Uganda at short notice on pain of extreme physical danger and needed to have a travel document. In many cases one stretched the regulations to the maximum to help out people in such emergencies. I recall vividly one evening I received a frantic call from Amir Nathoo, a prominent leader of the Ismaili community in Kampala and a personal friend, that he had to leave Uganda the next day as he and his family were in great physical danger. All his family members except his youngest daughter had travel documents and it was impossible to get a Ugandan travel document for her (for she was born in Uganda). I consulted Mukherjee promptly who advised that since she was a person of Indian srcin there was a provision under which a passport of limi ted validity could be is sued to her describing her as a ‘Person of Indian Origin’. So the Nathoos were able to get away in time from harm’s way. While the big story was the expulsion of Asians, gruesome acts were taking place in Uganda. Prominent personalities suspected of acting against or harbouring contrary views to the regime disappeared overnight; while hundreds o members of Acholi and Langi tribes who were considered Obote sympathizers were routinely murdered. Amin had set up the notorious Public Research Bureau, perhaps modelled on Haiti’s Papa Duvalier’s Tonton Macoute. The agents o this agency, conspicuous by their flowery shirts, dark glasses and Peugeot cars, were notorious for disappearances, kidnappings, torture and murder. In the four months I was there, many prominent Ugandans, including Chief Justice Kiwanuka of the Supreme Court, suddenly disappeared; Kiwanuka had given a judgement against the regime and he was unceremoniously bundled out from his chambers and reportedly put in a bathtub full of acid. Amin used to describe on television such inconvenient people as ‘confusing agents’ and sure enough they disappeared if they were not successful in running away. Others who disappeared included one of Amin’s wives, Kay, and the vice-chancellor o Makerere University. I recal l a conversation I had with a prominent Ugandan TV personality, James Mbogi, at t he hotel bar one afternoon. At one point he jokingly asked me whether he would be able to get asylum at the Indian High Commission in case o trouble! Two days later, there was news that he had disappeared without any trace. Another person whom I knew who suddenly disappeared was John Kakonge, minister of agriculture in Obote’s government. I had known him at the time I was desk officer for East Africa when he visited India as a government guest and after t he overthrow of the Obo te government he ran a sm all wine shop. I had met him twice in his shop while I was there. On my third visit I was told in hushed tones that he had disappeared without any trace. Sixteen years later I attended his memorial s ervice in Kampala when I was high commissioner . Although life seemingly went on routinely in Kampala during the few months I spent there, one was conscious for the first time what it was to live in a lawless country brutalized through murders, mass killings, thuggery and arbitrariness. I remember one particular afternoon when one suddenly sensed that the city was suddenly emptying with people rushing here and there in a hurry. We called a few friendly embassies to find out whether they had any inkling as to what was happening. But nobody had any clue and we found that within an hour all the streets of Kampala had emptied, the shops shuttered and there was no movement of persons or vehicles. I spent the enti re afternoon in my hotel room nervously apprehensive of some impending horror. At about 7 p.m., one started seeing vehicles on the road and within half an hour the city was abuzz again! It later transpired that a rumour had gone around that Obote’s guerillas were closing in on the city. While one was in the midst of all the horrible things going around, one was unable to comprehend the totality and banality of the horror and brutalization. It is only later when one put together the various pieces and perceptions that the true picture emerged. One was thankful to have survived that. The book The Last King of Scotland and its film

adaptation describes vividly the horrors of the Amin regime. It is said that the crocodiles in the Nile were never fatter as in Amin’s time si nce the favourite method of disposal of bodies of vict ims was the Nile! As the 8 November deadline for the non-citizen Asians to leave Uganda came nearer, I was looking forward to getting out of the country too. However, I received word from Ambassado r Rehman that I should continue to stay on to compile a list of all the assets left behind. Of course, this was necessary if the government was to claim compensation from the Uganda government at a later stage. We had earlier requested all Indian citizens to furnish a list of all their assets t hat they would be leaving behind. Life in Kampala had changed after the 8 November deadline. The first casualty was the distribution chain and suddenly shortages of goods became the norm. One noticed in the hotel, one day there would be no butter, the other day no bread. Other hotels al so reported shortages of bread, soap, butter and even gin. Restauran ts guarded their menus l ike gold as most of the printing in the city was done by the Asians. Most of the shops remained closed and the vehicular traffic had come down. The number of unemployed shot up and jobless Africans were seen clamouring for work. Nobody in Amin’s government had visualized the adverse implications of throwing out en masse a productive segment of the economy without any alternative. A cruel joke going round was that shirts had suddenly become cheap as the Africans who too k over the Asian shops thou ght that the shir t size was the price of the shir t!! One perceived that the attitude of the ordinary Ugandan towards the Asians had undergon e a quiet change. Instead o all that mocking, jeering and disdain that one had felt during the earlier three months, there was a silent acknowledgement of the dignity and forbearance the Asians had exhibited when they left the country that had been home to them for years leaving their possessions behind. The compilation of assets was not a very difficult task as the data was already there. Whatever the gaps, these were filled through correspondence with the banks from whom one got good cooperation. It was during this process o compilation of assets that I got into the bad books of the Ugandan government. A particular case led to prolonged correspondence with a Ugandan government agency which later led to my being declared persona non grata by the Ugandan government. Some Indian citizens had obtained permission from the Bank of Uganda to export their cars – mostly a MercedesBenz – to India. They were then handed over to a clearing agency wholly owned by the Ugandan government for onward shipment to Mombasa and then on to India. While these cars were awaiting shipment in Mombasa, the government of Uganda, presumably acting on some tip, sent a team of ministers to investigate the issue. They recommended that the car s be sent back to Uganda. The owners of the cars then wrote to the high commission to look into the matter since they had received legal permission to export the cars out of Uganda. On that basis I had prolonged correspondence with the clearing agency without any satisfactory outcome. Then one evening I suddenly received a call from the high commissioner that the defence minister wanted to see me the next day. I was surprised as to why would the defence minister want to see an offi cer on special duty when the high commissioner was present. I suspected something serious and told the high commissioner that I might be asked to leave Uganda. He dismissed such a notion saying that the Ugandans had on ly two days back named a str eet aft er Nehru so I should not worry. Next morning, the high commissioner and I went to meet the defence minster, Charles Oboth-Ofumbi. When we entered the minister’s chamber, he very rudely told the high commissioner that he only wanted to see me and if the high commissioner wanted to see him he should seek an appointment with his secretary in the next room. I told the high commissioner that he should protest and firmly say that he would have to be present otherwise we both would leave. However, he told me to go ahead and he would wait outside for me. Next the minister said, ‘Who is this man Desai?’ I replied ‘That is me, Your Excellency.’ He asked me to sit down. There were five more persons in the room including the permanent secretary in the foreign office, Paul Etiang. The minister pushed some papers in front of me and, rudely again, asked whether it was my signature. Perhaps because o his manner I al so felt that I s hould be flippant with him. So I replied, ‘Y es, it l ooks like mine.’ He then said that because of my undiplomatic activities the government had decided to expel me from the country; however, since I was a diplomat I would be given 48 hours to leave Uganda. In reply I requested him to let me know the reasons why I was being asked to leave. He then asked one of the attendees to read out a charge that I had been harassing a company owned by the government of Uganda over the issue of some cars. I replied that I was indeed in correspondence with the company in question as part of my consular duties to look after the assets of Indian nationals as specified under the Vienna Convention. The second charge was that I was abetting the illegal export of cars out of Uganda. I replied that neither I in my personal capacity nor the high commission was involved in the export of cars in question; according to our information, the cars had valid export permission from the Bank of Uganda and had been transported to Mombasa by an agency owned by the government and were later recalled back to Uganda. The high commission, acting on behalf of Indian

citizens as part of its consular duties as specified under the Vienna Convention, was inquiring into the reasons for the recall of the cars, without any success so far. At this point, the minister interjected to say that this was enough. ‘You think you run the Uganda government! You are behaving like the British!’ I should therefore leave as told earlier and the foreign office would be sending an appropriate communication to that effect. As I walked towards the door, I suddenly felt extremely elated that finally I would be leaving this miserable place and this prompted me to turn around and say in a tone louder than usual, ‘By the way, Your Excellency, wish you a Merry Christmas!’ And I left the room. This was 20 December 1972. I told the high commissioner that my apprehension did prove correct and I must leave the next day as I would not like to put myself in danger knowing the unpredictability of the regime. He was of the view that the matter must be reported to the ministr y first before any decision could be made about my dep arture. I was insistent on leaving the nex t day, so I went to the local Air-India office to make the necessary bookings. The high commissioner went to the office to inform Rehman, who instructed that I should not leave the country till an official communication was received from the Ugandan foreign office. The foreign office sent a note verbale in the afternoon declaring me persona non grata for ‘activities not compatible with my diplomatic status’. Kesavan and I went to the hotel and packed up my belongings and checked out of the hotel that day. I spent the night at Kesavan’s and quietly l eft Uganda in the morning for Nairobi. That I had been living under great strain and stress during the five eventful months in Uganda was brought home to me in Mumbai, where I landed on Christmas Eve after spending a few days in Nairobi. At night I suddenly woke up and told my wife to hide as there was shooting going on. She told me that I was now in Mumbai and not Kampala and that there was no shooting, the no ise was due to celebratory fi recrackers! It had indeed been a harrowing time but it was also a unique experience which comes only rarely, and most times never, in one’s career. The most important lesson for me was that when dealing with consular matters, people come first and that one must have compassion for others; rules and regulations are secondary and merely a guide which can be stretched to the extreme to help persons in distress and trouble. The other lesson I imbibed was that administration is basically a m atter of common sense and one must be as pragmatic and helpful as one can b e.

In all, over 52,000 Asians of various nationalities were brutally uprooted within a period of three months and without most of their possessions to start a life elsewhere. The majority of them, about 29,000, went to the UK where the British government had set up resettlement camps. About 11,000 came to India; 5,000 went to Canada and the rest to various other countries. When the 8 November deadline was met the atti tudes of Britai n and Uganda towards the expulsion on that day were worlds apart. The Times headlined its editorial ‘The Tragedy of Uganda’ while the Uganda Argus on its first page reported that at last Uganda was free. One bitter Ugandan, a Reverend P eter Ban Ochan, in a letter to Uganda Argus (18 August 1972) wished the Asians ‘a long and very cold winter in Britain’ while The Times (8 November 1972) speculated whether Britain ‘would make a success story of this involuntary transportation of human skill s, energies and cultural diversity’. As it turned out, the Ugandan Asians quickly adjusted to their new environment and the camps closed down within six months. Gradually the community quietly brought about a revolution in the Briti sh retaili ng industry with the ubiquitous corner Patel shop. Today the community is prosperous and is often cited by the government as an example of a successful immigrant community which had not only adjusted to the British society but had also made a tremendous contribution to the economy. On the other hand, Uganda suffered a long winter of hardships, economic collapse and civil war for the next fifteen years. When I returned to Uganda in 1987 as high commissioner, the country seemed to have regressed and resembled East Africa of the 1950s. Most of the infr astructure was destroyed and shop s were empty with tremendous shortages o basic goods. The security situation was alarming. In retrospect, the response of the Indian government to this tragedy was too legalistic; it considered the matter as an ‘internal matter’ of Uganda and did not mobilize world public opinion against the Amin regime for a blatantly racist measure. India’s diaspora policy had not evolved then; it was a strange mixture of distant paternalism and a snobbish disdain for Indians overseas for unwittingly creating diplomatic headaches for the government. There was a general overlooking of the interests of its citizens and kin for the sake of propriety. This propriety, in its extreme form, could have been interpreted by tinpots like Amin as weakness. This was aptly summed up in an almost prescient editorial in the Statesman (16 January 1969), which I quote: Unfortunately India has very little to offer besides sympathy to the people of Indian srcin who now face the prospects of statelessness . . . India’s ability to persuade the East African governments to retain these people who had once rendered some service and made Africa their home is also sadly limited, in spite of what this country has done in the name of Afro-Asian solidarity.

In fact, there were even voices in India which were very unsympathetic to the plight of Asians in East Africa, particularly in Uganda. Many having internalized the typical colonial stereotype of the Indian as an exploiter and profiteer were of the view that they deserved what they got! The result was that the East African Indian community was alienated from India for a l ong time for they though t that it had abandoned them in a ti me of distress.

In 1987 at the end of my assignment in Washington where I had coordinated the Festival of India in the US the previous year, I received my posting orders to go to Uganda as high commissioner. I represented to the ministry that in view o the fact that I had been declared persona non grata from Uganda earlier, it would not be diplomatically proper to represent India t here. Moreover, this fact was not conveyed to the Ugandan authorities while seeking t heir concurrence. I was told that it did not matter because the regime had changed and one official in the PMO even cheekily suggested that my posting was an indication that India had forgiven Uganda! Still, I was apprehensive, and took the help of a Ugandan official working with the World Bank. His brother was then the head of Uganda’s foreign intelligence department. He conveyed to his brother my concern as well as the fact that I had been earlier declared persona non grata. Within four days, the reply came: ‘Any friend of Amin(!) is a friend of ours.’ Within four months of my arrival there, a Ugandan rag published a story that I had been declared persona non grata earlier by the Amin regime for ‘spying for the Obote regime’ and now I had come again to spy for Obote. I promptly conveyed this to the ministry expressing that my earlier apprehensions had come true. The ministry’s response was rather str ange and incompreh ensible: ‘Please ensure t hat this does not happen again.’ The Ugandans were more sympathetic. I was called in by the foreign minister who assured me that they had no doubts about my bona fides. And the rag was closed down by the Ugandan government!

THE WALL COMES DOWN: AN INDIAN VIEW A. Madhavan ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall’. —Robert Frost, ‘Mending Wall’


n a diplomatic career spanning thirty-five years, I was witness to several momentous events in different countries, but none as significant or engaging as the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. As India’s ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany stationed in Bonn, my last post before retirement, I was drawn into an unfolding drama racing to it s historic denouement. From the fir st the breach i n the Wall was recognized as the turnaround or die Wende, as the Germans called it, heralding the end of the Cold War. Now, two decades later, historians and statesmen are still assessing the implications of this event. Was it truly revolutionary or just another page in t he speckled annals of Europa, that richly endowed b ut conflicted continent which almost wrecked the world in the twentieth century by unleashing two catastrophic wars followed by the dormant volcano of the Cold War? How has it affected India’s fortunes as an aspirant Asian power? This essay is focussed on my memory of the falling Berlin Wall and my reading of its importance. I shall briefly sketch the sett ing, then recall how Germany East and W est were unified a year after the Wall suddenly lost i ts function, and finally discuss the wider consequences of the Cold War.

My fascination with the German Wende of 1989 dated from a previous posting, when I was deputy chief of mission o the Indian embassy, Moscow in the Soviet Union (1982-8 5). I saw three funerals in t he Kremlin Square, with the winter demise of presidents Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. The last named leader died on 10 March 1985, hardly a month before my transfer to Japan as ambassador. The Ministry of External Affairs urgently required our forecast on who would be chosen as the next general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The series of phone calls I got that morning made it clear that our embassy would be judged by the answer we conveyed before any official announcement. I ventured a desperate guess, opting for the politburo member Mikhail S. Gorbachev, reasoning that he was much younger and fitter than the oldsters in the politburo and hence less likely to die on us. Gorbachev was also known as a pragmatist, likely to lift the Soviet Union from the stagnation in which the orthodox ideologists had left it . . . Diplomats in Moscow moved in a necessarily narrow circle, but even within that circle we could see how sad the prevailing shortages had become. The long-suffering queues in rain or snow outside the shabby authorized shops for bread, milk, meat and vegetables told their own sorry tale. The magnificent metro charging minimal fares and the incredibly cheap book s and records, all heavily subsidized by the state, were no doubt admirable. But t he economy was in a shambles, overextended by the arms race with the US and the military intervention in Afghanistan. Though our official relations were fri endly, the Soviets found it impossible to respond to India’s requirements of defence and other supplies, due to their commitments to their socialist partner countries. India had become overdependent on the Soviet Union. It was leaning, I was convinced, on a broken reed. Gorbachev’s New Thinking, his policy of ‘glasnost’ (openness) followed by ‘perestroika’ (restructuring) promised to rejuvenate the Soviet Union. In India too there was new thinking, with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi trying to rouse India from the rut of the Licence Raj and public sector dominance into a trajectory of growth to catch up with the advanced countries. After my posting in Tokyo, when Rajiv Gandhi visited Japan three times, I was transferred to the FRG – West Germany – in April 1988 with the brief of putting economic relations with it on ‘the fast track’. To give the move impetus, Rajiv Gandhi visited the FRG very soon after my arrival in Bonn. At that time, the country was an economic wonder, the strong pillar of the evolving European Community, but politically a self-subordinated American ally, like Japan. The German Democratic Republic (GDR ) or East Germany was firm ly anchored in t he Soviet bloc, a communist country with which India had cordial ties. Since 1972, we had a separate embassy in Berlin East. Nineteen eighty-nine has been called the year of peaceful revolutions in East Europe. Gorbachev started it by giving

up the notorious ‘Brezhnev doctrine’, the hardline policy which the Soviet Union had followed to quell dissent in the Warsaw Pact countries. It was notably demonstrated by Soviet tanks i n Czechoslovakia to suppress ‘the Prague Spring’ in 1968. But in 1989, beset by the multiple deficits and infirmities brought about by ‘the imperial overstretch’ (in Paul Kennedy’s phrase), Gorbachev realized that the Soviet bloc was simply unsustainable by force or coercion, least of all from Moscow. In March 1989 his perestroika bore dramatic results: the elections t o the Soviet Cong ress were relat ively free fr om party manipulation. He wanted the East Europ ean communist parties to fashion their own perestroika. He set them free, and said so. He evolved w hat was jocularly call ed the ‘Sinatra doctri ne’, alluding to Frank Sinatra’s pop ular song, ‘I did it my way’. Essentially it meant that Soviet power would no longer be unleashed to save an unpopular communist regime l ike East Germany’ s. In February 1989 Soviet soldiers left Afghanistan, ten years after they were brought in to fight for the communist regime i n that country. On 4 June, at t he Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the Chinese troops and security personnel fir ed shots and suppressed the protesting students and citizens who were agitating for democratic rights. This show of force against unarmed people shocked the world. Its very effectiveness provoked a surge of sympathy for countries whose citizens were cl amouring peacefully for representative government instead of party paternalism. Only a few communist leaders congratulated the Chinese Communist Party on suppressing the Tiananmen movement: Erich Honecker , dictator of the GDR, was one of them. Poland capitalized on Gorbachev’s easing of controls over the countries of the socialist bloc. The Poles demanded freedom to elect their members of parliament. ‘Solidarity’ was legalized and allowed to fight the parliamentary elections on 4 June. Its candidates tr ounced the commun ists and swept the polls . . . In Hungary, the parliament passed a law in October ending the single-party system. In the summer of 1989 Hungary began dismantling parts of its barbedwire fence with Austria, al lowing hundreds of East German vacationers t o migrate to West Germany. This was the real breach in the barrier that presaged the fall of the Berlin Wall. The GDR government then blocked the Hungarian escape route. But desperate East German emigrants travelled to Czechoslovakia and sought asylum in the FRG embassy premises in Prague. Eventually, through Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher’s diplomatic acumen, they were allowed to cross by a special train into West Germany. The Soviet Union shrugged off these tremors of the coming earthquake, unab le and unwilling to assi st Honecker in subduing the restive mal contents of East Germany by force. The Berlin Wall was literally a concrete symbol of the division between East and West Europe as well as the Cold War division between the two rival blocs headed by the US and the Soviet Union. The Second World War had left Berlin divided between the Soviet Union and the W estern Allies (the US, Britain and France), but the city was isl anded within East German territory under Soviet occupation, later to form the GDR. West Berlin was legally under the urisdiction of the three Western occupation powers, with the FRG runn ing the ci vic administrat ion. East Berlin was t he capital of the GDR. It had established its own security and defence arrangements, backed by a large Soviet military presence. The GDR government under the Socialist Union Party (SED) began building the Wall in 1961 to staunch an exodus of German refugees east to west. Since highly qualified persons emigrated with the early flow, the regime felt compelled to stop the drain on the country’s already depleted human resources. In area the FRG was about two and a half times bigger than the GDR; in population (1990) the figures were 62.6 million and 16.4 million. The new GDR barrier was called ‘the Anti-fascist Protection Wall’, as if to keep at bay the decadent West, but everyone knew that its function was to keep back East German citizens raring to go West. The Wall took years to solidify and strengthen, with sinister watchtowers, tripwires, trenches and traps to prevent trucks being driven through, and a parallel noman’s land known as ‘the death-strip’, all guarded by soldiers with dogs to pounce on hapless escapees. The Berlin Wall at full stretch encircled West Berlin. It also bifurcated the city, covering a total length of 155 km. On the western side, it offered street artists a chance to spray-paint graffiti to offset its sombre appearance. Autobahns connected the West Berlin enclave with the FRG, but only selected persons with permits ( including diplomats) could traverse them. Beyond Berlin the inter-state border between the two Germanys was demarcated by barbed-wire fencing. The Wall was a standing embarrassment to the entire Soviet bloc. In the twenty-eight years that it lasted, it claimed at least 130 lives. However, some 5,000 East Germans did manage to sneak through. President John F. Kennedy had set the tone o Western propaganda in 1963 w ith his declaration, ‘Ich bin ei n Berliner’ (‘I am a Berliner ’). President Ronald Reagan in 1987 had equally thrilled Berliners and the West when he called out at the monumental Brandenburg Gate, ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this Wall.’ The Wall seemed solid enough and the mood of the citizens seemed resigned to the miserable status quo. But a current of unrest was stirring which few could fathom then. The East Germans clamoured for human rights and free choice, unwilling to put up with repressive governance by the SED. Its boss, Erich Honecker, seventy-seven and ailing, was steeped in the Brezhnev ethos of squashing any sign of organized popular upsurge or defiance. India had built up good relations with the GDR, whose technological and economic capabilities we were tapping. To our side the GDR seemed a steady and stable development partner. India was unwilling to disrupt its mutually beneficial interests with the Comecon countries, especially the Soviet Union. Hence there was a marked reluctance in Delhi to credit Western

estimates of the Soviet bloc frailties. But even German-based observers failed to connect the dots represented by the impact of Gorbachev’s perestroika, the Polish and Hungarian loosening from the communist rigidity and state control, and conspicuously by East Germans voting with their feet. The fortieth anniversary of the GDR on 7 October 1989 was a signal event since, among the many leaders from the Soviet bloc countries, Gorbachev w as coming. Calls for liberal reform were al ready loud in the air. People wanted out from a state controlled by informers and spies (of the feared and hated ‘Stasi’). The disparity between the two Germanys could not be papered over by false figures and vain propaganda. Television and private communication networks, even in that pre-internet era, glutted citizens with images from the West, highly coloured and illusory perhaps, but nonetheless too enticing to deter would-be refugees enmeshed in the drabness that was East Germany. Gorbachev’s arrival at the parade was hailed with cries of ‘Gorbi, Gorbi’ and ‘Stay on, Gorbi.’ What he told the politburo of the SED was tantamount to a stinging rebuke to Honecker, whom he execrated. Gorbachev urged reform, an indigenous perestroika, as the only sal vation for the GDR. Honecker was coaxed to resign on 18 October, to be succeeded by the younger Egon Krenz. But it was already too late. The populace had taken to candlelight vigils and protest marches in the main cities, especially in Leipzig, where the Monday processions swelled into tens of thousands, guided by Christian Fuehrer, a Lutheran pastor from Nikolai church . . . ‘Wir sind das Volk’ (‘We are the people’) was their slogan. Days later the cry was ‘We are one people.’ The SED leaders did not dare to try the Tiananmen crackdown solution on these demos. By November the mass movement was too obvious to miss. On the fourth, a million people flocked into Berlin’s Alexandraplatz. If the party stuck fast to its absurd travel restrictions, it would simply be disobeyed. On 9 November, Egon Krenz relaxed the exit rules, but the politburo order on liberalized travel was not clear to the spokesman, Gunter Schabowski, when he was handed a note during his press conference that evening. In reply to a question by an Italian ournalist, he stumbled and said that citizens of the GDR were free to pass through the Wall border with immediate effect. Within hours of this television flash refugees began to crowd at the authorized checkpoints of the Wall. At the Bornholmer Strasse checkpoint, the border guard captain sought confirmati on from his r emote controller by phone, but being left clueless, he was obliged to take a spot decision. He let them pass through, to avoid a riot which he was not authorized to fire on. He was vindicated by the fait accompli of the bloodless victory the Berliners gained that night. The German sense of order was notable in this extremity. The Wall was breached legally. Jubilant East Germans poured into West Berlin, and onward to the FRG. The news electrified Bonn, leaving both Germans and foreigners incredulous. The early arrivals were greeted on the other side of the Wall by t heir Western compatriots as long-lost kith and kin. The champagne fizz wou ld soon fall fl at, but the moment was eternal. In Bonn we saw the ramshackle Trabant cars (‘Trabbis’) rumbling into West Germany from the Czech and Austrian borders, contrasting with the BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes that tore along the autobahns. These refugees were fleeing an overbearing state, their flats and their j obs, and their Trabb is would soon head for the junkyard, but how many of the easterners (called ‘Ossies’, as opposed to the ‘Wessies’ of the FRG) would be able to own and drive posh limousines some day? I visited Berlin (19-22 November 1989) and saw how the Germans on both sides of the Wall were already getting used to its political irrelevance. The lurking fear that the travel permission that opened up the Wall could be rescinded was submerged by euphoria and hope. But there were also misgivings about the uncertain evolution of united Germany, with the US and the Soviet Union still in the Cold War mode, and East European countries still groping for their own forms of democratic governance. Ch isels and hammers were busy chipping and pecking at t he Wall. I got my souvenir fragments in gaudy colours. Long lines of East Germans were waiting outside the banks in West Berlin for the ‘welcome money’ of DM 100 per annum per immigrant.

I was swept into the swift current of changing inter-German relations and their ripple effects. This time the German Question, so central to European history since t he nineteenth century, had to be settled by t he Germans themselves, but with the supportive or grudging assent of the four wartime allies. There were three main aspects to the German Question: the internal, the external and the economic. All three were closely interconnected. What surprised me most was the speed of the changes, day to day, week by week, with new complications, provisional solutions or conditional compromises by the part ies i nvolved. The US and the Soviet Union we re the two major power centres off- stage. If both of them allowed the Germans to find their own compromise solution, the world would be saved from another Cold War confrontation. For this reason, the Malta summit between presidents Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush (the senior) on 2-3 December 1989 w as a crucial event. It prompted the catchphrase, ‘from Yalta t o Malta’. The decisions on Europ ean nation states outlined at the Stalin-Roosevelt-Churchill summit in February 1945 were decisively reversed by the summit held on the Soviet and American warships moored off Malta. The US was solicitous to support Gorbachev’s laissez-faire policy towards East European regimes. The West was careful not to destabilize him. Gorbachev said: ‘I assured the president of the United States t hat I will never st art a hot war against the USA . . . The world is l eaving one

epoch, the “Cold War,” and entering a new one.’ And Bush said in his turn: ‘We can realize a lasting peace and transform t he East-West rel ationship to one of enduring cooperation. That is the future that Chairman Gorbachev and I began right here in Malta.’ They thus reassured East Europe that the political and systemic relaxations of 1989 would be allowed to work their course without superpower interference. This assurance was pivotal to Germany’s unification in 1990. I shall not dwell on the intri cacies and uncertainties in the f ast-forward reel of German unification in 1990. Th e main events can be briefly recalled. It was apparent from January that the GDR was collapsing as an entity, unable to function as a state without massive money transfusions. It had to acquiesce in the dynamic of its own extinction. The FRG’s takeover was initially sold as a merger. The SED politburo was barely able to cling to the trappings of office. The Soviet armed presence stood politically immobilized. Its exit was a problem beyond the GDR’s competence to resolve. In the FRG the duo calling the shots were Chancellor Kohl of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Foreign Minister Genscher of the liberal Federal Democratic Party (FDP), himself a nati ve of Halle in East Germany. They were yoked partners, sometimes at odds, entering an uncharted terrain. By December 1989 Helmut Kohl prepared a Ten-Point Plan of Unification based on a confederation of the two Germanys, but he did not consult Genscher and the W estern all ies about it . Since it conceded too much to the obviously faltering socialist side, it was quickly challenged and superseded by ideas of a managed merger of the two states. Kohl’s idea of ‘embedding’ united Germany in a European contractual community was deliberately gradualist, with the motive not of appeasing Moscow or East Berlin but of preventing disruption and conflict among the different political forces in and around Germany. Meanwhile, Genscher used his persuasive skills to craft the diplomatic device of 2 + 4 to rope in all the victor powers of the Second World War again, this time to preside over the implicit liquidation of the GDR and the unification of the two German states. The subtle point was that the two (the FRG and the GDR) were the primaries, with the four allies ranged benignly or otherwise in consultation. The formula was reduced in effect to 1 + 4, the GDR being reckoned as zero in the dash to unification. Between the two Germanys there was a glaring financial and political asymmetry. The FRG had the whip hand as the viable stat e that was taking over the bankrupted one. Th e toughest issue was the German economic and monetary union (GEMU). Kohl magnanimously offered massive aid to the east. A notable concession he made was to exchange the depreciating eastern mark at par (1:1) with the keenly desired Deutsche mark (DM). East Germans had raised the slogan, ‘If the DM does not come to us here, we’ll go get it there’. Scared of the unstoppable flood of refugees and the rising resentment of West Germans against foreigners, Chancellor Kohl took to chequebook diplomacy, not only with the GDR but also with the Soviet Union, the NATO and the European Community, especially after the Gulf War broke out in January 1991. He was anxious to seize the propitious day, and he was right. If Gorbachev were ousted or if the FRG broke out in riots against the resented Ossies, Germany would remain dangerously divided. The accession of the five GDR Laender (states) to the FRG was simplified by invoking Article 23 of the Basic Law of the FRG, which allowed a German land outside West Germany the option of joining it. The FRG thereby expanded to incorporate the GDR entirely. The external dimension was equally tricky. Poland had legitimate concerns about German irredentism, since parts of what was East Prussia and Silesia in the German Reich were given to it by the Allies after the war as compensation for territory in its east that was annexed by the Soviet Union from the defeated Reich. Unless united Germany accepted Poland’s western border at the Oder-Neisse Line, East Europe would breed endless tension and conflict. Kohl had the wisdom to drop the unspoken German territorial claim which he initially tried to reserve. The borders of united Germany were confirmed in the final 2 + 4 treat y of 12 September 1990. The US had no qualms about German unification so long as it was within NATO, the European Community and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Kohl repeatedly harped on his axiom that the future o Germany lay in the European setting of established linkages to reassure both the Western allies and East Europe about its peaceful role. The high-powered US ambassador, Vernon Walters, had told as much even in September 1989. But the other three former wartime allies, the Soviet Union, Britain and France, each had their serious security reservations which could have blocked the unity project for years. The Soviet Union was a clear loser i n giving up the GDR, hitherto its ‘indissoluble’ ally (i n Honecker’s phrase) and reli able member of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. Gorb achev held a crucial meeting with Kohl and Genscher at his retreat in the Caucasus on 17 July 1990, when it was agreed that Germany would be allowed to retain its NATO membership even after the GDR joined it, provided that no NATO troops were stationed in the East German area until the Soviet troops left. Kohl agreed to reduce troop levels and offered economic aid to the Soviet Union with a liberal hand to compensate the cost of withdrawing the Soviet military from East Germany. The deal was on. Both Britain and France were know n to be disquieted by the speed of the unificati on process that year. In September 2009 a revealing stack of Kremlin records came to light. A memo of a talk in Kremlin as late as September 1989 showed how vehemently Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed the prospect of German unification, when she urged Gorbachev to block the process. She told him: ‘We do not want a united Germany. This would lead to a change to

post-war borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security.’ President Francois Mitterrand of France was also allergic to Kohl’s forced march towards unification, but stopped short of backing up the British bad fairy in canvassing Soviet support to scupper the process as it gathered momentum In September 1990 the two Germanys signed the Treaty of Unification, which was passed by the legisl atures in both countries by large majorities. United Germany in a new avatar, retaining the title of the Federal Republic of Germany, came into being from the midnight hour on 2-3 October 1990. Berlin too was made whole again. Near its Brandenburg Gate two million revellers thronged. Bells pealed and tears of joy trickled down chill red cheeks. Bacchus took over from Germania. Fireworks cascaded down the sky across a thin green arc of laser light. It was a consummation to celebrate, such a contrast to the German unification of 1871 that Bismarck wrough t with ‘blood and iron’. On 15 March 1991 the treaty on the final settlement regarding Germany, signed in September 1990 by the Allied powers and the two Germanys, was ratified by united Germany and entered into force. The debris and the litter of bottles and cans were swept away by German efficiency in the small hours of the night. On Unity Day at the Philharmonic Hall, the envoys and the invited leaders took their seats as the ceremony opened to the chords of a cantata by Bach. Set speeches followed, ending with a reflective address by President Richard von Weizsäcker which avoided any hint of triumphalism. A Brahms crescendo was the final flourish. Chancellor Kohl spoke in the renovated Reichstag, assuring and reassuring all partner countries, insuring and reinsuring Germany’s responsibility as a reborn nation loyal to the EC and the world. The shackles on German autonomy had been broken at last, with the country submerging part of it s sovereignty in the larger ambit of Europe. The first all-German electi ons since 1932 were held on 2 Decemb er 1990 and the results were out the same evening, with the CDU/CSU winning more seats than the rival Social Democrats. This was Kohl’s most gratifying hour. A year later, at the end of 1991, the Soviet Unio n dissolved itself into fifteen r epublics, with Russia by far the largest of them, recognized as the successor state. With this the Cold War was believed to have come to an end.

More than twenty years have passed since Germany regained its unity as the mainstay of t he European Community (the European Union). Many retrospective studies by scholars and writers have appeared. The diplomatic history of this period merits closer study by Indian historians and diplomats. It will furnish pointers to the pursuit of objectives in our bilateral and multilateral transactions. Who or what factors were decisive in bringing down the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the end of the Cold War two years later? Explanations differ according to preferences in power alignment. Some observers credit Gorbachev’s perestroika as the catalyst, as I personally do, while some exalt President Reagan’s initially tough policy towards the Soviet Union and the modified conciliatory approach on substantial arms reduction by both sides. The nuclear arms race had rendered the Soviet system unviable. Gorbachev understood this in 1985. He was like a general in retreat, cutting his losses so that his army could survive to fight another day. Even four years later, India was slow to read the signs of impending Soviet collapse. It was a ti me of unstable coalit ion governments in India. The government was also preoccupied with the urgency of evacuating Indians from the Gulf area during the US war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in early 1991. Kohl and Genscher must also be credited for their flexible opportunism in capitalizing on the fortuitous set of politi cal circumstances favouring them after the unexpected breach in the Berlin W all. They sank their personal differences in their shared alacrity to accomplish German unification before an international rupture overtook them . . . Ultimately, it was the commoners of East Germany who must be credited for the people’s upheaval from below, but it was the shaping influence from above by the FRG and the Western allies and the Soviet Union that led them to the happy ending, as of 1990-91. From 1945, India favoured the eventual unification of divided Germany. Prime Minister Nehru had spelt out his remarkably farsighted view even before Independence. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on 28 August 1961, Nehru called the then newly erected barrier of the Berlin Wall ‘quite absurd (for) a great city’ and described Berlin as ‘a symbol o the future unity of Germany, whenever it might come’. His visi on of ‘German unity taking place in accordance with the wishes of the German people and with due regard to the security requirements of Germany and other countries in Europe’ (31 March 1957) was validated on 3 October 1990. While India’s pro-unification policy helped me in my many interactions with the Germans, I could sense a growing apprehension in New Delhi on account of the runaway speed of the movement and its likely effects on Indian foreign policy interests, particularly with the Soviet Union. If the transformation of Europe portended Western dominance and socialist retreat, India’s objectives would need to be re-crafted to fit the adverse re-balancing of East-West relations. Meanwhile, India was caught in a debt cri sis that required a sympathetic att itude from t he West. Bonn was overstrained by pumping funds to the east and hence unable to help us substantially. But Indo-German relations were actually strengthened, regardless of the FRG’s priorities, thanks to the exchange of high-level visits, including President R. Venkataraman’s, and the return visit by President von Weizsäcker. My three years in Germany were neatly framed by

two Indian prime ministerial visits, Rajiv Gandhi’s in 1988 and by P.V. Narasimha Rao’s in 1991. The Cold War has subsided as a stark confrontation between two superpowers. China’s rise and waning American economic supremacy have changed great power equations. Diplomacy, whether bilateral or multilateral, has become more complicated in this era. It has not yet acquired a handy label, but it can be described as an era of transition to multipolarity, with changeable great power combinations. Non-state actors, actors with covert state patronage, terrorism as a vicious ingredient in conflict among nations and peoples, between regimes and the citizenry, transnational entities wielding capital power and influence, transnational problems like epidemics and climate change: all these have rendered diplomatic analysis two-dimensional in the multi-dimensional real world. We have all moved on since the Soviet Union collapsed: Russia too. The triumphalism and the ‘peace dividend’ of the West have died down in unwinnable wars. India need not repine at the end of the Soviet Union. It has ample scope to persist with patient diplomacy and win greater respect as a uniquely pluralistic democratic nation which can serve as a model for a pluralistic world. As for Germany, it is still a Janus-faced nation, looking west as well as east. It needs to sustain its partnership with France and with the US as a priority, apart from its links with other countries of the EU, notably Britain. Equally it depends on Russia for energy supplies and cannot join an anti-Russian coalition, should it emerge in the course o shifting alignments among the powers during some crisis in world affairs. Germany will therefore try to temper any incipient antagonism between East and W est. This will probably fit in with India’s own foreign policy interest s. The German Question is now economic and psychological. The Wall in the mind of Germans and the regional inequality have yet to be overcome. The Berlin Wall i s an episode rat her than a f ootnote in contemporary world history .



had known Chile in the period from 1953 to 1955 when I had been first secretary in Buenos Aires under Nawab Ali Yavar Jung, who was ambassador in Argentina and, concurrently, minister plenipotentiary in Chile. Yes, in those faroff days, there were four classes of heads of diplomatic missions. In fact, Nawab Ali Yavar Jung was transferred to Egypt and I rem ained charge d’affaires for a period of about two years. Peron’s Argentina was not liked by the US because it had harboured a number of Nazis after the Second World War. In fact t here was a substantial colony of Magyar and Polish aristocrats. One particular German war criminal had hidden there under an assumed identity and was kidnapped by Israeli agents and tried in a court in Tel Aviv some years later. The result was that the country faced economic difficulties and had a command economy. Chile did not have such problems and enjoyed a more free-market economy. Moreover, the climate of Buenos Aires was always humid – cold and clammy in winter and warm and damp in summer. Santiago was much drier – water came down from the melting snow in the Andes to provide enough. Moreover, the pampa around Buenos Aires was featureless and uninteresting while in Santiago, on a clear day, one could see snow on Mount Aconcagua, which was enough to cheer up any Indian heart. I enjoyed my brief visits to Santiago for all t hese reasons. I was delighted, therefore, when in Dakar in 1970 I learnt that I was being appointed ambassador in Santiago. Kirat and I arri ved there towards the end of December that year. W e were taken directl y to the embassy r esidence, which w as a large house rented from a Mrs Schilling, a woman of German descent. Several people in India including Indira Gandhi who had visited South America the previous year had described the house as ‘the most beautiful Indian Embassy’. It was a single storey in grounds of over an acre. Entering from the main gate that was at the end of a residential street, one faced the bottom of an inverted U, which was how the house was shaped. The main door was secured by an antique German lock with a huge key which I could just about put in my coat pocket. The hall was large and the rear windows were of plate glass showing an old walnut tree an d a large lawn surrounded on the other three sides by fruit trees. On the left the hall gave onto a dining room which could seat twelve – rather small for an embassy residence. However, it was beautifully furnished and had a large picture window with a view of the Andes. There was one particular point from which one could see Mount Aconcagua. Adjoining the dining room were the pantry and the kitchen below which there was a basement occupied by the central heating plant and a room for storing wine. We did not keep more than a couple of cases of wine so we kept there anything of which a shortage could be antici pated – like onions or potatoes. Adjoining the kitchen across a corridor were two servants’ rooms; beyond them was a garage for two cars. On the other side of the hall, corresponding to the dining room, kitchen and pantry was the large, well-furnished drawing room which had a good fireplace. The back of the drawing room led to the garden through a French window. In fact all the rooms on that side of the house opened into the garden through French windows. Adjoining the drawing room was a smaller room whose main feature was a German kachelofen. It also had a card table, so perhaps it was meant to be a card room, but there was only one card table in i t. It is probably best described as a study. A corridor led to six bedrooms, three bathrooms and a room meant as a dressing room for the master bedroom from which it was separated by the master bathroom. I used it as my library. The political si tuation in Chile was quite complex. There were a number of parties. The previous president, Eduardo Frei Montalva, had belonged to the Christian Democratic Party, which was probably still the largest party in the country. However, leagued against it were a multitude of parties of the left. They offered all kinds of goodies to the voter. In that sense they were all ‘populist’ – a tendency I attribute to Juan Peron, who wanted power without having any ideology of his own and did not stop to consider how, in economic terms, he would fulfil the promises he made. This has been common in South America for many decades and the result has been galloping inflation. In my experience of South America I have seen the Brazilian currency debased to a millionth of its previous value in a little over twenty years. In the case of Chile, between 1953 and 1970, the annual rate of inflation ranged between 30 per cent and 50 per cent. Salvador Allende Gossens (his mother’s maiden name) belonged to a landowning family and had qualified as a medical practi tioner before joining the Chilean navy as a medical officer. Thus he had been a colleague of Juan Marin –

at one time Chilean charge d’affaires in India. He headed the Socialist Party; I had not met him previously. The candidate of the Communist Party for the 1970 election had been Pablo Neru da – a pen-name, his real name was Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. I had met him in 1954 because Nawab Sahib before departing had advised me to do so and he had invited me to dinner. He was quite a well-known poet and had served as honorary consul in Rangoon before Burma was separated from India. He was known to be a leftist but I do not think he had any clear plans for converting Chile into a communist state. In any case the Chilean Communist Party did not have any such aspiration and only sought better pay and conditions for the relatively small organized industrial working class which was its constituency. At the appropriate moment he had withdrawn from the el ection and advised his supporters t o vote for Allende. Apart from these two large parties, there were six others in the coalition which Allende stitched together. I only remember the name of one of them, the Christian Socialist Party, which was said to be a bloodthirsty one. According to the Chilean constitution, the president was elected directly by the voters. If no candidate got 50 per cent of the vote, the senate had to choose between the two who got the most votes. All this had happened and Allende had got the most votes while falling short of 50 per cent. The senate had a small rightist majority and imposed its own terms on Allende before confirming him. One of the conditions was that he would not nationalize the copper mines. At that ti me copper was Chile’s major export commodity – probably Chile was the biggest exporter of copper in t he world. Allende was a much admired figure among non-aligned countries and I expected that I would be presenting my credentials very soon after arrival in Santiago. However, I was told that it was the holiday season and the newlyinstalled presi dent was touring the country . In fact, he was tr ying to tell the world that he might not be popular with the plutocrats of Santiago but that the situation was different in the rest of the country where there were few rich people. Finally I was told that I would present my credentials not in the Moneda Palace in the middle of Santiago but in the Prefectura of Valparaiso – the biggest of Chile’s many ports. So I had to go to Valparaiso, book into a hotel and wait to be escorted to the Prefectura. The chief of protocol decided that I should first be driven from my hotel to the Naval Club in Valparaiso and then from there in a formal procession to the presentation of credentials. I suspect that this was to show me the Naval Club which was more impressive than the Prefecture. The Chilean navy was founded by Lord Cochrane and generally follows the t raditions of the Royal Navy. The ceremony was brief and unimpressive. Afterwards, I was able to have a conversation with the president. I knew already that he was facing economic problems because he was unpopular with the Nixon government. At that time, all Latin Americans, whether of the right or of t he left, were convinced that their political and economic survival depended on America. I told the president t hat the ti me had come for Third W orld countries to deal direct ly with each other rather than through intermediaries and that India was in a position to help. I had found that some of the equipment used in Chilean mines was coming from India but that many people in Chile did not know this because they were buying it in London or in the US, where much of the money remained. He replied, ‘Ah, it does me so much good to hear this from you, ambassador. That is the way to tal k to me.’ That day our conversation ended there but I followed up this subject with our own Ministry of Industry; an engineer came from India to Santiago and worked out a scheme for setting up a drawing office in Chile where our draughtsmen would see the piece involved, make detailed plans and send them to India for having it manufactured. When I took the project report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Moneda Palace, it was shot down immediately. ‘Oh, that will never do. Already people are saying that we have sold the country to the Russians because they see Soviet technicians here. If they see Indian engineers wh o will be more noticeable here, i t will be m uch worse.’ We returned to Santiago, where I was told that Minist er Raj Bahadur was coming on a tour of South America t o talk to the governments about the problems we were facing with millions of refugees from East Pakistan where the Pakistani army was carrying out a massacre. He got sympathetic hearings from the foreign ministers of Chile, Peru and Colombia. I told him that t here was a new foreign minister in Ecuador with wh om I had been able to establis h a rapport when he had been ambassador in Peru. He agreed and we made a detour to Quito where the minister told us that Ecuador had no mi ssion in I slamabad and no Pakistani ambassador was accr edited in Quito. Of course, Ecuadorean and Pakistani ambassadors did meet at the United Nations and in other capitals. A request had been conveyed to him for a visit by a high-powered Pakistani delegation which wanted to meet him and he had agreed to do so but told them they could not have a cocktail party or a press conference during their stay i n Quito. He would tell me on my next visi t how things had gone. Soon after the visit by Raj Bahadur, the Bangladesh war took place and a resolution of the UN General Assembly condemned India by an overwhelming vote at the behest of the US. The Soviet bloc voted against the resolution while Great Britain, France, Chile and a few other countries abstai ned. In Latin America only Cuba had supported India. All this was expected and a few weeks later Bangladesh was welcomed into the UN by all those who had condemned India! Shortly after this, the Mi nistry of External Affairs sent me the confidential report on me f or the previous year . It had been written by Kewal Singh, the only secretary who had seen me during the year. I have never seen a more vicious confidential report. He said that I had not been able to arrange for him to meet any Senegalese officer. But he waxed lyrical about my incompetence on the point that I had not given a party for him; what use was there in having an

ambassador who co uld not do this much for a secret ary to the Government of India? Considering all the trouble and personal expenditure I had incurred on his visit, I was very upset. I fired off a letter immediately drawing attention to the numerous changes in Kewal Singh’s programme, the appointments and party I had arranged and cancelled and his final decision to come for the weekend. I wrote that I was asking my successor in Dakar, Hari Krishan Singh, to send me the file. It is not always that one can expect one’s successor to be helpful. I had only met Hari Krishan Singh once. Going home on leave in June I had written to him that I would be spending several hours in Dakar between planes and would like to meet him. He had found out that Kirat and I were mad-keen bridge players and had arranged a bridge lunch to which he had invited a number of our friends, which was a delightful gesture especially as neither he nor his wife played bridge. This time he sent me not only the file relating to Kewal Singh’s visit but also the one about the inspection (which included the bills) which had preceded it. I sent them with a brief covering letter to Avtar Singh. A few months later I was promoted from grade III to grade II. Avtar Singh’s comment was that if Kewal Singh’s trip had been more successful, he would not have written such an unfavourable report. I went on a tour of my concurrent accreditations and saw the foreign minister of Ecuador. He told me that the Pakistani delegation had come and had brought enormous lists – apparently census accounts of villages – to prove to him that the number of people who had left Bangladesh was only three-million-odd and not ‘ten million as is being mentioned in some quarters’. At this stage, said the minister, ‘I said to their leader, apparently their ambassador in Buenos Aires, ‘Mr Ambassador, if one Ecuadorean were to leave our country because he felt that his life or honour was not safe here, all of us right upto the president of the republic would feel most upset and ashamed. Are you sitting here and telling me that mi llions of your fellow citizens have left Pakistan because they do no t feel saf e?’ ‘That ended the interview,’ said the foreign minister. Subsequently I found out that the Pakistani ambassador in Buenos Aires was, in fact, a Bengali who, a few weeks after this meeting opted for Bangladesh and became for many months the only Bangladeshi ambassador in South America. I had occasion to meet him. This journey was not only for my personal satisf action but also to go to Lima, where there was to be a meeti ng of the Group of 77, of which India is an important member and which deals mainly with economic matters but they do sometimes have political significance also. I had presented my credentials in Lima shortly after doing so in Valparaiso. We had a very good arrangement in Lima. A first secretary, Pascal Alan Nazareth, from Bangalore, had been appointed charge d’affaires in Lima some months before my arrival. He and his charmi ng wife Isobel had won the hearts of Peruvians immediately by organizing a charity recital of Indian music and dance for the benefit of victims of a major earthquake which had taken place in Peru at about that time. That they had been able to do this with members of the small embassy staff and the not very numerous Indian community says much for their resourcefulness and enterprise. The Nazareths were also popular because, as he said, ‘They call me Hindu Romano Catholico.’ It is not easy to explain to people in Latin America that all Hindus are not Indians and all I ndians are not Hindus. The Nazareths were a popular couple and Alan was a very competent diplomat but the Indian minister of commerce (Lalit Narain Mishra) and other high officials would be most critical and unhappy if the ambassador were not there to dance attendance on them. Mishra continued as a minist er until he was assassi nated on a railway platform i n his own state of Bihar. In particular he led the Indian delegation to UNCTAD II. However, I am constrained to say that he was a non-executive chairman. He obviously knew how to get votes but of the matters under discussion at the conference he knew nothing. He did not even seem to know that Lima was in South America. His interest was in nightclubs and travelling first class by Lufthansa. Fortunately, a very successful businessman of Indian srcin, Swraj Paul, arrived from London to take care o the minister and another member of Parliament who was accompany ing him. The effective leader of the delegation was the commer ce secretary, Harivansh Lall. He used to hold a meeting of t he delegation every evening in the sitting room of my suite. My job was to provide drinks and snacks for this meeting. I had brought a sufficient s upply of duty-free alcoholic drinks with me from Santiago as excess luggage. O ccasionally, I would be asked to sit in on a meeting to t ake care of any political matter which came up. One evening, as I was in my sitting room checking the glasses and ice before the meeting, a delegate whom I had never met before came in. He was a Keshadhari Sikh and I knew that he was a brilliant economist who had studied or taught at Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard and that he was economic adviser to the minister of finance. His name was Manmohan Singh. We start ed talking about Indian politics and he said to me, ‘Are you not a s ocialist?’ ‘Certainly not, I am a civil servant and by law I am not allowed to join any political party. In fact I am not even allowed to tell anybody how I have voted in an election. As it happens, I have never voted in an election. My political views are my own and I am under no obligation to embrace those of the government in power.’

‘You are a very brave man.’ We have never discussed politics since then.

The economic situation in Chile was deteriorating day by day. The reasons were obvious. Eudon Lhamu had given a cocktail party for me a few days after my arrival and even before my presentation of credentials. At this party I had met, to my surprise, an Indian who identified himself as Varadarajan, professor of polit ical sci ence at York University, England, who was on an exchange programme with the University of Santiago. I said this was quite remarkable because the very small Indian community in Santiago consisted of businessmen, none of whom had had a college education. H e said that he considered himself very fortunate professi onally to be in Chile at this time. ‘I think Chile is a beautiful country with a lovely climat e but how are you fortunate professionally?’ ‘In York, I could talk to my st udents about farm nationalizat ion. Here I can go and do it .’ ‘What? How do you nationalize a farm?’ ‘On Saturday morn ing we discuss the subject in class and in the afternoon we go and take ov er a far m.’ ‘Does anybody in your class know how to milk a cow?’ ‘One can find all that in books.’ Verily, socialism is the philosophy ‘Wh at is yours is mine; what is mine is my own.’ We did not discuss politics after that but Varadarajan was a delightful conversationalist and good company and we met again in England and in India after my retirement. He came of a Tamil Brahmin family and told me that he was a relative of Ramanujan, the mathematical genius who he said came from a poor and practically illiterate background rather li ke his own. The agricultural situation was indeed disastrous. Some years earlier a team of European agronomists had visited Chile and announced that the Central Valley could feed twenty million persons on European standards of nourishment. The population of Chile during my time was estimated at eleven million. Chile had been quite rich in beef and traditionally the manual labourer expected to grill a fillet on his own spade for lunch. By 1972, the only beef was ground meat some of which w ould be put in a dish for flavouring. Fish was fairly freely available but it was not part o the national diet. We also learnt that in that year Chile had spent a billion dollars on food imports, thus reducing the foreign exchange left by the previous govern ment by half. Where had the dollars gone? The industrial situation was as bad. In 1971, the government imposed price controls on ‘essential items’, a list o which was published. At the time this meant nothing to me but later I found out the inconsistencies created by this. Stacking chairs were price-controlled but the plywood, paint and steel pipes from which they were made were not ‘essential items’. Their prices shot up and manufacture was no longer economically viable. Stacking chairs which were in stock were sold at the legal price in the slums thus creating a black market. An ingenious Anglo-Chilean I met said that he had been a manufacturer of cooking ranges which weighed eleven kilos each. With the price of cooking ranges being controlled and galloping inflation, he could no longer afford to make them; he survived by making electric torches which weighed seven h undred grammes and which he could sell at the same price as his previous product! A new initiative was ‘Sunday Voluntary Labour’. Ministers and high officials went out to do manual labour in the slums. This was good in the sense that it gave the upper classes an opportunity to see how the poor lived. However, it was combined with ‘supply of essential items at affordable prices’ at the same time in the slums. This necessarily meant creati on of black markets. ‘Essential items’ included do mestic electrical appliances which the poor did not wan t and also cars which became even scarcer than they had been previously. I have been asked if the Allende regime was industrially incompetent. My answer is that the only product of which there was no shortage was the currency note. So much for the economy; I had no fault to find on the political side. The laws were respected; there were no concentration camps and the chief justice, who came more than once to play bridge, had no complaints. In an English magazine an article about Czechoslovakia said the writer had had a conversation with a socialist in that country who had complained about conditions in his own country and when asked which country had the best socialist government had answered, ‘Chile’. My own experience was simil ar. At a lunch party I gave for some East European ambassad ors, the question of capital punishment came up. I said I was glad to say that we still had capital punishment although it was not used very often and asked the Czechoslovak ambassador about the s ituation in his country. He replied, ‘Well, you see we have adopted a socialist economy. This creates economic crimes which can only be curbed by capital punishment.’ There were no such economic crimes in Allende’s Chile. One of Chile’s diplomatic successes was the award of the Nobel Prize to Pablo Neruda. Ind ia gave its full support for this. He was only the second Chilean to get a Nobel Prize in literature – the previous one had been Gabriela Mistral in

1945. The Chilean socialist experiment attracted leftists from all over the Americas and even from Europe. One French ‘intellect ual’ was recruited by Allende in his economic t eam. He survived 1973 an d tried out his ideas m any years later in both France and India. Fortunately he was given short shrif t in both countries. What concerned me was the arrival of Krishna Menon for a communist International Peace Committee. He was no longer a minister but he was still an influential politician and I could not afford to ignore him. Whenever he had free time, he would turn up at the embassy residence – he liked to see good-looking women. Finally he asked me to give a party for his committee. I told him that my table could accommodate twelve and offered him lunch for twelve or a cocktail for t wenty-five. He said twelve was no good and ch ose the cocktail. Kirat and the ser vants prepared for that. When the evening arrived, we waited – the invitation was for 6 p.m. – but no one came till 8 p.m. Then over a hundred of them turned up. They were ravenously hungry. The meeting had started in the morning and gone on through lunch and teatime without a bite to eat or a drop to drink. They wanted dinner. The snacks that Moorthy had prepared were soon exhausted. He emptied his larder and then went to the basement where potatoes and onions were stored. We breathed a sigh of relief when they left near midnight. I had managed to establis h quite good relations with the l eft-wing govern ment alt hough the society i n which I moved had conservative views. The closeness to President Allende was Kirat’s work. She had gone to pay her formal call on the president’s wife, ‘Tencha’ (Hortensia Bussi de Allende), at the Moneda Palace when the president appeared and said that he had heard of the beauty of the Indian ambassadress and had come to see for himself. In the middle of 1972, the third UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) was held in Santiago. India was obviously going to play an important part at this conference – the previous one had been held in New Delhi – and it was suggested that an evening of Indian music and dance could be organized. The problem with organizing such functions is, of course, finance. It is only on special occasions that the Government of India will provide an extra entertainment allowance. If there is an important Indian enterprise (for example, Air-India) or a wealthy Indian business community, as in Tokyo or Singapore, they can be persuaded to contribute. We had no such Maecenas to fall back on. There was only one long-standing Indian businessman in Santiago. I had met him in 1954 when he had come to see me at the Carrera hotel where I was staying. He had explained that he was from Goa and had travelled to Chile on a Portuguese passport in which his name was spelt Vishnum Caroicar. I had been cautious about meet ing him because we had just broken off relations with Portugal! Since that time he had acquired Chilean citizenship and an upper-middle-class Chilean wife. He had demonstrated his attachment for India by having a crossroads named ‘Plaza de la India’ to which he had contributed statues o Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore. He helped to finance our evening to which Mrs Allende was invited. By the end of 1972 the Chilean socialist experiment was becoming more and more unpopular with the upper and middle classes. European and American (this includes North and South Americans) diplomats were also commenting on the economic failures of the regime so that Allende found himself rather isolated except for what I would call the countries of t he Soviet bloc whether in Europe, America or Asia. A hint was dropped to us that the president was keen to try Indian food. Heads of state usually do not go to em bassies except when the head of state of t he country whose embassy it is invites them, which can only hap pen if he is there on a state visit. It was an unusual honour for India that President Allende had asked for a dinner at the Indian embassy. O course, on such an occasion he had to be asked to give us a list of names of people that he wanted invited. This was done. We also gave a list of the names of people that we wanted to invite. Since our dining table could only hold twelve, it had t o be a buffet dinner. I have been able t o find my visit or’s book for 1973 and I see that there were two dinners. The first was on 9 February and among the guests were the foreign minister of Chile – both the president and the foreign minister were accompanied by their wives – and the ambassadors of Ecuador, Peru and Sweden. This was a success and there was a demand for a r epetition. This took place on 18 June. By this time, it was becoming obvious that the armed forces were determined to topple the government. In fact an attempt was made later that month and tanks came to the Moneda Palace but their communications failed, some of the tanks were caught up in a traffic jam, there was no support from the air force and the navy so the army came out of it looking rather foolish. At the dinner I m entioned to the president that I was going home on leave soon for a couple of months. Allende said he was keen to visit India, combining it with his attendance at a Conference of Non-Aligned Nations scheduled to be held in Algiers i n September. His problem was that he needed permission from Congress if he was away for more than two weeks and it was doubtful if that would be forthcoming. He asked me if the two weeks could be stretched by going round the world the ‘wrong way’! It was difficult for me to conceal my amazement at his ignorance but I managed to do so and I told him t hat I did not think it would make any difference. From me he went on to talk to Kirat saying, ‘The ambassador tells me you are going home and won’t be back till

mid-September. I may not be ali ve by then.’ At which, Kirat had diffi culty in holding back her tears. As I have mentioned, talk of an impending coup was w idespread at all levels of Chilean society and the president had said in a public speech, ‘They will take m e out of the Moneda in wooden p yjamas.’ The conversation between Allende and Kirat had gone unnoticed and our dinner went on as usual. After everybody else had left, one of his friends whom I had never met before, Senator Volodia Teitelboim, asked to stay back to talk to us. He said, ‘As you know the big problem is the economy. We have done our utmost to get the best economic advice. We even found a British expert to instal a computerized control room so we know every day how much wheat or towels have been produced till that day in the current year. A year ago, the president called his economic advisers and said to them, “Last year, soon after we came to office, we froze the prices of essential commodities because we could see that people unfriendly to us were promoting inflation to make us unpopular. Inflation has not been a problem but the frozen prices are creating difficulties for producers. If we free prices, how much inflation do you think we will have next year?” ‘Their answer was that there would be about 45 per cent inflation this year if prices were freed. In the Chilean context inflation of 45 per cent has not been unusual in the past and the president agreed to free prices. You must have seen that inflation is currently running at 300 per cent. Unfortunately, w e cannot even shoot those economic advisers.’ Teitelboim belonged to the Communist Party and was a Jew of Russian srcin. He was about fifty years old at the time, had married late and had a daughter aged three. After the coup he and his wife managed to get away but the daughter became separated. I had to help her get out of the country. Shortly after our dinner there was the failed coup and Kirat advised me to go and see the president. I found him rather dejected. ‘The problem is that in Chile there are too many disparate elements, people of different national and racial srcins, and it is diffi cult to hold them together. ’ ‘Mr President, we have far more differences in the vast population of our country and there are differences o language, of religion and of other factors that I cannot even explain to you, but whenever the country is in danger and there is an external enemy , the patriotic reaction has been won derful to behold. I am sure it would be the same i n Chile under your leadership.’ ‘Ah! Ambassador, there is one element in our country whose loyalty l ies outside our borders.’ ‘How can that be, Mr President? And which is this element?’ ‘The armed forces. They are all t rained in the United States and those people buy their loyalty.’ It was the l ast conversation I was destined to have with the president. I saw Prime Minister I ndira Gandhi also and to her I s aid the coup would pro bably take place when Allend e would be in Algiers for the conference. Her comment, ‘Then he should not go to Algiers.’ I did not say anything but I felt that South American coups d’etat are not usually violent but that this one would be bloody if it was resisted. Besides most men of Spanish blood remembered the Spanish Civil War four decades earlier which had cost a m illion li ves and would not want to repeat that experience. Colleagues in the ministry said, ‘There is always a complaint that whenever a revolution or a coup takes place, the Indian ambassador is absent. Do go back o n time s o that there m ay be no complaint this ti me.’ We got back in time for the North Korean National Day, which is on 9 September. That day in 1973 was a Sunday so the party was probably held the following evening. I have not known many North Korean diplomats because they do not seem keen to m ake friends and seldom speak l anguages other than t heir own. However, I remember t hat this party was lavish enough. What was striking and unusual was a large alcove containing a statue of Kim Il Sung; people were bowing before it as if it were the idol of a Hindu god. The statue was surrounded by books. The atmosphere at the party felt very tense. On the 11th I got up as usual at 7 a.m. and immediately went for my shower. When I came back Kirat was in tears. She said, ‘The pho ne rang so I picked it up to hear Allende’ s voice. He said, “I am cal ling you on the most difficult day of my life. We shall fight all day.” Then he must have put the phone down.’ I felt that 7.30 a.m. was not a good time to ring up anybody. The only unusual sound I heard was of planes flying overhead. Whom should I ask? I decided to go to office as usual and make phone calls. The problem was that my diplomatic colleagues would be divided and would only have news favouring whichever side of the iron curtain they were on. There was no Indian involved in politics. My Chilean friends although generally opposed to Allende were nonpolitical and would know nothing. It did not seem a good day to call Chilean officials or politicians. When I got to office my Indian and Chilean staff were all there. There was an unusual presence of the army in the streets. A crowd of a dozen young men rushed into the chancery. I asked them who they were and what they wanted. They said they were ‘Tupamaros’ seeking asylum. Tupamaros was the name assumed by left-wing terrorists in Uruguay in memory of the last Inca, Tupac Amaro, to have opposed the Spanish conquest of his country. I told these young men

that India did not recognize the right of diplomatic asylum and they should get out. They said the police would arrest them as soon as they got out; I pointed out that there was not a policeman in sight but that I would call the police i they did not get out. They left. Reports were coming in of firing around the Moneda Palace and of attacks on the building by Chilean air force planes firing rockets. At last I decided to call up the Papal Nuncio. I expected him to be both neutral and knowledgeable. Nuncios are generally Italians although I had once come across an Irishman. Unusually, in this case Monsignor Palma was Chilean by birth and a member of a large family – I think nineteen brothers and sisters. In the course of the conversation – in Spanish – he referred to the ‘late president’. Radio broadcasts and gossip had been saying for an hour that the president was dead but I had not believed it because, of course, the middle class wanted him out of the way and the radio and television stati ons are always the first objectives of rebels i n any revolution. T here was an announcement that telegraph services had been ‘suspended’. The first duty of an ambassador in these circumstances is to inform his government of the fate of the Indian community. I called up Nathaniel Davis, the US ambassador, whose children were classmates of Arun’s, and asked him if he would send a cipher telegram to Delhi from me. He immediately agreed. My telegram conveyed the information about the telephone call and the non-involvemen t of the Indian community. I have no personal knowledge of the events of that fateful day. There were conflicting reports of what happened. I have seen a press report of a long interview with Fidel Castro in which he says that Allende fought to the bitter end, even after he was wounded, and succumbed to a stray bullet. We listened a lot to Moscow radio for a month after the event and got all sorts of pro-Allende prop aganda including a song wh ich said ‘Allende is ali ve’. My considered belief is that the first plane probably flew over the palace well before 7 a.m. Allende, who lived openly in another house in a suburb, treating the Moneda as his office, rushed there as soon as he got the news. So did most of his ministers, his daughters, his wife and several of his friends who were armed with small arms and bazookas. His three ADCs, one from each service, asked for permission to go away because they did not want to fight against their comrades-in-arms, and were allowed to go. One of them gave him a letterhead with my telephone number on it. The palace was under fire from infantry and from the air force which had rockets in addition to machine-guns. In the Moneda they only had infantry weapons. Snipers friendly to Allende occupied some buildings in the neighbourhood and fired on the Chilean army. The Moneda was built of stone but the roof was supported by wooden beams which soon caught fire. The rebels probably did not expect such a determined resistance. When they learnt that there were women and non-combatants in the building, they suspended fire and invited them by loud-hailers to leave. The principal women were Tencha and the three daughters – the Allendes had no son. The non-combatants included the minister of foreign affairs, Clodomiro Almeyda, and Allende’s personal physician. The latter stated to the press that while leaving he had seen the president sitting in an armchair holding a silver-plated assault rifle – presented to him by Fidel Castro – between his knees with the muzzle under his chin. I see no reason to disbelieve this and therefore think that the president committed suicide. The embassy continued to function fairly normally after the coup d’etat. The unusual occurrences were at the residence. The right of diplomatic asylum ceased, in fact, at some undetermined time in the nineteenth century. The only exception I can think of during my active diplomatic service was the case of Cardinal Mindszenty in a Western embassy in Budapest. However, the situation in Latin America is different. There were two international conventions on the right o diplomatic asylum i n Latin America which were in force in 1973. They laid down elaborate term s for such asylum. The sheltering mission had to declare the identity of the persons it had harboured to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and request exit permits – these may not be unreasonably delayed. When the exit permit has been received, a day and time for departure had to be agreed on as al so the name of the ‘vessel’ by which they were to depart. Quite soon after the coup, a note was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs extending the right of asylum to all embassies. The principal ‘beneficiary’ of this concession was the Italian embassy. The building was large and empty – the ambassador and his wife had gone to Rome to attend to their son who was dying of cancer. When the building was cleared there were more than seven hundred persons in it. Even the British embassy – the British are normally very strict about such things – harboured people although Ambassador Seconde had little sympathy for the Allende regime. One evening I was invited to dinner by the French ambassador and he told me that there were ‘asylees’ normally sleeping every night on the stair s which came down into the dining room but that evening they were lying down on the floor of his bedroom! What was the position of the Chilean government in international law? I must begin by dealing with the question o who had led the coup and be come the de fact o head of state and government. The chief of the army was the only one o the three chiefs who was loyal to Allende. I cannot remember his name. His loyalty was so well known that early in the month of June while he was being driven in his official car, other cars hemmed him in creating a traffic jam (I was, against my will, caught up in this jam). He got out of his car and fired his pistol in t he air. Slogans were then shouted. I remember one, ‘We are doing this for our children and the f uture of our country .’ After this t he crowd of cars dispersed.

It was obvious from then on that he was a spent force but I had no contacts in the army and did not know what was happening. The name of Augusto Pinochet was not known to the general public until after the coup and it was only then that we realized that the army chief must have been kept prisoner since this traffic jam because he could not have been a party to t he failed June coup. By 13 September all the diplomatic missions had received a note from the de facto government informing them o the death of President Allende and the assumption of power by General Pinochet and the composition of his new cabinet, almost all high officers of the three armed forces. The vice-president was a naval officer. I sent off a translation of this note to Delhi from where there was no response. India did not wish to recognize this de facto government. For my part, I continued to deal with the officers I knew in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I did not call on the new minister of foreign affairs – a general – or meet him. I never shook his hand. When I went to a party in another embassy and he was present I avoided him. I felt it wise to fly the flag on my car although it had not been the practice in Chile to do so except on formal occasions – for attendance at a government function or a formal call on another ambassador. One afternoon as I was being driven in the city, the car was stopped by a policeman who asked, ‘Why are you not flying a Chilean flag?’ ‘An ambassador only flies t he flag of his own country on his car.’ ‘But in these times?’ ‘If you do not like universal diplomatic practice, ask your government to declare me persona non grata and I shall not hesitate to leave.’ I never had any such experience again. A curfew was imposed – I think at 10 p.m. – after which time one could hear stray shots being fired. I never found out who was fir ing at whom and there were no reports in the press or on television of any violent incidents. None of my colleagues or Chilean friends or acquaintances knew anything either. Throughout my stay in Chile after the coup there was only one night – about which I shall relat e later – when I did not hear gun fire. The first persons to ask for asylum were two young men speaking quite good English who said they were brothers, born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), of a Czech father (a Bata executive) and an ‘Indian mother’. We suspected from their appearance that the mother must have been an Anglo-Indian. T heir documents bore a Slavonic name. Their parents did not come to see t hem and we were nev er able t o verify their story. They said they were liable t o be arrested and tortured if not shot i f the police were to see them on t he street. They appeared sincere and well-mannered and w e believed their story and took them in. The person who really brought seekers of asylum into the embassy residence was Irma, the wife of Clodomiro Almeyda, the foreign minister. I had found Almeyda inaccessible and unhelpful. He seemed to be totally uninterested in human problems. Some Indian merchants in Punta A renas (the southernmost city i n the world) had fallen foul of the Allende administration and their properties had been seized. The officials in the ministry were unable to do anything and I had asked for an interview with the foreign minister. All he could say was, ‘I shall convey your request to the president.’ He had been a guest in the embassy; in fact I had even given a cocktail in his honour when he had chaired the UNCTAD meeting and, of course, he and his wife had accompanied the president for both dinners. His wife had been more sociable. With the death of Allende and the arres t of her husband – confined in a prison camp near Punta Arenas – she made an all-out effort to build better relations with Kirat, and I ended up addressing her as ‘Tu’. She was a welleducated and capable woman with managerial talents. She was in charge of the UNCTAD building which had been built in the style of the UN headquarters in New York. It had the highest tower in Santiago which housed the offices and a large low building commonly known as ‘La Placa’ which contained the assembly, conference and committee rooms. From her office she had watched the events at the Moneda Palace. When the palace was finally taken she thought her husband had died only to get a phone call fr om him s aying he was being carried off into captivity. One of the first persons she brought in was a woman who according to Irma was the sister of Allende’s mistress, whom I had never met. This sister was supposed to have been stitching armed forces uniforms for the new guerillas. She kept to the room we gave her and did not have her meals with us. She must have been four weeks in the house during which time I only saw her a couple of times. I think I should explain that Allende’s socialism was nonviolent like Nehru’s and totally unlike the National Socialism of Hitler or the Soviet Socialism of Stalin. I did not hear of a single political death or instance of terrorism during the Allende years. Pinochet’s rule was quite different. The prisoners that the police and the army took were routinely tortured. The leftists were totally disunited and some of the groups were armed and made full use of their weapons. One man named Miguel, the son of a university rector, specialized in inventing new weapons. One of his inventions called ‘Miguelito’ after him was a steel quadripod which had a spike pointing straight up whichever way it fell to the ground. He would drive round in a car and, when he was chased his companions would sprinkle these out o the rear windows to pun cture the tyres of his pursuers. The guerillas often wore uniforms to be able to mingle with the troops – there was compulsory military service in

Chile so all adult males knew how to march, shoot and behave like soldiers. The army therefore started wearing distinctive armbands which were changed every day and the greatest secrecy was observed about the armband to be worn on the following day. The army had orders to shoot anyone in uniform who did not have an armband or was seen wearing the wrong armband. Three men, claiming to be brothers, turned up asking for asylum. I did not like their appearance and asked them why they needed asylum. Instead of answering me they produ ced their identit y cards, which, o f course, mentioned their fi rst names – ‘Vladimir ’, ‘Ilyich’ and ‘Lenin’. Their fat her had been a fanatical communist! I have gone ahead of the story. The new regime quickly broke off relations with Cuba and the Swedish ambassador, Harald Edelstamm, took charge of the Cuban embassy, which was situated across the street from his own. To my surprise, I received orders from Delhi to take over protection of the Russian and Czech embassies. I rang up the Russian ambassador and he said, yes, the Soviet Union was ‘suspending’ its relations with Chile. I sent a telegram to Delhi protesting that I did not have enoug h staff to look after the enormous property and belong ings of these t wo large missions. A second secretary was detached from the embassy in Brazil and arrived accompanied by his wife. He was a Malayali and proved most helpful. I installed him in the chancery of the large Soviet embassy. A few weeks later there was an attempt to break into the building – whether by common criminals or by the agents of t he de facto government I shall never know – and he very courageou sly drove off the intruders with the help of the Chilean nightwatchman, both of them unarmed. When I reported the event to Delhi, I was told that it was not my responsibility to provide physical protection to the Soviet and Czech embassies. In fact the Czech embassy was burgled a little later. I am going into all these details because it is unusual for an ambassador to become ‘protector ’ of another embassy; it was a new experience for me and the details mi ght be interesting for the reader. Normal diplomatic life resumed fairly quickly but my work increased substantially. The first major operation was the evacuation of the Russians. All the Russian embassy staff had to leave. The Russians realized that the hundreds o engineers, technicians and specialists they had provided – mainly to replace foreigners working in the mines and multinational enterprises who had left as they found their salaries unviable – must also leave. The Soviet government sent a number of planes in the course of a fortnight t o evacuate them. The North Korean govern ment apparently did not have suitable planes so they asked the Russians to carry their nationals out also. The problem was that they insisted on carrying away five tons of the books of Kim Il Sung – apparently they could neither be burnt nor allowed to fall into the hands of ‘unbelievers’. I felt sorry for the Russians, who w ere allowed to take away only one suitcase per person. If any of t hem had private cars – as diplomats usually do – they had to be abandoned as also extra clothes, furniture, furnishings and other household items. When the Rumanian ambassador and his wife, whom we knew rather well, had to leave, he had to go by air and leave behind belongings worth hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars. As I have mentioned the embassy only had one car, a Chevrolet. I suddenly ‘acquired’ nearly a hundred motor vehicles ranging from m otorcycles to an ai r-conditioned Mercedes-Benz bus belon ging to the Soviet em bassy. Between the two embassies there were a dozen Mercedes-Benz cars of varying ages and sizes. Socialism is obviously good for socialist diplomats. There was also the question of property. Between the two embassies they owned a dozen buildings or flats. These did not present a problem because the Chilean employees continued in service and reported direct ly to Moscow and Prague and presumably continued to get their salaries somehow. The problem was with the thirty or forty rented apartments. They had all to be returned to their owners. I did not inquire whether they were let furnished or unfurnished. The contents were left in the apartments rather than thrown away. I visited one or two of these apartments and noticed that all had been occupied by at least two families. The second kitchen was installed in one of the bathrooms. I could only speculate on the r easons for this policy, whether it was economic or for securit y. A couple of days after the coup, we got a phone call in the evening from the Mexican embassy. Tencha had taken refuge there after she was allowed to leave the Moneda. She had now been told that her husband’s body had been prepared for burial and she was invited to accompany it to the graveyard with any friends she wanted to accompany her. She was asking us if we wanted to go. Of course, we went. Tencha was in the hearse while a number of ambassadors and their wives foll owed in a bus. Later Kirat asked her if she had seen the body. She replied in the negative. Kirat asked, ‘Were you at least allowed to see a hand? If not, how can you know that the body was the president’s?’ ‘I believe it was.’ More than twenty years later I received a phone call in Delhi. It was an officer of the Ministry of External Affairs asking if I had been ambassador of India in Chile. When I replied i n the affirm ative, he said there was an invitat ion for me to go to Chile for t he formal reburial of the body of President Allende. S ince there was no ticket with the i nvitation, the question of my paying for a return t icket to Santiago did not arise. It must have been ten days after the coup that a weekly publication mentioned that when Allende’s body was undressed, a quarter of a sheet letterheaded ‘ADC to the President of Chile’ was found in one of his pockets with a sixfigure number written on it. The magazine speculated that it must have been the number of his Swiss bank account.

This was obviously nonsense. Why should a man preparing to die be interested in a Swiss bank account? The next issue of the magazine said that they had found that it was the telephone number of the Indian ambassador. It went on to say that as the Indian ambassador had taken over the protection of the Russian embassy, Allende must have been trying to get Russian help against t he Chilean army. Th is conjecture was no bett er than t he previous one. When I returned home from the office that evening, I found Kirat in tears. There had been a number of telephone calls asking, ‘Is Salvador t here?’ or ‘Are you expecting Allende?’ Faced with all the requests for asylum, I wrote to the ministry that we should perhaps recognize the de facto government so as to be able to help these unfortunate victims of the military dictatorship. In reply I got a copy of the note that the m inistry had sent t o all mi ssions in New Delhi, w ith regard to t he Svetlana (Alliluyeva, Stalin’s dau ghter) episode, stating that the Government of India did not recognize the right of diplomati c asylum. This was, of course, the correct answer to my recommendation but it put me in a very difficult situation. By now I had over a dozen ‘asylees’ in the embassy. It would be inhuman to turn them over to the police to be tortured. How did I know that they would be tortured or killed? There were plenty of reports, not in the Chilean press, but on foreign television and radio. I was also in daily touch with the reporter of the Toronto Star, a man called Timothy Ross who had come over from another South American capital where he normally resided to cover the situation in Chile. He was collecting such stories. Finally, I got direct evidence. One of the Russian embassy vehicles under my ‘protection’ was being used for carrying stray Russians to Santiago for repatri ation. They stopp ed on the way for the night and were listening to a Russian radio broadcast when the police heard about them and arrested them. Listening to foreign broadcasts was not a serious offence – broadcasting invited immediate execution – but the circumstances appeared suspicious to a zealous policeman. The authorities had no wish to delay the r epatriation of Russian technicians but a Chilean working for them could be a dangerous revolutionary and needed to be ‘interrogated’. He was taken to a torture camp where he was in the queue for torture – others who had arrived before him were being ‘interrogated’ w hen he and several others with him were suddenly released. He came and told me t his. They were released t o make room for over a hundred newcomers. I learnt from other sources that the army had succeeded in killing ‘Miguel’ mentioned three pages earlier. In his pocket they found the names, addresses and telephone numbers of over two hundred persons. They were rounded up and taken to the camp where this driver was being held. It seems strange that an intelligent man like Miguel should have kept such an important list where it was bound to fall i nto the hands of the police – he must have thought he was immortal. My problem was that I had to feed all these people and I could not keep them on a diet of bread and water although I did not give them wine because I did not drink it m yself. Since I could not tell my government that they existed I could not ask for extra funds to look after them. Then, again, I could not tell the Chilean government that I had refugees and ask for exit permits for them. I found that the Ecuadorean embassy had a low back wall about a hundred meters from my front gate so I started letting my ‘guests’ out of my front gate at night and helping them climb into the Ecuadorean embassy. Of course, the Ecuadorean ambassador soon put barbed wire on his back wall! In this way I was able to help some forty persons – a few of them were quite prominent people. Some of them had stayed under my roof (eaten my salt) for over a month, all at my personal expense. I had ‘cast my bread upon the water’ and it was only returned to me in 1985, thanks to Kirat. What proof is there t hat prisoners were being tortured? One of the victims was a Britis h woman medical practitioner named, I think, Kennedy. She gave specific medical details of what was done to her. These details appeared in English newspapers in m ost countries. Many interesting events were taking place almost simultaneously and I cannot remember the dates on which they occurred. One of these was the death of Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize-winning poet who had been the communist candidate in the fir st round of the presidential election of 1970. I had met him t wice, once in 195 4 when he had invited me to dinner in an apartment in Santiago and then in 1971 when he had come to have tea at the embassy. On the second occasion I had noticed his enormous ankles. Rumour had indicated that he was suffering from cancer of the prostate. He seemed to be well off and I was told that he had been very clever about selling his books in a country in which po ets usually starve in garret s as in eighteenth-century En gland. He lived most of the time on an ‘estate’ called Isla Negra (Black Island) where he did not have a telephone. My attempts to get to this estate had failed. Once I had got hold of his ‘contact number’ and had to wait an inordinate time for him to come to the phone. When he did, he would not give me a time and a place for meeting him or accept an invitation to the embassy. As I got the report of his death, I also heard that a crowd had entered his house in Santiago and ransacked it. It was the f irst time I heard of his having a house in Santiago and I went there immediatel y. The house was open and there was a man who let me in when I identified myself. Books and papers were strewn all over but I could not see any physical damage. I had occasion to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Moneda to meet an official whom I had known for some time and I mentioned that the house of the world-famous Chilean poet had been ransacked. I was trying to tell

him that t he coup had been a disgrace and he was trying to tell me that it followed a hallow ed South American traditi on and that the Chile famous for its literacy, wealth and culture was unchanged. He invited my attention to an American film currently being shown called Zorba the Greek in which when a man dies, his belongings are looted because he is not of the same Christian sect as the local population. He po inted out that Isl a Negra had not been disturbed . Some Chilean foreign service offi cers had been sent home but others continued in office. Generally, the professional and middle classes were happy that the government had changed bu t few li ked the violence which had accompanied the change. Others were unhappy to have Chilean democracy kept in abeyance by the mili tary rulers. That had certainly happened. There had been intervals of mil itary r ule in Chile before but t he ‘Congreso’ had boasted of over a hundred years of continuous existence and it had now been dissolved. The men arrested by the new government (and there were over a thousand of them kept openly in a stadium where they could be met by relations and by the cleverer journalists like Timothy Ross) were tried by military tribunals and subject to m ilitar y penalties which were announ ced. Those kept in the prison camps were not acknowledged an d I only knew of them t hrough unofficial sources which were probab ly less reliable t han the official ones. This brings us to the question of how many men and women were killed by the Pinochet government. I have not seen any acknowledgement by Pinochet of ‘executions’ much less killings in the course of or as a result of what the regime called the ‘pronunciamento’. My unofficial sources gave me figures between ten thousand and thirty thousand. After the restoration of democracy and during the twenty-first century rule of the Socialist Party – Allende’s party – the figure mentioned has been three thousand which cannot possibly be an understatement. This illustrates how undependable were my sources including Timothy Ross who, with his wife Sarah, was my house guest for a week or so. The meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union mentioned earlier duly took place and, in its aftermath, the Speaker o the Lok Sabha wanted to see Cuzco (the last capit al of the Incas) and Machu Picchu. I got a respite f rom the disaster o Chile by flying to Lima. The Speaker was a Keshadhari Sikh named G.S. Dhillon, a very cultured landowner who had submitted honestly to land reform. At this st age let m e mention an earli er visit to Lima where a Muslim ex-MP (A.M. Tariq) who had become chairman of the Motion Picture Export Corporation had arrived with thirty-odd trailers. Alan Nazareth arranged a private showing on a Sunday morning to which he invited the owners or managers of all t he cinemas i n Lima. The success was incredible – I still find it difficult to believe it over thirty years later. Tariq sold a hundred films. Two cinemas in Lima showed only Indian films for a year. Alan, Isobel and the tiny embassy staff kept busy listening to the Hindi soundtrack and translating it into Spanish. The translations and the films were sent to Beirut where they were subtitled in Spanish, a facility not available at that t ime in India. To return to Speaker Dhillon, Alan Nazareth arranged a full programme for him to meet various Peruvian personalities. One of these made a change in his programme so we were at a loose end for a couple of hours and Alan took us to see the ‘Inquisiti on Museum’. This had models of the various kinds of torture used by the ‘Holy Inq uisition’ to ‘persuade’ its victims to ‘confess to their heresies’ after which they were ‘handed over to the civil arm’ to perform their ‘act of faith’, that is, be burnt at the stake. I told Alan and the Speaker that these ancient practices had not been lost but refined with the help of electricity to make them quicker and more efficient in neighbouring Chile. I could see from his expression that Alan at least did not believe me. The Speaker and I flew to Cuzco which is at a height of about eight thousand feet and went to our hotel. Next day, when I woke up I found it was drizzling. I went out to the balcony – we had adjoining first-floor rooms – and looking down saw a hundred yards away an effigy of Raj Kapoor in his clown’s dress and above it a signboard, ‘Bar Joker’. I showed it to the Speaker, who was delighted with the success of his political colleague Tariq. To go to Machu Picchu we had to take a narrow-gauge train which had to negotiate a switchback on the steep mountain which separated Cuzco from Machu Picchu. Along side the track were some buildings which were obv iously the quarters of the railway workers. Dhillon told me that he had been minister of railways and said, ‘We cannot give such quarters t o our workers any longer. They insist on el ectricit y and running water. ’ The social system of Peru is interesting. The coastal plain is a desert like Egypt or Sind with the difference that instead of one huge river, it has over a dozen coming down from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. The deltas of these rivers have been settl ed by the white man. The Altiplano mentioned earlier is inhabited by Amerindians; the slopes are lived in by ‘mestizos’ (halfbreeds). The Amerindian who receives the full rays of the tropical sun unfiltered by the polluted air of the lower atmosphere is quite dark-skinned. If he wants to find a job instead of living by subsistence farming, the ‘Indio’ comes down to get unskilled work in a workshop or factory – probably sweeping it out. At this stage, he cannot read or write or even speak Spanish. Depending on his talent and ambition he may take a year or five to learn to speak Spanish, to sign his name and to wear shoes. He is then known as a mestizo. If he is really talented, wins the lottery or makes a fortune by selling peanuts, he may acquire a car and a white woman, when he becomes a ‘blanco’. It is only the indio wh o is willi ng to live in t he railway quarters which had surprised Mr Dhillon. At that tim e, the Peruvian establishment was not very interested in t he indio. At the conference wh ich I had attended

in La Paz in 1954, the question had been raised whether the indio could vote in Peru. The answer was, ‘All literate Peruvians have the right to vote.’ We were not told that there were no schools in the Altiplano! Things have changed since then. I gather that the president of Peru in the twenty-first century is of unmixed Amerindian descent. The same has happened in Bolivia and Venezuela although the w orld press writes m ore about their political alignment (left ) than their ethnic roots. I find this very interesting. In the foregoing pages I have used the word ‘white’ where the word used by most European and North American writers is ‘European’. When there are riots in these countries, the rabble does shout ‘blanco’ (white) to indicate its alienation from the ruling class i n terms of race rat her than politics. There is another anomaly. In the sixteenth-century conquest of what we now call Hispano-America, the ‘conquistadores’ were not accompanied by women from Europe. The emigration of women took place much later. I can only suppose that the ‘Council of the Indies’ presided over by the Spanish king in person expected the surviving conquerors to return home and settle down just as the East India Company did in London. The ‘fishing fleet’ o unmarried Englishwo men only started after t he Suez Canal came into operation. The Spanish occupation of land in the New World was governed by Spanish law which recognized the land rights o the absrcinal occupants. Many Spaniards married the local women – after killing off their husbands or fathers for rebellion! In t his way some of them became l egal owners of vast tracts of land. In La Paz, some of the great landowners – constituting the landed aristocracy – I was introduced to definitely had Amerindian features. Harald Edelstamm, the recently arrived Swedish ambassador, had leftist views. He had become the protector of the Cuban embassy, the only one to be expelled by Pinochet. The first secretary of the Cuban embassy had married Allende’s second daughter. It so happened that the Cuban embassy was situated across the road from the Swedish one. Harald invited us to dinner one evening. We knew that he did not have a wife. When we got there he showed us a statue of his ‘second wife’. He asked us to study it carefully because ‘One side of the face is kind and the other is cruel.’ Then he asked us whether we would mind crossing the road for dinner. We duly went across – it was the southern summer by this time so it was still light – and he explained that he was living in the Cuban embassy the better to protect the scores of asylees that he had taken in. He pointed to bullet hits in the walls of the building and said it was fired on at night by the troops which surrou nded it. Naturally, the Cuban embassy was not furnished like the Swedish one. The dinner was served by some of the asylees while others sat down at t able with us. It was not a very good dinner . Since there was a curfew at 10 p.m., we prepared to leave after coffee. Harald said, ‘As soon as you leave, the shooting will start. I expect them to storm this building tonight because I have an asylee whom they parti cularly want.’ My answer was, ‘If that is so, Harald, we won’t leave.’ Harald was overjoyed and started making intercontinental telephone calls to journalists he knew in Europe telling them of the shooting against the embassy and the ‘protection I am getting from the Indian ambassador and his wife’. (In Spanish and French, the expression is ‘the Indian ambassadors’.) We prepared to bed down on couches in the library under quilts which were provided to us. The only phon e call we made was to our own servants tel ling them not to wait for us. That was the most peaceful night we spent in Santiago under the Pinochet regime – not a shot did we hear. However, I am a creature of habit and I was not in a good temper having slept in a lounge suit rather than in pyjamas, not having cleaned my teeth and so on. Next morning having woken up at my usual time we put on our shoes and prepared to leave, without waiting to thank Harald – there was, of course, no toilet attached to the library – and I got into the car. I always used to drive myself in the evenings because of the problem of the curfew for the driver who lived far from the embassy residence. As soon as we came to the embassy gate, I saw half-a-dozen men in uniform standing in front. I stopped the car and asked them what they wanted – as I have said I was not in a good temper. They asked me to open the boot. I pointed out that I was the I ndian ambassador and pointed to the ambassadorial number plate on the car. They replied that they wanted to know if there was anybody in the boot. This they were entitled to do. The Latin American conventions referred to earlier specifically forbid the carriage of asylees in embassy vehicles. Of course, there was nobody in the boot. I got to offi ce fairl y late t hat day and found a long telegram waiting from Delhi. Apparently , the charge d’affair es in Stockholm had been summoned to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be formally thanked for the ‘protection which the Indian Ambassador has given to Ambassador Edelstamm’. At The Hague the Swedish ambassador had spoken to our ambassador (Maharaja Y advendra Singh of Patiala) to express his appreciation of my act ion. The foreign secretary expressed his displeasure at my involving myself in activit ies which were none of my concern . Some years later, after I had retired, I found that the Swedish ambassador in New Delhi was Harald Edelstamm’s brother. I mentioned to him that I had known Harald in Santiago. Harald was declared persona non grata some time after the events I have described but his government supported him. He continued in the Swedish foreign service and went on to hold other posts. In the course of his travels, he stayed at the embassy in New Delhi and I was invited to dinner. It was the Christmas seas on and he was looking forw ard to a midnight swim in t he embassy’s swimming pool.

To go back, that same morning, I was asked on the telephone by an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs what had happened. I said that the Swedish ambassador’s dinner had gone on longer than I had expected and, to avoid the problem of the curfew, my wife and I had slept over at our host’s. ‘But, Mr Ambassador, you should have a curfew pass. Please apply for one.’ I thanked him but I did not apply for a curfew pass. They had to be renewed every five days and the process was quite long-winded. In any case, I was not getting many invitations for dinners at embassies because my hosts would have found my presence embarrassing if I was at the same t able with Chilean ministers or other diplomats. In the latter half of 1974, a Bengali turned up in the chancery. He was received by Kashi Chakravarty, the second secretary, who had just arrived to t ake the place of a first secretary who had prov ed uninterested in working. Kashi came and told me that a Bengali Muslim had come asking for asylum s ince there was no Banglad eshi embassy. His story was that he was a lef tist professor of mathematics, famous in his own field, who had co me to Chile li ke many other leftists in Allende’s time and was living in a flat when, one day, the police turned up to arrest him. On being asked the reason they said they had found a radio transmitter in a locker under the staircase. This was very serious because using a radio transmitter was punishable by death. He had a brainwave and handed them the bunch of keys from his pocket, saying, ‘H ere are all the keys I possess – you can search my flat if you like – please see if any of them fits the locker you are talking about.’ Fortunately none of the keys fitted and he was let off after a few questions. He had come because the police might make further enquiries about him now that they knew his name. We sent off an open (not coded) telegram to the Bangladeshi embassy in Buenos Aires asking if they knew of Professor . . . who had come to us asking for shelter. In the meantime, Kashi agreed to keep the man as a house guest. After a couple of days, the Banglad eshi embassy replied that there was no such famous Bangladeshi mathematician. We were in a quandary. However, Kashi reported, now that he and Meera (his wife) had had this man living in their house for two days, that he appeared to be a dangerous communist and a brilli ant intellect ual. Their Chilean maid who co uld not communicate with the guest because they had no common language had given her judgemen t, ‘I would not marr y this m an, even as a gif t.’ I had only one conversation with the Bangladeshi and could not form any opinion about him, not even as a mathematician – as I have mentioned earlier I was trained as a physical scientist. He did appear to be genuine, not a confidence trickster or a sponger. Fortunately, after a couple of days another telegram arrived from the Bangladeshi embassy apologizing for their previous telegram and saying that Professor . . . was indeed a famous Bangladeshi mathematician and requesting us to dispatch him to Buenos Aires by air at the embassy’s expense. This ended the ordeal of the Chakravartys. There were no more requests for asylum but I could still do odd favours for persons who were at risk. My duties had changed. I was seei ng less of my European diplomatic colleagues but tel ephone conversations were continuing so I was spending more time at home. One afternoon I was sitting in my dressing-room-cum-study – it received the afternoon sun – when I saw a fat, middle-aged, middle-class woman come hesitantly through the embassy gate and walk to the door. I did not pay much attention because she would be Kirat’s business. A few minutes later Kirat arrived with tears in her eyes. The woman had said that she had an eighteen-year-old son who was going to be executed next morning; Arun was seventeen years old. I went to talk to the woman and after expressing my profound regrets, I said she must understand that I could do nothing to prevent this t ragedy so what wou ld she l ike me to do? ‘I have come to request you to m ake this known to the world.’ ‘That I think I can do. Please give me the details.’ Timothy Ross could do that. He and his wife both belonged to wealthy English Jewish famili es but were out-and-out leftists. My position was becoming known to those who were interested in current political affairs. They all knew that prominent persons had been provided shelter in the Indian embassy although I vigorously denied it to Chilean officials and journalists. Friends whom I could trust continued to be invited to m y parties where they might m eet Irma Almeyda. On the other hand, I did not have the reputation of being a leftist . At the height of t he Allende period, Fidel Castro had come on an official visit to Santiago – this was when h e had presented the silver-plated assault rif le to Allende. During that visit, the Cuban ambassador with whom I maintained close relations had given a party for ‘non-aligned heads of mission’. I had of course attended and found that the other guests belonged to what I considered the Soviet bloc. They all embraced Fidel. I contented myself with a formal handshake and a polite greeting in Spanish. This could not go unnoticed. O n the other hand, it did not bring me any cl oser to t he new militar y government either. What was the ef fect of the coup on the average non-political Chilean? Inflation had been brought dow n quite quickly from 300 per cent to normal South American double digits. This was a gain for the upper and middle classes. Many men and women with leftist political affiliations had lost their jobs. This included the man who, in most Commonwealth countries, would be called the Permanent Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He was dismissed and advised not to meet the wrong people. Financially, this proved a benefit for him because he was a qualified lawyer and resumed his practice. He told me that his income had gone up fivefold!

Of course this was not the case of the working class. Their freebies – the purchase of luxury goods at the ‘official’ price – had ceased. Wages were not being revised periodically to compensate for inflation. A minimum wage was announced. I calculated that it was equivalent to twelve chickens a month and I said so in a cocktail party. The phrase was widely accepted and circulated. The man or woman on the mi nimum wage was paying for the economic reforms. These reforms were remarkably successful. Stabili zation of the currency brings enormous benefits to a hard-working people in a market economy. The Chileans had no great reputation for hard work but the low minimum wage was an incentive to work hard, especially as food of all kinds and other goods appeared on the shelves. I have no hesitation in saying that Pinochet’s economic policies were sound and have continued (with the changes dictated by a changing world) ever since even under the socialist governments of the twenty-first century. The only question is – did these economic policies have to cost three thousand lives? The normal tenure of my post – three years – had long expired. I had been kept on because of the responsibility for the Soviet and Czechoslovak missions and because India could not appoint a new ambassador without recognizing the military government. This last problem had already presented itself. Pinochet had recalled the Chilean ambassador in New Delhi and this gentleman was in Santiago without a job. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had asked me for an agreement for the man they had selected for New Delhi – I did not know him – some nine months earlier. I had promptly transmitted the request to New Delhi from where there was no response. The officer in the Moneda with whom I normally dealt mentioned it to m e and said that he knew what that meant. I did not make any comment. Kashi Chakravarty, unlike his predecessor whose main interest in life had been watching tennis on television, was fully competent for handling the routine work of the embassy and looking after the needs of the Soviet and Czechoslovak missions. It was not a surprise, therefore, when I got a telegram posting me to Bangkok. My first reaction was adverse because the idea of li ving in the hot and humid climate of Thailand after the delights of Santiago’s cool, dry climate did not appeal to me. However, I soon realized that the ‘farthest transfer in the world’ gave me unprecedented opportunities f or seeing t he world.



ri Lanka has traditionally been considered a land of hope and sunshine. Because of its stunning beauty and the serenity of its natural environs, it came to be known in history as Serendip, the Island of Refuge. Located at the meeting point of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has been at t he crossroads of both history and geography . Apart from I ndia, travellers and seafarers from other ancient lands i ncluding Greece and Rome, Ethiopia and Arabia, South-East Asia and the Far East have found their way to the country. Fa Hien from China and Buddhaghosha from India were amongst the celebrated Buddhist pilgrims who came to this historic land in ancient times. In a more recent period, colonialists from Europe have left their imprint on its soil. When enormous pressure o work weighed him down during India’s struggle for freedom, it was to Ceylon, as it was then called, that Jawaharlal Nehru decided to holiday for a month with his wife and daughter in 1927. Like India, every inch of this Emerald Island is steeped in history. Through ages past its interaction with India has been very intimate, intense and close. It is separated from India by a stretch of only 35 km of sea, having been a part o the land mass that traversed millions of years ago from the Antarctic northwards to join Asia where the Himalayas stand now. Sri Lanka is intrinsically connected to the story of Rama as told in the Ramayana and of the Buddha as narrated in Mahavamsa, the great epic of Sri Lanka. Tamils of Sri Lanka claim to belong to the Dravidian race li ke their brethren in Tamil Nadu while Buddhists of this island nation consider themselves to be of Aryan srcin from India’s north. Even Muslims of Sri Lanka have had close kinships in India. Thus, Sri Lanka con jures up images of a past in the hearts and minds of the people of both India and Sri Lanka that goes back two millennia and more. It is quite natural that such a historic land is marked by rich cultural diversity. Unfortunately, however, instead o celebrating that diversit y, Sri Lanka has often been in the eye of ethnic storms that have left tragedy behind. Well before my arrival in Sri Lanka in 1989, the challenge posed by Tamil militancy had assumed very serious dimensions. To meet this, President J.R. Jayewardene ordered his military chief to stamp out terrorism in the northern and eastern prov inces in all its forms. In 1981 the Jaf fna Public Library was burnt, destroying its treasure of some 100,000 works regarded by Tamils as the centrepiece of their cult ural identit y. The brutal suppression of Jaffna Tamils under the emergency and the destruction of the Jaffna library in 1981 rendered the Tamil United Liberation Front’s moderate style of politics under Amirthalingam untenable in the eyes of his own constituents. Members of parliament from TULF declined to take oath for t he sovereignty, unity and integrity of Sri Lanka as required under the constitution after their election. President Jayewardene’s tough policy concerning the Sri Lankan Tamils thus proved counterproductive. It gave a fillip to militancy rather than eliminated it. Militancy took deep roots in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka thereaft er. As Tamil massacres followed and stringent measures were imposed such as cutting off food and medical supplies to the heartland of Sri Lankan Tamils, they took refuge in India in large numbers. India intervened with airdropping o humanitarian supplies in the area only to be branded by the Sri Lankan government as aggressor. As a consequence, relations between the two countries touched a nadir. Ultimately negotiations between President Jayewarden e and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi resulted i n a peace agreement on 29 July 1987 with the objective of resolving Sri Lanka’ s ethnic conflict and to take car e of India’s security concerns. The letters exchanged between Jayewardene and Rajiv Gandhi annexed to the agreement provided that Trincomalee and other ports in Sri Lanka would not be made available for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests. Sri Lanka’s agreements with foreign broadcasting organizations were also to be reviewed to ensure that any facilities set up by them in Sri Lanka were used as public broadcasting facilities and not for any military or intelligence services. It was also agreed that the work of restoring and operating the Trincomalee oil tank farm would be undertaken as a joint venture between India and Sri Lanka. As a reciprocal measure India committed itself not to allow its territory to be used by Sri Lankan militant groups for activities prejudicial to the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka. India also undertook to assist in the disarmi ng of Tamil mi litants. The most important part of the accord, however, related to the gains for the Tamil community. It provided for a general amnesty to political and other prisoners held by the Sri Lankan government under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and other emergency law s, and rehabilitation of mil itant Tamil cadres t o help their entry into the mai nstream. Both countries recognized that each ethnic group had a distinct cultural and linguistic identity which had to be fully

nurtured. While underscoring the necessity of strengthening the forces contributing to the unity, sovereignty and territ orial integrit y of Sri Lanka, the accord sou ght to preserve Sri Lanka’ s character as a multi-et hnic, multilingual and multi-rel igious plural society ‘in which all cit izens can live in equality, safety and harmony , and prosper and fulfil their aspirations’. The agreement thus set the direction for Sri Lanka’s evolution as a state belonging to ‘all’ its people which allowed them to promote their identity without let or hindrance. In a reversal of the ‘Sinhala only’ policy, it was specifically recognized that the northern and easter n provinces had been areas of hist orical habitati on of Sri Lankan Tamil-speaking peoples, ‘who had at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups’. The agreement provided for the merger of these provinces into one single province subject to a subsequent referendum, the constitution of provincial councils through democratic elections, devolution of necessary powers for them to function properly, and recognition of Tamil as an official language on par with Sinhala. The letters exchanged between the two signatories to the agreement and annexed to it al so provided for the induction of an Indian military contingent to implement it if the Sri Lankan head of state deemed that necessary. President Jayewardene invoked that provision resulti ng in the deployment of an Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka’s north and east with the objective of disarming T amil mi litants and guaranteeing the cessation of hostilit ies between them and the Sri Lankan security forces. It was also to ensure the safety and security of all ethnic communities in that area and peaceful elections to the provincial council of the newly created North Eastern Province. It was to maintain law and order and sustain peace in the province while the government of Sri Lanka undertook to establish a police force for it. The IPKF was endowed with the necessary authority to fulfil those responsibilities. Sri Lanka’s own security forces, which had failed to deliver in the past, were relegated to the barracks for the entire peri od of IPKF operations. The Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 29 July 1987 raised hopes for a settlement of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict to the skies. However, those hopes were dashed to pieces by the LTTE as it turned its back on the agreement since it denied them the right to an independent state of Eelam and to carry arms to achieve that objective. The IPKF’s tenure, conceived of as being of short duration, got extended beyond its first year of operations but the LTTE had not been disarmed. The force’s continued presence in the country thus became an anathema to the Sri Lankans in general and its new president, Ranasinghe Premadasa, in particular. By the time I arri ved in Sri Lanka on 22 April 1989 as India’s high commissioner, the two nations geograph ically and culturally so close to each other had politically moved wide apart. Jayewardene was no longer in the saddle. President Premadasa had taken over the reins of the country from him at the advent of the year. Both were from the same party, but one had crafted the 1987 agreement; the other was hell-bent to destroy it. The new president regarded the IPKF as a symbol of India’s imperialistic presence in his country and a setback to its sovereignty and he viewed the Tamil problem as a purely domestic one. His government soon joined the LTTE in its strident call for the IPKF’s expeditious withdrawal showing little regard for the sacrifices it had made, including the loss of more than a thousand lives, in defence of Sri Lanka’s interests. Those representing the Sinhala viewpoint stressed their own links with India, ethnic, religious, cultural and commercial, for the past two millennia and more and the fact that all segments of the Sri Lankan population had equally close bonds with India so that there was no room for India to play favourites with the Tamil population. There was a strong streak of opposition to the accord among the Sinhalas which had come to the fore. The Sinhala marine who struck Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with the butt of his rifl e at a guard of honour in Colombo was a symbol of that opposition. It was evident that there was bitter opposition in Sri Lanka’s radical circles, both Sinhala and Tamil. In addition to the LTTE, the Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP), the mi litant Sinhala outfit, was also opposed to it , as als o the Sinhala clerics. Just three weeks after the agreement was signed, President Jayewardene and Prime Minister Premadasa also narrowly escaped death when bombs were thrown at them at a meeting of the parliamentary group of the government. As the parliament’s Speaker felicitated President Jayewardene on his escape at the time, saying, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers who shall soon be in Heaven’, his immediate retort was that ‘Rajiv missed Heaven by a few inches, and I missed it by a few seconds!’ Gradually, anti-agreement riots broke out in several parts of Sri Lanka and the accord which had been welcomed as a triumph for peace i n both nations and hailed internationally by no less a person than President Reagan as an act of great statesmanship was in tatters. While it was meant to secure Tamil rights and should have earned their gratitude, their most vocal and potent champion, the LTTE, was opposing it through and through and the militant body was at war with the IPKF. The Indian military contingent was also out of sync with the policy of President Premadasa, who wished to keep India out of any solution of Sri Lanka’s Tamil problem. Quite early in his administr ation, Sri Lanka’s new p resident set his heart on inviting the LTTE for discussions. Ow ing to the military pressure put by the IPKF on them, the LTTE treated the IPKF as its enemy number one. They would certainly not hesitate to use the new president to obtain the force’s withdrawal before going back to their old ways to achieve full-scale Eelam. The president either failed to read their mind properly or if he did, he was prepared to take

the consequences of his talks with them in his stride. The consequences indeed were far-reaching, as time would tell, disastrous to him and disastrous for his country. President Premadasa perceived himself as the Duthagamani of his age. It was his dream to unite the nati on again and be hailed like that legendary hero. He had convinced himself that the IPKF had designs other than its stipulated purpose of disarming the LTTE and therefore viewed with sympathy the JVP’s call as well as that of the LTTE for it to quit. But for that goal, the two militant bodies stood as two opposite poles in Sri Lanka’s communal divide. The JVP was symptomatic of the extremist streak in Sinhala nationalism; the LTTE of its Tamil counterpart. The JVP was fighting for untrammelled Sinhala dominion in Sri Lanka’s unitary state while the LTTE struck at the very root of that idea in order to achieve an independent Tamil state comprising the north and the east of Sri Lanka. The former regarded the IPKF presence as an insult to Sinhala dignity and pride; the latter saw it as a major obstruction to achieving its goal o Tamil Eelam. The only thing common between the two was the hatred of the IPKF and that was the common denominator between them and President Premadasa, too. The 1987 agreement with India divided the ruling United National Party in Sri Lanka through the middle. The president signing it at his back when he was on foreign tour as prime minister in his cabinet created a gulf between him and his political mentor which did not heal even after his nomination by Jayewardene as UNP’s candidate to succeed him. While JR had passed on the executive presidency to Premadasa, he had passed his political mantle on to another party colleague, Gamini Dissanayake. In his background and training Gamini was m uch like Jayewardene, a high-caste Goigama which Premdasa was not. The differences with President Premadasa resulted in a tug of war for power between G amini and the new president and though Gamini lost the political battle the trail of bitterness between the two groups in the party continued to govern their attitudes towards each other and split the party. It came to an end only when a few years later both of them were consumed one after the other by the violence enveloping the country . With the passage of time the national mood in Sri Lanka turned palpably against the Indo-Sri Lankan accord and especially against the IPKF’s continued presence. The upbeat sentiment following its signing had disappeared and the two nations had become prisoners of distrust in the face of the acerbic campaign led by President Premadasa for the IPKF’s expeditious ret urn home. With it s gains and obligations for each of the t hree parties involved so amply defined, the accord was a perfect document for resolving Sri Lanka’s chronic ethnic problem but the devil lay in its implementation. The ferocious opposition of the LTTE and the JVP and the internal politics within the UNP made that difficult. Given the UNP’s overwhelming majority, President Jayewardene was able to have it endorsed by the parliament in the teeth of vehement opposition by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike. However, much to JR’s embarrassment, fissures soon appeared in the UNP itself on whether the accord really strengthened Sri Lankan un ity or st ood in the breach and whether it had tr eated the two signatories on an equal footing or not. JR’s detractors including Premadasa had felt that it did not. He was bitterly opposed at least to its military clauses. Premadasa did believe in Sinhala-Tamil unity as essential for the country’s progress but he could not endorse the idea of relegating the responsibility to resolve the conflict to India, much less if it meant India’s military ‘intervention’. President Premadasa also developed an animus against Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, harbouring a feeling that the latter had pushed the agreement down Sri Lanka’ s throat which the latter could neither vomit out nor gulp down . That misunderstanding coloured his entire attitude towards the Government of India. His trump card now was that in the year and a half that the IPKF had been in Sri Lanka, it was nowhere near disarming the LTTE and therefore had lost the rationale for its operations on its soil. Meeting the LTTE challenge indeed was not a cakewalk for the IPKF, which was carrying out its military and administrative tasks on a terrain that was LTTE’s home ground and where the latter was not without popular support. The IPKF had not only driven the Tamil militants into the jungles but also facilitated elections at both national and provincial levels, including that of the new president, in the militancy-infested areas in the north and the east. It was done at the cost of enormous loss of men but Sri Lanka was not ready to acknowledge either their sacrifices or achievements. All the I PKF had earned in ret urn was the label of being an ‘occupation force’. Sensing the national mood in Sri Lanka, the Government of India decided on a strategy of phased withdrawal of the IPKF with the first withdrawal involving 6,000 troops taking place on 7 June 1988. The process had thus begun well before the new president took charge. Lalith Atulathmudali, Sri Lanka’s minister for national security and deputy minister for defence, confirmed the withdrawal to the Sri Lankan parliament the next day. Subsequently, on 1 January 1989, the Government of India made a formal statement saying it was hopeful of making more withdrawals in consultation with the Sri Lankan government as the situation in the North Eastern Province improved further; as the devolution of powers became effective; as the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement got progressively implemented and as the mischief-making potential of extremist elements opposed to the agreement was reduced. The Indian government’s position on the crucial question of IPKF withdrawals was governed by that statement throughout thereafter. The statement was timed with Premadasa becoming the country’s executive president but it had no impact on him. True to

his election pledge, the newly installed president worked relentlessly from day one of his presidency to have the IPKF leave his country without delay. Matters came to a head soon. The JVP, active in Sri Lanka’s south with its spree of murder and mayhem, charged India with grossly violati ng Sri Lankan sovereign ty through what it cal led the occupation of i ts north-east by the IPKF and confinement of Sri Lankan forces there to the barracks. It found the situation humiliating and wanted the ‘alien occupation force’ to leave Sri Lanka without any further delay. It killed the ruling United National Party’s cadres by the hundred for having sold the country to foreigners and was carrying out a ferocious campaign against India. As part o this it called for a total boycott of Indian goods, o bstructed their unloading at seaports and assassinated some importers of those goods. President Premadasa had lifted the emergency soon after comi ng to office in January 1989 and released prisoners of the JVP in the hope that the gesture would mollify the brutal Sinhala outfit and stop its terrorist spree. The gesture went unheeded. Nor was there any dent in the misdemeanours of the LTTE and its venomous campaign against the IPKF. As I arrived in Colombo on 21 June 1989 to assume charge as India’s high commissioner, I saw gruesome signs of mil itants on the r ampage. Dead bodies were hanging from the trees even in t he capital. The orgy of violence let loose by both outfits was taking a heavy toll. Those were grave and rather hopeless times for Sri Lanka. As a first step in his bid to bring the militants to the negotiating table for a resolution of their grievances through ‘consultation, compromise and consensus’, President Premadasa declared a temporary ceasefire on 12 April throughout the country. The IPKF followed suit and decided to observe ceasefire in the north-east where peace and security were their charge. On the other hand, the LTTE responded with an open letter to the president that they on their part would not cease fire until ‘the invading Indian Army’ withdrew from Sri Lanka. Shortly aft erwards, however, when Ranjan Wijeratne, foreign minis ter, invited them formally to a dialogue with the government withou t conditions, they accepted the invitation through their London office. The LTTE delegation comprised Anton Balasingham from London and Yogi and Lawrence from the Wanni jungles. Balasingham’s wife Adele also joined the delegation as its secretary. Later Thilakar from LTTE’s Paris office joined. Two Tamil Muslims from the Eastern Province also came to Colombo and joined as LTTE representatives in July. Prabhakaran’s deputy, Mahattya, came to Colombo for talks towards the end of the year but Prabhakaran never did. That was his way of keeping all his options open. On the Sri Lankan side the president lined up several ministers including A.C.S. Hameed, minister of higher education, leader of his delegation, and Ranjan Wijeratne, minister of foreign affairs and also minister of state for defence; a host of secretaries to the government including those of defence and foreign affairs; and from his own office, his two secretaries, Wijedasa and Weerakoon. The whole impression was of i ntergovernmental talks rat her than a sovereign governmen t tal king to a group of rebels. At the end of every sessi on of talks even joint communiqués were issued. The star-studded delegation from the government and the format for the talks served to make the militant body a bit intransigent. However, as the talks proceeded, the LTTE showed its peaceful face to people by declaring a ceasefire and clai ming that it covered every citizen of Sri Lanka and every other T amil group of mil itants. There was great excitement i n the country about the president’s peace initiat ive yielding results. The Government o India wished the president of Sri Lanka well so long as the proposed talks with the LTTE did not mean a joint tirade by the Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan government against India and the IPKF. The Government of India also assured the president that the Indian military contingent would be phased out by the end of 1989 so long as Sri Lanka implemented its commitments under the accord. These included, inter alia, the devolution of powers to provinces and guarantees for the safety and security of all the communities i n the North Eastern Provin ce. At my credentials ceremony on 24 April the Sri Lankan president referred t o his offer of talks t o the LTTE and what he called their quick response a week ago . He said he would strive hard to bri ng them into the m ainstream and into the parliament. All other groups had accepted representation in it except the LTTE and the JVP and he wanted to bring both of them into it. Dialogue alone could achieve that, he said. He came out in my conversation with him as a devout Buddhist and one staunchly devoted to the unity and integrity of the nation but with equal respect for all communities. It is another matter whether he had the right soluti ons in mind for achieving that objective and whether he succeeded in translating them on the ground. Obviously he did not, for the fires burning then became a conflagration in time and the ethnic conflict continued with no clear solution in sight well into the future. Gradually the question of national sovereignty came to occupy the high ground in Sri Lanka in the context of the IPKF’s presence. Nearly a third of Sri Lanka’s territory comprising the north and the east was seen as having slipped from Sri Lanka’s control into the hands of the IPKF. That image was fuelled daily by the local media, the political parties in Opposition and the militant organizations like the JVP and the LTTE. The allegation was repeated ad nauseam that with the IPKF p laced in charge of the administr ation and security of the north-east, with Sri Lanka’s armed forces there consigned to the barracks, and with its government deprived of dealing with immigration and customs in the area, t he two provinces had moved ou t of the pale of i ts authority into the orbit o the hegemonic power to the north. W orse, Varadaraja Perumal, t he duly elected chief minister of the newly constituted North Eastern Province, was regarded as India’s protégé who looked to New Delhi for his authority rather than to

Colombo. His presence was resented both by the LTTE which treated him as a usurper of its mantle and by the Sri Lankan government which had little control over his actions. The Sri Lankan government headed by President Premadasa resented more str ongly than ever the loss of those trappings of sovereignty . With that mindset India had become the flogging horse for all of Sri Lanka’s ills. Its sacrifices to implement the 1987 accord hailed in the world as a breakthrough for peace and security in the region had failed to earn Sri Lanka’s appreciation. If the Sri Lankan government did not ‘exercise jurisdiction and control in the north-east’ due to the presence of the IPKF as it maintained, its control over the rest of the country was no less fragile thanks to the depredations of the JVP . In t he south, district after dis trict had been ‘liberated’ by the JVP from government control and its militants belonging to that organization had been working assiduously to wrest control of Colombo itself from its hands. In the areas under JVP’s control, the writ of the government did not run at all. UNP cadres were murdered day and night by the JVP, the tourist centres emptied of visitors, rail and road transport was embargoed, trade scuttled, pharmacies deprived of medicines and tea houses, tea inventories and tea farms burnt destroying much of Sri Lanka’s export potential. Ships were not allowed to either load or unload their wares even at the Colombo port. There were serious blackouts at JVP’s command in the south and in all administrative matters it was the ‘JVP commander’ in charge who ruled the roost. In all his work as the country’s helmsman, President Premadasa gave the highest priority to obtaining the prompt departure of the IPKF from Sri Lanka to restore his writ in the north-east. While taking his oath of office in January at the Temple of Buddha’s Tooth Relic in Kandy, he had vowed that that he would not surrender an inch of Sri Lanka’s territ ory nor a shred of its sovereignty to anyon e. He clearly had the IPKF in mind while making that promise. Bernard Tilakratne, foreign secretary, invited me to the Sri Lankan foreign office in mid-May and showed me the text of a communiqué jointly decided upon at the talks between the government and the LTTE. The communiqué contained a lit any of complaints about t he IPKF’s behaviour and baseless allegations such as the death of t housands o civilians at its hands. It painted the Indian military contingent with a badly tarred brush, depicting it as an occupation force. Those remarks were attributed to the LTTE in the document but rather sympathetically with the Sri Lankan government shooting from LTTE shoulders to ‘expose’ India’s misdeeds in Sri Lanka. Notwithstanding our protest, Roopa Wahini, the government-controlled television channel, carried the SLG-LTTE oint communiqué in its entirety, speaking about the IPKF’s alleged crimes from the housetops as it were. Next morning the Sri Lankan print media also had it all over. The same press which in the past had hurled stones at the L TTE as the enemy of the nation now regaled in defending it against its new enemy, the IPKF. As a consequence I personally told President Premadasa in a very friendly but frank conversation that Sri Lanka was forgetting the distinction between friend and foe. He smiled and said: ‘I know what you mean. There will be a time when I will pay my tribute to IPKF. You will see it.’ The historic 1987 accord now appeared to be under greater strain than before. Sri Lanka’s new president had no liking for it; at best he tolerated it but without its military provisions. He did not want to have anything to do with the IPKF. The LTTE and the JVP were deadly opposed to the agreement and even Varadaraja Perumal, his Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front and other groups in his coalition had relinquished support for it in their bid to don the revolutionary mantle again. Leaders of the highest stature in the country like Sirimavo Bandaranaike, leader of the Opposition, were egging the government to recover Sri Lanka’s north and east from the IPKF’s control and send it back home at the earliest. That the IPKF’s premature withdrawal could put the LTTE back in control of those areas absolutely did not matt er since the LTTE had started showing its angelic face t o the government by agreeing to come t o talks with the president and declare a ceasefire. In the eyes of the new president, the fate of those areas and the Sinhala-Tamil equation were Sri Lanka’s internal affair with which India had little to do. The critics of the accord were emphatic that the so-called ‘Indian intervention’ had to end before the process of reconciliation could commence. The 1987 agreement with India was treated by them unreservedly as an instrument of perpetual Sri Lankan humiliation and therefore worthy of being scrapped soonest possible. The few who still favoured it could not come out openly for fear of LTTE and JVP reprisals. Even while talks between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government were going on, Samanthurai in district Amparai witnessed Hindu-Muslim riots in May 1989. Amparai had a peculiar demographic position in the North Eastern Province. Nearly 80 per cent of its population consisted of Tamil Muslims, the rest being Tamil Hindus with a sprinkling of Sinhalas here and there. The LTTE had especially treated them with disdain. The Muslims, Tamilspeaking though like the Hindus of the area, were clamouring for a separate status within the newly created province. The accord had taken due note of the fact ‘that Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and a multilingual plural society consisting, inter ali a, of Sinhalese, Tamils, Musli ms (Moors) and Burghers’. The accord had also recogn ized that each ethnic group in Sri Lanka had a distinct cultural and linguistic identity which had to be carefully nurtured. Notwithstanding those provisions, Samanthurai suffered heavily from communal riots. People were kidnapped and killed, properties looted and homes burnt by both Muslims and Hindus, losing complete sight of the linguistic bond between them. Samanthurai had a small police post which stood idly by as the tragedy unfolded. However, President

Premadasa used the IPKF as scapegoat for the failures of the Sri Lankan police and told me that the IPKF must restore law and order there in twenty-four hours, failing which he would bring his army out of the barracks and entrust it with the job. He had thought that he was setting an impossible task but the IPKF picked up the gauntlet and to his amazement delivered. Sri Lanka’s North Eastern Province comprised one-third of Sri Lanka’s area and two-thirds of its sea coast. The president was looking for ways to wrest control of that part from IPKF. The communal violence in Samanthurai, he though t, had given him t hat possibilit y but it did not work out that way. The LTTE and the Sri Lankan government under President Premadasa were strange bedfellows. The LTTE had projected Premadasa in the past as a diehard Buddhist not to be trusted. His Buddhist fervour had won him great accolades in the Sinhalese community. ‘He thinks Sinhala Buddhism, he dreams Sinhala Buddhism, he talks Sinhala Buddhism,’ Harsha Navaratne, a Sarvodaya field director, had said about him. While the president’s reasons for bringing the LTTE to unconditional talks were clear, several questions about its true design and purpose in coming to those talks had remained unanswered. Was the LTTE responding to his pluralistic image in doing so or did it simply want an interregnum of peace to reinforce its strength, having been hit hard by the IPKF? Was it not simply using the peace negotiations as an opportunity to get the IPKF out of the way by cooperating with the government for the time being and once that was achieved, it would return to the jungles for continued warfare for an independent homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils? Whatever its motives might have been, the new president of Sri Lanka was ready to try out the consultative route with them. ‘I am available for any discussion to arrive at constructive solutions,’ he had announced in his inauguration address at Kandy. The future, however, belied the president’s pious hopes. Henceforth all the shots were called by the LTTE and eventually his collusion with them proved his undoing. They won against him both in the battle of wits and in the killing war on the ground. Premadasa made a stunning announcement on 1 June at a religious ceremony in Battaramulla asking India to withdraw the last IPKF soldier from Sri Lanka by the end of July . That was followed by a formal let ter to Rajiv Gandhi making that request. Later he cr ystallized t he D-date for the IPKF’ s final withdrawal to 29 July 1989 on its completi on of two years in Sri Lanka. Then follow ed an ultimatum that if the IPKF did not comply , the president as commander-inchief of Sri Lanka’s armed forces would order the latter to come out of the barracks in the north-east and assume full command to guarantee the region’s security. The ultimatum raised the prospect of a clash between the armed forces o two friendly neighbours. The president stuck to his guns during a visit of the Indian prime minister’s special envoy, Mr B.G. Deshmukh, his principal secretary, to Colombo with a view to avoid a face-off. The Indian government did not want a contingency to arise in which our armed forces would run into a clash with those of Sri Lanka. It decided that everything possible should be done to avoid that contingency but that India should keep itself in readiness if such a sit uation were forced on it. As a result, the famil ies of Indian officials were withdrawn from Sri Lanka, an Indian security contingent was inducted into Colombo to protect the Indian High Commission and the Vienna Convention was invoked further calling upon the government of Sri Lanka to guarantee its security as part of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic responsibilities. Meanwhile, India’s armed forces made preparatory moves to meet every contingency after Sri Lankan aircraft were spotted hovering over the temporary headquarters of the IPKF in Trincomalee. In the midst of war drums beating, I pitched myself as hard as I could to prevent a military clash taking place between the two countries. My initiatives in the matter had all the blessings and support of our prime minster. I met all concerned in Sri Lanka several times including the foreign minister, Ranjan Wijeratne, who was also minister of state for defence and equally keen not to allow the situation to reach a flashpoint. I also met former president J.R. Jayewardene, who was aghast at the way the situation had developed. Bo th of t hem carried our suggestions across to the president for a settlement of the issues involved through negotiations rather than ultimatums. Narasimha Rao, minister of external affairs, obliged by renewing his invitation to Wijeratne to come to New Delhi for talks on the issues involved and Rajiv Gandhi agreed to resume the process of IPKF withdrawals frozen since 1 June if the Sri Lankan president would agree to send his foreign minister for the purpose. The Indian position on the matter was finalized with me sitting at the Colombo end of the hotline and the prime minster and the external affairs minister on the other on the night of 27-28 July. Happily, President Premadasa endorsed the proposal but only after a stormy session I had with him on 28 July. A serious crisis was averted as the foreign secretary, Bernard Tilakratne, and I signed a joint communiqué in the president’s office chamber that day in his presence, providing for my good friend Ranjan Wijeratne to be in New Delhi the next day. As a result India recommenced the process of IPKF withdrawals. It took a couple of more meetings between Wijeratne and the Indian leadership to have 31 March 1990 fixed as the date for completing that process, much as he would have wanted that done by the end of 1989. The change of guard in India from Rajiv Gandhi to V.P. Singh as prime minister and I.K. Gujral as minister of external affairs in November raised great hopes in Sri Lanka for the advancement of that schedule but with all the will to do that, the new government managed to prepon e the departure o the IPKF’s last units from Trincomalee only by a week.

The IPKF finally lef t Sri Lankan shores on Saturday , 23 March 1989 in the midst of hoary references to i ts role in Sri Lanka by me and this time also by the Sri Lankan president. He did so both publicly and in a formal letter to Prime Minister V.P. Singh with the Sri Lankan media playing the same tune. I myself left Sri Lanka thereafter in June 1990 to oin in New Delhi as secr etary, Ministry of External Affairs. Meanwhile, a deter mined Wijeratne stamped out the l eadership of the Janata Vimukti Peramuna, the JVP E leven as it was called, but the LTTE acquired new teeth. It’s spree of violence continued taking victims such as Amirthalingam, the leader of TULF, in the midst of reconciliation talks with him in the heart of Colombo. It also committed numerous violations of the ceasefire in the North Eastern Province, and called off talks with the Sri Lankan government as also the ceasefire when it realized that the president was not succeeding in persuading India to withdraw the IPKF forthw ith as urged by it. It also assaulted with great force and killed several cadres of the Tamil National Army, a misnomer for the Citizens Volunteer Force, raised with the approval and support of the Sri Lankan government to provide security to the members of the Provincial Council in Trincomalee in the absence of a police force. In the midst of it all the government of Sri Lanka continued to collaborate with the LTTE, allowing it to take control of the North Eastern Province as the IPKF’s units carried out their phased withdrawal. A frustrated Perumal, elected chief minister of the province, declared an independent ‘State of Eelam’ to be remembered in the history of Sri Lankan Tamils as its first architect and was compelled to leave Sri Lanka. He and many CVF cadres ultimately took refuge in India duly disarmed and on promise of shedding their revolutionary role in Sri Lanka completely. In course of time, President Premadasa, Ranjan Wijeratne, Gamini Dissanayake, and Atulathmudali became victims of the violence there. Rajiv Gandhi, too, became a victim of the LTTE. All of them had been major players on the scene in my time in their attempt to resolve the Sinhala-Tamil equations in Sri Lanka. They had differed in their perspective of the problems involved and the solutions they had sought to bear on them. All of them, however, were dedicated to the goal of preserving Sri Lanka’s unity, integrity and sovereignty, which was anathema to the LTTE. It used them to its advantage so long as it could and then resumed its spree of ‘revolutionary’ violence to realize the objective of an independent state for the Tamils of the island. It kept Sri Lanka, government after government, meandering between war and peace in dealing with its menace and it took the latter nearly two more decades and the loss of several thousand lives on both sides of the et hnic divide to eli minate Prabhakaran and the hard core of the LTTE. However, the last chapter of this great tragedy might not have been written yet. The events I witnessed highlighted the trauma of this pearl of the Indian Ocean and the fact that Nature’s bounties may be of no avail t o a people who seek answers to their problems in blood and gore rather than a sense of brotherhood celebrating their diversity. The Tamils of Sri Lanka have still to receive a fair answer to their demand for equal status with the Sinhala community in terms o political, social, cultural, religious and linguistic rights. That should include their right to administer their majority areas through representative insti tutions under a formula equally acceptable to Sri Lanka’s Sinhala majorit y. Only then would Sri Lanka’s nightmare end and hope arise.



efore going to Vienna in May 1980, to take up my new appointment as ambassador to Austria. I had made the customary call on Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Without spending much time on formalities, the prime minister said that while the different ministries would be briefing me about my work, she wanted to mention three matters which were of special concern to her and which she wanted me to keep in mind. First, she mentioned that Miraben, a lifelong trusted dis ciple of Gandhiji, had left I ndia after his assassination in 1948 and settled down in Austria. She was a very proud person with a strong will of her own. She would not ask or request any help, although she had many problems and limited resources. The prime minister asked me to extend all possible assistance especially in her healthrelated problems. Secondly, the prime minister mentioned that the widow of Subhash Chandra Bose, an Austrian lady, was also living there. We w ished to keep contact with her and also extend courtesies and if necessary help to her as and when required, but the Bose family had not favoured this as they had not fully recognized her status as the spouse o Subhash Chandra Bose and had kept a distance. The prime minister expressed the wish that I should discreetly keep contact with her without our official involvement and publicity. Thirdly, the prime minister referred to Bruno Kreisky who was a respected leader of the social democratic movement in Europe. The Nehru family had had very friendly contacts with him over many decades. During the Emergency (temporary suspension of democracy declared in 1975 by Mrs Gandhi) some degree of misunderstanding had taken place and there was a freeze in the traditional warm friendship. The prime minister had written to Kreisky so as to remove the doubts and to restore the old trust and understanding, but there was no reply to her letters. Bruno Kreisky was currently the chancellor of Austria (equivalent to prime minister) and since I would be meeting him I should try to remove these misunderstandings. The prime minister said that she had full confidence in me in handling these matters and if I saw any need I could write to her directly. Miraben – Madeleine Slade – daughter of a British admiral, had given up her aristocratic life and became a lifelong follower of Gandhiji and lived in Sabarmati Ashram. After Gandhiji’s assassination she left India somewhat abruptly and settled down in a small village outside Vienna – in the area known as Vienna Woods with its idyllic rural countryside where Beethoven wrote his famous Sixth Symphony. It was a very small house some distance away from the nearest vil lage. The cottage-like house was sparsely furnished and reminded me of the cottage i n Sabarmati Ashram where Miraben had lived. It was nearly two kilometres away from the nearest village and had no telephone connection. For telephonic contact her general-purpose Indian assistant travelled t o the village on his bicycle. On my first visit to Miraben I found her cheerful and radiating inner tranquillity and joy. She talked animatedly about various developmen ts i n India which she was aware of from vis itors who called on her and fr om correspondence with friends. She was dressed in a white khadi sari and sat i n a reclining chair in view of her indifferent healt h. Miraben had prepared a small homebaked cake. I had taken fr esh flowers and a basket of fruits. I conveyed to her t he prime minister ’s greetings and good wishes as well as her deep concern for her well-being and health. I mentioned to her that I would like to visit her regularly and all of us in the embassy would always be available to extend every assistance she might need. She gav e a faint smi le and said that I and all offi cials in t he embassy were alw ays welcome. Our embassy records showed that two of my distinguished predecessors, P.N. Haksar and Vishnu Trivedi, had got constructed additional accommodation at the embassy resi dence where Miraben and her Indian assist ant could live and their needs be taken care of. However, preferring to be on her own and live a more independent life among natural surroundings she had moved to her present location. We imm ediately approached the Austrian government for a direct telephone connection for the house where Miraben was staying. We were informed that the nearest sub-exchange was nearly two kilometres away, a new cable line would be needed and this would take some time. We requested them to accord high priority to this job and they agreed to it. A new telepho ne cable was install ed in about three months and we were greatly relieved. We could now be in direct contact with Miraben. Thanking the Austrian authorities I requested them to inform us of the cost. The Austrian ministry of communication informed that it was the policy of the government to provide all the basic facilit ies to m eet the needs of senior ci tizens and that there would be no payment involved .

I used to look forward to our periodical visits to Miraben. She was a person of few words and guarded her privacy. Sensing this we avoided talking about why she had left India, where she had stayed so long and there was mutual love and immense respect for her. Her health was causing anxiety and except for expressing concern and medical treatment being undertaken (we had discussed this issue with her Indian help) we did not enter into any talk about her life in India. The subject on which she talked most was her interest in Beethoven and the book she was writing on him. This interest was ignited in her by Romain Rolland, the French w riter and philosopher whom she had met on her fir st visit to India. On the bare walls of her cottage, Beethoven’ s was the only photo frame hanging. Miraben said that she would inform us when the book was completed, and enquired if we could find a reputed publisher in India. I assured her that this should not be difficult, and that the government would certainly be able to recommend one. (Some years later, after Miraben had passed away and I had already retired, I read a review of her published book on Beethoven in Indian newspapers). In the middle of 1981, Miraben’s health deteriorated and she was hospitalized for a week. We visited her in the hospital; she looked at peace with herself. We met hospital authorities and discussed arrangements so that no financial burden was borne by Miraben. She returned to her cottage somewhat weaker in health, but full of cheer and selfconfidence. After going through previous records and discussion with senior embassy colleagues and a few Austrian friends, I wrote to t he government that in recognition of the li felong service of Miraben to t he cause of India’s freedom struggle, we should honour her with the highest Padma award – Padma Vibhushan. On the eve of Republic Day 1982 we received a message from the Ministry of External Affairs that the President of India had awarded Padma Vibhushan to Miraben for her long and distinguished service during India’s freedom struggle. We were overjoyed and immediately went to see Miraben and convey the information. There was a glow of grateful appreciation on her face. In a few weeks, we received detailed information about the date of the presentation of the award, requesting us to make travel arrangements for Miraben’s travel. Her response was that because of her weak health and doctor’s advice, it would be next to impossible to travel to India to receive the award in person. We requested the government to favourably consider presenting the award to Mir aben in Vienna. We were informed that for Padma awards this was not t he normal practice. In April 1982, during the visit of the Indian prime minister to France, a conference of heads of Indian missions in Europe was held in Paris and I took the opportunity to discuss my request that the Padma award be presented to Miraben as an exception in Austria. A few weeks later a packet containing the Padma Vibhushan medal and citation was received by a special diplomatic bag with detailed instructions to present it to Miraben on behalf of the president of India at a simple but dignified ceremony. In view o f Miraben’s delicate health we held the cer emony at her cottage at Baden in Vienna Woods. All our officers with their wives, a few leading journalists – Indian and foreign – and an Austrian TV crew w ere present. As I pinned the medal on her simple white khadi sari she was overwhelmed by emotion and could not say even a few words. A few weeks later the Sunday magazine of the New York Times carried a detailed account of the ceremony, which had honoured a British woman from an aristocratic family, who gave up everything and oined Gandhi in India, adopted his ideas and served him in and outside British prisons. In July 1982, I was due to return to India on retir ement. I made my far ewell visit t o her. She served the now familiar homemade cake. I had taken a copy of her autobiography, My Spiritual Pilgrimage, which she readily autographed. As I took her leave and wished her good health I felt that Miraben had the same serenity on her face and sparkle in her eyes which I had seen two years ago when I fir st met her. What prompted Miraben to leave India after three decades of living and following Gandhiji’s ideas by exemplary sacrificing of personal comforts? The large number of books and articles on Gandhiji’s life give no adequate answers. Miraben herself avoided discussion on this issue. In Vienna she continued to lead a simple, almost ascetic life. At Gandhiji’s insistence she had left the confines of an ashram and worked in villages at the foothills of the Himalayas spreading his ideas, specially among women. She was in close contact with Gandhiji who continued to guide her practically on a daily basis. The assassination of Gandhiji in January 1948 created a sudden vacuum in her life. Before coming to India she had met Romain Rolland, who had instilled in Miraben love for Gandhiji’s ideas and Beethoven’s music. After Gandhiji’s assassination it s eemed that Mir aben was irresistibly drawn by Beethove n’s life and music and in pursuit of this interest came to live in the countryside outside Vienna where he had composed some of his most memorable music. Writing her book on Beethoven sustained Miraben in the last years of her life more than anything else.

Emilie Schenkl, the widow of Subhash Chandra Bose, lived in a small flat in central Vienna. We had few official records on her but my talks with other staff working in the embassy indicated an unwillingness on her part to meet or maintain social contacts with Indians either living in or visiting Vienna and desirous of meeting her. Was this because of any unpleasant experiences in the past? Nobody knew of any. There was no response to my formal request through

my Austrian social secretary, who had otherwise wide-ranging contacts among Austrians. I explored the possibility o meeting her through knowledgeable Austrian friends and Indians settled in Vienna. Here too we drew a blank. At that time we had come to know well a World Bank official – Aroon K. Basak – who was deputed there to work with Viennabased UN organizations. We had cooperated in many new projects in which the World Bank had shown special interest. His wife, Monu, was also very active in promoting women’s activities at international and national levels. They knew Ms Shenkl well and had visited her home frequently. I explained my disappointment at not being able to meet her in spite of my best efforts since my arrival in Vienna. The couple took it upon themselves to arrange the meeting and succeeded in their efforts. The apartment was extremely small and crowded. Ms Schenkl was very shy and reserved. She spoke both German and English and conversation in English presented no problems. She looked genuinely happ y to be able to meet m e and my wife. There was no aloofness. The ice having been broken, I discussed with the Basaks as to how best we could strengthen our relationship with her. Basak advised me not to mention the complex past and her relationship with India’s iconic national hero. She wanted to protect Anita, her only daughter, from the public glare, curiosity and debate in India which had questioned her relationship with Bose. She was most reluctant to attend social gatherings. We kept our relationship with her at an extremely personal level. We five, the Basaks, Ms Schenkl and I and my wife, would go out on sunny summer afternoons on drives to the enchanting countryside around Vienna – low, rolling wooded hills, the quietly flowing Danube and vineyards – and have picnic lunches on the banks of the river. We would take long walks or just sit on the bank and play cards. Ms Shenkl felt relaxed and often sang well-known Austrian songs. Austrian social security support and medical facilities for senior citizens are very generous and by all accounts there were no critical financial difficulties, although Ms Shenkl did not have significant economic resources of her own. Her daug hter was mar ried to a doctor i n Germany. She visited Vienna periodically and provided the necessary em otional support. Anita sometimes came to see me. She had a very attracti ve and friendly personality and looking at her there was no mistaking that she was the daughter of Subhash Chandra Bose. She had visited India at the invitation of the Indian government in connection with the activities o institutions founded in the memory of her father. After my return to India on completion of my tenure in Austria we continued to exchang e lett ers about her healt h and well-being. Emilie Schenkl faced a hazardous existence with her only daughter in war-torn Europe when Subhash Chandra Bose had to travel far and wide at great personal risk in Europe, Japan an d in South-East Asia to organize armed resist ance to the British Indian government. Bose’s death in an air accident and his marriage to Emilie became highly controversial issues in India. In these circumstances she kept herself aloof from contacts with India. Her anguish was, however, suppressed and little known. She made only a few friends. They remember her as a person of reserve. My memory o her is t hat of a deeply human and sacrificing person. As for Bruno Kreisky, after presenting my letters of accreditation to the president of Austria and letters o introduction to the heads of t he UN agencies in Vienna, I requested for a courtesy call on t he chancellor. The chancellor was quite advanced in age and was not keeping good health; it was indicated to me that the call might not materialize for some t ime. Fortunately the appointment came quite quickly. The chancellor was sitti ng at his desk surrounded by a great many books and official papers, and suggested I sit next to him. After formal courtesies I r equested the chancellor for permission to convey a special message from the prime minister of India. He readily agreed. After hearing me he said that he had received a letter from the prime minister and he would be writing to her directly. He said now that the Emergency was a thing of the past there were no misunderstandings. He added that the government and people o Austria owed a deep debt of gratitude to late prime minister Nehru for using his influence with the erstwhile Soviet Union to help withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from Austria after the Second World War, leading to the emergence of an independent neutral Austria in post-War Europe. I mentioned that the government and the people o India greatly appreciated reference to this in the Austrian president’s remarks while accepting the credentials of the Indian ambassador to Austria. I was curious to know if the letter from Chancellor Kreisky to the prime minister had been sent as indicated. After a few months I accompanied the Austrian foreign minister on his official visit to India. I took the opportunity to enquire from Sharada Prasad, the PM’s press adviser, and was happy to know that the letter was received from Dr Kreisky and the issue had been satisfactorily resolved. Interactions with the three personalities revealed strong ties with India overriding all vicissitudes of socio-political life. Austria had passed through a very tumultuous period in the twentieth century. Following the First World War the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire with Vienna as its capital had disintegrated. Austria was reduced to one of the many small Central and Eastern European states. Its search for a new identity was disrupted by the rise of Nazi Germany and the forcible occupation by Germany before the outbreak of the Second World War. The end of the War witnessed Austria’s emergence as a neutral country following the withdrawal of the victorious Allied powers. Austria leaned towards the social democratic movement in Europe and the non-aligned newly independent countries of Asia and Africa under the leadership of Kreisky. The chancellor emerged as leader of the social democratic movement in

Europe. Under Kreisky’s deft leadership Austria gradually succeeded in establishing a new identity consistent with its commitment t o neutrality. Austrian sympathies lay with the democrati c countries of Western Europe on major issues o East-West conflict, but there were also strong inherited ties with Eastern European countries in the communist bloc, including cultural and trade. Austria shared common borders with the then communist Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and provided shelter to many political refugees from them. Vienna became the third UN city after New York and Geneva with t he headquarters of two of the leading UN organ izations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization; and high-profile regional organizations like OPEC. Vienna regained its status as the preeminent centre for W estern music. For Kreisky and social democrats in Austria, the Emergency declared by Mrs Indira Gandhi in India was not just a somewhat disagreeable event in a distant country. Many dissidents seeking political refuge in Austria were well-known labour or social democratic leaders in India escaping imprisonment for active opposition to the Emergency. Austria was deeply disapp ointed that this could happen in India despite it s ingrained traditi on of democracy and liberalism. The fact that India under Nehru had played such a vital role in the emergence of Austria as an independent nation after the Second World War only made their sense of anguish at Mrs Gandhi’s action more acute. The end of the Emergency in India and holding of fair and peaceful electi ons soon after was a great r elief t o Kreisky personally , and led to the quick return to the traditi onally friendly relations between the two co untries. While there were many other professional challenges during my Vienna tenure, I had some satisfaction that Mrs Gandhi’s three personal requests to me had also been addressed in good measure. And these three individuals have always been a source of personal inspiration to me.



y first brush with regional cooperation matters was during my posting in Mission of India to EEC (European Economic Community) from 1972 to 1976. It was during this period that the transition of an EEC of six nations to the enlarged community of nine took place, with the UK, Denmark and Ireland joining the organization. For India, the big problems were to ensure zero duty for jute and coir goods, tea and spices and preferential duties on other goods in the enlarged EEC as in the absence of such agreements, duty-free access to the UK under the Commonwealth agreement would cease. A hilarious situation was created when the Italian representative doggedly opposed duty-free entry of papadams, popular as a snack here, in the enlarged community because under Brussels nomenclature, it was listed i n the same category as spaghetti, a vital export of Italy. I had to invite the Itali an delegate to my home for lunch and serve him papadams before he agreed to classify the item as a separate category, and that too only after the redoubtable Mani Shank ar Aiyar, my junior colleague in Brussels at that ti me, produced a comprehensive definition o the papadam that helped distinguish it from spaghetti and was acceptable to the European Commission! On a more serious note, the study of developments in EEC made a lasting impression on me about the benefits of regional cooperation and the cost of noncooperation. Back in India, as joint secretary in charge of the Economic Division in 1978, I had the privilege of interacting frequently with Dr Tarlok Singh, a member of the Indian Civil Service, who put to good use his erudition and visionary approach to set up the Committee for Studies on Cooperation in Development (CSCD). He worked very hard to create with scholars from other South Asian countries the t heoretical basis for regional cooperation. He valued my experience in Brussels and also in UNCTAD on South-South cooperation. I was struck by his knowledge of the political economy of South Asia. Our frequent exchange of views on the possible benefits from regional cooperation in South Asia on the lines of the then EEC were very valuable and mutually profitable. President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh put forward in 1980 the historic proposal for establishing regional cooperation in South Asia. The Indian foreign s ecretary, R.D. Sathe, who had witnessed developments in EEC from close quarters as our ambassador to France, was shrewd en ough to realize it s economic importance for India and asked me to examine the proposal instead of referring it to the joint secretary dealing with Bangladesh. Having worked in Brussels, with my involvement in South-South cooperation under the aegis of the Group of 77, and profiting from knowledge of the work of t he CSCD, I prejudged the proposal favourably and recommended that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi convey a positive response to the president’s proposal. But my colleagues dealing with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka cautioned that if and when a regional body was formed, it would be used by some countries to raise bilateral and contentious issues and other members would gang up against India. This view was shared by some higherups in the Prime Minister’s Office. When the file came back to me with a negative decision on the Bangladesh proposal, I took it personally to Ram Sathe and argued that the reasons that were advanced against the proposal were not sufficient and that the correct response should be acceptance of the proposal in principle with the understanding that the rules of the game would have to be defined and agreed to by everyone. I pleaded that he should discuss the matter personally with the prime mi nister. Ram Sathe saw the logic behind my argumen ts and succeeded in persuading Indira Gandhi to change her stand and to revisit the earlier decision. The first meeting of foreign secretaries took place in Colombo in April 1981 to formally consider the Bangladesh proposal. In his inaugural address, A.C.S. Hameed, the foreign minister of Sri Lanka, characterized the gathering as a group of people chosen by history to make history. Ram Sathe in his speech called for scrupulous adherence to the principles of avoiding discussions of bilateral and contentious issues in a regional framework, and unanimity as the basis on which decisions in regard to regional cooperation would be taken. After some hesitation and a long wait for instructions from Islamabad, the Pakistani counterpart in the drafting group relented, and the process of regional cooperation came into being with the identification of agriculture, health and population activities, meteorology, rural development, an d telecommunications as areas f or joint action. Study grou ps were set up on these and at the same tim e a Committee of the Whole (COW) comprising the senior officials of the seven countries was set up to identify and report on other areas of possible cooperation. My thinking regarding negotiations with our neighbours on expanding areas of regional cooperation was greatly influenced by the book Power, Passions, and Purpose: Prospects for North-South Negotiations, edited by Jagdish N.

Bhagwati and John Gerard Reggie. It contained an excellent paper, ‘Global Negotiations: Path to the Future or DeadEnd Street’. I was convinced that if regional cooperation in South Asia was indeed to be the path to the future, then the process of achieving such cooperation was to be viewed as an exercise in incrementalism. Because of bilateral problems in the region, there was no prospect for any grand ‘regional compact’. Ingenuity was needed in seeking incremental steps that would lead in due course to a more beneficial regional economic order. I, therefore, followed a combination of approaches that related to functional incrementalism by way of partial improvements, participant incrementalism involving those parties among whom agreement is possible, and structural incrementalism through gradually changing relationships. This experiment, which continued for almost three years, was successful enough for the South Asian countries to think in terms of raising the profile of regional cooperation and agreeing to recommend convening of a meeting at the level of foreign ministers. This meeting, which took place in New Delhi in August 1983, decided to launch South Asian Regional Cooperation (SAR C). This was followed by the second, third and fourth meet ing of foreign mi nisters. At t he third meeting, a consensus was reached to create a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The fourth meeting recommended a draft charter, declaration and emblem of t he SAARC for adoption by the summit which followed three days later. When the Government of India nominated me in early 1989 for the post of secretary-general, SAARC, I was delighted. I thought that the job would be challenging, and give me an opportun ity to play some part i n influencing the shift t owards pragmatic cooperation in South Asia. So on after m y taking over the assi gnment in October 1989 , I did t he preparatory work for the meeting of the council of ministers held in Islamabad which was expected, inter alia, to decide on the date and venue for the next s ummit. It was Sri Lanka’s turn to host the summit . The presence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka and President Premadasa’s hostility to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi complicated matters. As a result no decision was taken on this matter and the meeting turned out to be a routine one, with the foreign minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, leaving Islamabad the same day soon after making his statement in the opening session. In my statement at the Islamabad meeting I made a rather innocuous proposal about the SAARC secretariat being authorized to exchange information and material with the secretariat of ASEAN and with the European Commission and establish links with other regional organizations and international bodies. This prompted an official of the Indian delegation to complain to the foreign secretary, S.K. Singh, that I was acting against the interests of India. When he questioned me, I recalled that one of the objectives of SAARC was to cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes. I gave him the text of my statement and asked him as to what part of it was in his opinion wrong. He went through it and observed that while there was nothing wrong in what I said, in his view the matter was premature. I on my part made it clear that my intention was to work for what I considered to be in the interest s of t he organization, that is, SAARC. My stand got vindicated when two and a half years later, it fell on me as head of the Indian delegation to the First Special Session of the Standing Committee of Foreign Secretaries to indicate a change in the position of India on this subject and support rather than oppose the proposal that I had made srcinally as secretary-general of SAARC. Even though I was not holding the post of foreign secretary, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao asked me to attend the meeting in Colombo in place of J.N. Dixit, who w as foreign secret ary. I pointed ou t to Dixit the incongruity of my att ending the meeting in Colombo, which was to discuss t he proposal of establi shing links of SAAR C with regional and international organizations made by me as secretary-general and which the Indian delegation had opposed in the past. To my pleasant surprise, Dixit told me that he had discussed this matter with the prime minister, who agreed that we need no longer oppose this proposal. This change in the Indian position has enabled SAAR C to conclude beneficial arrangements and agreements with several bodies, notably the European Union (EU) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Japan established a Japan Special SAARC Fund which provided funding for some useful meetings. During my meeting with the Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, she referred to the bilateral disputes which India had with its neighbours, and asked my views about the future of SAARC. I pointed out that the SAARC charter does indeed preclude any discussion in this forum of bilateral and contentious issues. However, there were several common problems such as poverty reduction, prevention of environmental degradation, and disaster management which all member countries face. Their solutions can be facilitated by well-orchestrated cooperation among member countries of SAARC. As such, there were enough grounds to be cautiously optimistic about SAARC’s future. She agreed with my observation. After more than fi fteen years, Benazir became a big votary of SAA RC and supported the idea of establishing the South Asian Economic Union. My meeting with President Premadasa to persuade him to host the SAARC summit was not a success. He did reiterat e Sri Lanka’s strong commitment t o SAARC. However, he was at pains to point out t he strong resentment in Sri Lanka against the IPKF operations and observed that so long as a single Indian soldier remained on Sri Lankan soil, no Indian prime minister would be able to set foot there as it would be impossible for the Sri Lankan government to guarantee his s ecurity.

As a result, the SAARC summit in 1990 was hosted by the Maldives. By then the national studies on trade, manufactures and services had been completed and I received the green light for completing the regional study. The summit also set an early time-frame for completion of the Regional Study on the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters and the Protection and Preservation of the Environment. It succeeded in reaching agreement that the next summit would be held in Sri Lanka in 1991. As a result of all this, I was reassured that the spirit of cooperation was very much alive. Moreover, my strategy of functional and structural incrementalism seemed to be paying off; the prospects of SAARC had become bright with agreement to bring within its ambit the important areas of cooperation in the fields of economic activity and the environment. Later on, when Premadasa hosted the summit in 1991, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao snubbed him by deciding at the last minute not to at tend, on the ground s that the king of Bhutan w as not able t o attend due to the securi ty situati on in southern Bhutan. Stun g by this unexpected development, he still continued with his meetings with other leaders who had already arrived. I advised the Sri Lankan foreign secretary, Bernard Tilakratne, that it would be futile to hold any meeting as decisions in SAARC meetings are taken on the basis of unanimity. I suggested that as an unprecedented situation had arisen, the best thing would be for President Abdul Gayoom of the Maldives, who was still the chairperson of SAARC, to consult his colleagues and then take a decision that would be acceptable to all. After initial dilly-dallying by Premadasa, in the end, that process was followed and it was decided that Sri Lanka would host the SAARC summit after consulting the member countries about convenient dates. For the leaders who were present, Premadasa hosted a banquet. Tilakratne requested me to attend the function. I said that I would be present at the function by way of courtesy, but my presence should not be construed as a part of my official functions as secretarygeneral. Tilakratne appreciated my point of view and there was no faux pas on anybody’s part. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan took the initiative to explain to me that their conclave without India need not be construed as anything against India but only as a desire to meet among themselves and exchange views on matters of mutual interest. The full summit was then held in Colombo after a few months. Th e very fact that the summit meet ing took place was hailed by many po litical analysts as a success. Among the important ou tcomes was the establishment of the Committee for Economic Cooperation. This was an important result of the approval at summit level of the Regional Study on Trade, Manufactures and Services. The leaders declared their commitment to the liberalization of trade in the region through a step-by-step approach in such a manner that all countries in the region would share the benefits of trade expansion equitably. They approved that the Inter Governmental Group (IGG) set up on the recommendation of the Committee on Economic Coo peration should formulate and seek agreement on an institutional framework under which specific measures for trade liberalization among SAARC member states could be furthered. It should also examine the Sri Lankan proposal to establish a SAARC Preferential Trade Arrangement (SAPTA) by 1997. The Regional Study on the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters and the Protection and Preservation o Environment was also approved. The member countries agreed to promote cooperation amongst themselves for enhancing their respective disaster-management capabilities and for undertaking specific work programmes for protection and preservation of the environment. During these ups and downs, I steadfastly continued my work as secretary-general and took several initiatives, notably on trade and environ ment matter s. But in doing so, I ensured that these were first discussed in weekly meetings in the secretariat of all the seven directors from member countries. Thereafter, I discussed these with the foreign secretary of the country which was holding ch airmanship of SAAR C. It was only after this process was completed that I put forward the proposal formally to the Standing Committee of Foreign Secretaries. During my term, I had to deal with three foreign secretaries from Pakistan: Humayun Khan, who was succeeded by Tanweer Khan, and who in turn was succeeded by Shahryar Khan; Foreign Secretary Ibrahim Hussein Zaki from Maldives, and Bernard Tilakratne from Sri Lanka. I found all of them to be exceptionally cooperative. With Shahryar Khan and Zaki, as it happened, I shared a love of tennis, and many SAARC-related questions were settled during informal discussions off the tennis court. Pakistan and other SAARC countries except India were in favour of a stronger secretariat and greater role for the secretary-general. They, therefore, went out of the way to accord to me courtesies such as Foreign Secretary Tanweer Khan himself coming to the airport to receive me on my official visit and Foreign Minister Yakub Khan calling on me in my offi ce when he visited Kathmandu. Once, a journalist from the Telegraph while interviewing me asked about my views on Kashmir. I replied that the SAARC charter excludes discussions on bilateral and contentious issues. Nevertheless, he persis ted and said that I must be having some personal views on the matter. At that point I told him that the only point on which both India and Pakistan agree about Kashmir is that it is a part of the SAARC region. His report was quoted by Pakistan academics. Back in India, some persons questioned the need for me to make this remark. I continue to hold the view that the peoples living in various border regions have multiple identities and some unique problems which might get eased i not solved though regional cooperation combined with appropriate border policies and m anagement.

For convincing the member countries about the benefits of economic cooperation, I realized that a comprehensive SAARC study on trade, manufactures and services is a must despite the work that had been done under the aegis o CSCD. I therefore proposed that each of the member states would in the fi rst instance prepare a national study and then with the help of a consultant, the SAARC secretariat would prepare a consolidated regional study for consideration by an inter-governmental group. My visit to PIDE (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics), and discussions with the director and other academics revealed that sufficient expertise existed there. Accordingly, I appointed the chief o research there as consultant for preparing a draft regional study. I took the decision deliberately to entrust this work to an expert from Pakistan. Pakistan was known for its irrational and vociferous opposition to SAARC entering the field of economic cooperation and in my view its opposition had a good chance of being overcome by the findings of it s own expert. The officials and academics i n India, however, failed t o understand the logic and strategic aspect of my decision and lamented the fact that I had not chosen a consultant from India for this work. But contrary to what some thought, the consultant from PIDE was no t working under instructi ons from the Pakistani authoriti es. I found him very amenable to my suggestions and those made by the country directors. The resulting draft was then finalized in a meeting that was hosted by RIS and chaired by its dir ector-general, Panchmuk hi, a well-known econ omist. This paved the way for s etting up the Committee on Economic Cooperation. As its first task, I proposed that it consider the proposal for concluding a South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA). Pakistan was very cool to the idea in the beginning. I used the good offices of Arid Aye, director from Pakistan, for seeking a meeting with the finance minister, Sartaj Aziz, who happened to be his father-in-law. Sartaj Aziz invited me for breakfast in his house. He advised me to continue the technical work on SAPTA and said that in due course when the political atm osphere improved, agreement could be reached. T his is exactly what happene d a couple o years later, when SAPTA was signed, followed a few years later by the South Asian Free Trade Agreement and understanding in principle on setting up of the South Asian Econ omic Union in due course. At the last summit m eeting held in Thimphu (Bhutan), further progress was registered with the signing of the agreement on South Asian Trade in Services. This augurs well as there is now a veritable service revolution in South Asia creating possibilities for rapid economic growth, job creation, gender equality and poverty reduction. In response to the invitat ion received by organizers of the meet ing between NGOs of Pakistan and India dealing with environment issues, I decided to visit Lahore and attend the meeting. There I met Dr Akmal Husain and Dr Anil Agarwal, both of whom were very knowledgeable about the subject and advocated regional cooperation for preservation of the environment. On return, I made the proposal to and got the agreement of the standing committee for carrying out a comprehensive regional study on the causes and consequences of natural disasters and protection and preservation of the environment in South Asia and for this purpose authorizing me to appoint a consultant. It is a measure of the devotion of the late Dr Agarwal to the cause of the environment that he agreed to prepare t he study even though the payment offered to him was a pittance considering his stature and experience in the f ield. I also m anaged to secure an understanding with him that once his draft was ready, it would be finalized in the SAARC secretariat in a meeting between him, myself and the national directors. Even though h is ti me was precious, he patiently listened to all our points and carried out the necessary modifications. The study was approved by the council of ministers and a separate Committee on Cooperation in Environment was set up at the Colombo summit in 1991 to examine implementation of its decisions. Realizing the importance of global warming, it was decided to have another study done on the ‘Greenhouse’ Effect and its Impact on the South Asian Region. Because of the reputation of The Energy Research Institute (TERI), my successor Ibrahim Hussein Zaki agreed with my r ecommendation that I had l eft behind for him and appointed TERI as a consultant to carry out this study. After more than eighteen years of this study, we have the comprehensive Thimphu Statement on Climate Change. During my official visit to Bangladesh, my host was my predecessor Abu l Ahsan, who after finishing his t erm as t he first secretary-general of SAARC had taken over as foreign secretary. I have always admired his calm and cool demeanour and his profound understanding of SAARC issues. He desired that I be present during an address to parliament by President Ershad in which he spoke at length about Bangladesh’s commitment and support to SAARC. It was ironic that a year and a half l ater, when I was on a visit to Dhaka at the invitation of a think tank, a popular uprising in Bangladesh took place against President H.M. Ershad. On that occasion, though the foreign office regretted their inability to send their car for taking me to the airport because of the fear of violent demonstrators, I decided to take the risk and engaged a taxi. Thanks to the esteem and good feelings which the common man in Bangladesh has for SAARC, I was all owed to board the plane of Singapore Airlines for Kolkata, from where I returned to Kathmandu safely. When I had the audien ce for the fir st tim e with the king of Bh utan, the latter tr eated me more like an Indian diplomat rather than secretary-general of a regional organization. He observed that Bhutan has very little to gain from SAARC and was quite happy w ith it s relat ions with India. I tri ed hard without success to kindle his inter est in SAARC and point out possible mutual advantages for Bhutan and other countries f rom their membership of SAAR C. In retrospect, twenty

years later, I find that t he effort was not completely in vain and Bhutan is now host to t he SAARC Forestry Centre, and the headquarters of the SAARC Development Fund is located there. I t hosted for t he first time in twenty-five years the SAARC summit in April 2010, which resulted in some path-breaking initiatives and also adopted the Thimphu Declaration on Climate Change. It would also host a SAARC Workshop on Gross National Happiness, a Bhutanese concept for ensuring people-centric development with emphasis on cultural values, preservation of the environment and better governance. The situation now in South Asia as well as the global scene are markedly different from the time when SAARC was born. With rising disparities between the rich and the poor, between rural and urban growth, inclusive growth in South Asian countries has emerged as an issue t hat demands urgent attention. Organ ized terroris m poses a threat to the peace, security and economic stability of the region. It calls for addressing the problems in a comprehensive manner and more frequent and intensive consultations at all levels. Earlier there was very little possibility of intra-industry trade in goods. Now complementarities have widened. The possibility of asymmetric distribution of trade gains is much less compared to 1985. There are possibilities of horizontal specialization and vertical integration. South Asian countries are improving their i mportance in the world trade arena quicker than the speed with which trade has risen i n the region itself. This indicates that there is potential for more intra-regional trade. Earlier regional economic integration did not figure much in SAARC literature. Now the prospects and challenges for regional economic integration is a hot topic for policy and research with the Asian Development Bank taking the lead and the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry showing interest in the matter. Strategy 2020 of ADB includes regional integration as one of its three development agendas, the other two being inclusive economic growth and environmentally sustainable growth. There are now numerous more possibilities of location-specific bilateral and sub-regional cooperation for energy, food, environment and water than before. Health care, disaster management, climate change, protection and preservation of environment, energy and food security, water management are now global issues as well as priorities for the future of SAARC. Poor connectivity has constrained progress i n a range of public goods, in addition to creati ng problems for trade, transport and transit in the region. In fact, connectivity has emerged now in a sharper focus as a necessity for regional cooperation as also for SAARC to profit from the Asian resurgence. A major positive development is that compared to the past lukewarm attitude of I ndia towards SAARC, of late t here has been a distinct change in the strategy and approach towards the association. It has already implemented three projects relating to a tele-medicine network, a SAARC textiles and handicrafts museum, and a South Asian University. South Asia needs to rise above the past if our countries are to conquer the future. The civil society and the government have both to acquire the power to shape the future of SAARC and any proposed change for SAARC has to result in it making accelerated progress.

THE UN ENVOY An Iraqi Journey Prakash Shah was India’s permanent representative to t he United Nations in the year 2007.


Since the age of retirement from the Indian Foreign Service was well known, both Delhi and New York were aware that I would be leaving my assignment at the end of July 1997. Among the various farewell parties organized by colleagues at the UN was a rather small private farewell dinner at the residence of the secretary-general, Kofi Annan. It was a very pleasant evening spent with a small group of close friends, impeccably hosted by the Annans. Towards the end of the evening, Kofi and I sat down to a quiet coffee and cognac, reminiscing over our years of association in international affairs and multilateral diplomacy. Kofi then suddenly asked me what assignment the Government of India had in mind for me, since retirement at fifty-eight sounded rather bizarre to him. He was convinced that the government would want to utilize my thirty-five years and more of experience and knowledge in international diplomacy and work in the ministries of external affairs, finance and petroleum, as well as in the Prime Minist er’s Office to f urther promote India’s po licies i n the international arena. I tried to explain to Kofi that the idea of a retirement age in India’s civil services was primarily intended to ease out people whom the government considered old and no longer of any use, to be replaced by a younger generation of bright and capable civil servants. While some favoured retired officials were brought back to the government on a selective basis by the powers that be, I was not one of them and was therefore planning to live a retired life after I handed over my assignment in New York to my successor. The accomplished diplomat that he was, Ko fi did not bat an eyelid, though h is surprise was evident. He immediat ely asked me whether it meant that I would be available for an assignment on behalf of the UN as and when the right opportunity arose. I told hi m that I appreciate d his observation and would indeed be hon oured to be part of his team in any international assi gnment on behalf of the UN. Later, on completion of my assignment, and a wonderful holiday on the west coast of the US, I returned to India to live a more or less ‘retired’ life. To my great surprise, I got a phone call from Kofi’s office in February 1998 asking me if I would be still available for a UN assignment, and would I kindly visit New York to meet with the secretary-general. When I asked what assignment the secret ary-general had in mind for me, I was told that Mr Annan would personally discuss the same with me. However, before the UN office in New York could arrange for my visit to meet him, there were prominent reports of the secretary-general’s visit to Iraq, with the approval of the permanent members of the Security Council, to repair the rupture in the relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and UNSCOM (UN Special Commission), whose members were rather unceremoniously thrown out of Iraq over serious differences between Iraq and the UN on the scope of their acti vities. It was prominently rumoured in the press that the secret ary-general had decided to appo int the first- ever special envoy for Iraq. The press as usual floated some names for the post. There was no Indian mentioned in that list. It was clear to me, however, in the context of our conversation at Kofi’s farewell dinner, that the meeting was in this regard. On my arrival in New York towards the later part of February 1998, I was asked to meet the secretary-general in his office the next day. I was first received by his chef de cabinet, Mr Riza, who broached the subject of my appointment and rather gratuitously mentioned that I would be given the rank of assist ant secretary-general. I did not say anything to Riza and waited for my meeting with the secretary-general. Kofi Annan explained to me the background to his Iraq visit, the decision he had taken to appoint a senior diplomat as his special envoy to Iraq and told me that after considering several distinguished names proposed to him, he had decided to offer the assignment to me. I told him that I was indeed thrilled that the secretary-general had reposed his confidence in me but added that I would not accept the assignment in the rank of assist ant secretary-general. Kofi immediately cut me short to say that he was offering the job to me in the rank of under secretary-general and wondered how I got a different impression. I did not mention to Kofi the earlier conversation of Riza w ith me as it would have embarrassed the Pakistani diplomat. Kofi then instructed his office to issue the necessary appointment letters and suggested that I meet with the permanent

representatives of the five permanent members of t he Security Council. Within hours of the meeti ng the likeli hood of my appointment was common know ledge. My meetings with the permanent representati ves of the five permanent members, who w ere actually my colleagues a few months earlier, were very pleasant. I received full support from the permanent representatives of France, Russia, China and the UK. The Arab League delegation also conveyed to the secretary-general their appreciation and support for my nomination as a special envoy for Iraq. During my meeting with the US permanent representative, I asked him whether their administration had any reservations about my appointment, since the secretary-general’s office had told me that the US government had submitted four names as their preference for the assignment for Iraq, and the US preference was for the secretarygeneral to appoint the former Argentinian permanent representative as a special envoy. He told me that he had indeed sent a list of four names for the secretary-general’s consideration, and my name was not on that list. However, he assured me that the US government was happy at the secretary-general’s decision to appoint me and that he would be meeting the members the same aft ernoon to convey this position. Consequently on 5 March 1998, the secretary-general wrote t o the president of the Security Council as foll ows: Dear Mr President, I have the honour to refer to the difficulties arising from time to time in the relations between Iraq and the United Nations; and to the need for improved lines of communication between the Government of Iraq and my office in order to help avert the development of such difficulties into fully-fledged crises threatening to undermine international peace and security in the area. With this objective in mind, I have decided to appoint Mr Prakash Shah as my Special Envoy in Baghdad . . . As my Special Envoy in Baghdad, he will follow closely all developments relevant to the role of the United Nations with regard to Iraq. He will lend his support to existing United Nations activities in the arms control, humanitarian and economic and social fields while giving special attention to any crisis or problem which might benefit from intervention by United Nations headquarters. Sd/ Kofi A. Annan

Following this formal nomination, I went to New York to select my team and to set up my office in Baghdad. During the course of these acti vities, I met Ambassador Richard B utler of Australia who was the head of the Security Councilappointed UNSCOM. Richard asked me whether it was really true that I would be setting up an office in Baghdad. On my replying positively, Richard said that his advice would be for me to continue to work from New York since he seriously believed that m y life would be in danger in Ir aq. He even mentioned , perhaps facetiously, that if I had to work from Baghdad I shou ld take out a l arge life insurance. I laughed at his suggestion. When I finall y arrived in Baghdad, the Saddam Hussein gov ernment gave me a full-t ime personal security guard who actually was given a room i n the same hotel as I was staying. Within two days, I requested T ariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister, to remove the security guard since I had no fears of any harm coming to me personally either from t he people of Iraq or from the Saddam Hussein government. I figured that my job as UN representative would be much easier if I showed full confidence in the government I was going to deal with. I also wanted those in the UN who thought my assignment unsafe to understand my desire to function in Baghdad independently and without fear. The point I am making becomes relevant in view of what followed. Richard Butler visited Baghdad shortly afterwards and had brought along a UN security guard from New York as personal bodyguard. Like all visiting UN VIPs, he was being accommodated at the same hotel as I. He, however, asked Denis Haliday, the UN head of the Food-for-Oil programme, that he wanted to be put up at the UN office building in Baghdad, as he feared the possibility of being physically harmed by Iraq! The experienced Irish UN diplomat told him that in the first place his fear was misplaced because Arabs never harm their guests. Secondly, in the unlikely possibility that they wanted to eliminate Butler, they would do it in New York! Moreover, if Butler thought that he was in physical danger, that was reason enough to refuse accommodation in the UN building as he did not want to eopardize the safety of the other employees! There was another issue on which I had made my views very clear to the secretary-general. The budget for the activities of the UNSCOM and the salaries of Butler and all his staff were paid from the Food-for-Oil budget, which was entirely funded from the s ale of I raqi oil. In other words, UNSCOM could be considered on the payro ll of the Iraqi government and the Ir aqi people, who owned the oil t hat was sold to fund the activit ies of t he agency. I made i t clear to the secretary-general that I and my office in Baghdad would be funded from the UN budget and not from the funds collected by the sale of Iraqi oil. I would feel personally compromised in dealing with the Iraqi government. if my office and salary were paid from the sale of oil which legitimatel y belonged to the peop le of Ir aq. The secretary-general immediately understood the implication of what I had mentioned to him and passed orders to ensure that the special envoy’s office was funded by the UN from its regular budget. The decision of the secretary-general to appoint his Special Envoy for Iraq for reporting to him was one of the most important decisions to come out from the UN, but its significance was unfortunately lost on the non-aligned or its major mem bers. Ever since the creat ion of UNSCOM, and UN Security Council resolution 678, the entire issue of Ir aq was dealt with by the council on the information provided by UNSCOM only, with the previous secretaries-general

being reduced to the role of post office to forward reports of UNSCOM to the council. Iraq had repeatedly complained that UNSCOM was almost entir ely manned by Western arms inspectors, they generally took their cues and orders from their respective countries and the permanent members, and they were influenced heavily by Western intelligence agencies, who had the wherewithal to backstop them and not the UN. The courageous decision by Kofi Annan to have his own UN-appointed and funded political envoy to report directly to him and through him to the Security Council in effect removed the monopoly of official reporting by UNSCOM on Iraq t o the council, which was hitherto unrivalled. The unhappiness of the US administrat ion at t his measure was palpable, but it could not oppose the move because o the support the UN chief received from t he Arab League, the other permanent mem bers of the Security Council and the Afro-Asian countries in general. It would remain a mystery why the biggest non-aligned country, India, despite strong relations with the Saddam Hussein governmen t and close connections between the Co ngress party and Baathists in Iraq, either ignored or chose to remain sil ent on this historic decisi on. For a country that was loudly demandin g restructuring of the Security Council and bemoaning its unrepresentative character in the contemporary context, the successful attempt by the secret ary-general to curtail t he monopoly of the Security Cou ncil to deal with such an important iss ue o threat to international security only through UNSCOM while ignoring the larger UN membership should have been warmly supported and encouraged by India. The hostility demonstrated by UNSCOM and its chairman to my appointment was the result of his realization that I would provide direct information and analysis to the secretary-general and would be utilized as a channel o communication by the governmen t of Iraq, which would act as a controlling influence on their r eporting from Iraq. Despite the fact that both I and the secretary-general acted within the ambit of the Security Council resolutions to smoothen the process of UNSCOM and IAEA inspections, and even arranged resumption of inspections in November after UNSCOM contributed once again to its breakdown, Butler and the US and British delegations saw our presence and reporting as inimical to their objectives. T o the credit of the US, it must be recorded here that their policy, whether in the Clinton administration under which I was appointed UN special envoy, or the subsequent Bush administration, was unwavering in that they did not ever want to achieve a peaceful soluti on that would leave the Saddam government in power. The US policy all along was to get rid of Saddam Hussein before sanctions could be lifted and normalcy achieved. In some ways, the secretary-general’s bold initiative was an attempt to rouse the conscience of the international community so that the military conflict on Iraq could be avoided even though the odds were against it. What was disappointing was the limi ted internati onal interest shown by major non-aligned countries in this endeavour. With the help of some well-meaning permanent members of the Security Council and the permanent representative of Brazil and a non-permanent member (Celsto Amorin, who went on to become foreign minister of Brazil) the secretary-general and I were able to make a lot of progress in narrowing the differences between the Security Council and the Iraq government, and getting the latt er to m ove towards implementation of the council r esolutions, which was a condition precedent to the lifting of the UN sanctions on Iraq. Unfortunately, the trust deficit between the Butler-led UNSCOM and the Iraqi government continued to increase, resulting in the conviction of the Iraqis that Butler would never report the truth about WMDs to the Security Council and the resumed arms inspections under the secretarygeneral’s intervention w ere an exercise i n futilit y. Despite our efforts, the exercise broke down in August and Iraq again suspended UNSCOM inspections. The effort to encourage Iraq to cooperate with UNSCOM failed due to differences among the permanent members on the issue o closing the nuclear fil e, despite a positive I AEA report. The controversies over aerial photography of Saddam’s palace, testing of samples in Western laboratories for traces of chemical weapons, violations of mandate and arrogance of UNSCOM inspectors, t he apparent encouragement from the US administration to prolong inspections without a time-frame for the body to finish its mandated assignment and discrepancies in its press statements in Baghdad and reports to the Security Council contributed to the increasing trust deficit. The secretary-general immediately embarked on a second diplomatic effort to contain the crisis and proposed a ‘comprehensive review’ of the sanctions once arms inspections were resumed and Ir aq’s cooperation was test ed. After tortuous and painstaking discussions in Baghdad and New York, we were able to get both Iraq and the Security Council to reach an understanding whereby Iraq would invite UNSCOM to resume inspections and the council would undertake a comprehensive review of the sanctions regime. In his letter to the secretary-general on 30 October 1998, the president of the council (the permanent representative of the UK) stated that ‘the Members of the Council have agreed that they are ready to begin the comprehensive review as soon as you confirm on the basis of reports from the Special Commission and the IAEA, that the Special Commission and the IAEA are receiving full cooperation from Iraq’. It t ook some effort on my part to get Saddam Hussein to send his let ter, which enabled the resumption of t he process of inspections followed by a comprehensive review of the sanctions regime. The Financial Times, London, of 17 November 1998, inter alia reported that ‘While the world was braced for a US military strike on Iraq last weekend, one man was franticall y working in Baghdad to avert it . Charged with a mandate that carr ies enormous risk and little glory,

Prakash Shah, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Baghdad, was at the centre o diplomatic efforts which resulted in an Iraqi decision to resume cooperation with UN weapons inspectors. The Iraqi reply was received by Mr Shah on Saturday afternoon while US warp lanes were on their way to strike Iraq.’ The inspections resumed in the third week of November 1998. Richard Bu tler told the French government in Paris on 2 December that in spite of his reservations on the issue of documents, he would conclude that Iraqi cooperation was sufficient to allow for the starting of the comprehensive review. On 4 December, he told Russian officials in Moscow that his overall assessment of Iraq’s cooperation was ‘positive’. Butler also suggested that once the comprehensive review began, it would be possible to close fi rst the nuclear, and after that the missil e and chemical fi les provided there was full cooperation by Iraq. The report, he had said earlier was to be submitted on 15 December 1998. Similarly, the UNSCOM representatives in Baghdad told me on 6 December that inspections continued to run smoothly. On 14 December 1998, in a cable to the secretary-general, I suggested that Butler’s report would highlight both cooperation and instances of non-cooperation. The secretary-general’s report to the council would need to give a perspective. The secretary-general might note the statistical logic which indicated that, on an overwhelmingly large number of UNSCOM activities with regard to inspection, access, interviews and monitoring, full cooperation was forthcoming from Iraq. On documents, some unresolved issues remained. That should not be the cause for not starting the comprehensive review. The secretary-general was also requested to consider highlighting the IAEA report on cooperation. The secretary-general might then encourage the council to set an early date for commencing the comprehensive review. Butler submitted his report to the secretary-general on 15 December 1998, which was totally contradictory to the promises he had given to the French and Russian governments in early December. His report in effect certified noncooperation by the Iraqi government despite the fact that the IAEA reported full cooperation for its visits in Iraq. The secretary-general forwarded the report outlining that the Security Council had choices including going ahead with the comprehensive review. Even before the Security Council could consider and debate the secretary-general’s letter and the UNSCOM report, the US and the UK commenced aerial bombing of Iraq, including Baghdad, on the night of December 16/17 at 1 a.m. The bombing lasted four days and effectively put an end to diplomacy by the secretary-general and his special envoy on the issue of ending the sanctions regime on the people of Iraq.

ENGAGING WITH CHINA Jagat S. Mehta Editor’s Note: This remarkable memoir-cum-hist orical analysis by one of India’s seniormost former diplomats revives some uncomfortable questions about the India-China war of 1962, whose shadow still pursues the course of relations between the two Asian giants. Could the conflict have been avoided? Was India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, personally guilty of being naïve or over-idealistic in his judgements of Chinese intentions? To what extent was

the sycophancy of his own bureaucrats responsible for the poor advice that he received? How could Indian diplomacy have so comprehensively misjudged the forces at work between the so-call ed allies and antagonists of the Cold War era in its tense confrontations with Pakistan, and during the Bangladesh crisis of 1971? The other side of the coin has, o course, been the ideological fixations, political insecurity and limited comprehension of ‘the other’ which repeatedly manifest themselves in Chinese behaviour on the international stage, and ensure a long shelf-life for irritants and misunderstandings with India. And what of the future? Despite their stated continued adherence to building a stable, futuristic, cooperative relationship worthy of an Asian century, Indian and Chinese policies, act ions and mutual percepti ons today continue to fuel mutual insecuriti es in a manner reminiscent of t he bilateral atm osphere of the late 1950s an d ’60s. Competition between the u ncaged elephant and inscrutable dragon is inevitable. Jagat Mehta is able to paint the past history of their encounters on a wider canvas of the civilizational identities and ideological aspirations of both nations. It is a timely reminder that, in the absence of what has been termed an environment of ‘strategic maturity’ in their bilateral ties, a repeat of the tragedy of five decades ago is entirely possible.


y interaction with China started when I was transferred as deputy secretary in the Eastern Division of the Ministry of External Affairs at the end of 1956. The reason for my induction had no connection with China. It was only because, in an earlier posting, I had had experience of administrati on and had conceived the idea of a Foreign Service ‘B’ as an underpinning of the (main) IFS, with an obligation to serve abroad wherever they were sent. (The Central Secretarial Service, the CSS, had no such compulsion, not even for those who were serving in the external affairs departments.) The deputy secretary (East) had four sections under him. They were Nepal (N), Bhutan, Sikkim and Tibet (BST), East Asia (EA) which dealt with China, Japan, Mongolia and North and South Koreas, and of course NEFA (the so-called North East Frontier Agency). Actually, China as part of the Eastern Division was the least burdensome. Reports did come from Tokyo and Peking (Beijing), but the other sections took up most of the time. My chief concern was NEFA. However, in September 1957, I was chosen to accompany the vice-president, Dr S. Radhakrishnan, who was deputizing for the president for state visits. This particular tour was to cover South and North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the Mongolian Republic and China. The last was, no doubt, the most important part of the visit. Until this posting I had never been east of Calcutta (Kolkata). However, in order to prepare for the tour, I read about these six countries. One vaguely knew China was a populated country, had completed its Revolution and had a great future, but I had no real insights i nto its problems and potential. I was not involved in Chou En lai’s visits to Delhi in 1956-57. Th ey were handled by T.N. Kaul (later foreign secretary), the head of the division and other officers who had been in the division much longer. The vice president and I stayed in Chang-Nan-Hai. He was given all honours and every reason to feel that HindiChini Bhai Bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers) was not a mere slogan but a shared ideology. We were aware that other South-East Asian democracies like Korea were discreetly signalling to China that they should associate the people in governance; the vice president had been specifically told that China’s brief democratic experiment ‘o hundred flowers blooming and hundred schools of thought contending’ had been prematurely withdrawn. But the Chinese showed great sensitivity t o India’s views. Probab ly as a concession to Dr Radhakrishnan, the map in the ‘China Pictorial’ (a colour propaganda magazine) showing the Sinkiang highway cutting across Indian territory in Kashmir was released only after the visit was concluded. When the magazine was released, the Government of India became concerned. The proactive elements in the MEA did not, however, want Nehru’s judgement to be questioned and nonalignment to be exposed as a dubious success. And the public reaction was thus deli berately muted.

Following this depiction, in the summer of 1958, India sent two parties, one to the northern extreme of the IndiaChina border and the second one to the southern end. The first returned safely. The southern patrol ran into a PLA (People’s Liberation Army) ambush near the Kongka pass. The leader of the Indian team was killed after torture. This created an uproar in India. It was in t his context that Nehru wrote a personal letter to Chou Enlai pointing out that India had not only given up every privilege in Tibet but had been transparently open about its boundary. Broadly speaking, it corresponded with the watershed of the Himalayas. Nehru expressed distress. India-China friendship was intended to bring in a new era of friendship to Asia! An acknowledgement to Nehru’s letter was received in January 1959, but it still did not state what were the Chinese claims. There was secrecy and prevarication which went against the spirit o Panchsheel (‘t he five principles of peaceful coexistence’) pledged in the 1954 joint communiqué. The visit of Nehru to China in 1955 had gone off smoothly. He was, however, shocked at Mao’s statement that, in the event of a nuclear war, even if 300 to 400 million people from China survived the worldwide holocaust, they would be sufficient to dominate the world and turn it socialist. Nehru being a Gandhian was shocked by this statement and suspected that communist China was determi ned to go for nuclear weapons. Nehru, in his conversation with Chou Enlai on the way back from Bhakra Nangal in 1957 drew attention to persisting errors i n Chinese maps on the India-China boundary . The Chinese premier deflected the complaint by saying t hat these maps were based on KMT (Kuomintang ) surveys but t hey would be correct ed in the light of the new friendship between India and China. Th is should have been followed up by official enquiries t o see whether he was sincere, or i ndulging in conscious deception. It was not.

All this came to a head when the Dalai Lama escaped from Lhasa, and after a fourteen-day trek, came to the Indian border. It may be recalled that in 1957, we had compelled the Dalai Lama to go back to Tibet as his staying on would have embarrassed the developing India-China friendship. At that time the Dalai Lama had asked Nehru to come on a visit to Lhasa and this was accepted in the presence of Chou Enlai. The D alai Lama’s escape exposed communism as a system of intolerable oppression. The seventeen-point agreement between Tibet and China of 1951 had not been observed by China. The Dalai Lama was smarting against the Chinese stranglehold and suppression of the harmless practice of Tibetan religion. The Tibetans were apprehensive of China’s intentions when they invited the Dalai Lama to their camp, and so he escaped in a disguise. The Dalai Lama was asked to stay on in Bomdila for fourteen days as it was beyond the Inner Line where no foreigners could go. Correspondents from all over the world, however, congregated in Tezpur to get the authentic story but the Government of India, while giving him refuge, did not want this to affect Chinese perceptions of the foreign policy of India. As it happened the head of the Eastern Division (B.K. Acharya) had handed over charge and his successor was not due for several months. ‘Panditji’ (Nehru) decided that even as a deputy secretary I should carry on and so, by happenstance, I was the chief operational officer in the most serious foreign policy crisis faced by India after Independence. The Chinese had to find a plausible repudiation for the Dalai Lama’s escape. In an article published in the Peking Review of 16 May 1959 the Chinese put the blame on Nehru himself. Parliament was outraged. Nehru was after all responsible for personally promoting trust in China and the belief that China had no aggressive intentions but was a friend of India; he was now being actually accused of the revolt in Tibet! All through the 1959 summer , questions were asked in our Parliament suggesting that China had been deceiving India. It was in this context that – belatedly – in September 1959, for the first time, China affirmed its claim to 55,000 sq. miles (around 142,500 sq. km.) of Indian territ ory (33,000 sq. miles in NEFA [Arunachal], 12,00 0 in Aksai Chin), apart from the areas ostensibly with ‘Kashmir ’ in Hunza and Gilgit (which were also part of the Srinagar Residency) and were then controlled by Pakistan. In November 1959 the Chinese seemed to realize that their unthinking diplomacy had alienated public opinion in India. They suggested a compromise – both India and China withdraw their forces 20 km from t he border, as a preliminary t o negotiations, but India had much earlier transparently cl arified it s concept of the border as shown in the Survey of India map of 1954. In 1956-57 Nehru might have piloted a compromise but, in the wake of the unwarranted accusations in 1959, India’s position could not but be ri gid. Our reply was that China should withdraw up to the claimed line of India in the western sect or, but in the eastern sector, the present position should continue. The sugg estion was not acceptable to China as it would have meant withdrawing from the highway. Parliamentary opinion in India had become alarmed and accused Nehru of misleading the nation and keeping back vital information. Adjournment motions challenging the government were frequent and so, spontaneously, without consulting diplomatic practice, Nehru agreed to release al l correspondence w ith China in White Papers. Chou Enlai then suggested a meeting with Nehru. He said he was prepared to go anywhere to reverse the deterioration. In view of the opinions expressed in Parliament, Nehru initially hesitated to give a positive reply, but after projecting a semantic but meaningless difference between ‘negotiations ‘and ‘talks’, he agreed to receive his

Chinese counterpart, with foreign minister Chen Yi and t hree planeloads of experts, who came to Delhi i n April 1960. Nehru and Chou Enlai had seven rounds of talks on the crisis which had vitiated the bilateral relationship, alone, with only their i nterpreters present. No ‘negotiations’ took place; indeed, no agreement was possible. The Chinese had their best Indian friend on the defensive. An unforeseen complication arose due to legal problems. The Supreme Court, in response to an appeal pertaining to the exchange of pockets in adverse possession of India and Pakistan, specially relating to Berubari, ruled that while India could add to its area, surrendering any territory would require a constitutional amendment even if it followed an international agreement. This debarred a legal deal on Aksai Chin in exchange for NEFA. (Aksai Chin was under Chinese control while NEF A was inhabited by I ndian tribals.) Legalities asi de, the politi cal problem was getting more complex. India did not want to advertise a failure in its China diplomacy as it would have been a slur on non-alignment. As in other deadlocks, a committee of officials was appointed. A hastily drawn joint communiqué asked officials of the two governments to furnish evidence in four months ‘in support of the stand of their Governments’. (Thus, the officials from India could only be advocates: they could not be ‘negotiators’ and reach compromises, as this went beyond the Constituti on and the government’s discreti on.) I was designated the leader of the Indian delegation, with Dr S. Gopal as my deputy. Four months were extended to six. Fortunately during the period, no border incidents took place; but we really had an impossible task: to prove the ‘end result with supporting evidence’, when the actual delineation had been publicly affirmed by the prime minister. We did an unexpectedly remarkable job, producing 650 items of positive evidence covering the entire ‘disputed area’, but there were two reports (600 printed pages) in one cover. The Officials’ Report was presented to Parliament in February 1961. It was well received but no one knew how to proceed further. I was transferred to Bonn on 1 May 1961. In the second half of 1961 and the first half of 1962, India launched a ‘forward policy’ in the belief t hat China only moved in where there was a vacuum. India was wholly unprepared for the massive attack in the autumn of 1962. On 8 September 1962, on his way to Sri Lanka, Nehru declared that he had told the army authorities ‘to throw the Chinese out’. This was deemed as a provocation; and probably Mao himself reacted to the insult. As has been documented, on 20 October the Chinese launched their attack not just on NEFA but all along the 2,000-mile (3,600 km) Sino-Indian common boundary including Aksai Chin. In Kameng division, the Chinese attack st opped at the Sela pass, l eaving half of Kameng Frontier division under India’s control. In November , while the Indian Army anticipated the attack across Sela, the PLA bypassed the garrison, overwhelmed the other half including Bomdila and reached the ‘foothills’. On 21 November, the Chinese declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew their forces north of the ‘s o-called McMahon Line’. The totality of operations was, in my view, p olitical and not for territ orial acquisiti on. In retrospect, it is clear that China did not understand that India was ruled by a parliamentary democracy and that even Nehru could not smother the criticism of the Opposition and back-bench members of his own party. There was mutual mispercepti on from the very beginning. The A fro-Asian conference of 1955 in Bandun g was reall y based on the presumed solidarity of the non-European countries which had either become free or were about to become independent. By shunning his ari stocratic home and education, Nehru had beco me a hero to the Indian nation. He was fundamentally a democrat. This undiluted adulation, his own zest, and nationalist dedication commanded loyalty, but his tem perament made him self-confident and dictatorial. Despite the guaranteed long tenure of the civil service, the latter instinctively felt ‘Panditji knows best’ and hesitated to advise and dissent. In his presence, they felt it necessary to dismiss China’s own nationalism as parochial, tactical and not global. This ‘mutual misperception’ w as a recurring feature in all m y seasons with Ch ina – the summer of friendship (1957), the long autumn of uncertain deterioration, including six months of talks (1959-60) and the winter of despair, the doghouse of posting (1963-66) and careful spring (1979). The underlying reason became clear to me soon enough: the two civilizati ons were different. India beli eved in equality, but Chin a had a t radition of superiorit y. The nineteenth century was the age of European empires and they dominated the whole world. India was the first to have aspirations for self-government and eventual decolonization of all non-self governing countries. In the twentieth century it was China which began the protest against European domination bu t India ass erted that its hopes of fr eedom would not be complete until all colonies were liberated. In China – and most other countries – there was no such internationalism. This factor of enlightened internationalism versus narrow concentration on one’s own coun try was the fundamental difference between India and China. The Manchu empire collapsed in 1911; nationalism found its fulfilment in the government of Kuomintang (KMT) under Sun Yat-sen which established itself in Nanking. The Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded in Shanghai in 1921. From the very beginning, the party struggled against the KMT and accused it of great docility over subsisting foreign enclaves. In 1927, when the CPC was still struggling, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union stood by the

KMT and this left a bitter memory of perfidy of the fellow communist party in Moscow. There was a brief but unsuccessful attempt at an urban revolution, imitating 1917 in Petrograd (later renamed Leningrad, which has now reverted to its srcinal name), but eventually the CPC evolved its rural-based strategy. In 1935 began the heroic Long March of the PLA, around the periphery of China, but it continuously fought to escape the harassment by official China. This is part of the legend of Chinese communism. Through the Second World War, the party fought both the Japanese aggressors and the KMT, even though the latter had access to American arms. By 1945 the Japanese had surrendered; and in the civil war, the PLA defeated the KMT by 1949. The People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in Peking on 1 October 1949, when it controlled all the mainland. This background must be kept in mind. China was the first Asian country in which communism won, but only after twenty-eight years of violence. The victory certainly came after decolonization in the subcontinent and Burma, but the PLA fought with arms and not through negotiations. There was some last-minute help from the Russian army in 1945 but it was more to ensure a seat at the table for the settlement in the Far Eastern dispensation. One compares and contrasts India with China. Gandhi and Mao were poles apart. Gandhi won freedom for India through non-violence, moral persuasion, and abstinence and urged a fair settlement for Muslims and minorities; but Mao was more ruthless. Decolonization was the common goal, but Nehru did not see that nationalism would persist after i mperialism was defeated. Bo th Gandhi and Nehru were internati onalists, and the choice of domestic polici es was left t o the country itself. India chose democracy but every country was to determine its own polity.

India had recognized the PRC in early 1950. Even then Nehru had made it clear that as the McMahon Line corresponded to the Himalayan watershed, it represented India’s frontier. With this statement, India thought the matter had been transparently notified. NEFA was also mentioned in our Constitution adopted in January 1950, and so it was interpreted to confirm that there was no difference with China over the eastern sect or. From 1949 to 1953, the relationship between India and both the communist countries, the Soviet Union and China, was correct but lukewarm. However, China had noted that during the Korean War, India did not follow the Western example by sending its troops despite t he UN resolution. Similarly, during the Geneva conference on Indo-Ch ina, India maintained an independent attitude, supporting the Vietnamese against the return of French imperialism. It was in this context that Chou Enlai, on his way back from Geneva, stopped in Delhi and with Nehru subscribed to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence in the joint communiqué. Meanwhile, the Tibet agreement had also been signed in Peking where India had accepted that Tibet was a region of China. The period of friendship between China and India thus began in 1954. In 1956, after the post-Stalin Twentieth Party Congress, non-alignment got the support of the Soviet Union, and India rejoiced in the use of the veto in the UN Security Council in India’s favour on Kashmir in 1957. In spirit India did not want to take advantage of the British imperial legacy. It readily gave up the special privileges which it had inherited, such as the exclusive r ight to control the Tibetan postal system, and the right of stat ioning units of the Indian Army in Yatung and Gyantse. (In all but name, Tibet was a part of the British Empire). By unilaterally surrendering privileges, we believed we would have promoted confidence in anti-imperialism and non-alignment. Pakistan in the meanwhile had joined the anti-communist alliances after the Korean War covering Asia, Japan and Taiwan. Nehru had spent nine years in prisons under the British. He still had the intellectual stamp of socialism and Fabianism on his mind. While others (liberated from British colonialism) were content to accept dominion status in 1931, Nehru, who had been to the Soviet Union in 1928, wanted complete independence from British shackles. After 1954, China also seemed to recognize that India had a special standing in the developing world and was, therefore, interested in its friendship. At the time of the Bandung Conference (1955), China must have noted that Nehru had sought to assuage the apprehensions of Burma, Nepal and, indeed, the whole of non-communist Asia. It was in this mood that China sought every method possible to brush historical territorial problems under the carpet. On the other hand, as some commentators who have examined the r ecords claim, Nehru showed arrogance. Nehru himself had strong reason to believe that China had accepted the border as understood by independent India. In the wake of decolonization, Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai was a sincere conviction. It is not clear as to whether Nehru had doubts of the long-term reliability of China. He put himself in the shoes of Mao and the Chinese leadership, for whom India’s stability was logically crucial , and its non-alignment to be genuinely welcomed. As it happened, the Chinese attack in 1962 coincided with the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Caribbean. Khrushchev faced the risk of nuclear war or a humiliating defeat. In response to President Kennedy’s broadcast, he decided unilaterally t o remove Soviet mi ssiles and ordered the ships to turn back. D uring this crisi s period in the Caribbean, the Soviets changed their attitude on the India-China dispute. In the possible national security contingency, the USSR reaffirmed its solidarity with China, reflecting the old relationship between the two communist giants. This, however, was temporary and, after the crisis was over, the Soviets returned to an embrace with ‘friendly India’, in effect tilting

away from ‘fraternal China’. The year 1962 exposed the fallacy of nuclear weapons and the beginning of détente. The 1965 India-Pak war also demonstrated the new equations in Asia of one nation (China) pretending to help another (Pakistan) regardless of the latter’s alliance with the US. What was also surprising was how countries held on to old propaganda attitudes. During the 1960s and after Tashkent, both the US and the USSR gave signs of wanting India-Pakistan reconciliation but we had developed a vested interest in the exclusive ‘time-tested’ friendship with the USSR, and presumed that the US would continue to give milit ary help and economic assistance to Pakistan. The Cold War mindset was still deeply entrenched . In retr ospect, its assumptions were entir ely fallaci ous. The USSR and China had already advertised their differences in theory and in practice. The USSR did not want a Chinese finger on the Soviet nuclear trigger. They had even stopped aid to Vietnam for not signing the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963. The US did not see that the USSR was interested in the American non-defeat in Vietnam. The Soviets resumed aid to India, illustrating my thesis that regardless of ideology, arms supplies are, at times, used for political influence and arms control. The Soviets at tempted to outwit the ‘Chinese’ in 1968 by arms supplies t o Pakistan.

The year 1971 was a year of crisis in India-Pak-US relations which, again, was subjectively interpreted by most analysts. President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger openly sided with Pakistan in the crisis in Bangladesh. India tended to believe that both were viciously against Mrs Gandhi. The Americans were, of course, grateful that Pakistan had conspired as the secr et go-between to develop ‘relations’ w ith China. What most Indians do not understand is that it was also truly a hint by the US to the Chinese that it could be a firm ally against the Soviet Union. The 1971 treaty between India and the USSR was part of the Cold War misjudgement: If the US should assist Pakistan then, even if it compromised non-alignment, India would have a superpower on its side. Some have suggested that the initiative was contemplated by the USSR, but even so, it was probably because of Indian nervousness.

Harking back, one might recall that after the Sino-Soviet rift, the whole communist world was plagued by ‘Splittism’ between pro-Soviet ‘modern revisionists’ (mainly in Eastern Europe) and the pro-Chinese loyalists (Marxist-Leninists). This crusade and propaganda intensified after the Split. It also affected India-China relations. While China was silent on ideology in Pakistan, it supported the CPI(ML) in India who, as with the Naxalites, chose the non-parliamentary route violence for social change. fromLatin its own domestic experience the 1930s and ’40s, wantedofthe developing continents of Extrapolating Asia, Africa and America to surround and of smother the ‘cities’ of China North America, Western and Eastern Europe. Chou Enlai had toured Africa in 1964, and declared that the continent was ‘ripe for revolution’. In 1966, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) with a call ‘to bombard the Party headquarters’. It was Mao’s idea of an artificial ‘Long March’ to give experience of hardship and discipline to the young, who were born after the liberation. The fallacy was that you cannot start a revolution from above. Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four took the initiative of ‘Making Revolution’. It only resulted in disruption and chaos. Meanwhile Chou Enlai and Mao had died; Jiang Qing was banished. All through the 1960s there was the hostile political attrition of India and sporadic tension in the Sikkim sector.

From the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, in 1979 emerged Deng Xiaoping who rationalized anti-Sovietism and exploited the normalization with the US. In 1976 India also restored to ambassadorial level its diplomatic relations with China. (It had been lowered to that of a charge d’affaires i n 1961 after the fail ure of the Nehru-Cho u talks and the Officials’ Report). In 1979 the foreign minister, A.B. Vajpayee, a visit to not China. This was first high-level contact after 1957 when the vice president had gone to China. It waspaid scrupulously anti-Soviet butthe reflected a new re-rationalization with all of India’s neighbours. The visit was successful but it was marred somewhat by the off-thecuff remark by Deng that the attack on Vietnam wou ld be brief ‘ as was the case in 1962 in the operations against India’. This created an uproar against China, specially by the pro-Soviet lobbies in India. In fact the date chosen had nothing to do with the visit of Vajpayee, but was intended to coincide with the proposed non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and the pro-Vietnamese government in Kampuchea.

The falsehoods of the Cold War finally ended in the conversation between presidents Gorbachev and Reagan when they met in Iceland’s capital in 1986 and declared that ‘Nuclear wars cannot be won and should never be started.’ In effect this meant that the last fifty years and trillions of dollars were mutually reinforced paranoia only. India, Pakistan and China, directly or indirectly, were also affected by the Cold War. The hypnosis of the Cold War has remained resilient. Even though the ‘Soviet Empire’ was to disintegrate into as

many as fifteen countries and nationalism was to reassert itself, the gut reactions still continued because of Cold War conditioning. This was evident in the developments in Afghanistan, when in 1978 President Daud, his cabinet and family were suddenly killed. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 but only in order to remove a militant communist, Hafizullah Amin, who had precipitated Islamic insurgency in the country. The US interpreted it as if the aim was to invade Pakistan and to strategically control the oil artery from the Gulf. India, thinking there would be a nuclear war between the US and the USSR in its neighbourhood, considered it prudent to lean on the Soviet Union; Pakistan thought the smell of communism in Kabul could again earn military help from the US. All four analyses proved false. The Soviet Union withdrew in 1989 and the people of Pakistan have turned anti-American; India lost its standing with the Pashtuns for twenty-one years.

China today has the biggest reserves of foreign exchange (over three trillion dollars), more than any other country. It holds to ransom even the US. In its newfound confidence, it has again protested at the Dalai Lama’s refuge in India (despite his acceptance of Chinese control over Tibet). The rel ationship between China and India has always been one of different nationalisms. Nationalism was not completely subordinated by anti-imperialism. The relations remain a blend of complementarity and rivalry. China wants India to accept its pre-eminence, but it reckons without modern technology which empowers each individual. In India we have experimented with democracy for sixty years and more and have had fifteen general elections. Our failures are of course tr ansparent and yet, in the last twenty years, India has had an average GDP growth of 8 to 9 per cent. According to Surjit Bhalla, a well-known economist, by 2022, the equation between India and China will change. India will forge ahead. Both are essential to absorb the marketing surplus of industrial economies, but India will rise while China will stagnate. He states the poverty level in India is, in fact, lower; the demographic advantage rests with India. If the planet survives, it will have to moderate aggressive nationalism. Power alone will not prevail in coercion. The US or China will not rule the world. Democracy has a bett er chance than when liberal economics is combined with the authoritarian politics of the one-party stat e. Democracy is, no doubt, pron e to abuse and corruption but the power of the third ti er – the Panchayati Raj – will slowly ascend by education, rectitude and adjustment. Nehru was wrong on China in 1954, and again in 1959, and 1962, but it is possible that India, with its quality of toleration, multi-religious plural complexion and no ideological inhibitions, might emerge stronger as an independent entity than more chauvinistic China. Nehru might prove prophetic in 2022. In other words, the civilization which always accepted the equality o nations might prove str onger than the one which rejoiced in i solation and superiority – as believed by China.

FIJI Diplomacy Extraordinary T.P. Sreenivasan ontentious elections, change of governments, military coups, trade sanctions and expulsions are par for the course


in diplomacy, but to face al l these at one post and that too in a tr opical paradise is extraordinary. The assignment to Fiji has been hazardous to Indian envoys at the best of times. For historical reasons, the envoys are looked upon by the Fiji Indians as their mentors. At the same time, the Indian envoys are expected to promote multiracialism and multiculturalism and maintain the delicate racial balance enshrined in the Fiji constitution. Any effort on their part, therefore, to strengthen the Indian community’s cultural links with India are seen with suspicion and they are often accused of interferi ng in the internal aff airs of t he country. In my case, the problems were compounded by the fact that my arrival coincided with the emergence of the Labour Party, a new coalition between the Indians and the educated Fijians which threatened the alliance government of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. The elections of 1987 were contentious and the Indian mission was under watch for any encouragement we might be giving to the Indian community. When the Labour government was formed, the Indian support to it was seen as prejudicial to the rights of the indigenous Fijians. A military coup, specifically aimed at the Indian role in politics, inevitably put us in direct opposition to the milit ary government. We refused to recognize the military government, imposed sanctions against Fiji and got it thrown out of the Commonwealth. In spite of t hese measures, I continued to function as t he head of mission, with instructions not t o deal with the ministers. Fiji acquiesced in this unusual situation as it did not want to provoke the Indian community. After two years of an uneasy and unconventional diplomatic standoff, during which I was accused of interfering in the country’s internal affairs, Fiji unilaterally decided to downgrade the Indian mission as a consulate and asked me to leave in seventy-two hours. The relati onship between the host government and the Indian mission during this period defied every diplomatic norm. Finally , the mission itsel f was closed at the initiati ve of the Fiji government. No Indian immigrant community is farther away from India than the Fiji Indians, the progeny of the indentured labourers who were taken to the distant paradise to work in the cane fields there. The srcinal immigrants left their towns and villages in today’s Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu lured by promises of plenty just across the sea. They had no idea of the distance they had to t raverse, the conditions on the other side or the future that awaited them; only a hope that they wou ld have a better l ife there. The immigrants were in for a shock when they were packed like sardines in ships and transported to a distant land. Harsh living conditions were compounded by the hard work in the cane fields, infested with snakes, mosquitoes and other vermin, which endangered their lives. In fact, the very reason for importing labour from India was that the Fijian workers were dying in their hundreds in the cane f ields. The Indians were hardier, but not immune to t he many diseases that confronted them. Some died, some deserted temporarily, but most remained, stoically facing the hardship and dreaming of a better future for their children. The social transformation that took place among the ‘Girmityas’, a euphemism for the indentured labourers, was remarkable. They achieved social and linguistic cohesion in a way no other Indian group had done. Caste differences disappeared and everyone spoke Bhojpuri, which later came to be known as Fiji Hindi. The only distinctions that remained after 110 years were between Hindu s and Muslims and north and south Indians. The second generation of Girmityas, having survived the ordeals of immigration and having lost any hope o returning to India, concentrated on spirituality, education and health, in that order. The Indians lived in Fiji as though they had never left India, adapting the goods and services available in Fiji for their way of life. The demand for Indian things brought in the second wave of immigration of Gujaratis as traders and moneylenders. They created their own world, but they served the pressing needs of the cane farmer s. As educational levels im proved and many o f the I ndians began to get educated in India, New Zealand or Australia, they began getting white-collar jobs. Slowly, the marketplace in Fiji became predominantly Indian. Fijians had no concept of trade, as everything was community property in the villages. The chiefs operated the economy and provided those under them with the basic needs. If a Fijian opened a shop, his friends and relatives would come and carry things away without even offering to pay. The Indians, on the

other hand, saved every penny they could and introduced the money economy. The arrival of the Gujaratis created a market economy with its attendant paraphernalia of loans, interest, investment schemes and others. Fijians remained largely unaffected by the new economy, but those who earned salaries slowly adapted themselves to t he new situation. The seeds of future conflict in Fiji were sown in its constitution, which came into force in 1970, following independence. It is believed that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi advised the Fiji Indian leaders not to insist on their ‘pound of flesh’ as the majority group in Fiji. Instead, they should work out a formula which allowed them to live and work in racial harmony. If a one man, one vote formula had been adopted, the Indians would have come to power immediately after independence, a prospect the Fijians considered worse than British rule. The formula adopted, therefore, was to have a parliament with 22 Fijians, 22 Indians and 7 ‘others’ – Europeans, Chinese, and others. Among these, some were to be elected within the communities themselves and others to be elected nationally. The compact, in effect, was that the Fijians would form the government with the support of others and Indians would be Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition. In return for this arrangement, Indians would be given long leases for the land they cultivated and their children would be given jobs in the government. The constitution reconfirmed that Fijian land was inalienable and the Indians would not be able to own land. The Indians made all these concessions in good faith in recognition of their immigrant status. ‘The world as it should be!’ This was the description of Fiji from 1970 to 1987. Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who would have been the king of Fiji as the seniormost Fijian chief, assumed the prime ministership and he was hailed by all, including the Government of India, as the champion of multiracialism in Fiji. He was the leader of the Alliance Party, basically a consortium of Fijian chiefs with full Fijian support. The Indians formed the National Federation Party (NFP), which had leaders like Vinod Patel, Siddique Koya and Jairam Reddy. The Indians began to work tirelessly for building the nation, having set the scenario for the future, and Ratu Mara was able to win international recognition and foreign aid by foll owing a clearly pro-W estern foreign policy. He kept Fiji out of the Non-aligned Movement at a time when it was fashionable for newly indep endent countries to join it . He claimed that Fiji was so non-aligned that it could not even align itself with the Non-aligned Movement. But the real reason was his vision of Fiji as a Western ally like Australia and New Zealand. At the same time, he cultivated India, as he knew that India’s support was necessary to sustain the support of the Indian community. He turned out to be a master tactician, one whom the Indians could not match. The richer Indians, particularly the Gujaratis, supported the Alliance Party, w hile the cane f armers and the t rade unions voted solidly with NFP. Below the surface of racial harmony lay the major weakness of the Fijian nation. The constitution had perpetuated the racial divide. The two major races had learnt to coexist, but there was no integration as the Indians considered themselves superior from the day they landed in Fiji. The race-based constitution did not contribute to integration either. The experiment was to build a nation that was divided on racial li nes with very little interracial intercourse. The Polynesian-Melanesian race continued to call themselves Fijians under the constitution, while the Indian immigrants continued to be called Indians. Moreover , the majorit y race had no chance of gaining po litical power. It was a reci pe for disaster from t he start. A national identity and a common future are essential for any nation. When I was posted to Fiji from Rangoon as a head of mission for the first time, I was quite excited, as I knew that Fiji was an important post for India. But I was not sure as to whether Fiji was an appropriate challenge for me. I asked my predecessor whether Fiji was interesti ng. He was prophetic when he said that there was a danger of it becoming ‘too interesting’. But he encouraged me to accept the post and asked me to bring my golf set along as he thought that the way to the heart of the Fiji an elite was through the golf course. There was no sign when we arrived of the trouble that was brewing below the calm surface. Order and prosperity were visible and communal harmony seemed to hold sway. Governor-General Penaia Ganilau received us warmly for the presentation of credentials and recall ed his happy association w ith India for many years. Prime Mi nister Ratu Mara was sweet and sour as he criticized many of my predecessors, thereby suggesting that I should not make the same mistakes as they did. This was an unusual conversation between a head of government and an accredited envoy. The uniqueness of my assignment came out loud and clear at that meeting. Being a feudal chief, Mara had no great regard for democracy and he wou ld have been happ ier if the Indians had not set up a democracy after the British lef t. Mara fel t that the Indians owed a debt of gratitude to him for having agreed to share power with them even though he was the hereditary monarch. Indian impatience w ith his policies and direct cri ticism of his government were irrit ants. My first year in Fiji was uneventful. I got to know a number of Indian and Fijian leaders and became friendly with many. I maintained our traditional policy of supporting multiracialism. The Indian leaders were closer to me than the chiefs for obvious reasons, but they were not in the least demanding except in expecting me to attend their functions, ranging from political to religious. The Indian high commissioner was to the Indians what the prime minister was to the Fijians. Even where I was invited together with the prime minister, I was ranked a close second, above cabinet ministers and the rest. Ratu Mara did not seem to mind the kind of im portance I enjoyed. Within a few months after my arrival in Fiji , our militar y attaché in Canberra came to Suva on an accred itation visit . The officer in the Fiji army who coordinated the visit was Sitiveni Rabuka, a colonel who had just returned from a

peacekeeping operation in Lebanon. The Fiji army, having nothing much to do in its own country, was a regular troop contributor to the United Nations. It got its offi cers trai ned in near-battle conditions, earned money for the governmen t and the soldiers and gained considerable international exposure. Virtually every Fijian soldier spent some time on UN peacekeeping. Being neutral ideologically, Fiji was acceptable in every situation and both the UN and Fiji benefited from this arrangement. Rabuka was in touch with my officers, but he also spoke to me a couple of times on phone. He spoke impeccable Eng lish and he told me that he had been at t he Staff College in W ellington near Ooty . I invited him to a dinner I had organized for the mil itary att aché, but he declined. Within a few days I noticed a Fijian golfer playing alone, like I used to do in the morning every day at the Fiji Gol Club. He joined me once as we arrived at the same time and it transpired that it was Rabuka. He was very polite and friendly, but not too talkative. But he did reminisce over his days in India and expressed appreciation for the professional skills of the Indian Army. We began playing regularly, but I did not learn much about his personality except that he was a good golfer. He declined all my invitations, but he was quite happy joining me on the course. The election campaign picked up momentum by the end of 1986 and the likelihood of a Labour-NFP coalition made it very interesting. Ratu Mara and the Alliance Party were, however , confident of victory i nitially, but by the turn of the year, there was a certain nervousness raising its head. When Ratu Mara realized that the Indians were going to support Labour, he began to meet me frequently to see if I could influence them in his favour. He once told me that he would understand if an Indian wanted to become prime minister. But if it was going to be a Fijian, he was the one who had done the most for the Indians. What had (Dr Timoci) Bavadra done for them, he asked. I listened to him patiently, but professed strict neutrality and faith in multiracialism. He then proposed a visit to India. I was told that he went to India whenever there was an election and then used the speeches made in his praise by the Indian leaders for his campaign among the Indians. I conveyed his wish to Delhi, together with the pleas made to me by Indian leaders not to entertain his visit at that time. A.P. Venkateswaran, the foreign secretary, who knew the situation in Fiji, might well have played a role, but somehow we could not accommodate his visit during the dates proposed by him. He did not look very pleased when I conveyed that he should visit India soon after the elections. Dr Bavadra, Tupeni Baba, Mahendra Chaudhury and Satya Nandan of Labour and Jairam Reddy, Harish Sharma and Vinod Patel of NFP were constantly in touch with me, but I did not participate in any community functions, which appeared to contribute to the campaign. On one occasion, I went with the other diplomats to a convention of the NFP, where Jairam Reddy spoke, and I was surprised that the newspapers the next day carried a picture, not of the podium, where the leaders were seated, but a shot of the audience where I was prominently featured. Ratu Mara and the Alliance Party had no reason to complain that I acted in a partisan way, but they knew well where my s ympathies lay. There was, of course, a sect ion of the Indians, mostly rich Gujarati businessmen, who believed that a change of government would be disastrous for the Indians. They were cozy with the Mara group and could manipulate it with their money. They were not sure whether an ideologically strong group like the Labour Party would be susceptible to money power. Suspicions within the Indian community also played a role in shaping their thinking. A landslide was not possible in Fiji elections because of the structure of seats in parliament. The Fijian chiefs controlled the reserved Fijian seats, for which the Fijians alone voted, and they went en masse to the Alliance Party. The Indian seats similarly went to the NFP. Only the few national seats permitted cross-voting of communities and these really determined the outcome of the elections. In 1987, the Fijians and the Indians voted largely as before, but about 10 per cent of the Fijian voters switched their allegiance from the Alliance to the Labour Party and that resulted in the victory of the coalition. In other words, the Indians did not switch votes to defeat Mara. It was the educated Fijians who defeated their feudal masters. The coalition with the NFP, which held the Indian vote bank, was a convenient tool for the democratic f orces among the Fijians to oust their chiefs. The formation of a coali tion government under T imoci Bavadra was a foregone conclusion once the results came out as he was already projected as the candidate for prime minister. Since he was a Fijian, the anxiety about an Indian takeover was absent and there was general goodwill when he was sworn in. He inducted every Fijian member of parliament in the coalition into his cabinet, but he still needed many more ministers, and they had to be found among the Indians. Consequently the Indians were in a clear majority in the cabinet. Harish Sharma was deputy prime minister, Jairam Reddy was attorney general and Mahendra Chaudhury was finance minister. The cabinet, which lasted only for thirty days, went about its work with great determination and did wonders even in a short period. It was the efficiency of the cabinet and its potential that speeded up the conspiracy for the coup. I met Bavadra and the other m inisters and pledged India’s support. But I cautioned them against dramati c changes in policy, knowing fully well that the economy was essentially in the hands of Australia and New Zealand and that the Western countries had a vital interest in the South Pacific. A radical image for the new government might do more harm than good. Bavad ra himself was in no hurry to bring about radical change. He was aware of t he rumblings among the chiefs against his assuming the leadership of the country. Democracy had not taken deep enough roots in Fiji to enable them to accept a mere commoner as the prime minister. I invited him to visit India, but left it to him to decide

the timing. I was not keen to contribute to the impression that an ‘Indian cabinet’ had taken over in Fiji. Many even in India believed that Bavadra himself was an Indian. H is imm ediate task was to mend fences with the chiefs and to make feudalism come t o terms with democracy. The Taukei (son of the soil) Movement was born within days of the formati on of the Bavadra government to liberat e the country from ‘foreign rulers’. This was seen as the handiwork of the ultra-nationalist Fijians, who had made expulsion of the Indians as their platform during the elections. The movement held demonstrations against the government mainly in the west of the country. But there was no sign of it gaining momentum within the Fijian community. The majority was willing to give the government a chance. The government itself was reassuring in its initial statements on maintenance of Fijian rights, particularly land laws, and there was nothing in their statements to provoke the Fijians in any way. On 10 May 1987, I was in the office in t he morning, getting ready to go to the parliament t o hear an address by Prime Minister Bavadra when I received a call from my son, Sreenath, an aspiring journalist, anxious to break the news, to say that there had been a military coup in Fiji. It was the first of its kind in the South Pacific. My golf partner, Lt. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka, walked into the Fijian parliament in civil ian clothes with a revolver (unloaded, it turned out later) and ordered the prime minister, the entire cabinet and the members of parliament of the ruling party into waiting military trucks. A number of masked Fiji army soldiers had lined up inside parliament with automatic weapons to make clear that it was a mili tary coup. As the truck drove off, Rabuk a telephoned Adi Kuini, wife of the pri me minist er, to ask for her permission to bring her husband and his colleagues for detention at the official residence of the prime minister. The place of detention gave the coup a human face right from the start, but it was no soft coup. The soldiers had their finger on the trigger to m eet any eventuality. I managed to put in a call to India House to find that the wives of some of the ministers were there. After asking them to stay put till the situation was clarified, I tried to call Delhi, but the international lines were down. I realized then that I was on my own to handle the crisis. Within a couple of hours, we were told that Rabuka, who had taken over as the head of government, would meet the chiefs of diplomatic missions at the foreign office later that afternoon. The ambassadors were calling each other by then and I was t old that the high commis sioners of Australia and New Zealand would not attend the meeting to show their displeasure over Rabuka’s action. I weighed my options and found that it was better to deal with the man in charge rather than offend him. Moreover, since the fortunes of Fiji Indians were at stake, I had to be part of the action fr om then on. While we waited for Rabu ka to arrive, the British high commissioner suggested that we neither st and up on his arrival nor shake hands with him. W e agreed. Rabuka walked in and sat down. I had met him on the golf course two days earlier, when he told me that he would be busy for the next few days. Most ambassadors did not know him and neither I nor he acknowledged our acquaintance. He told the same story as he had told the press, namely, he had to take the action to prevent bloodshed and chaos, following the agitation of the Taukei Movement. He said that he was in touch with the governor-general, who had agreed to remai n in place, and t hat democracy would be restored as s oon as possible. None of my colleagues asked any question. I expressed anxiety over the lives and properties of the Indians in Fiji, without specifying whether I was referring to Indian nationals or others. Rabuka said that he was responsible for their welfare and I would have nothing to worry. I al so pointed out that we were not in a positi on to convey what he sai d to my government as the international lines had been cut off. He assured me that the lines would be restored. I was able to contact Delhi on my return to the high commission. By the evening, stories had spread all over the town about the possible killing of Bavadra and his colleagues, antiIndian riots and the l ikelihood of a night of the cane knives some had predicted for Fij i. My enquiries about security at night elicited a response that India House would be protected by the army and that any Indian who was anxious about his or her security could move there. I conveyed the same message to the community and a dozen Indian nationals shifted to our house that night. We spent the night l istening to the intermitt ent news broadcasts on Fijian and Australian radio stations. Some odd events were reported, but it was a peaceful, though uneasy, night. Many people, Indians and Fijians, kept vigil outside the prime minist er’s residence where the cabinet and the coalition MPs were detained . The day after the coup did not seem as bad as the day of the coup itself as it became clear that no blood would be spilt. Rabuka’s statements indicated that there would be no harm done to the Fiji Indians as long as they did their business and ‘made their money’. His refrain was that the Indians were guests in Fiji and that they should remain as such and not try to usurp the powers of the hosts. Logic was not his strong point. Bu t tr ue to the reputation of Fiji ans o having a peaceful nature, there was no call for r evenge. Rabuka made it clear that the constituti on would be changed to ensure that the Fijians would remain predominant in the political life of Fiji even though he was far from clear as to how he would accomplish it. The Fiji Indians were totally confused. The radical sections of the farming community were aggressive, while the business community was submissive. The large majority was willing to find a solution in the ‘Pacific way’, a mix o conceding the special rights for Fijians and ensuring freedom and security for the Indians. A small group expected India to intervene even militarily to rescue the Indians. All these views came to me from diverse sources and my

position was that a solution should be found on the basis of the 1970 constitution. Since the governor-general was in place, we had a legitimate authority to deal with. But my first meeting with him after the coup left me in doubt as to whether he was entirely impartial. He was concerned about what happened, but he indicated clearly that a return to the 1970 constitution was unthinkable. His message was that Fiji Indians should see the reality and readjust their political ambitions. He urged me to convey that message to the Indians in no uncertain t erms. My contacts with the governor-general continued for a week after the coup, during w hich I t ried out several formulas for a set tlement. My proposal essentially was to constitute an interi m government of national unity with Dr Bavad ra as prime minister and to begin consultations on a constitution as close to the document of 1970 as possible. These discussions were terminated when I was denied permission to enter the governor-general’s residence. I arrived there to keep an appointment but the soldiers made several calls and told me after a few minutes that I had no permission to meet him. When I r eturned to the mission, Ganilau himself was on the line t o apologize and to tell me t hat he could not see me f or reasons beyond h is control. That was the end of my shuttle diplomacy! The day the prime minister and others were released after the governor-general stripped them of their positions under an order began as a day of hope and rejoicing, but ended as a black day in the racial relationships in Fiji . A large number of people, mostly Indians, gathered in the stadium to give a warm welcome to Bavadra and his colleagues af ter five days of detenti on. Rabuka feared that this would be the beginning of a movement t o reinstate Bavadra and decided to nip it in the bud. He cleverly used his thugs rather than the army to disperse the crowd. They w alked into the st adium and began beating up the Indians indiscriminately even as Bavadra and his friends were addressing them. The unexpected outbreak of violence took the audience by surprise and there was complete chaos. I watched from my office hundreds of Indian men, women and children running in panic. This particular incident created such terror in the Indians that no other similar gathering ever took place as events unfolded. It was the last attempt by the Indians to show their solidarity with the Bavadra governmen t. The governor-general held some discussions with the main actors concerned and forged a certain understanding by which the army would return to the barracks and a civilian government of national unity would be formed. An actual agreement was signed at the Pacific Harbour resort. Jairam Reddy drove to my house to brief me about the agreement, particularly since he felt that the agreement had ended the political role of Fiji Indians. Soon after he left, we heard on the radio that Rabuka had staged a ‘second coup’ by rejecting the agreement. The Indian leaders were once again kept under house arrest for a ti me following the ‘second coup ’. Indian policy towards the developments in Fiji began to evolve in Delhi as I confined myself to quiet diplomacy in favour of democracy and multiracialism. Some Fiji Indian leaders, who wanted to persuade India to take a more active position against the perpetrators of the coup, contacted Venkateswaran, who had retired as foreign secretary. Venkateswaran accompanied Bavadra to London when he went to represent his case to the queen. A case was also made to Rajiv Gandhi that India should be proactive. As a result of all these efforts, which I was following from a distance, a policy review took place on the initiative of K. Natwar Singh, who was minister of state for external affairs. Rajiv Gandhi took the li ne that it was important for I ndia to be supportive of the people of Indian srcin when ever they were in trouble. This was part of his strategy to enlist the support of people of Indian srcin to be involved in India’s economic development. A decision was taken, therefore, to condemn the coup and take a position publicly against racial discrimination. This was indeed a landmark decision as his grandfather, Prime Minister Nehru, had laid down that the l oyalty of Indian immigrants should be to their country of adoption and that the only thing that the government would do was to be ‘alive to their welfare and interests’. The Government of India had done very little to oppose the regimes i n Burma or Uganda, wh ich discrim inated against t he Indians. We had respected t heir decisions and t aken steps to rehabilitate the Indians who returned. We continued to do business with these regimes. In the case of Fiji, the decision was not to recognize the Rabuka government, impose trade sanctions and also get it expelled from the Commonwealth. India’s policy towards overseas Indians changed dramatically on account of the Fiji coup even though it was not recognized as such at that time. I was called for consultations to Delhi and told of the new policy, but the unanswered question was what status I would have if I returned to Fiji without according recog nition to the r egime. I pointed out this diplomatic problem, but it was decided that I should return to Fiji and support the cause of democracy and the Indians regardless of the consequences. Diplomatic niceties were set aside and I was told that my primary responsibility was to protect the interests of Fiji Indians. Rajiv Gandhi personally ensured at the Melbourne Commonwealth summit that Fiji was not admitted back in the group once it declared itself a republic. The convention in the Commonwealth is that any dominion, which becomes a republic, ceases to be a mem ber and it should apply for membership with its new status. A unanimous decision of the Commonw ealth is required for such a country to re-enter the group. India used this provision to ensure Fiji’s exclusion from the Commonwealth. Among all the measures we took, this decision hurt the Fijian leaders the most as the absence of a l ink with Her Majesty’s gov ernment was a blow to their loyalty t o the queen. Having taken these decisions, the go vernment left m e to my own devices to work ou t my continued stay in Fiji as an adversary of the government, ho wever untenable it might be. I cannot think of any precedent in diplomatic hist ory of an

ambassador remaining in a country whose regime his own government does not recognize. I changed my designation as ‘head of mis sion’ because I could not be a ‘high commissioner ’ in a non-Commonwealth government. Later, I assumed the title of ambassador when the Fiji government itself decreed that all high commissioners would turn into ambassadors. I devised a code of conduct for myself to suit my position of non-recognition of the Fiji government. I dealt with senior civil servants only and not ministers and I did not attend any of the state functions. I went to Indian community functions and stated our position against racial discrimination and support to the rights of the settlers. I defended the Indian position through speeches, letters t o the editor, etc. Our position did not change even after Rabuka put together different structures of government in place including a cabinet headed by Ratu Mara himself. I had expected the Fiji government to break off diplomatic relations after we ensured their exit from the Commonwealth, but the possible reaction of the Fiji Indians held their hand. We ourselves were mentally prepared to leave at short notice, as our position was difficult for any government to stomach. Lekha, my wife, packed a suitcase each time I made a speech in Fiji or when an official statement was made in the Indian Parliament. Our creditworthiness must have suffered, but we had no occasion to check it out. But I could see that the video man was quite uneasy when we borrowed movies from him! A measure that was strongly recommended by some Indian leaders at one point was to ask the farmers not to cut the sugar cane, which w as ready for harvesti ng at the t ime of the coup. If this were done, the military government would be in a t errible mess, as t he contract for supply of sugar to Europe wou ld be dishonoured. T he question arose as t o how the farmers could be maintained during the period. While we were still discussing possibilities of some financial assistance, harvesting began in some parts of Fiji and the proposal fel l through. The farmers were in no mood to make a sacrifice t o bring the government to its knees. Finally, the day of my expulsion came, rather unexpectedly after I thought that I had made a reconciliatory speech at a highly explosive moment. I was in India when news came that imported illegal arms were found in the homes o some Fiji Indians. An investigation revealed that two containers of arms were shipped to Fiji and one of them was confiscated at the Sydney port. Rabuka hinted at an Indian hand in the arrival of the shipment. I thought that he would use the arms as an excuse to expel me and warned Delhi that I might be back soon. But I was politely received on arrival and there was no sign of any displeasure. Two days before my return to Nadi, the airport town in the west of Fiji, some extremists torched the local Sikh temple. The Sikhs around the world were quite agitated as it was after many centuries that the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, had been desecrated like this anywhere in the world. The Sikh leaders came to see me in Nadi and requested me to stay back to attend a ceremony at which the damaged Granth Sahib would be ‘cremated’ according to custom. The tension in the country was palpable at the ceremony and some leaders were keen not to inflame passions by the orations there. So it was decided that I would be the only speaker at the ceremony and the rest would be religious rituals. I knew that religion was a bigger issue than race for the Sikhs and, therefore, I said that the burning of the temple was not an attack on their religion. I said that it should be seen in the context of the political situation in the country, which threatened racial harmony and democracy. I thought that the speech was conciliatory, but without missing the point of our position on Fiji. But as we were driving towards Suva, I heard a report on Fiji radio that I had made a highly inflammat ory speech! The first ti me I heard that t he Fiji government had decided to ask me to leave Fiji in 72 hours was on the golf course the next Saturday morning. I completed the round and came back to see that my colleagues, led by my deputy, Vivek Katju, had arrived at the residence by then, having heard rumours about possible action by Fiji. We went to work swiftly with Delhi and took pre-emptive action to soften the blow of an expulsion. Fortunately, Monday was a holiday in Fiji on account of Diwali and the cabinet could not meet before Tuesday. My transfer t o New Delhi as j oint secretary (UN) was announced the same evening, making people wonder why so much publicity was given to my appointment. My friend, Vidya Bhushan Soni, who was consul general in Sydney, was posted to Suva to take over from me. Since no agreement was possible in the cir cumstances, the government decided to appo int him as charge d’ affaires. When the cabinet met on Tuesday to decide on my expulsion as ordered by Ratu Mara from Brussels, Rabuka was angry that the matter had leaked and I had managed to take a number of measures. He, therefore, insisted that I should not be given more than 72 hours to leave. I received a note by Tuesday evening, conveying the decision, but interestingly, they did not declare me persona non grata. Instead, they said that Fiji had decided to downgrade the Indian mission to consulate general and that I should leave within 72 hours. I called up the deputy prime minister and told him t hat it was not for Fiji t o unilaterally downgrade the Indian mission. He did not dispute my point, but said that they could not have an ambassador who did not recognize the current government, a vali d point in diplomati c practice. Fiji Indians closed shops in protest over my expulsion and assembled at my house and later at the air port when I left, but I urged restraint and asked them not to interfere with the diplomatic process. I stopped by at the residence of the deposed prime minister, Dr Bavadra, at Lautoka and found him very sick. He t hanked me for all the support extended to him and Fiji by India and said that my departure would weaken the cause of democracy in Fiji. He passed away a disillusioned man within five days of my departure, when I was still in Sydney, waiting for Lekha to pack up and join

me on my way back to India. An Indian delegation, consisting of Najma Heptullah, deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, and Himachal Som, the concerned joint secretary, attended his funeral. Although the foreign secretary, S.K. Singh and the additional secretary concerned, Shekhar Dasgupta, gave me full support during the crisis, I sensed a certain amount of disquiet on the part of the foreign secretary after I reached Sydney. The general elections were around the corner and he felt that the opposition might use my expulsion to criticize the Rajiv Gandhi government. I pointed out to him that the government should take credit for its policy o support for the Indians in Fiji, but he would have none of it. He instructed that I should be totally silent and return quietly to India. I had no intention to make speeches anyway, but I told him that the government had no reason to feel guilty over its Fiji policy. As it happened, Rajiv Gandhi lost the elections and the new government pursued the same policy, leading to the expulsion of our whole embassy from Fiji within the next six months. Fiji marked a turning point in India’s policy on overseas Indians as the developments there took place at the time when the government was in the process of rediscovering the potential of the Indian diaspora. Indian diplomats, who considered their contacts with the Indian community a necessary evil, began to see the potential of the community not ust as a source of remittance and investment, but also as facilitators of mainstream contacts and catalysts of good relations between India and the host country. Fiji Indians had no such role, even though some influential Indians were able to open many doors for the diplomats. Ratu Mara, for example, had many Indian cronies, who se advice he valued. Rajiv Gandhi had the vision to reali ze that his protestations of support to overseas Indians would carry no credibility i he did not go to the rescue of Fiji Indians. His general policy towards overseas Indians was considerably influenced by the plight of the Fiji Indians. Many firsts were registered in Indian diplomatic hist ory during my assign ment to Fiji. This was the first t ime that an Indian envoy stayed on in a country with the declar ed policy of not r ecognizing the govern ment in place. I changed my designation unilaterally from ‘high commissioner’ to ‘head of mission’ as soon as Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth and assumed the title of ‘ambassador’ at the suggestion of the Fiji government. This was also the first time that the Indian mission sided with the Indian community openly to fight against racial discrimination. I also had the dubious distinction of being the first Indian ambassador to be expelled from any country .



hen, in 1958, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on horseback, crossed the Chumbi Valley into the adjoining HA Valley of Bhutan (Druk Yul or The Land of the Thunder Dragon), accompanied by his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and a small entourage comprising officials, support staff and helpers, few at that time would have realized the historic significance of this litt le-reported event. Some black-and-w hite photographs and a poo r quality 8 m m fil m recorded by the government’s cameraman, apart from the archives in the Ministry of External Affairs and with the Royal Government of Bhutan, are the only public record of this momentous event. For nearly four centuries from the time o Shabdung Ngawang Namgyal (1616) who unified Bhutan, until that visit by Pandit Nehru, Bhutan had pursued a policy of self- imposed isolationism to safeguard her i ndependence and unique Buddhist way of life. Indeed, the highly devout subjects of the kingdom preferred to shun contact with the outside world; their modest dwellings were tucked away on high mountains or i n deep valleys, i n splendid isolati on. Geography’s im perative als o conditioned Bhu tan’s isolation. Bhutan’s contacts with the outside world were mainly with the local warlords and the celest ial authoriti es in Tibet; with her southern neighbour, India, contacts were through the British political agent in Gangtok, Sikkim, or with the ruling elites of Sikkim, the Duars and Assam with whom sporadic and selective interaction had become necessary and inevitable. Repeated British attempts, as a part of their forward policy, to subjugate – and even perhaps absorb – Bhutan met virtually with no success and the various expeditions (said to be about thirteen in number) sent by the British – including those, for example, under Bogle (1774), Hamilton (1775, 1777), Turner (1783), Bose (1815), Pemberton (1838) and Ashley Eden (1863), apparently, were left with no choice other than to recommend leaving Bhutan in a stat e of benign isolation – as a buffer – and dealing with her through loo se treat y arrangements rather than by direct control. The defining treaty of Sinchula (1865) was the outcome of this policy and substantially governed relations between British India and Bhutan until India’s Independence in August 1947. The British flag was shown in Bhutan mostly during visits by the political agents or officers or on other cerem onial occasions. Younghusband in his accounts of his mission to Tibet (1904) – and during his dealings with Bhu tan as the point person – and later Claude White recall their travels and describe the nature and purport of British policy. White’s exhaustive and partly illustrated writings on Bhutan contain highly ill uminating accounts of that period. Independent India and Bhutan chose to follow the British treat y arrangements of inter-s tate rel ations and entered into a successor treaty, largely on the lines of the British treaty, on 8 August 1949. However, independent India’s policy towards Bhutan was markedly differ ent, premised on non-hegemonistic considerations, much more pragmati c, flexible, sensitive and protocol-wise correct, as subsequent developmen ts and events would demonstrate. Pandit Nehru’s talks in 1958 with Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (third monarch of the Wangchuck dynasty established in 1907) and subsequently in 1961 during the latter’s important visit to India, led to Bhutan requesting India for economic and technical assistance, mostly to build roads, hospitals, schools and in upgrading human resource skills, which India was very happy to provide. There could have been many reasons for this change in policy of self-imposed isolationism. First, Bhutan, apparently, was concerned about the Chinese takeover of Tibet, desecration of Buddhist monasteries and the Tibetan way of life and the implications of these developments for her (soon in 1959, the Dalai Lama’s escape to India and the alarm it caused in Tibet and Bhutan, apart from India and other countries, strengthened the Bhutanese resolve to look to India). I remember Dasho Sonam Rabgye, who later became Bhutan’s first surveyor general and whose father had served as the Bhutanese agent in Tibet, narrating to me the details of the extremely complex and often troubled relati ons with Tibet, a factor, no doubt, in Bhutanese assessments. Second, the farsi ghted king recognized that the only workable guarantee for preserving and protecting Bhutanese sovereignty and way of life was to swiftly induct massive doses of development, especially through education, and to focus on the economic well-being of his subjects, without in any way undermining Bhutan’s deeply entrenched Buddhist way of life. This, he felt, would render Bhutan less vulnerable against possible Chinese designs towards his kingdom. It is a measure of the trust and confidence that he reposed in India and her leadership that he unhesitatingly and unconditionally threw Bhutan’s lot with India. On her part, India, apparently, was keen to help Bhutan in the context o developments in Tibet which also impinged on Indian interests. A friendly Bhutan was good policy for India at that

time and continues to remain so today. In a sense, this development changed Bhutan’s geopolitics and ushered in a process which, after some time, led to the imperative of Bhutan seeking and acquiring an international personality, o course, always with India’s full support and understanding. After the opening up of the country, from the early 1960s, it was natural for Bhutan to desire comfort and strat egic reassurance through diversification of her internati onal relations and acknowledgement by all of her sovereign status through membership of the UN and other international organizations, and establishment of diplomatic relations with other countries. Indian leaders respected and supported these aspirati ons and responded with great sensiti vity and statesmanship. There are not many examples i n the history o inter-state relations where a transition and evolution of such magnitude and significance could have taken place with total understanding and trust. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Pandit Nehru were the architects of this friendship and vision. The mid-1960s were years of transition and far-reaching changes for Bhutan. Having consolidated friendship and special relations with India, some vocal sections of the educated Bhutanese elite started to show impatience with the slow progress in moving towards what they believed to be the next logical step, that is, further diversification o Bhutan’s relations with the outside world. Membership of international organizations was seen by these young people to be one such im portant means of gaining recognition for their country’s sovereign status. When I reached Thimphu in 1968 to assist B.S. Das in opening our first resident diplomatic mission in Bhutan, this process had already gathered momentum. Bhutan had already become a member of the Colombo Plan in 1962 and of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) earlier in 1961 (interestingly, Bhutan was perhaps the first country in the world to use ‘philatelic’ diplomacy to enhance her profile through exquisite three-dimensional and other colourful postage stamps believed to have been printed in the Bahamas. Bhutan also began minting her own coins and printing currency bills in Ngultrum denominations – 1 Ng was at par with t he Indian rupee and both were legal t ender). Young Bhutanese, mostly officials, not satisfied with this limited forward movement, would hold animated discussions on how the goal of UN membership could be achieved early, without any unmanageable repercussions on the delicate balance between the status quo and change. Everyone, it appeared, accepted the value of very close relations with India and did not see their desire for UN membership affecting Bhutan’s special ties with India. Some elders, members of the Tsongdu (national ass embly) and the Royal Advisory Council counselled patience and preferred to hasten slowly. On the other hand, the young brigade was putting pressure on the establishment to move swiftly. Prince Namgyal Wangchuck (the third king’s half-brother), Lam Penjore, Paljor (Benji) Dorji, Chenkub Dorji, Pema Wangchuck, Sonam Rabgye, Om Pradhan, Tobgye Dorji, Karma Letho, Nado Rinchen, among others, were said to be keen to hasten the pace of UN membership. Other senior officials like Dawa Tsering, Sangye Penjore, Tamji Jagar, Chogyal, Dr T. Tobgyel, Shinkar Lam, Col. Lam Dorji, Dago Tshering and some others seemed to have advocated a pragmatic and well thought-out, calibrated policy, taking into account the ground reality but supporting the prevailing sentiment. The momentum was gathering force and the matter was repeatedly raised in the Tsongdu and it was decided to approach India for exploring the possibility of early UN membership. The king and the royal government were determined to fully take Indian leadership into confidence and to seek India’s active support and assistance, always reassuring India that UN membership would not be allowed to come in the way of close and special relations between the two. Indeed, it was well understood that neither country, in the future, would do anything which would be inimical to the interests of the other, consistent with the spirit of t he treaty relati ons and special fri endship between them. Admittedly, the 1949 Indo-Bhutanese treaty, particularly its Article II which required Bhutan to be ‘guided’ by India in the conduct of her foreign relations in return for autonomy in internal affairs and some other restrictive provisions, was beginning to be seen by some elements in Bhutan as restricting her sovereignty. The first suggestions for the revision of the t reaty to ref lect the changed situation were being vo iced discreetly, though n o such formal demarches t o India were made at that ti me. If there were any doubts in any circle, they were quickly set to rest by the Governmen t o India’s immediate and very positive response to Bhutan’s request to sponsor her membership of the UN. Furthermore, India did not make any inconvenient demands. The response must have silenced the sceptics who had expected difficulties from India. Bhutan, on her own , reassured India t hat she would always keep India’ s core i nterests protected, even as India assured Bhutan of full sensitivity and res pect for her own interests. The spirit of the 1949 treaty, for now , was intact and respected by both sides. It is in this spirit of mutual trust, friendship and understanding that Bhutan, in consultation with India, decided in 1970 to send a very small delegation led by Prince Namgyal Wangchuck to be present during the 25th General Assembly session so as to explore the prospect of early UN membership. Due possibly to the constraint of not having any trained diplomat, the king requested the government for my services to assist the prince in his mission. At that time, I was serving in the Indian mission in Thimphu and personally knew all the personalities – including Prince Namgyal – and was familiar with my brief. I also enjoyed the full confidence of the king, Prince Namgyal and the Bhutanese leadership. My task in New York, however, was neither simple nor easy to achieve. We were fortunate that the Indian Permanent Mission to the UN was most helpful and guided us throughout. Apart from logistical difficulties

(for all practical purposes we were private individuals with no institutional affiliation), there were problems of access, staff support and protocol constraints. Prince Namgyal was accompanied by his sister, Princess Aji Choeki, and her husband, and stayed at a friend’s home at Sutton Place on East River near t he UN headquarters in Manhattan. Since my hotel was a short distance away and I was required to spend a lot of time with the prince, discussing our plans and programme, Aji Cheoki was most gracious to often extend to me her very warm and generous hospitality, including sometimes asking me to join for what were essentially family meals of mouth-watering delectable Bhutanese dishes cooked by her. I was deeply touched by these very special gestures of affection and courtesy. Prince Namgyal, wh ile somewhat more formal and correct, opened himself up on these private occasions and treated me like family. He was demanding but considerate. The Bhutanese royalty is polite and gracious beyond words and usually does not repeat or remind about instructions which are always conveyed as ‘requests’; but they expect compliance, report and adherence to schedule. I learnt a lot about the ways of the royalty during the several weeks spent with Prince Namgyal and his charming family in New York. We had very productive meetings in New York, including with the P-5 ministers and permanent representatives, and found most UN members supportive of Bhutan’s desire to seek membership. There was total support among South Asian delegations, substantial support from other Asian and European delegations and benign indifference among most African and South American delegations approached who, presumably, were willing to go along with the consensus view and did not see this as an issue requiring any special attention at that time. The Chinese seat in the UN, at that time, was occupied by Taiwan, who appeared eager to support Bhutan, though, as far as I recall, no formal demarche was made with them. Some Frenchspeaking delegations might have raised queries or sought clarifications of a technical nature but soon expressed support. The US and the P-5 were supportive though not vocal. The UN secretary-general, U Thant, was also very supportive. The fact that India had agreed to pro-actively sponsor and support Bhutan’s UN membership greatly helped, particularly in allaying doubts of those delegations that might have sought clarifications. Our report on our return to Thimphu provided our assessments t o the king and our government. Prince Namgyal also presented a r eport to the royal government and to the Tsongdu. There was uniform appreciation for our labours and it was decided by the king and the royal Bhutanese gov ernment, in consultation with India, to initiate formal st eps for UN membership the foll owing year (1971). Meanwhile, India would continue to liaise with member governments keeping the Bhutan government posted. The Indian ambassador to the UN, Samar Sen, was most active and helpful with his excellent contacts and knowledge of the UN system. Foreign diplomatic missions in New Delhi and foreign governments in the national capitals were also approached, thus mounting a coordinated lobbying effort in support of Bhutan’s membership. Some countries, on India’s request, decided to join India in co-sponsoring a resolution in the General Assembly on Bhutan’s membership request. Bhutan’s application for UN membership was to come up at the 26th assembly session and in the Security Council also in 1971. Since the process was moving very satisfactorily, it was decided to commence preparations to set up the Bhutanese Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. Lyonpo Dawa Tsering was appointed as the minister-in-charge of foreign affairs and a separate foreign office was set up (other minist ers were also appointed). The king app ointed one of the seniormost and respected ministers, Lyonpo Sangye Penjore, as the ambassador and permanent representative. The Indian government was again requested to depute me to assist Penjore as the deputy permanent representative. A small support staf f of three others was also selected. Pending the completion of membership requirements, I was asked to proceed in advance to New York to tie up the loose ends and to finalize the logistics of office, residential accommodation, transport, communication and other things. A Bhutanese officer accompanied me to assist. In the normal course, things would have been easy with the help and advice of t he Indian mission; but the problem was that at that ti me Bhutan was not yet a member of the UN and hence w e did not enjoy any diplomatic privil eges or imm unities. There were legal problems in hiring accommodation, setting up the miss ion and in our status. There were also concerns that in the unlikely event of Bhutan’s admission being delayed or turned down, what would happen to the leases we were about to sign. W ith the help of the Indian Permanent Missi on we were able to overcome these problems and set up a small functional mission at 866 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza close to the UN headquarters. Residential accommodation for the permanent representative, myself and the other Bhutanese officer was also arranged in East Manhattan and for the two staff members in Queens. Until then the temporary Bhutan ‘mission’ operated from our mission’s premises, then at 3 East 64th Street. Bhutan was unanimously and without any difficulty voted as a member of the UN on 21 September 1971. The permanent representative of Bhutan, I and a small delegation, in colourful traditional Bhutanese attire called baku or kho, were escorted to our allotted seat in the General Assembly (before leaving for New York in April 1971, the king, during the farewell audience, had presented me the ceremonial ornate sword and full Bhutanese formal attire, honouring me with privileged status). The news of Bhutan’s admission was received with great jubilation and there were celebrations for a number of days to mark this historic day. Bhutan’s aspirati on to be recognized and accepted as a full member of the comity of nations was at last realized. It was a privilege for me to be a part of history. The Indian

permanent representative and members of the mission were, naturally, the first to congratulate Bhutan and to formally welcome her in the UNGA. The others followed. Meanwhile, even as the Bhutanese permanent representative made formal cal ls on his counterparts and the UN secretary-general and official s, to coincide with Bhutan’s N ational Day, on 17 December 1971, he hosted a reception in the UN building to thank everyone in the institution’s family for their support and to reaffirm Bhutan’s commitment to the UN charter and principles. On completion of my deputation with the Bhutanese government, as a very special gesture of goodwill and friendship, the 4th Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, conferred upon me at a special ceremony in the Tsongdu in October 1973, one of Bhutan’s highest decorations (Druk Thuksey). The citation and the praise showered upon me from all sections of the Bhutanese establishment were most flat tering but undeserved . Bhutan’s priorities, in the early months of her UN membership, were mostly economic, developmental and social issues. The policy was to generally follow non-aligned and Group of 77 (G-77) positions on various issues. Even on political issues like decolonization, racial discrimination and disarmament, Bhutan followed the non-aligned lead. The social and economic committees of the UN received greater attention and participation in the early days. The real test came later in 1971 when Bhutan was required to take a position on developments in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Our mission, on instructions from Thimphu, was in the vanguard of support for Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, in condemning hu man rights abuses and atrocities against innocent civilians there and in backing India’s strong position on these developments. We intervened in debates in the committees and in the General Assembly and Bhutan became the only country, apart from India, to vote against a resolution in the assembly on 16 December 1972, asking India to cease military intervention in East Pakistan. The vote, if I recall correctly at this distance of time, was 104 for the resolution and two (India and Bhutan) against it with possibly three abstentions. Soon thereafter, the news of the fall of Dhaka and surrender by the Pakistani army was received. Bhu tan became the second country after India to recognize the new state of Bangladesh and to establish diplomatic rel ations with her. This was Bhutan’ s second resident diplomatic representation abroad; and Bangladesh became the second foreign country to set up a resident mission in Thimphu. In a small way, the positions we took and our interventions on various issues in the UN became the first policy inputs for Bhutan’s foreign office and policy makers, a fact implicitly acknowledged by the Tsongdu when Lyonpo Sangye Penjore presented a brief report to it in 1972 From 1972 to 1973, in rapid succession Bhutan became a member of UNCTAD, UNECAFE (now UNESCAP),* G-77 and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). We, from the Bhutanese Permanent Mission, attended the third UNCTAD meeting in 1973 in Santiago, Chile and the UNECAFE meeting also in 1973 in Tokyo, Japan. Agreements were signed for limited UNDP assistance, participation in UNITAR† activities, etc. While Bhutan was neither keen nor ready to immediately expand diplomatic relations, this was slowly and selectively done in the years to follow, consistent with the constraints of trained manpower, finance and taking into account the need and benefit of such relations. The SAARC membership in 1985 ushered in an era of close and active participation in South Asian regional activities and Bhutan not only attended all SAARC meetings but also hosted some of them, including the foreign minister’s meeting in Thimphu in 1985. Indeed, Bhutan’s growing role in SAARC is demonstrated by the fact that she played host to the 16th SAARC summit in Thimphu in April 2010 and took over the chairmanship of SAARC. India supports Bhutan’s growing engagement with SAA RC and is happy that it is deeply involved with some key ar eas of t he association’s programmes such as environment and ecology, food security, and its development fund. Today, Bhutan is a member of several international organizations (almost all of the UN specialized agencies, IMF, WFP, ADB*) and has mostly non-resident diplomatic relations with a number of countries in Asia, Europe, North and South America but, apparently, is still not keen on accepting resident diplomatic missions in Thimphu, presumably for logistical reasons. Several NGOs, experts and individuals, many from Switzerland, Austria, Japan and the US, are also actively engaged in development and social activities. Indeed, Bhutan has a long list of very committed friends who are willing to help her in whatever way possible. Bhutan also follows a strict policy of restricting tourists and visitors in the country, apparently for logistical and environmental considerations. When I returned to the mi nistry in 1979 as joint secret ary dealing with the Northern D ivision (Bhutan and N epal) and later as ambassador to Bhutan in 1983, I could not help noticing the profound changes that had taken place, both domestically and in the foreign affairs sphere. The socio-economic transformation, relative prosperity and development, strengthening of institutions leading to greater transparency and accountability and an efficiently and professionally run civil service and foreign affairs establishment under a dynamic full-fledged foreign minister, Lyonpo Dawa Tsering, were evident signs of some of these changes. At the official level, the informality of the 1960s had become much less evident, though not at the personal level. Bhutan had become more protocol conscious; there were many more visitors, foreign and Indian; frequent travels by Bhutanese officials to attend internati onal conferences and for other purposes; more diversified economic exposure; a national airline connecting international destinations; a radio and TV network; greater ‘commercialization’ of the economic activity (in the 1960s barter was still prevalent); more diplomatic contacts; and the presence and involvement of more non-governmental agencies/ experts in various

kinds of activities in Bhutan. The winds of change were blowing rapidly but not uncontrollably. Bhutan’s wise leadership was conscious of the need to calibrate the pace of change. Very impressive was the way Bhutan was able to reconcile the demands o modernity with tradition. Man and nature seemed to blend in perfect harmony. I had to deal with a new emerging Bhutan which now had an international personality. My task, as I saw it, was to facilitate continuity in change. Importantly, that is also t he underlying sprit of Indian developmen t projects in Bhutan. It is pertinent to recall that Bhutan’s emergence on the international stage has happened in consonance with the special understanding between Bhutan and India. India has always supported Bhutan’s aspirations just as Bhutan has always supported India’s core interests. This is the basis and underlying ‘mantra’ governing relations between the two countries. This is not to suggest that on all issues the two countries hold identical views. For example, on Kampuchea, the two countries agreed to adopt different positions in 1980. On some other matters it was ensured that Bhutan’s carefully nuanced positions did not conflict with Indian interests. What is important is that on issues affecting our respective core interests we are united in support for each other. Bhutan has stood by India on subcontinental and neighbourhood issues, international politico-strategic i ssues affecting India vital ly, domestic national securit y concerns of India, developmental and socio-economic issues, on disarmament matters and on India’s emergence as a major regional and global player. Bhutan has always supported a bigger role for India on the regional and global canvas and champions India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council and other high tables of global decision making. India, on her part, has been very sensitive to Bhutan’s aspirations, socio-economic development needs, security concerns and emphasis on preserving her unique cultural, ecological and Buddhist heritage. Bhutan has been especially sensitive to I ndian concerns about inimical foreign presence and the use of her terri tory as a haven by insurgent group s in the north-east. India will always remember with gratitude Bhutan’s role in flushing out insurgents operating against India based in the foothills of southern Bhutan. That is what makes this relationship unique and unparalleled. The ability of the two countries to amicably sort out any irritants or m isunderstanding s characterizes t his relationship based on trust and mutual understanding. It is in this spirit that the two governments, reflecting the reality of the changed times and situation, decided to enter into purposeful discussions to amend the 1949 Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, some provisions of which (notably A rticle II) had begun to appear anachronistic t o many Bhutanese, a view with which the Indian government, perhaps, had sympathy. Article II (and some other provisions of the treaty) in the context of the changed situation had the potential of becoming irri tants and needed to be addressed. The same spirit prevails in the framework arrangements on development cooperation, trade, transit, consular and economic agreements and in harmonizing the policies and approaches necessitated by the requirements of the open border between the two countries taking their respective interests into account. The earlier problems arising out of the ‘restricted’ area permits along the border for foreign nationals was also settled amicably through discussions. Today, there are no significant bilateral issues dividing the two countries. The visit of the fifth king, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, to India in January 2010, indeed, took this relationship several notches forward; the relationship was further cemented by t he nearly one dozen agreements signed between the two countries. Bhutan, so far, has not established diplomatic relations with China. Although about eighteen rounds of technical- or official-l evel talks have been held between the two countries on the undemarcated boun dary, a final resolution is st ill to be arrived at; much progress, though, is said to have been made in that direction. The two countries in 1998 signed an agreement on maintaining peace and tranquillity on t he border. Bhutan and China have maintained normal bilater al ties and have exchanged visits fr om time to tim e. The Chinese permanent representative t o the UN, after China resumed her seat i n the UN in 1972, called on his Bhutanese counterpart and expressed the hope that the t wo countries would be able to develop friendly and mutually beneficial ties in the future, to which Bhutan’s response was positive. India and Bhutan, consistent with their close relations and dialogue, continue to consult each other on major foreign policy developments and initiatives. Bhutan, no doubt, will be able to resolve outstanding differences with China through dialogue. When that happens, the next steps are bound to follow, although not, as some fear, at the expense of the special relat ionship with India. The India-Bhutan dialogue covers all issues of major concern to the two countries. Likewise, Bhutan so far has not established bilateral diplomatic relations with Pakistan, presumably preferring to wait until the subcontinental equations improve. However, Bhutan does work with Pakistan in the SAARC framework without any difficulty. Pakistani experts and officials do visit Thimphu for SAARC meetings and vice versa. Bhutan has enjoyed good relations with Nepal, a country with which she sees many parallels. However, the vexed issue of ‘non-state’ Nepalese from Bhutan who have taken shelter in Nepal has been a continuing irritant for the last decade or so. With Bangladesh, Bhutan’s other close neighbour, relations have been very cordial and both maintain resident diplomatic missi ons in each other’s respective capitals. Bangladesh is also a market for Bhutan’ s horticultural exports. As early as 1985, Bhutan extended host facilities for talks between the Tamil groups and the Sri Lankan government. Being Buddhist countries, Bhutan and Sri Lanka have deep religious and cultural affinities. Bhutan has excellent

relations with Thailand, another Buddhist country under a highly respected benevolent monarch. Bangkok is the most preferred destination, after India, for medical treatment, tourism, and even for higher education (the Bhutanese mission in Bangkok is much in demand). Bhutan takes strong positions in international bodies and in SAARC on issues like fighting terrorism, extremism, and transnational crime. It advocates reduction of tensions, opposes military build-up, espouses disarmament and works towards building regional consensus on issues of common interests like global warming, food and energy security , economic recession, sustai nable socio-economic development and the special needs of the l andlocked least-developed cou ntries. Over fifty years have elapsed since Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic journey to Bhutan in 1958. During this period, Bhutan has been ruled by three kings and now has a democratically elected prime minister responsible to the king and the parliament. The trust reposed by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck continues to guide Bhutan’s policy of unique relationship with India. India under eleven prime ministers, from different political parties, has demonstrated a remarkable degree of continuity and bipartisan consensus in regard t o policy towards the Himalayan kingdom. Bh utan’s transition from an absolute monarchy to parliamentary elected democracy, from a medieval agrarian and feudal society to the most prosperous nation of South Asia, from self-imposed isolationism to becoming a respected member of the comity of nations, from pursuit of mere socio-economic developmen t to Gross National Happiness (GN H) and now to becoming a world leader in ecology and environment protection, is a saga of which every Bhutanese has the right to feel proud. That all this has been achieved in a space of fifty years speaks volumes for the leadership and farsightedness of Bhutan’s kings; India has been privileged to be a good and supportive neighbour in this process. Foreign policy for Bhutan, as for others, is a means of fulfilling and realizing the aspirations and priorities of the people of the country. By that measure, Bhutan can be said to have pursued a pragmatic and an enlightened foreign policy. In fact, that has been so throughout recorded history, at least from the time of Ngawang Namgyal. Today, Bhutan has a message for the international community: a message of hope and optimism where mere pursuit of materi al goals is not an end in itsel f; where peace is sought both within and outside oneself; where progress without happiness, sharing and contentment is meaningless; where an individual’s being at the centre of all endeavours must result in t he collective good of all; where each is a part of the other; where man and nature are in perfect harmony; and where spiritual and moral values of Buddhism supersede all else. ‘Never in this world does hatred cease by hatred; it ceases with love. This is the law eternal,’ said Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck about the foreign policy of his kingdom. This message finds resonance in Bhutan’s external and domestic endeavours and is the essence of the philosophy of GNH. Bhutan has certainly arrived on the international stage with a powerful message which needs to be heeded. For me, it has been a special privilege to have been a close witness to and a small part of this exciting journey in a nation’s life. Tashi Delek, Bhutan!

THE QUIET INNOVATOR Foreign Policy Under P.V. Narasimha Rao Prabhakar Menon roadly speaking, India’s foreign policy formulation and practice, following the country’s independence from


colonial rule in 1947, can be divided into three phases. The first phase, dominated by the intellect, experience and charisma of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, saw the country, despite its impoverished state and lack of deterrent or minatory military might, playing a disproportionately influential role in international affairs (notwithstanding the reverses it suffered in its traumatic 1962 conflict with China). Among other things, India’s pioneering efforts in the Non-aligned Movement, its therapeutic presence in conflicts like the Korean War (1950-53), and its election as chairman of the International Control Commissi on to oversee t he 1954 Geneva accords that authenticated Indo-China’ s independence from colonial rule exemplified this s elect stat ure. The second phase, roughly from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, seemed to coast on the residual tides of the first, more creative, phase, with global realpolitik, and the sporadic infections that the Cold War spawned, tending more often than not to leave India bemused by wo rld events rather t han being their catalyst. This phase, wh ile i t gratifi ed the country with successes like its advance-guard role in the liberation of Bangladesh, or the alluring image of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that spread to a large number of countries (which redoun ded to India’s credit), also brought in a sense of helplessness, exemplified in its inability to counter doomsday nuclear doctrines like ‘mutually assured destruction’, where the nuclear bigwigs justified inordinate increases in their nuclear arsenals on the curious logic that being able to destroy their enemies several times over had an incremental deterrent effect; or in its frustration with the polemics and cul-de-sacs of the so-called North-South negotiations aimed at re-ordering global equations and structures; or i n its incapacity to play the firef ighter at various flare-ups around the wo rld like the Vietnam conflict. The third phase too k shape in the late 1980s /early 1990s and was, besides being a readjustment to the radical restructuring of international relations during this period, a more authentic reflection of the growing realization in India of it s own capabilities or lack of them. The two earlier phases, in other words, had dep ended more on intangibles like leadership charisma, India’s unique post-colonial era prestige, and intellectual legerdemain rather than on homegrown realities. The third phase, more attuned to domestic and external realities, obliged the country to temper its idealist-visionary view of international relations into something more down-to-earth. Furthermore, with larger-thanlife leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru in short supply, the country’s image abroad had begun to lose some of its prototypal moral dimension. (This is not to imply that non-alignment, an article of faith in India’s foreign policy during the Cold War years and later, was entirely fanciful; or that India’s espousal of developing country interests was either misplaced or chimerical. For a country emerging from the ravages of colonialism, and dedicated to economic and social betterment in a climate of peace, these bedrock policies were its only available guarantee that it would be able to pursue its objectives without being sucked into the political and other quagmires of the era. The alternative of aligning with this or that ideology would have meant a feckless destiny for the country. Indian diplomats projected these policies on the global arena in various ways: sometimes sententiously, sometimes pedantically, occasionally with telling effect; but within the country, they assumed a gloss and glamour somewhat removed from the grimmer realities of India’s own domestic situation and the country’s still ill-defined location in the ‘real’ world. The paradoxical result was a set of foreign policies that gave the country an exaggerated sense of self-importance without the means to effectuate it.) One astute practitioner of the down-to-earth – ‘pragmatic’, as some termed it – foreign policy mentioned above was Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. He had earlier served as Indira Gandhi’s minister for external affairs, a job for which he had no proven background, but which Mrs Gandhi seemed to have entrusted to him with uncanny prescience. Strengthened by his impressive record in this job, Rao was able to bring to his subsequent prime ministership an earnest, cogitative and analytical view of India’s place in world affairs, moreover a place that did not ignore India’s identity as a struggling developing nation which nonetheless possessed intrinsic, unique and potential worth for the extant world order. The dismantling of the Soviet bloc, and the widely trumpeted triumph of free enterpris e, as also t he pre-eminence o

realpolitik, meant that a country like India, which had laid considerable store by the moral and ethical dimensions o foreign policy – a tradition inherited from the nation’s scriptural values as well as the near-miraculous use of these attributes by Mahatma Gandhi in liberating the country from colonial rule – needed to reassess the efficacy of its earlier policies without abandon ing their core values. Nor could the country afford to beli eve that it could go places on a magic carpet of its recent-past glories. The country’s domestic economic situation had turned critical during the late 1980s, and this would have an inescapable effect on its foreign policy for the simple reason that a nation preoccupied by domestic concerns could not play a tireless champion of causes overseas. It was at this virtual turning point that Narasimha Rao, a prime minister almost by accident – he was on the verge of retiring from public life – was called upon to assume the crown of thorns. A study of Rao’s foreign visits and interaction with leaders around the world promises to give an insight into his record: how did he look at and steer India’s relations with its neighbouring South Asian nations; with South-East Asia; with key countries in Europe and beyond; with the US, Russia and China; and within the multilateral world as exemplified by the United Nations. Such a study should provide clues to his philosophy as applied to foreign affairs, and tell us how well it worked or didn’t. Indian foreign policy, for reasons not always of its own making, has most frequently floundered on the submerged sandbanks of South Asia; and Narasimha Rao’s experience, no matter how sedulously he might have tried to navigate the Indian ship of state towards balmier South Asian currents, was no exception. During the first few years of his tenure, Rao had, as his principal foreign policy adviser, the industrious and vastly experienced foreign secretary J.N. Dixit. Dixit’s specialty was India’s neighbourhood: long years serving in South Asian countries had given him firsthand experience of how the region viewed India, and Rao trusted Dixit’s judgement. Rao believed furthermore that common sense, a clear understanding of the issues involved in the relationship concerned and how they were to be addressed, and a credible presentation of India’s bona fides and endowments were a useful antidote to the misapprehensions that bedevilled the region. Such an approach in the context of each relationship could, he felt, provide new, curative, and hopefully fertile beginnings. His attitude towards Pakistan, for instance, was to persuade it to join India in devising a modus vivendi that would permit the two nations, caught up in the miasma of their existentialist differences, to forge at least a more antiseptic bilateral relationship, if nothing substantial was immediately possible. Between 1991 and 1993, Rao met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif six times, a frequency deceptively suggestive of fraternal reunions (but none of these was strictly speaking a bilateral meeting: the two met on the sidelines of multilateral gatherings). Various conciliatory bilateral agreements were signed, and a climate of anodyne détente created in the minds of the public. In one classic encounter with Pakistani president Farooq Leghari in New Delhi in 1995 – the conversation was almost entirely in courtly Urdu, with Rao, whose mother tongue was Telugu, matching Leghari, a native Urdu speaker, word for word – Rao attempted to wean the president away from the visceral suspicions of India, and consequent mischief against the latter, that Pakistan seemed to survive on. But the attempt, despite Rao’s desire to prevent Pakistan’s Indo-centric phobias from making the bilateral relationship acrid, was unsuccessful; and Rao himself recognized that neither charm nor reason, let alone linguistic el egance, could un do decades of mistr ust, wariness and antipathy. Even before this time, moreover – especially by the end of the 1980s – Pakistani policy towards India, opaque and crafty in the hands of President Zia-ul-Haq, had moved towards more furtive strategies (for example, Pakistan’s clandestine and ‘deniable’ support for rabid anti-Indian activities: such strategies, designed and operated by various baleful forces inside Pakistan, eventually came to be seen by Indian sceptics as a cornerstone of that country’s implacable mission). Meanwhile, the nuclear element – India’s indigenously developed nuclear capability and Pakistan’s surreptitiously borrowed one – had entered the minefield of Indo-Pak relations. Pakistan appeared to approach bilateral relations on the basis of one of the contrivances of realpolitik, namely that a country’s influence in foreign relations is directly proportional to its capacity to create trouble for others. As a result, Rao, perplexed by Pakistan’s motives and stratagems – which he believed were self-defeating – found his well-meant moves towards the latter mired in frustration. Rao was nevertheless a patient man and willing t o go the extra m ile with Pakistan, holding on to what was or was not possible in this hair-trigger bilateral equation, despite the dismay of the hardliners. Unlike many in India whose memories had been badly singed by the partition of the country and its sanguinary aftermath, Rao’s attitude towards Pakistan did not carry the deadweight baggage of history. On the other hand, as one who appreciated history’s lessons, he was neither complacent nor gullible about that country. His stewardship of bilateral negotiations over Siachen – the remote glacier region in the Himalayas that had become a bone of territorial contention between India and Pakistan – illustrated his predicament: at one stage in 1992, negotiations had come close to a solution that might have seemed mutually acceptable. But the possibility of a deal, colliding with Rao’s innate caution when dealing with sensitive matters, and with the lingering distrust that underlay bilateral ties, evaporated – thus validating a remark by one o Rao’s officials at the time that no matter how laboriously India tried to map out its bilateral course with Pakistan, the nature of the rel ationship often forced the effort to end up going nowhere.

During visits to Nepal and Bangladesh, Narasimha Rao experienced at first hand the eccentric, if not disorderly, nature of their foreign policies vis-à-vis India at that time. His long conversation with Bangladesh leader Khaleda Zia, during an early visit to Bangladesh, and during which he tried to place India’s concerns before her, had the surreal outcome of two voices in different keys singing different tunes. Rao grumbled afterwards that such an atonal duet – which he was trying to bring back into tune – would result not in harmony but in discordance. In Nepal, a farrago o local interests, many of them sustained by Nepal’s intimate and intricate connections with India, only confused and irked India’s policy framers even while the overall relationship remained invulnerable. As a result, the leitmotif o Rao’s visit to Nepal in 1992, a symbiotic exploitation of Nepal’s rich water resources, got lost in the paraphernalia o what India could offer Nepal and what Nepal could extract from India. Ambassador Krishna V. Rajan, who reached the Nepalese capital towards the end of Narasimha Rao’s tenure, retrieved some of the vagrant threads of the bilateral fabric; and Rao’s own visit to Kathmandu had resulted in the promise of more constructive relations. As it happened, however, Rao’s tenure as prime minister ended before all t he threadbare patches of t he fabric could be mended. Myanmar was sui generis: the inertia that had blanketed India-Myanmar relations, with Myanmar’s equation vis-àvis many countries around the world remaining sullen, was sought to be lifted by engaging that country in a dialogue that could, given the right conditions, redefine Myanmar to itself and to the world. Our envoy in Myanmar, G. Parthasarathy, had come up with some practical ideas that Narasimha Rao was prepared to explore. The actual effort, however, even as it was making headway, was ambushed by factors beyond Rao’s control and remained inconclusive. As for Sri Lanka, India had earlier burnt its fingers in trying to intervene in the country’s ethnic conflict; and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by a Sri Lankan had cast a shadow over bilateral ties. During much of Rao’s time, therefore, these memories assumed a somewhat noli me tangere (touch me not) character, intimidating Indian policy makers from making any imaginative attempt to inject more vitality into the otherwise even-tempered relationship. On the other hand, a visit to the Maldives, where India had helped in countering a coup attempt in 1988, was more salutary, and Rao was applauded as a mentor and friend. Equal, indeed greater, bonhomie characterized a visit to Bhutan, whose friendship, deriving inspiration and sustenance from the king himself, had impressed Rao on more than one occasion. In short, Narasimha Rao’s efforts with regard to South Asian countries to minimize friction where it existed, and invigorate friendship where it prospered, met with mixed results: where the erosion of goodwill, as in the case o Pakistan, had sapped the roots of the relationship, the resultant sapling remained stunted; but where the soil was wellirrigated by both si des, Rao, like a gardener with a green t humb, could look forw ard to t he sapling growing to healthier heights. Rao’s approach was essentially syncretic, that is, he firmly believed that two parties, no matter how disparate their ways of thinking, could, with zealous effort, come together for mutual benefit. What is important to note in this regard is Rao’s wellintentioned and well-reasoned efforts to eliminate the centrifugal nature of some of the problematic relationships in South Asia – especially the India-Pakistan one – and reorient them towards a less testy, and more prophylactic, if not more benevolent, future that he liked to visualize for the region. Needless to say, this approach, like many others before Rao’s – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gand hi and other Indian prime mi nisters had faced similar contretemps – ran into chronic obstacles. But Rao persisted; and retained his belief that a credible and resolute effort to establish mutual understanding would eventually bear fruit. With the exception of Pakistan, and to a lesser extent Bangladesh, all other South Asian coun tries responded well to Rao’s ministrati ons, thereby making his dealings with them relatively imperturbable. And even in the case of Pakistan and Bangladesh, observers noted that his efforts were not entirely fruitl ess: these countries came to acknowledg e him as a serious and dependab le interl ocutor. As minister of external affairs, one of Rao’s first preoccupations had been India’s relationship with China; and as prime minister, there is reason to believe that he looked upon the relationship in more profound civilizational terms rather than in the l edger-wise give-and-take, o r zero-sum, or even the so-called ‘m utual benefit’ bargains that countries were apt to strike with one another. Rao, a reticent individual at the best of times, was not given to spontaneously expatiating on his philosophy of foreign affairs, but appeared to strongly believe that major nations like India and China, seared and burnished by history, and with the incalculable strengths of their civilizations behind them, were capable of creating a bilat eral relat ionship that went beyon d humdrum everyday loss and gain; and that if t he necessary effort was made – on the basis of a deeper mutual appreciation of the wellsprings of their foreign policies – such countries could forge more durable cooperative relationships. This is not to suggest that Rao was unmindful of the consequences of t he 1962 India-Ch ina conflict, which had left l arge swathes of Indian t erritory i n Chinese hands. Ra o’s premise was that memories of the conflict, while inalienable for both sides, and certainly so for India, should not become the mandatory, and disconcerting, ghost at the bilateral banquet table. Following some sterling preparatory work by Ambassador Chandrashekhar Dasgupta in Beijing, and by Ambassador Shiv Shankar Menon, who head ed the China Division in t he Ministry of External Affairs at t he time, Rao paid a highly satisfactory visit to China in 1993. During the visit, the two countries signed a landmark Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas. This enabled

the two sides later on to pursue the seemingly intractable boundary issue largely insulated from, and impinging less upon, their j oint efforts to diversify and promote greater interaction in various fi elds – which indeed is what happen ed. Bilateral t rade, for instance, skyrocketed; and bilateral i nteraction broadened and d eepened much more than in previous years. (Cynics wou ld, in course of time – encouraged by the fact that the boundary discussion s, which were at the heart of India-China relations, seemed to risk becoming interminable and indecisive – belittle this arrangement, but that is another story.) A highlight of the China visit was Narasimha Rao’s long conversation with his counterpart Jiang Zemin, which eschewed the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the bilateral relationship – these were left to the senior officials to sort out – and dwelt on the larger issues of history, peace and development. In the conversation, Rao intentionally played the questioner to Jiang Zemin’s guru; and was impressed by the latter’s grasp of the ‘larger picture’. What gratified Rao, besides the agreement, was his belief that, in approaching the bilateral relationship in generous and bountiful civilizational terms – a factual and not self-delusive approach – both he and Jiang Zemin had had a glimpse of the inspirational, and eventually mutually wholesome, nature of their shared experience and interests. Whether or not s uch a near-euphoric reading would survive Chinese self-indulgence was beside the point, at least during and immediately after t he sunny weather that, met aphorically, attended the visit t o China. More inherently salubrious was the relationship with Russia, in spite of the fact that the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union, and Soviet foreign ministers Andrey Kozyrev’s and Eduard Shevardnadze’s overtures to the West to the neglect of many others like India had left in disrepair the sturdy bridges that Russians and Indians had built between themselves. Our envoy in Moscow, Ronen Sen, had been trying, with steady success, to undertake the necessary repairs, and prepared a visit by Narasimha Rao in 1994 to revivify ties. By the time Rao had settled into his job as prime minister, Boris Yeltsin was at the helm in Russia, and like his predecessor, his preoccupation was with domestic politi cs and the US. Yeltsin nevertheless professed a soft spot for India – the long and strong traditi on of Indo-Soviet f riendship had created many devout adherents in both countries – and during his tête-à-tête with Rao at the Kremlin showed a remarkable readiness to accept almost all that Rao looked for in the bilateral relationship. Even if the Russian leader, puffy-faced and stertorous, was not at his best during the exchanges – Indian officials accompanying Rao remarked on Yeltsin’s pallor and wondered how long his salutary influence on Russian policies towards India would last – Rao believed that Yeltsin’s heart, when it came to India, was in the right place; and that bilateral ties, somewhat straggly during the Gorbachev era, could be restored, if not to their earlier exuberance, at least to a point where they would be reassuring for both countries. Chancellor Helmut Kohl, basking in the glory of German reunification following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, was a jovial and magnanimous host to Narasimha Rao in 1994. Their one-to-one exchanges revealed a genial meeting of minds, with Kohl readily agreeing with his visitor on so many crucial points – ranging from security to trade to culture – that it seemed as if anxieties had no place in the cordiality between the two countries. And Germany, along with Britain and France, prov ed a pivotal ri vet in the edifi ce of India-Europe amity, w ith particular emphasis on a distinctly greater understanding of each of India’s concerns, and a clearly expressed desire in each case for amplified economic cooperation. (An idyllic sidelight to Rao’s timetable in countries like Germany were his meetings, wherever possible, with local Indologists. In his interactions with them, Rao, a scholar himself, could speak authoritatively not only about traditional India but also about India in the throes of modernizing; and his appeal to I ndologists everywhere was to use their knowledge to understand and support the new India that Jawaharlal Nehru had created, and which his successors attempted t o mould and consolidate). Both British prime minister John Major and French president Jacques Chirac, impressed by Narasimha Rao’s gravitas, responded favourably to his keenness that the circumference of bilateral ties should be enlarged – now that India was undertaking massive economic reorganization – into new and productive economic intercourse. And for this purpose, he travelled to Europe on various occasions with important Indian business delegations, an innovation in Indian prime ministerial delegations abroad that Rao made customary wherever he felt it yielded good dividends. In course of time, in addition to burgeoning bilateral ties with individual European countries, the EU as a whole, exemplifying the collective desire of countries in Europe to stimulate and consolidate contacts with a changing India, entered into an increasingly robust interaction with the latter. The India-EU agreement of 1993, the India-EU ‘Partenariat’ and the Ind ia-EU economic and cultural pacts were some instances of this trend. Narasimha Rao’s conviction that the India-US relationship had not fulfilled its promise, and that it was starved o more imaginative inputs, took him to Washington in 1994. The visit had an inauspicious prelude: for one thing, Rao fumed at the inadequacy of the brief that officials placed before him: he would not, he said, travel all the way to Washington merely to hand over to President Bill Clinton grocery lists of things that India coveted. Secondly, the brouhaha that attended his decision, at the prompting of officials, to postpone a Prithvi missile test prior to the visit gave his political opponents, and those who viewed closer India-US relations censoriously, the chance to criticize him for wilting under American pressure. In addition, a captious US was breathing down India’s neck when it came to nuclear non-proliferation, where American theological zeal seemed to single India out as the heretic that expressly

needed redemption. Rao, not unmindful of these annoyances, nevertheless devoted himself to conceptualizing what he felt the relationship lacked, namely an elemental political, economic, strategic and cultural understanding of what the two countries could mean to each other. To talk of shared values and traditions – democracy, the rule of law, the English language and so on – was relevant of course; but beyond these bromides lay something intrinsically valuable in the attraction between the two liberal democracies. And it was time to build on this. Rao scribbled his ideas on a piece o paper for his one-to-one conversation with Clinton, and his hope was that the latter would see India in a fresh light. The duration of the conversation, much longer than expected, impressed both the delegations outside, even if the l unch that Clinton hosted for Rao soon afterwards, a subdued affair with an uncharacteristically taciturn Clinton, gave no indication of a re-energized duet. In the event, the newly-seeded equation failed to sprout as Rao might have wanted. It demanded time and patience, and sensitive cultivation by both sides, neither of which happened in the more arid climate that overtook the relationship. Clinton’s preoccupations were elsewhere – domestic issues, Russia, Eastern Europe – and officials accompanying Rao to Washington felt that Clinton’s somewhat ambiguous attitude towards India was apparent in his body language. (The fact that Clinton made up for this subsequently, and was lustily applauded by Parliament when, during his visit to India, he played on Indian heartstrings, is beside the point). Clinton’s focus, during Rao’s Washington visit, was on nuclear non-proliferat ion issues, which made the US admonitory and didactic with India, and went counter to the more fecund picture of India-US relations that Rao had conjured up. As a result, Rao’s Washington visit was seen by the Indian media as lacklustre, and his vision of a reinvigorated relationship premature – at least for the time being. However, it cannot be gainsaid that Narasimha Rao had tried, in an innovative way, to fertilize the ground afresh for a good bilateral harvest. The fact that this harvest turned out to be plenteous in subsequent years owes something to Rao’s efforts in Washington. Narasimha Rao was the first Indian prime minister to give some coherence to what the home media called his ‘look East’ policy, that is, India’s renewed interest in strengthening ties with South-East Asian countries. Abandoning the hitherto episodic nature of India’s contacts with these countries, he worked on defining the increasing political, strategic, economic and cultural convergences between India and the region; and on the timeliness of cooperation in various fields for an evolving Asian architecture that, in jettisoning the ramshackle, often mutually adversarial, pattern of previous decades – aggravated by the hostil e camps i nto which the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict had split the region – would come up with a durable blueprint f or regional solidarit y. During one of his first visits to the region – to Bangkok in 1993 – he engaged in a broad-based exercise, his inter locutors ranging from the country’s venerated king to its ruling elite, Buddhist leaders, economic elements and other opinion makers. The visit, meticulously planned by Ambassador A.N. Ram in Bangkok, and in the course of which Narasimha Rao had a much-talked-about two-hour meeting with the king, turned out to be an eye-opener for both sides. Observers felt that the visit laid the foundations for more constructive, and less mutuall y derisory, interaction between India and Thailand. Rao had earlier been to Japan, and included, in his so-called look East expedition, trips to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Republic of Korea. In each of these countries, he was received as an Indian leader whose seriousness of purpose matched his political acumen and sense of history. A particularly satisfying sojourn was the Singapore one, where the country’s senior statesman and eminence gris, Lee Kuan Yew, not usually awed by foreign leaders, hosted an important address by Rao at Singapore’ s principal t hink tank. Rao gav e a t houghtful speech, and – to the delight of his audience, who h ad till then been fed a dour image of him by the media – sparkled at the question-andanswer session that followed. His patient exposition of India’s aspirations, the gravity of his demeanour, his admiration for Singapore’s many achievements, his templat e for t he future of India-Singapore relations, and – a revelati on to many – his wit and humour prompted Lee Kuan Yew to confess that he had rarely been so delighted and impressed by a foreign l eader. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia was equally laudatory at the end of a propitious trip to Kuala Lumpur. A visit to Vietnam included meetings with legendary Vietnamese leaders like former prime minister Pham Van Dong and war hero General Vo Nguyen Giap, and highlighted Vietnam’s affection for India (its unfailing support for Vietnam during its dark days had left the latt er openly and warmly grateful). Rao’s visit to South Korea in 1993 was the first by an Indian prime minister and provided a much-needed stimulant for the undernourished relationship. Besides individual visits, Rao also lent his weight to deeper India-ASEAN interaction, and the process gathered appreciable pace during his stewardship, culminating in India becoming a full dialogue partner of the association in 1995 and a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum in 1996. Rao’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel – he consulted, as was his wont, a variety of experts on this subject, in particular retired Indian diplomats, ‘old warhorses’, as he called them – was preceded by much handwringing in India’s political circles, their anxiety being the reaction that this might set off in the Arab world. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat – whose personal chemistry with Rao seemed to go beyond even Arafat’s own effusive bear-hugs – visited India at this juncture, and the impending decision was discussed. Rao’s reputation in the Arab

world, even if not trenchant, was sound enough to ensure that the fallout of the decision relating to Israel would not quarantine India diplomatically. Indeed, the timing and decisiveness of his move was to pay larger dividends in the months and years to come. Narasimha Rao’s view of India’s nuclear stance, besides acknowledging its justification in national strategy terms, was conditioned by his disenchantment with the manner i n which the international community, in particular the US and its Western allies, had addressed nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues. To begin with, India’s dogged advocacy of nuclear disarmam ent measures, right fr om the tim e of its Independence, had been given short shrift by the nuclear powers. Then came Pakistan’s undercover pursuit of nuclear weapons technology which, directed unequivocally against India, and cou pled with its sinister nuclear proliferation misadventures, constituted a self-evident peril f or India as well as for others. The global nuclear high priests, especially the Western countries, either made no serious attempt to curb these developments or made only half-hearted attempts that were subsumed in the strategic imperatives that they saw in turning their eyes away from the offenders. Equally valid were India’s strategic concerns about China, its large nuclear neighbour , and one that was moreover discovered in an illi cit nuclear embrace with Pakistan. As for multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, Rao pointed in several statements, including one at the non-aligned summit in Cartagena, Colo mbia, in 1995, to the failure of global eff orts in t his area on account of their sophistical nature. For one thing, the nuclear ‘haves’ were intent on preserving their monopoly and barring the gates of the nuclear club to the ‘have-nots’ for all time. This, among other things, lay at the heart of the fatal impairment of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Rao felt the need, as a result, to reiterate the call for an end to the nuclear oligarchy of a handful of countries t hat simultaneously worked to deny the capability to others no matter how seriously their security might be t hreatened, or how invidiously their strat egic options might be closed. He recalled, in this context, Indira Gandhi’s decision to go ahead with a nuclear test in 1974, thereby affirming India’s sovereign right to take whatever steps it considered necessary for its security. While the disarmament/nonproliferation debate played out in multilateral forums, Rao had no objection, in 1995, to a muted domestic debate in India on the pros and cons of undertaking a fresh nuclear weapons test. His principal secretary, the savvy A.N. Verma, in whom Rao reposed a great deal of confidence, sounded out a number of experts and provided Rao with the balance sheet. As it happened, for reasons t o do as much with India’s own preparedness as with i nternational repercussions, the test never took place during Rao’s tenure as prime minister. Later on, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee – who oversaw the 1998 nu clear t ests aim ed at f ull-fledged nuclear weapons capability as an overdue defence need, given the ominous developments in India’s immediate neighbourhood – was to commend Rao’s patriarchal role in actuating this capability. During his prime ministerial tenure, Rao remained unimpressed by multilateral discussions on various aspects o nuclear disarmament: he had seen the dismissive manner in which Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s 1988 Action Plan towards a Nuclear Weapons-Free World – which had put forward a step-by-step and timebound approach to nuclear disarmament – had been treated, especiall y by the Western nuclear powers. One consequen ce of t his was that Rao, who retained faith in the Action Plan, became acutely aware of India’s chagrin at the pontifical manner in which the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was being negotiated in Geneva by the West. Like almost all other prime ministers of India, Rao had repeatedly tried to explain to t he world the combustible nature of the region in which India was located, as well as I ndia’s strat egic concerns over Pakistan and Ch ina. In such a predicament, for India t o forswear all strategic options, including the nuclear option, was unthink able. The CTBT negotiations in Geneva, ignoring these concerns, started having the effect of segregating India against its will, and cornering it into accepting externally devised agenda that went against it s vital national interests. Rao became increasingly wary of the disingenuous, if not specious, manner in which the treaty was being concocted. As a result, when the treaty was subsequently rammed through in 1996, India – represented by its doughty permanent representative to the United Nations offices in Geneva, Arundhati Ghose – stood against its confirmation. Future historians will doubtless see this decision as one of the many in the national interest that Rao happened to foresee, and indeed influence, during h is spell as prime mi nister. Four other foreign policy initiatives with regard to Narasimha Rao deserve mention: first Iran, a country whose history, civilization and geo-strategic location placed it unmistakably among the noteworthy, and whose volatile sense of nationhood following the Islamic revolution there needed to be objectively analysed and not dismissed as anachronistic. Rao believed in the underlying ethos of nations, and Iran was a prime example, even if its recent expressions of this ethos seemed capricious and often unpalatable to many. In any case, India’s relations with I ran went long back in history, and were finding new moorings after the Iranian revolution. Rao’s encounters in Teheran, especially his discussions with Iranian president Rafsanjani, resulted in the latter proclaiming that ‘a new chapter’ had been inaugurated in Iran-India relations. Rao’s forays into Arab countries might not have been many, but the ones that did take place – to Egypt and Oman, for instance – gratif ied him when he saw the esteem that India enjoyed in these countries, and the desire they expressed for even more diversified bilat eral interact ion. A particularly flat tering visit was to Oman, who se sultan had always had

a soft spot for India, and whose lofty conversations with Rao nevertheless happily translated themselves in course o time into concrete bilateral projects. Rao’s entourage, basking in the opulent hospitality of the sultan, felt that the visit had seamlessly combined style and substance, moving from ceremonies in gilded seafront palaces to the gritty minutiae of trade statistics and bilateral investment promotion. Secondly, Central Asia: after breaking away from the former Soviet Union, the erstwhile constituent Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan had set up the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and were keen to forge ties of their choosing in the manner of their choosing. Narasimha Rao, quick to grasp the undercurrent of these aspirations, responded by visiting most of them and offering broad canvases on which the new context and content of bilateral camaraderie could be illustrated. India and its traditions were admired in these states, and they responded warmly to Narasimha Rao’s proposals on trade, scientific and technological exchanges, culture, and even strategic synergy. Rao’s signal contribution was to leave a legacy of rising expectations t hat could, i worked at diligently, give India a stable presence and fresh momentum in these states and in the Central Asian region as a whole. (One might mention in passing the novel cultural experience that awaited Rao and his delegation in Uzbekistan, where India’s Bollywood’s tear-jerker melodramas were popular: the Uzbek hosts laid on the customary banquet for Rao, followed by shimmering Uzbek dances, set to Indian film song music, that left Rao’s entourage pleasurably nonplussed.) The third instance was a notable one: Narasimha Rao travelled to the Swiss Alpine resort town of Davos in 1994 to address the World Economic Forum. Preparing for the visit, he had asked for inputs from his officials that described India’s experience of economic liberalization, the advantages it had undoubtedly secured but also the pitfalls it had encountered, and the way forward. The initial draft of his address, written by Principal Secretary A.N. Verma, with inputs from his colleagues in the Prime Mi nister ’s Office, put forth what later became well-known as ‘the middle path’ in economic demystificati on and globalization. In other wo rds, the process of rel easing a country’ s economy from state controls had, Rao emphasized, to keep in mind the good of the greatest number and not just the siren calls of free enterprise. This was especially relevant to, and necessary for, developing countries like India, where an enormous majority, disempowered by poverty and lack of opportunity, and invisible in the rough-and-tumble of free-market competition, deserved a benevolent state to turn t o for succour. Rao’s address was to become a benchmark description, in Davos and back home in India, of the need to humanize the economic resurgence that countries around the world were either planning or experiencing. In the fourth instance, Rao utilized a UN Security Council summit meeting in New York in 1992 to urge caution and further reflection on the somewhat imperious vigour with which the concepts and practices of ‘peace-making’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’ – that is, international legal and other justification for the use of force in situations considered intolerable – were being advocated. India’s highly regarded permanent representative to the UN in New York, C.R. Gharekhan, had noted, with disquiet, the dogged way in which this was being pursued by some members o the Security Council. India was then a non-permanent member of the council, and utilized its presence to underscore the uneasiness that any diktat from the council would arouse if it had the premeditated effect of abridging a nation’s sovereignty. The tendency of feral ruling circles in some countries to mistreat, plunder or massacre their own citizens, alongside the growing evangelical zeal of some other countries to either prevent or abort such calami ties, underlined the pressure that was being built up at the UN to define, justify and operate ‘preventive diplomacy’ (where forcible outside intervention would, it was argued, prevent inflammatory situations from getting out of hand, and save human lives). Rao, though well aware of which way the winds were blowing, and only too conscious of the need to prevent matters from coming to such a pass, nevertheless reasserted India’s reservations on this score. He pointed out that the UN charter had itself, after very careful consideration, laid down safeguards for the sovereignty and territorial integrity o states. To jettison such fundamental tenets of international law, if the jettisoning was to be selectively done by a handful of countries in the Security Council, could, he argued, lead to predatory actions in the international sphere, especially by the str ong against the weak. In succeeding years, the Security Council was to adopt a more forward or intrusive stance in this regard that had the effect of diluting or sidelining the national sovereignty of certain countries. Rao’s contribution, in urging circumspection, was nonetheless an honest attempt to infuse balance into the council’s deliberations, even if several council members found his thesis too squeamish. Some aspects of armed outside intervention – in the Balkans, for instance, or in Iraq; or the lack of ardour in the ‘international community’ to be similarly assertive with regard to Rwanda or Somalia – l ent credence to Rao’s scruples. Narasimha Rao’s five-year stretch as prime minister marked a busy and productive, in some ways path-breaking, time in the country’s foreign policy chronicle. (His domestic record, it might be mentioned in passing, fluctuated from the routine to the dramatic: his championship of economic liberalization and globalization brought him laurels; conversely, his inability to prevent the demolition of the Babri mosque was ascribed to misjudgement and vacillation). Because of time constraints, and owing to domestic preoccupations, including some that diverted his attention

grievously from national commit ments, Rao was not in a position to give greater thought to regions li ke South America and Africa. He did visit Argentina in the former (besides Colombia for a non-aligned summit); and Senegal, Ghana and Burkina Faso in the latter; but such visits, for the reasons mentioned above, tended to have a somewhat desultory and invertebrate character despite the seriousness with which he approached every item of work placed before him. (A notable exception was a visit to India by Nelson Mandela, whom Rao, like almost everyone else, admired and respected. Rao readily responded to Mandela’s wish for more concrete steps in bilateral ties by making an immediate and generous financial commi tment that delighted Mandela). A significant aspect of Narasimha Rao’s approach to foreign affairs, as indeed to domestic affai rs, was his preference for consensual decisions. Heading as he did a central government in Delhi that had only fickle and fitful support in Parliament, he took pains to consult as many political elements as possible so that a multi-partisan view could be forged. India had for a long time, and especially during the tenures of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, operated foreign policies that were acknowledged to be products of a national consensus. In course of time, with domestic politics becoming more and more internecine, foreign policy was at the risk of being subjected to the same fract ious fragmentation. Rao felt the need, in this context, to find as many friendly shoulders to his foreign policy wheel as he could – and it is to his credit that in many, if not most, of his foreign policy excursions, he did find them. Narasimha Rao’s several distinctive qualities as prime minister brought him an honourable, in fact distinguished, standing in global chancelleries, a fact to which his entourage, travelling with him to the four corners of the world, could attest. His ability to give a patient hearing to his foreign counterparts and to see their point of view, his low-key and yet forceful presentation of India’s interests and concerns, his aptitude for dissecting, analysing and understanding the varying aspects of an issue, his readiness to entertain reasonable alternatives, even those that might go against his srcinal thesis, his earnestness of purpose, his discipline in adhering to the crux of what was being discussed, his impatience with facile, untidy solutions, and h is pragmatic way of resolving matters cast a mer itorious light on India in the minds of leaders around the world, and in the long-term analysis embellished the country’s standing in global councils. At all events, whatever Prime Minister Narasimha Rao might have done or left undone, history will, in judging him objectively and judiciously, conclude that he brought to bear upon India’s foreign policy a well-defined view of the country’s unique capacity to contribute meaningfully to world developments, a clarity of purpose, and a density o thought rarely seen in the conduct of its foreign relations. Some of his projects – for example, India’s continuing subscription to non-alignment, or its relations with China – reflected the traditions laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gand hi; in the domestic sphere, he took Rajiv Gandh i’s vision of a modernizing India so much further that he came to be regarded as the progenitor of the country’s economic liberalizati on programme. Rao himsel spoke admiringly of the legacy these leaders had left behind. He had not inherited their charisma, or even their public magnetism; but in his own level-headed way of appraising India’s strengths, and in his effort to tailor them to the changing requirements of the time, Rao found the justification to deviate, wherever necessary and with considerable success, from the trends the country had followed in the 1950s, 1970s or 1980s. His focus on India’s neighbours, for example, or on South-East Asia and Central Asia – to say nothing of his economic diplomacy, where he travelled to countries like Germany with important business delegations; or of his novel approaches to the US and China – made him a pathfinder through some of the les s charted terrai n of India’s foreign policy . Rao once himself portrayed one feature of his overall philosophy as samadrishti , ‘a balanced view’, but which also implies impartiality and equanimity. (Samadrishti has an alternative, more abstruse philosophical meaning – the capacity to see the Ultimate Reality in everything – but that need not concern us here). His unruffled, even cerebral, handling of issues – often mi staken for impassivit y or, worse, indifference – exemplifi ed this quality. As stated earli er, various factors, both domestic and external, interfered with the policies that he would have liked to pursue unfettered, and the results were not all he had wished for. But be that as it may, one can assert with confidence that, despite an ulterior, and ipso facto unfounded, media view of him as an irresolute leader prone to let things drift, in foreign affairs Rao proved to be an earnest, decisive and thoughtful practitioner; that he pursued India’s national interest with creativity, even ingenuity, and with vigour; and that his record in this field speaks for itself, and will stand the test o time.

Author’s Note: This article benefited from valuable suggestions made by two colleagues – a retired ambassador and a former PMO confrere – t o both of whom go the author’s grateful thanks.

CONTRIBUTORS A.N.D. Haksar was the Indian High Commissioner in Kenya from 1977 to 1980. Subsequently, he was Minister in the USA, Ambassador in Portugal, the fi rst full -time Dean of the newly established Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi and the l ast I ndian Ambassado r to Yugoslavia during that country’s disintegration. K.N. Bakshi joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1961. He was Joint Secretary in the office of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1980-81, served as India’s ambassador in Sweden, Norway, Iraq (during the first Gulf Conflict, 1991), Austria and Italy, as also to UN bodies including the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was Head of Post

at Karachi during 1970-71 and was witness to the momentous developments which culminated in the India-Pakistan conflict of 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh. Sub sequently, as Deputy Head of the Pakistan Division i n the Minist ry of External Affairs, he was fully involved in the negotiations leading to the hist oric Shimla Agreement. B.S. Das has a long record of service with t he Government of India and t he public and private sectors running over four decades. As a diplomat he served in Indian Missions in Vietnam, Moscow, London, Bhutan and in the Foreign Office in various capacities. He headed the Government of Sikkim as its Chief Executive at a critical time culminating in Sikkim’s merger with India. He was also Chairman, International Airports Authority of India, and headed Air-India as its Chairman/Managing Director . He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972. Krishna V. Rajan is a retired diplomat and former member of the Indian Foreign Service. He has served in senior diplomatic assignments, including in the rank of Ambassador, in a number of countries including France, the US, the UK, Zambia, Algeria and Nepal (where he was Ambassado r for over five years). He has also held senior positions in the external affairs ministry, including as Permanent Secretary and later, as Adviser to the Minister for External Affairs, and was sent on special assignments as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy. He was also co-Chairman for the IranPakistan-India gas pipeline project. Apart from serving on the Board of NGOs and think tanks focussing on peace and conflict resolution and dev elopment, he is pr esently Chairman of International Trade and Exhibitions India (ITEI), a subsidiary of a British group, ITE plc. Chandrashekhar Dasgupta served in the Indian Foreign Service from 1962 until 2000. He was Ambassador/High Commissioner to the European Union and Belgium (1996-2000), to China (1993-96), to the United Nations (1986-99), to Tanzania (1984-86) and to Singapore (1981-83). As Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, Dasgupta led the Indian delegation in the preparatory negotiations for the Rio Summit on Environment and Development and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992). After retiring from the Foreign Service, he returned to international negotiations on climate change during 2002-10 at the instance of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Dasgupta is currently a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. He is also a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Geneva, and Distinguished Fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi. He is the author of War and Diplomacy in Kashmir , 1947-48. Dasgupta is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan. Niranjan Desai has served in many parts of the world including the US, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa during a career spanning thirty-seven years in the Indian diplomatic service. He was Ambassador to Switzerland, the Vatican and Liechtenstein (2000-02); to Venezuela (1997-2000), to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi (1987-92) and Deputy Consul General of India in New York (1973-77). At home, he was the Chief of Protocol (1994-96) and Director-General of the I ndian Council for Cultural Relations (1992-94). In 1972, Niranjan Desai was specially deputed to Uganda to arrange the repatriation of more than 30,000 Indian nationals who were expelled by the government of Idi Amin. A. Madhavan joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1956, was posted to the Indian mission in Burma, Hong Kong and stations in Europe, including Moscow, then as Ambassador to Japan for three years and after that to Germany His interests include International Relations, History , Literature and Music. G.J. Malik served in the Royal Air Force in Britain before joining the Indian Foreign Service. He served in a number

of countries, including Belgium, Ethiopia, Japan, Singapo re, Chile (during t he Allende years), and Thailand. He retired in 1979. L.L. Mehrotra joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1958. Amo ng his many positions, he was Liaison Officer for India with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala; Charge d’Affaires of India in China 1973-77; Consul General o India in San Francisco (US) 1976-79; Dy. Chief of Mission/Head of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow 1979-81; Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay 1982-85; to Belgrade (Yugoslavia) 1985-89; Sri Lanka 1989-90; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs 1990-92; Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India for Africa, and the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Representative in Cambodia 1997-99. K.L. Dalal joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1949, was Consul General of India in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) 196669, and Ambassador in Khartoum, Sudan 1969-72 and Bangkok, Thailand. He was Permanent Representative for India to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) 1977-80; Ambassador in Vienna, Austria and Permanent Representative of India to UN offices at Vienna 1980-82; and President UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) 1981-82. Kant K. Bhargava served as Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) from 1989-92. As Head of the Economic Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, 1978-83, he also looked after work relating to policies of India on regional and international cooperation matters. He watched from close quarters developments in the enlarged EEC w hile he was posted as Minister and Deputy Chief of Indian Mission to the European Community in Brussels from 1972 to ’76. Currently, he is Fellow of the Centre for Study of Democracy, School of Policy Studies, Queens University, Kingston, Canada and is a prolifi c writer on SAARC-related matters having coauthored/edited several books. Prakash Shah was Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq and Under Secretary-General, UN from 1998 to 2000. Earlier he was Ambassador/Permanent Representtive of India to the UN from 1995 to 1997, Ambassador to Japan, Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva 1991-92, and before that Ambassador to Venezuela and to Malaysia. Jagat S. Mehta was India’s Foreign Secretary from 1976 to 1979. His long career in the Foreign Service included a

wide range of challenging responsibilities at home and abroad. He was in charge of Policy Planning in the external affairs ministry, and has a reputation for conceptualizing innovative approaches in India’s relations with it s neighbours, including China, on w hich he is regarded as an expert. He has writt en extensively on India’s foreign policy challenges. T.P. Sreenivasanis a former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Vienna and Governor for India of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna and Ambassador to Austria and Slovenia (2000-04). He served in the Indian Foreign Service for thirty-seven years. His previous postings were as Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of India, Washington, DC (1997-2000); High Commissioner of India to Kenya and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in Nairobi (1995-97 ); Ambassador and Deputy Permanen t Representative of I ndia to the United Nations, New York (1992-95); and Ambassador to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga (1986-89). He has also served in New Delhi, Tokyo, Thimphu, and Yangon. Amar Nath Ram retired in 1997 as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs with responsibilities for India’s overall international economic diplomacy and relations with the Asia-Pacific, Africa and regional and international bodies. He served in the rank of Ambassador in Zambia (concurrent accreditation to Angola and

Botswana), Bhutan, Argentina (and Paraguay, Uruguay), Thailand (and Permanent Representative of India to UNESCAP), the European Union and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, DC in the US. He writes extensively and his articl es/papers have been pub lished in over forty books and in academic journals. He is a recipient of Bhutan’s highest decoration and other international awards. Prabhakar Menon joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1967. He wo rked in various Indian diplomatic missions around the world, including as Ambassador of India to the former East Germany, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, and Ambassador to Holland, Ireland and Senegal (among others). He worked as Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office when P.V. Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister. He retir ed from t he IFS in 2003.

INDEX Acholi t ribe, 99 Adhikari, Manmohan, 36, 38-39, 42, 45, 46, 49 government of, 44, 45, 46 Afghanistan, 111, 112, 244 Africa, 3, 85-108, 201, 243, 275, 309 Afro-Asian conference (1955), 236-37, 240 Agarwal, Anil, 214 Ahmad, Aziz, 12, 15 Ahsan, Abul, 215 Aishwarya, Queen, 43 Aiyar, Mani Shankar, 203 Aksai Chin, 234, 235, 236 All India Radio (AIR), 92 Allende, Salvador, 129-30, 139, 140-42, 144-49, 151, 155, 159, 167 regime, 138, 139, 148, 150, 151, 165 Alliance of Sm all I sland States ( AOSIS), 69 Alliance Part y of Fiji, 251, 254, 255 Allied powers, 122, 201 America, Latin, 131, 133, 135, 147-48, 164, 243 America, South, 128-29, 132, 134-35, 141, 144, 156, 158, 168, 275, 280, 309 Americans, 25, 32, 141, 144, 162 Amin, Hafizullah, 245 Amin, Idi, 85, 97, 99, 106, 107 regime, 90, 100, 106, 107 Andropov, Yuri,110 Annan, Kofi, 218-28 Arafat, Yasser, 303 Argentina, 127, 309 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), 207, 302 Asian Development Bank (ADB), 208, 216, 280 Ataturk, Kemal, 32 Atulathmudali, Lalith, 179, 190 Austria, 113, 116, 192-96, 198-202, 280 Awami League, 7 Aye, Arid, 213 Aziz, Sartaj, 213 Aziz, Tariq, 222 Baba, Satya Sai, 55-56, 60 Babri mosque, 309 Bahadur, Nar, 32 Bahadur, Raj, 132 Bajpai, Shankar, 24 Balasingham, Anton, 180 Balkans, 309 Bandaranaike, Sirimavo, 178, 185 Bandung Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), 120 Bangladesh Division (MEA), 9 Bangladesh, 8, 11, 17-19, 33, 51, 86, 132-34, 165-66, 204-215, 229, 242, 278, 284, 288, 293, 293, see also East Pakistan Bank of Baroda, 90

Bank of Uganda, 90, 102, 103 Bannerjee, S.K., 15 Bavadra, Dr Timoci, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 260-61, 266 Beijing, 53-54, 112, 296 Bengal, 7, 170 Bengalis, 7-8, 134, 165 Berlin Wall, 109-10, 113-14, 123-24, 126, 298 Bhagat, Usha, 16 Bhagwati, Jagdish N., Power, Passions, and Purpose: Prospects for North-South Negotiations , 206 Bhattarai, K.P., 38, 40-41, 56, 57 Bhojpuri (Fij i Hindi), 249 Bhutan, 24, 25, 33, 38, 209, 213, 215, 230, 268-86, 294 Bhutanese Permanent Mission, 276, 279 Bhutanese, 216, 274-78, 281-85 Bhutias, 25, 28 Bhutto, Benazir, 3, 15, 16, 208 Daughter of the East , 20 Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali, 2, 7, 21 Birendra, King, 37, 42-45, 51, 53-56, 58-60 Bombay, 7, 32, 87, 89, see also Mumbai Bonn, 109, 111, 116, 124, 236 Bose, Netaji Subhash Chandra, 192-93, 198, 199 Brezhnev, Leonid, 110, 111, 114 Britain, 93, 105, 113, 121, 125, 133, 298 British High Commission, 92, 93, 94, 258 British India, 52, 86, 199, 269 British, 24, 25, 30, 40, 86, 93, 94, 104, 105, 106, 121, 143, 148, 157, 193, 197, 225, 240, 250, 252, 269, 298 Brussels, 203, 204, 265 Buenos Aires, 127, 134, 166 Burkina Faso, 309 Bush Sr, George H.W.,70, 118, 225 Butler, Richard, 222, 223, 225, 226, 227, 228 Calcutta, 26, 150, 231, see also Kolkata Chakravarty, Kashi, 165, 169 Chand, Lokendra Bahadur, 50 Chavan, Y.B.,15 Chernenko, Konstantin, 110 Chib, A.S., 9 Chidambaram, P., 48 Chile, 127, 129-33, 136-39, 141-50, 152-60, 165-69, 279 China, 1, 22, 25, 31, 32, 33, 54, 67, 70, 72, 73, 112, 125, 170, 221, 229-46, 250, 270, 275, 283, 287, 290, 295-97, 303, 305, 311 Chinese attack (1962), 229, 236, 241, 287, 296 Chirac, Jacques, 298 Choeki, Princess Aji, 274 Chogyal (Thondup Namgyal), 22-32 Chogyal, 272 Chopra, I.S., 29 Chou Enlai, 32, 231-33, 234-35, 239, 243, 244 Christian Democratic Party of Chile, 129 Christian Democratic Union of FRG, 119 Christian Socialist Party (Chile), 130, 159 Climate change, 61-64, 66-71, 73, 76-78, 83, 84, 125, 214, 217 Clinton, Bill, 225, 299, 300 Cold War, 109-10, 113, 117-18, 123, 225, 229, 242, 244, 288-89, 301 Colombia, 132, 303, 309

Colombo Plan (1962), 272 Committee of the Whole (COW), 205 Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), 306 Commonwealth, 168, 203, 248, 262-63, 267 Communist Party of China (CPC), 112, 238 Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPM), 39 Communist Party, 110, 112, 130, 143, 238 Cooke, Hope, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32 Copenhagen summit, 70 Cuba, 133, 152 Cuban embassy, 152, 162, 163, 167 Cuban Missile Crisis, 241 Cultural Revolution (1966-76), 243 Czechoslovakia, 112, 113, 139, 169, 201 Dalai Lama, The, 233, 245, 270 Das, B.S., 271 Dasgupta, Shekhar, 266 Dayal, Nareshwar, 9 Desai, Morarji, 3-5 Deshmukh, B.G., 187 Deuba, Sher Bahadur, 45-51 Dev, Kapil, 43 Devare, Sudhir, 22-23 Dhaka, 8, 215, 278 Dhar, D.P.,9-10 Dhar, P.N.,9, 12, 15 Dipendra, Crown Prince, 43, 60 Dissanayake, Gamini, 177, 190 Dixit, J.N., 208, 291 Dong, Pham Van, 302 Dorji, Kazi Lhendup, 22, 26, 29, 32 Dubey, Muchkund,62 East Europe, 111, 112, 113, 117, 118, 120, 121, 139, 201, 243, 300 East Pakistan, 7, 8, 11, 132, 278, see also Bangladesh econo mic l iberalizati on, 49, 210-11, 307, 309, 311 Edelstamm, Harald, 152, 162, 164 Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front, 184 Eelam, 174, 176-77, 190 Egypt, 127, 161, 306 Emergency, 193, 200, 201-02 Entebbe, 87-88, 96 Ershad, H.M., 215 Etiang, Paul, 103 Europe, 298, 29998, 113, 117-18, 120, 122, 124, 137, 139, 141, 162, 163, 166, 170, 196, 199, 200-237, 243, 250, 264, 275, 280, European Community (EC), 69, 71, 72, 74, 75, 77, 79, 80-81, 82, 111, 119-20, 122, 123 European Economic Community (EEC), 203-04 European Union (EU), 80, 125, 208, 299 Federal Democratic Party of FRG, 119 Fiji, 247-68 constitution, 247, 250, 251 coup, 262 Hindi ( Bhojpuri), 249 Indians, 247-50, 255, 258-59, 261-64, 266-67 Financial Times, 227 Framework Convention on Climate Change, 84

France, 113, 121, 125, 133, 139, 196, 204, 221, 298 Frost, Robert, 109 Fuehrer, Christian, 115 Group of 77, 70, 72, 73, 134, 204, 278-79 Gandhi, Indira, 2, 3, 5, 8, 17, 20, 32, 128, 144, 192, 201, 204, 205, 250, 268, 288, 289, 295, 304, 310, 311 Gandhi, Mahatma, 141, 290 Gandhi, Rajiv, 3, 111, 125, 172, 175, 178, 187-90, 207, 261, 262, 266, 267, 294, 295, 304, 310, 311 Gang of Four, 243 Gangtok, 22, 24, 269 Ganilau, Penaia, 252, 260 Gautam, Bamdev, 50 Gayoom, Abdul, 210 Geneva conventions, 19 Genscher, Hans-Dietrich, 113, 119, 121, 123 German Economic and Monetary Union (GEMU), 119 Germany, 109-26, 199, 201, 298, 311 Ghana, 309 Gharekhan, C.R., 308 Ghose, Arundhati, 305 Giap, General Vo Nguyen,302 Gopal, S., 235 Gopinathan, A., 61 Gorbachev, Mikhail S., 110-12, 114-15, 118, 120, 121, 123, 244, 298 Gore, Al, 71 Government of India, 24, 30, 31, 49, 55, 59, 62, 133, 140, 155, 178, 179, 181, 218, 231, 233, 251, 262, 273 Gowda, H.D. Deve,50 Gross National Happiness, 216, 285 Gujral, I.K., 50, 51, 52-53, 189 Haider, Salman, 44, 46 Haksar, P.N., 9, 15, 16, 194 Hameed, A.C.S., 181, 205 Hassan, Khalid, 16 Hennings, John, 93-94 Heptullah, Najma, 266 hijacking of IC 814, 56-58 Honecker, Erich, 112, 113, 114, 115 Hu Jintao, 1 Hungary, 113, 201 Husain, Dr Akmal, 214 Hussein, Saddam, 123, 219, 222, 224, 225, 227 India House, 24, 35, 40, 42, 43, 44, 46, 51, 257, 258 India-China conflict (1962), 229, 287, 296 India-EU agreement 299 236, 240, 253 Indian Army, 22-23, (1993), 30, 40, 180, Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), 173-90, 207, 209 India-Nepal relati onship, 34, 39-42, 44-54, 56-59 Indo-Bhutanese t reaty (1949), 273 Indonesia, 301 Indo-Pak conflict, 9, 229, 278 Indo-Pak relations, 2-4, 6-21, 212, 235, 241-43, 291-93, 295 Indo-Sri Lankan agreement (1987), 174, 177, 179 Industrial Revolution, 64 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 71 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 280 International Negotiating Committee for Climate Change, 63 Iran, 59, 305-06

Iraq, 123, 219-48, 309 Ismaili, 4, 98 Israel, 302-03 Jammu and Kashmir, 9, 14, 17-20 Janata Party, 3 Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP), 175, 176-85, 189 Jayewardene, J.R., 171-73, 175, 177-78, 188 Jiang Qing, 243 Jiang Zemin, 296-97 Jung, Nawab Ali Yavar,127 Kakonge, 99 Kampala, 86-89, 91-92, 95-96, 98, 100-01, 104 Kampuchea, 244, 281 Karachi, 7, 9 Kargil, 21 Kathmandu, 34-35, 39, 44, 46, 47, 49-50, 52, 57-60, 212, 215, 293 Katju, Vivek, 265 Kaul, T.N., 6, 9, 12, 231 Kay, 99 Kazakhstan, 306 Kazini, 32 Kennedy, 157 Kennedy, John F.,114, 241 Kenya, 3, 86-90, 95 Kenyatta, Jomo, 3 Kesavan, K.P., 87, 98, 104 Khan, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, 14 Khan, Aga, 4 Khan, Ayub, 2, 7 Khan, Humayun, 211 Khan, Shahryar, 211 Khan, Tanweer, 211-12 Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali, 42 Khan, Wali, 14, 15 Khan, Yahya, 7, 8 Kissinger, Henry, 242 Kiwanuka, Chief Justice, 99 Kohl, Helmut, 119-23, 298 Koirala, Girija Prasad, 36-41, 45, 54, 56 Kolkata, 26, 39, 150, 215, 231, see also Calcutta Korea, 144, 153, 230, 231, 302 Korean War, 239-40, 287 Kozyrev, Andrey,297 Kreisky, Bruno, 193, 200-02 Krenz, Egon, 115-16 Kyoto Protocol, 84 Kyrgyzstan, 306 Labour Party of Fiji, 247, 255 Lahore Declaration (1999), 21 Lal, B.B., 31 Lal, K.M., 26 Lall, Harivansh, 135 Langi tribe, 99 Last King of Scotland, The, 100 Latin America, 131, 133, 135, 147-48, 164, 243

Lawrence, 180 Legal and Treaties Division (MEA), 9 Leghari, Farooq, 291 Leipzig, 115 Lima, 134-35, 159-60 Lira, 91 Lohani, P.C., 46 look East policy, 301 London, 34, 35, 53, 90, 94, 151, 155, 162, 180, 227, 261 LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), 174-76, 178, 180-87, 189-90 McMahon Line, 236, 239 Mahendra, King, 44 Major, John, 298 Malaysia, Maldives, 301-02 209-10, 211, 294 Malhotra, Ajai, 67 Malta summit, 118 Malta, 61, 118 Manavalan, D., 26 Mandela, Nelson, 309 Maoists, 48, 57-59 Mara, Ratu Sir Kamisese, 247, 250-55, 263, 265, 267 Mbogi, James, 99 Menon, V.K. Krishna,139 Menon, Shiv Shankar, 35, 296 Mindszenty, Cardinal, 147 Miraben, 192-97 My Spiritual Pilgrimage, 197 Mishra, Lalit Narain, 135 Mistral, Gabriela, 139 Mitterr and, Francois, 121 Mohammad, Mahathir, 302 Mombasa, 89, 95, 102, 103 Montalva, Eduardo Frei, 129 Moscow, 110-12, 119, 146, 154, 227, 238, 297 muhajirs, 7 Mukherjee, N., 87, 91, 97, 98 Mukherjee, Pranab, 47 Mumbai, 104 Murree, 10 Musharraf, Pervez, 3 Myanmar, 294 Nairobi, 72, 87-88, Namgyal,3,Prince, 272,104 274-75 Narayanan, K.R., 54 Nath, Kamal, 62 Nathu La, 25, 33 National Federation Party (NFP), 251, 254, 255 National Sadbhavana Party, Nepal, 41, 45 Nationalist Party of Sikkim, 28, 30 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), 120-21 Nazareth, Pascal Alan, 134-35, 160 Nazis, 127, 201 NEFA (North East Frontier Agency), 230, 234-36, 239 Nehru, Jawaharlal, 2, 42, 51, 102, 124, 141, 151, 170, 193, 200, 202, 229, 231-37, 239-41, 244, 246, 261, 268, 270-71, 284, 287-88, 295, 298, 310-11

Nepal, 25, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34-60, 240, 284, 293 Nepali communists, 36, 39, 42, 44, 45 Nepali Congress (NC), 36, 45, 56 Neruda, Pablo, 130, 139, 157 New Delhi, 6, 35, 37, 49, 53, 55-57, 71, 93, 124, 140, 155, 164-65, 169, 182, 188-89, 206, 265, 276, 291 New York, 62, 75, 78, 79, 151, 201, 218-20, 222-23, 226, 274-77, 308 New Zealand, 249, 251, 256, 257 NGOs, 72, 214, 280 Nixon, Richard, 131, 242 Nobel Prize, 8, 71, 139, 157 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), 251, 279, 287 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), 304 nuclear non-proliferation, 299-300 Obama, Barack,91-92, 1 Obote, Milton, 99-100, 107-08 Oboth-Ofumbi, Charles, 102 OECD, 68, 75, 77, 80 Oman, 306 Pachauri, R.K., 71 Padma awards, 196, 314, 316 Pakistan Division of MEA, 9 Pakistan People’s Party, 27 Pakistan, 5, 6-21, 25, 33, 54, 57, 85, 86, 132, 134, 204-208, 210-14, 220, 234, 240-45, 284, 291, 303, 305 Palestinians, 92, 303 Panchayati Raj, 246 Panchmukhi, 213 Panchsheel, 232 Pandey, Hari, 44 Parthasarathy, G., 294 Pashupatinath, 35, 46 Paul, Swraj, 135 Penjore, Lyonpo Sangye, 272, 276, 279 People’s Liberation Army (PLA), 232, 236, 238 Peron, Juan, 127, 129 Peru, 132, 135, 142, 160, 161-62 Perumal, Varadaraja, 182, 184, 190 Poland, 112, 120 Policy Planning Committee, 10 Prague, 112, 113, 154 Prasad, Bimal, 36 Prasad, Sharada, 200 Premadasa, 177 Prevention Terrorism Act, Prisoners ofofWar (POWs), 13,173 17, 19, 20 Prithvi missile test, 299 Punjab, 8, 14, 18 Puttaparthi, 55, 59, 60 R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing), 57 Rabuka, Lt. Col. Sitiveni, 253, 257-65 Radhakrishnan, S., 230, 231 Rafsanjani, 306 Raghunath, 54 Rajamani, 62, 67 Rajan, Krishna V.,60, 293 Ram, A.N., 301

Ram, Jagjivan, 15 Rana, Pashupati, 46 Rao, P.V. Narasimha,3, 34, 38, 42, 45, 46, 53, 59, 65, 125, 188, 207-289-312 Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal), 45 Raza, Rafi, 15, 21 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pakistan , 21 Reagan, Ronald, 114, 175, 244 Reggie, John Gerard, Power, Passions, and Purpose: Prospects for North-South Negotiations , 206 Rehman, M.A. (Ishi), 86, 89, 101, 104 Rehman, Mujibur, 7 Reinstein, Bob, 70 Reserve Bank of India, 49 Rio de Janeiro, 62 riots, 120, 162, 175, 185, 186, 258 Ripert, Jean, 65, 79-81 Rolland, Romain, 195, 197 Royal Advisory Council, 272 Rwanda, 309 SAARC, 206-17, 279-80, 284 samadrishti , 311 Santiago, 127-28, 131-32, 136, 140-41, 151, 155-58, 163-64, 167, 169, 279 Sanyal, J.N., 26 Sathe, Ram, 204-05 Schenkl, Emil ie, 198-99 Sen, Ronen, 297 Sen, Samar, 275 Senegal, 133, 309 Sengupta, R.N., 26 Shah, Princess Helen, 55, 60 Shankar, Ravi, 44 Sharif, Nawaz, 3, 21, 210, 291 Shastri, Lal Bahadur, 2, 11 Shevardnadze, Eduard, 297 Shimla Agreement, 2, 18, 20, 21 Shimla summit, 6, 9, 10, 13 Siachen, 292 Sikkim, 22-33, 230, 243, 269 Sind, 18, 161 Singapore, 140, 215, 301-02 Singh, Avtar, 134 Singh, C.P.N., 38 Singh, Tarlok, 204 Singh, Gajendra Narayan, 41, 45 Singh, Ganesh Man, 38 Singh, Hari Krishan, 133 Singh, Jaswant, 59-60 Singh, K. Natwar, 261 Singh, Kewal, 22, 24, 26, 133-34 Singh, Manmohan, 3, 136 Singh, S.K., 207, 266 Singh, Swaran, 15 Singh, V.P., 189 Sinhala, 173, 175-76, 178, 180, 185, 186, 190, 191 Sino-Soviet rif t, 243 Socialist Party of Chile, 130, 159 Socialist Union Party of GDR, 113

Som, Himachal, 266 Somalia, 309 Soni, Vidya Bhushan, 265 Soroti, 91 South America, 128-29, 132, 134-35, 141, 144, 156, 158, 168, 275, 280, 309 South Asia, 204, 206-07 South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA), 211, 213 South-South cooperation, 204 Soviet bloc, 111-12, 114-15, 133, 141, 168, 290 Soviet Union, 9, 13, 25, 110-13, 115, 117-18, 120-21, 123-25, 152, 200, 238-42, 244-45 Sri Lanka, 170-91, 204, 205, 207, 209, 210, 211, 236, 284, 294 Sri Lanka Freedom Party, 178 Sri Lankan Tamils, 171-78, 181, 185, 187, 190, 191, 284 Stalin-Roosevelt-Churchill summi t (1945), 118

Statesman, The, 106 Tagore, Rabindranath, 8, 141 Tajikistan, 306 Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), 171, 189 Tanakpur, 36, 37, 44-45 Tashkent, 11, 21, 241 Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), 71, 214 Taukei (son of the soil) Movement, 256 Tel Aviv,127 Test Ban Treaty, Comprehensive, 305 Partial, 242 Teitelboim, Volodia,143 Thapa, Bhekh Bahadur, 55 Thapa, Kamal, 52, 53 Thapa, Surya Bahadur, 38, 41, 45 Thatcher, Margaret, 121 The Times, 105 Thimphu, 213, 214, 215, 271, 274, 275, 278, 279-80, 284 Tiananmen, 112, 116 Tibet, 25, 230, 232-34, 240, 245, 269-71 Tilakratne, Bernard, 184, 189, 209, 211 Topden, Karma, 26 Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1950), 36, 39, 52, 53, 58, 282 Treaty of Sinchula (1865), 269 Treaty of Versailles, 13 Treaty, Mahakali, 45-47, 49-50 Tribhuvan, King, 51 Trivedi, Vishnu, 194 Tsering, Lyonpo Dawa,272, 276, 280 Tsongdu (national assembly), 272-73, 275, 278, 279 Turkmenistan, 306 U Thant, 275 Uganda, 85-108 Uganda Argus, 105 UN (United Nations), 61, 65, 67, 77, 97, 98, 151, 218-19, 222-24, 239, 265, 274-75, 283, 308 UN agencies, 198, 200, 201, 223, 271, 278, 280 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), 62, 71 UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 135, 140, 150-51, 204, 207, 279 UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (UNECAFE), 279 UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), 62 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, 63, 84 UN General Assembly (UNGA), 74, 132

UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), 279 UN membership, 33, 133, 225, 272-80 UN peacekeeping, 253 UN Security Council, 224, 240, 282, 308 UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), 219-20, 224-27 Unification, Ten-Point Plan of, 119 United National Party of Sri Lanka (UNP), 177, 178, 180, 183 United States of America (US), 1, 13, 25, 32-33, 35, 69, 70, 74-75, 77, 79-83, 107, 111, 113, 117-23, 125, 127, 131, 133, 146, 221, 224-28, 238, 241-46, 275, 280, 290, 297, 299, 300, 303, 311 Universal Postal Union (UPU), 272 Uzbekistan, 306, 307 Vajpayee, Atal Bihari, 3, 21, 49, 53, 54, 59-60, 244, 304 Venkataraman, R., 125 Venkateswaran, A.P.,254, 261 Verma, A.N., 304, 307 Vienna Convention, 103, 188 Vietnam, 230, 239, 242, 244, 288, 301, 302 von Weizsäcker, Richard, 122, 125 Wadhwa, Deepa, 74 Walters, Vernon,121 Wangchuck, King Jigme Dorji, 270, 271, 278, 285, 286 Wangchuck, Namgyal, 272, 274, 283 War, First World,13, 201 War, Korean, 239-40, 287 War, Second World,13, 113, 119, 127, 201-02, 238 Washington, DC, 53, 65, 79, 94, 107, 299-301 West, 8, 25, 53, 64, 113, 114, 115, 116, 119, 121, 124, 147, 201, 224, 226, 239, 243, 251, 256 West Bengal, 39 White, Sir Claude, 24, 269 Wijeratne, Ranjan, 180, 181, 188-89, 190 Wilde, Oscar, ‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime’, 35 World Economic Forum (Davos), 307 WTO (World Trade Organization), 76 Yeltsin, Boris, 297-98 Yew, Lee Kuan,302 Yogi, 180 Zaki, Ibrahim Hussein, 211, 214 Zia, Khaleda, 293 Zia-ul-Haq, 3-5, 292

First published in India in 2012 by HarperCollinsPublishers India a joint venture with The India Today Group Anthology copyright © HarperCollins Publishers India 2012 Copyright in individual pieces vests with the respective contributors ISBN: 978-93-5029-097-2 Epub Edition © June 2012 ISBN: 9789350294727 2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1 The views and opinions expressed in this book are the contributor’s own and the facts are as reported by them which have been verified to the extent possible, and the publishers are not in any way liable for the same. All rights reserved under The Copyright Act, 1957. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of thisstorage ebook and on-screen. Nosystem, part of in this text may downloaded, decompiled, or stored in or introduced into any information retrieval any form orbe byreproduced, any means, transmitted, whether electronic or mechanical, nowreverse-engineered, known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins Publishers India. Cover design: Amrita Chakravorty Cover photograph: Dinodi a HarperCollinsPublishers A-53, Sector 57, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201301, India 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8JB, United Kingdom Hazelton Lanes, 55 Avenue Road, Suite 2900, Toronto, Ontario M5R 3L2 and 1995 Markham Road, Scarborough, Ontario M1B 5M8, Canada 25 Ryde Road, Pymble, Sydney, NSW 2073, Australia 31 View Road, Glenfield, Auckland 10, New Zealand 10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022, USA

*UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNECAFE: United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, now UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) †UNITAR: United Nations Institute for Training and Research *IMF: International Monetary Fund; WFP: World Food Programme; ADB: Asian Development Bank

View more...


Copyright ©2017 KUPDF Inc.