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Oral History Narratives

 

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The USP of the Journal is its Oral History Section.

The back cover of the Journal notes:" ... [T]he Journal includes a special and unique section which brings out and preserves in print, the hitherto unknown aspects of India’s diplomatic experience and policy initiative through its Oral History Narratives, in the course of tête-à-tête with senior and highly experienced policy makers who have made decisive contributions in the evolution of the policy and its challenging issues."

The Journal has so far published 32 Oral History Narratives and full Texts of some are available at the Journal's website - as part of individual issues.

In deference to demand from scholars, all the 32 narratives have now been uploaded.

Afghanistan

I. K. Gujral

India’s Response to the Soviet Military Intervention in Afghanistan
(1979-80)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan-Mar 2006, Pg 123-131)

Former Prime Minister, late Inder Kumar Gujral was India’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union 'intervened' in Afghanistan in 1979. The Soviet intervention also coincided with a change of Government in India. While Charan Singh was the Prime Minister on the day the Soviet troops entered Afghanistan, Indira Gandhi returned as Prime Minister within days thereafter.

He recalls how India responded to the event.

I. P. Khosla

Last Days of the Soviet Troops in Afghanistan (1985)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 6, No. 1, Jan–Mar, 2011, Pg 87-103)

I. P. Khosla was the Indian envoy in Kabul in 1985, and saw the last of the Soviet tanks pull out. He speaks of his impressions and experiences during his tenure of three and a half years about the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, their withdrawal eight years later and subsequent developments that drastically changed the strategic environment in the region.

 

Bhutan

A. N. Ram

Evolution of Bhutan’s International Personality (1968 – 85)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 4, No. 4, Oct - Dec 2009, Pg 77 - 93)

Amar Nath Ram, India’s former Ambassador to Bhutan, who had participated in building up Bhutan’s diplomatic establishment at the United Nations in New York, narrates his long and eventful association with the Kingdom.

J. R. Hiremath

Bhutan: A Fantastic People With a Wonderful King (1977 - 80)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 2, No. 4, Oct-Dec 2007, Pg 117-128)

J. R. Hiremath, former Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, recalls his experience of India-Bhutan relations during the 1970s.

 

China

Mira Sinha Bhattacharjea

Indians In China: The Most Honoured Guests (1957) 

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan-Mar 2008, Pg 98 - 100)

Mira Sinha Bhattacharjea, who joined the Indian Foreign Service, in 1957, served in the Indian Embassy in Peking (Beijing), till 1960, after which she resigned from the Foreign Service, to teach at the Delhi University. She then went on to found the China Study Group and the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi.

She recalls her interaction with the Chinese and the courtesy, ambience and warmth in the Sino-Indian relationship during the 1950s that dramatically changed during the 1960s..

Brajesh Mishra

The "Mao’s Smile” Revisited: Sino-Indian Relations during an Important Period

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 1, No. 4, Jan-Mar 2006, Pg 109-118)

Brajesh Mishra, former National Security Advisor and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India recalls his meeting as India’s Chargé d'affaires with Chairman Mao Tse Tung on 1 May 1970 and its larger implications.

L. L. Mehrotra

Engaging China: The Call Of History

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 2, No. 1, Jan-Mar 2007, Pg 102-111)

Lakhan Lal Mehrotra, was the Chargé d’ Affaires at the Indian Embassy in China in 1976 when the two countries decided to normalize relations by resuming exchange of Ambassadors. Having been ‘involved’ with China since the 50s, he recalls his experience of Sino-Indian relations during 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Eric Gonsalves

The India-China Parleys (1979-82) 

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 8, No. 4, Oct–Dec 2013, Pg 428-440)

During June 1978 to July 1982, Ambassador Gonsalves served, first as Additional Secretary (Asia), and, then as Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, which included China amongst his areas of responsibility. During those four years, he was personally involved in various efforts towards improving India-China relations – including the visit of the then Foreign Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to China in February 1979, the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to New Delhi in June 1981, and the following two rounds of bilateral talks with China in 1981 and 1982.

In this conversation with the Journal , Ambassador Gonsalves recounts some of the discussions/negotiations, that perhaps sowed, after a few hiccups, the seeds of ‘peace and tranquillity’ on the border, which were to be achieved after many more rounds of visits and negotiations.

In his own words “The border dialogue has meandered on for decades, but tranquillity has been maintained, and even been codified

Vinod C. Khanna

The India-Taipei Association: A Mission Extraordinaire (1995)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 5, No. 2, Apr–Jun 2010, Pg 240-251)

Vinod C. Khanna, the First Director General of the India-Taipei Association, the de facto Indian Mission to Taiwan, narrates the establishment of the office in 1995 and the nuances in India’s diplomatic undertaking there.

 

Nepal

Jagat Mehta

Nepal: Diplomacy Between Unequal Neighbours in our Times

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 1, No. 3, Jul - Sep 2006, 118 - 127)

Jagat S. Mehta, Foreign Secretary of India from 1976 to 1979, recollects a phase of India’s relations with Nepal that saw the separation of Trade and Transit Treaties 1978, events leading to it and its repercussions.

Arvind Deo

Prelude to Nepal’s First Jan Andolan (1986-90)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 3, No. 4, Oct - Dec 2008, Pg 107-119)

Arvind Deo, former Indian Ambassador to Nepal, narrates the complexities of India-Nepal relations during 1986–90 - that had to confront very ticklish and complex issues, that eventually led to a spill over of these issues into building public resentment against the system, and what became a prelude to Jan Andolan I.

 

Pakistan

Arundhati Ghose

Birth of Bangladesh: Down Memory Lane (1971)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 4, No. 3, Jul-Sep 2009, Pg 102-117)

Arundhati Ghose, often acclaimed for espousing wittily India’s nuclear nonproliferation policy, narrates the events associated with an assignment during her early diplomatic career that culminated in the birth of a nation – Bangladesh.

K.N. Bakshi

Simla Agreement: From Military Victory to a Diplomatic Defeat? (1972)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 2, No. 3, Jul-Sep 2007, Pg 105-119)

K.N. Bakshi, member of the Indian Delegation, recalls his experience during the Simla Summit and its outcome by narrating an insider’s view on India’s Simla strategy.

Mani Shankar Aiyar

The (Hi)Story of One Lakh Visas (1978)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 5, No. 4, Oct–Dec, 2010, Pg 480-504)

Mani Shankar Aiyar, former member of the Indian Foreign Service, former Minister in the Union Cabinet and at present a member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament, was tasked with the assignment of opening India’s Consulate General in Karachi in December 1978, after the Assistant High Commission had been closed down in December 1971 during the Bangladesh war. He recounts here his experiences as India’s Consul General, including the decision to issue hundreds of visas every day, his interaction with the people and leadership of Pakistan, and reflections on India-Pakistan relations in those years

 

Sri Lanka

L. L. Mehrotra

Sri Lanka: Negotiating an Honourable ‘De-induction' (1989)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal  Vol. 7, No. 2, Apr-Jun, 2011, Pg 218-233)

Lakhan Lal Mehrotra, was the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka during 1989-90, a critical phase of Indo-Sri Lankan relationship. He narrates the events leading up to the ‘de-induction’ of the Indian Peace Keeping Force.

 

Vietnam

P. K. Budhwar

Representing India During the Vietnam Conundrum (1969-72)

Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 5, No. 3, Jul-Sep 2010, Pg 365-379

Prem Kumar Budhwar was a young Indian Foreign Service officer posted to Hanoi (North Vietnam) in the early 1970s. He manned the small Indian diplomatic mission almost all alone and saw through many things at the height of war in Vietnam and India’s relations with that country. Here, he narrates and shares his experiences and insights into the everyday happenings during those tumultuous years including importantly his contribution in shaping India’s Vietnam policy during a critical period in India’s diplomatic history.

 

Diaspora

Niranjan Desai

Revisiting the 1972 expulsion of Asians from Uganda

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal   Vol. 7, No. 4, Oct–Dec, 2012, Pg 446-458)

Niranjan Desai, former High Commissioner to Uganda, former Ambassador to Venezuela, Switzerland and the Vatican, then, as an young Indian Foreign Service officer, was occupying the East Africa desk at the Ministry of External Affairs during the period when the then President of Uganda, Idi Amin, expelled all Asians, majority of whom were Indian nationals or Persons of Indian Origin. Ambassador Desai describes those hectic and painful moments when he was rushed to Kampala to assist the Indians.

K. P. Fabian

Biggest Ever Air Evacuation in History (1990)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 7, No. 1, Jan-Mar, 2011, Pg 93-107)

K.P. Fabian, former Ambassador of India to Qatar, to Finland and to Italy, was head of the Gulf Division of the Ministry of External Affairs during the First Gulf War that began with the Iraqi forces crossing into Kuwait on 2 August 1990 and lasted until they were expelled on 27 February 1991. He coordinated the repatriation of over 176,000 Indians. Recognised as the biggest ever air evacuation in history, it was achieved against many odds. Ambassador Fabian discusses the event.

Satinder K. Lambah

Many Firsts - Establishment of Chairs of India Studies

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 6, No. 4, Oct-Dec, 2011, Pg 461-473)

Satinder K. Lambah, Former Ambassador to the Russian Federation, former Special Envoy of the Prime Minister, was India’s Consul General to the United States in San Francisco during 1989– 91. With his “encouragement”, the Indian community there contributed to the establishment of two Chairs of India Studies at the University of California, Berkeley – the first such at a university in the US. His achievement in galvanizing the community, coordinating the fundraising efforts, etc. was recognized by the University of California, Berkeley, which, in a rare gesture, conferred the 1991 Trustees’ Citation Award on him, noting that “This is the first time that the University of California, Berkeley, is honouring a foreign diplomat in this manner.”

 

Economic & Cultural Diplomacy

A. N. Ram

Economic Diplomacy in a Globalised World: Evolving Role of the Ministry of External Affairs

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 7, No. 3, Jul–Sep, 2012, Pg 331-344)

Amar Nath Ram, is a former Ambassador of India to the European Union, UNESCAP, Zambia, Thailand, Argentina, Bhutan and Belgium. During the early economic reforms period, he served as the first full-fledged Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). In this interview with the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, he shares his experiences of and insights about the role of the MEA in promoting India’s economic interests in the context of globalization.

Satinder K. Lambah

Economic Diplomacy - Some Success Stories

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal  Vol. 8, No. 1, Jan–Mar, 2013, Pg 93-110)

Ambassador Lambah, during his Presidency of the Association of Indian Diplomats (2005-06), initiated an in-depth study of ‘Economic Diplomacy’ through a series of meetings within the Association and with the Apex Chambers and other academics and experts. The study and recommendations were submitted to the government also. In this Oral History narrative, he recalls some of the ‘success stories’ in economic diplomacy during his career.

 

Evolution of the Foreign Service

K. S. Bajpai

The Evolution of the Indian Foreign Service Establishment

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 1, No. 3, Jul - Sep 2006, Pg 104 - 117)

K. S. Bajpai, former Ambassador of India, shares the contribution of his father, G.S. Bajpai, who, as its Secretary General, was the first head of independent India’s Foreign Office and of the IFS, to the Foreign Service Establishment.

 

Look East Policy

S. T. Devare

India’s ‘Rediscovery’ of the East  

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 6, No. 3, Jul-Sep, 2011, Pg 337-356)

Sudhir T. Devare, former Ambassador of India to Republic of Korea, to Indonesia and to Ukraine; Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs responsible for relations with South East Asia; Presently, Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs. According to him: The word “Look East” has been very fashionable over recent years implying that India ‘started’ looking East - perhaps for the first time, he says. In fact, India has always looked to the East; India’s association with the East dates back to thousands of years. … what happened during the Cold War period can be described as a brief gap in our understanding with the East. … We, in fact, began ‘rediscovering’ the East”, he adds

 

Nuclear

Arundhati Ghose

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: Intricate Moments during the Negotiations

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 8, No. 2, Apr–Jun, 2013, Pg 213-222)

In January 1994, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) set up an Ad- Hoc Committee to negotiate the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) - that had eluded the international community for decades.

Negotiations began in the Ad Hoc Committee in February 1994. Ambassador Arundhati Ghose was India’s Permanent Representative to UN Organizations at Geneva from mid-1995 till 1997. By the time she reached Geneva, the negotiations were at a decisive stage - which she found quite unfavourable to Indian interests.

In this frank tête-à-tête with the Journal, Ambassador Ghose describes these intricate moments during negotiations of the Treaty.

K. Raghunath

From Nuclear Apartheid to Nuclear Deal: The First Steps

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, Jan–Mar, 2010, Pg 85-122)

K. Raghunath, former Foreign Secretary, recalls the background and aftermath of the May 1998 nuclear tests conducted by India, which represented a crucial step forward in the development of India’s national security and foreign policy.

The narration includes a recapitulation of international reactions and how the large adverse element was managed, as well as the dialogue with different countries.

He also reflects on the significance of the tests, as seen against the larger canvas of India’s nuclear history, including the events of the subsequent decade, culminating in the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

Others

Eric Gonsalves

Resolving the Korean Crisis

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 2, No. 2, Apr–Jun 2007, Pg 116-118)

Ambassador Eric Gonsalves, former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, narrates the ringside view of India’s role in resolving the Korean crisis of 1950–54 as India’s first successful global assignment.

Gurbachan Singh

India at the Rabat Islamic Summit (1969)

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 1, No. 2, Apr–Jun, 2006,Pg 105-120)

Ambassador Gurbachan Singh was the Indian Ambassador to Morocco and who, as acting Leader of the Indian Delegation, participated in one of the Plenary Sessions of the Summit Conference of Islamic Countries at Rabat in September 1969, provides an insider’s account

Virendra Dayal

 

India: The Trendsetter in Humanitarian Intervention

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 3, No. 2, Apr–Jun 2008, Pg 86-107)

Virendra Dayal, the former Under- Secretary-General, UN and Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General, narrates his experiences and India’s contribution in setting the global agenda for humanitarian intervention through various instances that are not generally remembered

Chandrasekhar Dasgupta

Climate Change Negotiations – Guarding the ‘Overriding Priorities’

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 6, No. 2, Apr–Jun, 2011,Pg 217-229)

Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, (then) a member of Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, a person who has been intimately connected with the entire debate on the subject since the beginning and presently a Distinguished Fellow at The Energy and Research Institute [TERI], narrates the evolution of the climate change debate, concerns and the nitty-gritty of negotiations, the ‘confusing signals’ sent out by India during the Copenhagen Conference (2009) and before the Cancun Summit (2010), the present state of play and what the future may hold.

 

Prabhakar Menon

Reminiscences of a ‘Fly on the Wall’

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 8, No. 3, Jul–Sep, 2013, Pg 317-336)

Ambassador Prabhakar Menon served as advisor on foreign affairs to Prime Minister Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao, while he was posted as Joint Secretary (Prime Minister’s Office) from 1992 to 1996. He was privy, on numerous occasions, to high-level interaction between the Prime Minister and his counterparts around the world. Earlier, from 1980 to 1982, he served as Director (Foreign Secretary’s Office) where again he was an eyewitness to some significant developments.

In this conversation with the Journal, he recounts some of the events that shaped India’s Foreign Policy postures – as he saw from close quarters (as the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’) during those two tenures.

Shashank

Is IBSA the Neo-Nam?

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal  Vol. 4, No. 1, Apr-Jun, 2009, Pg 136-159)

Shashank, former Foreign Secretary of India, who was actively involved in the negotiation leading to the formation of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum, provides a narrative on its genesis and relevance.

C. R. Gharekhan

The Quest for the High Table

(Indian Foreign Affairs Journal   Vol. 4, No. 2, Apr-Jun 2009, Pg 129-142)

Chinmaya Gharekhan has spent nearly a quarter century dealing with the United Nations in various capacities, ending with being India's Permanent Representative for over six years. Post retirement, he was appointed Under Secretary General in the United Nations - which provided him the unique opportunity to observe and record the working of the Security Council from both sides. While he discusses India's 'quest for the high table' he also comments on other associated issues of the working of the UN system.