A Life in Diplomacy
Former foreign secretary, Maharajakrishna Rasgotra joined India's external affairs ministry when Jawaharlal Nehru, Girija Shankar Bajpai, Sardar Patel were-with a mix of pragmatism and hope-creating the foreign policy of the newly independent nation. This was taking place as the Cold War slid into the subcontinent and complex relationships with India's neighbours-China, Pakistan and Nepal-were taking shape. Looking back on those crucial years with a discerning eye for the interplay of personalities-Nehru, Krishna Menon, or S. Radhakrishnan, for instance-Rasgotra assesses their influence on events and their impact on the evolution of Indian diplomacy.
For over three decades Rasgotra's assignments took him to Nepal, Britain and France, among other countries, as well as twice to the United States. His account of Nixon and Kissinger, and the mix of truculence and persuasion in their dealings with Mrs Gandhi in the run up to the 1971 Bangladesh war, sheds new light on the events of that time. His tenure as foreign secretary covered a period of great change and A Life in Diplomacy provides a ringside view of the beginnings of ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, the last years of the Cold War, the negotiations on the formation of SAARC, Mrs Gandhi's assassination and the Bhopal gas disaster.
This is a compelling, authoritative account of a personal and professional journey; a reflective look at the leaders, events and forces that formed relations between India and the world over fifty years.
Maharajakrishna Rasgotra joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1949 and in a long and distinguished career, held several important posts in Indian diplomatic missions abroad and in the Ministry of External Affairs. From 1958 to 1962, he was India's representative on the United Nations' Trusteeship Council, the Fourth Committee and the De-colonization Committee of the UN General Assembly.
Later, he was deputy chief of Mission in Washington DC, ambassador of India in Morocco, Tunisia, Nepal, Holland and France, and twice India's high commissioner in London.
He was foreign secretary of India from 1982 to 1985 under Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, conducting important negotiations with Islamabad, Washington DC, Moscow and Beijing. SAARC was founded in his time as foreign secretary.
Mr Rasgotra was member of the United Nation's Disarmament Advisory Board from 1983 to 1990. He was member, National Security Advisory Board in 2000 and 2001, and chairman of the Board from 2005 to 2007.
After his retirement, he has written extensively on international relations in Indian journals and has lectured on the subject in India and abroad. He was a visiting professor at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, president of the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce and regents professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.