Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Daredevil, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away
    India today lost its most impeccable Civil servant and later a Strategic analyst. India will miss you sir. May your soul find peace. RIP.

    :rip:
     
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  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Strategic Thinker Par Excellence

    Siddharth Varadarajan

    Much more than a mere advocate of Indian nuclearisation, K. Subrahmanyam was instrumental in shaping the country's foreign and security policies in the post-Cold War world.
    – PHOTO: V.V. KRISHNAN

    K. Subrahmanyam


    Intellectual progenitor of the Indian nuclear weapons programme and by far the most influential strategic thinker of his own and subsequent generations, K. Subrahmanyam's enduring contribution was the coherent intellectual framework he helped provide for the country's foreign and security policies in a world buffeted by uncertainty and changing power equations.

    He died in New Delhi on Wednesday after a courageous battle against cancer. He was 82.

    In a long and distinguished career that began with his entry into the Indian Administrative Service in 1951, Subrahmanyam straddled the fields of administration, defence policy, academic research and journalism with an unparalleled felicity. His prolific writings — contained in thousands of newspaper articles (including in The Hindu), book chapters and speeches over four decades — touched upon a broad range of global and regional strategic issues and invariably generated fierce debate in India and abroad. But it was his early — and even controversial — advocacy of India exercising the option to produce nuclear weapons that made governments and scholars around the world sit up and take notice of his views.

    Subrahmanyam's first formal involvement with the Indian nuclear establishment began in 1966 when, as a relatively junior bureaucrat in the Defence Ministry, he was asked to join an informal committee tasked by the Prime Minister's Office with studying the strategic, technical and financial implications of a nuclear weapons programme. Soon thereafter, he was made director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a post he held from 1968 to 1975. He was one of the first analysts to sense a strategic opportunity for India in the emerging crisis in East Pakistan and his public articulation of this well before the 1971 war led Pakistani officials to see him eventually as a Chanakya-like figure who managed to contrive their country's dismemberment.

    Born in Tiruchi on January 19, 1929, Subrahmanyam returned to his home state of Tamil Nadu to serve as Home Secretary during the period of the Emergency. An honest and upright administrator, he considered the Constitution and the liberties it embodied to be of higher value than the political directives of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Congress party. At a time when his counterparts elsewhere in the country became willing accomplices to the suspension of civil liberties, Subrahmanyam used his powers to shield those being targeted. Many years later, during the Gujarat carnage of 2002, he was one of the few members of the strategic community to write about how the country would pay a heavy price if it failed to uphold the rule of law and the right to life of all its citizens.

    He returned to Delhi in the late 1970s and ended up working as Secretary, Defence Production during Indira Gandhi's second tenure as Prime Minister. Differing again with the government on an issue of principle, Subrahmanyam was eased out of the Ministry of Defence and returned to the IDSA as director. Though intended as a punishment posting, he took to his new assignment as a duck to water. Through his efforts, the institute emerged as India's premier think-tank with a large number of scholars, many on secondment from the armed forces, conducting research on defence and foreign policy issues.

    Journalism

    After retiring from the government in 1987, Subrahmanyam continued to write on security matters, eventually joining the Times of India as a consulting editor. Journalism was in many ways his true calling. Affectionately known by his colleagues as “Bomb Mama”, in reality Subrahmanyam was far from being a nuclear hawk. He wrote on a range of issues, including on spiritual and religious matters and loved nothing more than to discuss national and global issues with his younger colleagues.

    He was in favour of India acquiring nuclear weapons and argued forcefully during the international negotiations on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty against India's accession. At a seminar in Washington at the time, he famously denounced American critics of India's stand as the ‘Ayatollahs of Nonproliferation'.

    And yet, he did not believe it was absolutely essential for the country to conduct an actual weapons test. When Pokhran-II came finally in May 1998, Subrahmanyam was taken by surprise but accepted that the government's hand had been forced by the manner in which the United States had tried to foreclose the country's nuclear option. At the same time, he said that India should immediately announce that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, a position the Vajpayee government accepted.

    After the Kargil war, he headed the Kargil Review Committee which was tasked with recommending an overhaul of the Indian national security and intelligence apparatus whose failings had allowed Pakistani soldiers to occupy high altitude posts in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides a host of systemic reforms, Subrahmanyam argued in favour of India establishing a National Security Council but was disappointed by the structure of the institution that the National Democratic Alliance regime created. He nevertheless agreed to head the first National Security Advisory Board and was also instrumental in the NSAB's formulation of India's Draft Nuclear Doctrine.

    A realist in his strategic thinking, Subrahmanyam was one of the first to understand and discuss what the emergence of a multipolar world order – his preferred term was “polycentric” — meant for Indian foreign policy. He argued that India had the capacity to improve its relations with all global power centres. At the same time, he sought to leverage American interest in India's rise by pressing for the removal of restrictions on nuclear and high-tech commerce.

    He also believed the emergence of an economically interdependent world meant the era of military conflict between the great powers was a thing of the past and that economic growth and internal strength would be far more important determinants of national power than mere military might.

    For one who worked in government for many years, Subrahmanyam prized his independence which he saw as the key to his integrity. I have had three careers, he once said when asked why he had turned down the offer of a Padma Vibhushan — as a civil servant, a strategic analyst and a journalist. “The awards should be given by the concerned groups, not the Government. If there is an award for sports, it should be given by sportspersons, and if it's for an artists, by artists”. The state, he believed, was not qualified to judge different aspects of human endeavour.

    Subrahmanyam, of course, excelled in all his endeavours. True to form, his most creative period as an analyst came after he was diagnosed with cancer. In his death, India has lost one of its most perceptive strategic minds. The void will be impossible to fill.

    He is survived by his wife, Sulochana, his daughter Sudha and his three sons, Vijay Kumar, Jaishankar and Sanjay.
     
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  4. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Architect of India's Nuclear Doctrine


    K. Subrahmanyam, widely described as the doyen of Indian strategic thinking and one of the most respected voices on global security issues, passed away in Delhi on Wednesday. Deemed an authority on security issues, the prolific 82-year-old writer and columnist was at the time of his death chairman of the Prime Minister’s task force on global strategic developments. He had recovered from cancer but succumbed to lung and cardiac problems.

    “He declined the trappings of power to work in a think tank,” said close associate and head of the National Maritime Foundation C. Uday Bhaskar , referring to Subrahmanyam’s two terms as head of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (Idsa)—in 1968-75 and 1980-87. “He was the father of India’s nuclear thinking.”

    B.G. Verghese, another close associate and former editor of the Hindustan Times and The Indian Express, said during his association with Idsa, Subrahmanyam “nurtured generations of scholars”.

    Narendra Sisodia, Idsa’s current head, described Subrahmanyam as an “intellectual genius”.

    “From being considered pro-Soviet, he became one of the biggest proponents of the Indo-US partnership. He was also influential when it came to the (landmark 2008) Indo-US nuclear deal” that has seen the ties between the one time “estranged” democracies warm to the level of “strategic partners” Sisodia added.

    Amit Mitra, secretary-general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), in his tribute praised Subrahmanyam as an “iconic figure” and “master strategist”.

    “I still recall the day in 1969 when he came to the Delhi School of Economics to debate the issue of the economics of the atomic bomb and its strategic value,” Mitra said. “Over the decades, he became the game-changing thinker, respected for his clarity and strategic thinking to maximize India’s interests in the global matrix.”

    A stickler for detail and discipline, Subrahmanyam joined the Indian Administrative Services in 1951 and held several top positions including those of home secretary, Tamil Nadu; additional secretary, cabinet secretariat; chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee (1977-79); and secretary, defence production (1979-80).

    Verghese recalled his first meeting with Subrahmanyam in 1966, soon after joining then prime minister Indira Gandhi’s office as information adviser. “In 1966, within three months of Mrs Gandhi taking office as prime minister, China conducted its third nuclear test and the Prime Minister was called upon to make a statement in Parliament. This led me to suggest the need to set up a group that might spell out the political, security, technological and economic aspects of a national nuclear policy. I then invited a small group a week later for a brainstorming session over lunch. But who could speak from the defence angle? Someone named a bright deputy secretary in the defence ministry, K. Subrahmanyam. And so I contacted him,” he said.

    Known for his formidable intellect and razor-sharp analyses, Subrahmanyam, or “Subbu” as he was commonly known, was respected by political parties across the spectrum.

    He was appointed convener of the first National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) in 1998 that was constituted by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and then as the head of the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.

    This was followed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling him to head the Prime Minister’s task force on global strategic developments.

    The first NSAB produced the draft nuclear doctrine, which the Vajpayee government adopted in its entirety, said Verghese.

    It now governs all policy aspects relating to usage and deployment of nuclear weapons, including the key “no first use policy”.

    As head of the Kargil Review Committee, Subrahmanyam was tasked with investigating how hundreds of Pakistani infiltrators, including army regulars, managed to establish themselves in Kashmir’s Kargil region, many kilometres inside the Line of Control (LoC) in 1999. It took more than two months and the deaths of some 500 Indian soldiers to evict the infiltrators.

    He was a strong votary of India developing a nuclear deterrent—something that earned him the title of “prime nuclear hawk”.

    “I  was gradually persuaded by Subbu’s logic that the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and its affiliates made for an unequal and unfair world and that without a credible minimum deterrent of its own, India would never be able to grow to its full stature and potential. That forecast was indeed borne out by subsequent events,” Verghese recalled.

    He frequently lamented the lack of a strategic vision among India’s political class, “a view I agree with,” Verghese said.

    He is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. His second son, S. Jaishankar, is India’s ambassador to China.

    Aman Malik contributed to this story.
     
  5. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    K Subrahmanyam, strategic policy guru, passes away

    BS Reporter / New Delhi February 03, 2011, 0:17 IST



    K Subrahmanyam, 82, widely regarded as India’s foremost thinker on strategic policy, passed away this morning at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here, after a prolonged illness.

    He is survived by his wife, Sulochana, a Tamil scholar, and three sons, S Vijay Kumar (secretary, mines, Govt of India), S Jaishankar (India’s ambassador to China) and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (a distinguished historian).



    Dubbed the ‘Bhishmapithamaha’ of Indian strategic policy, Subrahmanyam was the principal author of India’s nuclear doctrine, prepared under his guidance by the National Security Advisory Board of India, of which he was the first convenor from 1998 to 2001. He was the architect of India’s ‘No first use’ doctrine and strongly backed the India-US civil nuclear energy agreement. He repeatedly declined a Padma Bhushan, offered to him by successive governments.

    A master’s in chemistry from Chennai’s Presidency College, Subrahmanyam topped the Indian Administrative Service exam and joined the civil service in 1951. He held several sensitive positions in the Union government, including chairman, joint intelligence committee and secretary, defence production. He was also home secretary of Tamil Nadu.

    Subrahmanyam rose to prominence, however, as the man who built India’s first and foremost defence policy think tank, the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), of which he was director from 1966 to 1975 and again from 1980 to 1989. He was a Rockefeller Fellow in strategic studies at the London School of Economics in 1966 and Nehru Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1987.

    His close association with India’s nuclear programme and strategic policy began in his early days in service, in the 1950s. He worked closely with Homi Bhabha, Raja Ramanna, V S Arunachalam and all the leaders of India’s nuclear and missile programme, and with every one of India’s prime ministers, beginning with Jawaharlal Nehru.

    At the IDSA’s recent 40th anniversary celebrations, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had paid tribute to his leadership, saying, “Subrahmanyam’s incisive writings continue to stimulate and contribute to the thinking of strategic analysis and policy making ..... We look forward to many more years of active contribution from this doyen of the strategic community in India.”

    Subrahmanyam was a thinker, a strategist, a visionary and above all a guru to several generations of the Indian strategic policy community. He virtually built the community of scholars on these issues, by bringing into its fold experts from various disciplines, from different professional backgrounds and by seeking a wider constituency of support for his views through a sustained media presence.

    After retirement from government service, he became consulting strategic affairs editor to the Business and Political Observer, and later The Times of India. He wrote regular columns in several newspapers, including Business Standard.

    It was his idea for a Jammu & Kashmir Roundtable, that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convened, aimed at creating domestic political opinion in J&K in support of the PM’s dialogue process with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in 2005.

    He chaired several official committees, the most prominent of these being the Kargil Review Committee (that enquired into the causes and conduct of the Kargil war), the Indian National Defence University (INDU) Committee (that recommended creation of INDU) and a task force on global strategic developments (that provided the strategic framework for the India-US civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement).

    He wrote several books and lectured around the world to important audiences, that came to recognise him as the authentic voice of a rising India. He was also a strong advocate of electoral and political reform, advocating proportional representation. IDSA, the institution he built, honoured him by instituting an annual K Subrahmanyam Award for the best published research paper.

    PM condoles with family

    Striking a personal note, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to K Subrahmanyam’s family, describing him as one of the country’s leading security experts and strategists. The PM said beginning with his work in the ministry of defence in the early 1960s, Subrahmanyam’s distinguished career spanned many decades as a civil servant, one who maintained the highest traditions of the bureaucracy through his honesty, dedication and exceptional abilities.

    The PM said Subrahmanyam’s work outside the government was perhaps even more impressive. He had spearheaded and developed the field of defence studies in the country, especially in the establishment of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, a premier think tank in the field. The PM mentioned his other writings: on India’s nuclear posture, India-Pakistan relations, intelligence matters, disarmament and the issues of regional and global strategic importance. He said Subrahmanyam’s work as head of the Kargil Review Committee was widely recognised both inside the government and outside it.

    “In the passing away of Shri Subrahmanyam, the country has lost an outstanding public servant, visionary and thinker, who will be missed by the generations of bureaucrats, academics and writers who were inspired and influenced by his thoughts,” the PM said.
     
  6. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Subrahmanyam spent all his life teaching Indians strategic thought

    Quote:
    NEW DELHI: It was 1977. A group of senior bureaucrats were debating the fate of Pakistan president Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Naresh Chandra, former cabinet secretary remembers saying he thought Bhutto would be let off after Saudi Arabia pleaded for his life. K. Subrahmanyam disagreed. "Zia has no choice but to execute him," he said. He was right.

    Subrahmanyam, ("Subbu" to everyone) who died on Wednesday just turned 82. But when faced with his fiercely forceful personality, the last thought in your mind was his age.

    Many famous commentators, analysts and strategic experts from around the world have been reduced to gibbering when he successfully cut through their intellectual arguments. As India evolved in the past couple of decades, Subrahmanyam was out there, leading the strategic thought brigade. "We have lost our foremost strategic analyst," said Ronen Sen, former envoy to the US.

    His years as a civil servant, he was secretary, defence production, head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, among others, gave him an intimate knowledge of India's external security matrix. But his reputation was primarily as India's "strategic guru" and that's how he will be remembered.

    K. Subrahmanyam never said what you expected him to say.

    He could silence your uninformed rambling with a withering look and a caustic remark that was little short of devastating. In the next moment though, he could turn around and graciously acknowledge an intellectual hit. Raja Mohan, journalist, who counted Subrahmanyam as his mentor, said, "Subbu never suffered fools, but equally entertained no rancour or malice". Ronen Sen said, "What I valued was his ability to listen which were a function of his fine human qualities."

    He would happily engage you in discussion even if you held a view that was the polar opposite of his. And it didn't matter whether you were the national security adviser or a junior reporter trying to soak in complex strategy. Subbu was committed to educating Indians about the importance of strategic thought. It led him to drive long distances to talk to JNU students in the 1970s. The same spirit of education prompted him to write reams in major newspapers and lecture at innumerable seminars even when he was quite ill, to teach Indians how to respond to international events.

    Inder Malhotra, journalist, and one of Subbu's close buddies recalls how George Tanham, ( RAND Corporation) came to see Subbu when he was doing a study on Indian strategic thought. Subbu told him, "What can I say about something that doesn't exist?" It would take a few more years for Manmohan Singh to articulate the same complaint in despair. That's what Subbu sought to change. Through his articles and studies he whittled away at Indians' strategic naivete, regarding it as a national weakness.

    Swaminathan Aiyar brought in Subrahmanyam as a journalist into The Economic Times. "Many journalists have trouble coming out with even two column ideas in a week, but Subrahmanyam wanted to write almost every day, so wide was his repertoire and so deep his enthusiasm. I once asked how he came up with so many ideas. He replied "It's easy. I just have to watch CNN or BBC and I get so angry that I have several things to say!"

    In 2005, Manmohan Singh commissioned Subrahmanyam to head a task force on India's strategic development. It would be his last official report but it remains a classified document. In an interview to online magazine, Pragati, Subrahmanyam said, "We have not fully thought through the notion of our foreign policy reflecting our rising status. I have said that knowledge is the currency of power in this century. The task force on global strategic developments that I headed also points out the same."

    As the first convener of the newly constituted National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) Subrahmanyam led the effort to formally articulate India's nuclear doctrine, which was formally accepted by the NDA government.

    It was Subrahmanyam who first articulated India's discomfort with the global nuclear regime under NPT, which he believed was unfair and against India's interests, calling it "nuclear apartheid".

    One of his self-confessed happier moments of modern Indian history was the 1998 nuclear tests. But six years hence, Subrahmanyam was also the first to endorse a nuclear deal with the US, countering stiff opposition from erstwhile supporters. For all those who had labeled him "pro-Soviet" in earlier years, he was now "Mr USA". Subbu shrugged off all such badges.

    He was a democrat at heart, and some of his most difficult years was during Indira Gandhi's emergency. As home secretary, Tamil Nadu, (he was shunted off), Subbu refused to obey a number of her draconian orders. But the same Subbu counted December 16, 1971 when Bangladesh was created, as one of Mrs Gandhi's greatest achievements.

    For the last decade, Subrahmanyam battled several debilitating illnesses - dismissively. He would be in hospital one day, and the next, be the first to arrive at a seminar on nuclear deterrence, looking impatient. C. Uday Bhaskar, who worked with him, recalls having to tell him, "Subbu Sir, please don't come so early. You make everyone uncomfortable."

    Personally, Subrahmanyam never much cared for the attributes of the power circle, which is so attractive to many of his peers. He wore his austerity naturally, even once sending his son back home in a bus refusing him a lift in the official car.

    Subbu's regret, if he had any, would probably be that the Indian bureaucratic and political system was so ossified as to be impervious to new ideas. The Kargil Committee Report may have been released but both NDA and UPA governments have sat on 17 annexures __ they contain a wealth of historical evidence about the inside story of India's nuclear weapons programme, as told by the protagonists. Even Manmohan Singh has failed to make public the report of his task force on India's strategic development. As Subbu himself observed, it would take time for India's strategists to take in these ideas. But it will be longer in the absence of the report.

    Box:

    1. Born January 1929
    2. Joined IAS (Tamil Nadu cadre), 1951
    3. Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Defence, 1962-65.
    4. Rockefeller Fellow in Strategic Studies, London School of Economics, 1966-67.
    5. Director, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, 1968-75.
    6. Home Secretary, Tamil Nadu, 1976-77.
    7. Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee and Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, 1977-79.
    8. Secretary (Defence Production), Ministry of Defence, 1979-80.
    9. Director, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, 1980-87.
    10. Jawaharlal Nehru Visiting Professor, St John's College, Cambridge, UK, 1987-88. Nehru Fellow, 188-90.
    11. Consulting Editor, Business and Political Observer, 1990-92.
    12. Consulting Editor, the Economic Times, 1992-94. Consluting Editor, The Times of India and The Economic Times, 1994-2004.
    13. Member, UN Secretary-General's expert group on the Indian Ocean, 1974.
    14. Member, UN intergovernmental exper group on Disarmament and Development, 1980-82.
    15. Chairman, UN study group on Nuclear Deterrence, 1986.
    16. Convenor, National Security Advisory Board.
    17. Chairman, Kargil Review Panel.
     
  7. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

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    A very sad day indeed. He was the first and perhaps the best strategic thinker

    For many common people like me , Who earlier had zero knowledge about geopolitics, National security matters etc ; his articles were like an education

    His direct role in various complex policy issues are well known but what is more important is that his writings created a huge interest in National security matters amongst the news paper readers

    Before internet , blogs and wikipedia came there was K subrahmanyam
     
  8. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    With his death the Indian establishment is now strategically blind
     
  9. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    May his soul rest in peace. this is indeed a big loss to our nation.
     
  10. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    K Subrahmanyam, India's strategic guru, is dead

    NEW DELHI: K. Subrahmanyam, India's most well known and internationally regarded strategic affairs analyst , died Tuesday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ( AIIMS )). He was 82.
    He had recovered from cancer but then fell victim to lung and cardiac problems from which he did not recover.

    The most respected voice in India on global security affairs, Subrahmanyam, was at the time of his death, chairman, prime minister's Task Force on Global Strategic Developments .

    A former director of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analyses (IDSA), an institute he nurtured and brought to international renown as a think tank of strategic and security matters, he was the doyen of the Indian strategic community and consulted by every government on issues of foreign policy and international security. He also headed the Kargil review committee and submitted a voluminous report on security lapses and remedies.

    He is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. His middle son, S. Jaishankar, is Indian ambassador to China.

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...trategic-guru-is-dead/articleshow/7410486.cms
     
  11. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    K.subrahmanyam---down memory lane

    I felt sad by the news of February 2 on the death of K.Subrahmanyam, , the strategic affairs analyst, who made us proud of him. He lost no opportunity to educate us and share with us his assessments of how the situation in the world in general and in our region in particular was evolving. One might not have agreed with all his assessments, but they compelled attention. He was one of the rare experts produced by India on the science, art and techniques of National Security Management (NSM).

    2. He was not only a great analyst with no confusion in his mind. He was also a very decent human being. He never put on airs. He was easily accessible to everyone who wanted to meet him to discuss anything. He was courageous and polite in expressing his views---- whether to those in power or to others. He never tried to monopolise discussions in meetings. It was a pleasure to see the way he conducted meetings. He let everyone have a say.

    3. He wrote profusely and encouraged others to write equally profusely. It was his encouragement that made me take to writing to give the views of an ex- intelligence officer to the reading public. My first article titled "Human Rights & Human Wrongs" was carried by the "Hindustan Times" a few days after I retired on August 31,1994. I wrote it largely on his prodding.

    4. Since then, I must have written about 2000 articles on various subjects. He figured on my Article Alert list. I liked to think he read many of them and not infrequently sent his comments. His last comment on one of my articles was a few weeks ago. He said that he had been bed-ridden for nearly two months, but he was getting interesting articles read out to him by his grand-son and dictating his comments to him.

    5.Subrahmanyam came to know of me as an intelligence officer in the late 1970s when Morarji Desai was the Prime Minister. I was posted abroad. He was the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). The late N.F.Suntook, the then head of the R&AW, had shown him one of my assessments. After reading it, Subrahmanyam wrote to me that it was one of the best intelligence assessments he had read as the JIC Chairman. I met him for the first time after I returned from my posting.

    6. In the early 1980s, he was on board one of the planes of the Indian Airlines that was hijacked to Lahore by some Khalistani terrorists of the Dal Khalsa. There was concern in Delhi that if the Inter-Services Intelligence ISI) came to know of his presence on board the plane, it might detain him and subject him to interrogation since even then it was widely known that he was one of the best informed persons on nuclear-related issues. Fortunately, the ISI apparently did not identify him. Nothing happened. He returned to Delhi from Dubai where the hijacking was terminated by the local authorities.

    7. He was a well-wisher of the intelligence community. He strongly believed that India needed a top-rate intelligence set-up. He never hesitated to criticise its inadequacies and never failed to highlight its achievements. As the Chairman of the JIC, he strongly backed the R&AW at a time when it was passing under a cloud after the defeat of Indira Gandhi in the 1977 elections.

    8. In 1998, I wrote an article in "The Stateman" explaining why Smt.Sonia Gandhi, because of her foreign origin, should not become the Prime Minister. The Delhi edition of the paper carried it as the second lead story on the first page. The Calcutta edition carried it as the first lead story. I was told by some of my friends in the R&AW that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) went to town with that article and used it for political purposes.

    9. In 1999, the Government of Atal Behari Vajpayee, then in power, appointed the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) headed by Subrahmanyam to enquire into the operational conduct of the Kargil war. One of its reported terms of reference was the performance of the intelligence agencies before and during the war. I wrote a number of articles criticising the composition of the KRC. It was my view that an officer from the intelligence community should have been a member of the Committee. I wrote that the KRC report was unfair to the intellgence community because it had no intelligence officer to defend the performance of the agencies. I felt that while the report contained the criticism of the agencies by the Army, it did not reflect the defence of the intelligence community.

    10.Many years later, Subrahmanyam sent me a personal message saying that he was keen that I should be a member of the KRC, but decided against it because he was worried that allegations could be made that I was included as a reward for my article regarding Sonia Gandhi. " I didn't want you to be embarrassed by such allegations," he said.

    11. Many of us in the intelligence community were unhappy with the KRC report in general and with Subrahmanyam in particular. We felt that he allowed his judgement to be unduly influenced by the unfounded criticism of the agencies by the Army by taking advantage of the absence of any intelligence officer in the KRC. The media went to town claiming that the KRC had held that there was intelligence failure before and during the conflict.

    12. Subrahmanyam, in his media interactions after the release of the report, pointed out that the KRC had not used the expression "intelligence failure" in its report. It was a claim by the media which did not correctly reflect the contents of the report, he said.

    13.Among those very unhappy with the report was R.N.Kao, the founding father of the R&AW. He wrote a personal letter to Shri Vajpayee conveying his unhappiness. Shri Vajpayee promptly sent for him for a discussion. Subrahmanyam came to know of this later. It did not affect the high esteem in which he always held Kao.

    14. The revamping of the intelligence apparatus by the Vajpayee Government on the basis of one of the recommendations in the KRC report was a tribute to the tenacity with which Subrahmanyam kept pressing for it. The creation of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) was largely the result of his ideas. However, one does not know whether they are fulfilling the purposes for which he wanted them.

    15.He wanted a top-class National Security Agency (NSA) on the pattern of the NSA of the US to co-ordinate the collection of all technical intelligence.While his idea was readily accepted, there were considerable differences over how it should be set up and what should be its charter.There were bitter turf-battles involving the R&AW on the one side and others on the other. The end result was that the NTRO as it has come up is a strange creature. It is neither an ass nor a donkey nor a mule. Possibly a mix of all the three plus something else.

    16. Subrahmanyam felt that if India wanted to be a major power it should have a strong intelligence collection community and a strong intelligence assessment set-up. He was critical in no uncertain terms of the down-grading of the JIC by the Vajpayee Government when it set up the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) towards the end of 1999. He considered the down-grading a retrograde step and made his views known in strong language when he, as the Chairman of the KRC, testified before the Special Task Force for the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus headed by Shri G.C.Saxena, former head of the R&AW, set up by the Vajpayee Government in May 2000. I was a member of this Task Force.His tenacity and pressure on this subject ultimately led to the restoration of the full authority of the JIC as an assessment agency in April 2006, when Shri M.K.Narayanan was the National Security Adviser.

    17. Subrahmanyam was a strong critic of the decision of the Vajpayee Government to combine the posts of Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the National Security Adviser (NSA). He strongly argued in private as well as in public that national security management would suffer if it did not enjoy the undivided attention of a single individual dealing exclusively with national security. He repeatedly called for the separation of the two posts, but his idea was not accepted by the Vajpayee Government. It was only in 2004 after Dr.Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister that his idea was accepted and the two posts were separated.

    18.He took keen interest in the revamping of the national security management system. Some of his ideas were accepted and some had no takers. Among his long-held ideas which he could not push through during his life-time were the need for a National Intelligence Adviser or Director, National Intelligence, to supervise and co-ordinate the functioning of all intelligence agencies and the need for the early creation of a post of Chief of the Defence Staff. The idea for a National Intelligence Adviser or Director, National Intelligence, has had no support either from the intelligence community or the political leadership. The idea for a Chief of the Defence Staff has had wide professional support, but there seemed to be some reluctance at the political level partly due to a lack of unanimity at the senior levels of the Armed Force as to the need for this post and how to implement the idea.

    19.Subrahmanyam often highlighted the poor quality of the area studies capabilities that India has been able to create since its independence. He felt that area studies by non-Governmental institutions and experts did not receive the attention they deserved. He often pointed out the unsatisfactory nature of our area studies capabilities even in respect of Pakistan and China. An idea of his that was readily accepted, but tardily implemented was the importance of having a National Defence University (NDU). Under the Vajpayee Government, he himself led a team of experts that visited the US and China to study the working of their NDUs and submit its recommendations. I don't know what is the present stage of implementation.

    20. I had the honour and privilege of serving under Subrahmanyam as a member of the second NSAB in 2000-2001. I retain precious memories of my association with him. Three points which he repeatedly stressed need to be recalled. Firstly, our study of national security management would remain incomplete and unsatisfactory without a less restricted policy on declassification of past documents. Secondly, the quality of the national debate on national security management would remain poor unless documents such as edited versions of the annual reports of the NSAB were made available to the public. Thirdly, the NSAB would not fully serve the purpose for which it was set up unless serving officers readily accepted the important role which the NSAB could play in national security management and took its reports and recommendations seriously.

    21. There can be no better tribute to the memory of Subrahmanyam than for the Government to appoint a group to revisit his ideas---those accepted and implemented, those accepted, but not yet implemented and those not accepted--- and recommend what further action needs to be taken on those ideas. Our national security management will benefit immensely from such an exercise.



    22. Subrahmanyam valiantly fought against cancer for nearly 10 years. In October,2009, after coming to know that I had been diagnosed with metastatic cancer of prostate origin, he sent me the following message: “ Cancer is defeatable. I know you well. I have no doubt in my mind that you will defeat it.” ( 3-2-11)

    http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.com/2011/02/ksubrahmanyam-down-memory-lane.html
     
  12. Singh

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    A doyen passes

    Independent India’s greatest strategic thinker, K Subrahmanyam, passed away on 2nd February. Mr. Subrahmanyam was India’s most influential strategic voice, having made critical contributions to the formulation of India’s nuclear doctrine, championing the cause for intervention to end the East Pakistan genocide in 1971, and chairing the Kargil Review Committee.

    In a memorable interview with Rediff in August, 2000, Mr. Subrahmanyam offered these words about the state of India’s security apparatus:

    True words then as they are today, as the KRC report gathers dust and Kargil and Mumbai are unfailingly remembered by the powers-that-be in New Delhi, once a year each.

    http://filtercoffee.nationalinterest.in/2011/02/02/a-doyen-passes/
     
  13. Singh

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    The legend that is K Subrahmanyam (2004 article)

    We are gathered to honour the country's leading security guru -- K Subrahmanyam.

    I'm miscast in being asked to deliver the keynote address as I do not belong to the security or strategic community. Yet I am privileged to be here as a friend and admirer of Subbu as he is best known and am grateful to Professor Kumaraswamy and Sage for the invitation.

    'Security and Survival' is a fitting tribute to the man.

    I first got to know Subbu in 1966, soon after joining the prime minister's office as information adviser. On May 9, 1966, within three months of Indira Gandhi [ Images ] taking office as prime minister, China conducted its third nuclear test and the PM was called upon to make a statement in Parliament. This revealed the absence of any clear policy. This led me to suggest the need to set up a group that might spell out the political, security, technological and economic aspects of a national nuclear policy.

    I thereupon invited a small group a week later for a brainstorming session over lunch. But who could speak from the defence angle? Someone named a bright deputy secretary in the defence ministry, K Subrahmanyam. And so it was that I contacted him. Others present were Homi Sethna, director of BARC, Bombay, Pitamber Pant of the Planning Commission, S Gopal from the MEA, Romesh Thapar, the journalist -- then close to Indira Gandhi, and myself.

    Sethna talked about the wherewithal and costs and gave a time estimate for a nuclear test and development of a delivery system within a period of five years. Subbu and Gopal believed that reliance on any US nuclear guarantee to India [ Images ] would steadily diminish as China's capability increased. Pitamber was concerned about the cost of an Indian nuclear programme even after offsetting the technological gains. We dispersed after agreeing to put together a paper, with Sethna doing the technological part, Subbu covering the security dimensions, and Gopal writing on the diplomatic implications.

    I reported on the discussion to Mrs G and L K Jha. At a meeting of the Atomic Energy Commission in Bombay a week later, at which (Vikram) Sarabhai was named the new chairman AEC and secretary department of Atomic Energy in place of the late Homi Bhabha, a tentative approval was given for a study of a nuclear weapons programme and missile system. Meanwhile, word somehow leaked of our informal luncheon group and the PM told me she had been accosted by (The Hindu's) G K Reddy and Inder Jit after a press conference and asked when our 'committee' would submit its 'report'!

    By then, however, the matter had formally passed into official hands.

    Subbu may recall these events that played a part in launching him into what became a career path in the area of nuclear, security and strategic studies that he has since dominated. His induction as head of the newly established IDSA (Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses) from 1968 to 1972 and again from 1980 to 1987 enabled him to add scholarship and depth to his in-house knowledge and experience in this field. This was enriched by stints as home secretary Tamil Nadu, which gave him some exposure to matters of internal security, secretary, defence production, and chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee in between his IDSA years. The IDSA period also allowed him to study and visit abroad and to participate in Pugwash meetings, all of which sharpened his world view.

    Nuclear issues were always contentious in India and for quite some time Subbu was rated a prime nuclear hawk. I too shared that view for a while but was gradually persuaded by his logic that the NPT and its affiliates made for an unequal and unfair world and that without a credible minimum deterrent of its own, India would never be able to grow to its full stature, being subject to a variety of pressures or nuclear blackmail. That forecast was indeed borne out by subsequent events.

    The Track-II Indo-Pakistan Neemrana meetings commenced in 1990. Both Subbu and I participated. For me and many others, including the Pakistan team that comprised leading diplomats, generals and scholars, these became bi-annual tutorials by Subbu in nuclear-strategic learning amid the shifting sands of the post-Cold War world. Early ideas on a Indo-Pakistan nuclear restraint regime through concepts such as a nuclear safe zone and a variety of other confidence building
    measures were honed at Neemrana meetings and conveyed back to the two governments and military establishments for consideration. Subbu would with great clarity place these discussion within the framework of the fast changing international scene, keeping a wary eye on what was happening in and between China, Korea, Iran and Pakistan as well as in NATO, Russia [ Images ] and Israel.

    No surprise then that Subbu was named convener of the first National Security Advisory Board, which he steered with distinction, establishing guidelines and conventions, always through consensus. The first NSAB will be remembered for two things above all. It wrote the draft Nuclear Doctrine, which the government subsequently adopted virtually in toto. It also
    submitted to government a National Strategic Review, looking at all aspects of security in a holistic manner. This was perhaps the first time that such a document had ever been prepared.

    Subbu's regret was and remains that the National Security Council has yet to come into its own. He was critical of the posts of national security adviser and principal secretary to the PM being combined in a single person, albeit a highly competent one. He also kept urging that the NSC should meet as a deliberative body to look at long term threats and responses and not be upstaged by the Cabinet Committee on Security which is charged with current decision making. The broad commonality of membership, with the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission also joining the latter body, created the optical illusion of the NSC at work!

    A more challenging task came Subbu's way when he was asked to head the Kargil Review Committee, on which General K K Hazari, Satish Chandra and I also served. The press and Parliament were baying for blood and wanted to see heads roll and, for that reason, completely missed the purpose and potency of the KRC. The Committee was seen as a toothless body in relation to a commission of inquiry or JPC and was felt to have vague terms of reference that could only result in a
    whitewash. Nothing could have been more mistaken.

    The KRC was not an inquisitorial body charged with fixing responsibility but was asked to review events leading up to the event and to recommend measures to prevent such armed incursions in future. This gave the Committee a broad remit and great flexibility. Further, it freed it from what have all too often been the narrowly interpreted confines and lumbering gait
    of Commissions of Inquiry, many of which have proved ineffective. Indeed, the pious notion that judges epitomise ultimate wisdom in all circumstances has invariably confused the judicious with the judicial in the consideration of complex political and social issues. JPCs too have failed to deliver on account of the play of partisan politics.

    In the space of time that it takes most Commissions of Inquiry to commence their task, the KRC completed its work and put out its report in the form of a commercial publication through Sage. The procedure adopted was novel. The KRC had the Cabinet secretary send out a letter calling on all departments of government, including the military, paramilitary and intelligence services, to share full information with the Committee. This opened all doors.

    Current and former prime ministers, defence, foreign and home ministers, service and intelligence chiefs, the defence science, nuclear and space research heads and media and other persons were invited to meet the Committee. The transcripts were sent back to them for any additions or amendments and were then returned under their signatures. The Committee had access to all echelons in the field, down to the lowest level. No commission or JPC since Independence has enjoyed the degree of access and trust vouchsafed to the KRC.

    On receipt of the report, the government set up a group of ministers -- home, defence, external affairs and finance. This discussed and adopted the Committee's findings and recommendations and immediately established four task forces to flesh out details of the proposed reorganisation and restructuring of higher defence management, the intelligence services,
    internal security and border management.

    For the first time since Independence the most sacred of sacred cows in government were subjected to intensive review and reform thanks to a process initiated by the KRC. Much has been or is in process of being implemented. More remains to be done, including the appointment of a CDS.

    The credit for the leadership and foresight for this truly massive churning exercise must go to Subbu. His incisive frank-speak did not always earn him friends. But he did the state immense service.

    The K Subrahmanyam interview: 'Our ruling elite is totally indifferent to national security'

    Most unfortunately, the government has not yet released the 17 annexures to the KRC which were carefully sanitised for publication. They contain a wealth of evidence and detail whose publication would be vastly educative at every level. Among other things they graphically tell the inside story of India's nuclear weapons programme in the words of the principal political,
    scientific and military actors.

    This mistaken reticence underlines another of Subbu's insistent themes. The communications revolution has created a real time, borderless world in which it is foolish, even dangerous, not to keep one's own people and the world informed as instantly, as fully and as truthfully as possible. The information age demands what may be termed first strike information capability -- not propaganda, but genuine and germane information with the necessary background and placed in
    context.

    The K Subrahmanyam interview, II: 'Who is supervising RAW?'

    Over the past many years Subbu has assumed a new avatar as a journalist and commentator. His columns and editorials are ornaments in a great newspaper that has otherwise sadly lost its way. I recall the articles he wrote for The Indian Express at my request in 1984 after his flight was hijacked to Pakistan.

    On the perennial topic of J&K, Subbu wrote a seminal paper entitled 'Kashmir' in the May 1990 issue of IDSA's strategic analysis. If the government is looking for a road map for moving forward the peace process with Pakistan, they could not do better than read that essay.

    More recently, he headed a team that reported to the government on the establishment of a National Defence University, as suggested by the KRC. But in truth, for all these many years, Subbu has in fact been standing in as something of a one-man defence university. We salute him.

    B G Verghese, former editor of The Hindustan Times and media adviser to Indira Gandhi, delivered the K Subrahmanyam felicitation address on September 18


    http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/oct/05spec1.htm
     
  14. Singh

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    A Farewell To India's Henry Kissinger - By Rory Medcalf

    India's most respected guru of strategic and nuclear affairs, K. Subrahmanyam, passed away on Feb. 2, 2011, at age 82. In his lifetime, he came to wield a profound global influence that few Indian policy thinkers can claim. His analysis of India's difficult strategic environment was repeatedly borne out by events; his pragmatic recommendations had a direct bearing on some of New Delhi's most profound national security decisions of the last half-century.

    Subrahmanyam's career as scholar, advisor to governments, and policymaker spanned the pivotal six decades from India's independence to its emergence as a major power. And his forging of a realist worldview in the nation of Gandhi and Nehru -- and his ability to make his ideas consistent with their thoughts -- was central to that development. He was an early and controversial advocate of New Delhi developing an atomic bomb, although he also advised the government to shackle it with an explicit policy of "no first use" -- in both cases, his advice won the day. Although he was labeled a nuclear hawk in the 1970s and 1980s, both in the domestic press and in international nonproliferation circles, he later surprised many by becoming in recent years India's most prominent voice in support of the campaign for a nuclear-weapon-free world championed by U.S. elder statesmen Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry, and Sam Nunn. But this position was actually consistent with his larger goal -- for India to work credibly on the global stage. In this sense, to be a player in the anti-nuclear game, it helped to have actually achieved building the bomb.

    Age did not ossify his thinking. Once a pointed Cold War critic of U.S. policy, Subrahmanyam strove successfully in his later years to convince skeptical compatriots that rapprochment with Washington -- underpinned by the historic 2010 U.S.-India civil nuclear deal -- would be a great victory for India's national interest. In one of his final media interviews, he defined this partnership of democracies as a natural way to counter both authoritarianism and Islamist extremism. The United States, he said, "does not have much of an option but to make India its leading partner."

    Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam arrived in New Delhi from his southern home state of Tamil Nadu in 1951. He was then a young recruit to the elite Indian Administrative Service, a chemist with a piercing intellect who had achieved top scores in the highly competitive national civil service examination. After the 1962 border war with China -- a humiliation for Nehru's India -- and the shock of Beijing's subsequent nuclear tests, the young Subrahmanyam sharpened his interest in security issues. By 1966, as a midranking defense official, he had become a player in an informal committee on India's nuclear policy options, and two years later, he was appointed to head a new think tank, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, meant to fill what was then a glaring gap in Indian security research and policy innovation.

    From this post, Subrahmanyam made a name for himself with bold statements to India's civilian and military establishment. He warned, for instance, about Indian military unpreparedness before what became the 1971 conflict with Pakistan and -- as Indians proudly call it -- the "liberation" of Bangladesh. But his most forceful foray into India's hesitant national security debate was his advocacy of nuclear weapons. In his landmark study, India's Nuclear Bomb, George Perkovich notes that in 1970 -- the year of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- Subrahmanyam openly called for an Indian nuclear deterrent against possible future coercion by China. Extraordinary at the time, this view became the official rationale for the 1998 nuclear tests and now can be assumed to inform New Delhi's strategic policy as China's rise continues apace.

    §

    But, again, it would be grossly unfair to caricature Subrahmanyam as a China hawk. In 2009, he prominently championed an Indian naval chief who had urged India not to impoverish itself by trying to compete directly with superior Chinese military might. Instead, both argued, a restrained, affordable strategy of asymmetric deterrence should suit India just fine.

    As he joined the recent global chorus of pro-disarmament realists, this herald of India's atomic arsenal changed his focus, though not his fundamental thinking. I knew him through his later work on nuclear abolition, including his support for a revival of Rajiv Gandhi's 1988 global disarmament plan, and I recall him arguing over lunch at his beloved India International Centre a few years ago that interdependence was helping render large-scale war between major countries obsolete. Instead, there was a new danger: nuclear terrorism. Subrahmanyam had once claimed to be comfortable with Pakistan's nukes, as a stabilizing tool of mutual deterrence, but it seems that the threat of atomic jihad was a consequence nobody in 1970 could foresee.

    He also expanded upon a long-overlooked part of his own intellectual mantra: Nuclear weapons were not for fighting. Indeed, he argued, the case for nuclear abolition could be advanced by establishing dialogue between militaries, in which they would come to agree on the "unfightability" of nuclear war. One suspects he had a hard time selling this idea to his interlocutors in Pakistan, a country that sees its own nuclear armory as a weapon designed to balance and deter India's stronger conventional forces.

    In any case, the most obvious shift in Subrahmanyam's outlook came with his approval of Washington's embrace of New Delhi as a strategic partner during the George W. Bush's administration. Once the wheels began moving on the U.S.-India nuclear deal in 2005, there was suddenly no more need to speak of "nonproliferation ayatollahs" enforcing "nuclear apartheid" -- terms Subrahmanyam, incidentally, is said to have coined.

    There was, of course, much more to his career. He served as chairman of India's Joint Intelligence Committee and held several senior bureaucratic positions, responsible at various times for defense production and for his home state of Tamil Nadu. He had a second stint as director of IDSA in the 1980s, was a visiting professor at Cambridge University, and held senior editorial roles in the Indian press. Internationally, he served on multilateral study groups and was a prominent figure in the Pugwash movement against nuclear weapons and warfare.

    After a Pakistani incursion at Kargil led to war in 1999, Subrahmanyam headed a wide-ranging review committee into preventing future such security breaches. It called for major reforms to India's defense and intelligence apparatus -- some of them eventually implemented. And as convener of a National Security Advisory Board, he saw his thinking on a restrained nuclear posture reflected in India's draft nuclear doctrine -- much of it incorporated into formal policy in 2003.

    All the while, his work was informed by a deep sense of modern-day dharma. Accolades and wealth were not his goals. His ethos was democratic and egalitarian. Already long retired from formal government service, he is reported to have declined a national honor in 1999 on the grounds that journalists and bureaucrats should not accept such awards, lest it affect their impartiality. Although his official roles were mostly in service of Congress Party governments, he commanded respect across India's political spectrum.

    Subbu, as he was affectionately known, will be mourned by generations of Indian officials and strategists. Many knew him personally as a mentor. He will be remembered as the grandfather of Indian foreign-policy realism. And however history may judge his ideas, his influence, intelligence, and sense of duty are beyond question. The emerging India needs more like him.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/03/in_remembrance_of_indias_nuclear_and_strategic_guru
     
  15. Singh

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    Polaris » K. Subrahmanyam (1929-2011)

    To those who met him—and to thousands who came to know him through his prolific newspaper columns and regular television appearances—K. Subrahmanyam was an extraordinary individual. Growing up in a peripatetic household in provincial Madras—his father was a school teacher and administrator—Subrahmanyam was known as “Ambi” or “Mani” to his family. Later, friends and colleagues in Delhi referred to him as “Subbu” or “KS”. To us grandchildren, he was simply “Thatha”. My earliest memory of him was not at a seminar at IISS, a discussion in the India International Centre lounge, or a visit to his former office in Sapru House. It was in a basement of our home in suburban Washington one December in the mid-1980s, when he came bearing bounteous gifts for his young grandchildren. “Who needs Santa Claus,” I remember thinking as I observed the tall man with a shock of white hair taking considerable interest in helping me assemble my new toys. “I have my very own.”

    KS brought that same sense of generosity to his professional life, displaying a kindness that was not always discernible to those whose first impressions were often overshadowed by his stern demeanor and intimidating reserves of knowledge. At the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA), which he directed for many years, he supported the efforts of many individuals outside the traditional hierarchy, including young academics with controversial political views and government employees considered too junior to write. A good idea deserved to be heard, he felt, no matter who came up with it. The same spirit was evident later in his career too: a number of promising young scholars, many of them doctoral candidates, have told me how impressed they were that he would make the effort to attend, and actively participate in, their research presentations. The large number of people who consider him a mentor, and their wide age range, is a telling sign of his remarkable willingness to encourage individuals, regardless of their age or background.

    KS was also frustrated by that same sense of rigidity that he sought to overcome. Although he attempted to incorporate IDSA more closely with Jawaharlal Nehru University, he was prevented from teaching there on the grounds that he did not have a doctorate, or a higher education in political science or a related field (his highest degree was an M.Sc. in chemistry). He was the first to appreciate the irony that Cambridge—where he was later made a professor—had no such qualms about his being appointed.

    While he was controversial, and his views often polarizing, KS rarely—if ever—engaged in personal criticism in public discourse, although he was occasionally the object of heated invective. Two years ago, he wrote a pointedly reproachful note to me related to some posts on this blog, where I had mentioned individuals by name whose arguments I disagreed with. Although he couched it in terms that he thought I would find more appealing—that certain people may not be accustomed to personal criticism—his view was that even mentioning individuals in policy discussions risked personalizing debates and eroded a sense of collegiality within the strategic community. That sense of collegiality at a time when criticism and debate have become more personal on blogs, Twitter and television talk shows was upheld almost to a fault: it explained the sometimes roundabout and passive beginnings to his articles—”It has been said that…”—before he proceeded to systematically demolish a certain viewpoint.

    KS may never have used Twitter and did not have a blog, but for someone who grew up in a household without electricity or a transistor radio, he took surprisingly well to new forms of media and mass communication. During the Bangladesh war, he made appearances on All India Radio and later featured on television, both on Doordarshan and subsequently on the many cable news channels that sprung up. The move from think tank scholar to newspaper columnist was considered unusual when he made that transition, and the present host of regular columnists on strategic affairs in India have followed a trail that he was among the earliest to blaze. Although he continued to write his columns in long-hand, never being much of a typist, he became a prolific online reader, signing up to a large number of mailing lists, which he followed assiduously. A number of people were surprised when he, an eminence grise now in his late 70s or early 80s, would approach them and discuss some article they had written in an obscure publication and circulated only on a private listserv.

    But perhaps the most remarkable characteristic that marked KS was his ability to tailor his views to the times, often against prevailing orthodoxy. This was seen most markedly in his calls for an Indian nuclear deterrent, but his advocacy of a minimal deterrent once India had achieved a nuclear capability, as well as his defense of a close relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War followed by ardent support for the U.S.-India relationship in the post-Cold War era. He understood, earlier than most, the importance of liberal economic reforms for national security, and more recently made impassioned pleas for changes in Indian governance and political culture. Again, his understanding of the need for change was reflected in his personal life as much as his professional one. The product of a traditional household, KS was no rebel. He went to Presidency College in Madras, took the civil services exam and joined the Indian Administrative Service, becoming a family breadwinner at an early age while staying near his aging parents. But although he remained an avowed vegetarian and was well-versed in Hindu religious texts, he was also an atheist. When many of his generation remained wedded to orthodox traditions such as arranged marriage and urging their children to pursue educational and professional opportunities in traditional fields such as engineering and business, his views on these subjects was extraordinarily liberal. He found it a source of pride, rather than embarrassment, that his children and grandchildren were civil servants, diplomats, economists, historians, architects, filmmakers and lawyers and that they were married to individuals who were American, French, Dutch and Japanese.

    But while there are many lessons one can draw from his life and work, my colleague at Pragmatic Euphony may have articulated the most important one (on Twitter, where else?): “The best tribute to K Subrahmanyam would be to not fossilise his thoughts or propagate his views as a dogma. We Indians are masters at both.” KS would have been the first to agree.

    http://polaris.nationalinterest.in/2011/02/03/k-subrahmanyam/
     
  16. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    He has given his full service to the nation.
    RIP.
     
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    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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