Strategy guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 02 Feb 2011 22:28

A very personal loss for me.
One of his questions to a visitor was "When does Ramana plan to visit me?"
I guess will meet him in next life.

Arun was so lucky to meet him often. One time he skipped lunch to keep talking!

I have so many memories of him.

As college student I wrote book review and my views on post 1971 India. Had he replied I would have given up Engineering and sought a masters in Intl studies. However it was not to be. Years later I reminded him of that old review. He recalled and said India lost an opportunity when he didn't reply.
Having said that he liked the BRM review of KRC as the most objective and balanced review in and out of GOI.

He appreciated BRF for bringing together a platform for people to discuss Indian security issues without high brow pundits. Its was refreshing window for him to see non experts think about India like he did.

Of all his followers we on BRF were the most dear to him as we didn't have personal fame to gain and understood him the closest.

Arun and I got him Dragon software for his laptop to reduce the burden of having his thoughts typed up. He appreciated it.

He was a true Bharat Ratna!

His clarity of vision as to where he wanted to see India was superb and way beyond our imagination. He wanted India to be in the foremost of all powers and this was in 1968!

Most of his columns are archived by his pratham chela Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar at the National Maritime Foundation.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Prem » 02 Feb 2011 22:35

May your vision of India get realized soon!!

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby RamaY » 02 Feb 2011 22:40

RIP Gurudev!

Please return soon to lead the next generation of strategic leadership of Bharat.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 02 Feb 2011 22:49

Like the other Bheesma he has earned mokhsha.

Its for us to follow his path to think independently and go on to keep the tryst with destiny.

the amazing thing was he always figured a way to get out of the box being set up by outside powers.

In 1992 they kept saying NPT cant be amended and he argued that one could attach an appendix like a codocil to will!

When the PRC in track II (Shangai) said to him "PRC talks about nukes to only nuke powers!" he said they would be sorry.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ManuT » 02 Feb 2011 22:50

His being a hawk was based on his pointed analysis of the threats being faced, rather than a need to be a hawk.

That has a beginning has an end. Peace. 

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Muppalla » 02 Feb 2011 23:02

Sad news and it is an irreperable loss. His contributions are not easy to define or quantify. RIP.
Last edited by Muppalla on 03 Feb 2011 05:12, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Avik » 02 Feb 2011 23:04

A true genius. One man who made such a difference and contributed so much. Looking at the current crop of "experts", one can only say "Sau sunaar ki, ek luhaar ki"

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby suryag » 02 Feb 2011 23:15

RIP and come back soon. Gurus here would we ever know in which areas and directions KS garu vectored our strategic policy ?

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Rony » 02 Feb 2011 23:21

R.I.P Bhishma Pitamaha.

Mother India has truly lost one of her greatest sons. His writings brought real change in the views of many people about India and her place in the world.

ManuT wrote:His being a hawk was based on his pointed analysis of the threats being faced, rather than a need to be a hawk

+ 1 Sir.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 02 Feb 2011 23:25

He knew a lot of stuff and it was mainly in strategic affairs and intelligence community(JIC). After retirement he led the track two efforts with US and PRC. He understood many of their secrets and nudged Indian policy guided by that.

BTW, President KR Narayanan in MEA, KS Subrahmanyam in MOD and AKalam in DRDO were the margadarshaks.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Sandipan » 02 Feb 2011 23:30

RIP, By the way who was he??..........................

Tongue in Cheek, just trying to lighten up the sombre mood in this thread...........

My Last respect to you

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ManuJ » 02 Feb 2011 23:31

Sad, sad news. Reading the news I felt like it was a personal loss. Invaluable contributions to India. RIP sir.

He never accepted a award during his lifetime, but I hope the GOI awards him a Bharat-Ratna now, for there are few candidates as deserving as him.

Ramana, interesting anecdotes - but you should write a formal eulogy and include all the little things you remember about him. For posterity and for the sake of others who didn't know him. Also helps with the grieving process.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby abhishek_sharma » 02 Feb 2011 23:39

Great loss. My condolences.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 02 Feb 2011 23:40

I am going to propose a memorial publication in his honor. Lets see how far it goes.

Idea is to have the top Indian analysts write about what they hope to see in next ten, twenty, fifty years and carry his thinking forward.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby RajeshA » 02 Feb 2011 23:55

It saddens me! You have left behind big shoes to fill! RIP!s

I hope we get a think tank, based on his ideas and with his name on it. A library, with all his publications, freely available over the Internet would be appreciated. The library can include eulogies to him, and analysis of his thinking.
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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby hnair » 02 Feb 2011 23:57

:( Thank you for all that you have done for us.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby rgsrini » 03 Feb 2011 00:25

RIP sir... :( You have served our mother well!!! Thankyou for your thoughts and guidance.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Aditya G » 03 Feb 2011 01:05

sad day for India

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Vivek K » 03 Feb 2011 01:29

RIP brave patriot!!

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 01:42

Hindu article:

Strategic Thinker Par Excellence

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.

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.


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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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Bharath.Subramanyam » 03 Feb 2011 02:01

Ramana garu : Please check email.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 02:01

Googel cache on news stories:

KS Subrahmanyam no more

Folks try to post the individual articles here. Thanks.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby svinayak » 03 Feb 2011 02:05

Highly respected leader of India. It is a great loss for Indians.
I wish I had met him when I had the chance.

He has many secrets about China and how US played with China. His knowledge about the psy ops of US against China is the one which he had and that is the China card which India has to play. Hopefully many experts in India are now his students.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby RamaY » 03 Feb 2011 02:08

Jug Suraiya in TOI - To Bomb Mama, with love

While I was on the edit page, Mr K Subrahmanyam was the senior-most member of the team, both in age and breadth of knowledge. Retired from the Indian Administrative Service, Mr Subs, as everyone called him, was an expert on India's nuclear policy, an expertise which has won him the affectionate nickname of Bomb Mama.

Addressing an international conference in Washington, he had once famously referred to members of the US nuclear establishment as "the Ayatollahs of the Potomac" for their attempts to coerce India into signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) when the US itself was not a signatory to it.

While far from being a nuclear hawk, Mr Subs was an ardent advocate of a level playing field in nuclear matters: if the US, Britain, Russia, France and China (not to mention Pakistan) have the bomb, so must India. In an ideal world there would be no need of weapons, nuclear or otherwise. But ours was far from being an ideal world, and we needed weapons, including nuclear weapons.

After much, and often impassioned, debate the TOI edit page line had been worked out so as to describe nuclear weapons as a necessary evil. Where Mr Subs and I tended to disagree was on the difference placed on the emphasis: for Mr Subs nuclear weapons were a necessary evil; for me they were a necessary evil.

I hate weapons, particularly nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons are anti-life, and I believe in the sanctity of human life, I told Mr Subs once. "Why do you restrict yourself to human life? Why not the sanctity of all life?" replied Mr Subs, who is a strict vegetarian, while I'm a peacenik carnivore with a queasy conscience.

"Touche," I said, ceding the intellectual and moral high ground to him. Nuclear hawks, doves and middle-roaders like me in India will all equally miss him. And despite all their differences on nuclear theology, so will the 'Ayatollahs of the Potamac'.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby RamaY » 03 Feb 2011 02:11

Rediff - The Legend that is KS

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 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 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 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

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.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 02:15

From WSJ!!!

Architect of India's Nuclear Doctrine

Architect of India's Nulcear Doctrine
Elizabeth Roche

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.

and Business Standard tribute:

K Subrahmanyam, strategic policy guru, passes away

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.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 02:29

Two more tributes:


Subrahmanyam spent all his life teaching Indians strategic thought

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." :lol:

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.


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.

Hindustan Times

K Subrahmanyam The Dean of Indian Strategy

K. Subrahmanyam (1929-2011)- the dean of Indian strategy
Hindustan Times
February 02, 2011First Published: 21:53 IST(2/2/2011)
Last Updated: 21:56 IST(2/2/2011)

K. Subrahmanyam, a man often referred to as the dean of Indian strategy, passed away on Wednesday. No other individual was so strongly identified, at home and abroad, as the face of Indian foreign and defence policy. In the days when India was seen as an economic basketcase and a marginal player in the international system, Subrahmanyam spoke and wrote for years on the need for India to think and act like a great power. It must have been a matter of pleasure that in the last years of his life that the economy began to show an ability to match his vision.

Says Ambassador Arundhati Ghose, “While we looked only at present crises, Subbu pushed people to think strategically. He saw ahead of most of us and had an incredible ability to see forward.”

He is best known for his advocacy of an Indian nuclear deterrent going back to years when this was a minority position in the country. Subrahmanyam was a thoughtful nationalist. He pointed out the dangers of signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but urged India keep its nuclear stockpile small. He wanted Pakistan to develop its own nuclear weapons, but successfully made the case for India to adopt a no first use policy.

Subrahmanyam sought to construct security policies for India that were crafted to fit the strategic environment India faced. An Indian strategy could not be based on aping the West or following ideologies of third worldism. And it had to be based on existing, not past realities. The Soviet relationship made sense during the Cold War, he argued. A strong US link was logical after it.

Because Subrahmanyam insisted strategy had to be all about a careful weighing of India’s interests, he was prepared to debate and explain his point of view with anyone. Says Professor Amitabh Mattoo of Jawaharlal Nehru University, “He had all the qualities of a great guru. He was completely egalitarian, willing to explain his case and hear you out.”

He served the state in many different varieties as an IAS officer including secretary defence production and chairman of the joint intelligence committee. Later, he saw himself as a journalist and public speaker on India’s foreign and defence policy, identifying himself with civil society so strongly he declined a Padma Bhushan in 1999.

Such was his reputation that in the 1984 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Lahore, the hijackers tried to argue during their trial that Subrahmanyam’s presence on the aircraft proved New Delhi had engineered the whole thing so he could “examine Pakistan’s nuclear installations.” :eek:

What I note in all these tributes his clarity of thought about Indian and its future and not confused with daily problems. He also understood the varying threats and how they needed to be countered.

Knowledge economy is the next step and that is what he recommended in his strategy report. Hats off for his apporach to information release.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby yantra » 03 Feb 2011 02:41

Great strategic thinker and son of India. May his soul rest in peace.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby abhishek_sharma » 03 Feb 2011 02:44

Man, I am completely depressed. :cry:

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 02:48

No dont be. He would be upset. Instead try to read his works and try figure out his methods. I wish the TOI article above had stated his reasoning behind his conclusions.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 03:32

One more news report. Looks like GOI has already instituted awards in his name and honor.

From ANI
India's strategic affairs guru K. Subrahmanyam dead
Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 14:10 [IST]

New Delhi, Feb.2 (ANI): One of India's well known analysts on strategic affairs, K. Subrahmanyam died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday night. He was 82.

Subrahmanyam , one of the most respected voices in India on global security affairs, was suffering from lung and cardiac problems. He was also suffering from cancer.

At the time of his death, he was the Chairman of the Prime Minister's Task Force on Global Strategic Developments.

A founding director of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analyses (IDSA), 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.

His wife, three sons and a daughter survive him.

His middle son, S. Jaishankar, is currently India's Ambassador to China.

Subrahmanyam was a key figure in framing and influencing Indian security and nuclear policy. He presided over several Indian government committees and commissions of inquiry and was a major advocate of the 2007 Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement.

Born in January 1929, Subrahmanyam grew up in Tiruchirapalli and in Madras. Enrolling at Presidency College he received an M.Sc. in chemistry from Madras University in 1950 and, after standing first in the Civil Services Examination that year, was appointed to the Indian Administrative Service in 1951.

After service in the Tamil Nadu cadre and in the Defence Ministry, he was appointed a Rockefeller Fellow in Strategic Studies at the London School of Economics in 1966.

On returning to India, he was appointed Director of the newly created Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in New Delhi, a position that he held until 1975.

He then was appointed to a number of senior Indian government positions, including Chairman of India's Joint Intelligence Committee in New Delhi, Home Secretary in Tamil Nadu and Secretary for Defence Production in the Ministry of Defence.

He headed the IDSA for a second time in 1980.

Thereafter, he went to England as a Visiting Professor and Nehru Fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge in 1987.

Between 1974 and 1986 Subrahmanyam also served on a number of United Nations and other multilateral study groups, on issues such as Indian Ocean affairs, disarmament and nuclear deterrence; and also at various Pugwash conferences as a senior member.

Subrahmanyam also authored or co-authored fourteen books, including The Liberation War (1972) with Mohammed Ayoob about the Bangladesh Liberation War, Nuclear Myths and Realities (1980), India and the Nuclear Challenge (1986), The Second Cold War (1983) and Superpower Rivalry in the Indian Ocean (1989) with Selig S Harrison.

Subrahmanyam declined the Padma Bhushan in 1999, stating that bureaucrats and journalists should not accept government awards.

A festschrift in honour of Subrahmanyam, with essays by Indian and American policy experts, academics and journalists, was published in 2004 to mark his 75th birthday.

Always an influential Indian media figure, he was featured in India Today magazine's 'High and Mighty' listing in 2006.

The IDSA instituted an annual 'K Subrahmanyam Award' for contributions to strategic affairs in 2007.

Subrahmanyam was also the Convener of India's first National Security Council Advisory Board (NSCAB) in 1998.

The board drafted India's draft nuclear doctrine, which governs all policy aspects with regard to usage and deployment of India's nuclear arsenal.

The Kargil Review Committee of which he was the chairman led to a large-scale restructuring of Indian Intelligence.

The report was, however, criticized for not assigning specific responsibility for failures in detecting the reasons for the intrusions from Pakistan into the Kargil area.

Subrahmanyam was a frequent commentator and columnist in several Indian and international newspapers.

After retiring from government service in the late 80's, he served as consulting editor and policy expert with various Indian publications. These included The Tribune, The Economic Times and The Times of India.

He was on the editorial board of The Times of India when India conducted the 'Shakti' nuclear tests in 1998 and the largely centrist paper famously withheld his comments, temporarily, while it condemned the weapons tests.

Some of his writings in the press have been compiled and published in two volumes.


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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby RamaY » 03 Feb 2011 03:52

I vividly remember reading this "Chairman, UN study group on Nuclear Deterrence, 1986." in Eenadu news paper. I was in mid-teens then and was proud to have someone with my middle name leading the group on "nuclear" deterrence.

It is thru BRF that I became an Ekalavya sishya to this strategic sage!

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby hnair » 03 Feb 2011 03:59

ramana wrote:Two more tributes:
Subrahmanyam spent all his life teaching Indians strategic thought

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!"

For me, this single line says it all. I wish I had the good fortune like some of you to meet this great man.

Thanks ramanaji for collating the obituaries.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Mort Walker » 03 Feb 2011 04:46

Its sad to see him pass, and his thoughtful analysis and influence in government was a comforting factor.
I hope there are more people like him who will be as wise in the upper echelons of the establishment.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 04:54

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Bharath.Subramanyam » 03 Feb 2011 06:27

If you cant say some thing good then hold it till the grief is over.

Last edited by ramana on 03 Feb 2011 07:58, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited ramana

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ssaravanan » 03 Feb 2011 06:49

Saddened by the loss of such a eminent person. RIP Sir.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Airavat » 03 Feb 2011 06:59

Our strategic asset: Inder Malhotra

Our strategic asset
Inder Malhotra Posted online: Thu Feb 03 2011, 05:29 hrs
In the death of K. Subrahmanyam at age 82, India has lost its premier and pioneering analyst of strategy and national security, who was a national asset in every sense of the term. As George K. Tanham said in his famous 1992 monograph, Indian Strategic Thought, this is one area in which this country has been conspicuously deficient. (Indeed, this is what KS — Subbu to friends — had told him when Tanham was researching his subject.)

Only after the traumatic border war with China in the high Himalayas did the Indian establishment wake up to the need for strategic studies, until then considered superfluous. KS played a stellar role in filling this glaring and disastrous gap. Even today the bulk of the Indian strategic community consists of those who learnt the craft from him. He has, no wonder, often been called the Bhisham Pitamah of Indian strategic studies.

By the time the first think tank, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses or IDSA, was established, with a retired major-general as its director, KS was a deputy secretary in the defence ministry. Some time earlier, the founder-director of the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), Alastair Buchan, had come to this country to look for Indians who might learn something at his organisation. His choice fell on KS and the late Sisir Gupta, who died at a relatively young age. In 1968 Subrahmanyam, an IAS officer of the 1951 batch, was appointed director of IDSA; and since then neither he nor the institute looked back. What he made of the IDSA in seven years won national and international kudos.

In 1975, Indira Gandhi, who appreciated his good work, told him that for the sake of his career he must spend some time in his state, Tamil Nadu, previously called the state of Madras. He arrived there on the day the Karunanidhi ministry was dismissed during the Emergency and president’s rule was imposed. He was appointed home secretary. In this critically important position he absolutely refused to be a party to any of the Emergency’s excesses. For this, a senior Congress MP, O.V. Alagesan, sharply criticised him in Parliament.

In 1978, when he returned to the Union government, Indira Gandhi was out of power and the Janata was ruling. He was appointed chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and additional secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat. In that capacity he endorsed the finding of the Research and Analysis Wing, the foreign intelligence agency, that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was no longer peaceful. But he firmly disputed the agency’s belief that our western neighbour had adopted the plutonium route.

As became obvious, KS was right in thinking that Islamabad was using centrifuge technology for uranium enrichment. He also saw to it that a five-year defence estimate was prepared by the JIC and considered by the cabinet. That was the first and the only time that such a thing happened.

When Indira Gandhi was back in power in 1980, KS was defence production secretary and was also presiding over a committee to select the submarine to be introduced in the Indian navy. The new government, for its own reasons, wanted to remove him from this job. He was offered a post, director of the Indian Institute of Public Administration, that did not suit him. Luckily, the prime minister realised that Subbu’s encyclopaedic knowledge of high strategy and matters military could be best used by sending him back to the IDSA as director with the rank of secretary to the Government of India.

To appreciate Subbu’s yeoman services to India, one has to go back to March 1971, when the Bangladesh crisis exploded with the force of the cyclones that abound in that country. At first there was an outcry for immediate military intervention. Then the mood changed and the establishment believed that the Mukti Bahini would liberate Bangladesh, and India need not do anything.

It was KS who fought against this complacent assumption. In a confidential paper, that inevitably leaked, he argued that there was an “opportunity of a lifetime to cut Pakistan to size” that must not be missed. When top officials at the defence ministry objected to such writings, he told them that as head of a research institute he had to be frank and open, and if they felt that officials should not do it, he was prepared to resign from the IAS.

In UN committees and elsewhere, KS defended the Indian position on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and made no secret of his belief that India must go nuclear. Those in the know are privy to his contribution to the weaponisation of the nuclear programme.

Subbu headed the Kargil Review Committee, whose excellent report has been implemented only partially. Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited him to chair a task force to formulate Indian policy in the context of the current world order. Sadly, that valuable report, submitted several years ago, remains classified.

Needless to add, Subbu was a prolific writer almost to the very end, and the books he wrote or edited, the papers he presented to national and international gatherings and almost endless newspaper articles penned by him would fill several shelves of a commodious library. He was blessed with a phenomenal memory and an equally prodigious capacity for work. Whenever in doubt about any fact, I rang him up and, as a kind and gracious friend, he gave me the information I needed in a jiffy.

Born in a family with modest means at Tiruchirapalli on January 24, 1929, Subbu studied chemistry at Madras, now Chennai, before joining the IAS. His first years were spent in the panchayati raj department in the state; but from his school and college days his interest in matters military was acute. He is survived by his wife, Salochana, three sons and a daughter. One of his sons, Jaishankar, is India’s ambassador to China; the second, Vijay, is a secretary in the Union government; and the third, Sanjay, is a professor at UCLA. Evidently, genes do travel.

The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Sid » 03 Feb 2011 07:25

RIP Sir.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby partha » 03 Feb 2011 07:34

Has Shri KS written any books? Any pointers appreciated.

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