Strategy guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 07:56

He wrote 18 books. One of the tributes had the details.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby vish_mulay » 03 Feb 2011 07:57

May you unite with divine the great son of Bharata.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby krisna » 03 Feb 2011 08:07

Hope his vision for our country percolate to every Indian.
I came to know about him and his works, when I actively started to participate here.
The more I read his articles the more I started to think about the global picture with India.(helped by the gurus here)
Hope 1000s of KS sprout amongst us. In particular amongst the babus and politicians who wield power.
Mixed feelings- on one hand feel sad, hearing the news. on the other we must take responsibility and carry out his legacy.
God bless him.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby RamaY » 03 Feb 2011 08:18

ramana wrote: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!

Ramana garu,

This is the key point. Once a person has clarity on where s/he wants to see India, all the smoke screens will disappear.

Forget about vision for India, some Bharatiya minds are yet to accept the existence of Bharat as we saw in J&K thread recently. Their minds are so colonized that they see Bharat and Hinduism/SD as separate entities.

P.S: We must pay homage to this Bhishma Pitamah of modern Bharat. Feb'14th is Bhisma Ekadasi. It is said that every Bharatiya must give tarpana ( to Bhisma on that day as a homage to his gifts (he taught Dharmaraja the statecraft long before Chanakya; before him Rama to Bharata at Nandigram; and Vishnu Sahasranama) to Bharat. I am going to give tarpana to this sage as well.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Raja Ram » 03 Feb 2011 08:33

It was as a young 14 year old boy that I first chanced upon an article by K.Subhramanyam. It was before the era of Web and the only paper at home was the Hindu. It used to carry articles those days, rarely at that, by him.

That article trigerred in me an interest in matters related to strategy and moved it beyond a fascination of seeing army trucks and weapons. It made me start reading and learning about war and peace and that journey and learning has continued.

He was indeed the doyen amongst India's strategic thinkers. He has nurtured and developed many talented thinkers. His contributions towards the establishment and development of IDSA is one of the most significant ones. In a lifetime of service, he has been called upon for his wise counsel and every time he has brought to bear his immense dedication and sense of duty to the cause of India.

Independent India owes a lot to two great Indians in the realms of National Secuirty. One was is Dr. R.N. Kao and the other is K. Subrahmanyam.

May God welcome him into heaven for he has served Bharat well. As shiv has said, may there be a 100 more K. Subrahmanyams born to serve this country.

My final pranams and thank you as an ordinary Indian. You have made our future secure by your lifetime of work.

Jai Hind!

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Kanson » 03 Feb 2011 08:43

I guess, this interview captures the glimpse of his entire gambit of thinking across his area of interest.

K Subrahmanyam, RIP

If only the Indian government had heeded a hundredth of what he had to say…

K Subrahmanyam passed away in New Delhi yesterday. He was the single most important strategist in independent India.

I had the good fortune of knowing him since around 2006, and he has been a source of encouragement and support to us at INI, Pragati and Takshashila. He would respond to some of my blog posts and articles over email, wrote for and gave an interview for Pragati, and, despite his age and health, turned up at the first Takshashila executive programme in New Delhi in December 2009.

You should listen to the interview in his own voice. You can also download the published interview in PDF.

PDF is presented here.

K SUBRAHMANYAM’S “passion for national interests,” P R Kumaraswamy writes in the preface to Security Beyond Survival, “never blinds him to India’s follies. The respect he commands among students of national security is primarily a reflec- tion of his own ‘competence, knowledge and originality in thinking’, to borrow his own words albeit in a different context. In his myriad of roles as an officer in the Indian Administrative Service, head of a strategic think tank, media commentator, and a prolific writer, he has always exceeded the standards set by his peers.” Last month, Pragati sat down with Mr Subrahmanyam for a wide ranging conversation on the geopolitics of the 21st century, the role of nuclear weapons, India’s national inter- est, military modernisation and much more.

Geopolitical strategy

Many Western strategists contend that America’s unipolar moment is giving way to multi-polarity. But you have argued that the world became multi-polar with the collapse of Soviet Union. Recently, Parag Khanna put K SUBRAHMANYAM’S “passion for national interests,” P R Kumaraswamy writes in the preface to Security Beyond Survival, “never blinds him to India’s follies. The respect he commands among students of national security is primarily a reflection of his own ‘competence, knowledge and originality in thinking’, to borrow his own words albeit in a different context. In his myriad of roles as an officer in the Indian Administrative Service, head of a strategic think tank, media commentator, and a prolific writer, he has always exceeded the standards set by his peers.” Last month, Pragati sat down with Mr Subrahmanyam for a wide ranging conversation on the geopolitics of the 21st century, the role of nuclear weapons, India’s national interest, military modernisation and much more.

Geopolitical strategy

Many Western strategists contend that America’s uni- polar moment is giving way to multi-polarity. But you have argued that the world became multi-polar with the collapse of Soviet Union. Recently, Parag Khanna put forward a thesis arguing that US power is on the de- cline and that the EU and China will be the new ‘poles’. How do you see the future shaping up?

It depends upon the time frame: if you are perhaps talking about next 15 years, Parag Khanna has a point. If you take the 30-40 years, then the Japanese, Europeans, Chinese and Russians are all going to age. The proportion of working population to non-working population becomes unfavourable. This automatically will lead to certain amount of decline. These countries then have to rely on migrants. Europeans might get more mi- grants from the southern Mediterranean; Japan perhaps will welcome some from the Philippines. The Chinese are going to face a major problem, as they will be an ageing society with skewed sex ratio. Russia will grapple with the growth of its Islamic population and decline in the white Russian population.

The only two countries that will be relatively young will be America and India. America will remain young because of immigration. India will be still behind the ageing curve by about 50 years. All projections are set to change under these circumstances.

During the next two decades, Americans will be looking to augment their brain resources to compete with China and the EU. India is the natural reservoir for them. This will enhance India-the US relationship. We don’t have any clash of national interest with the Americans. There are some issues that usually arise because of America's dealings with third parties such as Pakistan. But at a time when the government-to-government relationship was not good, we still saw about two mil- lion Indians settling in America. If things improve, this trend will get stronger.

India has to leverage this situation and change the US-EU-China triangle into a rectangle. Until then it is in our interest to help America to sustain its pre-eminence. After all, in a three-person game, If America is at Number One, China is at Number Two and we are lower down, it is in our best interest to ensure that it is America that remains Number One.

Does the Indian government realise the need to transform its foreign policy in the light of the sharp changes in India’s geopolitical status over the last two decades? Is a conscious rethink necessary or will it just happen by itself.

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—that is my own perspective. The task force on global strategic developments that I headed also points out the same. However, the final report is yet to be released by the government. These ideas are still under development and are yet to be accepted by significant number of scholars within the country. These changes will take place over a period of time and we can very well say that we are in an initial stage of a very long process.

Nuclear Weapons

Yes, you have argued that warheads and missiles are not the currency of power in the 21st century: rather its knowledge. But strategic weapons are responsible for stability: in a sense, aren’t they international public goods funded by taxpayers of India, China, US and others that are enjoyed by the rest of world?

Many people thought that these were public goods and perhaps many continue to think so. This is a very paradoxical situation. I used to explain to people that I myself represent that paradox. I have been convinced for a long time that a nuclear war cannot be fought. In conventional warfare, the war takes place in a limited space and various key decisions are taken outside that limited space. If a nuclear war is unleashed, there is no space outside. Where and how will one take a decision to terminate this war?

The Americans used to tell me that they have thought through this problem and they claimed to have found a solution, till of course the early 80s, when scholars like Bruce Blair started asking questions about command and control in a nuclear war. Then in 2005, Robert McNamara confessed that he too had been holding on to the same position ever since he was defence secretary (1961-68) but he could not articulate it as this stance went against the entire NATO policy. In a sense, there is a charade about it in the whole world. Kissinger advocated the use of tactical nuclear weapons in his PhD thesis. He, along with a number of former senior American officials, is now pleading that the world should eliminate nuclear weapons.

While I am convinced that a nuclear war is unfightable, as long as the next person is not convinced about it, I have to be cautious. The only way to persuade others is for us to have a weapon ourselves. When I formulated India's nuclear doctrine, many questioned the need for one as none of the five nuclear powers had a doctrine. I believed that we owed an explanation to the people of India and the world as for a long period of time we had considered nuclear weapons as immoral and illegitimate. The doctrine says: we still consider nu- clear war cannot be fought and use of nuclear weapons is illegitimate and therefore the "no first- use" policy.

But the NATO’s doctrine seems to be still living in 1970s.

True, in 1999 when the NATO doctrine was being discussed, the Germans and the Canadians pleaded to include no first-use but the rest of them refused.

But you cannot eliminate a weapon that is deemed to be legitimate. The first step towards elimination is to de-legitimise the weapons. The first way of de-legitimising is to acknowledge the possession of weapon for deterrence but not for warfare, that is, a no first-use policy. The 1925 Ge- neva Protocol against chemical weapons did not prohibit possession, it only prohibited the use, or rather, first use. It was only in 1993, 68 years after the protocol was signed, that all countries agreed to eliminate these weapons. Therefore the route to elimination of nuclear weapons is through dele- gitimisation and it starts with "no-first use".

National Interest

How would you define India’s ‘national interest’?

First and foremost, the state has to ensure 9-10 percent economic growth. Secondly, it has to en- sure that poverty is alleviated and eliminated. Finally, to achieve these two, we need good and effective governance. All these factors are symbiotically related and I would consider these as the most important components of national interest. Once we have achieved this, the Indian entrepreneurship will ensure India's success.

Doesn’t this interpretation contradict Morgen- thau's. Modern Western Realists define the national interest as the survival and security of the state.

Morgenthau was writing about developed nations. I do not think he was even conscious of poverty as an issue. The basic principles of what he wrote are quite good but it needs to be revised under present circumstances. He was writing at a time where forcibly grabbing territory as well as resources was a major factor in the calculations of nations.

The Marxists criticise the notion of the ‘national interest’, arguing that it is merely an euphemism or proxy for the interests of the ruling class.

Meaningless—Marxism itself was hijacked by apparatchiks resulting in a Marxist state where the best cloth from Europe was procured for politburo members and suits were made by the best tailors. This was considered a non-elitist policy. Mao Zedong imported blue films and it was non-elitist. The problem is that once people are appointed to positions of power, whatever has to be done is done through them. Whether they have the people's interest in mind while taking decisions depends on their values and beliefs regardless of whether it is a Marxist or a non-Marxist state. There is no mechanism by which foreign policies will be made by the masses. Even in democracies, a party can publish its foreign policy manifesto but there is no way of ensuring its implementation.

Lessons from national experience

Looking back over the decades, what would you say were the best and worst moments?

One of the best moments was on 16th December 1971, when we achieved success in Bangladesh and the other has to be split into two—18th May 1974 and 11th May 1998, when we conducted nuclear tests.

One of the worst moments was on 18th November 1962. I was then working in the defence ministry, when I came to know that Prime Minister Nehru had written to President Kennedy asking for American aircraft to operate from India soil against the Chinese. This was when India itself had not even used its own air force. The imposition of emergency on 25th of June 1975 was the second worst moment.

What were the learning points from 1962?

It is a learning point in a big sense. We had an army whose leadership was immature as they had been promoted too rapidly. They were incapable of handling such situations. This was true not only of military but also of the diplomatic community and to some extent it was true of politicians including Jawaharlal Nehru. He was persuaded that it would be either a full-scale war in which case other major nations were expected to support India or that it would remain as patrol clashes. That the Chinese could calibrate the operation so very carefully, mainly to humiliate him, and then withdraw, was something that did not occur to him. It was a very masterful strategy of the Chinese who took full advantage of Cuban missile crisis.

Have the lessons been learnt?

No. Take the liberation of Bangladesh as a case study. Pakistan held free and fair election in December of 1970 under a mistaken assumption that nobody would win a clear majority and the army would still be able to manipulate the country. I was convinced that the army would not hand over power and that we had to be prepared for problems. Then came the hijacking of the Indian aircraft that was blown up in Lahore after which Pakistani planes were banned from Indian airspace. The Pakistanis started building up troops in Bangladesh and the ships were going via Colombo. Everybody knew about it. But we didn’t do anything to warn our armed forces to be ready till 25th March 1971 when Pakistanis began the crack down (See page 21). When asked to intervene on 30th March, the Indian army requested for more time. When they got the time that they needed, they did the job beautifully well. But we did not anticipate this eventuality.

Let us take Kargil as another example. In the Kargil committee report, we have said that the Cabinet Committee on Security should have a regular intelligence briefing by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. But the government has not accepted this. There is no sensitivity to intelligence in India. The top decision-makers do not get themselves briefed on the state of affairs. They only expect to get an update if some- thing happens. This attitude still persists and this is a major weakness.

The whole attitude to intelligence needs to change. Professor Manohar Lal Sondhi used to say that since I was the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, I should have nothing to do with academics! During the second world war, all the intellectuals were in intelligence. American professors used to encourage students to join the intelligence community. Even today, I see many CIA advertisements in university campuses across America.

But when I ask people in Jawaharlal Nehru University to consider a career in intelligence, they simply refuse. Many consider it unethical.

Military modernisation

In our recent issues, Pragati has focused on the modernisation of India’s armed forces. It is clear that a critical aspect of national security is suffering from apathy, and neglect. And procurement scandals—which get a lot of media attention—appear to be the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. Is there a way out of the mess?

Modernisation is a complex process. I have said in the Kargil committee report that we have not modernised decision-making process ever since Lord Ismay prescribed it in 1947. Our military command and control have not changed since the second world war. While we are talking about buying modern equipment, the force structure and philosophy go back to the Rommel’s desert campaign and Mountbatten’s South-east Asia Command. Nobody has done anything about it. :D

Now there is talk about the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) model. It pains me to hear this. The British adopted the CDS system, as they would never fight a war on their own. CDS is not an institution for us. Ours should be the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs and theatre commands below him.

Apart from that, the entire arms industry is now getting concentrated. The European armament industry is being brought over by the Americans. Only the Russian armament industry is independent of that. There is no way that we will be able to produce everything for ourselves. Given the threats we face, we have to think strategically of what we should buy and what we should develop. We can’t say we are going to buy 126 aircraft and this will not affect our future aircraft development philosophy. It is going to have a very serious impact. Instead of buying defence equipment ad hoc, on the basis of what is the best available price, we should bear our long-term strategic vision in mind and start expanding the capacity judicially.

The whole problem of procurement is the refusal of the country to accept that the issue is of political corruption. However perfect the procedures are, the corruption takes place outside South Block. Tinkering with procedures will not end corruption. The solution might lie with campaign finance reforms.

Isn't military bureaucracy, like any other bureaucracy, status quoist and resistant to modernisation?

This raises another point. A civil service recruit becomes a district magistrate in six years and is in charge of a district of a million people but an army recruit gets independent charge only after 18 years of service. Why should it take 18 years for an army officer to progress to that level? During the second world war, a man with five years experience was leading a battalion into battle. With eight years of experience, one would command a brigade. This anomaly has been grossly overlooked.

Isn’t there such information asymmetry about these issues, the public doesn’t even know what questions to ask and politicians have their own agenda? What is the the way out?

It is going to be difficult. At least 30 or 40 years ago, there was time and inclination among our members of parliament to ask questions and discuss these types of issues. Today very little serious business is done in parliament. It has become a political arena for confrontation among different political parties. Modernisation does not begin with procurement of latest equipment. Before that we have to think through the structure, organisation and methods of functioning. Equipment should come last in the order of priority.

Nitin Pai is editor of Pragati. Aruna Urs works for a risk consultancy.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Kanson » 03 Feb 2011 08:45

Hope this thread will be archived.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby krisna » 03 Feb 2011 08:47

^^^^ full interview in this PDF.
The new currency of pwer

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby rahulm » 03 Feb 2011 08:48

Great son of India. Thank you and RIP.

He is described as a one man university and lamented the strategic naivety in Indian thinking.

He can be best honoured by carrying his work forward to institutionalise thinking on Indian interests & strategy across defence & political circles and a strong awareness among the lay people.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Murugan » 03 Feb 2011 09:01

A rich tribute in ET

The man who worked tirelessly to make India secure

By C Uday Bhaskar

COMMITTED, courageous and consistent in his abiding engagement with national security and the global strategic environment for almost 50 years, K Subrahmanyam, KS or Subbu, as he was better known, who passed away on Wednesday, will be long remembered for his singular and distinctive contribution to ‘Bharat Raksha,’ the defence and protection of India and its core interests.

Topper of the 1951 IAS batch, KS joined the erstwhile Madras cadre and after his formative years in the Rajaji-Kamaraj era of the state, he moved to Delhi to the Ministry of Defence and ever since, remained deeply involved with national security policy formulation apex. A confidante of then Defence Minister YB Chavan who valued the objective and rigorous intellectual calibre that KS exuded, the 1962 war with China and the national humiliation that followed laid the foundation for a life-long commitment to the study and analyses of India’s complex defence and security challenges.

Soon after the debacle of 1962, and the stalemate of 1965, the government set up India’s first security think-tank – the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and predictably KS was chosen to nurture the organisation. Appointed Director in 1968, he was associated with IDSA in its formative years and barring a brief interregnum during the Emergency (1975-77) when he went back to Tamil Nadu, despite the many opportunities that the civil service offered, KS chose the austerity of the think-tank world, till he retired from government service in 1987. Firmly refusing any kind of post retirement extension or sinecure, which was his for the asking, KS remained outside the official loop of Delhi and donned the role of a prolific commentator on national security and global strategic developments. And till the very end, KS penned essays, articles and columns which appeared in almost every national daily, including ET.

The nuclear issue was central to KS’ vast contribution as an analyst and IDSA on his watch was acknowledged as a ‘lions den’ when it came to defending the Indian position. The Chinese nuclear tests of May 1966 (the first Chinese nuclear test was in October 1964) drew him into the policy loop that involved the Prime Ministers Office when Indira Gandhi was at the helm. Part of a small group that identified the contours of India’s evolving nuclear posture (other members included Homi Sethna, S Gopal and BG Verghese among others) till India’s nuclear test of May 1998, KS remained the most credible and persuasive voice in shaping India’s nuclear trajectory. Thus it was appropriate that KS was nominated to formulate India’s nuclear doctrine as the first convenor of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) – a task that he accomplished with dexterity and tact – in melding diverse opinions and positions. Perhaps KS’ lasting contribution will be the Kargil Committee Report , which he authored along with George Verghese and Lt Gen Hazari. Constituted by the Vajpayee led NDA government to study and make appropriate policy recommendations based on the Kargil experience, this committee set a record in completing its task before the stipulated time — and furthermore introduced a remarkable degree of transparency — for which KS always gave due credit to then NSA Brajesh Mishra.

In contrast to the 1962 war related Henderson Brooks report, which is still under wraps, a sanitised version of the report was also placed in the public domain and provided the basis for deliberating over major changes to higher defence management in India. But alas, neither the NDA nor the successor UPA have been able to find the political resolve to redress the inadequacies in the Indian security apex and KS often mused that the Indian political spectrum had little time or inclination to address matters of national security.

Austere to fault, KS remained engaged with his professional calling as the epitome of Bharat Rakshak: The detached yet fully committed ‘karmayogi,’ who did his duty objectively, devoid of fear and seeking no favour in Byzantine Delhi.

Dismissive of his many complex ailments, the last time we spoke, he was outlining the challenges and opportunities of the maritime domain and what India had to prioritise. Even as his mortal remains are consigned to the flames on Friday, his indomitable spirit will be cherished. Good-bye, Subbu Sir!

(The author is a former Director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis)

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby disha » 03 Feb 2011 09:29

Kanson wrote:K Subrahmanyam, RIP

Thanks for the above article, that indeed captures his breadth and depth.

K S garu was both concise and incisive, a real thinker and not just a theorist. It is India's strategic loss at the moment, may many KS bloom in his footsteps.

Describing him in few words will be meaningless, it is like describing an intellectual strategic vishwarupa.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Singha » 03 Feb 2011 09:38

RIP sir.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby wig » 03 Feb 2011 09:45

K Subrahmanyam passes away

Renowned strategic expert K Subrahmanyam, whose recommendations in the aftermath of Kargil conflict led to a revamp of the country's intelligence network, died here today following a heart attack.

Subrahmanyam, 82, is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. He was suffering from cancer and diabetes but his end came after a heart attack.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vice-President Hamid Ansari and expressed grief over his death. The Prime Minister said that Subrahmanyam had made important and lasting contributions to the evolution of India's defence, security and foreign policies. "His work outside the government is perhaps even more impressive and he spearheaded and developed the field of defence studies in the country," he said.

Subrahmanyam had declined the Padma Bhushan in 1999, stating that bureaucrats and journalists should not accept government awards. The prominent global strategic affairs analyst and former Indian civil servant, was the founding Director of security think-tank, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

A premier ideological champion of India's nuclear deterrent, Subrahmanyam was in 1998 appointed the Convenor of the first National Security Council Advisory Board NSCAB, which drafted India's Nuclear Doctrine that now governs all policy aspects relating to usage and deployment of nuclear arsenal.

As chairman of the Kargil Review Committee, he had analysed perceived Indian intelligence failures during the 1999 conflict and made recommendations that led to large-scale restructuring of Indian Intelligence.

reference in the tribune.
may the soul rest in peace.
may India be blessed with more thinkers like him.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 09:46

Any Delhi base folks can attend his funeral? its on Friday Feb 4th
will mail details.

yes, it is a huge loss....and irreparable...
will pass on your msgs....
i know that he valued his association with both of you...
many tributes in the media today...
more later

On Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 8:30 AM, Ramana D <xxx> wrote:
,,Garu, My heart felt condolences to KS garu's family. Though I never met KS garu face to face I have exchanged over a xxx e-mails with him. It was only a few weeks ago I had an email from him about the NDC speech.

I had hoped to meet him next time I came to desh. I guess I was not deserving of that in this life.

Please offer my heart felt condolences to his family and his children. Even though they don't know me.

...... Is there a way to get his books scanned so they are easily available?

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby sanjaykumar » 03 Feb 2011 09:53

Pertaining to that Lahore hijacked flight, the GOI made special enquires about his health, diabetic management, tipping of the hijackers that he was a high functionary.

A stupid and elementary error. He was lucky to have escaped the ordeal.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby dinesha » 03 Feb 2011 10:17

My deepest condolences!

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Murugan » 03 Feb 2011 10:20

IC 814 Re.

Was KS on that flight?

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 10:23

Thanks CUB!

For putting Bharat Rakshak in your tribute!

Yes Murugan!

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Sriman » 03 Feb 2011 10:29

Murugan wrote:IC 814 Re.

Was KS on that flight?

I think Sanjay was referring to the 1984 hijacking of Indian Airlines (IC 421) flight to Lahore.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby SSridhar » 03 Feb 2011 11:06

Strategic Thinker par Excellence - Sidharth Varadarajan (yes)

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby partha » 03 Feb 2011 11:11

KS - Down the memory lane (B. Raman)
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.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 11:28

Very touching tribute from B Ramanji.

Its time for all nationalists to come together and drop our petty differences.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby merlin » 03 Feb 2011 11:37

Very untimely (like J. N. Dixit), just when India needed him the most.

A visionary who makes everyone else look like dwarves.

A humble salute.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby JaiS » 03 Feb 2011 11:54

RIP Sir, and God bless.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Johann » 03 Feb 2011 12:37

A remarkable person who seemed to embody much of what was best in India, both modern and traditional.

Everything I've read and heard has spoken of his enormous depth, clarity, and fundamental decency - a rare combination anywhere in the world.

Ramana, since you are unhappy with newspaper coverage of his worldview and process, perhaps you should write a BR memorial for him.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Sumeet » 03 Feb 2011 12:38

RIP sir. You have done your duty for this nation.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ravar » 03 Feb 2011 14:55

Thank you Sir! You have been a true Karma Yogi!

I remember, as a novice, I had read an article in Indian Express (long before Pokhran 2) titled IIRC, 'The Lotus Eaters of Nuke Weapons Policy' or something to that effect which advocated nuke weaponisation ASAP and it completely changed my understanding of why India should go nuclear. I am certain that the spark that he came forth with, lighted a million lamps in India's strategic thinking and would do so in the future. That would be the truest tribute to this sage.

RIP great soul!

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby jagga » 03 Feb 2011 15:30

Last edited by Rahul M on 03 Feb 2011 19:16, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: wrong thread. kindly stick to the topic.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby jagga » 03 Feb 2011 15:39

Last edited by Rahul M on 03 Feb 2011 19:17, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: wrong thread. kindly stick to the topic.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby jagga » 03 Feb 2011 15:41

RIP Sir, you will be missed greatly.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby shiv » 03 Feb 2011 17:27

partha wrote:RIP.
Has Shri KS written any books? Any pointers appreciated. ... 446304.htm
A prolific writer and columnist, he authored and co-authored over a dozen 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.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 03 Feb 2011 19:14

Will sorely miss all those lucid, astute and erudite articles. Darn. A serious loss.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby arunsrinivasan » 03 Feb 2011 20:16

K. Subrahmanyam (1929-2011) - Dhruva Jaishankar

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 his 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 a man 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. His 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 his children and grandchildren married 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.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 21:53

Rich tribute from his grandson.

Gives a family prespective. He was proud of his multi-ethnic family. It made him more world aware.

The 1960s were a tumultous decade for India.
- 1960 China border transgressions
- 1962 Goa Operation Vijay
- 1962 Chinese agression. Limited war below the threshold of all out war & Cuban Missile Crisis. Not anticipated by Indian establishment.
- 1963 US-UK military aid with "ropes" not just strings
- 1963 Death of JLN
- 1964 Chinese Nuke Test
- 1965 Indo-Pak wars Three things:
- Rann of Kutch perfidy. UK pressure to settle dispute in TSP favor
- TSP initiated Operation Gibraltar followed by Operation Grand Slam.
- Failure of Indian policy makers to discern TSP war fighting reserve depletion. Assesment failure
-1966 Death of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Homi Bhaba in same month
- 1967-69 Succession war in Indian political leadership. Syndicate wars
- 1967 Failure of agriculture crops and devaluation of Indian rupee
- 1968 Repeated quest for nuke umbrella by India and spurned by West despite having the most imminent threat from PRC. PRC already showed how it wasn't reluctant to fight a nuke power(SU) in the Ussuri river clashes. US and SU were in proxy fights and never in direct fight. So PRC was not the same as Cold War adversaries.
- 1968 NPT in effect freezing India's option out of legitimate action

KS formed his world view in these tumultous years and he was clear in his vision of where India was despite all the mess that was happening around him like the protogonist of Rudyard Kipling's poem "IF".

Truly it is said "Vision is seeing beyond what is now to what will be."

Its that vision, which others did not share or understand, that clarified things for him. It helped he wasn't a dogmatic Nimrod pushing his knowldege on lesser beings. But listened and countered the arguments logically. From those who knew him personally what comes out is his encyclopediac knowledge of the subject and the differnt points of view and the fallacies on those views. Recall Kautilya's vast knowldege of politicial organization and the deficiencies.

As you can see the nuke issue was important to restore legitimacy as a first rank power. So long as nukes are there: You need test to show you have it (1974 & 1998). Next you have to be accepted as one by the others who have it (IUCNA). Whether India builds power plants or not it is now a legitimate nuke power and is accepted as such by the existing nuke powers. That is the power of the deal. He was clear on this and thus his support for it.

Next you see one has to have political stability and that is dependent on economic growth for no external power on earth, despite any grand strategy, can take apart India, once it has nukes in the hands of the military. In 1960s there were two major attempts to do this 1962 Chinese and the TSP double ops in 1965.

Afte the IUCNA deal its important to understand the next century is about the resource is information and knowledge. Knowledge after processing becomes information.

For this one needs IQ. By 2030 India will have 230M people with IQ >110. That is a population equal to the current population of US! In order to capitalise this, Indians have to believe in themselves and to do that they have to be well off. Recall AlBeruni's gripe about Indians! Hence his emphasis on economic growth.

The 1960s were a great decade for they shaped the world view of his two great helpers: KS Sunderji and AP Kalam who later rose to great heights.

KSS shaped the armed forces doctrine to think in these terms. APK delivered the wherewithal.

Some people fault KS for not writing books like Kenneth Walsh or other doctrinaires. He was a realist practioner and not a detached scholar. So no books of that genre.

There is a quote from Kautilya which to paraphrase says that "Ministers (Officials) who have to implement policies will be the most accurate in their assessments"*. He was verily true to that aphorism.

*Will get the exact one for nit pickers.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Sridhar » 03 Feb 2011 22:57

Sad news. Condolences to his family. India has lost one of its great sons.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby sunny y » 03 Feb 2011 23:11

Very very Sad day for our country....My condolences to his family....May god bless his soul...

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2011 23:54

Please compare the Pragati Interview and my old article in BRM circa 1999!

What Next? Way to a credible deterrent

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby Arya Sumantra » 04 Feb 2011 00:00

RIP sir. Unfortunately the losses of Bharat's Navratnas have always come at crucial moments for the country.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby ramana » 04 Feb 2011 00:37

Two tributes:

Tarun Das in Business Standard:

Celebrating the man who had no private agenda

In Gita terms Nishkama Karma!

Celebrating the man who had no private agenda

Tarun Das / New Delhi February 4, 2011, 0:42 IST

I was late coming into his life but, very quickly, he became my Guru, teaching me what strategic issues are, what foreign policy can achieve, what building India in its totality meant, what partnerships could bring to the table for India and others, and so on.

His last calls to me, last week, on the same morning and evening, were about President Obama’s State of the Union address, his reference to the ‘Sputnik’ moment and the relevance of India and USA working together to achieve this. Mr Subrahmanyam’s direction to me was to work for this, in the US and in India.

{Read my comment about knowledge and information}

My first engagement with ‘Subbu, Sir’, was in a defence ministry committee, on the proposal for a National Defence University (NDU). He took our group through the process of understanding its role and importance with reference to other similar institutions in USA and China. And, as his health problems started, leading to General Satish Nambiar standing in for him, the report made a clear case for setting up the NDU. Ironically, the Government has taken years and years to take the NDU forward but a couple of days ago, there was a news item that land in Haryana has been identified for the proposed NDU. It should be dedicated to Subrahmanyam.

A far more intense relationship evolved in 2005/2006 when he led the PM’s Task Force on ‘US global strategy: Emerging trends and long-term implications’. Subrahmanyam chaired and led. I was part of his seven-member team. His leadership was just amazing. He went into history to help each of us understand US strategy over decades and, then, to discuss and determine what India’s strategy should be on each key issue — defence, economy and trade, energy and technology.

The chairman set a tough time deadline, which called for two-day meetings every two weeks. It was an incredible experience. And, the process included meeting everyone from whom we could learn and understand on issues relating to our scope of work. When the report was done, with a great deal of personal dictation by him, we had the privilege to make a presentation to the PM and his team of senior officials for nearly two hours. Much of what has happened in Indo-US relations flows from the thoughts and ideas of Mr Subrahmanyam.

Another area he influenced enormously was the whole process of Track-2 Dialogue, even though he, personally, could only personally participate once in Jaipur. He taught us the value of Track-2, the ability to speak freely, to listen to equally frank views on India from our counterparts, and the impact of all of this on building mutual, shared, understanding.

In discussing Indo-US defence cooperation, which he felt was extremely important now and in the future, he once famously referred to the inglorious past when “the Americans would not give India even a screw”! This shook up everyone at the Dialogue, as he delved into his phenomenal memory to share anecdotes and true stories of past experiences.

{Again my summary above on the tumultous decade!}

Over the years, Mr Subrahmanyam came to teach us, more and more, of the vital importance of India being strong, based on two pillars. Economic strength and military/defence strength. And, this strength was crucial to earn global respect and credibility. A weak India was not good for India or the world. But, a strong, balanced, mature, centrist India, a non-threatening India, was critical. A simple message, yet to be implemented with the seriousness it deserves.

{Think about this again and again. Print it on small note card and carry it with you!}

He believed, as I understood him, that India must not be isolated. India must work in partnership. And, a key partnership in his view was with the US, because of India’s own national interest. Defence, economy, energy and technology agendas of India always led to the USA. This message is being followed, slowly but steadily.

A man with a towering mind. A deep sense of history, as well as of the future. A meticulous person. A ‘national’ as well as ‘international’ man. Of high integrity and strong purpose. He is living proof that you can contribute from outside government to shaping a nation’s thinking, policies and action. I salute Mr K Subrahmanyam, a man with a national agenda and no private agenda.

The writer is former Chief Mentor, CII

C. Rajamohan in Ind Express:

He dared to break down silos, change national security discourse

He dared to break down silos, change national security discourse
C. Raja Mohan
Posted online: Thu Feb 03 2011, 04:57 hrs

New Delhi : K Subrahmanyam, who shaped India’s national security polices for more than four decades, passed away here today. He was 82.

Subrahmanyam advised all prime ministers starting from Indira Gandhi on foreign and defence policies and had a decisive impact on India’s nuclear strategy and national security management. Above all, he got India to appreciate the logic of power in international affairs.

As he boldly battled cancer in recent years, he summoned his innermost energies to persist in the promotion of critical thinking about India’s national security. He was determined to make a difference until the very last.

As India rises on the world stage, Subrahmanyam’s contribution in getting its security establishment to ponder the nature of power and its political purpose will long outlast him.

A relentless advocate of a powerful India, he was also strikingly detached from power and its many manifestations in the Delhi Durbar.

Unwilling to be co-opted by the allures of office and privilege, he spoke the truth to power, often risking his own career advancement.

His refusal to implement the draconian Emergency laws as Tamil Nadu’s Home Secretary in the mid-1970s underlined his strong sense of right and wrong.

In turning down the Padma Bhushan award some years ago, Subrahmanyam was affirming an unfailing capacity to distinguish between the ephemeral and the enduring.

His greatest reward was in schooling three generations of bureaucrats and politicians, diplomats and journalists, scholars and spies in thinking through the challenges of national security and in helping to construct contemporary India’s strategic community.

As a member of the Indian Administrative Service, which he joined in 1951, Subrahmanyam held many positions in the Indian establishment.

These included the head of the Kargil Review Committee, He dared to break down silos, change national security discourse Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Secretary Defence Production, Convener of the first National Security Advisory Board, and Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

His extraordinary influence on policy, however, did not derive from the bureaucratic positions he held. It came from the power of his intellect, the courage of his convictions, and a rare capacity to mobilise elite opinion.

Some of his peers used to describe Subrahmanyam as ‘Swayambhu’. With an intellect that was self-manifest, he did not need an official position make an impact on national security policy.

He was unaffected by the many political and ideological labels that were hurled at him so very often. His unremitting focus was on defining and promoting India’s national interest.

Because he understood the power of ideas, he was always ready to break the barriers of conventional wisdom. Subrahmanyam will be long remembered for rescuing the Indian world view from the intellectual confusion that reigned in Delhi after the death of Nehru. He injected much needed realism into India’s world view since the mid-1960s.

{See my recounting of the tumultous 60s!}

If he was utterly austere, totally upright and completely detached in his persona, Subrahmanyam was forbiddingly intense in any intellectual engagement.

As he became the unofficial intellectual spokesman for India’s policies in the 1970s and 1980s, his foreign interlocutors were often unnerved by his ferocious debating style.

Those who got to know him a little better figured out that there was nothing personal in his policy contestations. All that mattered to him was the advancement of India’s interests. No wonder he leaves a large number of admirers around the world.

Just as he was prepared to question the opinions of his seniors, Subrahmanyam was ready to engage his junior-most colleagues in any argument.

A child-like curiosity and openness to new ideas never deserted him. They made him young at heart until the very end of his life.

Subrahmanyam always insisted that real power was not about holding office, but affecting change — in the policies and mindsets of the Indian system. Nowhere was this more evident than in India’s nuclear thinking that he changed single-handedly.

Stepping into the great Indian nuclear debate after China’s first nuclear test in 1964, Subrahmanyam mounted a successful campaign to prevent India from signing away its nuclear weapon option by joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. :eek:

Calling atomic weapons the “currency of international power”, he became the foremost proponent of India exercising its nuclear option.

Yet, he did not turn nuclear weapons into a fetish. When Rajiv Gandhi ordered the building of nuclear weapons in the late 1980s, Subrahmanyam was instrumental in drawing up a strategy of restraint.

He emphasised the irrelevance of American and Soviet nuclear doctrines and insisted that India must focus on building a limited but credible deterrent.

One of his greatest passions was the reform of India’s security sector. His consistent advocacy resulted in the creation of the National Security Council system in 1998.

While many of his contemporaries tended to repeat the old foreign policy mantra after the Cold War, Subrahmanyam sought to recalibrate India’s premises to the changed international context.

A strident critic of US policies during the Cold War, Subrahmanyam was the first to see the opportunity to build a new partnership with the United States in the last two decades.

His enthusiastic support for the controversial civil nuclear initiative during 2005-08, was critical in tilting the balance in favour of the Indo-US deal.

He transformed India’s national security discourse by breaking down the separate silos that once dominated the landscape. When he started writing on foreign and defence policies in the 1960s as the Director of IDSA, he confronted resistance from many official quarters.

The Foreign Office, the Defence Ministry and the Service headquarters were all outraged by the young IAS officer’s temerity to write on subjects that were considered beyond public discourse.

If academia was irritated at a civil servant’s foray into the study of war and peace, it was appalled at Subrahmanyam’s prolific writing for the popular press.

The persistent effort to create a strategic community, an unending quest for an efficient national security policy, and the rich imagination of a strategy to claim India’s rightful place in the world, make Subrahmanyam’s intellectual legacy a lasting and formidable one.

I think the power shift after 9/11 made him see possibilties of the future.

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Re: Strategic guru K Subrahmanyam passes away

Postby SaiK » 04 Feb 2011 01:10


India's No FUss lotus flower petals will shine as KS shall be remembered.

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