Former foreign secretary, Maharajakrishna Rasgotra joined India's external affairs ministry when Jawaharlal Nehru, Girija Shankar Bajpai, Sardar Patel were-with a mix of pragmatism and hope-creating the foreign policy of the newly independent nation. This was taking place as the Cold War slid into the subcontinent and complex relationships with India's neighbours-China, Pakistan and Nepal-were taking shape. Looking back on those crucial years with a discerning eye for the interplay of personalities-Nehru, Krishna Menon, or S. Radhakrishnan, for instance-Rasgotra assesses their influence on events and their impact on the evolution of Indian diplomacy.
For over three decades Rasgotra's assignments took him to Nepal, Britain and France, among other countries, as well as twice to the United States. His account of Nixon and Kissinger, and the mix of truculence and persuasion in their dealings with Mrs Gandhi in the run up to the 1971 Bangladesh war, sheds new light on the events of that time. His tenure as foreign secretary covered a period of great change and A Life in Diplomacy provides a ringside view of the beginnings of ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, the last years of the Cold War, the negotiations on the formation of SAARC, Mrs Gandhi's assassination and the Bhopal gas disaster.
This is a compelling, authoritative account of a personal and professional journey; a reflective look at the leaders, events and forces that formed relations between India and the world over fifty years.