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Ex-foreign secy discusses books on politics

Posted on Jan 12, 01:04PM | IBNS

Ex-foreign secretary and author Krishnan Srinivasan has documented his role and responsibility and his passion for politics in his two avant garde works - 'Diplomatic Channels' and 'Invisible Africans'.

The evening of Jan 11 (Friday) at the Crossword Bookstore Elgin Road saw him engage into a discussion with former Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Professor Malabika Sarkar, Vice Chancellor of Presidency University.

West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan and his wife graced the occasion as Guests of Honour.

The evening discussion began with Srinivasan reminiscing and recollecting his experiences and memories as a foreign secretary of India.

"Once a diplomat quits the system and has time to reflect outside the establishment, his perspective changes. He is then able to see more clearly the shortcomings of government policy. Other sections reveal his diverse interests," he said.

His seminal work, 'Diplomatic Relations,' comprises a frank depiction of impressions of the personalities he encountered and of the topics in foreign policy that arose in the early 1990s and which would remain on India's agenda for the subsequent two decades.

The non-fiction also offers an analysis of the origin, hey-day and decline of the practice of non-alignment, along with penetrating short takes on contemporary events from as far afield as in the United States of America in the West to Japan in the East; and for the general reader, reflections on caste, charity and competitiveness.

The closure of his fifth book on world politics comprises a short story about the reminiscences of a colourful retired diplomat.

Speaking about Srinivasan's seminal work, Gandhi said," I don't know anyone who writes as frankly as him; he describes and deals with real situation. He portrays his own role with a self-critical humour."

He went on further to speak about how diplomacy is portrayed in India. "Diplomacy" he said "is esoteric, subtle and belongs to a very few people; it is a technology".

Mr. Sidharth Pansari, Professor Malabika Sarkar, Former Governor Mr. Gopalkrishna Gandhi and the author Mr. Krishnan Srinivasan

Sarkar praised Srinivasan's 'Diplomatic Relations' saying, "I'm charmed by the honesty with which he has written the book, it is a thinking person's book a thriller of sorts. There is a diplomatic and a scholarly side to the author who constantly alludes to literary authors, philosophers in his work."

Next in tow was Krishnan Srinivasan's notable fiction, 'The Invisible Africans - A Novel.'

Lauded as the only Indian foreign secretary to write novels, Srinivasan with panelists Gandhi and Sarkar spoke at length about his experiences while writing the novel.

To his audience, Krishnan narrated his novel and the incidents that induced him to collect and pen down his experiences in the canon of the novel.

Written in the year 2012, The Invisible Africans is about the celebrated diplomat Michael Marco visits India in search of the invisible African where he is reunited with a former colleague who finds himself in dire straits due to his supposed association with Maoist insurgents combating the State.

Speaking about his work, Srinivasan talked about his own experiences regarding the Kashmir issue, the Japanese Tsunami and the U.S elections. He described the President of India and spoke of Narasimha Rao's tenure as a Prime Minister.

Of 'The Invisible Africans', Srinivasan narrates it to be a story of a Somalian Ambassador who travels to India to do research work on the absence of Africans in India and encounters Maoists.

The evening culminated with the audience interacting with the panelists as enthusiastic bibliophiles, students and political analysts looked forward to reading Srinivasan's seminal works that enlightens and informs about the true socio-political scenario in modern India.

An accomplished ex-foreign diplomat Krishnan Srinivasan (born 1937 in Madras, India) was the functional Head of the Indian Foreign Ministry and the highest ranking diplomat in the country.

He was also the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations in London for 7 years after he retired as Indian Foreign Secretary.

Srinivasan was educated at Bedford School and Oxford University.

He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1959 and rose to become the Ambassador/High Commissioner to Zambia and Botswana, Nigeria, Benin and Cameroun, the Netherlands and Bangladesh.

He concluded his career with the Government of India in 1995 after being appointed Secretary and finally Foreign Secretary.

He was then appointed Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General (political) in London where he served until 2002.