You are here

Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Sujan R Chinoy At The K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Amb. Sujan R. Chinoy
    February 25, 2021

    Good afternoon. I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you. I particularly wish to welcome to this event Dr. S. Jaishankar, the Minister of External Affairs of India and Dr. C. Raja Mohan, our keynote Speaker who will deliver the K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture.

    Today, we have gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing away of Shri K. Subrahmanyam which, to be precise, fell on 2nd February of this year.

    Shri K.Subrahmanyam was a remarkable person. He was a civil servant, policy practitioner, intelligence analyst, strategic thinker, prolific media commentator and political adviser to many. He stood for robust national security structures and postures. He was one of the first to back the notion of “guns and butter” as against “guns versus butter”.

    Today’s Lecture will be delivered by Dr. C. Raja Mohan, who is well-known as one of India’s finest strategic thinkers. As one who cut his teeth as a young scholar at IDSA and as a protégé of Shri K. Subrahmanyam, there is no better person than he to speak on the topic “When to Intervene: Using Force Beyond Borders”. This is not an easy question. The spectrum for intervention ranges from surgical strikes against terrorist infrastructure to involvement in ethnic conflicts or coming to the aid of friendly governments. Our action in J&K in 1947-48, Hyderabad, Diu, Daman and Goa do not fall in that category, each of these being a sovereign part of Indian territory.

    Friends, as you all know, Shri K Subrahmanyam was one of the moving spirits in the founding of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in 1965, and became its second Director in 1968, serving up to 1975. In the aftermath of our wars with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965, Shri Subrahmanyam was an early advocate of defence reforms, the nuclear option, improved intelligence inputs, and, dexterous engagement of great powers. His advocacy of the nuclear deal with the US stands out.

    His first term at IDSA coincided with a world as much in flux as the one we live in today. Sino-Soviet relations had deteriorated dramatically in the late 1960s. President Nixon, upon assuming office, was straightaway grappling with the question of an honourable retreat from Vietnam. US intervention in Vietnam is a big example of the use of force beyond borders, like the Russian intervention in Afghanistan and US interventions post 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq which followed.

    More relevant from our point of view, Shri K. Subrahmanyam presided over IDSA as Director at a time when the sub-continent was going through the birth pangs of Bangladesh, mid-wifed by India. I recall seeing an incisive policy paper prepared at the IDSA, which he forwarded to the then Secretary to the Prime Minister, Shri P. N. Haksar and many others, on 4 April 1971. It was titled “Bangladesh: Policy Options for India”. Weighing the pros and cons in India’s national interests, he had advocated early intervention in East Pakistan. The rest, as we know, is history.

    It is rare, but Shri K. Subrahmanyam was also the Director of IDSA for another seven years from 1980-1987. A key challenge in the subcontinent was the internal conflict in Sri Lanka which eventually led to the Colombo Accord of 1987 under which India deployed the IPKF from 1987-1990.

    Around this time, India faced another tough choice in its neighbourhood in the Maldives where it conducted Operation Cactus. It involved the use of force beyond borders, in support of the country’s legitimate government which had sought India’s assistance in dealing with a grave national security threat. Today, India has consolidated its image as a key stakeholder in the evolving security architecture in the Indian Ocean Region.

    Shri Subrahmanyam’s contributions to the draft nuclear security doctrine of India and his Chairmanship of the Kargil Review Committee are legendary, and have continued to guide the national security discourse.

    In his prescient pronouncements, it is clear that Shri Subrahmanyam had long anticipated the disruption that would be caused by China’s rise as an economic and military power, and perhaps its unilateralism as well.

    For his take on all this and more, we now turn to our distinguished speaker, Dr. C. Raja Mohan. I request him to deliver his Lecture over the next 35 minutes or so, after which we will have a Q&A session. At the end of it, the Vote of Thanks will be delivered by none other than India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, himself a chip of the old block, if I may be permitted to use the term. He, with good reason, reminds us most of Shri Subrahmanyam’s sharp intellectual reflexes in dealing with India’s current geo-strategic challenges.

    Thank you.