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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 29 New Delhi July 9, 2016

It is Rasgotra’s folly, not Pandit Nehru’s

Saturday 9 July 2016, by M K Bhadrakumar


These are of course extraordinary times in our country and the former Foreign Secretary M. K. Rasgotra might have for some incomprehensible reason felt the urge to be in sync with the zeitgeist, when he needlessly indulged in some Nehru-bashing at a function in New Delhi on Monday (June 27) as part of drumming up media publicity for his memoirs that has been published recently.

According to Rasgotra, Panditji goofed up historically—and the nation has paid a heavy price consequently—when he spurned an offer from the then US President, John Kennedy, to have an atomic device exploded from a tower in the Rajasthan desert, circa 1962. (Indian Express)

Which means, if Rasgotra is to be believed, but for Panditji’s folly, India would have been a nuclear power ahead of China, and all of that frenzy that we are witnessing today over India’s admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group would have been superfluous.

What a seductive story! Indeed, Rasgotra always enjoyed fabulous reputation as a colourful reconteur. But in this case, he has badly tripped by stretching cold facts beyond credulity to spin yarns at a public function. What are the facts?

The fact of the matter is that the Soviet Union and the United States began their tortuous negotiations in 1955, which ultimately culminated in the historic Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty signed in Moscow in August 1963.

How could the US President have done such an insane act by poking Nehru (who was not only the leader of the non-aligned world but also a vociferous supporter of disarmament) with a hand-written note to go and undercut one of the most prestigious initiatives of his own tenure in the White House—and a landmark event in Soviet-American relations in the Cold war era?

Wouldn’t an erudite mind like Nehru’s have known that Kennedy was bending over backward to close the Test-Ban Treaty with Nikita Khrushchev? Even assuming he didn’t, wouldn’t the “gentle colossus”, GP (Parthasarathy) have known and advised Panditji? (Hindu)

Not only that, Kennedy was personally one of the most ardent supporters of a total ban on nuclear tests as far back as 1956. That is what the archival materials in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston would testify.

Regrettably, Rasgotra has lent his shoulders for the Nehru-bashers in our country. And the real tragedy of it is that Rasgotra himself used to be known as a great follower of the Nehru family and an admirer of Panditji himself while in the Foreign Service as a career diplomat.

Ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). 

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