Thursday, April 16, 2015

33 Indian diplomats, 1,150 years of experience in IFS and a book on diplomacy

WHEN 33 Indian diplomats who have collectively put in more than 1,150 years in Indian Foreign Service (IFS) decide to pen a book, the final product is bound to be a treasure of thoughts and ideas on international relations and contemporary history. The book titled “India and the World – Through the eyes of Indian Diplomats” edited by former IFS officer Surendra Kumar, is said to be a “healthy cocktail of reflections and reminiscences, hardnosed analysis and…
dispassionate interpretation and, of course, some crystal ball gazing”. On Wednesday, the new book was released by Vice President of India and former diplomat M Hamid Ansari who described it as a “Bouquet of 33 Flowers” as it contains essays of 33 diplomats. The essays are narrative, analytical and argumentative, it is said.
As it is described in the book, the writers have taken up developments of the recent past, dissect them thanks to their rich experience and understanding spanning decades and strive to foresee what is the likely scenario in the years to come, and how that could impact India’s relations with the rest of the world.
The writers represent three generations -- those who joined IFS in 1950s, in the 1960s and in the 1970s.
The book has also made attempts to address a few philosophical questions. Are the days of quiet diplomacy numbered? A few essayists have ventured out to explain whether it is hard power or the soft power or the soul power that serves national interests best.
Main editor of the book Surendra Kumar is known as an unconventional diplomat and he calls a spade a spade without any diplomatic dilemma. He is introduced someone who “plays with a straight bat and considers ability to make friends even in hostile environment”. Kumar was India’s Ambassador to Mozambique during the civil war and to Libya during Col Qaddafi’s regime under US sanctions. Kumar retired in 2008 as the Dean of Foreign Service Institute. He has authored six books so far. In 2010, he founded Indo-American Friendship Association, New Delhi.
Finally, a disclaimer. The BoI reporter has not read the book while writing this report.

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