Bangalore International Centre had organised the Book Discussion of “Choices – Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy” authored by Shivshankar Menon, Former National Security Advisor to Prime Minister and Distinguished Fellow, Brookings Institution (USA), Hyderabad on Thursday, 9th February, 2017 at 6.30 PM at its auditorium. Dr. Ramachandra Guha, Eminent Historian and Columnist was in conversation with the author.
It was a fascinating dialogue, laced with a lot of friendly banter, between two intellectual giants. Suave, urbane and courteously diplomatic in his approach, Shiv Shankar Menon more than matched the rapier twists of Ramachandra Guha, who was in his ebullient best. Shiv Shankar Menon explained with lucidity ad clarity some of the most crucial scenarios India has faced during his long career in government—and how key personalities often had to make choices based on incomplete information under the pressure of fast-moving events. He had either participated directly in, or was associated with all the major Indian foreign policy decisions. These include the India–US nuclear agreement; the first-ever boundary-related agreement between India and China; India’s decision not to use overt force against Pakistan in response to the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai; the 2009 defeat of the brutal civil war in Sri Lanka; and India’s disavowal of the first-use of nuclear weapons. The visions behind the choices exercised at that time in those cases became clear to the audience as these were explained with clarity by Shiv Shankar Menon.
The lively interactive session saw several loaded questions being fired at both Shivshankar Menon and Ramachandra Guha and both dealt with them in their own way. The end result – a total unanimity within the audience that there should be more such discussions in BIC.