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A doyen passes

RIP, K Subrahmanyam.

Independent India’s greatest strategic thinker, K Subrahmanyam, passed away on 2nd February.  Mr. Subrahmanyam was India’s most influential strategic voice, having made critical contributions to the formulation of India’s nuclear doctrine, championing the cause for intervention to end the East Pakistan genocide in 1971, and chairing the Kargil Review Committee.

In a memorable interview with Rediff in August, 2000, Mr. Subrahmanyam offered these words about the state of India’s security apparatus:

We have progressed in the sense that we have improved our equipment. We have improved our surveillance capability. We have perhaps improved our monitoring capabilities. We have plugged all the gaps with a very heavy cost. By pushing the troops into the gaps. Even though that’s not the best way of handling the problem, there is no other short term alternative. All that has been done.

But what worries me is that at the time of the Kargil war when our troops had to be fully supported everybody wanted to engage in the fingerprinting and blaming game here. Now after the war, when you have the entire report available with every scrap of intelligence information that is available to the government printed in it, all those people do not talk about it.

This highlights the fact that people in this country are not interested in national security. They are interested in the politics of national security. That is a very, very sad thing. [Rediff]

True words then as they are today, as the KRC report gathers dust and Kargil and Mumbai are unfailingly remembered by the powers-that-be in New Delhi, once a year each.

Recommended: Nitin Pai’s tribute on The Acorn and interview with Mr. Subrahmanyam in 2008 (podcast),  and a felicitation in 2004 by his KRC colleague , BG Verghese.

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