28 August, 2012

Negotiating for India: Resolving Problems through Diplomacy

Negotiating for India: Resolving Problems through Diplomacy

By- Jagat S. Mehta

This book is a chronological compilation of the author’s diplomatic experiences when,
during his Foreign Service career, he was involved in seven unconnected negotiating responsibilities. No other officer was entrusted with comparable burdens but he acknowledges that they came to him by bureaucratic happenstance. In the first three—accompanying Nehru to Bhutan (1958), leading the official team for India-China Boundary talks (1960), negotiating compensation for Indians expelled by Idi Amins’ Uganda (1975)—he was only a secretatriat official. During the last four—normalizing relations with Pakistan and negotiating Salal hydro-electric project on a ‘Pakistani’ river (1976), Farakka negotiaations with Bangladesh (1977), and separating Trade and Transit with Nepal (1978)—he was the Foreign Secretary which enabled him to recommend improvisations to resolve inherited deadlocks. Most negotiations were with unequal neighbours, which required anticipating the perceptions (and misperceptions) of the sovereign partners. Suspicions—justified or exaggerated—of coercion and hegemonism had to be assuaged.

Mehta also recalls the personalities of select colleagues and negotiating opposite numbers, the ablest amongst whom was Chang-wen-chin, his Chinese counterpart. According to Mehta dueling all day intellectually but toasting each other’s nations after sundown, symbolizes the unique calling of professional diplomacy.

Jagat S. Mehta was Foreign Secretary, Government of India, during 1976-79 appointed at a comparative young age of 53. After retirement, his primary interest has been in voluntarism for social and economic development. However, he has woven these with spells in academia. He was an Associate at Harvard Centre for International Affairs in 1980, Fellow at Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washingtonin 1981 and appointed Tom Slick Distinguished Professor of World Peace in Austin (Texas) in 1983. His predecessor in this chair included Nobel Laureates Gunnar and Alva Myrdal.

ISBN  81-7304-672-7    2006   314p.   Rs.750/ pounds 50

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