Former India Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has had a ringside view of the most critical events and shifts in Indian foreign policy in the new millennium. In this magisterial book, Saran discerns the threads that tie together his experiences as a diplomat.
In his book, part memoir and part thesis on India’s international relations since Independence, Shyam Saran discerns the threads that tie together his experiences as a diplomat. Using the prism of Kautilya’sArthashastra and other ancient treatises on statecraft, Saran shows the historical sources of India’s worldview. He looks at India’s neighbourhood and the changing wider world through this lens and arrives at fascinating conclusions — the claims that the world is hurtling towards Chinese unipolarity are overblown; international borders are becoming irrelevant as climate change and cyber terror bypass them; and India shouldn’t hold its breath for a resolution to its border disputes with China and Pakistan in the foreseeable future. The book also takes the reader behind the closed doors — from Barack Obama popping by a tense developing-country strategy meeting at the Copenhagen climate change summit to the private celebratory dinner thrown by then US President George W. Bush for then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the success of the nuclear deal.
Ambassador Shyam Saran is a career diplomat born on September 4, 1946. Since joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1970, he has served in several capitals of the world including Beijing, Tokyo and Geneva. He has been India’s Ambassador to Myanmar, Indonesia and Nepal and High Commissioner to Mauritius. In the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, he headed the Economic Division and the Multilateral Economic Division and also headed the East Asia Division which handles relations with China and Japan. As a Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office in 1991/92, he advised the Prime Minister on foreign policy, nuclear and defence related issues. After a career spanning 34 years in the Indian Foreign Service, he was appointed India’s Foreign Secretary in 2004 and held that position till his retirement from service in September 2006. Subsequent to his retirement, he was appointed Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Indo-US civil nuclear issues and later as Special Envoy and Chief Negotiator on Climate Change.
He has now concluded his assignment in Government and returned to being a private citizen. During his last two assignments, Ambassador Saran served as Prime Minister’s personal representative or “Sherpa” at the Gleneagles and St. Petersburg G8+G5 summits and was present at the Toyako and L’Aquila Summits as an advisor on Climate Change issues. He also attended the Pittsburgh G-20 summit as a member of the Indian delegation.
Currently, he serves as Chairman, Research and Information System for Developing Countries, which is an autonomous think tank specializing in studies on economic and trade related issues. He is also a Senior Fellow with the Centre for Policy Research, a prestigious think tank which covers a wide range of political, social and economic issues, including foreign policy related issues. He speaks and writes regularly on a variety of subjects.
On January 26, 2011, Ambassador Saran was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India for his contribution to Civil Service. The Padma Bhushan is the third highest national award in the country. Ambassador Saran holds a post-Graduate degree in Economics. He speaks Hindi, English and Chinese and is conversant in French.