|Born||19 January 1929
Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu
|Died||2 February 2011|
|Education||Presidency College, Chennai
London School of Economics
|Occupation||Strategic affairs analyst, India|
|Children||Vijay, Jaishankar, Sudha, Sanjay|
Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam (19 January 1929 – 2 February 2011) was a prominent international strategic affairs analyst, journalist and former Indian civil servant. Considered a proponent of Realpolitik, Subrahmanyam has long been an influential voice in Indian security affairs. He was most often referred to as the doyen of India's strategic affairs community, and, more contentiously, as the premier ideological champion of India's nuclear deterrent.
Subrahmanyam was a key figure in framing and influencing Indian security and nuclear policy. And in advocating Indian nuclear positions on the global stage, both as a policy wonk and as a journalist. He was the second director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. He is also noted for having steered several Indian government committees and commissions of inquiry, including one on a war fought between India and Pakistan. Subrahmanyam was a major advocate of the 2007 Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, adding some heft to the Manmohan Singh government's championing of the deal in the face of much opposition.
He died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he was hospitalised for lung and cardiac problems.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Role in Indian nuclear and security policy
- 3 Influence on national security and defence policy
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
Subrahmanyam was born on 19 January 1929 and grew up in Tiruchirapalli and Madras. Enrolling at Presidency College he received an MSc in Chemistry from the University of Madras in 1950 and, after standing first in India in the Civil Services Examination that year, was appointed to the Indian Administrative Service in 1951. After service in the Tamil Nadu cadre and in the Defence Ministry, he was appointed a Rockefeller Fellow in Strategic Studies at the London School of Economics in 1966. On returning to India he was appointed Director of the newly created Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in New Delhi, a position he held until 1975. He then went on to a number of senior positions in the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Government of India including Chairman of India's Joint Intelligence Committee in New Delhi, Fourth Member, Board of Revenue, Government of Tamil Nadu, Home Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, New Delhi,and Union Secretary for Defence Production in the Ministry of Defence – before returning as Director of IDSA in 1980. He returned to England as a Visiting Professor and Nehru Fellow at St John's College, Cambridge in 1987. Between 1974 and 1986 Subrahmanyam also served on a number of United Nations and other multilateral study groups, on issues such as Indian Ocean affairs, disarmament and nuclear deterrence; and also at various Pugwash conferences as a senior member.
Subrahmanyam is the author or co-author of fourteen books. These include The Liberation War (1972) with Mohammed Ayoob about the Bangladesh Liberation War, nuclear Myths and Realities (1980), India and the nuclear Challenge (1986), The Second Cold War (1983) and Superpower Rivalry in the Indian Ocean (1989) with Selig S Harrison.
Subrahmanyam declined the Indian government honour of a Padma Bhushan in 1999, stating that bureaucrats and journalists should not accept government awards. A festschrift in honour of Subrahmanyam, with essays by Indian and American policy experts, academics and journalists, was published in 2004 to mark his 75th birthday. Always an influential Indian media figure, he was featured in India Today magazine's 'High & Mighty' listing in 2006. The IDSA instituted an annual 'K Subrahmanyam Award' for contributions to Strategic Affairs in 2007. Permanent Secretary to the Indian Government S Vijay Kumar, Indian diplomat S Jaishankar and noted historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam are his sons.
On 11 November 2005, speaking on the 40th anniversary of IDSA's founding, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh singled out Subrahmanyam for his achievements:
|“||Subrahmanyam's incisive writings continue to stimulate and contribute to the thinking of strategic analysis and policy makers in this vital area of national concern. We look forward to many more years of active contribution from this doyen of the strategic community in India.||”|
Incidentally, Subrahmanyam was on board an Indian Airlines flight (IC 421) on 24 August 1984 when the plane was hijacked to Lahore, Pakistan and onward to Dubai where all passengers were released without incident. Interestingly, the arrested hijackers later claimed in court that it was Subrahmanyam who "planned the entire hijacking to examine nuclear installations in Pakistan."
Role in Indian nuclear and security policy
Subrahmanyam was appointed the Convenor of India's first National Security Council Advisery Board (NSCAB), established by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998. The board drafted India's Draft nuclear doctrine, which governs all policy aspects with regard to usage and deployment of India's nuclear arsenal. Its most significant aspect was the declared 'No first use' policy, and the consequent directive that India's nuclear weapons would largely be oriented around a second strike capability. Subrahmanyam had been an old proponent of India adopting a no first use posture, arguing for it right after the Shakti tests in 1998, and even earlier in 1974. The nuclear doctrine was adopted by the government of India soon after.
Kargil Review Committee and controversy
Subrahmanyam was appointed Chairman of the Kargil Review Committee in 1999, an inquiry commission set up by the Indian government to analyse perceived Indian intelligence failures with the Kargil War. The committee's final report (also referred to as the 'Subrahmanyam Report') led to a large-scale restructuring of Indian Intelligence. It, however, came in for heavy criticism in the Indian media for its perceived avoidance of assigning specific responsibility for failures over detecting the Kargil intrusions. The Committee was also embroiled in controversy for indicting Brigadier Surinder Singh of the Indian Army for his failure to report enemy intrusions in time, and for his subsequent conduct. Many press reports questioned or contradicted this finding and claimed that Singh had in fact issued early warnings that were ignored by senior Army commanders and, ultimately, higher government functionaries.
In a departure from the norm the final report was published and made publicly available. Some chapters and all annexures, however, were deemed to contain classified information by the government and not released. Subrahmanyam later wrote that the annexures contained information on the development of India's nuclear weapons programme and the roles played by Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and V P Singh.
Task force on strategic developments
In November 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed Subrahmanyam to head a special government task force to study 'Global Strategic Developments' over the next decade. The Task Force examined various aspects of global trends in strategic affairs and submitted its report to the Prime Minister in 2006. The report has not yet been released in the public domain and is presumed to have been categorised a classified document.
Influence on national security and defence policy
Subrahmanyam's pioneering policy work is generally accepted to have left a lasting, even if sometimes controversial, impression on Indian strategic thinking and foreign policy. Its substance is still being debated, even as it is recognised to be firmly located in the pragmatist and realpolitik traditions. Many of his positions, particularly those he articulated on India's nuclear choices, have often led to Subrahmanyam being dubbed a policy 'hawk' and 'hardliner'.
Indian Nuclear Programme
Subrahmanyam is mostly identified as the premier ideological champion of India's nuclear programme and its exercising of the nuclear weapons option—which began with India's first 'peaceful' Smiling Buddha nuclear test in 1974 and culminated with the 1998 'Shakti' series of weapons tests, both in Pokhran, Rajasthan. His polemics, articulated over five decades, on India's development as a nuclear nation, with civilian and weapons capabilities, have proven both influential and contentious with supporters and detractors alike—of nuclear development and nuclear disarmament. His strong views and trenchant criticism of the inherent inequalities of the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty regimes are widely known and referenced, as well as being heavily commented on. He often used the term 'nuclear apartheid' to decry this situation and routinely lambasted the five established nuclear states for forcing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on everyone else while refusing all proposals for nuclear disarmament, including one proposed by India in 1986. He also coined the phrase 'nuclear ayatollahs' to refer to the western non-proliferation lobby that routinely chided India for pursuing a nuclear programme; and later for finalising an accord on nuclear co-operation with the US in 2007.
The so-called 'Subrahmanyam Formula' was widely used, especially in the mid-60's and throughout the 70's, to support India's entry into the nuclear club, despite the country's non-violent Gandhian origins and foreign policy roots in Nehruvian pacifism. The formula did not see any contradiction between striving for socio-economic progress and considering large-scale military development for a developing nation like India. Indeed, strategic deterrence, in which a small but effective indigenous nuclear arsenal would play a key part, was seen as vital to balancing things out in an unequal world carved up by Cold War geopolitics. This ingenious and apparently paradoxical stand has been adversely commented upon, being dubbed 'moral exceptionalism' on non-proliferation by several commentators. Significantly, Subrahmanyam also argued that Pakistan too should look to develop a limited nuclear programme of its own – to establish its own deterrent against conflict. This was met with great suspicion in Pakistani circles, and seen variously as an insult or a challenge. He also concluded in the 90's that India needed only 150-odd warheads to achieve minimum deterrence. And that this had been achieved by 1990, a point noted by many as a good reference to India's nuclear stockpile.
In 1979, as Chairman of India's Joint Intelligence Committee, Subrahmanyam authored a Cabinet note arguing for the resumption of India's nuclear weapons programme. The programme had been shut down in 1977 by Prime Minister Morarji Desai on his assuming office, largely on account of seeking to return to India's pacifist foreign policy roots. Subrahmanyam's note was prompted by Indian Intelligence's latest estimates of progress in China and Pakistan's nuclear programmes. It was discussed and shot down in a Cabinet meeting, principally by Morarji Desai and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then India's External Affairs Minister. Ironically, Vajpayee would go on to immediately authorise the 'Shakti' series of nuclear weapons tests on becoming Prime Minister in March 1998.
1971 Indo-Pakistani war
Subrahmanyam's was an influential voice that argued for India's intervention in solving the serious 1971 crisis in East Pakistan. Early that year, he argued that the growing refugee influx into Eastern India and the mounting humanitarian crisis in the neighbouring country could not be effectively solved without Indian military intervention, mainly because it was precipitated by the Pakistani army's involvement. And that India ignore the crisis only to its own peril. His forthright views attracted controversy – being condemned by the Pakistani government as evidence of Indian aggressiveness; attracting attention and comments in the international media, especially in The Times and Newsweek; and being sharply criticised by even Army Chief Sam Manekshaw, who apparently wanted Subrahmanyam sternly disciplined.
United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also condemned these policy positions on a short visit to India in July 1971, particularly when Subrahmanyam told Kissinger that he expected him to be more considerate on account of Kissinger's own experience with genocide, having himself escaped the Holocaust. In spite of these many objections the substance of Subrahmanyam's views swiftly gained ground and led to the Indian government's examination of various military options. These culminated in India's December 1971 war with Pakistan, its victory, and the subsequent creation of Bangladesh.
Later, as head of IDSA, Subrahmanyam was instrumental in helping compile some of the first authoritative reports on the war, in association with some of its key players. He would later write that the 1971 war saw the fledgling IDSA coming into its own as a well-regarded and influential think tank. Quite a bit of his commentary on the messy Cold War politics that shadowed the entire war – which included US moral support to Pakistan, its later dispatch of the USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal, and tacit Soviet support to India – along with his related prescriptions for Indian foreign policy found their way into subsequent Indian military doctrine. He has since stated that the major lesson learnt from this war, on the administrative synergy required – where civilian leadership maintains close co-ordination with Intelligence and a pro-active rapport with military brass – has not been adequately enshrined as a guiding tenet of Indian security policy, which tends, in turn, to gravitate towards powerful political and bureaucratic interests.
India-United States nuclear agreement
In line with his Realpolitik, Subrahmanyam—once a well-known critic of the US for its earlier Cold War-influenced foreign policy, even being dubbed a 'leftist' and 'Soviet sympathiser' on occasion —later on became a leading advocate of the Indo-US Nuclear accord on civilian nuclear co-operation signed by President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007. He might have also played some formal role in helping the deal along, as press reports indicated. He explained his changed position by stating that there was now tremendous convergence of strategic interest between the two countries, and that India should make use of a great opportunity to work with the US. Many Indian and American commentators have criticised this stand, and also the accord itself.
Criticism of government policy
Subrahmanyam long argued for revamping India's national security decision-making apparatus, and was also vociferous in his criticism of several governments' efforts at tinkering with the system. He was particularly critical of successive Indian governments' lackadaisical approach to long-term strategic planning, and their similar attitudes to the creation of specialised positions and resources. One noted target of such criticism was his civil service batch mate Brajesh Mishra, who served as both National Security Adviser—when that post was created—and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from 1998 to 2004. Subrahmanyam repeatedly called for bifurcating both key posts, in commentary sometimes so strong that it even appeared to precipitate a public spat between the two. This bifurcation of posts was finally done by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in consultation with Subrahmanyam, upon assuming office in 2004. The establishment of a National Defence University by the government is also something he long demanded. Despite several recommendations, including those from a government committee Subrahmanyam himself chaired, this is yet to be set up.
Subrahmanyam was also well known as a frequent commentator and columnist in several Indian and international newspapers. After retiring from government service in the late 80's, he served as consulting editor and policy expert with various Indian publications. These included The Tribune, The Economic Times and The Times of India. Interestingly, Subrahmanyam was on the editorial board of The Times of India when India conducted the 'Shakti' nuclear tests in 1998 and the largely centrist paper famously withheld his comments, temporarily, while it condemned the weapons tests. Some of his writings in the press have been compiled and published in two volumes.
- C Uday Bhaskar (1 August 2008). "A legend in uniform". The Hindu. India. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- Bharat Karnad (6 May 2007). "Minimum deterrence and the India-US nuclear deal". Seminar India. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- N Ram (10 September 1999). "Dreaming India's nuclear future". Frontline. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- Amitabh Mattoo & David Cortright (10 May 1996). "India and Pakistan: A Post-Election Status Report". Boston University. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- Somini Sengupta (10 December 2006). "Interests Drive U.S. to Back a Nuclear India". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "India in Overdrive to Conclude Nuclear Deal". The Seoul Times. 10 January 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "Profile". Indiaclub.com. 5 August 2006. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "Major shake-up in India's intelligence apparatus". India Defence. 25 March 2006. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "Profile – K Subrahmanyam". Global Zero. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "The Industrial Revolution and Birth of the Anti-Mercantilist Idea: Epistemic Communities and Global Leadership". Journal of World Systems Research. 1996. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "Open Library Query". Open Library. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- Harrison, Selig S & Subrahmanyam K, Superpower Rivalry in the Indian Ocean: Indian and American perspectives, Oxford University Press USA, 1989. ISBN 978-0-19-505497-2, 9780195054972. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- TNN (20 January 2008). "Those who said no to top awards". The Times of India (India). Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- FE (20 January 2004). "Vajpayee Opposed Nuclear Option In ’79". The Financial Express. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- IT (20 March 2006). "High & Mighty, 50 Power People in 2006". India Today. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- UNI (8 November 2007). "Vice-President to address IDSA's Foundation Day function". WebIndia123. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "PM honours K Subrahmanyam with lifetime award". PTI. 11 November 2005.
- "Tackling Transborder Challenges". Sainik Samachar. 11 December 2005.
- Ritu Sarin (9 January 2000). "The one that didn't get away". The Indian Express. India. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "Subrahmanyam". Asian-affairs.com. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Indian Draft Nuclear Doctrine: Some Reflections". Pugwash.org. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "A nuclear strategy for India". Fas.org. 28 May 1998. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "From technology demonstration to assured retaliation: The making of an Indian nuclear doctrine – Strategic Analysis". Informaworld.com. 15 July 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- [dead link]
- Kargil report shows the way
- Pg 56–60 Dixit, JN, "India-Pakistan in War & Peace", Routledge, 2002. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "The sacking of a Brigadier". Hinduonnet.com. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Scapegoat for the system". The Hindu (India). 1 July 2001. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Army's Kargil inquiry indicts Brig Surinder Singh". rediff.com. 16 February 2000. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "The Kargil Story". Hinduonnet.com. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Opinions". The Tribune. India. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Narasimha Rao and the bomb – Strategic Analysis". Informaworld.com. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "National : Task force constituted". The Hindu (India). 5 November 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- [dead link]
- "Engaging Security". The Oxonian Review. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "'No American can treat India like a pet': Rediff.com India News". In.rediff.com. 11 October 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- South Asian Journal[dead link]
- "Global Beat: GRN Publications – India and Pakistan: A Post-Election Status Report". Bu.edu. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Cohen, Stephen P, The Idea of Pakistan, Brookings Institution Press, 2002 ISBN 978-0-8157-1501-6, 9780815715016. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Columbia Discovery Service" (PDF). Ciaonet.org. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Nuclear Weapons – India Nuclear Forces". Fas.org. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "The Little Magazine – Vox – Ashis Nandy". Littlemag.com. 30 January 2002. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Arrogant nuclearism". Hinduonnet.com. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Pg 285–286 Perkovich, George, "India's nuclear bomb: the impact on global proliferation", University of California Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-520-23210-5. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- 23 November 1998 – (23 November 1998). "Nuclear Weapons and Conflict in South Asia – Brookings Institution". Brookings.edu. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Elimination or Irrelevance | Arms Control Association". Armscontrol.org. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Pg 180–181 Cohen, Stephen.P, Emerging Power India, Brookings Institution Press, 2002. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- 4to40.com, New Delhi, India. "Between the Bomb and the Barter: Publications, American Physical Society, Nuclear Weapons Technology, David Albright, American Nuclear Non-Proliferation Movement, Robert Einho". Pugwashindia.org. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Warm up to the future". The Indian Express. India. 12 July 2006. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Indian Strategic Culture and the Indian Nuclear Policy". Asiaticsociety.org.bd. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- maruf. "Bangladesh Strategic & Development Forum". Bdsdf.org. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Page 170, Frey, Karsten, India's nuclear bomb and national security, Routledge, 2006. ISBN 978-0-415-40132-6, 9780415401326. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Page 486, Tellis, Ashley J, India's emerging nuclear posture: between recessed deterrent and ready arsenal, United States. Air Force, Rand Corporation, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8330-2781-8
- Page 226, JSTOR, Cambridge University Press, 2005. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Tuesday, 20 January 2004 at 0000 hrs IST (20 January 2004). "Vajpayee Opposed Nuclear Option In ’79". The Financial Express. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Page 408-419 Perkovich, George, India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation, University of California Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-520-23210-5, 9780520232105. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Page 63-65, Ganguly, Sumit, "Conflict unending: India-Pakistan tensions since 1947", Columbia University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-231-12369-3
- Page 311-331, Sisodia, N S; Dutta, Sujit, India and the World: Selected Articles from IDSA Journals, Bibliophile South Asia, 2005. ISBN 978-81-86019-50-4
- http://www.cprindia.org/papersupload/1215247694-Sidhu_Nuclear.pdf[dead link]
- Dugger, Celia W. (18 March 2000). "In Clinton, India Sees a Bridegroom". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "K. Subrahmanyam, US Path to Unipolar Hegemony". Hartford-hwp.com. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Asia Times: 'All is well that ends with Powell'". Atimes.com. 23 January 2002. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "April 10, 1998 INDIA-PAKISTAN: 'A NEW COLD WAR' ON THE SUBCONTINENT?". Fas.org. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- [dead link]
- "Nuclear deal still on course: K Subrahmanyam". Rediff.com. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- http://www.samachaar.in/Politics/Stalling_nuclear_deal_will_be_a_historical_mistake_23244/[dead link]
- Whose national interests is the Left protecting?- Hindustan Times
- Between the Bomb and the Barter:Publications [Pugwash India Research Articles: ], Indian Pugwash Society,Between the Bomb and the Barter by A. Vinod Kumar,American Physica...
- "The warped logic of nuclear gambles". The Hindu (India). 27 May 2002. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Nation's security hotshots are feeling terribly insecure of each other
- "Does India need a National Security Advisor?". Indiaabroad.com. 18 January 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "India's security matters". rediff.com. 28 October 2000. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Opinions". The Tribune. India. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- Turf war in security – PM’s man set to win
- "LEADER ARTICLEOne Man, Two Tasks: Brilliant Diplomacy vs Neglected Security – The Times of India". The Times of India. 9 June 2004. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- PMO awaits a few more final touches
- http://mod.nic.in/pressreleases/content.asp?id=192[dead link]
- Prime Minister's Office
- Page xxiv, Chellaney, Brahma, "Securing India's future in the new millennium", Orient Blackswan, 1999
- K Subrahmanyam (28 November 2008). "COLUMN – Attack on Mumbai". Reuters. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
- George Perkovich (2000). "India's Nuclear Bomb". University of California Press. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
- K Subrahmanyam (11 May 2008). "Memories of N-Bomb". The Tribune. India. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
- Kumaraswamy, P R (2004). Security Beyond Survival, Essays in honour of K Subrahmanyam. SAGE. ISBN 0-7619-3267-4, 9780761932673
- Kargil Review Committee (2000). From Surprise to Reckoning: The Kargil Review Committee Report. SAGE. ISBN 0-7619-9466-1, 9780761994664
- Subrahmanyam, K (1986). "India and the Nuclear Challenge". Lancer and Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses
- The Legend that is K. Subrahmanyam, by BG Verghese.
- Review of Engaging Security: The Legacy of K Subrahmanyam
- P V Narasimha Rao and the Bomb, by K Subrahmanyam
- Elimination or Irrelevance, Arms Control Today, 2008
- Partnership in a Balance of Power System, by K Subrahmanyam
- Recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee
- Indian Nuclear Doctrine