This would perhaps be one of my first reads which I believe sheds light into the corridors of power as far as the world’s largest democracy is concerned. K. Natwar Singh had previously served the prestigious Indian Foreign Services for close to 31 years before taking up his retirement voluntarily, to enter the grand stage of Indian Politics as the Minister for External Affairs. His autobiography gives in depth details and analysis on India’s Foreign Policies right from the Nehru era till 2004 when he had to step down as Minister due to his alleged involvement in the Oil for Food scam in Iraq which was shed to light by the Volcker’s committee report under the United Nations.
His book had been criticized extensively by the Indian National Congress as he had brought to light many of the chain of events that had transpired from the moment his name had been mentioned under the Volcker report. He goes an extra mile in even mentioning the name of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress and questioning her actions and her hold and control that she exercised over the party. It’s worth mentioning that only a handful of Congressmen have stepped this far in criticizing the Congress President and this is one such. The book talks in length of K. Natwar Singh’s term during which he had served the Indian Foreign Service and his experience in working under the tenure of the late Prime Ministers Shri. Jawaharlal Nehru, Smt. Indira Gandhi and also under the young and vibrant Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. As far as the literature is concerned, it is well versed and has a diplomatic tinge to the style of writing. Some of the other important contexts of the book would be the foreign policies that India had pursued mainly with it’s next door neighbors which includes China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It highlights the key notes both on the winning and losing edges as far as the policies and relationships which India had shared with her next door neighbors.
The book also as with most biographies or autobiographies are concerned as it is with this one, has a collection of great moments captured in photographs which gives a sense of power and the high stakes at which the actions or the chain of events that progressed as narrated in the book. One of the major insight for me was the realization of the close bonds that India had shared with the erstwhile USSR right from the beginning of India’s independence all the way up till it’s fall with the onset of the 90’s. The other major highlights would be the LTTE crisis that had persisted in Sri Lanka and how the Rajiv Gandhi Government had made a total mess of it and how it all in the end, culminated in the untimely demise and assassination of the Ex. Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. The same would also go for the Golden Temple crisis which later took a toll on his mother’s lifer prior to his.
This would certainly be a recommendation for anyone who is interested in getting to know as to what it is like to serve in the helm of power and what goes around along the corridors of power in New Delhi from 10 Janpath all the way till 7 Race Cross Road.
– One Life Is certainly Not Enough.