A Complex Story
K.P. Fabian
NIXON, INDIRA AND INDIA: POLITICS AND BEYOND by Kalayani Shankar Macmillan Publishers, 2010, 443 pp., 445
April 2010, volume 34, No 5

At a time when India is seen, rightly or wrongly, as intensely engaged in an effort to get closer and closer to the United States, it is useful to read this book by the wellknown journalist and author Kalyani Shankar. The principal theme is how Indira Gandhi was crafty enough to outwit Richard Nixon, himself a superb practitioner of the wicked art of realpolitik, in the context of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan bringing into being Bangladesh. Those of us who are old enough do have an idea of how Indira Gandhi did it. But Shankar by accessing the declassified US material and using her contacts with some of the major actors, including Henry Kissinger, has given us a reasonably comprehensive account of what happened and why it happened the way it did. Of course, in a more rational world, Shankar would have had access to declassified material in electronic form from Pakistan, China, Soviet Union, and others, not to mention India, and her account would have been even more comprehensive.

She did get some access to the Ministry of External Affairs archives in India, but India has yet to formulate a policy on giving such access to declassified material.

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