Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 01:45 | SYDNEY
Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 01:45 | SYDNEY

The passing of giants 2: Brajesh Mishra


Rory Medcalf


5 October 2012 13:36

There is one other great whose death this week is a loss to security policy worldwide. Brajesh Mishra was, among other things, India's first national security adviser, and a wise and important figure in the evolution of Indian strategic policy in the past few decades.

From a few encounters with him, first in that role and then during his active retirement, I was impressed at how he could address his nation's myriad security challenges with a sphinx-like demeanour and an unnerving sense of calm.

He will be remembered in particular for steering India to its place as an overt nuclear-armed state, for advancing India's relations with the United States and China, and for managing tensions with Pakistan during the troubled years after 1998 and into the post-9-11 era. His sangfroid would have been especially tested during the frightening near-war crisis with Pakistan from December-2001 until mid-2002.

At the end of that prolonged confrontation, which saw a million men mobilised on the border, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee reportedly said that India had been prepared even for nuclear war. With the passing of Mishra, the world has lost one of the few people who knows if that was ever really true.

Photo by UN Photo of Brajesh Chandra Mishra (left), presenting his credentials to Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim at UN Headquarters when he became the Permanent Representative of India to the UN.