The Literary City

Centres Of Power - In The Den With Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi And Chinmay Gharekhan

August 02, 2023 Explocity Podcasts Season 3 Episode 61
The Literary City
Centres Of Power - In The Den With Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi And Chinmay Gharekhan
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Why were the 1980s pivotal in so many respects? Think the giddy days of glasnost and perestroika, the end of the cold war—of the whole Soviet Union in fact, liberalisation and globalisation, GATT and open borders, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the rise of Rajiv Gandhi—who stepped on the gas and pushed the country towards a more open economy.

I became a lobbyist in Delhi in the 80s. I was barely twenty when I joined as a fresher, in 1980. When I quit my job and returned home to Bangalore in 1988, I had aged more than the chronology of the eight years would suggest.

As a young man growing into his own, I was privileged to have been in the middle of the most pivotal period of Indian administration and world history since WWII. Up close and in the middle of it all. It was a lesson in how policy and administration works, it was a lesson in understanding the scale of their enterprise, and it was a lesson in humility.

When you are in your twenties, you have the answer to all problems—and there’s a good side to that because you feel both empowered and a participant, with access to the centres of power.

But my guest today was one of those who was, himself a centre of power—Chinmay Gharekhan. Of the many important offices he held, one of which was in the Prime Minister’s Office—both during the time of Indira Gandhi and then Rajiv Gandhi. And then he was India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

His book is a memoir of his days at the Prime Minister’s Office, the real seat of power in India and following that in the United Nations Security Council during the period of the First Gulf War—another greatly pivotal period for us.

Chinmay Gharekhan is the author of the memoir, Centres Of Power - My Years In The Prime Minister’s Office and Security Council. It is always fascinating to think of our history—as these things influence the way we think today—and when you have someone who had a ringside seat to those events, you listen carefully.

And joining me from his home in Scarsdale in New York is Ambassador Gharekhan.

Chinmaya R. Gharekhan, a distinguished member of the Indian Foreign Service, served in several capitals in different continents. He had the unique privilege of working with two prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, for a period of about five years. He spent the better part of his career dealing with the United Nations. As ambassador of India to the United Nations in New York, he represented India on the Security Council during 1991–1992 and was twice president of the Security Council. He was appointed prime minister’s special envoy for West Asia and the Middle East Peace Process during 2005–2009.

Buy Centres Of Power:

Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in "WHAT'S THAT WORD?!",  where they discuss the etymology of  "HOIST WITH ONE'S OWN PETARD"

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