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Book Review: “Choices” by Shivshankar Menon

Foreign Policy formation of a country which is filled with infinite diversities is not a child’s play. The recent book by Shivshankar Menon, the former National Security Advisor and foreign secretary of India throws light on how complex and difficult it is for diplomats to form foreign policies for countries.

The book which is his personal account as a bureaucrat who had a part in major decisions of foreign policy of our country. Menon throws light on how conflicts and interests are negotiated for greater good and mutual benefits in diplomacy.

In the book he analyses the border peace agreement with China by the Narsimha Rao Government, the civil nuclear deal with United States and the decision of not going on a military offensive on Pakistan after 26/11 attacks by the Manmohan Singh Government. He also writes on how Sri Lanka eliminated LTTE, why India pledges no first use of Nuclear weapons and his final words on how the foreign policy has shaped and its future. The book analyses each of these events in details focusing on the background, history, politics, economical and international scenarios in those points of time.  

His accounts show how political leaders at the helm have a great influence in the decision making and how sometimes political parties disregard the long term benefitting foreign policy goals in order to secure their own political interests. His accounts of how using statecraft to counter terrorism by non-state actors is largely a less yielding sword especially when the terrorist are supported by another state, and his detailed narratives into the five most pivotal decisions in the recent history of India is a surely suggested reading for anyone who aspires to take up a career in foreign services in his future.

Amongst many other books like ‘Walking with Lions’, ‘Making of a Diplomat’ which are a must read for aspiring diplomats, this book draws a definite space in their bookshelves.

Srivedant Kar

srivedantk@dubeat.com  



Srivedant Kar is the associate editor of DU Beat. A journalism student at Cluster Innovation Centre, he spends more time thinking about tomorrow than today. Having interned with United Nations, he is an avid reader, fierce debater, poet and religious follower of politics who aspires to be a diplomat some day.


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