Natwar Singh’s full name is Kunwar Natwar Singh. Kunwar loosely translates to Prince . True to his name K Natwar Singh’s autobiography is a princely account of a life of privilege, high places and realpolitik at the global level.
I purchased this book to understand contemporary Indian history. For long I was interested in knowing how and what shaped India’s tryst with destiny and opportunities after independence. The book doesn’t fail there. It is a entertaining account of life of/in India after 1947.
In his Autobiography Natwar Singh recounts his life story from growing up in Bharatpur to Mayo, Scindia college, Indian Foreign Service, serving in capitals of many countries, friendship with high and mighty and his days as Minister of external affairs. It is quite a entertaining account of how diplomacy works at the international level and how India has been ruled by proxy by the new kings and queens.
Natwar makes no attempt to be modest. He pictures himself as an upright man who was never afraid to speak his mind in front of Indian stalwarts like Nehru and Indira Gandhi. He doesn’t hide his disdain for Sonia Gandhi. A self acclaimed Nehruvian to the core he offers loyalty and trust and honesty to the political masters of the time and expects the same from them.
Natwar echoes the views of many authors about Ex Pm Manmohan Singh as a spineless and gutless PM who invokes no-one’s confidence.
In the end you can’t help but like him and you feel sorry when he explains how because of the Volcker controversy he was made a scapegoat by Congress party and how he values nothing but his name.
Two things struck me as I read the the book. One was around how Nehru refused the proposal of giving India a permanent seat at the security council at the behest of USSR. The second was Nehru’s insistence of taking Kashmir Issue to the United Nations. Both these issues continue to haunt India.
Overall a good read. If you were born in the 70s then quite a few things will take you down the memory lane. For me it was the mention of USSR Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze and Glasnost and Perestroika. Those days we were bombarded by these three names on DD almost on a daily basis.
I end with the quote on the very first page of the book ” A un examined life is not worth living- Plato” I can safely say that Kunwar Natwar Singh has done a fair job.