Tribute to Shri K. Subrahmanyam (1929-2011)
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  • N.S. Sisodia: I am sad to inform you that Shri K.Subrahmanyam passed away this morning at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he was hospitalized for treatment.

    Shri K.Subrahmanyam’s passing away is truly an irreparable loss to all of us in the IDSA family and a very large number of his colleagues, friends and admirers. The IDSA and the IDSA family will miss him deeply. It will be impossible to fill the void created by his sad demise.

    His sons are expected to join the family later today and tomorrow and it is expected that the cremation will be held some time around 11:00 AM on Friday morning. I will keep you posted with further developments in this regard.

    Arvind Gupta: It was wonderful to see him in action at the Kargil Review Committee and the National Security Advisory Board. His ability to derive insights from deep historical past and use them to interpret the present and peer into the future was remarkable. His forceful personality was due to his formidable intellect, utter simplicity, and deep humanism. His main aim was to educate people about about the implications for India of the pro fund geopolitical anges in the world.

    Ramesh V. Phadke: He was one of the few Indians who genuinely cared for India’s security without ever entertaining any illusions about its intrinsic capacity. His grand vision of India was that of a ‘Knowledge Power’. Like former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam who sees India as a developed country in 2020, K. Sub’s India was not a militarist power raring to go to war.

    In fact, he strongly believed that conventional wars were going out of fashion but to keep them that way, he knew that a country had to maintain a robust defence.

    He did not like anyone politicising India’s security but welcomed debate and contrary views. While he constantly wanted India’s security managers to take greater interest in their subject he would perhaps also have liked more civilian scholars in this field.

    He was a strong advocate of Indo-US strategic cooperation but was not blind to the problems on both sides and did not see it at the cost of India’s relations with other countries.

    In his own matter-of-fact style he also often highlighted the challenges posed by a rapidly rising yet inscrutable China. He would have liked a far bigger effort to improve our understanding of this important neighbour.

    He was no doubt a realist but his realism was tempered with pragmatism. He understood the peculiarities of Indian democracy and knew that it would take India a long time to build a solid security base. While he saw merit in modernising our military he did not like profligacy in defence procurement.

    His huge contribution to India’s nuclear decision making is too well known to need any repetition, but he was a genuine minimalist who abhorred a wanton nuclear weapons race and strongly hoped that South Asia would soon achieve an enduring strategic balance.

    He took great interest in promoting strategic studies but could not unfortunately see the fruition of India’s National Defence University. IDSA, his brain child, is now a matured institution and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the trajectory of strategic and defence studies in India would have been very different without his relentless efforts to promote a wider and deeper understanding of national security. One wishes that he had mentored and groomed more scholars, which perhaps his failing health did not permit.

    Fearlessness, dogged determination and perseverance were his major strengths and all of us need to cultivate these qualities.

    India or at the very least IDSA should dedicate 2nd February to the memory of this doyen of Indian strategic thought by bringing the understanding of military, defence, security and international issues to the average Indian citizen.

    Gulshan Luthra: Early in my career, I used to call on Mr Subrahmanyam in IDSA for his thoughts and guidance on India's defence programmes and the security scenario in the region. He was always welcoming, and shared kowledge as a patient Guru would.

    In 1978, I did a piece on the structural reorientation of RAW as mandated by the new Prime Minsiter, Mr Morarji Desai, who wanted to weaken it - or so it seemed. Mr Subrahmanyam, who was then Director of the Joint Intelligence Committee, invited me for a discussion and explained the Government's viewpoint.

    I called on Mr Subrahmanyam at his residence some time back. During this interaction, the case of Brig Devinder Singh, who did well in the Kargil War, also came up. He said he had not gone into operational details of the Kargil War but agreed that from all accounts, Brig Devinder Singh had been denied well-deserved credit and that he wished the matter had come to his notice earlier.

    The Guru, as I regard him, always took pragmatic views on building a strong and peaceful India in line with contemporary conditions. His thoughts have helped shape India's nuclear policy and relations with various countries, particulaly the United States.

    I will miss the Guru, Guide and Philospher.

    Air Mshl SG Inamdar: Mr Subrahmanyam was an uncommon example of a man who had read copiously and was reading copiously even BEFORE he arrived, unlike many who first arrive and then start reading late in life! He also had this phenomenal memory storage for historical military/ strategy/ diplomacy detail and the gift of being able to recall it at the right event, in the right context, at the right time, at the right place.

    Sadness is his departure from among us; cancer finally claiming him after being thwarted by him for so many years. Anxiety is "who will replace him in the strategic community?!". Not too many names of men & women comparable erudition, stature and analysis come to mind right away.

    Brig Pradip Mehta,VSM(Retd): My heartfelt condoloences. He truly was a remarkable and erudite strategic thinker,who I met with professionally about 25 years ago at delhi. IDSA and the strategic fraternity will surely miss his inputs and contribution to our strategic thinking & planning.

    May his soul rest in peace, and our condolences be conveyed to his family.

    Kamala Kanta Dash: Honesty and Integrity in public life were his hallmarks both as a public servant and a policy analyst. The modern Indian Kautilya directly trained at least two generations of strategic experts giving them enough space to develop their world-views without imposing his. He continues to inspire and will continue to do so in the coming decades. As the father of strategic thinking in modern India, his was the path of knowledge acquisition that blended the Greek and Indian traditions; the Socratic and the Upanishadic traditions respectively. Not much work has been done on him, on his ideas on nationalism, internal security and his vision of India as a great power. His idea of nationalism was a curious mix of devotion to his country and an aspiration that the country secures an important place in the comity of nations and was always bereft of any feeling of communalism and sectarianism. Moreover, he believed in a plural, democratic and inclusive India. We must study him to understand such nuances in his thought and personal life and how it has impacted thinking in India's policy making.

    Amit Dighe: Shri K Subrahmanyam was a great strategic thinker. He helped articulate India's strategic doctrine over several decades. Moreover, he educated the general public over national defence issues through the media. I can recall his spirited style of standing up for his country's interest in a mid-90's news debate on TV which included the illegal transfer of Chinese M11 missiles to Pakistan through the POK region -- of which the United States had satellite pictures, but surreptitiously avoided acknowledging it, to which KS said, "The US must come out with the truth." He also warned that "Pakistan has a dream to break up India into several pieces." Let's pay our tributes to Shri Subrahmanyam by always remembering & following up on the issues he so fightfully highlighted. May the soul of the great "KS" rest in peace.

    S. Kalyanaraman: The Indian security community has lost a role model, a mentor, a fierce debater, a promoter of the national interest, and THE shaper of the national security discourse for four and a half decades. Mr. Subrahmanyam’s wholehearted commitment to his life’s work will serve as an inspiration for successive generations of Indians in this field. We shall carry forward his legacy.

    Rahul Bhonsle: A Deep Loss to the Family no doubt but also to the Indian Strategic Community. We hope and pray for eternal peace to the Soul of the doyen of strategic studies in India Mr K Subrahmanyam.

    Arun Sahgal: I think we can all agree that doyen of Indian strategic community is no more among us. A deep and irreparable void has occurred which will be difficult to fill.

    In a sense all our lives have been touched by the wisdom and deep strategic grasp of Shri Subrahamnyam. Let us join in paying our homage to the departed soul with a prayer for the family.

    We salute you Subbu 'sir'

    Ramamohan Rao: I have had the opportunity to listen and interact with Mr K. Subrahmanyam for the last four decades. As a young communication officer of the Army, I used to admire him -- a civil servant articulating the problems faced by the nation, and the defence forces.

    Later, as Principal Information Officer of the Government , I had the opportunity to participate in many discussions with him. He used to tell me that it was necessary to educate the public through the media of the defence needs of the country.

    To a large extent, he succeeded in doing it. We will all miss his articles in national newspapers. He has been a Guru to all who grew under him in Sapru House and South Block.

    He has blessed all of us. God bless his soul.

    Namrata Goswami: Shri K. Subrahmanyam's passing away is an immensely sad moment for IDSA and for India's strategic community. Till the end of his life, he remained engaged with strategic issues and possessed a razor sharp mind. His contribution to strategic affairs has been enormous, successfully building the foundation for younger generations of thinkers to follow suit. I remember most his presence in my IDSA fellow paper on “Explaining China’s Claim on Arunachal Pradesh” in September 2010. He was one of the most attentive in the audience despite his age and failing health. My deep condolences to his family.

    Shyamala B. Cowsik: A very warm, perceptive and moving tribute to a great visionary who belongs to that very rare breed, those who are irreplaceable. What I liked above all in it is the wonderful summing up of Shri. K, Subrahmanyam's overall national strategic mantra:the single-minded advocacy of national power not devoid of principle. If only we could get the powers that be to desist from the knee-jerk reactions and general bent towards soft options that complicate our foreign policy these days, whether toward Pakistan or the US or China or elsewhere, we could manage our innumerable problems much better.

    Though not all of us have had the good luck of having been closely associated with Shri. K. Subrahmanyam as Cde. Uday Bhaskar has had, many of us have fond memories of him. My own favourite is of watching him, in 1980, at a special round table that I, then First Secretary (Political) in our Embassy in Washington, had organised for him at Brookings, take Richard Haas apart, gently but comprehensively. He could always remember and cite some long past example of American hypocrisy and/ or perfidy to stump their later attempts at sanctimonious preaching to us. But he never lost sight of the national interest or let his personal exasperations cloud his assessment of our best policy options, whence his whole-hearted support of the India-US rapprochement during the Bush years, and of the nuclear deal as well.

    I am sure that he is now busy, in Heaven, analysing the likely post-Mubarak scenario and its implications for India, the Arabs, and the rest of the world. I wish, so much, that he could share it with us.

    Nilima Mitra: I recall the long sessions we used to have at Sapru House discussing India's strategic dimensions in the early 80s when Mr.Subramanyam was heading the IDSA .He always had time for all the Researchers working there and one felt enriched and amazed after every interaction--how could one man have so much depth and insight -he indeed was an outstanding Guru.Yes the strategic community will feel his loss.

    R J Khurana: Sad to hear about the demise of Shri K. Subramanyam, an erudite analyist and an ace stategic thinker. He was one of my predecessors in the Joint Intelligence Committee and was always available for interaction on politici-milirary developments. He will be sorely missed by the IDSA community and others who came in contact with him. My heart-felt condolences to the family and friends. May his soul rest in peace.

    Manavendra Gupta: Subramanyam ji's sudden demise is a very serious jolt for our country. Fortunately he has taught us to analyse country's defense structure thoroughly and take right decision whenever necessary. Thanks to his relentless work, today country is prepared for all or any surprises which may be spinned by our enemies. we have to be aware that we are alone and have to counter rest of the world single handed. Knowing that the rest of the world is extremely troublesome for us to handle by force, subranyam ji has trained us to use our brain power instead of brutal force and this will guaranty our freedom and victory in every type of warfare. his example shows that India has more than enough brainpower. I sincerely hope that Subramanyam ji, who is now sitting besides the Gods in heaven will eradicate the traitor cum corrupt foreign politicians completely from India.

    S D Muni: Shocked to hear the sad news. Had a long association with him since 1971. He will always remain a source of inspiration and guidance to the entire strategic community in India. Deep condolences.

    Jack Jacob: I worked with him since 1971. We communicated on the coming operations for the liberation of Bangladesh.

    We kept in touch. We will miss him. He was a great man.

    Dr Sumant Swain: We all are missing the inputs provided by him in the field of foreign policy and strategic affairs. He will be remembered forever among academic community. My heartly deep condolences.

    Sudarshan Bhutani: Deeply saddened to read this. We all knew he was ill; we also hoped that his indomitable spirit would prevail and we would continue to benefit from his guidance.

    A. Vinod Kumar: His demise is the end of an era - a period when India regained its legacy of strategic thought. India's strategic community stands orphaned with the doyen's departure. The nation and the coming generations will miss the wisdom of this great thinker.

    Rory Medcalf, Lowy Institute, Australia: He was a great man - wise, patient, persistent and driven by a clear sense of national duty. Later in life he was also generous in helping international scholars engage with and understand India's security imperatives, as well as a respected voice on arms control and disarmament. His passing is a great loss.

    Ali Ahmed: I recommend the doyen of Indian strategists, Mr. Subrahmanyam, now departed, be nominated for award of Bharat Ratna.

    Mohammed Badrul Alam: I am profoundly saddened to learn of the demise of K.Subrahmanyam. In his death, we lost a strategic thinker of extraordinary ability. Through his seminal writings, he influenced an wide array of scholars and policy analysts. May his soul rest in peace.

    Kovid Kumar: In Indian history there is golden chapter with name of K.Subrahmanyam which is closed today. But his views and policy's are mile stone research scholar of security issue and also for Indian government. What we say about him that is not enough so we all pray to god give him highest place in his world.

    R.N. Das: He was a great mentor, who remained agile and prolific till he breathed his last

    Smita Purushottam: He helped build IDSA to the fine institution it has become today. Deep condolences to his Family and to Ambassador Jaishankar.

    Ramesh Phadke: Truly shocking, he will surely be missed by all of us. Hats of to his courage, he remained committed to his work until the very last moment, it was only the other day that we saw him at the IDSA, brief yet frank as usual, our heartfelt condolences to the family. May his soul rest in peace.

    Navneet Bhushan: This is a huge loss for India.This is a HUGE loss for India! Having interacted with him during our different games that we were making - I think this is an irreplaceable loss for Indian strategic thinking capability! long live IDSA - the institute that Dr. Subramanyam created!

    Neha Pant: Very sad to hear about the demise of Mr. Subrahmanyam. I have always read his articles and ideas with great interest. They were very insightful and brilliant in analysis. My wish of interviewing him at least once will unfortunately always remain unfulfilled. The face of Indian foreign policy will be sorely missed by all.

    Cdr Prem P Batra (Retired): I have always held Shri K Subrahnayam Sahib in high esteem.Though I am presonally not acquainted to him. I read his centre piece in papers very very carefully. And would listen to his talks very very attentively.

    Ganesh Venkatasubramaniam: Probably the Kautilya of our times in all respects... great strategist, during 80's (my teens) he was the reason I used to read "The Hindu". Pray his soul rest in peace

    Sunil Adam: He was not just a great strategic thinker but an intellectually confident and emotionally secure person who never took to heart even those who disagreed with him. I will always cherish his affection and remember his sense of humor. He was a rare man worthy of unqualified respect.

    Suresh Nair: We have lost a giant and illustrious son. Bangladesh would thank him, as would all Indians for his tireless service to improve our security. A lot more needs to be done. Hopefully there are many who have benefited from his tutelage and will help India in future crises, and work to proactively anticipate opportunities as KS did.

    Batch of 1992-94, M Phil, South Asia Studies, JNU: We deeply mourn the sad passing away of our beloved teacher. He was full of energy, never missed a single class, patiently mentored us and
    gave us memorable insights into security studies, which you shall never find in any book or article. Farewell to you Sir, with gratitude and grief!

    Rajagopalan: May your soul rest in peace. As a student in college, his columns were a must read. A fine mind, a fine man.

    Anand Kumar: Sir K. Subrahmanyam was one of the strongest pillars of the nationalist thinking in India. He kept supporting IDSA even after his retirement. His sad demise signifies end of an era. May his soul rest in peace.

    Pankaj Jha: The Guiding Light is lost and the strategic community would always miss him.

    Ashok Behuria: It is his sheer hardwork, his razor sharp analytical acumen, his wide knowledge of history, his ability to compare events across time and space, and above all his devotion to the nation which sets him apart from others in the domain of strategic thinking in India. He will remain a source of inspiration for all of us for ever.

    Mohammad Samir Hussain: Sir K. Subrahmanyam writing on various topics and in particular to Indo-U.S relations will always be remembered for a long period. His writing on this topic was so phenomenal that it makes it easy for me that it clear a lot of confusion during my research work. The latest article i have gone through is the one published in Defence and security alert. His contribution in India's security and defence policy is always commendable and no one will be able to replace him rather than representing him.

    Col TS Tanwar (Veteran): KS inspired us through his writings, and many young officers in year 1976 become regular members of IDSA, and most of us continued to read his contributions for an indepth view of the subjects. Apparently a great thinker and a guiding light on security matters.Our heart felt condolences to the family; may his soul rest in peace.

    Nihar Nayak: Shri K. Subrahmanyam’s departure is not only a huge loss to India but also to strategic community. Pioneer of India’s strategic thinking, Shri Subrahmanyam will remain as a role model for scholars and academics for times to come.

    G C K Rai: With his demise we lost strategic thinker par excellence. It is a great loss to strategic community and IDSA. My heart-felt condolences to the family and friends. May his soul rest in peace.

    Balaji Chandramohan: India had lost its modern day 'Chanakya'. Personally, he was the stature of Grand-Father to me and still now able to come to terms with his death.

    Sant Prasad Gupta: He was first person who made defence as the important issue to think, to participate. Through IDSA, K. Subrahmanyam invited thinkers of all walk to make their contribution in the strategy of country defence as a whole.

    Ajay Kuligod: I will miss his scholarly articles. He was a great source of inspiration for young India.In this era of growing international co-operation on strategy,India will miss him.Paying tribute to him would be by strengthening our military self- reliance.

    Mehernosh Bhathena: RIP Mr. Subrahmanyam. Wish our political leaders had half your wisdom & a quarter of your fortrighteousness.

    Maj Gen RPS Malhan(Retd): I express my heart felt condolences to fellow IDSA members on the demise of Mr K Subrahmanyam. He was a strategic thinker of unparralled repute. His demise is a loss to all of us. May his soul rest in peace.

    Sumant Mukherjee: We have lost an analyst par excellence. Very few get to reach the levels of clarity like he did.

    Abhishek Ranjan: This is the end of an era. Current generation will always remember him as an strategic expert & a vocal journalist. But many people were not knowing he was equally a one of the finest bureaucrat of independent India. He made an impact till the last moment of his life.

    Minthang: The void he left will be irreplaceable. A monolith among the nascent Indian strategic community, he no doubt, bequeathed a lasting legacy. May his soul rest in peace.

    Col. Vivek Chadha: Mr K Subrahmanyam's omnipresence and seemingly indestructible spirit was a source of inspiration to all of us. His vision and deep desire for enhancing our strategic vision shall remain a cherished goal for all of us.

    M Mahtab Alam Rizvi: These lines reflects the greatness of Sir K. Subrahmanyam:-
    Kiya Hai Apne Lahoo Se Ek Diya Roshan Hum Ne
    Dikhaya Hai Zamane Ko Naya Rasta Hum Ne
    May his soul rest in peace.

    Ravindra: Great Person, RIP. We need People like K. subrahmanyam sir. India is safe because of people like him.

    D Ramana: KSgaru was modern day Bhisma Pitamaha and strived for the security of the modern nation state. What I note in all these tributes his clarity of thought about Indian and its future and not confused with daily problems. He also understood the varying threats and how they needed to be countered..Condolences to his family and CUB

    K N Rai : I remember the night I picked up Mr Subrahmanyam from his house in my Maruti 800 car many many years back for a Top Secret meeting with some other bigwigs like Dr Rajarammana, Gen Sunderji, Dr Arunachalam and others in Delhi and dropped him back at 2.00 AM.
    His mind was focused and thoughts clear. All along the journey, up and down, I was on the listening mode. Assimilating what best I could . In his death this country has lost a personality of the kind and caliber we will never see.

    Maj Gen G D Bakshi: Mr Subramaniam was an iconic figure and the doyen of our strategic community. He initiated the tradition of strategic thinking in the post independence dispensation. It is indeed a major loss for us all.

    Yogesh Kumar Singhal: I was addicted to his articles published in media for being logical, far reaching and apolitical. His articles made me feel like proud indian and i always thought that my country will be a super power in future. I will miss him badly as my regular dose of his columns in media will not be there. May god bless his soul eaternal peace.

    Bharath L: The incisiveness of his analyses was the only beacon in the deserted landscape of Indian strategic thinking. A great loss to the Indian strategic community. May his approach enlighten us all. May his soul rest in peace.

    Varun Sahni: Over long (and initially, lonely) decades, he was the Keeper of the Flame. He kept us, the strategic analysts and thinking public of India, honest. He thought of India as a great power when few others did. He was always kind, and never condescending, to those a generation younger than himself. Hearing him in full flight, especially on foreign shores, was always a treat. A great man who will be sorely missed.

    Col Abhay Patwardhan: The nation as whole & services in particular have lost a very staunch nationalist & an very competant authority on defence matters.Those of us who are in analytical field have lost a true guide & teacher.I was fortunate to have interacted with him on few ocassions & remember him as thorough gentleman:what we in services profess.May his SOUL rest in peace & his spirit guide us in times to come.

    Balaji S: RIP Mr. Subrahmanyam. you have lived the life on the path of dharma and showed the light for others to live theirs. Now, its upto the rest (us!) to follow the path and lead the country.

    Brigadier (Retired) Sukhwindar Singh: May Your soul rest in peace! Taking inspiration from Your dedication and delivery to the System, may the strategic community in India develop itself into a 'force' capable of sound policy inputs that serve for 'development and conflict resolution'!! May the nation not further add to its list of conflicts and security challenges that essentially is a measure of the delivery of the Strategic Community to its stakeholders !!!

    Jinendra Nath Mahanty: It was indeed a great loss not only to scholars and students of international affairs but also to the Indian foreign policy establishment.We all are shocked to hear the news of sad demise of our great strategic 'Guru'.

    Nadaradjane: I was profoundly saddened by the demise of Shri K. Subrahmanyam, as I was very interested by his very perceptive analyses of indian geopolitical environment

    Arunkumar Santhanakrishnan: Subbu's contribution to the Indian nuclear civil & devence policy is always remembered. May his soul rest in peace.

    Vineet P. Hegde: My interest towards the editorial section developed first after reading the articles by the great K subhramnayam.This is a great loss for the country as such.His immense contributions to the country would always be cherished and he would surely go down the history as one of the few great men this country would have ever produced.RIP

    Anup Datta: In K.SUbrahmanyam's death,India has lost a defence analyst of international repute.I feel sadder because when I was a student in JNU,he was inspiring me when I met him at Defence studies.He mothered the defence studies in such a way,that would leave a lasting imprint even in future days to come.

    Lakshman Sundar Aiyar, Vashi, New Bombay: Shri.K Subrahmanyam was a defence luminary. I used to read his incisive, informative and insightful articles on defence and security matters. He was simply brilliant in making complex things simple. India's security was his chief concern and to improve that he suggested various ways and means. His passing away is a great loss to our nation because very few people have foresight like him. I convey my sincere condolence to his family. Viva Shri. K Subrahmanyam.

    Narayan Kumar: He was certainly the very best among strategic experts. His passing away has created a void which may be difficult to fill. His articles, particularly those appearing in the Times of India, which I happen to read regularly was pragmatic, lucid and thought-provoking. India has lost a very meritorious son and his loss has saddened me. May his soul rest in peace.

    Gautam K. Basu: I, on behalf of School of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Jadavpur University, deeply mourn the sudden demise of a great scholar and probably the best strategic analyst of our country. Our colleagues fondly remember his visit to our University during one of the seminars and his brilliant presentation. May his soul rest in peace.

    Lt Gen Dr Mohan Bhandari: Came in very close contact with him just after Op VIJAY was successfully concluded.We spent endless hours in the Ops Room at the MO Directorate. A brilliant man who was equally a great human being.