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TAMIL NATION LIBRARY: Politics

  • Principles and Practice of Diplomacy by K.M.Pannikar
    Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1956

Sardar K.M.Pannikar (1895-1963) was educated in Madras and Oxford. He was a scholar of Christ Church and was later called to the Bar (MiddleTemple). He represented India at the 1947 sessions of the U.N. General Assembly. In 1948 he was appointed India's Ambassador to China. He went as envoy to Egypt in 1952. Then he was appointed a member of the (Indian) States Reorganisation Commission in 1953. In 1956 he was the Indian Ambassador in France. At the time of his death he was Vice Chancellor, Mysore University.


from the back cover and ...some quotations

The first essay in the book, 'The Nature of Diplomacy', tells the reader what diplomacy really is, shorn of the popular conception of sinister figures plotting dangerous things. The second essay discusses the 'Objectives of Diplomacy' and the third, 'Means and Methods', deals with the actual practice of this most difficult of arts, showing how, inspite of the current belief, in diplomacy, as in other fields of human activity, 'Honesty is the best policy''. The second half of the book contains some extremely shrewd and pithy 'Aphorisms on Diplomacy' and a brilliant discussion of their significance.

"This handbook demands attention,... its intrinsic merits place it in that short list which is headed by Sir Harold Nicolson's Diplomacy... he approaches his subject from an Indian angle which is extremely interesting... he has historian's erudition, a diplomat's experience, and author's style, and a natural wit.' (International Affairs, London)

Some quotations will serve to give the flavour of the book:

''The public habit of judging the relations between states from what appears in the papers adds to the confusion. It must be remembered that in international affairs things are not often what they seem to be."

"A communique which speaks of complete agreement may only mean an agreement to differ. Behind a smokescreen of hostile propaganda diplomatic moves may be taking place indicating a better understanding of each other's position....''

''Foreign Ministers and diplomats presumably understand the permanent interests of their country.. But no one can foresee clearly the effects of even very simple facts as they pertain to the future."

"The Rajah of Cochin who in his resentment against the Zamorin permitted the Portuguese to establish a trading station in his territories could not foresee that thereby he had introduced into India something which was to alter the course of history. Nor could the German authorities, who, in their anxiety to create confusion and chaos in Russia, permitted a sealed train to take Lenin and his associates across German territory, have foreseen what forces they were unleashing. To them the necessity of the moment was an utter breakdown of Russian resistance and to send Lenin there seemed a superior act of wisdom...''

"There are but few cases in history where both the parties to a conflict do not claim to have been forced into a defensive war. Whether the world accepts such a claim depends entirely on the success or failure of diplomacy."

''Sri Krishna, when he was being requested by Yudhistra to go as a special envoy to the Court of the Kauravas, was asked by Draupadi what his purpose was in undertaking so hopeless a mission. He replied, 'I shall go the Kaurava Court to present your case in the best light; to try and get them to accept your demands, and if my efforts fail and war becomes inevitable we shall show the world how we are right and they are wrong so that the world may not misjudge between us.' All the secrets of diplomacy are contained in this statement of Sri Krishna... 'If my persuasion fails', said Krishna, I shall proclaim to the world your innocence and their crime. I shall make the world understand that you are fighting only for your rights'...

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