NIRUPAMA RAO

Retired Indian Foreign Secretary and Ambassador of India

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Nirupama Rao is a former Indian Foreign Service officer. She retired as Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, the senior most position in the Foreign Service, being the second woman to occupy the post (2009-2011). She was the first woman spokesperson (2001-02) of the Indian foreign office. She served as India's first woman High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Sri Lanka (2004-2006) and to the People's Republic of China (2006-2009). She was Ambassador of India to the United States from 2011 to 2013. In retirement she has been a Senior Visiting Fellow in International and Public Affairs at the Watson Institute at Brown University where she has taught an undergraduate seniors course on "India in the World" and George Ball Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is currently working on a book entitled "Tell it on the Mountain: India and China, 1949 to 1962". Ambassador Rao was a Fellow at the India-China Institute of The New School, New York in 2016 and a Public Policy Fellow at The Wilson Center, Washington D.C. in 2017. She was a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow from 2015-2016 and a Practitioner-in-Residence at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy in 2017. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and a Councillor on the World Refugee Council. She has an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (2012) from Pondicherry University, India. She is a staunch believer in the power of social media as an advocacy platform for policy and currently has over 1.4 million followers on Twitter. Ambassador Rao is the recipient of a number of awards recognising her contributions to the role of women in public service. In 2016, she received the Vanitha Ratna Award from the Government of Kerala. She also received the Fellowship of Peace Award of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Center in Washington D.C in 2018.

Ambassador Rao is a Founder-Trustee of The South Asian Symphony Foundation (www.symphonyofsouthasia.org) - a not-for-profit Trust which is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding in South Asia through the creation of a South Asian Symphony Orchestra.

Portfolio
ThePrint
03/02/2019
Unlike Donald Trump's US and Mexico, we can't build a wall between India and Pakistan

At the best of times, the relations between India and Pakistan have been shaky, unstable and abnormal. This week, they were rendered even more weak. The massacre at Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, on 14 February where over 40 personnel of the CRPF were murdered by a brain-washed, radicalised, young Kashmiri suicide-bomber became the trigger for the current sequence of events.

The Hindu
The neighbour's concern

"I wouldn't recognise the Balochistan problem if it hit me in the face." These were words spoken by Henry Kissinger during a mission to Pakistan on behalf of the Kennedy Administration in 1962.

The Hindu
It's time to be a good neighbour

It has been a difficult six months for the Nepali people. This week, they faced another humanitarian crisis because the flow of fuel and supplies from India stopped. Newspapers reported that hospitals and clinics ran out of supplies, restaurants and businesses closed, neighbours scrambled for firewood to cook and stay warm, and transportation shut down.

The Indian Express
01/28/2016
Used by terror?

Are we, the people of India, being used by terror? One has only to recall the infamous episode involving one of our TV channels during 26/11, in which airtime was provided to a terrorist with a fake Kashmiri accent to rail against the Indian state and justify acts of terror, even as he dodged questions from the anchor of the show.

The Hindu
Driven by neither hawks nor doves

The >terrorist blitz-from-the-ground on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot has brought home to us the fact that there is no brave new world in cross-border relations with Pakistan. Time after time, the same dissonances come back to haunt us.

The Hindu
A Himalayan balancing act

The great Himalayan Divide between India and China was in evidence last week following the > Chinese refusal to support India's case for entry into the > Nuclear Suppliers Group . While non-entry into the Group is not the end of the world, for India lives to fight another day, of concern is what the Chinese stance implies for the bilateral relationship between the two Asian giants.

The Indian Express
10/17/2016
Have the women spoken?

Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day, four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves. While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity.

The Wire
Tuning the Voice of India: How to Better Deploy Soft Power

Bureaucracy, particularly in our part of the world is not easily attuned topublic communication and its demands. "Less is more", "need to know basis", "information is power" are all zealously embedded truisms that are imbibed and intoned with great faith and conviction. When we do communicate, dexterity is a casualty.

The Hindu
A season to repair relations

The Chinese Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, recently put forward some suggestions for improvement of bilateral ties between China and India. The suggestions are timely since relations between the two Asian giants have looked tired and worn in recent months. The voices from the gallery have been worrisome.

The Hindu
Promises in the Rose Garden

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much anticipated visit to Washington has come and gone. The chemistry was positive, and the physics (that is, the structural content and equilibrium) and the geometry (the angles and alignments along which the visit was pitched) well-calibrated. Mr. Modi's fifth visit to the U.S.

The Indian Express
07/08/2017
A Tangled Web in the Himalayas

It is said of Bhutan that it walks between giants. Its geo-strategic situation makes it a hugely important country, however. Sandwiched between India and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, it has succeeded admirably in preserving its national identity, its rich cultural and spiritual heritage, and in advancing the development of its people.

The Wire
Crowdsourcing Foreign Policy: Engaging in the Virtual Public Square

Four decades ago, I was inducted into the world of diplomacy. That era now seems light years away in many respects. It would have been impossible to imagine then that in the second decade of the 21st century we would think it perfectly normal to apply the concept of crowdsourcing and the virtual public square to the working of foreign policy.

The Wire
Diplomacy in the Age of Social Media

Diplomacy is a fine art, heir to centuries of epochal deal making, system building, peacemaking and conflict avoidance and resolution - it is, in many ways, a profession for the ages. In the minds of men and women at large, however, it is also seen as a profession conducted in rarefied environs, in dizzying ivory-towered heights, away from the hurly-burly of earthling life.

ThePrint
09/25/2017
India Pakistan relations: Charting a course without reliable maps

Emotional handshakes seem to vaporize in the atavism of distrust that constantly reasserts itself. Seven decades after partition, the landscape of India-Pakistan relations remains a wasteland. We have eaten a lot of bitterness. The interdependence stemming from shared history, the timber of our humanity, culture and language has eluded us.

The Wire
Feminist Voices Could Change the Nature of International Diplomacy

"I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider." These words from Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand command attention. We need more female representation in various fields. Gender equality should define the grammar of daily existence. "Feminism" was the most looked up word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary last year.

The Hindu
When India and China meet

The path of India-China relations is strewn with the ghosts of summits past. The leaders of the two countries have met, expressed the loftiest of sentiments, gone their separate ways. No doubt, summits are good, nobody has a quarrel with them, the media at least loves them.

ThePrint
03/02/2019
Unlike Donald Trump's US and Mexico, we can't build a wall between India and Pakistan

At the best of times, the relations between India and Pakistan have been shaky, unstable and abnormal. This week, they were rendered even more weak. The massacre at Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, on 14 February where over 40 personnel of the CRPF were murdered by a brain-washed, radicalised, young Kashmiri suicide-bomber became the trigger for the current sequence of events.

Scroll.in
10/26/2017
The Ageless Life: There is no use-by date to Mahatma Gandhi's eternal legacy

"I aim to live to the age of 125," Mahatma Gandhi once said. An assassin's bullet snatched him away before that milestone was reached but in many ways, for the hope, the courage, the sense of fairness and justice he infused in the world around him, he lives on, as the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz said, in an "ageless life".

Scroll.in
11/19/2018
A public philosophy of non-violence, a culture of peace - that's the diplomacy the world needs today

For almost all of my adult life, I have practised a profession that is diplomacy - that concerns the paths of peace rather than war. But diplomacy has also come to acquire other meanings - it covers strategy, geopolitics, competition and rivalry, maintenance of status quo, providing a velvet glove to narrow nationalism, and bypassing the common ground of mutual accommodation and mutual benefit.

The Wire
China May Be an Adversary, But Making It an Enemy Will Not Serve India

Canadian academic and politician Michael Ignatieff once remarked that an "adversary is someone you want to defeat. An enemy is someone you have to destroy." With adversaries, continues Ignatieff, "compromise is honourable. Today's adversary could be tomorrow's ally. With enemies, on the other hand, compromise is appeasement." Is China our enemy or adversary?

www.nirupamamenonrao.net
2015
"A New Country" (on Sri Lanka)

Remarks at the release of the book by Padma Sundarji, India International Centre, New Delhi

www.nirupamamenonrao.net
2017
"The Greatest Wealth of All"

Convocation Address at the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, India

The Open Magazine; http://www.openthemagazine.com
2016
"Anatomy of the Gandhi Enigma"

Review of "Gandhi: An Illustrated Biography" by Pramod Kapoor, Roli Books

India Today
12/15/2017
The other side of the 1962 India-China war story

Bertil Lintner has a formidable reputation as a journalist who has extensively explored what Nari Rustomji called our enchanted frontiers-our northeastern borderlands. His observations of the region are informative and balanced. His latest book, titled China's India War, is partly a riposte to Neville Maxwell's infamous (for most Indians) India's China War, a work published in 1970.

"30 Women in Power", Rupa & Co.
2015
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