Millennium Post


The Nation Declassified uncovers records of discussions between Indian Prime Ministers and world leaders, talks of diplomatic and defence delegations and reconstructs tightly guarded secrets of India’s strategic nuclear and space program from Homi Bhabha to the underground tests of 1998. Drawing on all the major milestones of national security history, this represents a first of its kind account of the Prime Minister’s Office along with the elusive and shadow world of the advisers by putting together insider information to reconstruct the fortunes of India in the Cold War world.

Prime Minister Modi in his speech in the US Congress used the expression ‘hesitations of history’. Yet we have not had any way to anchor this discussion to some tangible historical findings leaving strategists blind sighted about the role of historical dynamics that have shaped world politics in the new century from Indian perspective. This has changed with the recent book The Nation Declassified: India and the Cold War World by Dr Vivek Prahladan. The Nation Declassified is the single largest incorporation of newly declassified documents from PMO, MEA and other strategic offices of the land. It reveals the untold history of the Cold war era based on newly declassified documentation and unprecedented interviews of key decision makers such a former NSA Shiv Shankar Menon, former AEC Chairman Dr Anil Kakodkar, former JS to PMO and others including Joseph Nye Jr. The author tracks how the Cold War entered India and India changed the nature of Cold War confrontation between the super powers. A history of a nation’s survival in quest of its own identity in world order, the Nation Declassified gives an inside view of Indian Prime Ministers shaping India’s place in world politics. 

Below is an example from the book on the nuclear submarine decision making: “In order to operationalise this decision, the CNS went to Russia. In July 18, CNS met with his counterpart for a heart-to-heart. CNS was taken on board the Akula-II AT Severomorsk, base of Northern Fleet. Till then, as far as the Indian Navy is concerned, this boat only existed in magazines. CNS identified and approved the Akula-II boat. CNS was shown brief outlines of the performance of the boat, size of the reactor, reactor compartment, etc. were all shown to the CNS. 

The author, Vivek Prahladan is a PhD in Contemporary/Modern History from Center for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. Visiting Researcher, King’s College, London (2012). Currently, Visiting Researcher at Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Japan. Published research papers and short articles on Indian Constitution and Electoral Politics in India.

The Nation Declassified is the largest incorporation of declassified documentation (approximately 10,000 pages) which narrates a nation’s passage of survival. It reveals the secret history of how India’s Prime Ministers, their closest advisers, diplomats, intelligence agencies and military led the nation through the transformation in world order in the Cold War era. 

Uncovering thousands of pages of top secret declassified documentation from the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of External Affairs, Atomic Energy Commission, Joint Intelligence Committee, Cabinet Secretariat RAW reports, private papers of key individuals, former Chief of Naval Staff, former PMO official, Joseph Nye Jr and many others, give an intimate portrait of India’s Prime Ministers, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the advisers they relied on.

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