ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Making of Bangladesh

1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh by Srinath Raghavan (New Delhi: Permanent Black), 2013; pp 358, Rs 795

Srinath Raghavan has followed up his meticulously researched and finely written account of war and peace in the Nehru era with a state-of-the-art account of the Bangladesh war of 1971. As in War and Peace in Modern India, Raghavan relies on deep research, including considerable archival and some oral history material, to challenge the myths, legends, fables, and received wisdoms on Indian strategic and military history. My review (2010) of his earlier book emphasised the importance of Raghavan’s work for the development of the Indian study of International Relations (IR) and more specifically for scholarship on its external policy (diplomacy and security policy). 1971: A Global History confirms that view.

The “historical turn” to Indian scholarship in IR and to the study of external policy is a relatively recent one. It is true of course that archival-based work amongst Indian IR scholars and in the oeuvre of Indian foreign policy studies was not unknown before Raghavan’s work. M S Venkatramani of the old Indian School of International Studies (ISIS), later the School of International Studies (SIS) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, was probably the pioneer, with his writings on United States’ (US) foreign policy towards south Asia. Venkatramani depended largely on US archives that became available in the 1970s. Sisir Gupta’s study of the Kashmir dispute is another key early text, which relied on more contemporary archives, that is, open-source documents and statements.

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