How Indira Gandhi & PN Haksar Outplayed Nixon & Kissinger In 1971

Influential in shaping US foreign policy during the Vietnam War era, Henry Kissinger, aged 100, has passed away. Jairam Ramesh pays tribute, highlighting a crucial 1971 moment when Indira Gandhi and PN Haksar outplayed Nixon and Kissinger.

Oshi Saxena
New Update

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As the world mourns the passing of Henry Kissinger, a figure both immensely consequential and hugely controversial, it is crucial to revisit the historical intricacies that unfolded in 1971. This pivotal year saw a geopolitical chess game between then-US President Richard Nixon, his influential Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and the formidable duo of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her close aide, PN Haksar. Jairam Ramesh, a seasoned political leader, reflects on the challenges India faced and how, against all odds, they emerged victorious.


Henry Kissinger's demise marks the end of an era dominated by his 'intellectual brilliance and charisma'. Jairam Ramesh acknowledges this duality, emphasising that while Kissinger positioned himself as a great friend and supporter of India in his later years, the relationship was not always so amicable.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

In 1971, the Nixon-Kissinger duo posed significant challenges for India, believing they had the nation cornered. Jairam Ramesh, drawing on archival details from his book 'Intertwined Lives: PN Haksar & Indira Gandhi,' delves into the intricate encounters between Kissinger and Haksar, Nixon and Indira Gandhi. This historical account serves as the backbone for understanding how the chess pieces moved during this critical juncture.

The Tactical Brilliance of Indira Gandhi and PN Haksar


Despite the immense pressure and challenges posed by Nixon and Kissinger, Indira Gandhi and PN Haksar proved to be more than a match for their American counterparts. Ramesh underscores their tactical brilliance and strategic acumen in navigating the complex geopolitical landscape of 1971.

A Forgotten Genocide

Gary Bass, in his book 'The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide,' severely indicts Kissinger for his role in the events leading up to the creation of Bangladesh. This raises questions about the ethical dimensions of foreign policy and the human cost of geopolitical manoeuvres.

Indira Gandhi Henry Kissinger Death