Archive | Galbraith

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Pic courtesy ibnlive.in.com

Nehru’s pride, Indo-American relationship and the Indo-China war

Gurcharan Das, in his book India Unbound, makes a pithy statement. When individuals make blunders, it’s sad but when leaders make blunders, it’s a tragedy. He was referring to Indira Gandhi but the statement applies equally to her father too. Nehru’s socialist leanings are well-known. What’s less known is that he was more attached to […]

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Saigon, 1961 (Pic courtesy Life/Vimeo.com)

Saigon and its women

Saigon has a curious aspect. It is a rather shabby version of a French provincial city – say, Toulouse, as I remember it. Life proceeds normally and it has the most stylish women in all Asia. They are tall with long legs, high breasts and wear white silk pajamas and a white silk robe, split […]

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Pic: courtesy thefrustratedteacher.com

Curious superficial pugnacity about the American people

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about many interesting things during his tenure as US Ambassador to India. In an Oct 9, 1961 letter to President John F. Kennedy, he writes the following about The Right, Democrats, Republicans, foreign policy, bipartisanship and pugnacity. Some of these observations are relevant even today.. and not just in the […]

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Pantnagar University (Uttaranchal) - Pic courtesy euttaranchal.com

Unspecialized and rotating authority of civil service

In an earlier post, Rebooting IAS an essential part of Reforms 2.0 on my other blog, I had summarized a LiveMint article which outlined the key systemic problems with the IAS cadre. A few fixes have been proposed by Columbia University Arvind Panagariya — one of which was to encourage greater specialization. In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith […]

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Mr. SK Patil (Food & Agriculture Minister, Nehruvian years)

Prime Minister is like the great banyan tree…

No – not the current ‘great’ Dr. Manmohan Singh. In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about many interesting things during his tenure as US Ambassador to India. The journal entry from Jul 1961 captures a slice of the Nehruvian Prime Ministership. July 26 – New Delhi …. Later in the day I saw M. J. Desai […]

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Inside look at Bokaro Steel Plant (Pic: courtesy indianetzone.com)

When Bokaro Steel Plant and America almost had a date…

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about many interesting things during his tenure as US Ambassador to India. The snippets on Bokaro Steel City (where I was born) caught my attention. All Bokaro residents are aware of the Russian collaboration and the ‘many things Russian’ about Bokaro (stations inside City Park, Russian Colony, etc.) What will […]

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Roman bridge over the Dog River in Beirut (Pic: courtesy michaeltotten.com)

Beirut in April (circa 1961)

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about his 3-day layover in Beirut, enroute to India — where he would begin his tenure as US Ambassador to India.  Below are selected extracts from April 5,6,7 journal entries. We arrived in Beirut about 7:30pm, were met by a formidable delegation from the Embassy and went to a pleasant […]

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Pic: courtesy toonpool.com

Diplomacy 101 – blast from the 1961 Galbraith archives

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith shares a Diplomacy 101 aphorism (“don’t do anything”) in his February 18, 1961 journal entry. February 18-Washington-Cambridge … (skipped several paragraphs) … Thursday night we were guests of the Indian Embassy at The World of Appu, by Satyajit Ray. It needs cutting but is obviously a superior film. Afterward there was […]

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Possibly the Presidential desk being referenced (Pic: courtesy masslive.com)

John F Kennedy’s Presidential Desk

In Ambassador’s Journal, John Kenneth Galbraith writes about the origins of JFK’s presidential desk in his February 14, 1961 journal entry. Yesterday the FBI invaded Cambridge. If my loyalty is imperfect, it will be one of the most dangerously delayed discoveries in modern history. Meanwhile my diplomatic career continues to be subordinate to the price of hogs. […]

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Pic: courtesy amazon.com

When hard liquor was served at a White House party for the first time

I recently started reading Ambassador’s Journal – John Kenneth Galbraith’s personal account of the Kennedy years. It’s a 500+ page heavy tome but my pal (@zenrainman) tells me why it should be a fun read: https://twitter.com/#!/zenrainman/status/187195027158609921 After the first 20 pages itself, I can see that he’s right. I’ve transcribed the Jan 29, 1961 journal entry where […]

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