Jaishankar reveals Indira Gandhi removed his father as Union Secretary


Noting that he comes from a family of bureaucrats and that his political opportunity as a union minister came as a surprise in 2019, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday that his father, Dr K Subrahmanyam, was removed as Secretary, Defense, Production, by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi soon after she regained power in 1980, and he was superseded during the Rajiv Gandhi era with someone junior to him becoming Cabinet Secretary.
In an interview with a prominent news agency Jaishankar talked about his journey from Foreign Service to politics and said he had always aspired to be the best officer and get elevated to the post of Foreign Secretary. Jaishankar was Foreign Secretary from January 2015 to January 2018 and earlier served in key ambassadorial positions, including in China and the United States. His father, K Subrahmanyam, who passed away in 2011, is regarded as one of India’s most prominent national
security strategists.
“I wanted to be the best Foreign Service officer. And to my mind, the definition of the best that you could do was to end up as a foreign secretary. In our household, there was also—I won’t say pressure—but we were all aware that my father, a bureaucrat, had become a secretary but had been removed from his position.”He became, at that time, probably the youngest Secretary in the Janata government in
1979,” Jaishankar said.
“In 1980, he was Secretary, Defence Production. In 1980, when Indira Gandhi was re-elected, he was the first secretary that she removed. “And he was the most knowledgeable person, everybody would say, on
defence,” he added. Jaishankar said his father was also a very upright person, “may be that caused the problem, I don’t know”.
“But the fact was that as a person he saw his own career in bureaucracy, actually kind of stalled. And after that, he never became a Secretary again. He was superseded during the Rajiv Gandhi period for somebody junior to him who became a cabinet secretary. It was something he felt…we rarely spoke about it. So he was very, very proud when my elder brother became secretary,”
said Dr Jaishankar.