SAPRU HOUSE A Story of Institution-Building in World Affairs

T. C. A. Raghavan and Vivek Mishra

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“The history of the ICWA is also the story of how a small fraternity of intellectuals and scholars sought to create and advance a wider public and civil society discourse on foreign policy and international affairs in India. They did this by establishing a world class library, bringing out a highly reputed journal the India Quarterly, fostering research and creating an India-wide fraternity of those interested deeply in India’s engagement with the wider world. This was in so many ways a giant step forward in intellectual decolonisation. Each of these measures was directed towards creating an Indian perspective on world affairs by becoming a non-partisan platform for intellectual exchanges and informed discussion and debate. This is a story therefore both of great intellectual endeavour and of selfless high minded public and national service.”

                                                   From the Foreword by M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India and President,
                                                                                                                                     Indian Council of World Affairs

The Indian Council of World Affairs was established in 1943 amidst intense geopolitical strife in Asia and the world. Its principal founding objective was the advancing of a wider civil society and public discourse on foreign policy and foreign affairs. The Council had landmark achievements from its earliest years, such as the hosting of the Asian Relations Conference a few months before India’s independence. From 1955 onwards, the Council has functioned from Sapru House, its famed headquarters in the heart of India’s capital city.

This volume traces this history from the internal archive of the ICWA and seeks to provide a glimpse of how the serious study of international affairs and debate on foreign policy began in India, and how it was fostered by a consciously non-partisan institution-building process.

T. C. A. Raghavan and Vivek Mishra

T. C. A. Raghavan is the Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi. He is a former Indian High Commissioner to Singapore (2009–2013) and Pakistan (2013–2015). He has a PhD in agrarian history from Jawaharlal Nehru University and is the author of Attendant Lords, Bairam Khan and Abdur Rahim: Courtiers and Poets in Mughal India (2016), which was awarded the Mohammad Habib Memorial Prize by the Indian History Congress in December 2017. His other books include The People Next Door: The Curious History of India’s Relations with Pakistan (2017) and History Men: Jadunath Sarkar, G. S. Sardesai, RaghubirSinh and their Quest for India’s Past (2019).

Vivek Mishra is a Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi and Visiting Faculty, RashtriyaRaksha University, Gandhinagar. He is an Adjunct Fellow at HP Ghosh Research Centre, Kolkata. He was SAV Fellow 2019-2020 at the Stimson Centre, Washington DC. He has been a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War & Peace, School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University for the year 2015–2016. His books include two co-authored volumes titled, India in the United Nations General Assembly (Volume 1, 1945–1970), (Volume 2, 1971–2018) with Suranjan Das and Sitaram Sharma and a volume titled, The Regional Great Game in the Indian Ocean and India’s Evolving Maritime Strategy co-edited with Sarvani Gooptu.



List of Photographs

1. The Founding
2. A Formative Moment: The Asian Relations Conference
3. Unbounded Confidence
4. Turbulent Waters 1965-1980
5. Gale Force Winds
6. Epilogue

Selected Biographies



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