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J N Dixit: An astute diplomat and strategist

Source: PTI
Last updated on: January 03, 2005 14:00 IST
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An astute diplomat and strategist, Jyotindra Nath Dixit rose from a humble background to the position of foreign secretary and later national security adviser.

Born in Madras January 8, 1936, Dixit, popularly known among friends as 'Mani', was considered an expert on Pakistan and China, which apparently earned him the job of national security adviser in the United Progressive Alliance government, 10 years after his retirement from the Indian foreign service.

Dixit became foreign secretary in 1991 after having distinguished himself as head of Indian diplomatic missions in Pakistan and Sri Lanka during the times when India's relations with these countries were going through a bad phase.

As NSA, 68-year-old Dixit was India's special representative to hold talks with China to resolve bilateral problems and was engaged with his Pakistani counterpart Tariq Aziz in back-channel dialogue to improve Indo-Pak ties.

During his chequered career, he served in various capacities in Chile, Mexico, Japan, Australia and headed Indian mission in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was India's first high commissioner to Dhaka after Bangladesh came into being in 1971.

Dixit, who was external affairs ministry spokesman between 1978 and 1982, was India's high commissioner in Colombo in 1987 when New Delhi signed an accord with Sri Lanka under which Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) was sent to curb the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's activities in the Island nation.

Having served in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan during crucial times, Dixit had a better understanding of the country's internal security besides being credited with have special experience and expertise of matters relating to South Asia.

He had a good knowledge about functioning of LTTE and various terrorist outfits active in Jammu and Kashmir as also Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). He was also a major proponent of the 'look east' policy formulated by the Narasimha Rao government in the early 90s.

During his career, Dixit was extremely active, articulate and social, building a network of friendships at political, bureacratic and non-governmental levels which he sustained even after his retirement in 1994.

Post-retirement, he joined the Congress Party's Foreign Affairs Cell. Even under the previous NDA government, he was a member of the first National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), set up after the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998, for two years. Dixit did not enter the world of diplomacy from the cocoon of elite public schools. His childhood was spent in Harcourt Butler School in Delhi and graduated from Delhi College at Ajmeri Gate.

He got exposed to international relations at the School of International Studies before it became a part of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The lack of a privileged background, however, never came in his way to high positions as he quickly established a reputation of being one of the brightest officers of Indian Foreign Service.

He was a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines, writing on sensitive issues like Kashmir and India's foreign policy.

Dixit had represented India at the UN General Assembly, Security Council, UNIDO, UNESCO, IAEA, ILO and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meetings.


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