A diplomat his entire career, Shivshankar Menon served as the Foreign Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry from 2006, after which he was appointed the National Security Advisor to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Menon has had a family of diplomats, with his great-grandfather also having served as the President of the Indian National Congress back in 1897.
There is a reason why we are presenting a bio of Menon. The former NSA has hit the headlines for sharing his profound wisdom about India’s current foreign policy, and according to him, it’s all in tatters.
Menon has linked the Modi government’s decisions regarding Article 370, CAA, NRC(a decision on which has not even been taken yet) and concluded that India has been isolated by the global community. “There has been no meaningful international support for this series of actions, apart from a few committed members of the diaspora and a ragtag bunch of Euro MPs from the extreme right,” Menon said at an event in New Delhi. He further opined that many world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and even King Harald V of Norway have criticised India’s actions. Merkel merely during her visit to India had called the ‘present situation in Kashmir unsustainable’. It is indeed unsustainable. Even the Modi government is aware of that. That is the precise reason why we are seeing the restoration of SMS services and broadband internet steadily. Menon added that India was violating Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which it is a signatory, by passing the Citizenship Amendment Act. “We seem to be in violation of our international commitments,” he said. He obviously did not comprehensively explain how we were violating international norms.
Shivshankar Menon, to put it straight, was an incompetent National Security Advisor. Not many would also be aware of his existence, and he did absolutely nothing to secure India from the various threats it was facing back then. Further, he was a motormouth and did not care about the implications of what he was saying. Contrast this with the present NSA, Ajit Doval. Doval is seen as PM Modi’s right-hand man by many. He is a powerful personality who has been tackling India’s security since 2014 in a manner never seen before. As a result, in this tenure of the Modi government, he has been given cabinet rank.
Coming back to Menon, in 2013, when asked about the steps which were being taken against Pakistan to prevent another Hyderabad like bombing by terrorists, he, as an NSA, shockingly replied that this question was like asking a man when he stopped beating his wife and that such a question can never have a precise answer.
On what grounds was Menon appointed NSA, when in fact, he had no understanding of India’s security dimensions at the time? Was it simply because the man was a Congress loyalist?
In 2012, when China started publishing passports with Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as integral parts of its own territory, the then Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid had stated that the move was unacceptable to India. Parallel to this, Shivshankar Menon, when asked a similar question, stated that one needs to look at ‘such matters with a different perspective and outlook’. On one hand, Khurshid was condemning China’s move, while on the other, Menon was seen being almost apologetic for it. While China unabashedly portrayed sovereign Indian territory as its own, the least Menon could have done as NSA was condemn the move, which he did not.
Apart from his inane statements, Menon was an absolute failure as an NSA. India witnessed a barrage of terror attacks which were not only concentrated in Kashmir but were seen across the nation. Twitter user @ramprasad_c tweeted a compilation of all terror attacks which took place under Menon’s nose.
While we are on Shivshankar Menon, here is a list of terrorist attacks while has was NSA (from WiKi) pic.twitter.com/dsLUbTCFrb
— Ram (@ramprasad_c) January 4, 2020
Another user exposed how Menon was absolutely disinterested in issues of national importance and ones which threatened our national security. From Pakistan to China, Menon didn’t seem to care about the happenings around him. He further shamelessly said that ‘we are paid to worry’, mocking the post of NSA. For the same man to now come out and lambast the government for its foreign policy and the impact of domestic policy decisions among the world community is a bit rich. It further reveals how Menon is envious of Dr. S Jaishankar’s growing popularity as he is increasingly being hailed as a dynamic EAM. It would best suit Menon to return into the cocoon he emerged from.
It is indeed terrifying to know that absolutely careless people were sitting on important positions until 2014, completely compromising India’s security.