Ambassador Arundhati Ghose: In Memoriam

Bangalore, July 26, 2016


The news about the demise of Ambassador Arundhati Ghose came as a rude shock for all of us in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. Ambassador Ghose had shared with us that she was not well and was undergoing treatment. Nothing however, can prepare one for the deep sense of loss and pain one suffers after the loss of a close friend and confidant.

Amb Ghose
Amb. Arundhati Ghose delivering the Inaugural K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture at NIAS, Bengaluru

Ambassador Ghose had a long and distinguished career in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) having joined the IFS in 1963. However, what she is most remembered and idolised for was her leadership of the Indian delegation as India’s Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament during the CTBT negotiations. Our stand on signing the CTBT was taken in the PMO when Deve Gowda was PM, and communicated by her in her immortal words: “Not now. not ever.” Her steely resolve and courage to withstand the enormous global pressure and commitment to protect Indian national interests during the CTBT negotiations earned her the well deserved moniker of ‘Calcutta Kali.’

In December 2015, she had been gracious enough to pen her reflections on this important chapter in India’s modern diplomatic history in her address to senior scientists from various Indian scientific establishments at the NIAS-DST Training Programme on “Policy for Science and Science for Policies” held at NIAS, Bangalore on November 19, 2015. The text of this lecture is available on the ISSSP website.

Very early into her career as a Foreign Service officer, Ambassador Ghose was also posted to Kolkata in the Branch Secretariat of the Ministry of External Affairs to liaise with Bangladesh leaders in Mujibnagar during 1971. She worked in various capacities in the Embassies of India in Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium ; and as Ambassador of India to the Republic of Korea, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO; Ambassador of India to Egypt ; Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to UN Offices in Geneva, and the Conference on Disarmament.  She was in charge of Economic Relations in the Ministry of External Affairs in 1990-91. During her illustrious career, she was also Member/Chairperson, UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament (1998-2001); and Member of the Union Public Service Commission (1998-2004). She was a member of Pugwash India, and was on the editorial board of Disarmament Times (New York) and Faultlines (New Delhi). She was recently elected member of the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

An Adjunct Faculty of NIAS, Ambassador Ghose was a true well wisher of NIAS and more than a friend to all of us at the ISSSP. We could rely on her for sound and sagacious advice and benefited from her feedback on more than one occasion. Amb. Ghose visited NIAS, probably for the first time during the two day National Workshop on “Changing Contours of Indo-US Relations” held at NIAS on February 9-10, 2006. She also visited NIAS as member of the Task Force on Non-proliferation and Disarmament chaired by the late K. Subrahmanyam. In April 2011, Ambassador Ghose delivered the inaugural (full text of lecture) K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture on ‘Emerging India: Strategic Challenges and Opportunities’ at NIAS on April 13, 2011. She also seeded the idea of holding the National Workshop on Advanced Techniques in Environmental Monitoring at NIAS on September 25-26, 2014 and ensured that representatives from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) participated in the Workshop.

More than anything else Ma’am, we will miss your acerbic wit and infectious laugh that would fill up the entire room.

All of us at ISSSP pray for the peace of the departed soul. Rest in Peace.

Condolence Messages 

It is a sad day – for me – Got to know her only after I came here – she came for the NIAS organized workshop on the Indo US Nuclear deal – got to know her then – came as a part of the K.Subramanian committee to NIAS – made a presentation on our work – later learnt that she had supported our programme and contributed to our initial funding – she became a good friend – wise and sagacious – helped us do the workshop on detection of nuclear events – Also read about how she dealt with the CTBT negotiations in Geneva – there is a UNIDIR publication that documents the negotiations in detail – got to admire her courage integrity and guts in standing up to the superpowers of the world.

I will miss her and her indomitable spirit.

Prof. S. Chandrashekar, JRD Tata Chair Professor, NIAS

Arundati’s representation of the Indian position is already the stuff of folklore. One salutes her as a powerful diplomatic asset, patriotic without a trace of jingoism.

Vice Admiral R.N. Ganesh (Retd.), Adjunct Faculty, NIAS

Saddened to hear this – Arundhati was a sharp thinker and a very successful diplomatic representative who astutely defended our country in international fora for many years – may her soul rest in peace…

Prof. Onkar Marwah, IAS (Retd.)

Very sorry to know about Ambassador Arundhati Ghosh’s passing. I was fortunate enough to have met her. Will forever remember the special UN General Assembly Session on the CTBT in 1996. I was sitting with the US delegation. So, watched her from the other side. She showed extraordinary courage and poise under the circumstances. R.I.P.

Prof. Subrata Ghoshroy, MIT, USA

Ma’am, you will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace.

Gururaj Pamidi, USI

I will miss her very much. Both us had mutual professional respect for each other of the highest order.

Dr. Pallava Bagla

Like scores of younger scholars, Ambassador Ghose was someone I looked upto and was inspired by. I have learnt immensely from my interactions with Amb. Ghose over the past decade or more. I will sorely miss her counsel and her acerbic wit. 

Dr. Arun Vishwanathan, NIAS

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