VS Arunachalam, the former scientific adviser to the defence minister, has paid rich tribute to former Cabinet Secretary and Indian ambassador to the US Naresh Chandra, who passed away on Sunday due to multiple organ failure. He was 82. Having served as the Cabinet Secretary from 1990–92 and as the Indian Ambassador to the US from 1996 to 2001, Chandra was conferred with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civil honour, in 2007.
“As a defence secretary, he encouraged DRDO scientists to aim for higher levels of performance and when the Services demurred from buying some of the DRDO designed and developed systems , he was at the front persuading and providing the necessary cash,” Arunachalam said of Chandra. He also said Chandra never allowed his position to get into his head.
Divulging more details about his contribution, Arunachalam said Chandra provided the vital interface between the scientists working in strategic systems and the political leadership. “Before these meetings, he prepared himself in detail on non-proliferation issues and also on nuclear technologies. He briefed the Prime Minister so thoroughly on plutonium and other metals that President Clinton should have been surprised to meet a Prime Minister who knew more about the bomb than him! Naresh’s nonperturbility and genuine interest in building friendship across nations should have transformed a possible quarrelsome e Non-proliferation meeting into a useful and friendly exchange of ideas between two nations. What more evidence do we need to assess the success of an ambassador, ” said Arunachalam, Chairman of CSTEP, Bengaluru.
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Condoling his demise, Arunachalam said Chandra’s loss will be unbearable. “Naresh was a bachelor but a member of an enlarged and affectionate family and I had occasions to observe on how kind they were all to each other. The loss will be unbearable, but with time we shall all remember and be grateful to that life that enriched us all,” he said.