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ICS Occasional Papers

India’s Envoy to China 1961–63 P K Banerjee’s China Days

This essay is based on P K Banerjee’s (1917–2003) book, My Peking Memoirs of the Chinese Invasion of India (Banerjee 1990), published 14 years after he retired from the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).1 I have my own connection to the story as I reached Beijing in August 1963, spending five months under his leadership, till he left China in December 1963.

In 1947–48, when the Ministry of External Affairs was under formation, around a score of young, well-connected people were taken into the IFS; some princes, a few armed forces officers, and others from diverse vocations. The choice was made by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, concurrently minister of external affairs till his death in June 1964. Direct IFS recruitment, through Union Public Service Commission examinations, also commenced in 1948. The rationale for the ad hoc appointments was that it brought in people with diverse experiences; most acquitted themselves well.

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