Archives of Contemporary India

Supported by HDFC LTD.

Jagat Mehta Papers

Jagat Mehta Papers

A distinguished diplomat and significant figure in shaping India's foreign policy, Jagat Singh Mehta (b.1922-d.2014) was born in Udaipur into one of the then princely state’s most prominent families. He graduated from Allahabad and Cambridge universities before joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1947. Throughout his career, he served in various capacities, both in India and abroad, showcasing exceptional diplomatic skills and a deep understanding of international relations. He was charge d’ affaires in China between 1963 and 1966, and launched the foreign ministry’s policy planning division in 1966. Later, between 1970 and 1974 he served as high commissioner to Tanzania, and became Foreign Secretary from 1976 to 1979. His tenure as Foreign Secretary was marked by strategic vision and adept handling of India's foreign affairs, emphasizing diplomatic dialogue and cooperation.

During his career, he led the ministry’s negotiations on many critical issues, including the Sino-Indian boundary question (1960), comprehensive normalization of India-Pakistan relations (1976), the Farakka Agreement with Bangladesh (1977), and preventing the militarization of Pakistan after the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan (1978).

Beyond his official duties, Mehta's expertise in international relations extended into prolific writing. His insightful articles and books like Militarization in the Third World (1985), The March of Folly in Afghanistan (2002), Negotiating for India: Resolving Problems through Diplomacy (2006), Rescuing the Future (2008), and The Tryst Betrayed: Reflections on Diplomacy and Development (2010) provided valuable perspectives on India's foreign policy challenges and opportunities.

Throughout his career, Mehta played a pivotal role in shaping India's stance on global issues. His contributions to diplomacy were widely recognized, earning him numerous accolades and honors, including the Padma Bhushan in 2002.

About the Collection: The papers of Jagat Mehta (1922-2014) donated by his family covers a wide array of materials related to neighboring countries like China, Pakistan Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. There are files, correspondence, notes, diaries, pamphlets, press clippings and reports on issues such as the Sino-Indian boundary dispute and negotiations (1960-63), Indo-Pak conflict (1965), creation of Bangladesh (1971), trade talks with Nepal & Tripartite Agreement (1977-79), and Dhaka Conference, 1994. There are also papers on Second Afro-Asian Conference (1965), Indo-Soviet and Indo-US Talks (1968), Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968), and of his tenure as High Commissioner to Tanzania, 1970-74. Besides, there is background material related to the books authored by him and several articles on cold war, national security, diplomacy, Afghanistan, and Kashmir. The collection also contains issues (1960s) of Hsinhua News Agency Release, Link India news magazine, Asian Analyst, and Strategic Digest.

Donor: Ajay Singh Mehta & Vikram Mehta

Acquisition: 2023