An Evening with Hardeep Singh Puri

By Divyajyot Joshi

The term “Iatrogenesis” comes from a Greek word that means “brought forth by a healer”. It has a negative connotation that entails the potentially damaging effects of misguided medical intervention. This could be the reason why the primary consideration for the Hippocratic Oath is “primum non nocere” which translates to first do no harm. For physicians, this oath is a guiding principle that necessitates the patients’ well-being as the healer’s primary consideration regardless of the interventions or procedures involved.

Hardeep Singh Puri’s “Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and The Politics of Chaos” is a book that speaks on the “Iatrogenics” in the International affairs and the pitfalls of the interventionist policies pursued by the United Nations.

On Saturday, the 24th September 2016, Jaipur Book Lovers (JBL) attended a riveting session with Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri organized by Prabha Khaitan Foundation’s Write Circle, presented by Shree Cement Ltd. in association with ITC Rajputana and Siyahi. Mr. Puri began the discussions with a historical prospective regarding the formation and functioning of the United Nations and the UN Security Council.
“To the victor belongs the spoils” with these words, Mr. Puri talked about the self-serving political interests in the UN, the attitude of certain nations to impose their ideas of democratic beliefs on others and the shameless pursuit of partisan agendas by certain powerful nations. Probing beneath the conventional narrative with an insider’s account of the UNSC, the author trenchantly critiqued the dangerously dominant attitudes inherent in this institution. Despite the fact that the UN does excellent and highly commendable work in human resources and sustainable development, its old-guard system of decision making on the use of peace keeping and military interventions is generating a plethora of counterproductive consequences. Mr Puri’s arguments were pregnant with scarring examples ranging from the inactive response of the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda to the dubiosity of UN’s response on Muammar Gaddafi and Libya during the Arab Spring years.

During the interaction session with the audiences, Mr. Puri answered many questions pertaining to India’s current diplomatic stance, the dangers of arming and militarizing non-state actors and rebel forces, reinforcing the responsibility to protect and the dangers of isolationism that create an outcast nation which might retaliate in a dangerous fashion. With imitable eloquence and a gracious conversational manner, the session with Mr. Puri was a delightful and enlightening experience for the audiences.

Perilous Interventions is a book that has been recommended by many a great authors and diplomats. We at Jaipur Book Lovers were thrilled to learn that Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the much revered author of titles such as “The Black Swan” and “Antifragile” renders Mr. Puri’s book as an outstanding treatise and a mandatory read. It was from his appraisal of the book that we get a glimpse of the importance of this subject and the far reaching validity of the problem of “iatrogenics” in the international affairs.

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