2 Commission are defined in the rules of procedure adopted by the Commission

In document The United Nations' Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) and India : a study in the politics of economic co-operation and initiative in Asia (Page 175-180)

(and not suggested by United Nations headquarters), it is, nevertheless,

subject to the authority of the Secretary-General. But in practice

United Nations Headquarters have allowed considerable freedom of action

to the ECAFE Secretariat. The Executive Secretary takes his own

decisions within the limits of his budget and the directives of the

Commission. However, there is nothing like a decentralisation of the


United Nations Doc.ST/SGH/Staff Rules/l, 28 March 1958, p»3*


See Appendix A, p






Rules of Procedure of the Commission,

United. Nations Secretariat corresponding to decentralisation (or

regionalisation) of the United Nations economic and social activities;

rather there is a ’geographical deconcentration* of staff.^ This

leads, at times, to duplication of activities and tension between the

regional and the headquarters staff, as each wants a particular activity, say long-term projections of economic development or research in water

resources development, to be left to it alone. The regional Commissions

as mentioned elsewhere, have persistently sought more and more


decentralisation which means more and more authority to them. The

differences (and consequent inner-secretariat tension) arise because of differences in general outlook and professional experience which, to

some extent, comes from long service either at the regional office or

the United Nations headquarters. The staff of the ECAFE Secretariat,

like the staff of the secretariats of other regional commissions, take pride in and have a sense of identification with their regional

office. This is largely because most of its staff members are nationals

of the countries of the region; and their transfers, in many cases, are infrequent; and they have developed a sense of dedication to the interests of the region.-'

^ Malinowski, op.cit. , p.525.


See Chapter IV, pp^-/«3and the Mekong Basin Project, pp. 2 C3 ~ I5~-


At the end of 1961, 84.6 per cent of the ECAFE Secretariat's

professional staff came from Asia. Similarly the percentage of regional

staff in ECE and ECLA was 82.3 and 61.6 respectively, only in the case of ECA the per cent of African nationals was 41*3 (lower than outsiders)

Although the Indian nationals constitute the largest single nationality on the professional staff and up to 1958 the post of the

Executive Secretary had been occupied hy Indians, there is little evidence to suggest that the ECAFE Secretariat is influenced by the policies of India. As a matter of fact, Dr Lokanathan was not the kind of man who could be used to serve the interests of a particular country. On the

contrary, as has been shown in the preceding chapters, he successfully used Indian delegates for his own purposes. Narasimhan's integrity and

independence have been vindicated not only at ECAFE but at the United Nations Headquarters as well. As regards the other senior members of the staff, they feel, on becoming career international civil servants, that they have risen far higher than their fellow civil servants in the Government of India and it is somewhat psychologically difficult for them to be advised or tutored by the Indian delegates. They do not have to rely on the Government of India for their position and progress in the United Nations civil service and, by and large, they do not feel any obligation to the authorities in New Delhi. This is, however, not to deny the impact of their upbringing and training, in most cases in

f.n. 3 page



because, as yet, Africa is not in a position to provide most of the ECA staff. As compared to this the geographical distribution of the

headquarters Department of Economic and Social Affairs indicated

preponderance of Europe and North Americas Europe 36.9 per cent, North America 27•3 per cent, Asia, 22.3 per cent, Latin America 5 per cent, Africa 3»1 per cent and Middle East 5»4 per cent. (Malinowski, op.cit. ,


; also, UN.Doc.A/C 5/L.672,



India, upon their intellectual inclinations and mental processes. If their thinking on the interests of the economy of the region as a whole

coincides with that of New Delhi, and there is little evidence to say so, this may not be deliberate. Most of the senior ECAFE officials, whether Indian, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino or Japanese, are agreed on the principle of regional economic integration on strict economic grounds even if their governments have reservations on this for their different reasons.1 U Nyun is more dedicated to the cause of regional economic co-operation than his Indian predecessors. The fact that

India has been the most ardent supporter of the case for regional integration in Asia should not be interpreted to mean that the secretariat follows

Indian policies.

In so far as the personality of the Executive Secretary could be of some influence on the functioning and development of the Commission, the impact of India on ECAFE is no doubt unrivalled. Both Lokanathan and Narsimhan had their own styles and made their distinct marks not only on the operation of the secretariat but on the Commission as a whole. In both cases it was an impact born out of Indian experiences and habits.

Lokanathan was a distinguished economist and a tough man both in regard to his dealings with his superiors in New York and in his treatment of his colleagues in the ECAFE Secretariat. He refused to be dictated to


by U n ite d N a tio n s H e a d q u a rte rs , and s u c c e s s f u l l y s tr u g g le d to se c u re f o r ECAFE a f a i r l y autonomous s t a t u s in th e U n ite d N atio n s fa m ily o f

o r g a n i s a t i o n s . Being a n a t i o n a l o f a newly in d ep en d en t c o u n try he was

alw ays s u s p ic io u s o f th e m o tiv es o f th e c o lo n ia l powers and f e l t t h a t th e n o n -r e g io n a l members o f th e Commission had no b u s in e s s t h e r e 5 he th o u g h t th e Commission sh o u ld be an e x c lu s iv e p r e r o g a tiv e o f th e A sia n s. H is s u s p ic io u s a t t i t u d e tow ards B r i t a i n and th e U n ite d S t a t e s b ro u g h t

him i n t o c o n f l i c t w ith t h e i r d e l e g a t i o n s . F o r some tim e t h i s c o n f l i c t

a c te d a s a b ra k e on h i s a m b itio n s to b u ild a huge o r g a n is a ti o n w ith a

m a g n ific e n t programme o f a c t i o n in a r e l a t i v e l y s h o r t p e r io d . His

a rro g a n c e p re v e n te d him from u s in g th e k in d o f diplom acy which m ight have f o r e s t a l l e d r e s i s t a n c e to h i s p o t e n t i a l l y c o n te n tio u s programmes, and made ECAFE an o r g a n is a ti o n c a p a b le o f p ro d u c in g , e a r l i e r in th e p ie c e ,

th e t a n g i b l e b e n e f i t s e x p e c te d by th e A sian c o u n t r i e s . H is a s p i r a t i o n s

to make th e s e c r e t a r i a t , and th e re b y h im s e lf , a so u rc e o f p o lic y g u id an ce n a t u r a l l y d id n o t e n d e a r him to th e s m a lle r A sian c o u n t r i e s . They f e l t t h a t he w anted to become a r u l e r r a t h e r th a n a s e r v a n t. Though an acad em ic, and n e v e r a b u r e a u c r a t in I n d i a , he o u td id some o f th e w o rst b u r e a u c r a ts in h is d e a lin g s w ith h i s s u b o rd in a te s in th e

S e c r e t a r i a t . A common r e a c t i o n among th o s e who worked w ith him

( in c lu d in g I n d ia n s ) i s t h a t he behaved as a Mughal Emperor and f a i l e d to i n s p i r e l o y a l t y and team -w ork which h i s s u c c e s s o rs c o u ld do w ith o u t

much d i f f i c u l t y . In f a i r n e s s to him, how ever, i t must be s a i d t h a t h i s

his time. As discussed elsewhere, ECAFE is still treading the path of

regional co-operation which he laid down a decade ago. In the realm of ideas for ECAFE's work his contribution is notable.

Narasimhan, by contrast, was a more skilled administrator and diplomat though not an economist of distinction. This was the kind of m a n that ECAFE needed when Lokanathan retired. There were too many programmes waiting for implementation, and a huge administrative

tangle to be cleared. By his tactful handling of administration he won the hearts of his colleagues in the ECAFE Secretariat and provided a sense of team work which is proving a great benefit to his successor, U Nyun. As an officer in charge of foreign aid matters in the Indian

Ministry of Finance, and as a frequent participant in the Colombo Plan meetings, he had established cordial personal relations with the United Nations Headquarters and his counterparts in London and Washington - m en whom Lokanathan could not please because of his personal weaknesses. This enabled Narasimhan to b r ing to ECAFE's credit such world-famous projects as the Lower Mekong River Basin Development Project and the

Asian Highway. Inauguration of the Intra-Regional Trade Promotion talks

in 1959 owes much to his diplomatic skills.^ As regards the Secr e t a r i a t ’s

work programme, he breathed n ew life into it by pruning it sufficiently

and discouraging empire-building tendencies a m ong his senior colleagues.

In all these ways he made the job of his successor, U Nyun, who is a


In document The United Nations' Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) and India : a study in the politics of economic co-operation and initiative in Asia (Page 175-180)