HOW many more insults have we got to suffer till the country calls it a day and demands the resignation of an infructuous UPA-II government which has brought shame and dishonour to our motherland? Nations which have relations with India seem to think it is a ‘soft’ state that can be treated cavalierly and still get away with it.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Abdul Rehman Malik comes to India, makes a string of tactless and provocative remarks about Babri Masjid, Kargil martyr Saurab Kalia and terrorist Abu Jandal and lays the blame for everything on the Indian Government. We keep quite. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf comes to India as a pilgrim with a huge band of followers to visit Ajmer Sharif. The External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid lays down a lavish lunch for the ‘guest’ whose body language shows that he has only contempt for his host. Three days later two Pakistani terrorists enter Srinagar in disguise as cricketers, fire at CRPF men, killing five of them. That is how Pakistan repays Indian courtesy. Two days later the Pakistan Parliament passes a resolution criticising the hanging of Afzal Guru, like a headmaster reprimanding a student. The excuse given is that political parties in Pakistan are facing general elections and they want to show off to the Pakistan voter how well they can handle a ‘soft’ India.
India’s weakness shows at every step not long ago Delhi decided to bow low to Washington and stopped crude imports from Iran, despite long-term contracts. What, in contrast, has Pakistan been doing? Islamabad has formally inaugurated the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project despite American protests. The Pakistanis know how to blackmail the United States. We don’t know how to stick to our self-respect. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry says he wants India as a strategic partner, even while sanctioning $ 3 billion to the Pakistan Army most of which will go into ISI coffers to create trouble for India. Delhi is dumbstruck.
Italy, among the most corrupt nations in the world sets about spending billions of dollars – the figure mentioned is 21 million Euros (about Rs 150 crore) to manipulate Indian officials and a ‘family’ with kickbacks to get a helicopter purchase deal sanctioned. Thanks to an unexpected hitch, the deal has still to go through. Then there is the case of Massimiliano Lotorre and Salvatore Girone, two Italian navymen who had the cheek to kill two Indian fishermen right in Indian waters and are allowed to leave India on parole. The Italian Ambassador even signs a document assuring the Supreme Court that the navy men will return.
India can only fret and fume. Italians probably take it for granted that India is a ‘soft’ state that can any day be taken for a ride. After all, wasn’t another Italian, Ottavio Quattrochi allowed to escape from India on July 30, 1993 when the law was about to catch him? Many believe that it was his closeness to Sonia Gandhi that ultimately saved him from spending some time in jail. Italians are not the only Whites who can thumb their noses at India. Any White man, it seems can literally get away with murder, as did Anderson involved in the Bhopal gas tragedy that resulted in the deaths of several hundred. He was allowed to escape. And then there was another criminal, this one a Dane who was supplying arms to Maoist terrorists and got caught. He, too, managed to ‘escape’. A British associate of his who had been jailed was released, it is stated, at the request of the UK government.
Britain wants business deals with India but not Indian applicants to British Universities. It is beyond one’s comprehension why Indian students should wish to go to Britain for higher studies. Or, for that matter to Australia, where many Indian students in the past have been victims of racists. For that matter why should Indian students go even to the United States when a University like the one in Pennsylvania has dared to insult Narendra Modi. The Government of India should have reacted sharply to the uncalled for attack on Modi’s status. Modi is an Indian; he has been absolved of all charges against him by a high-power investigative committee appointed by the Supreme Court. But here, not only the government’s ‘softness’ but vile politics has come in the picture. And let this be said: in the matter of the Indo-Italian dispute, the European Union is backing Italy. And that tells it all.
Not justice, but racism determines international response to India’s claims. We can’t even handle trouble next door as in Sri Lanka. One thing should be made clear to people like Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa. India cannot support the creation of a Tamil ‘Eelam’ under any circumstances. But that does not mean that we have to support the Sri Lankan Government and allow it to ill-treat Tamil Sri Lankas. Some kind of political settlement has to be arrived at but that can only be achieved if the likes of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa keep trouble-makers in Tamil Nadu under check. There have been instances in recent times when a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk on a visit to Tamil Nadu was assaulted. The mindless violence of some fringe Tamil outfits is, as the media has noted, putting at risk India's own moral authority to urge Sri Lankan Government to think of ways and means to settle ethnic conflict.
The UPA-II government should not fall prey to threats from the DMK if Delhi does not agree to its demands. India’s foreign policy cannot be subject to threats from within. What is painful to note is that almost at every level, national or international, the UPA is showing itself to be weak-kneed. To add to it all is the latest revelation that the Prime Minister’s office was fully aware of former Telecom Minister A Raja’s controversial 2G decisions and had even lent him support. Was Raja, then, wrongly sent to jail? The UPA, it seems, has much to answer on all fronts.
A frustrated citizenry, it seems, can only wring its hands in despair and wait desperately for the forthcoming general elections of 2014 to express their suppressed anger.