Atal Bihari Vajpayee is known for poetic statesmanship and inclusive politics. With the true ethos of democracy, respect for the Opposition voices and the ability to accommodate converse views has been the hallmark of Vajpayee’s leadership. While celebrating his birthday and wishing him a good life, he must carry forward his legacy of being atal (firm) on core issues of national interests.
After 40 years of Dharma Yuddh (Political battle for Indian ethos), the nation faced enormous internal and external challenges when he got a chance to lead India as Prime Minister. Political instability, economic uncertainty and strategic insecurity were overshadowing. He spearheaded the ship of 24 party coalition government with administrative understanding and political will. While placing the right person for the right job, he ensured the balance of autonomy and control for the larger goals. With nuclear tests, he declared India’s arrival as a power on the international scene and initiated constructive engagements with superpowers. In difficult times of sanctions, he not only assured the nation of effectively handling the economic situation but also took India’s forex to a record high level. The foreign policy being his forte, he engaged with all nations but on Indian terms.
Vajpayee has been the first to lead the non-Congress Government in a true sense and the first to complete the full term in office. He was the one who introduced the Lokpal Bill in the Lok Sabha, with insistence of bringing Prime Minister in the ambit. His soft and poetic communication has never undermined clarity. His love for Hindi is never confrontational for other languages. Therefore, a sensitive but astute politician is still admired and acceptable to everyone. Resolve to take his legacy, being atal on core while accommodating everyone, forward will ensure his dream of “India taking its place as a great nation”.
Devyani episode, though centered around the issue of diplomatic immunity, should bring the questions of dignity and security of Indians abroad to the forefront. It is not just a matter of adhering to international conventions but of national pride and reverential treatment to the Indians on foreign lands.
For a change, Indian Government has taken a tough stand and politicians have shown rare strength of unity in giving tit-for-tat to the arrogant US against the arrest and cavity search of India’s Counsel General Devyani Khobragade. In an unprecedented rebuff, Indian leaders cancelled their scheduled appointments with the US representatives and several admonition actions were taken as a step towards scaling down the diplomatic immunity available to the US diplomats. Barring a few America frenzy journalists and intellectuals, everybody felt offended for denying diplomatic immunity to the lady diplomat. If we critically analyse the issue, we need to respond to the issue of ‘US arrogance’ and the larger conspiracy involved in framing Indian diplomats.
In last three years, this is the third case involving senior Indian diplomats in so-called visa fraud of their Indian Based Domestic Assistants (IBDA). The USA has been arrogant in showing its power to Indian politicians and celebrities in the name of enforcing the laws of their land. Fine, do other countries have similar rights? Then why the US intervened in the Indian legal system and evacuate the family of the absconding, Sangeeta Roberts, a maid of Devyani Khobragade. The methods used for enforcing the laws, arresting while dropping children to school, handcuffing, stripped searched and detainment of drug addicts, are unacceptable by any standards. This is another example of US hypocrisy and arrogance of being the sole interpreter of rights and wrongs in international relations. The conspicuous sequence of events about the maid smells beyond just a visa fraud or denial of minimum wages case. India needs to follow up hard on the case for the dignified acquittal of Devyani Khobragade and take a chance to teach a lesson to the US not only in tough diplomacy but also in human rights and legal enforcement.