Wikileaks opens India’s dirty Pandora Box

By Badri Raina

Ask any ordinary Indian citizen whether the bulk of their elected representatives or members of the administrative tribe ever really can be trusted to square with them on any issue at hand-from the burst water pipeline, to the price of food articles, to any policy issues bearing on domestic or foreign concern.

And you will discover that, among democracies, the Indian political/bureaucratic class scores the lowest worldwide on truth-telling, and absolutely the highest on the fine art of dodge and double-speak.

This is so, Wikileaks now tell us, for the canny reason that India’s “mainstream” power wielders/brokers reserve truth-sharing not for the people of India but for the American Embassy. There is the intimate zone where they bare their hearts out.

Here is a sampling: from the lowly and bumptiuous, although not less punishable for that reason, to the venerated sublime: in his cable dated August 11, 2009, Timothy Roemer, the US Ambassador, recounting his first ever meeting with the then Indian National Security Advisor, (no less) underlined how the latter had candidly revealed his differences with the Prime Minister, Singh, on issues related to peace with Pakistan; and how Narayanan told him of his retort to Singh’s sentiment about the “shared destinies” of India and Pakistan: “you have a shared destiny, we don’t” Narayanan confided as having said. Presumably, the “you” had to do with Singh being a north Indian and a Punjabi, and Narayanan being a southerner to whom the partition of the country in 1947 carried small resonance. Roemer, with good judgement and reason, concluded that Narayanan’s readiness to “distance himself from his boss” suggested that “Singh is more isolated than we thought within his own inner circle in his effort to ‘trust but verify’ and pursue talks with Pakistan.” With the National Security Advisor of a host country so willing and ready to tell, why would the US embassy need them spooks one wonders.

And not just that; Narayanan left the Ambassador in no doubt as to who he thought was boss: “Narayanan noted that all matters related to nuclear and space issues, defence and foreign policy, should be directed to him.” God knows why the Indian electorate gave itself a cabinet and a prime minister.

– Not to think that any lowly joint secretary in the Indian bureaucracy has less grandiose notions of self-importance or is less willing to enunciate policy to the members of the intimate zone. As Hardeep Puri was appointed the Indian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a mere Gaitri Kumar, joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs, told Ted Osinus that “we should let MEA know if we have any complaints” (against Puri). Making it known thereby that the said joint secretary believed not Bang Ki Moon to be the real thing at the UN but the Americans: Puri, in his turn, went one better, telling the US official how “his specific brief” was to seek a “higher degree of convergence” with the US (meeting dated May, 1, 2009). The prime minister of India or his external affairs minister have not spoken. Do the people of India have a right to be told? Forget it. They are too used to being fibbed to be hit with the truth.

– Now to the sublime. Wiki tells us how the redoubtable, Harvard-savvy, home minister of India confided to the heart throbs of the real home, the Embassy of the US, that had there been no north or east to the republic of India, but only the west and the south, her GDP growth rate would have been vaulting sky high. What pity that these laggard and slovenly regions cannot be bombed out of existence, India’s military prowess notwithstanding. Indeed, India, suitably reduced, might then have competed with the most “developed” nations on their own terms. Lost opportunity, you would say.

– Now we wonder whether the honourable home minister would ever have publicly shared this his heartfelt view with the people of India. Much to be doubted. So thank heavens there remains an intimate zone where such inward truths may be told, namely the US embassy.

– But, all this is nothing to the BJP-Jaitley’s confession made to the intimate zone and retold by Wiki. That surely takes the cake, and invites millions to rethink India’s major opposition party. Not that the millions did not already know, but coming from the horse’s mouth, ah, that is something else.

Meeting with Robert Blake, the Chargé at the US Embassy, on May 6, 2005, Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, educated the intimate Chargé on the true position of the so “nationalist” Bhartiya Janata Party on the true and profound meaning of “Hindutva.” This is how the Chargé reported on the intimate exchange: “Pressed on the question of Hindutva, Jaitley argued [whenever any member of this right-wing Hindu party argues, which they do all the time, understand Goebbelesian spin without shame, let, or hindrance-added] that Hindu nationalism ‘will always be a talking point’ for the BJP. However, he characterized this as an opportunistic issue” (cable dated May 10, 2005).

That being so, Jaitley confided to the intimate zone how opportunism dictates an assessment of when Hindutva may or may not have “currency” among the electorate. For example, in India’s north-east, Jaitley propounded, such currency remains intact so long as the issue of Muslim migrants of Bangladeshi extraction also remains intact. Just to share a fact: the BJP has never objected to the entry of Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh, only the Muslim ones. The very soul of the BJP’s sectarian/communalist politics there for show, if one needed a show.

And note this: now that terrorist attacks seem to have halted, especially on the Capital of India, “Hindutva” has rather lost its “resonance” in New Delhi [Jaitley again]. But, wait a minute and wonder, “that could change with another cross-border terrorist attack, for instance, on the Indian Parliament,” Blake reported Jaitley as having said. So does that sound like a consummation devoutly to be wished? We leave you to work that one out, even as we also invite you to ponder the logic and objective of the terror strikes now known to have been conducted by groups and individuals affiliated to the RSS.

Do also recall another Wiki gem, wherein the redoubtable L. K. Advani of the BJP is heard to reassure the intimates that the party’s opposition to the nuclear deal must not be taken to heart, since it was meant for public consumption. The intimate fact was that the BJP had no intent to do anything but go along with it once they came to wield power in Delhi, or to dilute the strategic partnership with the US. All very patriotic stuff this, told not to Indians but to the Americans.

But Jaitley, Advani and Wiki are all to be thanked; we now know we were always right. As will, no doubt, many heretofore gullible Indians also get to know that they may have been suckers at the altar of false gods whose commitment to a foreign power and its claims and interests exceeds its commitment to both Indians and to Hindutva.
Indeed, the central tenet of this so “ideological” party turns out to be a mere piece of cold and callous machination, to be deployed where, how, and when gains are to be made, and to which thousands of innocent Indians have lost their unsuspecting lives.

The Left: Strikingly, but not surprisingly, Wikileaks underscore the reality that it is India’s Left parties, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) directly, who, although everyday maligned for its non-nationalist (sic) sins, shine for patriotism, spunk, and ideological integrity in contrast to the private minds of its ideologically fake, right-wing accusers...Thus, in his first meeting with US Embassy officials after his election as General Secretary of the CPI(M), Prakash Karat, Wikileaks tells us-see The Hindu, March, 23, 2011) shared the same truths and perceptions with Blake (meeting dated May 4, 2005) as he, the party, and the Left overall, have routinely shared with the people of India, and until the break with the UPA, with the government it was then supporting...

It was to be expected of the Goebbelesian BJP that all derogatory references to others in the Wikileaks exposes would be treated and propagated as gospel truth, and, as to its own, as so much misreporting.

Thus the BJP is busy hoodwinking the nation with the spin that whereas the other things said by Jaitley to Blake may be true enough, the “opportunistic” bit is wholly Blake’s own. It is to be doubted that even the BJP’s dear ones are now willing to credit Jaitley before Blake. Having already been rendered obsolete by so much that has been happening in a young India, the exposure of “Hindutva” as mere gimmick, although a deadly one since lately discovered to be aligned with terrorism as well, may contribute to transformations that the country can do with.

For one, these shaming exposes may oblige India’s “mainstreamers” to square first with Indians before they do with the intimate zone, an eventuality that could put Indian democracy on a rather more respectable footing.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2011 on page no. 8

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