An Italian Job

Italy is a lovely country and I have enjoyed many visits over the last 50 years to it, mainly to Italian universities. But around five years ago, invitations began to come from Chambers of Commerce from around Italy. The purpose of these conferences was to learn about India and how to do business with India. I, among others, was meant to tell them about what Indian growth potential was like etc.

Now we have got to a stage where far from being eager to do business with India, Italian authorities have breached international law and refused to return the Italian marines who were only allowed to go back for voting in elections. (No, we cannot blame the marines for the absurd results of that election.) This is as serious a breach of international law as can be imagined. Just think what would have happened if Pakistan had done this to India. Or imagine Italy doing this to China.

Either way, the current pusillanimous response would not have been forthcoming. The act of betrayal of trust, let alone disobeying an order of the Supreme Court, is a serious enough breach for expelling the Italian ambassador forthwith. This is not even taking into account the VVIP helicopter scandal for which no satisfactory answer has been received from the Italian end. No doubt nothing will happen and the entire negotiation will be dragged out till the whole thing sinks into a compromise. Force majeure, the marines will be allowed to face prison in Italy, and then who knows? They may be just quietly released and re-employed. At the very least, all import orders to Italy should be cancelled and all visas for Italian businessmen suspended pro tem. But, of course, this will not happen. 'Reasonable', that is, cowardly, voices will prevail. India will tolerate the humiliation silently.

... contd.

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