Jokers in charge

Chinese soldiers are currently on a camping trip in Ladakh. The insouciance with which they crossed the border and set up their tents on Indian soil revives horrible memories of a war in which we suffered a humiliating defeat. It should have worried our government but it did not. Ministers of the Government of India handled this insidious new form of troop movement with the sanguinity they exhibited when an Indian soldier was beheaded on another troubled border. Is this arrogance, cowardice or stupidity? I leave it for those who understand our namby-pamby foreign policy better than I do to answer that question, but would like to discuss this week the domestic consequences of this behaviour.

The most important of these is that the Sonia-Manmohan government is increasingly being perceived as too weak to protect India's interests. Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rarely deign to explain their policies to the Indian public and always vanish in times of crisis. They leave it to their ministers to speak for them and when these gentlemen speak, they confirm the growing impression that the destiny of India is in the hands of jokers.

Salman Khurshid is an old friend so it saddens me to write that the 'acne' analogy for the Chinese camping expedition was inappropriate and facetious. The Defence Minister has a stock answer whenever he is asked about a border incident, and he is so inarticulate when he gives it that it takes a while to work out that he is only saying that the matter is being investigated. Not once has he said anything that sounds even vaguely reassuring.

The Home Minister says the wrong thing so often that it is surprising that he is still allowed to speak. The latest example came in Parliament recently when he tried to dismiss the brutal rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi by saying "rapes happen everywhere". Last year, when he was in charge of the Power Ministry and the entire northern grid had collapsed, he had said proudly that we should be grateful for how quickly it was repaired.

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