Our Indian Feudal Service
- 'For 9 months, you have been sitting over names': SC raps Centre on appointment of judges
- Tata Group said to shortlist candidates for next chairman following ouster of Cyrus Mistry
- PM Modi to visit Japan in November, civil nuclear pact high on agenda
- J&K: After nearly 4 hours, Pakistan resumes mortar shelling in R S Pura sector
- Wanted to hit LeT camps in Pakistan after 26/11 strike: Shivshankar Menon
Of course, they have a right to fleece a maid, break the law — and claim immunity
Indian diplomacy has a well-deserved reputation for conservative understatedness. You've rarely seen a professional Indian diplomat grandstanding or headline-hunting. Not even Mani Shankar Aiyar, when he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Probably no one after Krishna Menon's days of acid filibustery more than half a century ago. Not for any "proper" Indian diplomat the arrogant, stupid swagger of the occasional Pakistani — if anybody can recall an Indian insult to rival the unspeakable Munir Akram (later Pakistan representative to the UN) dismissing Salman Khurshid as a rented Muslim, and India as the sick man of Asia, please do let me know and I will stand corrected. To my recollection, the funniest Indian diplomatic comment came from K. Natwar Singh. When asked if he was a hawk or a dove, he said, "I am running foreign policy, not a bird sanctuary." For someone who represented Bharatpur in the Lok Sabha, that was really smart. And the most cutting in recent memory was also possibly the most subtle. As India and Pakistan seemed to be drawing close to war in 2001-02 following the attack on Parliament, Pakistan responded by test-firing several "new" missiles, all named after medieval invaders of India: Abdali, Ghazni, Ghori, etc. Asked for comment at her daily press briefing, Nirupama Rao, then MEA spokesperson, simply said, "We are not impressed". Just four brilliant, inoffensive words were enough to infuriate Pervez Musharraf.
What is to explain such a radical shift in the style and manner of such a classy, sophisticated and patient foreign service bureaucracy? Words like barbaric, despicable, inhuman, perfidy, betrayal, withdraw-all-charges-and-apologise and so on do not belong to the usual diplomatic vocabulary. These are the last resort of editorial writers and TV anchors always short of ideas or a clever turn of phrase. The same foreign service has handled three relatively recent incidents that amount to enormous perfidies — the torture and killing of Captain Saurabh Kalia and his patrol of five in Kargil (June, 1999), the beheading of an Indian soldier and disfiguring of the other on the LoC (January, 2013) and, in between, the greatest and continuing betrayal of all, the American double games over David Coleman Headley — with such mature equanimity.
- A letter like Cyrus Mistry’s could deepen the credibility crisis of Indian capitalism
- The transgender rights bill dilutes the private member’s bill passed by Rajya Sabha
- Diverse myths around the festival underpin Hinduism’s openness
- Polygamy and gender justice debate is more complicated than it is made out to be
- By brokering for MNS, Devendra Fadnavis has shown himself as a CM afraid of a bully
- Pak PM would do well to study the past before choosing Raheel Sharif’s successor