Enough. The whole brouhaha over The Washington Post’s article, which described Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as "a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government", is just so hyperbolized.
The horrible part was when workers of the National Panthers Party burnt copies of The Washington Post, The Independent and Time, calling them the “mouthpiece of white chauvinism against India”. Time magazine had declared Dr Singh an “underachiever” and The Independent had called him Sonia Gandhi’s “poodle”.
So what if India bureau chief of The Washington Post, Simon Denyer, stands by his article! Why does he need to apologise for observing that the 79-year-old Indian PM is in `danger of going down in history as a failure`? What might have traumatized the Prime Minister’s Office could be the fact that the Indian PM is known to be an economist of repute abroad. How can the “image of the scrupulously honorable, humble and intellectual technocrat”, i.e. Manmohan Singh, be dented?
When the Indian media questions the PM’s silence on a plethora of scams that have plagued this country, no one bothers. But if a foreign media organization criticizes the government, the administration ruling the world’s largest democracy seeks apology. And why not, whenever the Congress is surrounded by questions over corruption, it pleads honesty in the face of just one guileless figure - Manmohan Singh.
What annoys me more is the fact that the Singh administration created such hullaballoo over The Washington Post article, but took two days just to decide to lodge a protest against Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie, who bravely `gifted` Rs 100,000 in sealed envelopes to two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots.
Isn’t it too late to react to such an incident? Why does such an episode get watered down, while criticism by foreign media is blown out of proportion?
Two Indian Air Force pilots, who flew the visiting Chinese defence minister from Mumbai to Delhi, were given Rs 100,000 as "tips", and our administration is tight-lipped. Why is it so much wary of offending the dragon?
Thank God, the pilots did not choose to stay ‘mum’ and informed their superiors about the "unusual gift".
It was certainly a major breach of protocol; but besides that some scholars are not even ruling out spy angle to the whole incident. A newspaper even reported that it could be a mindful act to guesstimate if the pilots could be bought over for missions.
This is certainly within bounds of possibility that there is nothing fishy in the whole incident and the Chinese minister was simply not aware of the diplomatic protocol. But according to a news channel, in 1991, the then Chinese prime minister Li Peng had given an envelope containing Rs 500 to an Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer. The money was then returned back to the Chinese embassy. If this report is accurate, the Chinese must know the protocol by now. The practice of distributing hong bao (red packets with cash) is humdrum in the world’s most populous country, but gifting cash to foreigners is like pushing the limits.
General Liang Guanglie also did not visit Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, which is said to be a customary stop for visiting defence ministers. They continue to mock us, dismiss us, snub us; and we respond with such timidity in the garb of diplomacy. It’s crap!