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MEA culpa

What is it about some of our foreign emissaries that make them so susceptible to hanky-panky? Being out of their New Delhi bosses? sight gives them the idea that they are out of their mind too.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 00:24 IST

There’s something rotten in the state of the Ministry of External Affairs. In fact, if one goes beyond the latest embarrassing case involving the Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand, Harish Dogra, it seems that there has been something rotten going on in South Block for quite some time now. If Mr Dogra, who has been accused of running a visa/trafficking racket, has had the gumption to dig his heels in, refusing to return to India (his wife insisting that his life is under threat if he comes back) and has even called for the resignation of Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, there is reason why he thinks he can get away. That reason, in one word, is precedence.

It is an open secret of sorts that the MEA has become a happy hunting ground for many a crooked career diplomat — and the spotlights falling on the Indian envoy to Croatia a few months ago over the Volcker affair was only a high-profile case which broke through to reach the media surface. After deferring his return for weeks, former Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Rakesh Kumar (also accused of trafficking), has finally returned to the country awaiting CBI investigations.

What is it about some of our foreign emissaries that make them so susceptible to hanky-panky? Being out of their New Delhi bosses’ sight gives them the idea that they are out of their mind too. This has the unhappy potential of creating a potentate out of a career diplomat. And if one follows how some of these rotten apples have been dealt with by New Delhi — mostly a posting shuffle — this perception seems to have a firm basis in reality. Our diplomats across the world are the one-stop representatives of India abroad. It’s high time that the man in charge of the External Affairs Ministry, the Prime Minister himself, realises the seriousness of these cases. Instead of brushing them under the carpet as has been the tradition, he should clean up the offices of the Government of India in various parts of the world. Making an example of those guilty will go a long way.