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Our American way of life

india Updated: Mar 30, 2011 21:35 IST
Jawid Laiq
Jawid Laiq
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Now that Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani have watched the India-Pakistan World Cup cricket semi-final at Mohali together, an American embassy cable to Washington revealing former National Security Advisor (NSA) MK Narayanan’s attempt to subvert Singh's Pakistan policy can be highlighted without too much worry.

In his first meeting on August 10, 2009 with US ambassador Timothy Roemer, Narayanan readily disclosed the innermost contents of the highest level meetings of the Government of India, exposed critical policy differences on Pakistan between Singh and his senior advisors and scoffed at the PM's views. The cable sent by Roemer the following day clearly shows that Narayanan not only betrayed Singh but divulged privileged information to a foreign power that amounts to a serious breach of national security.

In his cable, Roemer observed that Narayanan's readiness to "distance himself from his boss" would suggest that "Singh is more isolated than we thought within his own inner circle in his effort to 'trust but verify' and pursue talks with Pakistan". Narayanan recounted to Roemer that after the PM spoke to his advisors about India's "shared destiny" with Pakistan, Narayanan had retorted to the PM: "You have a shared destiny; we don't."

The NSA then proceeded to instruct the ambassador about how important he was within the top hierarchy of India's governance. Roemer's cable says: "Narayanan noted that all matters related to nuclear and space issues, defense and foreign policy, should be directed to him."

Some of our lower government functionaries have also followed a similar path of being garrulous and obsequious, ever eager to please their American interlocutors. Gaitri Kumar, joint secretary (Americas) in the ministry of external affairs, went to the extent of ratting on her own colleague, Hardeep Puri, days after his appointment as India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. According to US political counsellor in New Delhi, Ted Osinus, Kumar told him at a meeting on April 29, 2009 that "we should let MEA know if we have any complaints" (against Puri).

Not to be outdone, at a meeting on May 1, 2009 with Osinus, Puri told the US official that "his specific brief" was to seek a "higher degree of convergence" with the US. These two meetings were reported by Osinus in a cable dated May 1, 2009.

Our political class also competed in revealing their low-life trade secrets to sundry US officials. During the May 2009 election campaign, key political workers of the Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen in Andhra Pradesh bragged about the mechanics of distributing money to the electorate in return for votes. One method of distribution revealed to the visiting US consular team from Chennai was to place cash inside the morning newspaper. (Cable sent on May 13, 2009 by Frederick J Kaplan, an official of the US consulate-general in Chennai.)

In these intimate conversations with US representatives, a significant number of Indian politicians, diplomats and officials do not show the slightest realisation that they may be debasing their own country or subverting national honour and pride.

Our establishment's cultural and racial biases are fully in accord with the instincts of vast sections of our upper and middle classes who crave to be familiar with Americans and other 'white' men even at the cost of demeaning ourselves. There is no need for the Americans to woo us and win our hearts and minds when we have already bared our hearts and minds to them.

Jawid Laiq is a political commentator and author of The Maverick Republic. The views expressed by the author are personal.