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‘We are closely monitoring...’

India’s silence on the crisis in West Asia is matched by its latest anodyne statement on Libya. Alok Mehra writes.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2011 23:16 IST
Alok Mehra

India, we are told over and over again, is a rising global power that has increasing influence in the world. And yet, with Libya on the boil — not to mention events in Syria proceeding towards the ouster of its dictatorial government — New Delhi is as quiet as it would have been if it was, say, Fiji.

A Decent Power, never mind a Great Power, comes out of its shell of navel-gazing and fence-sitting to take a call when it comes to big, momentous events happening in some other country. The people know what position one takes regarding the events. It doesn’t have to send across fighter jets, but as the largest democracy in the world, one would have thought that India would make a statement less anodyne than the one our Ministry of External Affairs made about Libya on Tuesday: “We are closely monitoring the developments in Libya. There are indications that the situation in Libya is changing and the recent events in Tripoli indicate that the Transitional National Council is acquiring effective control. The situation in the country should be normalised by the people of Libya themselves in a peaceful manner adhering to democratic norms and with respect for aspirations of the people.” Even a sleepwalker would have been more forthright.

The MEA statement continues: “This process should be guided by respect for the sovereignty, integrity and unity of Libya. India stands ready to extend all possible assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation to the friendly people of Libya and wishes them peace, stability and prosperity.” This could have been a ‘Get well soon’ card.

For a country that clamours to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council, not having the word ‘Gaddafi’ once in the statement is ludicrous. Does India want to hedge its bets in case the dictator makes a ‘comeback’? So much for 2011 India moving out of the shell of ‘non-alignment’.
Alok Mehra is a
Delhi-based writer
The views expressed by the author are personal