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The Intimate Zone


The “Mainstream.”
 
Ask any ordinary Indian citizen whether the bulk of their elected representatives or members of the administrative  tribe  ever really can be trusted  to  square  with them on any issue  at hand—from the  burst water pipeline, to  the price of food articles, to any policy issues bearing on  domestic or foreign concern.
 
And you will discover that, among democracies,  the  Indian political/bureaucratic class  scores the  lowest worldwide  on truth-telling, and absolutely the highest on the  fine art of dodge and double-speak.
 
This is so,  Wikileaks now tell us,  for the  canny  reason that  India’s “mainstream” power wielders/brokers  reserve  truth-sharing  not for the people of India but for the American Embassy.   There  is  the  intimate zone  where  they bare their hearts out. 
 
Here is a sampling—from the  lowly and  bumptuous, although not less punishable for that reason,  to the venerated sublime:
 
 –in his cable  dated August 11, 2009, Timothy Roemer, the US Ambassador, recounting his first ever meeting with the then Indian National Security Advisor, (no less) underlined how the latter had candidly revealed his differences with the Prime Minister, Singh, on issues related to peace with Pakistan; and how Narayanan told him of his retort to Singh’s sentiment about the “shared destinies” of India and Pakistan: “you have a shared destiny, we don’t” Narayanan confided as having said.  Presumably, the “you” had to do with Singh being a north Indian and a Punjabi, and Narayanan being a southerner to whom the partition of the country in 1947 carried small resonance. Roemer, with good judgement and reason, concluded that Narayanan’s  readiness to “distance himself from his boss”  suggested 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.” With the National Security Advisor of a host country so willing and ready to tell, why would the US embassy need them spooks one wonders.
 
And not just that; Narayanan left the Ambassador in no doubt as to who he thought was boss: “Narayanan noted that all matters related to nuclear and space issues, defense and foreign policy, should be directed to him.”  God knows why the Indian electorate gave itself a cabinet and a prime minister.
 
–Not to think that any lowly joint secretary in the Indian bureaucracy has less grandiose notions of self-importance or is less willing to  enunciate policy to the  members of the intimate zone. As Hardeep Puri was appointed the Indian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a mere Gaitri Kumar, joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs, told Ted Osinus that “we should let MEA know if we have any complaints” (against Puri).  Making it known thereby that the said joint secretary believed not Bang Ki Moon to be the real thing at the UN but the  Americans: Puri, in his turn, went one better, telling the US official how “his specific brief” was to seek a “higher degree of convergence” with the US (meeting dated May,1, 2009). The prime minister of India or his external affairs minister have not spoken.  Do the people of India have a right to be told?  Forget it.  They are too used to being fibbed to be  hit with the truth.
 
–Now to the sublime.  Wiki  tells us how the redoubtable , Harvard- savvy, home minister of India confided to the   heart throbs of the real home, the  Embassy of the  US,  that had there been no north or east to the republic of India, but only the west and the south, her GDP growth rate would have been vaulting sky high.  What pity that these laggard and slovenly regions cannot be bombed out of existence,  India’s  military prowess notwithstanding. Indeed, India, sutably reduced, might then have competed with the  most “developed” nations on their own terms.  Lost opportunity, you would say.
 
Now we wonder whether the honourable home minister would ever have publicly shared this his heartfelt view with the people of India.  Much to be doubted.  So thank heavens there remains an intimate zone where such inward truths may be told, namely the US embassy.
 
–But, all this is nothing to the  BJP- Jaitley’s  confession made to the intimate zone and retold by Wiki.  That surely takes the cake, and  invites millions to rethink India’s major opposition party.  Not that the millions did not already know, but coming from the horses’s mouth, ah, that is something else.
 
Meeting with Robert Blake, the Charge at the US Embassy, on May 6, 2005, Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, educated the intimate Charge on the true position of the  so “nationalist” Bhartiya Janata Party on the  true and profound meaning of “Hindutva.”  This is how the Charge reported on the intimate exchange: 
 
          “Pressed on the question of Hindutva, Jaitley argued
          (whenever any member of this right-wing Hindu party argues,
          which they do all the time, understand  Goebbelesian spin
          without shame, let, or hindrance–added) that Hindu
          nationalism ‘will always be a talking point’ for the BJP.
   .      However, he characterized this as an  
          opportunistic issue” {cable dated May 10, 2005).
 
That being so, Jaitley confided to the intimate zone how opportunism dictates an assessment of when Hindutva may or may not have “currency” among the electorate.  For example, in India’s north-east, Jaitley propounded, such currency remains intact so long as the issue of Muslim migrants of Bangladeshi extraction also remains intact.  Just to share a fact:  the BJP has never objected to the entry of Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh, only the Muslim ones.  The very soul of the BJP’s sectarian/communalist politics there for show, if one needed a  show.
 
And note this: now that terrorist attacks seem to have halted, especially on the Capital of India, “Hindutva” has rather lost its “resonance” in New Delhi (Jaitley again).  But, wait a minute and wonder, “that could change with another cross-border terrorist attack, for instance, on the Indian Parliament,” Blake reported Jaitley as having said.  So does that sound like a consummation devoutly to be wished?  We leave  you to work that one out, even as we also invite you to ponder the logic and objective of the terror strikes now known to have been conducted by groups and individuals affiliated to the RSS.
 
Do also recall another Wiki gem, wherein the redoubtable L.K.Advani of the BJP is heard to reassure the intimates that the party’s opposition to the nuclear deal must not be taken to heart, since it was meant for public consumption.  The intimate fact was that the BJP had no intent to do anything but go alongwith it once they came to wield power in Delhi, or to  dilute the strategic partnership with the US.  
 
All very patriotic stuff this, told not to Indians but to the Americans.

But Jaitley, Advani and Wiki are  all to be thanked; we now know we were always right.  As will, no doubt, many heretofore gullible Indians also get to know that they may have been suckers at the altar of false gods whose commitment to a foreign power and its claims and interests exceeds its commitment to both Indians and to Hindutva.

Indeed, the central tenet of this so “ideological” party turns out to be a mere piece of cold and callous machination, to be deployed where, how, and when gains are to be made, and to which thousands of innocent Indians have lost their unsuspecting lives.
 
The Left
 
–Strikingly, but not surprisingly, Wikileaks  underscore the reality that it is India’s Left parties, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) directly, who, although everyday maligned for its non-nationalist (sic)  sins,  shine  for patriotism, spunk, and ideological integrity in contrast to the  private  minds of its ideologically fake, right-wing  accusers.
 
Indeed, to make an important point, where the  “nationalists” are shown to have been low both on integrity and patriotism, the Left comes off as  truly patriotic in being devoted to what it sees as constituting the good of the people of India, even as it remains an ideological critic of the idea of “nationalism.”  Just to recall, this contrast between the vicious nature of “nationalism” and the honourable  sentiment of patriotism was nowhere more eloquently addressed in India’s  modern history than in Tagore’s justly celebrated lecture on “Nationalism” (see Rabindranath Tagore, Nationalism (1917; rptd New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2009).
 
Thus, in his first meeting with US Embassy officials after his election as General Secretary of the  CPI(M), Prakash Karat, Wikileaks tells us—see The Hindu, March, 23, 2011)  shared the same truths  and perceptions with Blake (meeting dated May 4, 2005) as he, the party, and the Left overall,  have routinely shared with the people of India, and until the break with the UPA,  with the government it was then supporting.
 
In that meeting with Blake, Karat as reported by Wiki, held his own on all matters that came up, namely, the nuclear issue, missile defence, retail trade, FDI policy, Insurance, land reforms, stability of the government, and foreign policy generally.  Not one word there that could be seen to be out of line with what the party and the Left have been saying  for two decades or thereabouts.  One is able to  understand why even a Sonia Gandhi is revealed by Wiki to have so much preferred and been so much more comfortable with the Left than with the “regional” parties supporting or willing to support the UPA.  For the reason that the Left always told you where they stood so you could know where you stand; and all that without fanfare, deceit, or reckless irresponsibility towards the nation or its governance.
 
There may have been a time when India’s Left had the same sort of intimacy with the USSR and their Embassy as our major parties of today have with the US Embassy.  Always had, infact, after the  Nehru-Indira era came to a close.  What is of importance and of value  to  common  concerns is that the Left in India today is  in all likelihood the  one political force most credibly devoted to Indian people’s interests and to the sovereignty of the  nation-state overall.

It speaks to the  unsentimental toughness of  American assessments of men and matters that Blake should have reported of Karat not just that he found Karat “talented and skillful” but, more fully as follows:
 
          “Relatively young (at 57) he will be a powerful figure
          on the Indian political scene for years to come, and could
          play an increasingly important role in the formation of
          future Indian governments.”
 
Clearly, the assessment of Karat here can hardly be delinked from the politics of the Left in general.
 
It was to be expected of the Goebbelesian BJP that all derogatory references to others in the Wikileaks exposes would be treated and propagated as gospel truth, and, as to its own, as so much misreporting.
 
Thus the BJP is busy hoodwinking the nation with the  spin that whereas the other things said by Jaitley to Blake  may be true enough, the “opportunistic” bit is wholly Blake’s own.  It is   to be doubted that even  the BJP’s  dear ones are now willing to credit Jaitley before Blake.  Having already been rendered obsolete by so much  that has been happening in a young India,  the exposure of “Hindutva” as mere gimmick, although a deadly one  since  lately  discovered to be aligned with terrorism as well, may contribute to transformations that the country can do with.
 
For one,  these shaming exposes may oblige India’s “mainstreamers” to square first with Indians before they do with the  intimate zone, an eventuality that could put Indian democracy on a rather more respectable  footing.

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