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Natwar Singh And The Hindu Parallax!
Even big editors have small vanities. Mr. Natwar Singh, the foreign minister of India, telephoned the ‘big’ editor of the ‘secular’ newspaper, although it was to clarify his position vis-à-vis the Volcker report. The call merited front paging with a banner headline. In India that is Bharat the word ‘secular’ defies dictionaries - but writing about it is digressing from the main theme. The BE did not have a crystal ball and could not know the twists in the tale which seem to continue to unwind.

Returning to our main story, there are two components in it. The first is Natwar Singh’s denial. What else do we expect him to do? He would and did. He still does although the ‘old faithful party’ led him to the gallows in the larger cause. ‘Caesar is an honourable man’ and his honour should be protected even if one foreign minister is made an errand boy and another a fall guy.

Sometime in April 1987, the Swedish national broadcaster fired its Bofors. The salvo came in handy for one of India’s greatest Machiavellians. For him all was fair in politics and power (power comes after politics in the dictionary - to use a hackneyed pun) including fragmenting the ‘body politic’ in his pursuit of power. He used it to do a Brutus on Caesar. Caesar was dethroned but in spite of thundering protestations, could not regain his honour in his lifetime or after. The needle of suspicion still hovers in the direction of his grave. Caesar is (or was) guilty or not depending on your angle of vision - the perspective parallax (does it sound like an oxymoron?).

Shortly afterwards, Geoffrey Archer, the British novelist published a collection of short stories entitled ‘A Twist in the Tale’. One of the stories in the collection is a spoof on India’s Bofors saga. The story runs like this: The finance minister of a third-world country approaches a Swiss bank ostensibly to investigate the account one of his country’s politicians had with the bank. The senior official of the bank whom the finance minister approaches refuses to confirm or give any details of the account. The finance minister’s pleas in the name of ethics, morality, humanity and what have you and threats to close down all his country’s accounts with the bank and even the threat to kill him were of no avail. The finance minister makes to give up and walk out but suddenly heists (pun intended) his brief case on to the table and says ‘how about opening an account?’

In another part of the story two third-world finance ministers meet in an international conference held in one of their capitals. They become friends and the finance minister of the host country invites the other to his mansion for dinner. The guest marvels at the opulence of his host’s mansion and wonders how he could build such an opulent mansion in so poor a country. The host takes him to the top of the building and shows him a nearby river and a dam on it. He asks him ‘do you see the dam?’ The guest replies he does. “Well! Ten percent of it’, he says.

The next conference was held in the guest’s national capital and naturally the earlier guest now plays host and invites his friend to dinner. It was the turn of the other to marvel at the opulence of his friend’s palace. So the host takes him to the top of the building and points at the panoramic expanse of the nearby river. ‘See the dam there?’ he asks. ‘But I do not see anything there!’ replies his guest. ‘Precisely!’ says the host, ‘Ten per cent of it!’

By the by, Geoffrey Archer believed there was no corruption in the first-world, till ...

Much water has flown the Rhine and Ganges since 1987. India’s foreign minister was used as an errand boy to deliver letters to the Swiss requesting them to stall the Bofors’ investigation, as Caesar’s honour could not be sullied; the dynasty has done so much for the country. J. Nehru billed the nation for his stay in ‘Yarawada gaol’ (as he loved to spell it) and collected an inexhaustible supply of post-dated cheques, which the dynasty is cashing.

A former Japanese prime minister was convicted for corruption. It happened in the Philippines, in Italy, in Israel and Britain. Two British Prime Ministers had to abdicate because of their cabinet colleagues’ sexual misdemeanours - not financial malfeasance. In India such misdemeanours are not reported. After all in India that is Bharat the high and mighty have the privilege of different social codes of conduct. J. Nehru’s escapades with Edwina Mountbaten surfaced long after both of them met their maker.

In the US a President was convicted for spooking his opponent’s headquarters. In India, Indira (no, it does not mean Indira is India) famous for her keeping dossiers on her opponents did not have to do it. In India that is Bharat, law enforcement agencies are their political masters’ fiefdoms. And fund collectors (e.g. Rustum Shorab Nagarwala and Lalit Narain Misra) disappear if their presence is inconvenient for their masters.

Now the second part of the press parallax. The country’s socio-political philosophy is mind-boggling. The country’s founding fathers wanted a casteless society. India today has myriad castes and they keep mutating. Today the political class is the Kshatriyas. All paths are cleared for their movement. The bureaucracy is the Brahmins. They preside over all social activity. The business class is the Vysyas. Everything spins around their money that pervades the ether. The rest - us all comprises the Sudras. The original Brahmins are untouchables today. What goes up has to come down in a topsy-turvy world.

The founding fathers wanted a secular society - meaning that the state has no religion. Indira inserted the word, which the founding fathers forgot to write into the constitution. When she declared a nineteen-month holiday for political parties and received all opponents as government guests - with the noble intention of running trains on time and her second son practiced castrating extra productivity - Indian parliament had to do something. India, today therefore competes with Saudi Arabia.

The press in India today mirrors the socio-political milieu including its hypocrisy with a few honourable exceptions but like internet passwords they too are case sensitive. A press baron is reported to have said ‘I can hire editors a dime a dozen, I want marketing managers who can sell the paper’. A wise editor agreed that there is nothing called objectivity. Objectivity like beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder! Or objectivity like consistency is a virtue of the asses!

The Bofors saga was unearthed by Arun Shourie but taken forward by the ‘big editor with the small vanity’ and his Swiss correspondent. They led us through the mazes of accounts routing and rerouting kickbacks. Indian governments’ lethargy and inactivity ended up in blank walls. No Caesar could be indicted for a ‘Caesar could do no wrong’. That is the divine privilege Indian society confers on its political class.

Time has turned full circle. Now a ‘secular’ government supported by workers’ angels (sounds like Marx and Engels, does it not?) is ruling. Natwar Singh has secular credentials. He wants to reverse the clock and take the country back to the days of the non-aligned movement and an independent foreign policy. An independent foreign policy in the lexicon of the workers’ angels is kowtowing to the dictatorships of the banana republics and the Orwellian paradises - a.k.a. the non-aligned movement. He supports Iraq and Iran not because they are great democracies but because they are Muslim nations. That gets votes for his party although Indian Muslims are appalled by the suggestion that for them a foreign nation - whatever its religion - is more important than their own national interest. All angels must come to the aid of the party - and - Natwar Singh called to clarify that he did not mulct. So ‘I’ believe he did not. Q.E.D. But then, in hindsight………

In the end Natwar had to be excavated from the chair, with him kicking and screaming. There is a twist in the tale, which good old Geoffrey might some day add to his collection. Mitrokhin finally confirmed what many of us suspected all along, that some of those liberal hearts were paid to bleed like the crowds that are arranged to cheer our netas’ orations. Long live KGB! Matherani confirmed that a ‘liberal’ foreign policy could also be milked. Long live AMAM!
Great article, but pl.include original citation
<!--QuoteBegin-Kaushal+Jan 3 2006, 11:19 AM-->QUOTE(Kaushal @ Jan 3 2006, 11:19 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Great article, but pl.include original citation

<b>I have given below the article and the link of the "Frontpage" article:</b>

Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Oct 31,
Political targeting, says Natwar Singh
N. Ram
Chennai: In a telephone conversation with me on Sunday, India's External Affairs Minister, K. Natwar Singh, expressed outrage and anger over the Volcker Committee naming him as a "non-contractual beneficiary" of Iraqi oil sales in 2001 to Masefield AG on the basis of "no evidence" at all — and with no one talking either to him or to the contracting company to ascertain the truth relating to him in advance.
"Let me make this absolutely clear," Mr. Singh told me, "I have had nothing to do with this affair. Nor has my son [Jagat Singh, against whom there has been a whispering campaign]... I saw the Prime Minister and he has given me a clean chit and stood by me," pointing out that there was no evidence offered against him in Table 3 of the report. India's Foreign Minister also called attention to the statement by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which spoke of the political bias against those who were opposed to the "brutal sanctions" Iraq suffered for more than a decade; and to the official Russian position that the Volcker Committee report was based on "forgeries."
Raising the question "Why is my name in this report?" Mr. Singh pointed out, for a start, that it was curious that his name did not figure in the main report but turned up, without any discussion or indication of the source of information, in a couple of tables.
He indicted Paul Volcker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and his "Independent Inquiry Committee" for violating all rules of fairness and targeting those who were opposed to the United States' aggressive actions against Iraq. Mr. Singh emphasised that there must be a political design behind naming him in the Committee's report. "I opposed sanctions, I opposed the war, and I opposed sending Indian troops to Iraq." India's External Affairs Minister wanted to know why Mr. Volcker had headed the Committee and not "some independent person from the developing world."
"Has anyone talked to them [Masefield AG, the contracting company]? Why not ask them? Is there any evidence that I or my son ever had contact with this company or any other company involved in this? Is there any evidence that I had ever heard of this company? How do I figure in this?"
Mr. Singh expressed anguish over The Hindu "highlighting" the Committee's allegations against him without telephoning him for a response to be published simultaneously. (He was abroad and could not be contacted in time.) He said the newspaper owed it to him to highlight, on its front page, his strong refutation of the false and malicious charges against him.
"I am 74 years old and, at this stage in my life, nothing is more important than my good name," Mr. Singh assured me

the Mithrokin papers are also true. i know this for a fact (sources). why doesnt the BJP press for it now, along with the volker report. it could crucify the congress, with a little bit of Bofors thrown in.

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