Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shashi Tharoor, How Tweet!


This General Election, amongst many other things, I felt a lots of voters waking up. To some extent it appeared to be the result of the 26/11 Terror Attacks, which caught India, Indian Internal Security Agencies, Intelligence Bureau and above all the ever-hated Politicians with its pants down.

I also give some marks to rising education and a general movement amongst the masses for this change in electoral practice in India.

The good news is that people have started thinking about how they are governed. And when they have started doing this I can't think of a bad news.

While I subscribe to the BJP's suggestions on how to govern this nation, and my party got a drubbing at these elections which, led to lots of dirty linen being washed in public, giving a field to day to all its opponents, I was extremely satisfied thinking about the increasing participation from the voters.

I am sure that as the voters think more about the nation and how they are being governed and go through various experiments on this subject, they will slowly and surely arrive at the same thoughts that many of us at BJP think is the right way. It will also help BJP sharpen its own thinking as the feedback mechanism is now working full swing.

This election wanted a fresh breath of air. Some young faces, new and innovative ways of connecting with the masses, more honorable education backgrounds...so on and so forth.

When the UPA govt. decided to bring in India's most famous Tweeter - Mr. Shashi Tharoor - into the Ministry of External Affairs as the Deputy Minister, almost everyone welcomed the idea.

He had an experience in dealing with the UN, having been UN Under Secretary General under UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. He also had the most important qualification for a ministerial post in India - good looks. Good looks come very handy in Indian Politics. If you don't believe me, follow every single comment on Tharoor and you will invariably find Indians suggesting his "easy-on-eyes" looks as a very attractive point on why he should be in the govt.

Tharoor also speaks fluently in English, authors books in English, is on boards and panels of a variety of International Organizations and all in all undoubtedly a qualified candidate for a deputy ministerial berth in the Ministry of External Affairs.

But somehow, I never understand why he does not discriminate between what he should tweet and what he shouldn't. Mr. S M Krishna had to roar against his recent tweet on new Visa policy.

While the newly active Indian voters seek a lot of transparency to help them put forth their own views, tweeting your disagreement with your own boss doesn't seem to be a very bright idea.

Mr. Tharoor needs to remind himself time and again that he is now a Minister and a very integral part of Indian Political system. He is not an activist alone. His responsibilities towards his Ministry need to take priority over his activist-sort-of behaviour. Its only a sign of maturity.

The country shouldn't get the feeling that Mr. Tharoor is too sensitive to what US and European nations think of policies framed by the Government of India. We would also like to see that he has his eyes on the role his ministry plays in the security of this nation. I am sure there can be other ways of managing the problem that have surfaced during the Headley investigations, but such a matter is best discussed between the concerned people only and the nation has to follow it keeping full-faith in the decisions of the govt. The tourism business that he seemed worried about will anyway get affected if India is unable to keep its borders and home secured from terrorists.

What the countrymen want to see is seriously independent foreign policy, which caters to India's priorities and India's place in the world on the basis of its self-confidence.

I, personally, will be happy to see the Ministry of External Affairs putting priority on securing India's borders.

India has 7000kms of land boundary and 14000 kms of coastal boundary, approximately. We have seven neighbours - Paksitan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. For an informed reader, it is not difficult to note that India's relationship with almost all of these neighbours is hostile. Barring Bhutan, we have a large no. of outstanding issues with all the neighbours. Maintaining good, cordial relations with them is the responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs and I think they must take a lead in this matter now.

SAARC being a complete failure, needs to redesigned. India has to find ways of balancing individual nation's aspiration and not make them feel belittled in front of India. Instead of getting into rationality of their feeling, practical ways of addressing these feelings may be a more welcome move. Matters with China can then be dealt with more ease. Because an interesting thing to note is that the disinterest shown by India in its own neighbours has allowed China to have much better relations with them and which they, supposedly, use to stoke anti-India sentiment amongst them. India looks almost sorrounded by China and Chinese view of India.

However, that's an agenda which remains to be fulfilled.

At the end, I hope the dressing down he has received from Mr. Krishna will help him realise that everything he says has an implication. His choice of words and subjects in public domain need to be thought over carefully.

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