Saturday, November 05, 2005

Kick Natwar out to remain in race for UNSC seat

Well I have to do it again! I have to yet again put Manmohan Singh on the mat. I guess he's making far too many mistakes these days and I can't help but point them out. However I must admit his control over these matters is only as good as mine! But I will kick him nevertheless! Okay, now its the turn of Natwar Singh to embarrass him. We Indians living in utopia would expect "Mr.Clean" Manmohan Singh to order a "real" probe and bring to justice, Natwar's Singh son Jagat Singh and his friend. We would also expect him to get rid of Natwar Singh who allowed his son to use his position as head of Congress Party's foreign affair cell to indulge in the Iraq Oil-for-food scam. And by doing all this, he would save India from a potential diplomatic nightmare. But since we only have the "real" Manmohan Singh, I very much doubt such things happening. Already he has given a clean chit to Natwar even without reading the report (only to qualify his response two days later). Unfortunately this scandal has far greater consequence for India than having yet another tainted minister in the cabinet. Afterall if we can have a rapist (Md Taslimudin), fodder scam accused on bail (Laloo Yadav) and an absconder (Jai Prakash Yadav) in the Union Ministry, what more harm can Natwar Singh do. But the problem is, Iraq Oil Scam is the mightiest stick with which US is planning to whack the UN. And India will do well not to put its head in the way. For several years now India has been (rather unnecessarily) running after a UN Security Council Seat. And with his now customary haphazard response, Manmohan Singh may seriously jeopardize India's long term interests. Consider the situation. We are demanding the reform of the UN and have the man who himself is part of UN's single biggest scandal ever as our Foreign Minister! How on hell will he argue India's case? We advertise ourselves as a great contributor to UN but the nations ruling party is threatening to sue the UN itself! (Its another matter that India's Permanent representative to UN, Nirupam Sen is begging every top dog in Delhi to prevent such a diplomatic disaster). We will go to the extent of ditching long term ally Iran to save the Indo-US nuclear deal and further the cause of India's most important foreign office wing (US). On the other hand we will allow Natwar Singh to continue because he is the most "Anti-US" minister in the cabinet. He said as much to the media and has bought support from the left because of this. (Left incidentally is out picketing an IAF base in Kalaikunda against the presence of US Airforce personnel for the air exercises. Well, I'm not commenting on this story for fear of using un-paliamentary language!) How this self-declared "Anti-US" minister is going to handle US relations in a very crucial period (congressional debate on the nuclear deal and Bush's upcoming visit) is anybody's guess. Even setting aside India's interests which I doubt this government cares about, it should to do well to save its own skin before the winter session of parliament. Else we can expect the BJP to wreck the session, and they have every right to do so! So for heaven's sake, Dr. Singh, get rid of Natwar and put someone else (how about Manishankar Aiyar?) in that important office in the South block.


Anonymous said...

Manishankar Aiyar? because he is from Tamil Nadu? Chauvinist attitude of Indians will be the death of us...

Balaji said...

Can you suggest anyone more suited for the job? Manishankar Aiyar was an IFS officer. Infact he has already stolen Foreign Ministry's thunder with Petroleum Ministry handling negotiations on the gas pipelines. Where does Chauvinism come here? Mani as Petroleum and Panchayti Raj Minister is more powerful today than he will be as Foreign Minister (who has to play second fiddle to the Prime Minsiter).

Well, it seems PM is going to handle Foreign portfolio atleast for now. While the good thing about this is it will Manmohan more freedom on foreign policy. But it looks really odd for a country of India's stature not to have a foreign minister. And if Natwar were to make a comeback after sometime, the mess will be complete!

Anonymous said...

More than suggesting anyone else, I can give one reason why Aiyar is not suitable for *any* position in the Union Ministry. Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks that "justice" had been "denied" to Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery issue.

The berth of a union minister calls for Manishanker Aiyar to think like an Indian and not like a Tamilian.
He made an undue comment on the sensitive Cauvery waters issue forgetting that he was on an official visit to the State of Karnataka representing the Union Government.

Does Mr. Aiyar know anything about Cauvery Issue? If he can't think like an Indian inside India, can he do so on international grounds?

And you think it is Mr. Aiyar who clinched the deals? A random minister just comes in and says he clinched these prized deals which takes years to negotiate? Please give the credit to the officials who have worked on it for years.
Ask any diplomat about what it takes to clinch such deals - or more, read some books/articles of these officials. It is definitely not through these Union ministers.

P.S: To digress, We can argue about the cauvery issue. Tamil Nadu's contention has been that Karnataka never complied with any tribunal's awards. This may be true to a certain extent, but there is a catch - which is that - most of the cauvery water allotments were made in the pre-independence era or just after independence. Now, at that point Tamil Nadu was powerful in National Politics, and the reality was that the allotment was unfair to Karnataka. Infact, some years ago, there was a demand from Karnataka to release water when the state was facing the most acute drought in recent times!!!

Am I being a chauvinist in saying all this or am I being Aiyar here?
Yes, I can *not* be considered for the post of a Union Minister, but surely Aiyar can't either!

I wear India on my sleeves, but I don't tolerate these lunatics (read Aiyar)

Balaji said...

If you don't like Manishankar Aiyar, thats fine.
The issue here is his suitability for being Foreign Minister. Manishankar Aiyar's views on Cauvery and "diplomats making deals" don't look like reasonable arguments in this regard. I would have appreciated if you had suggested a better candiadate.

On Cauvery:

1. You are from Karnataka and I am from Tamilndau. So we can argue for ever!

2. The Cauvery river water tribunal's interim verdict allocating 205 tmcfts of water every year to TN was out in 1991. So its news to me that TN had more powers vis-a-vis Karnataka at that time.

3. Setting aside Political rhetoric on both sides, do you seriously believe TN should get water only if Karnataka has surplus water? Its the question of TN and Karnataka "sharing" Cauvery waters and not karnataka using Cauvery as a drainage.

4. Sorry to say this but I now understand what you mean't by chauvinism! I can assure you that Mani being an MP from TN was hardly in my mind when I suggested his name. But when it came to discussing foreign policy, you could only think of "Manishankar Aiyar? because he is from Tamil Nadu? Chauvinist attitude of Indians will be the death of us... " hmm.....

btw. Mani is married to a Punjabi and was brought up in Delhi.

Anonymous said...

Let me review the comments:

On Cauvery:

1. Yep :)

2. No No, This is the new award. I was talking about the legacy tribunal awards which are unfair. Please be informed before making a comment.

3. If you looked at my comment before, I said: The award was not complied by Karnataka at all times. This says 2 things: One karnataka was not honest at all times, secondly, I am taking a holistic view on this issue.
Now I also said, TN was not honest either, and it pressed Kar when the state was having it's worst drought in recent times. TN politicians (remember Jayalalitha pressing A.B. Vajpayee) made a lot of noise in trying to drum up support for this.
Anf from what I hear from people who lived before me, this is a standard drum beat emanating from TN.

4. It is hard to see another person's views. So you are not to blame. I believe in giving credit when it is due. Aiyar doesn't deserve any. You can't make such a comment, which Aiyar did, without having given much thought to it. My verdict - he doesn't deserve a place in the Union Ministry. I would say the same thing if it was made by a politician from KN. My heart beats for India and the concept of 'Akhand Bharat', everything else is secondary.

>btw. Mani is married to a Punjabi >and was brought up in Delhi.
Irrelevant piece of information.

Anonymous said...

I am sure Aiyar would now be commended by you because Abu Salem was finally extradited. Why? Aiyar or some other "minister" clinched the deal?

In reality, it would be the CBI who would have worked hard towards this.

It is these officials who need to be appreciated for the success of such deals (or the Oil deals), not some lame minister.

Balaji said...

Response to comment 5:

1. ok.

2. The previous two accords were in 1892 and 1928. On what basis are you saying that the Madras Presidency was more powerful than Mysore Presidency? Considering that a person of Visveraya's stature was the Diwan of Mysore at that time (since 1912), its laughable to say that Mysore would have signed an unjust accord.

3. Lets cut the rhetoric and stick to facts. There is no distress sharing formula between TN and Karnataka and Karnataka doesn't honour the Interim verdict anyway. If there were such a formula and Karnataka obeyed the Interim verdict on normal years, TN will not go begging for water every year. In its absence TN approaches the PM or Supreme Court for relief. Whats wrong with that?

4. I can see that you don't like Mani. So many people hate Mani for so many reasons. But none of that can deny the fact he is probably the best candidate for being the foreign minister in this government.

5. The "irrelevant" information I provided was to emphasize that Mani hardly comes across as a Tamil Chauvnist. Tamilians would laugh at the prospect of seeing Mani as their flag bearer.

Lets end the discussion here. As I said, we can debate Cauvery for ever. But it doesn't do any justice to my blog on Foreign Policy.

Response to comment 6:

Please! I would like a more intelligent discussion. I merely said Oil ministry is doing stuff which would normally be done by the Foreign Ministry. Infact Mani roped in Talmez Ahmed (an IFS officer from MEA) to his ministry for oil deplomacy, which I believe is unprecedented.

Anonymous said...

> Please! I would like a more
> intelligent discussion
I think you do not like criticism levelled against you or your thoughts.
It is no use requesting an intelligent discussion, when in reality, you just want everyone to agree with your point of view. When making comments in a public domain like @, you should be aware that people have opinions which may be significantly different from yours.

2. I believe in only facts. I stick my neck out in saying that TN has been dishonest and impractical when demanding for cauvery water. Atleast I am taking a holistic view trying to understand the problem. As is typical with Tamilians, you are being dogmatic when it comes to "discussion". It is either 'your way' or 'no way'

Are you saying, everyone in this world who hates Mr. Aiyar can deny the fact that he is the best candidate? Is it your personal opinion? Are you speaking for all of us?

Balaji said...

Well, if I don't like critisism, I could as well disable comments and write whatever I want! I'm even dutifully replying to anonymous comments!

I don't think the following comment(#6) to which I had responded, constitutes an intelligent discussion, when the only thing I had said was Petroleum Ministry has taken a proactive role in negotiations with other countries.

I am sure Aiyar would now be commended by you because Abu Salem was finally extradited. Why? Aiyar or some other "minister" clinched the deal?

In reality, it would be the CBI who would have worked hard towards this.

It is these officials who need to be appreciated for the success of such deals (or the Oil deals), not some lame minister.

Regarding Cauvery:

I don't want to make politician like accusations against any state. And as I said when people have vested interests (like we both do in upholding our respective states), the discussion will go nowhere.

On Mani Shankar Aiyar:

My blogs are obviously my personal views! Let me rephrase what I had said. "Many people may hate Mani for many reasons. But the fact remains that Mani is more qualified and suited for the job in the present cabinet". Well, you could have suggested names like Kamal nath or Kapil Sibal and we might have discussed who fits the bill.