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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Times Of India

Love in Beijing

11 May 2010

Tarun Vijay

Only in a government on a holiday "masti", things like Twitter Tharoor and Chindia-fame Ramesh can happen. In Saigon, night-bird youths riding on fancy high-speed motorbikes control the roads after ten. So in Delhi, highflyer ministers like Tharoor and Ramesh take full-speed government bikes to have a "masti"-tweet and bash your own people and your own government to have an extra dose of adrenaline.

I must appreciate the tenacity and maturity of my old friend Manmohan Singh, whom I have always criticized for his policies and a compromising attitude towards our enemies, for calling up Ramesh and reprimanding for his simply outrageous Beijing love. As TOI reported, "Ramesh on Saturday had said that the security establishment was putting 'needless' restrictions on Chinese investments in India as 'we are imagining demons where there are none'. The home ministry was quick to retort. It 'snubbed Ramesh for his comment, saying no discrimination was being meted out to Chinese companies. It is wrong to say that the security establishment was biased against the Chinese,' home secretary G K Pillai said."

What was that brought Ramesh to Beijing?

He was simply on an environment circuit tour, ostensibly to broaden "cooperation on climate change negotiations and discuss issues related to environment, forest management and renewable energy", according to a curtain raiser to his visit. From renewable energy to ministry of home affairs is a quantum jump indeed.

If at all he was keen to take up all the Indian issues as a minister representing Indian interests in China, one would have expected him to raise the issues of continuous Chinese incursions in the Ladakh sector, damming rivers that bring water to India, opening up of Kailas Manasarovar route through Demchhok, balancing China-India trade, which is heavily in favour of Beijing at present, and, of course, taming China's blue-eyed buddy Pakistan a bit on Indian front. Or why the Chinese are hacking Indian sites?

But apparently he wanted to have some fun for the Chinese. And he did it meticulously. He blasted his pal, Chidambaram and "suggested that the home ministry needed to be "much more relaxed" in its approach to Chinese investments in India". Having being snubbed a second time, first by Digvijay Singh, Chidambaram invoked the fury of his boss, Manmohan Singh and had Ramesh reprimanded in Beijing itself. He also made his home secretary Gopal Pillai issue a rejoinder, quite extraordinary for a government to snub his own minister, who is still on a foreign soil, through a high level bureaucrat in public.

That's how the UPA works. Shifted Shivraj Patil and Vilasrao Deshmukh post 26/11. Dismissed Tharoor post IPL investment issue. Keeping a studied silence on the Raja spectrum scandal-called the 'mother of all scams' and now has its own minister criticizing the government before the Chinese. What a spectrum of "mast"-governance. If I were Singh, Ramesh would have been immediately called back cutting his China odyssey. Ramesh has always been a bit too sympathetic to his Chinese friends. In his book "Making sense of Chindia" (a phrase popularized by him that refers to India and China together in general), his contention was that Indian leaders are still wary of giving too much to the Chinese. There are very few Chinese companies coming directly into India. Jairam cited the examples of Haier and Huawei Technologies and said these seem to be facing some obstacles and were not being allowed to expand in India freely. He said that there is a mind block that does not want to accept that with changing times even sworn enemies can become friends.

Even in Beijing his comments came, in a way to support a Chinese company about which there are various different opinions. His comments came in the context of recent reports that India had barred import of telecom equipment from major Chinese firm Huawei, especially in the border areas following security concerns."

Good sentiments but are they in synch with the China policy of the government? Oops, sorry, does this government have any China policy at all? What about Huawei's security credentials and the Pentagon's inquiry into its affairs? And what about your own R&AW? Do you care a bit about your homegrown intelligence agencies, Mr Minister? Here is one for you: "The security concerns of Indian intelligence agencies about Huawei's close connection with the Chinese security establishment are shared by the US administration and had led the latter to cancel Huawei's 2008 bid to pick up stake in 3Com. Even British intelligence agencies have warned that the Chinese could cripple IT-dependent telecom infrastructure and critical services like water, power and food supplies by embedding malware in equipment installed by firms such as Huawei and ZTE. According to security assessments of Huawei Technologies put together by R&AW, the Chinese firm not only shares ties with the Chinese security establishment but is also suspected to be a part of its intelligence set-up. Not only was it founded by retired PLA officer Ren Zhengfei, a former director of the Information Engineering Academy of the PLA's general staff department, in 1988, but one of the members on the company's board was an officer of the PRC ministry of state security."

One has to see all this in the wake of continuous hacking of Indian security establishment sites by the Chinese. And here was an honourable minister taking up the cause of the same company, put in the question box by Indian intelligence agencies.

Reacting to Jairam Ramesh's comments, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Ramesh and emphatically told him that there was "no confusion" in the government over its approach towards China with which it wanted to have "constructive engagement". Singh told Ramesh that it was "advisable for Cabinet colleagues not to make comments on the functioning of other ministries, especially with regard to relationship with important neighbours like China," the PMO sources said.

Isn't it funny, like a banana republic or an island country living on tourist traffic that we have behaved? A Prime Minister has to eat humble pie and tell his grown-up minister about how to behave in a foreign country and that minister cares a hoot about the CEO of the nation and goes directly to the super Prime Minister to report his 'path breaking statement'? Does India deserve this humpty-dumpty governance?


kppradeep said...

Nice one again sir and it is time people pack of the UPA government which is antinational and pro corrupt. India for the first time has a Super PM who has control over the PM. The Super PM takes credit if some good things occurs rarely/inadvertently and the brick bats are diverted to Pm. In short enjoy maximum power with no accountability.
Only God can save this country when we do not learn lessons from our past mistake with regard to trusting China

kppradeep said...

Nice one sir.
This so called Mr Clean mask worn by the PM will not work all the time. Even if you do not commit any wrong but if you know some one else is doing and when you keep silent , you are also an accomplice.
MOAC(Mother of all corruption)- take the case of spectrum Raja- this government knew about it all along. This Govt will only use CBI/Police/Tap phones so that they can have a dossier full of evidence against all corrupt persons and use them for their own survival. No action will be taken as long as the super PM is kept happy.
This govt let go Mr Q though there was ample evidence.
The sad part is as public we have accepted corruption and are not surprised by it.
In Tamilnadu people now expect money to vote. What a shame
Jairam Ramesh should keep in mind that his salary is paid from Indian tax payers and even if we have difference of opinion within ourselves, we should not let our enemy benefit out of it.