ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Posturings Abroad

Posturings Abroad Romesh Thapar NO one is able to locate the hanger-on who put the idea into Indira Gandhi's head that she should call for a summit of Heads of State at the September session of the United Nations. This off-the-cuff initiative, designed for easy publicising of the Chairperson of the Non-Aligned' Nations, is recoiling on us, The response is poor, and so many Heads of State are amused at the simplistic way India has gone about this business, without any special perspective about what is sought to be achieved' The Foreign Office is terribly embar- rassed. No one wants to be seen as the architect of these peurile diplomatic moves, although the warring Secretaries in the ministry are only too happy to go on ego trips as the Prime Minister's special envoys. What does it matter if our permanent ambassadors are mbde to look ridiculous. As for the expense, there's plenty of funding for the glorification of 'the leader', Indira Gandhi has certainly not helped herself or the non-aligned cause which she is supposedly nurturing. The promise of some quiet diplomacy on Sri Lanka, after all the nonsense about 'fencing' the Bangladesh border, did not last long with the desire to get political dividends in Tamil Nadu. And, then, came the carefully mounted effort to express support to the 'movement for democracy' in Pakistan. All this is not very propitious for summiteering. For what it's worth, the Indian 'image' ubroad is quite different from the one our special correspondents try hard to portray. We are not the focus of international attention, nor is our PM. We are seen as rather beholden to the Soviet Union and as apologists for them. This is generally acceptable in a sophisticated sort of way because the Soviet Union is certainly more sincere about global peace than the crazy con- frontationists in Washington. That is why there was relief when a more balanced India replaced Cuba as the spokesman of the non-aligned nations. But this is not enough. We have to break the deadly paralysis in the non- aligned movement.

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