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

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Of 'Leaking' Governments and Politicians

The India Cables raise serious ethical and political issues that cannot be ignored.

Politics, diplomacy and the media in India have been stirred up by the ongoing India Cables series, based on cables sent by US diplomats to the State Department and accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks. The cables are informative and make fascinating reading for a variety of reasons. For one, they are like a primer on how diplomacy, and specifically US diplomacy, functions. American diplomats are shown meeting and conversing with politicians, high and low, bureaucrats, journalists and others. These conversations are then sifted and formatted in cables that ostensibly feed into resource material that shapes US policy towards India.

The significance of the cables for India lies in what they reveal about Indian politics and politicians. Take, for instance, the cable describing the exchange between Nachiketa Kapur, a former aide of Congressman Satish Sharma, and a “US Embassy staff member”. The former is said to have pointed to chests full of currency notes that he claimed would be used to buy support for the 22 July 2008 confidence vote on the Indo-US nuclear deal that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was due to face. While corruption in Indian politics is endemic as is evident from the stream of scams exposed almost on a daily basis, surely such unapologetic boasting about resorting to what is a criminal act and an open undermining of the parliamentary system cannot be taken lightly. The prime minister’s response in Parliament that the charge is “speculative, unverified and unverifiable” is disingenuous, disappointing and does nothing to mend the already dented credibility of his government.

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