Shashi Tharoor talking diplomacy? Nah. Not really. He is making ambassadors of different countries sit through Bharatanatyam performances. The reasons are supposed to be seen as a way forward in promoting detente:
“I wanted to give diplomats a feel of our precious cultural heritage. Diplomacy tends to be practised in rather predictable patterns and I wanted to break free of the mould and try something different. This is the first time I am experimenting with familiarising ambassadors with Indian culture, I hope it becomes a sustained process.”
This man is clearly an outsider and his experiments are rather stale. Every diplomat is given a dose of our culture in varied forms. Some get so taken up that they end up marrying the performer. We have Shovana Narayan who is married to the former Austrian ambassador? I don’t think it has done much to improve our relations with Austria. As for familiarising these diplomats, they are already quite well-versed in these ‘artistic’ aspects just as they are with elephants and camels.
Among his first victims was the ambassador of Egypt, Mohamed Abdel Hamid Higazy, who said:
“We must thank the Indian government and the minister concerned for the performance. It was a wonderful, colourful, spiritual and folklorish dance where spirituality, visual arts and history merge with each other. We in Egypt share this spirituality with India through our colours and god.”
He has read Lonely Planet or one of those glossy travel magazines. Each one will say something similar about colour, spirituality, history.
I wonder how our minister will fare with the Americans and the Brits (who might well go, haw, we were here and my grandpa saw it all before you were born). I think he should invite them for one of those long Kathakali performances that last through the night and relate epic tales. Do you think they’d get anxious when the character transforms into a demon or will they suspect us of having nuclear arsenal?
Oh, I forgot to mention the seating arrangement:
The “gushing” envoys, at least 10 of them, were seated in the first two rows while Tharoor sat in a special seat upholstered in rich green silk and brocade.
What? Why? I think he is really mucking it up. Is he some maharajah who has invited lesser rajahs from other kingdoms to watch as the ladies perform? Is he promoting Indian culture or a version of urban feudalism?
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Our home minister P Chidambaram has come up with something else:
“Infiltration has not reduced. Incidents of violence have reduced...and I attribute it to the army, paramilitary and J&K police,’’ he said. They are rattled by various factors—quiet talks being held, the PM’s reconstruction programme and a stable government in the state.
This is being monitored. So the guys are entering our shores and twiddling their thumbs because they are frightened out of their wits by quiet talks, a reconstruction programme and a stable government? Excuse me, but if we can tell there are no real peace talks, do you think militant groups will not? What stable government? Omar Abdullah seeing a Pakistani hand in stone-pelting incidents (really, I think the across the border guys must be devastated)?
Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said:
“Our neighbour is continuing to infiltrate militants from across the border into J&K. It (infiltration) will continue. Forces are deployed along the border and they will make all efforts to stop the infiltrators there.”
If forces are deployed and making efforts, then why is he saying they will continue to infiltrate?
I think Shashi Tharoor must be deployed there so that he can arrange some dance performances. It will divert attention or act as a real barrier for the committed jihadi who would not tolerate such kafir things, and see no colour, spirituality and the rest.