Dance and Dunce Diplomacy

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.


  1. FV:
    "If forces are deployed and making efforts, then why is he saying they will continue to infiltrate?"

    The line of control runs hundreds of miles, and once the fence is cut through, it will be detected when the next patrol comes through and notices the damaged fence. The Pakistani terrorists who infiltrate have only so much time to scatter in all directions or to a safe house.

    The problem is that the root cause of the trouble here is the Pakistani elite that treat their fellow citizens like cannon fodder by feeding them violent jihad motivations and then sit behind their high-walled mansions and bullet-proof cars in Pakistan beyond the reach of Indians and under the protection of the Pakistani government. The Pak. government is in turn protected by the USA and China and Japan for their own reasons.

    It is a tangled web that needs to be torn up slowly, else things can spiral out of India's control very fast. "Dance diplomacy" etc. are all meant to fill up the intervening intervals of seeming normalcy with eye candy and ear candy.

  2. That photo goes well with your piece!!Tharror is superficial,doing some cosmetic work.These people become popular in our country.PC should let defence minister talk about all this

  3. kb, Mr. Shashi probably does not want to exceed his brief -- he is a junior minister operating under the guidelines set by the MEA chief SM Krishna.

    Diplomacy of this sort shows results in the long term -- after all how is India supposed to win allies without such interactions that do not involve war or hostility?

    I read reports that in the past few years Indian tourism to other other parts of India has skyrocketed -- such happenings are a part of overall consolidation of the Idea of India in the long run, as people take pride in their personal heritage without shame, and with pride. Just my 25 paise worth.

  4. Al:

    "Dance diplomacy" etc. are all meant to fill up the intervening intervals of seeming normalcy with eye candy and ear candy.

    We are not talking about nations we have a likelihood of war or antagonism with.

    You say diplomacy of this sort shows results in the long run. Do you have any examples? India has always been a pretty good tourist hotspot long before Shashi Tharoor arrived here. I don't think people are ashamed of their heritage.


    The superficiality has been evident right from the beginning. As regards the defence minister speaking about border issues, I guess PC has to cater to internal audience, especially since he has been talking a lot already about Pak-related subjects.


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