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External and Internal Threats

External and Internal 'Threats' Romesh Thapar I WONDER which scenario will take over and1 divert the energies of our 700 million. There are two running a close race. There is the concoction known as the threat from across the Indo-Pak border, specially prepared in the PM's secretariat, and there is the other cocktail brewing under the label of beef/pig tallow pollution in 'shudh1 vanaspati. A thoughtless political system can do little else other than produce such scenarios.

Leaders et al...

Leaders et al... Romesh Thapar ALL the spit-and-polish brigades have been mobilised to give the British Queen and her consort the impression that this former 'Jewel in the Crown' is doing well. Pockets of luxury and comfort have also been located for the leaders of that meaningless assembly known as the Commonwealth, now reduced to some kind of battered totem by the pranks of the Reagan Presidency in the US. But, I suppose, the local elite, if you can so describe the motley crowd that hangs around our corridors of power, is thrilling all over.

Waiting for What

Waiting for What... Romesh Thapar MARGARET THATCHER is, for once, absolutely right. She says that if we accept the notion that the USA has the right to enter any coun- try where 'communist subversion' is suspected, and supposedly threatens its security, we would be in for a series of dangerous wars. Our non- aligned chairperson has not found the courage as yet to say such things about gun-toting cowboy Reagan. Probably, she's worried that if she sets a precedent, she might have to become very specific about the future activities of our friends in Moscow.

The Massive Deception

Romesh Thapar IT is obviously the assumption of those who rule us that our people are knowledge-proof and that any massive deception or diversion, properly mounted and projected, can tilt the political scales. There is no other explanation for the Congress(I) rhetoric about defending 'national unity' from internal and external threats and the campaign to depict the Opposition as re stabilisers.

Religious Naxalism

Religious Naxalism Romesh Thapar STRANGELY, although we shudder at the execution mania in Khomeini's Iran (invariably justified or rationalised by convenient interpretations of the Koran), we seldom see the parallels within India. They are of many kinds and organically linked to tribe, caste and community. The Punjab scenario is very much a part of the growing global cult of religious revivalism, violence and terrorism

Diplomatic Duplicity

Diplomatic Duplicity Romesh Thapar BACK from non-aligned posturing at the UN, Indira Gandhi should turn to another problem. Every now and then our missions, abroad are compelled to object to the misuse of diplomatic privileges by other missions when they distort the reporting of certain events in India. These are usually of a communal nature, concerning the fate of the Muslims whose cause is taken up as if they were facing ethnic genocide. However, we also are guilt) on occasions of permitting diplomatic activities which violate the established protocols.

Politicians and Criminality

Politicians and Criminality Romesh Thapar THE other day, a hunch of admirers called on Indira Gandhi. They were concerned about the fate of Bombay city. She received them graciously, as is her custom. And, then, she got busy attending to files and not- ings. The leader of the delegation, somewhat concerned by her studied lack of interest, was reassured when a colleague in a loud whisper declared that the lady was bored and got the familiar reaction: "Don't worry. I have to attend to three or four matters at the same time". Undaunted, the delegation decided to cause some provocation: "You know, Indiraji, your best man in Bombay is Antulayl'. Prompt came the reply: "I know but silly man doesn't follow my advice''.

Is This Governance

Is This Governance? Romesh Thapar THE debate that goes on in the sitting rooms of the middle class these days

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.

The Image-Builders

The Image-Builders Romesh Thapar WE are now very certainly heading for double-digit inflation, and it is not surprising that Indira Gandhi has embarked on 'image-building' abroad. She is the regional peace-maker, on the Tamil future in Sri Lanka, the upholder of democratic order on the Sind/ Baluchi explosion in Pakistan, and the non-aligned leader summiteering at the United Nations. Not bad. Hut when it comes to the shooting down of a Korean passenger plane, it .seems that the words of warning got chocked in her throat.

Fronts and Fronting

Fronts and Fronting Romesh Thapar WITH Indira Gandhi hugely diverted with our not so pretty world

Alternatives Are Forming

Alternatives Are Forming ? Romesh Thapar IN the context of the outcome of talks between India and Sri Lanka on the tragic ethnic riots and what has to be done to prevent a recurrence

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