I have been of double mind about writing this post for a while. I have raised this issue in Canberra on 17th Dec, 2011 when I participated in the meeting of Indian community leaders, organised by High Commission of India. High Commissioner of India in Canberra, Consul Generals of India in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth along with many other diplomatic staff and about 200 community leaders/media people were present in this meeting. I expressed my strong objections against politics by one Indian diplomat.
So, what is it that I am concerned about?
Guess no more. This is about community politics from one Indian Diplomat in regards to Uranium decision by ALP on 4th Dec, 2012 when ALP National Conference passed a motion to support sale of Uranium to India.
Many from Indian Australian community had raised the Uranium issue with political leaders. It includes various community groups including ourselves and many individuals. Uranium has been in the minds of Indian Australians. We all worked to get ALP reverse its policy to ban Uranium trade with India.
Despite all this, I believe Indian Australian community had only a minor role, if any, in this decision.
Few individuals, however, with the active support of a Member of Parliament from Western Sydney had tried to claim credit for this decision. This Western Sydney MP has many Indian Australian voters in the constituency and will need support from them in the election in 2013. This MP has been actively working on the plan to “promote” one of these two and a few more from the MP’s political party to be recognised as Indian community leaders for obvious reasons. I am neither against this MP nor such people generally but I have issues with “manufactured” or “parachuted” leadership of anyone by anyone.
Unfortunately, a senior Indian diplomat got involved in this politics too. I will explain it a bit later. A Link http://tinyurl.com/848v5b7 from an unknown Indian newspaper was sent to every one by an individual as a certificate of his claim that “he delivered Uranium to India”.
They were even credited to shape the foreign policy of Australia!
Even “Gandhi” connection was evoked indirectly, ignoring the fact that these gentlemen are just pushing the barrows for their political party!
This is of course totally ludicrous and laughable.
Talking about grandstanding, you can’t get a better example!
This claim is incorrect too. This question was directly asked from Prime Minister by a journalist from Indian Down Under newspaper recently. She did not confirm it at all. Please visit The Indian Down Under newspaper [www.indiadownunder.com.au ], edited by Nina Badhwar here http://tinyurl.com/7pa5rp7 page 9.
Australia decided to sell Uranium to India because of;
1. its national interest as it was not a smart policy to deny Uranium to India but sell it to China, thus damaging Australia-India relations when India has so much strategic importance in Asia Pacific region
2. active encouragement by USA-very important factor [confirmed by many MPs]
3. pressure and support from Australian Think Tanks and Press-Lowy Institute and The Australian newspaper
4. India’s impeccable nonproliferation records
5. Coalition parties [Liberal and National Parties] supporting such trade since 2007
It definitely was not due to a few individuals who are claiming to have “delivered Uranium to India”, just like Mahatma Gandhi delivered freedom to India!
Any such claim actually lowers the office of Prime Minister and must never be repeated or permitted.
I do not believe Indian community in Australia had a major role in it. This was the opinion of the top Indian diplomat in Canberra too. We all made noises at every available forum but still, it was not instrumental in this decision. I asked a few MPs and even Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson about it. They too were broadly in agreement with the points I had listed earlier. They laughed when I told them about the claims for credit by a few individuals from Indian community. They denied it was the case.
Indeed, we all did what we believed was our duty towards India, Australia and India-Australia relations. Taking Olympic motto, we all participated in it. We should be proud of that too. It would of course be wrong, inappropriate and unwarranted for anyone from our community to claim a sole or exclusive credit for it.
Out of sudden, all Indian ethnic newspapers in Sydney and others were sent a link http://tinyurl.com/848v5b7 from an unknown Indian newspaper “Express Buzz”, which is not linked at all with or a part of reputed Indian national newspaper, Indian Express. “Express Buzz” article quotes an anonymous senior Indian Diplomat in Australia, attributing credits to two Indians for Uranium decision. Ms Devirupa Mitra, who is of Bengali background, of Express Buzz online newspaper gave a clear indication of this diplomat being male, thus ruling out High commissioner, Mrs Sujatha Singh. I had a discussion with High Commissioner about it and know for sure that it was not her who was quoted in this article. I contacted Ms Devirupa Mitra in India and asked about the veracity of the claims and the identity of the diplomat but she declined to reveal the source. I sensed her feeling of being “used” in the politics. She encouraged me to write to her when I asked her to retract the article. I did not write to her but will be sending this post to her.
I have no doubt that this Indian diplomat “arranged” with Ms Devirupa Mitra for this story to be published in this paper. No other newspaper in India has published this type of story. This was an attempt to “manufacture” and “promote” leadership of “some” people in our community.
Some here in Sydney have mistaken “Express Buzz” for “Indian Express” newspaper, which of course is untrue. “Express Buzz” has no link with “Indian Express” newspaper. I hope, Indian newspapers in Sydney can check facts before printing factually incorrect stories, sent to them by interested people.
This senior Indian diplomat was so blind in his politicking that he ignored the work by anybody else. We have been raising Uranium matter for the last 4 years. I raised it in our Australia Day and Indian Republic Day function in 2010 where heaps of ALP and Liberal pollies were present. Senior Coalition leader, Joe Hockey, shadow treasurer declared the policy of Coalition to sell Uranium to India, putting ALP leaders on the spot light. This was the first such public announcement in our community functions. I urged ALP leaders to do the same as Coalition has done.We raised it in every function we organised and we raised it with every politician we met. I wrote Blog posts on it [see my Blog for details] and wrote an opinion piece http://tinyurl.com/6s7d7dx on pages 40-41 in Mining and Investment Australia Journal which is a reputed journal. I wrote two opinion pieces in FPRC Journal [Foreign Policy Research Centre, New Delhi, India], highlighting Uranium issue http://tinyurl.com/7dec8mu .
Many others have done their bits all over Australia. This was all ignored by this diplomat in his blind desire to promote and glorify his friends. There are many theories and possibilities about the reasons for this promotion.
Both the individuals, who this diplomat gave credits to, are members of Unions and are from ALP. I must clarify here that there is nothing wrong in being a member of any Union or ALP. That is not my concern as to which party they belong to, but I have serious issues when diplomats try to glorify them without any basis or truth, ignoring equal or superior claims for such accolade or credit for others. This is indeed wrong, unethical and dishonest.
Both these individuals are close to one Indian diplomat for various reasons.
Both these individuals are from Sydney.
So, my questions are;
1. Who is this senior Indian Diplomat?
2.Why is he playing this game?
3. Is it not political interference in our community?
4. Is he not playing politics in our community by “promoting”, glorifying and “propping” up two community members who are very close to him?
5. Is it not unwarranted, objectionable and offensive for a diplomat to play this type of politics?
6. What benefits he is getting? What is in it for him?
No Indian Diplomat is owning up these false claims, when challenged. And challenged they were quite forcefully, both privately and publicly!
So typical for Diplomats!
A little more info before you made your own mind as to who this senior Indian diplomat is. There are 4 senior Indian diplomats in Australia.
1. High Commissioner in Canberra, Mrs Sujatha Singh-Served for 4 years and had just left for the posting in Germany. She is not this “senior diplomat” quoted in the paper.
2. Consul General in Sydney, Mr Amit Dasgupta-here since 2009.
3. Consul General in Melbourne, Dr S K Behera-relatively new arrival in Australia.
4. Consul Gneral in Perth, Mr M. Subbarayudu-very new arrival in Australia.
I have spoken with many people from our community and they all have expressed their disgust with politics played by one of the senior Indian diplomats. This is not within the definition of the core jobs of Indian diplomats. They are to stay away from community politics. They should not promote or prop up any community member [s]. Just in case you are wondering, I must clarify that it is not an one off activity.
Indian diplomats must stay away from community politics, avoid playing favouritism game and conduct themselves in an impartial manner. If they are not careful, they risk harming the prestige of the position they occupy in Australia.
If not heeded, this might well lead to complaints to the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, Ministers in India and MPs in Indian Parliament.
After all, Indian diplomats are not the only who can do politics. We too know how to do politics!
Indian diplomats are here to represent Govt of India and help Indian Australians, when needed, but definitely not to do politics in our community!
Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/16th March, 2012