12/16/12Rediff On The NeT: The Rediff Interview/L C Jain2/5
I will give you an example of the situation in the MEA today. When I wassent to South Africa as high commissioner, a person employed by thegovernment was deputed to join me. This person's wife and six-month-oldinfant were to join him a month later. But his wife and infant were asked tovacate the government quarters even while staying in Delhi, forcing them tostay with some friends. The person reached Pretoria in January and inFebruary asked the MEA for permission to bring over his wife and child.He was told to wait. Reason: elections and a new government, even thoughthis was a routine matter.After the new government took office, I asked (
) K Raghunath to expedite the matter since the man was extremely worriedabout his wife and child. There was no reply. I have asked several timeswhy a government employee was being treated so badly. I was even willingto send him back. But there must be a decision either way. Till date, nodecision has been taken. Raghunath is supposed to look after the morale of his staff, what has he done?I was told that all my communications were bogged down in the PMO.These guys can't speak up in such a simple case. No one speaks up.
What grievance do you have against the MEA?
I have no personal grievance. All I have done is give suggestions on how torestore relations with South Africa. These include giving the MEA freedomto do its job; to have a policy planning division in the MEA which can givea wider perspective to the evolving world. I have also said there must be afull-time external affairs minister (
there is only a minister of state
). I haveasked to be made that minister. I have also said that given our broadrelations with South Africa, it can't be funnelled only through the diplomaticmission but must also involve the society. We have one and a half millionIndians in South Africa who are keen to learn Tamil, Telugu, Bharat Natyam, etc, all of which needs more societal involvement.
What is Brajesh Mishra or the BJP's grouse against you?
Until the Pokhran tests, Mishra did not figure on my screen. It is he who issupposed to have said in Delhi that I had failed to defend India'snuclear testseffectively, thus embarrassing the BJP government. The fact is that anindependent assessment carried out by the MEA stated that the SouthAfrican mission did an excellent job in projecting India's case.The other complaint was that I had not developed sufficient diplomaticmuscle since South Africa had criticised India's nuclear tests, ignoring thefact that when France conducted nuclear tests in 1996, the criticism was far more trenchant. Regarding India, South Africa only said on May 12: 'In policy, South Africa does not support nuclear tests, and we hope that it willnot affect the peace process in South Asia.'. New Delhi was apprehensive that South Africa might introduce or second