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Srinivasan Jain's Father Recalled for Non Performance - Rediff Interview

Srinivasan Jain's Father Recalled for Non Performance - Rediff Interview

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Published by Suresh En
Non Performance is the Key. Indo-South African
relations reaching a nadir in the post-Pokhran phase due to his incompetence. In an Interview with Rediff, he reveals the reasons
Non Performance is the Key. Indo-South African
relations reaching a nadir in the post-Pokhran phase due to his incompetence. In an Interview with Rediff, he reveals the reasons

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Published by: Suresh En on Jun 30, 2013
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12/16/12Rediff On The NeT: The Rediff Interview/L C Jain1/5www.rediff.co.in/news/1998/nov/05jain.htm
November 5, 1998
The Rediff Interview/ 
L C Jain
'I am told Brajesh Mishra is preventing theappointment of a full-time foreign minister'
ndia's former envoy to South Africa, the elderly Gandhian
L C Jain,
is mired in controversy. A political appointee of the Gujral  government, he was recalled only last month. One charge against himwas that he was not up to the mark, what with Indo-South Africanrelations reaching a nadir in the post-Pokhran phase. In an interviewwith
Amberish K Diwanji,
Jain laments the decline in Indiandiplomacy and recalls his days in Pretoria.
You have criticised the role of the prime minister's office in externalaffairs?
My concern is structural. We have a ministry of external affairs, which hasexperience of over 50 years. It has a process by which issues arediscussed, options considered, and a decision recommended to the politicalauthority. I am sad to find that this has been paralysed. The prime minister'soffice has acquired an awesome, almost autocratic, authority. And maybefor gratuitous reasons, a person heading the PMO is a former foreignservice person, Brajesh Mishra, who feels that he knows everything. I findthe MEA completely sidelined.Secondly, whatever communications were sent to Prime Minister AtalBihari Vajpayee, I have reason to believe, never reached him. They were blocked.
Why do you say that?
After the Pokhran blasts, I sent a communication to the PM for a meeting.The PM's private secretary rang up and promised an appointment, but which never fructified. When I enquired, I was toldthat the request hadgone to the PMO. Ihad also sent a whole bunch of letters to the PMOwhich were not even acknowledged. Now, having known Atal
personallyfor many years, I cannot believe that he would not even acknowledge myletters. I have received replies and acknowledgements from (
 former primeminister I K 
) Gujral and the President. How is it that only the PM did notreply?
Instead of you, should not the MEA officials speak up and theforeign secretary protest such a state of affairs?
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 (
 foreign secretary
) 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
12/16/12Rediff On The NeT: The Rediff Interview/L C Jain3/5www.rediff.co.in/news/1998/nov/05jain.htm
a resolution against the nuclear tests during the NAM ministerial meet onMay 21 at Cartagena, Colombia. The SA government assured me that thiswould not happen. But when the meeting was on, Vajpayee declared that'India is a nuclear power state', which goes beyond mere testing. So SA prepared a resolution in Cartagena saying all earlier resolutions passedagainst nuclear weapon states would now also apply to India. The Indiandelegate in Colombia asked me in Pretoria to stop this resolution. I pointedout that since both the Indian minister of state (
Vasundhara Raje
) and theSA ministers were in Colombia, they should spoke to each other.Anyway, I then requested Nelson Mandela's office not to move theresolution. Mandela's office's message to the SA foreign minister inColombia upset him terribly who asked why the Indian delegation did notspeak to him directly. Moreover, the Indian delegate did not even assuagehis feelings then, leaving a bitter taste.
What happened during Mishra's visit to SA?
In June, I was informed that special envoy Mishra was visiting and wantedto meet Mandela and deputy president Thabo Mbeki. I sought theappointments, as per protocol, via the foreign minister's office. New Delhiasked me to approach Mandela and Mbeki directly. I refused, pointing outthat we had already hurt the South African foreign minister in Colombia. Iwas warned that if the meetings didn't occur, I would be misunderstood inDelhi. I replied that my job is to ensure that India is not misunderstood.Mandela's office asked what was the need for the meeting since Mandelaand Vajpayee had already had two long telephonic conversations coveringall topics. Mishra met Mbeki in July, and while he brilliantly presentedIndia's case, he failed to ask the other side's opinion. Moreover, by then,Kashmir was an issue and Pakistan was seeking third party mediation,something which I had already rejected. I thought Mishra would explainour stand on Kashmir but he did not utter a word.When Mishra met the foreign minister and foreign secretary, he spokelightly about the "slight misunderstanding" in Colombia. This made theforeign secretary extremely angry and he stated that asking a draft to beheld back was a serious matter. Mishra then tried to cover his tracks andspoke about Indo-SA friendship. To this, the foreign secretary said asfriends, it should be possible to have differences also.I found that at this stage, all of Mishra's diplomatic experience crumbled.This was not the PMO where everyone falls at your feet, it was anegotiating table where the other side opposes you. I broke the stalemate by speaking about the wide range of Indo-SA relations. Mishra achievednothing in limiting damage but left behind a little damage.Earlier you asked why the MEA officials don't intervene. In Pretoria noMEA official thought it fit to correct Mishra. Unfortunately, our systemdoes not allow juniors to speak up. It is sad that our prime minister has

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