Default Ah! The solitude of Cannes

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Miriachi, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. Miriachi

    Miriachi Regular Member

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    [h=2][​IMG] Ah! The solitude of Cannes[/h]
    Washington, Nov. 6: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has just returned from the French Riviera, the Mecca of jet-setters, after attending a summit of the world’s richest nations and emerging economies where his presence only served to highlight India’s current alienation within the Group of Twenty (G20).

    The special circumstances — brought on by the near-bankruptcy of Greece — in which the meeting was held ensured that India did not have much of a role but the trip underscored how Singh, a reluctant traveller in the first UPA, has turned into an enthusiastic jet-setter in UPA II.

    Singh spent four days in New York and two nights in Frankfurt in the last week of September doing amazingly little for the Prime Minister of an aspiring global power even though he had scores of world leaders a handshake away from him during those four days at the UN.

    In September, Air India, which is perennially short of planes, pulled out Agra, one of its six Boeing 747-400 aircraft recently refurbished at a cost of Rs 50 crore each, from serving paid passengers until December, mostly for the Prime Minister’s overseas journeys. A second aircraft is prevented from engaging in commercial flights during VVIP travel and is kept on stand-by in case Agra develops any snags.

    Singh’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru recently told Caravan magazine, which profiled the Prime Minister in depth, that “we were going to Goa one day, to inaugurate the Birla Institute of Technology in Panaji. We were to fly there in the morning, inaugurate the Birla Institute, and fly out in the evening back to Delhi. I said to him, ‘Sir, it is a weekend. Why don’t we stay Saturday night, spend Sunday morning on the beach and come back Sunday evening? You don’t miss a working day.’ You know what he asked? ‘But what do I do there?’ Only Manmohan Singh could ask what he could do in Goa.”

    A very touching anecdote, but it now appears to belong to the past, to another Manmohan Singh. When it became clear during his September trip that Singh would not get a meeting with President Barack Obama in New York, his spin doctors pacified an agitated media which accompanied the Prime Minister to the UN General Assembly, saying the two leaders would meet at a more leisurely pace in the congenial surroundings of the French Riviera on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

    But Obama had no time for Singh in Cannes last week, not even for a pull-aside meeting.

    Before the Prime Minister left New Delhi for the G20 talks, the media accompanying him was primed to expect a 40-minute tete-a-tete with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    But Sarkozy kept Singh hanging all of Friday. The two men were originally scheduled to meet at 10am but Elysee Palace officials sent word that they wanted to reschedule the meeting to 1pm and then again to 4pm.

    In the end, Sarkozy simply did not meet the Prime Minister: a clear snub, unintended perhaps in view of the pressing agenda before the President, but a violation of summit courtesy since France was hosting the G20 meeting
    .

    The snub was exceptionally glaring because for Sarkozy, a meeting with Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates took precedence over his aborted meeting with Singh.

    India’s alienation within the G20 process in Cannes would not have been a surprise to the Prime Minister. Four days before Singh left for France, South Block had persuaded India’s “sherpa” to the G20, the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, to brief the capital media.

    Ahluwalia made it clear that he did not even have an opening statement for the briefing and offered himself right away for questions if the reporters had any. His reasoning for not making the usual opening statement was that the Cannes summit had no “issue which is very India-focused”.

    When his sherpa to the summit had virtually nothing to say suo motu on behalf of the Indian delegation to Cannes before its departure from India, it is puzzling why the Prime Minister was advised by his aides to travel to the French Riviera at all.

    When the Prime Minister travelled to New York too, it was a puzzle why his office finalised the travel plans so late that Obama had left town and Singh was reduced to meeting Baburam Bhattarai, the Prime Minister of Nepal, and Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka, in order to fill the slots for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

    Not that Bhattarai and Rajapaksa are unimportant, but as an aide to Singh rather insensitively remarked, these are men he can summon to New Delhi any time and the Prime Minister did not have to travel all the way to New York to see them.

    More so since foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai was already scheduled to hold comprehensive discussions with Sri Lanka’s President and others in Colombo within a fortnight. Similarly, when Singh met the Prime Minister of Nepal in New York, officials in New Delhi were already working on Bhattarai’s official visit to India only a few weeks later.

    In Cannes, too, Singh was forced to fill his time in meetings with Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. Most of Singh’s meetings were only pull-asides at the summit itself, lasting 10 or 15 minutes, including one with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    While it is churlish and ill-advised to compare China with India, the special treatment that everyone at the summit extended to Chinese President Hu Jintao was galling for the Indian delegation.

    Even as the French President kept Singh hanging during the entire summit, Sarkozy found time to have a private dinner with his Chinese counterpart. Reporters lapped up every word that Hu uttered and global stock markets rose and fell with Beijing’s positions, often shifting, over the European debt crisis centered on Greece.

    Strangely, India opted out of any leading activity even surrounding Brics, the emerging economies bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff who took the lead in bringing together Brics leaders in Cannes while China’s Hu was the spokesman for the group after their mini-summit on the sidelines of G20.

    The way Singh's aides handled his trips to New York and the French Riviera raise worrying questions not only about the priorities of the Prime Minister’s Office, but also about the Prime Minister’s choice of travel destinations itself.

    India is expected to be accepted as a full member of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) on Monday at the group’s summit in St Petersburg, but the Prime Minister has chosen to skip the meeting despite it being a turning point in Indian terms.

    The official explanation is that the Prime Minister has to travel to Maldives for the South Asian summit in the same week. But if the SCO was a priority, New Delhi could very well have adjusted the dates of the Maldives meeting to ensure its adequate representation in St Petersburg.

    Ah! The solitude of Cannes
     
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  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    I have little knowledge and therefore little to say about Indian politics, but based on this article I think K.P. NAYAR is a pretentious, overweening know-it-all.
     
  4. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    Obama snubbed India so all future American contracts are canceled along with French.
     
  5. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    You assume Obama acts with purpose.
     
  6. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    You read The Pioneer? They assume France lost MMRCA for it. :laugh:
     
  7. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    You have to understand that India is still in limbo. It's quiet slow to change with the changing times actually. Strategic decisions (like buying multi-billion worth of military equipments) are made like the USSR just collapsed th other day. It cannot yet decide whther here or there.... It applied for SCO but does not like to be openly associated with it.

    BUt as B.Dylan said, "It may be the devil or it maybe the Lord, but you gonna have somebody." (I hope the lyrics quote is correct.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  8. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Very close.

     
  9. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    Thank you. 8)
     

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