Recent events related to the external affairs of India have cast a sad light on issues of integrity plaguing this critical area of government policy-making. The Indian diplomatic scene has degenerated to a level where their interest in the genuine well being of the country has to be questioned. This is true at least in the following case that came to light a few months ago but has now conveniently escaped the memory of the public.
The issue in question is the ‘Nannygate’ incident, extensively reported in the media, but not researched to the extent the Indian media is capable of. For instance, beyond the diplomat’s involvement in the so-called visa-fraud, the ‘Adarsh’ fraud (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adarsh_Housing_Society_scam) and the issue of nepotism/favouritism in the diplomatic service, not much attention was paid to the crucial element related to ‘national interest’ and ‘security’ that take immediate precedence over the fore-mentioned issues. This is also an issue in which the entire ‘Indian Foreign Service’ is culpable, that of ‘dual passports’ held by the children of the concerned diplomat, not to mention the citizenship status of the spouse.
Central government employment rules require employees to relinquish ‘foreign’ citizenship post-marriage. This is what India’s constitution says about ‘citizenship’.
Article 9 in The Constitution Of India 1949
” (A) Person voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign State (shall) not to be citizens. No person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 5, or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 6 or Article 8, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State..”
When a ‘conflict of interest’ arises, the country’s laws would either require the spouse to relinquish foreign citizenship or allow its serving member to resign from service unconditionally. While it is evident that the nation’s security cannot be compromised, as per laid down rules, the country doesn’t bar any individual from exercising complete freedom in choosing a marital partner.
Beyond the criminal breach of security and questionable integrity displayed by the diplomat, this issue raises crucial questions of the entire diplomatic corps of India. The amount of sensitive data accumulated over a lifetime by Indian diplomats, who incidentally number only 900 odd (incomprehensible considering the size of the country and its international interests) is a matter of concern, considering the wealth of information shared by so few, and the obvious lack of sensitization towards security and the questionable integrity of its office-bearers.
The inaction by India’s Ministry of External Affairs so far, in reconciling this issue highlights the rot in the system and exposes the diplomatic corps’ weaknesses. Having heard no statement or intent of action by the ministry for the past 3 months (the latest media articles are from March 2014, produced below), it is but pertinent to ask the diplomatic community not only where their interests lie, but if they genuinely consider themselves as representatives of the citizens of this country? The community’s new found penchant for social media connectivity via FB or twitter reveals its ability at self-aggrandizement, but its lack of meaningful engagement with its audience exposes the superficiality of this exercise and highlights intellectual dishonesty on their part, in that positives are sugar-coated while issues of concern are kept out of public view. After all, social media usage by government entities is meant to reflect transparency and accountability – something that their social interaction so far has failed to demonstrate.
The subversion of government policy by the bureaucracy, the apathy of the policy, the disinterest of the media and the public’s short memory are all responsible for the sad state of affairs plaguing Indian Diplomacy. However, as primary stakeholders of India’s ‘international’ face, the Indian Diplomatic Community needs to stand ahead of the pack and rise to the occasion.
And, while we’re on ‘nanny’, let’s also do some housecleaning in the process.
Looking forward to the next one.