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'Don't create an impression that Pakistan is an ally while India is a market'

November 09, 2010 12:32 IST
Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay records his impressions of Barack Obama's speech in Parliament and reveals what the BJP told the US President:

I took out my new bandh gala, no less than a Wendell Rodricks creation, to attend President Obama's speech in Parliament. As a new entrant and a fresh member of the Upper House, I found it thrilling to hear someone whom I had adored as a man of high character and honesty.

Like our former President A P J Abdul Kalam, Obama reflects the values of strong patriotism, love for the nation and her people, and a readiness to give his life for them.

The more I work on the life and writings of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, my idol, who was 'murdered' in Sheikh Abdullah's jail for demanding the complete merger of Kashmir with the rest of India, the more my search intensifies for heroes who leave the beaten path and emerge champions for a just cause by leading from the front.

I went to listen to that person in Obama, and not the President of a country.

And I must confess, I was not disappointed.

The Obamas floored us with their sheer love and honesty. It hardly matters what they said or gave. Even before they arrived, they had a presence here. The way Barack Obama broke the arrogance of a racist electorate and emerged as President of the world's greatest and most powerful democracy had cheered Indians.

His speeches, books, struggles and steel-like character reflecting American values, shared and honoured by us Indians, strengthened our beliefs in Indian values.

Obama saluted a glorious past starring Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and a strong belief in pluralism. His words on Gandhi were sincere unlike many of our leaders whose hypocrisy shows off on their faces.

He would have received the same respect from us even if he were not a President.

This India is a natural ally of those American values and beliefs, although their administration sometimes looks the other way and supports the most dreaded despots like the Saudis and Pakistanis to serve their immediate political interests.

Indians showed genuine respect towards the Obamas for those cherished traditions and a truly loveable heart, not for the dollars or the agreements enhancing business.

There were no complaints for the traffic blockades and inconveniences on the road caused by the Obamas's movement in Mumbai and Delhi. And in an obvious manner, the media loved overdoing the Obama-mania from page A to Z, without regret.

It was spontaneous, not a sponsored one, and maybe after he arrives in Indonesia, we will think, oh, that was a bit too much!

His speech in Parliament was awesome! His reference to Swami Vivekananda was thrilling and parliamentarians responded with great approval whenever he spoke about India. Ambedkar, Tagore, Gandhi, membership of the Security Council, Chandni Chowk, Dhanyavad, Jai Hind... Indians stood united, solidly emerging as one nation, one people, one heartthrob at this moment.

That was us, and that was the US.

The rest is ruthless business.

It was left for the powered presentation of Sushma Swaraj with her talks with Obama to underline the need to bracket Pakistan as a country that sponsored terror. She was forthright on all the five issues that concerned India:

  • 1. Identify Pakistan as a perpetrator of the 26/11 attacks;
  • 2. Don't create an impression that Pakistan is an ally while India is a market.
  • 3. China cannot have a role in resolving any issue in South Asia. The US must dispel this notion.
  • 4. Take steps to ensure justice to the victims and adequate punishment to the guilty for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
  • 5. On the issue of confiscation of social security under the totalisation agreement, which is causing concern to Indians who have worked in the US, she urged Washington to find a solution for the same.
  • Outsourcing, she said, is mutually beneficial to both the Indian and the US economies.

    That was India speaking to the US with parity and with firmness. The BJP was happy to see two changes -- one in Obama's stand, so visible in Mumbai even when a brave Afsheen Irani asked him a direct question on Pakistan's terror role. He named Pakistan in his Parliament speech, and it happened, quite literally after Sushma Swaraj's meeting with him.

    And the second change was in our prime minister's stand on Pakistan, who till recently was advocating to delink terror with the Islamabad talks, suddenly accepted the BJP line to say talks with Pakistan were not possible while their terror machines are active as ever.

    We shouldn't attach great significance to Obama's 'qualified' assurance on a membership to 'a reformed' Security Council. Nobody knows how many decades it will take and America can easily forget its un-doable promises.

    The business deals that the US struck is enormous and the assurances we received, certainly matter, but more in emotional value.

    We do not accept the American position on Myanmar. That's our good friend and we trust the present rulers who help us contain North-Eastern insurgency, allow us to build roads, which is denied by Bangladesh.

    We don't have to take lessons in democracy from the Americans who have virtually helped and supported all the dictatorial and anti-democratic regimes world over, whenever it came to serve their interests.

    We are concerned about our youth going to the US, who earn their place and dollars on their merit and contribute to the American economy. We know our ties with China are not to be sacrificed at the altar of India-US relations and China is certainly a sunrise region we should be concentrating more on.

    For us, Japan, Korea, China and the rest of the East is much more significant strategically and economically than Europe and a fading economy like the US.

    Our trade with China has exceeded trade with the US and India-China bilateral relations are passing through a highly significant and crucial phase we can't ignore.

    Obama's advice to strengthen our relations with the East is well taken, but it must be free from serving US interests. Diplomacy is no charity. Praising Obama the man is quite different from serving American interests.

    Our region, South Asia, has to be taken care of by us and not by the US.

    We must build up a will and sinew to tackle and contain Pakistan's mischievous activities and have a greater say in the Af-Pak area.

    We can't expect or ask the US to dismantle terror camps on Pakistani soil working against India. We and the US have the responsibility to dismantle them and punish the blood-soaked Taliban in Islamabad and Peshawar. If we can't do that, stop complaining.

    Americans, or for that matter, any country respects only the powerful and the strong. We have to fight our war on our shoulders. Indira Gandhi showed that grit in 1971. Atal Bihari Vajpayee delighted the nation with his iron will in Kargil.

    The present dispensation has lowered the esteem of the nation by compromising on corruption and security issues. The 2G spectrum scandal, the CWG scam, the Adarsh Society stink and shameless kow-towing before the traitors in Kashmir shows what an incapable government we have.

    Praising Obama must also mean carving a new path for Bharat.

    Tarun Vijay, a Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament, is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs. The views expressed are his own.

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    Tarun Vijay