Apparently some officials in the United States consulates in India do not seem to have received the memo about sanctions against Indian entities like the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Indian Space Research Organisation, etc, which were imposed immediately after the May 1998 Pokhran nuclear explosions, being lifted years ago.
Or, still lurking in the shadows of the US State Department are non-proliferation ayatollahs who have not forgiven India for its nuclear tests and are totally opposed to the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.
These could be the only possible explanations why visa applications of some of the DRDO delegation members were rejected or delayed, which almost made them miss the official launch last week of the DRDO-developed Explosive Detection Kit in Washington, which was a historic reverse technology transfer by India to the US.
But what is ironical here is that the leading research scientists from DRDO who had applied for visas and were part of the delegation slated to attend the official launch of the EDK had developed and were now transferring a technology that was going to save the continued killing of US troops from IEDs.
This visa issue had gotten so embarrassing that former Defence Secretary William Cohen, now a member of the US-India Business Council’s board of directors, who was presiding along with Ambassador Nirupama Rao at the launch, had to prevail upon Secretary of State John F Kerry and get the visas okayed.
Obviously, not wanting this visa issue to colour the growing Indo-US defence relationship, which he has been promoting assiduously, Cohen said at the outset of the launch that ‘we tend to accentuate the negative in our relationship with India over the years,’ but acknowledged that ‘this most recent snafu about getting visas cleared,’ didn’t help.
Cohen said, ‘We complain about Indian bureaucracy frequently and we only have to look at the mirror and see what happened to American bureaucracy.
‘And thanks to the activities of Secretary Kerry, who at least tried to rectify the errors that we made,’ he said.
In welcoming the DRDO delegation, Cohen said, ‘So we apologize for your delay and I know as a frequent traveller what it means to get off a plane after flying 14 hours and to come directly to a meeting such as this.’
‘So, we are honoured that you are here, embarrassed that we somehow forced you to delay your trip and not give you enough time to rest before coming.’
DRDO Director General Dr Avinash Chander, Dr S Radhakrishnan, Director, Services Interaction and Technology Acquisition, DRDO, Dr S Sunderesh, Chief Controller, R & D, DRDO, Dr Reny M Roy, Scientist at DRDO who lead the team that develop the EDK, and others, immediately from the airport after dumping their baggage at the hotel, had to rush to the US Chamber of Commerce building where hundreds of administration officials, defence industry representatives and fellow scientists had assembled for the official launch.