Italy : A Miscalculated Strategy...

Won't leave India till asked to leave, says Italian envoy | › All IndiaShare

6 days ago – New Delhi: Italian Ambassador to India, Daniele Mancini, has said ... "I will not leave this country till a competent authority makes me a persona non grata,"

A tell-tale statement by the Italian Envoy... it seems to me from the statement above that the Italian strategy had banked on a tame Indian response, and a declaration of the envoy as a persona non grata, and a few diplomatic noises by India.. followed by normalcy after a period of a few months. An acceptable risk, one would have thought - under normal circumstances


Circumstances in India are at the moment anything but normal, as anyone with a keen observation should have known - especially considering the nation in question: Italy. This opens up the vista of a very disturbing possibility: that Italy (and by extension Europe as a whole) has little understanding of the internal dynamics of India, even in 2013. I hope that I am wrong on this (and that I am overreacting), but the evidence at the moment states otherwise.

First, the country involved is Italy. Even a cursory glance at the ruling party in India will reveal that it is under severe pressure from the opposition as well as from  the media for governance, and its perceived failures. It is an embattled government. Further, the leader of the party is a former Italian citizen. Not only that, every decision taken by the government is analysed threadbare by one and all. As the icing on the cake is the reputation the current incumbents in New Delhi have for being soft. And the cherry on the icing: innumerable past instances of foreigners being let off or escaped - Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Purulia Arms Drop etc. All these were in the news fairly recently. It should not take a genius to figure out that in these set of circumstances, the only possible response for the central government - with elections being less than an year away - is a hard one. To be seen to be doing anything else would be political suicide. There is a very good chance this did not occur to the Italians; which shows a lamentable lack of even the most basic understanding of India. (If this did occur  to them, and they went ahead nevertheless - then it opens up further and far more disturbing questions... but that is another story.  Anyhow, I dont consider this to be a credible possibility based on current evidence. Let us see - time will tell)

What is noteworthy is the average European response (and some Indian commentators observations also, to be fair) which shows a lack of appreciation of one basic fact: that Italy lied. Quite aside from the legality or otherwise of their position - they misled a sovereign government in its own Supreme  Court - the highest court in the land. The highest representative gave an undertaking for the return of the marines to a sovereign government - and not a tit-bit nation either, one of the largest 10 economies in the world, one of the fastest growing nations, and a nation of 1.25 billion. They misled a nation with a long history of intense national pride in its international dealings. And that too a nation from the East - where pride takes precedence over almost everything else; where logic, profit and growth all are routinely sacrificed at the altar of pride, both at the national as well as individual level. 

If the Indian response of curtailing the movements of the envoy is unacceptable, under what law or rule or norm of international diplomatic discourse is the Italian response acceptable? If you state the Italian position of international waters, even then their strategy - for it cannot be anything else - is unacceptable. The thing to do was precisely what they are sagely advising us to do now: talk, or quote international law and ask for international mediation. Instead, they resorted to what can only be called a trick. Also recall India's position: that it has jurisdiction as per Indian laws in this matter. In such  a scenario, why then cry when the aggrieved and insulted nation responds in kind? As homeopaths say, similia similibus curentur!

And most critically, not a single European nation has accepted this. This seems to be a clear case of us vs them... Europe seems to be showing its true colours here. If they had chastised Italy for doing the wrong thing - and then stated that the envoy cannot be held back in India - in that case the Europeans might just have been  balanced in their statements. (Having said that, please note that I am in no way convinced that the envoy enjoys immunity in this case: as my Supreme Court has ruled in this particular case, he does not have immunity. Good enough for me. But I am trying to be balanced in this analysis) As things stand, what comes across from Europe's response is a bias. This is towards a nation with which Europe wants to build trade relations. Remember the Brit PM's high-profile visit? Funny way of building relations, I must say. We certainly dont build relations in India this way... 

Just a single thought  - which should have occurred to everyone. When a person promises to another - in written - and then reneges on his or her word, that person is termed unfaithful and a liar. In certain situations, legal ramifications can also arise, but that is beside the point I am making, It is considered amoral. And no one in the west (as per articles read by me - if anyone has observed this, please do tell) has made this single critical observation - that Italy lied. Are the west trying to state that morality and truth do not have any place in international relations? That outright, blatant and arrogant lying is acceptable in international relations?


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