I agree with Sunanda K. Datta-Ray “Why do Indians fight modernization”, Mint, 13 September. The common man hates everything to do with the US; however, little do they realize that directly or indirectly the US contributes more towards their daily livelihood than any other country. It is appalling to see that the very politicians who publicly come in the media to criticize everything American, are the very people whose children go to the US for further studies and eventually settle down there. The US has given an outlet to many educated Indians, specially during the period when India was growing at the Hindu rate of growth. If we had followed what the Left parties are suggesting, we would have been like any sluggish East European economy.
Please refer to the “News analysis” published in Mint, 11 September, “PM visited just one Islamic nation in three years”, by Pragya Singh.
It is surprising to see a business and financial newspaper such as yours impart a communal dimension to the Prime Minister’s foreign travel. Any objective analysis of the Prime Minister’s travels abroad would come to the following conclusions:
1) A large number of the Prime Minister’s visits abroad have been to regional and international summit meetings (where the PM has had the opportunity of meeting leaders from several countries across the world).
2) Next, in numerical terms, come his bilateral visits to the P5 countries and to India’s major economic partners. The Prime Minister’s visits have been essentially agenda-based and not defined by the religious affiliation of the country being visited.
Your chart compares the travels of a former prime minister over a six-year term in office with that of a Prime Minister who has done only three years in office. There are many countries that the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit and these will include countries in our neighbourhood, including West Asia. Hence, it is both premature and deliberately mischievous to make the kind of comparison that has been made in the chart.
It may be noted that it was the Prime Minister who took the initiative to invite the King of Saudi Arabia to India as chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2006. This was a historic visit coming after 50 years, and has opened a new chapter in India-Saudi Arabia relations.
A responsible business newspaper is expected to be unbiased, especially when it is alleging a bias.
Prime Minister’s Office
The article was based on conversations with diplomats, government officials and politicians, including a Union cabinet minister. It is a fact-based assessment of overseas trips by the PM to countries, especially in West Asia, a region that the current government has said would be a priority under its National Common Minimum Programme. The first two paragraphs of the article clearly state that the comparison is between Singh’s three-year tenure and Vajpayee’s six-year tenure. Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the ministry of external affairs were given ample time and opportunity to provide their views and facts before the article appeared, and all their stated views are fully reflected in the article, which is available at www.livemint.com/PMVISITS.htm.
Apropos the article “Oversight derails Kashmir rail link”, Mint, 12 September. What would have happened had the project been handled by a private sector company? What would have been the accountability of the project managers? I am sure the case would be different. But in this case it’s public money, who cares?