Why Only Virtual SCO Under Modi’s Chairmanship After “Spectacular” US Visit?

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EDITORIAL: By Saeed Naqvi, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: The passing away of Subhash Chakravarty last month has not been much noticed because Subhash or Dada, as some of us called him, as a long time chief of Bureau of The Times of India did not have the exposure of, say, a Kuldip Nayar. More than his readers, fellow journalists would remember him. He was more of a newshound than a popular writer.

Editors got hooked on him because of the vast quantities of information he furnished for the editor to process. When N.J. Nanporia, the most erudite of editors, moved from The Times of India to The Statesman, his unofficial but regular “tipster” was Dada rather than his counterpart who was on paper’s staff.

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The man who could walk unannounced into the offices of the most powerful in the land, was also extremely lonely in his private life. His extraordinary access to politicians like Pranab Mukherjee could be explained in parochial terms too –– he could not conceal his Bengali chauvinism.

In this he was not dissimilar to the late Abu Abraham. A superb cartoonist, Abu was also a Malayali chauvinisist, a tendency which erupted every time he touched on “north Indian culture”.

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Among his earlier visits as Minister for External Affairs, Vajpayee and his cerebral Foreign Secretary, Jagat Mehta, embarked on was to China, in February, 1979.

N. Ram, Dada and I were part of a small team of journalists invited to accompany the delegation. Dada was never short on tips on chopsticks at the Great Hall of the Peoples, the essential protocol of climbing the Great Wall –– with an empty bladder. In February’s biting cold there would otherwise be that embarrassing search for a toilet.

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This particular conversation with Girilal Jain ended dramatically. Dada let the handset dangling by the spiral cord, rather like the climax of Dial M for Murder. He ran toward Jagat Mehta’s room and began banging on the door. “Jagat, open the door” he thundered ominously, “China has invaded Vietnam”.

It was feared from the first day of Vajpayee’s visit that Deng Xiaoping might actually do what he verbally threatened: “teach Vietnam a lesson.” Some action was expected after Vietnam occupied Kampuchea and removed the Khmer Rouge supported by China.

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This credibility has to be sustained by managing the autonomy of action without ever looking like the leaning tower of Pisa.

Village “Nutts” walk on ropes tightly held by two poles. A fall, if ever, is after all only before a small village audience. A high wire act before a global audience the one India is embarked on demands exceptional agility. Just because we are satisfied with the optics of the US visit, we cannot let our guard down. Our slipping into a virtual mode for SCO will have the world scrutinize the shift. Strategic autonomy as a policy will have to be sustainable. As a trick it will be found out.

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Saeed Naqvi

Saeed Naqvi

Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer. He has interviewed world leaders and personalities in India and abroad, which appear in newspapers, magazines and on national television, remained editor of the World Report, a syndication service on foreign affairs, and has written for several publications, both global and Indian, including the BBC News, The Sunday Observer, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, The Indian Express, The Citizen and Outlook magazine. At the Indian Express, he started in 1977 as a Special Correspondent and eventually becoming, editor, Indian Express, Madras, (1979–1984), and Foreign Editor, The Indian Express, Delhi in 1984, and continues to writes columns and features for the paper.

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