Weekly Update: Pantomime Theatre At UNGA 76; Sikh Supermen
With a name like UNGA UNGA… UNGA, the United Nations General Assembly is a true near end of year pantomime theatre of world leaders in all their glory of eccentricities, clownish performances and national dresses attempting to give a memorable speech and also slipping in a bit of Shakespearean act worthy of Lago’s irrational hate in Othello.
Time was when UNGA was even more entertaining. Cuba’s Castro could mesmerise the world leaders with his 5 hour long speeches that he started by saying he will be brief. For those with nothing less to do, read Fidel the Great.
However the longest speech at a UN session is held by no other than our own Krishna Menon in 1957 when he rambled on for 8 hours at the Security Council, even collapsing in the bargain as he put his audience to sleep. For those with even more time read here.
These days diplomats have TikTok attention spans, so speeches are short. It started with Pakistan’s Imran Khan who went full frontal with words such as ‘The worst and most pervasive form of Islamophobia now rules India. The hate-filled ‘Hindutva’ ideology, propagated by the fascist RSS-BJP regime, has unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million strong Muslim community’
Khan raised the evil of Islamophobia around the world. Out of some 200 countries at the UN, the biggest single block in the world united by ideology is the Islamic block with 52 countries. And they can’t persuade a single country, India, to push back on alleged Islamophobia!
It would have been better for Khan to make the speech at OIC, the Islamic world’s forum than to developing countries at the UN or capitalist minded western countries at UNGA. All Khan’s speech did was portray a sense of weakness.
Modi couldn’t be upstaged. He went into the West and claimed India is the mother of ‘democracy’. Move over Greece. Did anyone know that Indians have been secretly holding majoritarian elections for thousands of years? 1947 Independence really was when India ‘came out’. Historians at JNU have their work cut out as todate they have failed to unearth ballot papers from Ashoka’s time in their research. It wont be long.
‘Mother of democracy’ was in the same realm as Modi’s great claim to the Indian Medical Fraternity when he cited Lord Ganesha as undisputable scientific ‘evidence’, “There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.”
Unfortunately there were no farmers at UNGA to point out the dictatorial way he pushed farm laws in Parliament against democratic norms.
Coming from a country that has the world’s ten most polluting cities, Modiji even made a fantastical claim to be the country leading in tackling climate change. Gandhi who can be elastically stretched to any good cause in the world was used as an example of India’s commitment to environment saying, Gandhi highlighted the doctrine of trusteeship “where we all are trustees of the planet with a duty of caring for it”.
Some Vedic scholar should have told him that ‘trusteeship of planet’ concept is an Abrahamic philosophy whereas Vedic thinking is cosmic, that humans are just one of the thousands of lifeforms with no greater claim to earth than a fly or a bee.
Being at UNGA, he couldn’t resist from retaliating at Imran Khan with the ubiquitous ‘terrorist’ label. It’s the MEA’s constant mantra at every international forum, ‘terrorism, terrorism, terrorism… we must unite against terrorism’, conveniently forgetting the terrorism from Bhakts who terrorise any Muslim who dares to look at a cow in the eye.
Yet, Modi said, ‘Countries with regressive thinking that are using terrorism as a political tool have to understand that terrorism is an equally big threat to them’, clearly aimed at Pakistan. He forgot to outbid Imran Khan’s promise to plant 10 billion trees which got praise from Britain’s Boris.
Modi even took a swipe at China, for its expansionism and referring to the Quad strategy to make Indo Pacific peaceful. At the same time he is hoping to get China’s support for expansion of the UN Security Council. Difficult to understand the diplomatic finesse in this.
Giving the whole speech in Hindi, he also referred to Oceans, saying “Humare samandar bhi humari sajha virasat hai. Hume dhyaan rakhna hoga ki ocean resources ko hum use kare, abuse nahi”. (Our oceans are also our shared heritage. That’s why we have to keep in mind that we use ocean resources, not abuse). Did none of his speech writers have Hindi translation of word Ocean? Isn’t it mahasaagar?
So UNGA UNGA, with Pakistan and India each exchanging neighbourly barbs all the way in New York. But there was more UNGA UNGA.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris, who has a long history of a wannabe Churchill but with gaffes that make a manager on meths seem more with it, decided the whole world needs to become Kermit the frogs. Saying “And when Kermit the frog sang It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green, I want you to know he was wrong – and he was also unnecessarily rude to Miss Piggy.” Few if any of the gathered Prima Dona leaders got the joke.
This may have been a Boris type dig at the French. The French are called ‘frogs’ by xenophobic Brits, because the French eat frogs although many a British tourist goes to France to eat them. Or Boris wants the whole world to become Kermit the frogs, green in colour not necessarily in nature.
He then said, “Daily, weekly, we are doing such irreversible damage that long before a million years are up, we will have made this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable – not just for us but for many other species.”
Boris doesn’t always confess but here he spoke the truth as concurrently his government is investing in a coal mine! A lot of the irreversible damage is also done by Boris Govt policies or lack of them. United Kingdom has the most number, some 30 million, of poorly insulated houses that lose energy at high rate into the atmosphere making it worse. Insulate Britain, a campaign group is now being put in prisons for asking Boris to stand by his words.
Perhaps the prize of UNGA UNGA goes to the American President, Joe Biden. Biden, still not being able to explain his sudden Afghan exit, has started saying, ‘peace, man, peace’. He is of that generation that came out from Hippiedom and went on to become rich self-serving grown-ups but continue to say ‘peace, man, peace, share’.
At UNGA 76, Biden said, “We have ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan. And we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy: of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world; of renewing and defending democracy; of proving that no matter how challenging or how complex the problems we’re going to face, government by and for the people is still the best way to deliver for all our people”.
Problem is that all American presidents have been on an evangelic mission to prove that democracy is the best form of governance for all the world. So they have been invading and toppling governments that are not democratic.
The clever among the UNGA crowd will notice nothing has changed. Biden has set up AUKUS, a lethal nuclear arsenal against China and the Quad, a group of 4 countries to ‘tackle’ China yet saying, ‘peace, man, peace’, but preparing for war!
UNGA UNGA UNGA… UNGA, the word itself seems like some primitive war ritual song with a number at the end. This time it was UNGA 76
NIA Meets Sikh Nationalism
The Sikh nationalist movement is desperate for some successes. So they fell over each other to claim great victory at the Britain’s Westminster Magistrates Court, giving the impression that they were each responsible for the failure of Indian government NIA (National Investigation Agency) to bring evidence at the court.
At stake were three Sikhs accused remotely by NIA of having been involved in terrorism and particularly the death of a mediator Rulda Singh. NIA wanted them extradited to India.
NIA is used to Indian judicial systems and management of ‘terrorism’. It has a habit of awarding the label of ‘terrorism’ at the same speed as gulping a ‘gol gappa’. And it does with the belief that like the Pontif at Vatican, the NIA word is infallible.
In India, courts are used to pressures. NIA normally banks on the strategy that when a person is accused of ‘terrorism’, the court conveniently hands over the legal documents to the Delhi Indian Railway lost counter, never to be found again. One can make numerous visits only to be met with a blank, ‘not found yet sir’. So the accused sits in prison for decades making hundreds of visits to court dates, which amounts to an Indian judicial form of sentence without trial.
NIA was banking on the same happening in UK. After all the Indian judicial system was set up by the British in their image of justice system. It probably relied on a bit of a nod and a wink from MEA to British Foreign Office in exchange for lush contracts. It hoped the ‘3 dreaded terrorists’ (they are all usually dreaded according to NIA) will be detained until lost legal key could be retrieved from Delhi railway Lost Items counter five decades later.
Unfortunately, the British legal system has not become corrupted yet by politics or diplomacy.
The Brits are a bit savvy at these sort of pressures. They did a bit of drama of detaining NIA-labelled three ‘dreaded terrorists’. They pushed the extradition request into the legal system and released them with some restrictions.
Normally if Britain really believes in the request, it detains the person and keeps him/her in until the case is heard. Not this time. One can imagine the weary civil servants at Home Office going, ‘not again, do we have to go through this charade again’. Yes, probably said FCO (Foreign Ministry in UK), there is a few billion at stake post Brexit.
So the case came up. NIA had no evidence, not expecting it would be called to give evidence! Evidence is a bit of a novelty in Indian anti-terrorism approach! There is poor Jaggi Johal in long detention in India without any evidence.
The British magistrate threw the case out. No evidence, no extradition.
The Sikh nationalists claimed this a great victory. Having hired and taken coaches to ‘persuade’ the magistrate, they claimed their tactics had achieved results. They had lobbied MPs too.
Now British courts never listen to MPs or crowds. Simple fact was there was no evidence presented to court to consider whether to grant extradition hearing or not. However NIA got one bit of victory. The magistrate did say that when and if ever the evidence is available, he personally is willing to look at the extradition request again. That’s a Damocles sword hanging on these poor chaps.
Meanwhile, for ‘new’ evidence the NIA may have to ‘persuade’ some witnesses to give statements that these three hapless Sikhs were part of a big conspiracy to mount a coup d’etat and throw out the elected Government in India. Imagine being compared to the Superman.