LETTER TO AN AMBASSADOR

This letter was written to the Irish ambassador in India, after my wife was nearly denied a visa to Ireland, but it could be addressed to all the ambassadors of the Delhi diplomatic enclave, as most of them fall in the same category.

LETTER TO AN AMBASSADOR

Dear Mr Ambassador,
Wanted to thank you for my wife’s visa, as I have no doubt the sanction ultimately came from you.

At the same time, allow me a few comments, as I have been living in India for 45 years and that probably entitles me to my own opinions, however wrong they may be.

New Delhi remains very much a British capital, far away AND CUT from the rest of India – and the diplomatic enclave of Shanti Path / Chanakya Puri, a luxury ghetto, where it is even more difficult to have a clear idea of what India is really about, as the same clichéd ideas are repeated at every diplomatic cocktail and every journalists’ parties.

The capital i is full of young arrogant diplmomats, such as Arnaud Mentre, the Press Attaché of the French embassy, who think that in 2 or 3 years,they know everything about India, but actually go back with all the prejudices they came with, without having learnt anything (of course, there are exceptions: Peter Vrooman, the ‘sympathique’ Press Councilor of the US embassy is one)

The British, your erstwhile enemy, created an entire class of Indians, which formed their buffer middle zone, so as to govern this country through proxy. In this way, their army was mostly constituted of Indians – and you know,that a million of them fought during the Great War (1914-1918), a hundred years ago, in a conflict that did not concern them.
I find that the foreign embassies in Delhi have replicated the same system: from your security guards, to many of the visa officers, Indians unfortunate enough to seek a visa, often have to deal with Indians.

It is sad that those Indians, these brown ‘sahebs’, as those created by the British, often want to be more British than the British, more Irish than the Irish, or more French than the French, in the case of the Pondichery Tamils, rejecting their Indian roots, though in truth, they are never fully accepted as one of their own by their white masters. Thus they have to make a show of being tough with those of their brothers and sisters seeking a visa. In the case of my wife’s visa, while Peter Frisby, you consular head, seemed pretty open, it is your Indian visa officer, Mrs Dass, who created the problems for my wife and wanted to apply the rule to the letter, even though we had submitted an online application which she retrieved, as she called my wife on the mobile mentioned in the application. It’s only become I am myself a foreigner and a fairly well known journalist, that she ultimately got it. An ordinary Indian would have been rebuffed.

It seems to me that foreign embassies in India act as if they are doing a favour by granting a visa. But it is actually the opposite: my wife, as millions of Indians, is going to spend her money in your country, travel by your airline, stay in your hotels and generally grace you country. It however breaks my heart when I see the long lines of Indians queuing at the UK or US embassy, the biggest brain drain in the world ever. That they are badly treated by the embassies, made to wait long in the heat, to come back repeatedly and their visas often denied, is another matter.

It has been my belief for long, that as in the case of China, one day it will be westerners who will queuing for employment opportunities in India, the next superpower in the world, for it is everything that China is, plus democracy, legality and friendliness to the West.

Awaiting this day, please rest assured of my best feelings
Yours truly,
Francois Gautier
Correspondent South Asia Valeurs Actuelles
Editor in Chief La Revue de l’Inde, Paris
Author The Guru of Joy/ A History of India as it Happened

Advertisements

7 responses to “LETTER TO AN AMBASSADOR

  1. Thank you Mr. Gautier. This is something that’s faced by all Indians, at the hands of none other than their very own brethren working at such embassies, even when the citizens of the foreign countries are a million times more receptive to Indian visitors.

    Rarely said but always felt, I have to thank you for this letter that could be easily sent to all the embassies on Shanti Path.

    When applying for visa to visit the U.S. to attend my sister’s graduation convocation, I had the luck to be briefly interviewed by an American, rather than by an Indian. I was neither asked about my riches, nor about my employment, and I did not carry any supportive documents either, and the decision made by the visa granting officer was a prudent one. However, my brother did not have the same luck, and was encountered by an Indian, that you could very easily call a Brown Sahiba (a female).

    Just as you have pointed out, it was not exactly the denial of visa that got to my brother, rather it was the way he was rebuffed in a highly snobbish, boorish manner, that he, who was once a great admirer of the U.S., now thinks of that country as a landmass full of hypocrites.

    Whereas, another acquaintance of mine, who happened to speak the local language of the Indian visa granting officer, got his tourist visa fairly quickly, and traveled in the same plane as I did.

    Guess what! He is now an illegal Indian living the States – Pittsburgh to be precise. Got an anchor baby already, and now it is impossible for the U.S. to get rid of him. Do not even need to mention that he had planned it for a long time, and surely, the less I speak of his education and further intentions, the better.

    Thus, conclusively, it is indeed as you describe, the brown Sahibs are more British/American than the citizens of the West. Well, in the end, with Indian economy picking up, the harms of this myopic approach of the West have just begun to surface – little by little.

  2. dear mr francois gautier,
    bharat mata feels lovefull to have loving son like you on her lap in india. i know very well, though you are not born here, but you are most lovable then most of us who are born here.
    ashok gupta
    ashokguptadelhi98@gmail.com
    delhi, india

  3. Ashok Sharma

    Pl learn to suffer as I did ,I am 73 siblings in UK USA and yet prefer India by choice best for Yoga,Dr ak

  4. masculineffort

    Friend, it is indeed the good fortune of all Indians to have a well wisher such as you. But one thing about you bothers me. Would you please stop maligning the Buddha’s teachings as pacifist? The Buddha preached, non aggression, not pacifism. There is a difference.

  5. Mr.Gautier! Things are changing now. I would like to see your comments after a hundred days, for starters!!! Looks like we are heading towards the India we all wished for….

  6. Muralidharan K

    Thanks a lot sir. Sir we are really proud of you. You are one of the true sons of India. By your bhakti for Bharat, our devotion to this sacred land increases manifold.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s