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Policies just not right


K.P. FABIAN, former Ambassador to Qatar, Finland and other nations, hails from Kochi and has been in the Indian Foreign Service since 1964, finally retiring in 2000 as Ambassador to Italy. Mr. Fabian was in the city for a talk on his book `The Common Sense on the War on Iraq'. He took some time off to speak to TANYA ABRAHAM.

"Imust say that my experience as a foreign diplomat was enriching and much knowledge regarding various cultures and traditions were acquired, not to mention the large circle of friends.

"During my tenure as a foreign diplomat, I do not recall any difficulties, perhaps because I was not in Pakistan or China. Nevertheless, the fact that we are a developing nation has on occasions created the need to be forthright and frank. There often occurs this preconceived notion that a country like India, which is not a developed nation, is devoid of opinions. I remember an incident after our nuclear tests were conducted, when the Italian government had asked me to sign an agreement stating the reversal of these tests for which I had replied that the information would be passed on as per my duty, yet I did question them as to on what basis they believed that the Indian Government would actually adhere to this. For some reason, it is expected of developing nations to blindly follow the requests of the more powerful countries; I think my associate diplomat was quite taken aback with my answer.

"As far as our current foreign policy is concerned, I feel that it is too `American oriented.' The entire approach is concerning how it is going to affect our relations with America, which is not the right approach. It is not a positive approach; we need a policy from a broad perspective of national consensus for it to be a fruitful policy.

"Besides, for the future of India on the whole, what the Government needs to focus on is a reasonable standard of living for its people, so that they have autonomy over their lives. We need to create a materialistic base so that talents can come forth, for which we need to focus on primary education and the elimination of illiteracy on the whole.

"At the moment, I don't think our Government is doing enough and our policies are not right. India has sufficient resources to take care of her interests; however still, foreign investments should always be welcome.

Basically, there is the need to restructure our policies and we as Indians need to elect better leaders, for bureaucracy has always been a stumbling block."

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