February 23, 2007Foreign AffairsPublic Policy

How to lose friends and alienate people (2)

No entry to Fulbright scholars edition

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

It goes beyond mere red-tape. It is the UPA government’s policy. And Harsh Pant and Kanti Bajpai argue why its decision to delay, deter and deny entry to foreign scholars works against India’s long term interests.

A second disappointment is over the baffling way our government conceives of and conducts our diplomacy. At one go, the government has made sure that an entire generation of US scholars who are interested in India will be possibly irretrievably alienated from the country. Their disgust with the Indian government will influence other Americans, and we shall only know the effects of this in the years to come when it will be too late to undo the damage.

The diplomatic damage will not be confined to American scholars. With its lazy and vulgar approach to visas and foreign research, the government has managed to convey that India still remains diffident about engaging outsiders. That a rising, confident India can be engaged on a whole range of issues was a large factor behind the Bush Administration’s declaration that it wants to help India become a major global power in the 21st century. The Bush Administration may well consider the visa issue a minor irritant, but the long-term damage among American officials and policy-makers is hard to estimate. [IE]Pant and Bajpai do ask a relevant question: why is India’s academic community silent? For that matter, why are the Indian Fulbright alumni silent?

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