June 13, 2009Foreign AffairsIndiaJammu & KashmirmediaUnited States

Oversensitive tilt detectors

The Indian media should discard its paranoid, defensive attitude towards foreign affairs

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

There’s something paradoxical about the Indian media’s attitude towards foreign affairs in general, and India-US relations in particular. On the one hand, Indian journalists have extremely sensitive tilt detectors that capture the subtlest of shifts in statements coming from Washington. On the other, they are almost entirely oblivious to the enormous shift in the who-needs-who-more in the region.

So it must be amusing (and relieving) for US officials like Richard Holbrooke and William Burns to visit New Delhi and face defensive questions from the media on the Kashmir issue. Their trip could have been a lot more miserable if the roomful of journalists had asked them questions such as just why do you think that the Indian government must co-operate with the United States on Af-Pak?”, or, don’t you think the fungibility of money means that the beleaguered US tax payer is financing the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programmes, instead of, say, saving jobs in Boston?”

But because the macro-shift detectors were turned off and micro-tilt detectors were in overdrive, the big headline last week was about what Mr Burns said about the wishes of the Kashmiri people.” Never mind that the wishes of the Kashmiri people have slowly but surely put that state on the path to normalcy. The US State Department is entitled to its bromides, but that’s no reason to turn them into headlines.

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