Wikileaks and The India Cables

Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks had provided readers world-wide access to what WikiLeaks has described as “an unprecedented insight into U.S. government foreign activities.” Publications of leaked diplomatic cables by Wikileaks started about a year ago by selected newspapers like the “New York Times”, “El Pais” of Spain, “The Guardian” of UK, “Le Monde” of France and “Der Spiegel” of Germany and they created a sensational splash. The leaked documents that had very sensitive information about several political discussions, military top-secrets like information on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other bureaucratic subjects.

Some countries chose to ignore them, while some countries took them in their stride. But no country dared to doubt their existence as we did (more later). There are few instances of the cables causing any political or diplomatic heads to resign except the stepping down of US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual whose cable to US State Dept had allegations regarding Mexico’s anti-drug policy which garnered strong criticism from the Mexican Government.

India was among the last countries to get its hands upon the Wikileaks. Until then we were watching with bated breath as Julian Assange spoke of “the incredible potential of the Indian media” in a context of “a lot of corruption” (waiting to be exposed), a rising middle class, and growing access to the internet. There were a wide variety of subjects, issues and persons covered by the India Cables. The range includes Indo-US diplomatic relationship, India’s relations with its neighbors, with Iran, West Asia, Africa, Cuba and European Nations. It also covered issues like defense cooperation, nuclear policy, arms control, 26/11, Kashmir and many more.

But for all its hype, most of the documents published so far are of trivial importance. Most of the information disclosed or facts stated came as nothing new to the well-informed, politically aware Indian public.  The most interesting of the leaks so far are the developments related to 26/11 investigations and the case of bribery in confidence vote of Lok Sabha elections. The latter one fired public imagination, rocked the parliament with PM vehemently refusing to confirm the authenticity of the cables and leaked information. There have also been interesting tit-bits on Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee and a host of other political leaders.

I was thinking what Assange meant when he was talking about “a lot of corruption” in India and the bribery for the confidence vote in 2008 helped me understand it to an extent. Indian public is aware of the “herd mentality” we often get to see pre-elections, in which a party gives out some freebies and another goes a step further and so on. But bribery in Parliament itself is a fresh piece of appalling news.  I hope at least now Mr. Singh will look into enquiring the allegations instead of rubbishing them and claiming that he had no idea about them.  Surely, the government cannot escape this responsibility of investigation.  After US Ambassador’s ousting, it will be difficult for anyone to maintain that the Wikileaks are not authentic. Manmohan Singh should realize this soon, “innocent” card will only get him so far!

Nandana Nallapu

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