Two recent incidents involving two European countries illustrate how India handles the World and how the World at large perceives India. Some time back, two soldiers of the Italian armed forces opened fire on an unarmed fishing boat off the coast of Kerala, killing two fishermen. The captain of their ship and the soldiers insist the act is 'not' murder but self defence, since they thought the innocent fishermen were pirates. Till their arrogance and nonchalance became difficult even for normally servile Indians to handle, the murderers and their captain refused to allow Indian policemen even to board the ship for investigations.
About nine months before this happened, an Indian NRI couple Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, working and living in Norway got a taste of European style welfare state authoritarianism. Welfare authorities of Norway accused the couple of not looking after their three year-old and one year-old child ‘properly’ and literally snatched them away to be placed in a State-run welfare home. Most of us in India were not even aware of this shocking violation of human rights of an Indian family!
Now look at how Italy reacted after its soldiers killed two fishermen in cold blood and how India reacted after authorities in Norway made life a living hell for an Indian couple. Within days of the firing incident, top officials of Italy’s foreign ministry descended on Delhi to secure the release of the soldiers. One demented Indian Christian who is now a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church decided to interfere on behalf of the Italian soldiers. So heavy and so sustained has been the pressure from Italy in this matter that even though the soldiers have been arrested by the Indian police, they happily smoke cigarettes in custody and have pizza delivered to satisfy their taste buds. Don’t be surprised at all if the two Italian soldiers wing their way back home after enjoying a ‘holiday’ in God’s Own Country because of some back room deals.
In sharp contrast, Indian authorities didn’t even bother to lift a finger to help when authorities in Norway actually kidnapped two young children of an Indian couple in May 2011. The poor couple fought a lonely and losing battle all the way. [Imagine the plight of a mother losing her three and one year-old kids in such a manner in a distant land with nobody to help.] It is only recently when the grandparents of the children started a protest against this barbaric action in front of the Embassy of Norway that the Indian media and authorities started paying attention. Even then, Norway is refusing to budge and refusing to give the children back to their parents citing Norwegian law. Perhaps one uncle of the kids will now get their custody.
What is the message that is sent across the world by these two separate incidents? It is simple, India and Indians are fair game for bullies. The World already knows that the Indian State is so soft that it can be melted and pasteurised. That perception will become even stronger after these two incidents. No wonder India is the only major country in Asia that has been repeatedly invaded, ravaged and pillaged throughout history. And we talk of becoming a 21st century Superpower, eh?