03 August, 2021

"The MEA Looks Back, Not Forward"

As Britain's outspoken, and often controversial, high commissioner to India, Sir David Gore-Booth, prepares to retire from the foreign ser -vice, he speaks to Janaki B. Kremmer about the ups and downs of his three-year tenure:

"The MEA Looks Back, Not Forward"

The Indian media in the past hollered for your blood, especially after you said Indian politicians should stop "tilting at windmills".

I have a reputation for plain speaking and that is not always appreciated here. India is a country where quite often form takes the place of substance, but I felt that it was right to tell it how it is and that has always been my way. On the particular question of tilting at windmills, it is a term taken from literature, and I dare say some people failed to catch it. But there is a serious point behind it, which is that I do feel that in India quite often more time is spent criticising other people or rejecting their suggestions than coming forward with suggestions of one's own. And I think Indian diplomacy would benefit from coming forward with some suggestions from time to time rather than simply rubbishing everybody else's.

Do you think the MEA does not handle criticism adequately?

What I would say for the MEA is that it is grossly understaffed. If India wants to run a global...

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