Italian Slap & Indian Fickle

Why is India so surprised by the way Italy has treated it? This is but a long line of slaps on India’s face.

WrittenBy:Chitra Subramaniam Duella
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Masilamani Mudali Street is a road in Chennai, India. All roads don’t lead to Rome.

Massimiliano Latore, an Italian marine and his colleague – charged with killing 2 Indian fishermen – laughed all the way home to Rome making a mockery of the Republic of India and its Supreme Court.  Sixty million people in a sick and corrupt economy – Italy – telling 1.2 billion in a sick and corrupt economy, but potentially a global leader, to go fish. When was the last time we saw our leaders respect the Supreme Court of India, or for that matter any court or rule of law?

As slaps go, this is quite an amusing one and very different from the ones we got from Norway and China, to name a few, and those special ones we get regularly from Pakistan.  Our Prime Minister has asked the Italian government to send the two marines charged with killing Indian fisherman back to India or face the consequences. Shall we say cute? This is the same Prime Minister who said we should apologise to another Itadian, Ottavio Quattrocchi in l’affaire Bofors because our courts had harassed and hounded an innocent man. For the record, Quattrocchi was bribed millions of dollars by Bofors so he could swing the contract in their favour. The documentary evidence against him examined by Sweden and submitted to Swiss courts was conclusive.

We also allowed Q to retrieve his bribes.  Asking Italy if they have faith in Indian justice is like asking Italians if they have faith in their own justice system. The Italian system is as long and as corrupt as the Indian system. Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian Prime Minister and voted for a possible fourth shot by one in three Italians could exchange some notes with us on the subject.  Italy’s ambassador to India can go home for Easter and India’s ambassador to Italy can come home for Holi. We have been there, done it and bought the helicopter. What are these tedious debates in Parliament, processions to the President of India, letters flying back and forth, experts telling us about maritime rules, diplomats verging on nonsense, international court of justice, Interpol all about?  And we, the people of India, are expected to believe that that our leaders and our institutions will bring Giuseppe Orsi, former head of Finmeccanica, charged with bribing his way through the Augusta Westland helicopter deal for questioning in India?

Clue – jurisdiction. This word will come back to haunt us as we have made fools of ourselves, eyes wide shut.  The legal basis for seeking assistance from Italy in the chopper deal is deliberately unclear. We cannot draw a straight line on land, so we say how difficult it is to draw a line in water. Why blame Italy, or Norway or China when we can’t even tell Pakistan in their own language to stop killing Indians.  And that is only the smaller point.

When was the last time our parliamentarians came to a screeching halt upon learning that half of our children are malnourished, 800 million in our country live on two liras per day? Do we know anything about conditions in Indian prisons where inmates are kept and killed without any accountability? Do we know anything about who is in charge of India? Why blame Italy? They have stood up for their people. If Masilamanis die in Indian or Italian prisons or if our people are ill-treated in the UAE, do we care?

And here comes another slap.  Dr.Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank currently in India said, “I haven’t seen such a big river in such bad state. It looks more like a drain than a river”. He was talking about the Ganges.

Our message to the world – come lie with us.

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Image by: Abhishek Verma


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