Charles de Gaulle (French general, writer and statesman, 1890-1970) once said “Diplomats are useful only in fair weather. As soon as it rains they drown in every drop.”
Australia’s High Commissioner to India John McCarthy has been a doyen among New Delhi’s diplomats for a record five years…that is until the dam burst a few weeks ago when the news of attacks on Indian students in Australia started flashing in Indian newspapers/TV channels like neon lights downtown.
McCarthy was hauled up at India’s foreign office to explain. And the media has been sniping at his heels. Finally, Australia’s top diplomat in India has decided to strike back.
He admitted that the spate of attacks on Indians in his country has “damaged” bilateral ties and expressed fears that the upcoming free trade talks may remain ‘quarantined’ among other things as a fallout.
“Blaming the Indian media, particularly the 24-hour cable news channels for the negative coverage of the attacks, Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi, John McCarthy said that the relationship between the two nations will take time to recover,” reports The Times of India.
“McCarthy, who was quoted by ‘The Weekend Australian’ in Melbourne said that because of India’s ‘voracious’ TV channels fear and outrage was being created among Indians in both countries.” More here…
I have known McCarthy for sometime now. He is a typical Australian…light-hearted, straight forward, informal, no-nonsense and warm-hearted person. The fact that with these traits he managed to survive/flourish in the world of diplomacy goes to his credit.
Surely, a top diplomat in Delhi sitting a great distance away cannot control the situation back home. I sincerely believe that the attacks on Indian students is a passing phase, and with a bit of good policing the things would return to normal soon.
(Meanwhile an Indian doctor who was viciously beaten up last year, says the recent attacks on Indian students are basically unrelated to issues of racism. He sees the assaults as symptomatic of a worrying epidemic of urban street violence affecting all people, not just Indians. See here…)
So my suggestion to McCarthy is “Take its easy Mate!”, especially because after a highly successful stint in Delhi for five years he would soon be packing his bags to return to Australia.
(The Indian government on Friday released guidelines for Indians seeking admissions in Australian educational institutions. It also reposed faith in Canberra doing all it can to stop the attacks on Indians. See here…)
Born in Washington D.C. in 1942, Mr McCarthy was educated at Cambridge University where he received a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws degree. He is a Barrister-at-law and practised in London from 1965 to 1966. He worked with the New York Law Firm of Shearman and Sterling from 1966 to 1967 and joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1968.
Mr McCarthy has served as Australia’s Ambassador to Japan (2001-2004); Indonesia (1997-2000); the United States (1995-97); Thailand (1992-94); Mexico (1985-87); and Vietnam (1981-83). He has also served in Damascus, Baghdad and Vientiane as well as having had two earlier postings in Washington.
From 1994 to 1995 Mr McCarthy was Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Mr McCarthy has two daughters.