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October - November 2009
After hearing an American commentator give his strident views on the release of the Libyan this morning on BBC Breakfast News and listening to the robust questioning of him by the female newsreader I thought I would log on to The Telegraph website. I read the CIA executive Mr Mueller’s open letter and then I read Nile Gardner’s article and all the Comments his article has generated. I had thought to put a comment of my own.
Wow, I have never seen such vitriol or indeed foul stuff on the website. Some people wrote clearly and concisely but some are obviously from the hard right of America or just tanked up. In the end I put nothing.
I am not a supporter of the SNP, nor do I ever wish Scotland to become independent in a sovereign sense. It is however quite clear that a process was started by Tony Blair, to which Gordon Brown added his approval, seconded by Mandelson and then they sat back and allowed the SNP Government of Scotland to carry the can. Then of course Alex Salmond did the very same to Kenny MacAskill. This is actually the nub of this shameful business, not the fact that the man whose conviction was apparently dubious anyway was freed because he is dying. Brown and Mandelson, and Blair (far away in China of course) are all grinning and hoping that the UK will now be given access to all that is available now in Libya with regard to her vast oil resources. A former First Minister of Scotland has popped up again after months of silence and condemned the Scottish Government….maybe on the direction of Gordon Brown, who seems to be living currently at his Scottish home but mute…again – Jack McConnell has been silent for so long since his defeat at the hands of Alex Salmond that now he is mostly ridiculed!
Interestingly on the website how many people referred to the USS Vincennes and her shooting down of the Iranian airliner earlier in 1988, and then the captain and crew were given a heroes’ welcome on their return to the US. That would be the same country ‘the beacon of democracy, land of the free’ that has Bagram Detention for innocent Afghani shepherds et al, and as for Abu Gharib where some of their soldiers both men and women plumbed the depths of human behaviour and brought shame on their country. Americans now have a posturing president whom I would like to believe in but he too has found being in the driving seat is entirely different to being the back seat driver with a strident sense of ‘direction’. Being in power and having responsibility are a different experience from aspiring to power and responsibility.
Compassion is of immense importance, and when the Libyan does die it is possible that the truth will somehow come out. But as one writer said, if he somehow were shown not to have been the perpetrator of that evil act of terror will all those families be asked to pay back their compensation which they received from Libya. Curiously it is the Scots parents of those lost who appear to also have ‘compassion and wisdom’. Lockerbie is a small market town about 40 miles from where I live. The Americans as usual appear to be showing their frustration – they are only ever really happy when they see themselves ‘calling all the shots’. Of course there was that curious business of America deciding to ‘bomb Libya’ in April 1986 to which the then British Prime Minister reluctantly it is said gave approval to use the US air base in the UK. Now we hear that the Iranians are suppressing their young people with extreme cruelty and horror if they dare to demonstrate at what is quite clearly a fixed election…..is the US President still wanting to talk to Iranian Government, might it be that the Iranians have huge influence through their own oil reserves and the US knows it needs more and more oil?
I too did not enjoy seeing my country’s Saltire – National Flag being waved at the airport in Tripoli, but is that not rather like Americans with their Yellow Ribbons and other US Jingoism when something has gone wrong for them and then a situation has reached a conclusion? The Libyans were entitled to feel ecstatic, though of course we still have no clear answer as to who blew up that airliner. Perhaps Gaddafi will be ostracized at the UN when he comes to make his triumphant speech; Libyans generally continue to live in poverty without modern infrastructure but yet everyone wants to make friends with this evil buffoon. Everyone including the Russians is scrambling to get their hands on his country’s oil. What total hypocrisy..
In Christianity there is constant encouragement to show compassion, which hitherto we have not seen in Islamic justice or modern Islamic theocracies.
Satjit Pandit M.D.
Ann Arbor , MI
My dual citizenship woes: My recent epeerience with the immigration department at the Kolkata airport and the lessons I learnt
My advice to all my friends who hold an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card and those who aspire to get one. I am an American citizen. I also carry an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of India) since 2007.
On Saturday, June 20, 2009 , I arrived at the Kolkata Netaji Subhas Airport from Detroit via Singapore , by Singapore Airlines (SQ 516) at 10:30 P.M. I presented myself to an Immigration Officer ( Mr. Biswas ) for immigration clearance. I gave him my American passport and my OCI card. He demanded to see my visa from the Indian consular office. Unfortunately, that visa was attached to my old passport and I did not bring it with me.
I explained to him that I am sorry I forgot to bring my old passport but since I do possess a valid OCI Card that would automatically mean that I do also possess a permanent (life long) visa for India and there are proofs that I have traveled multiple times to India after I had received my OCI card.
Mr. Biswas detained me for two hours inside the airport and then he told me that he is going to allow me to stay in India for 72 hours and asked me to report to the Foreign Relations Regional Officer (FRRO) in the city within 72 hours. He kept my passport. During all that time I had no opportunity either to approach his OC (Officer in Charge) although I asked for it, or to contact my relatives who came to the airport to receive me and were waiting outside and had no idea why I was being held back or if I have even arrived.
Forgetting to bring my old passport was my own fault but I 'forgot' to bring it partly because I knew I have my OCI Card with me and I thought, that means something, I really believed that I am a citizen of India too. Why would a citizen also need a visa to enter his own country? I thought I have a dual citizenship for both the USA and India. Otherwise, what is the difference between an ordinary foreigner and the OCI Card holder?
Next day was a Sunday, I called a friend in Ann Arbor who went into my house, got my old passport and sent me the scanned copy of my old passport and a copy of my permanent visa by e-mail.
So, on Monday I went to see Mr. Bibhas Talukdar, the FRRO. He hardly looked at the documents (the scanned visa) that I had with me, he simply asked me to get my old passport by courier mail within another seven days. He appeared gleeful telling me that it is only out of "pity" that he is allowing me to stay in India for seven more days. He was totally unimpressed by either my status as a Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan or my age (70+)
I called my friend in Ann Arbor again who then sent my old passport by FedEx. Three days later the passport arrived. Since I had to leave Kolkata for prescheduled visit to Bangalore, my niece took it to Mr. Talukdar. But due to lack of communication between the FRRO office and the airport immigration department my passport had not arrived at the city office even after 9 days. My niece had to go to the FRRO's office three times, once waiting until 6 P.M. still they did not have my passport. They only promised: "it will come soon". At last, 12 days after my arrival, my niece got my passport.
From this painful and anxiety provoking experience I have learned a few valuable lessons:
1. The loud talk about "Dual Citizenship" for Indian Americans is just a political hoax.
2. The OCI card just does not have any value. It is just a piece of expensive junk. You still need a visa every time you travel to India whether or not you possess an OCI card. Only difference is that for the high price of getting an OCI card you will get a "life long " visa. A 10-year visa is much cheaper.
3. When coming to India always consider yourself a foreigner and bring your visa with you, there will be no exceptions. Your OCI card is not a visa substitute.
4. In fact, you will probably be treated worse than an ordinary foreigner arriving without a valid visa. Because a foreigner especially a white Caucasian will at least be treated with courtesy and probably offered a temporary visa if there is no reason to deny it, but not you.
Sujit K. Pandit M.D.
Department of Anesthesiology
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor , MI
K. N. Dewan
Finchley North Lodon
Actors of the standing of Ingrid Bergman, Lawrence Olivier and Sophia Loren, who were not Amerians, had to go through a number of steps to be allowed to work in Hollwood. Ingrid Bergman describes in her autogiography what she had to go through to secure a permit. She had to humour and satisfy Ronald Reagan for the permit. He was then the head of Actors Guild.
In India it is a free house for foreigners. We have become a ‘dharamshala’ where anybody can stay and take any job and even become the president of an important national political party. Any Dick from anywhere can come and work in India, collect money in bags and go back or even remain here - no quetions asked!
Ghazal singers from neighbour country regularly visit India to sing for bejewelled and usually over-weight women of Delhi and Mumbai; and go home heavily loaded with cash and goods and no questions are asked. Such things cannot happen in the Unite States or the UK.
We now have the startling court case of a Pakistani singer known a Adnan Sami who has been working in Bollywood for about a decade and has amassed a huge fortune. This fact is stated by his wife. He owns about a dozen flats in Mumbai and elsewhere and is worth about Rs 50 crores. He has become a celebrity of sorts and young females go delirious at his appearance. He has brought all his family from Pakistan including his father.
Good citizens of India want to know how he entered India. Who gave him permission to come and work in Bollywood? Has he got a permit and if so how did he get it?
There are a number of Indian singers of far superior calibre. I wonder if there is a Pakistani ring in Bollywood? If so, who, among our top leaders, help this ring.
K. N. Dewan
S. Yavar Abbas
Hounslow Middx UK
I enjoy reading India Link regularly. Your editorial are thought provoking. I was particularly impressed by Satjit Singh column in your latest issue(Aug/Sep09). I find in him a kindred spirit. Please convey to him my compliments and my warm regards.
I also watched your ‘Mera India’ programme at Venus TV (Sky 805) and found it interesting. On partition, there is an important factor which was not mentioned, presumably because some of these facts are only now becoming accessible to scholars and researchers after the lifting of restrictions on their release in the acrchives at Kew. I am sending you a paper I read last year at a seminar in Delhi, in which I have referred to these facts briefly.