Starting today, March 15, The Hindu offers its readers a series of unprecedented insights into India’s foreign policy and domestic affairs, diplomatic, political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual – encountered, observed, tracked, interpreted, commented upon, appreciated, and pilloried by U.S. diplomats cabling the State Department in Washington D.C.
The range of subjects, issues, and persons covered by the India Cables is extraordinary. While the trained diplomat’s eye is almost always on the ball – the developing Indo-U.S. strategic relationship and everything that helps or hinders it – the range includes India’s relations with its neighbours, with Russia, the European Union, East Asia, Israel, Palestine, Iran, and the rest of West Asia, Africa, Cuba, the United Nations. It covers issues and actions relating to defence cooperation, nuclear policy, arms control, terrorism, intelligence sharing, export control, human rights, Indian bureaucracy, environment, AfPak, and much more. There is a special focus on 26/11, Kashmir, India’s policy towards and dealings with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, and where the Indian polity is headed.
Politicians of all shades, diplomats and other officials, sleuths, businessmen, journalists, busybodies, bigwigs and smallwigs figure in the WikiLeaks India Cache – which comprises 5,100 U.S. Embassy and consulate cables relevant to India (not all of them originating in India) and aggregates an astonishing six million words.
These American diplomats have been trained to listen, probe and prod, massage egos, milk sources, report, and write (supplying accessible and, at times, witty and elegant headings and sub-headings) to inform, analyse, and amuse – as though they were full-time journalists. Many of them work like wire service beavers: long lunches, yes, but very often, same day reports of important meetings. Few things escape their notice. Most of the time, they see Indian men, women, and matters through the reflected mirror of U.S. strategic interests and policy.
The India Cables have been accessed by The Hindu through an arrangement with WikiLeaks that involves no financial transaction and no financial obligations on either side. As with the larger ‘Cablegate’ cache to which these cables belong, they are classified into six categories: confidential, confidential/noforn (confidential, no foreigners), secret, secret/noforn, unclassified, and unclassified/for official use only.
Our contacts with WikiLeaks were initiated in the second week of December 2010. It was a period when Cablegate had captured the attention and imagination of a news-hungry world.