fifty years ago August 27, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (August 27, 1971): Rumours following PM’s note to China

New Delhi, August 26: The Prime Minister’s Secretariat and the External Affairs Ministry have become so tight-lipped about the purpose of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s communication to Mr. Chou En-lai that they have unnecessarily set in motion a spate of wild speculation over it. The top officials in the External Affairs Ministry, who would normally be kept in the picture when such moves are made by the Prime Minister, are feigning ignorance to an extent that many have been left wondering whether they were really unaware this time until they read about it in the newspapers. Even otherwise the Prime Minister’s present style of functioning is creating within the Government a new kind of compartmentalisation by cutting across the normal divisions of Ministry-wise responsibility and establishing an apex system with her Secretariat serving as the focal point. When Mrs. Gandhi takes a new step or makes a new move, it does not always percolate down to the Ministry concerned at any rate below a certain level, with the result that the senior officialdom in general is often ignorant of the broad policy moves being made by her in various spheres. But in the field of foreign affairs, it is creating more difficulties since the External Affairs Ministry is not always able to interpret Indian initiatives to the diplomatic representatives here without turning to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat at every stage for policy guidance.

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