Reality Bites: Jaishankar returns from US following his ‘Vaccine Holiday’

Bubbling and effusive tweets from Trump era were replaced with more listless tweets till he had a ‘physical’, not virtual, meeting with US Secretary of State—and for second time in a month, see ?

Reality Bites: Jaishankar returns from US following his ‘Vaccine Holiday’

Rupa Gulab

If you had known someone for ages and that person suddenly took up with a bad crowd and changed—got touchy, aggressive, arrogant, attacked pop stars, teenage activists and embassy personnel who needed emergency oxygen, would you choose to hang out with him?

This probably explains why Jaishankar, our surly External Affairs Minister, wandered lonely as a cloud (without a glimpse of happy-making daffodils, I might add) during the first few days of his trip to the US. His Twitter posts were packed with greetings to different world leaders but nothing, not a word on his US trip. Ominous.

All the fanfare and hysterical minute by minute reportage of great vibes with the US during the Trump administration were missing. A shocked Godi media had nothing to gloat over. Jaishankar’s boss, the Odd Father, ordered him to do something to make it look like the US adores India, or else. Nobody knows what the “or else” may translate to, but everyone can guess. Being morning-walked is one option, the other could well be discovering your favourite horse’s head on your pillow one morning.

General HR McMaster, NSA for a brief year during the Trump administration, came to the rescue as host at a virtual conversation organised by the Hoover Institution. Godi media gratefully aired it, although Jaishankar didn’t exactly come across as, erm, bright. The PMO may have written the questions for all we know, including a few multiple-choice ones like how Jaishankar prefers to eat potatoes (boiled, baked, shallow-fried or deep-fried) and it’s too bad that McMaster left the fun stuff out.

The point of this strange interview was to placate the Odd Father, so Jaishankar said rubbishy things that the Odd Father would approve of. He also made it clear that he joined the Odd Father’s gang because he loved its ideology, and used a nicer word for bigotry: identity. Now, if I had been McMaster, I’d have called him out on the bigotry/identity euphemism, but then I doubt McMaster was even listening, and who can blame him?

As I type this, the US has started engaging with Jaishankar. There have been several meetings and now Jaishanker’s Twitter posts are on the US and nothing but the US, Godi media is hysterically happy again and crowing with joy that US Secretary of State Blinken is “physically” meeting Jaishankar, hooray! Much has been made of the fact that this is the second “physical” meeting in a month (the first was in the UK at the G7 meeting of foreign ministers), India is so important, all hail the Odd Father’s charisma, hip hip hooray.

The Odd Father probably mopped his sweaty botoxed brow, hoping that this is a sign that the Biden administration has partly forgiven him for campaigning for his rival Trump. There’s also huge relief that the US is still willing to engage with India even though the Odd Father has proved to be shockingly incompetent and has deprived not just India but the world of vaccines. Not everybody suffers fools gladly, see?

Jaishankar mopped his damp brow too when CEOs of US companies from diverse business sectors met him and said they were willing to advance India-US trade, investments and technology partnerships. They hadn’t seen the big news, whew. See, there’s that embarrassing little matter of the Odd Father’s henchman sending police teams to Twitter’s offices in Delhi and Gurgaon to arm-twist them. Fortunately, Twitter has made a noise, but now the Odd Father’s men are accusing it of trying to defame India and other such nonsense, and this tends to put businessmen off.

The Odd Father (formerly known as the PM of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing nation till he personally botched that up) has kept his fingers tightly crossed. He is hoping that Jaishankar manages to persuade the US to give India the lion’s share of the 80-million dose AstraZeneca stockpile that the US says it may distribute across the world soon. Free vaccines are better than paying Pfizer and other companies, no? That way the Odd Father will have more money to buy politicians from rival parties and topple state governments, yay!

But what happens to Jaishankar if he doesn’t return with the vaccines—a month’s detention in a cowshed with loudspeaker Arnab Goswami, or his favourite pet’s head on his pillow?

(Any resemblance to real events and people is a concidence)

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