The history of a closure, from Telegraph India is an excellent article describing the background to the belated reopening of the public road behind the US embassy in Delhi.
What is a little depressing to note is that this entirely reasonable action was not done in the normal course of events, and has needlessly been clubbed with the other reactions to the Khobragade case.
This is on one hand a clear example of the general lack of confidence that India shows in dealing with other nations (not only the US) and on the other hand what failure to communicate decisions properly does.
A more confident handling of the issue would have seen this road reopened a few years after 9/11 after a routine information sharing with the US counterparts. MEA seems to have been needlessly scared of broaching the subject before. Or if you wanted to be more charitable, our diplomats were probably a little too diplomatic. This gesture from India, to close down an entire public street for the private use of persons from one single embassy, was overly accommodating and a unilateral concession. As is often the case with such gestures, far from being appreciated it was taken for granted, as evidenced by the situation with India’s own embassy in Washington DC.
When the decision to reopen the road was finally taken post the Khobragade situation, they should have clearly communicated this as one of the many independent dealings with the US, totally unconnected with that whole controversy.
So in sum, the lessons learnt for India from this episode should be
– Act transparently and decisively based on proper data sharing.
– Show flexibility and compassion when possible but always temper this with a very good dose self interest. Emotional decisions can get you an instantaneous thank you but a sense of entitlement is basic human nature. Not everyone remembers favours received but people always remember favours granted. You will will inevitably be left feeling cheated.
– Act quickly. This was clearly the case of a file sitting on someone’s desk to be picked up on the event of the next crisis.
– Communicate loudly and clearly. Every time.
Which are also generally good lessons for all of us in whatever line of work we happen to be in.