The US ambassador David Mulford criticised the Congress government for making its bureaucracy more “difficult to deal with” than it was during the Vajpayee years.
Mulford, who felt that “the Nehru dynasty needs to become more like the Tata dynasty,” criticised Manmohan government’s “Brezhnev-era controls on its people of which Indira Gandhi would have approved.”
“If India is truly to become a great power — a key Presidential goal — its government will need to shed its traditional petty zero-sum mentality,” he complained in a message to Washington in 2008.
“We also need Washington support at the highest levels to warn the Indians that they need to be more like Jet Airways and less like Air India or the world will dismiss their hype as well as ours as premature and consign them to the second tier of global powers for the early 21st century,” he went on in a cable filled with outrage.
“In the absence of sustained political support from the top of the Indian government for relations with the USG, the Indian bureaucracy is reverting to its knee-jerk bureaucratic non-responsiveness,” he pointed out.
Mulford was upset at what he saw as delaying and unco-operative behaviour from the Indian side, primarily due to a suspicion bordering on paranoia about the Americans.
“It’s not just the US Government that is suffering; private investors and businesses, educational institutions, NGOs, foundations, public service groups, and private individuals are also realizing that the Indian government’s attitude remains surly, unwelcoming, suspicious, and small minded,” he went on.
He contrasted it to the NDA years. “Under the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee it was easier to meet Indian officials and get business done, even in the paranoid Ministry of Home Affairs, but the Congress government has reverted to type..” he said.
He complained that the Indian security services also watch Indian bureaucrats “very carefully” to spot the “slightest counter-intelligence concern.”
“So this sort of climate makes it risky for even the most pro-American bureaucrats to stick their necks out for us on the various issues they handle in the absence of political level support and encouragement,” he said, comparing the Congress government to the Soviet regime in some of its controls.
“At least half of our problems stem from the fact that the Intelligence Bureau simply does not trust us and harbors resentment at what it perceives as continuing US efforts to penetrate the Indian services,” he said.