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The Hindujas Affair
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I found Jane Corbin's programme on the Hinduja brothers excellent. However, I do have one minor criticism; she was not tenacious enough in her questioning of them. With the material she had available from her research she could have wrung them dry.
I am not a labour supporter, but I wonder what life long Labour party members make of their leadership's choice of friends? It seems that if you are not rich you do not count. The Hindujas episode is merely a symptom.
What the programme didn't show was who were the numerous "clients" (i.e. Bofars) whom the Hindujas allegedly brokered deals for. The whole program pinned its broadcast on Bofars.
The show also didn't detail how the family built up their business/political connections in the UK so fast (saying they knew Vaz/Thatcher isn't enough).
Why are we consistently shown that money is the quickest and sharpest route to access power? What has happened to integrity and principle? Or perhaps, it has always been this way...
I left India some 32 years ago because I was unable to work there, in an atmosphere where what you could do was much less important than whom you knew.
Dr Satish Desai OBE
As a Pakistani I have been dismayed by the hostile attitude the Labour government has taken towards Pakistan since the ousting of the Nawaz regime echoing in part the propaganda coming out of New Delhi. Have you noticed any thing to suggest that the close relationship between senior members of the Labour government and the Hindujas, who have been cheer leaders for India's nuclear program and are well-known for their Hindu fundamentalist leanings, may have caused the noticeable tilt towards India in Labour's policies? The Labour government recently lobbied the US to lift certain weapons sanctions against India. I see this as a sign that UK has given up any pretence of being neutral in the Subcontinent.
I have read a number of comments about the Panorama programme. One comment queried 'what was important in sending Mangoes to Mandelson'- Having lived and served in India during the war, two incidents I experienced were: I was invited to a wedding ceremony, all very enjoyable until the crunch purpose of my invitation. Could I get promotion for so and so, who worked under me. Answer NO. Another occasion, in commerce, an Indian customer of mine, came with an excellent basket of goodies for my wife. Staff were not allowed by company rules to accept any 'gifts', hence my wife was the recipient. At the bottom of the basket was an expensive Gold Rolex Oyster watch.
Andrew Marr implying that there is no "culture" of political favours in UK, but that it exists (and is acceptable) in some other exotic countries is a proof of British hypocrisy. By any means, politics is the name of the game of mutual back scratching. It is about time for the British to stop playing media trials with the images of non-white people peddling and trading favours. It is time they look around for scapegoats (outsiders) for the decay of their own society.
I feel that although there "could be a bribe" the matter of issuing a passport in 6 months is not a big issue here. I, myself, have applied for a British Passport to take up a job in the UK which requires me to be a British Citizen. Although it "may" take up to 14 months before someone gets their British passport it does not have to take that long. For example, when a white athlete wanted to take part in the Olympics some years ago, she was granted British passport in a matter of days. Also there are some other cases in which some boxers and tennis players (including Greg Rusedski) who got their passports within a matter of days. While there is a statement which says if there is a genuine reason for priority consideration (I accompanied my application with a letter from the potential employer) my case has not been dealt with yet, but I applied some months ago.
Because of Hinduja's, it should not mean that anyone (a good applicant) should not get a passport within few months or even in weeks. So please be sensible in what you are saying as it might make those in the Home Office think "it would be wrong to issue a passport within a few months even if the candidate meets all the requirements" - such as me, and many of those who might be in my situation.
What was the bigger crime in the affair - to use high connections or to use these connections to get a Passport? As for the first matter, using connections for favours is a matter of daily life in politics all over the world (to deny this would be plain hypocrisy). As for the second issue of the passport, why place such a big value on the Great British Passport? Is it such a great thing that a corrupt person cannot get it (even if he saves the "faith" in the Dome plus lives in UK for many years plus runs his big businesses from UK, pays big taxes, etc). This would imply that a British person holding a British passport should not be corrupt. Even the idea is almost comic. In sum, the whole affair is blown out of proportion and is politically timed. Like many media scandals, this has less to do with facts and their relevance, but more to do with media-manipulated symbolism.
Just what is wrong with someone wanting and getting British nationality? This family has invested millions in this country, employ many people and pay huge amounts in taxes. Britain should encourage more of them to come and do the same and give them citizenships as incentives. We are allowing thousands of so-called refugees and asylum seekers who sponge on our lax social services regulations, and who eventually get British nationalities so why not give to someone who is actually wealthy enough to support himself and hundreds of others.
If Peter Mandelson didn't know about the Hinduja's involvement with arms dealing in India, then there was no wrong done on his part - he inquired about passports for some people who were helping him out with a project under enormous pressure to get completed. If he did know about their involvement, do you really think that he would have been stupid enough to get involved in any sort of bribe? Anyway, whether there was any shady goings on or not, that's not the point - having a British passport is causing far too many problems. Can the government not withdraw the passports, and re-issue/re-consider giving them after the Hindujas have been taken to trial? Probably not, because that would be far to sensible.
have the guts to refuse the money
they are offered in return for favours.
This incident confirms the fact that the law is different for rich and poor people.
Peter Mandelson seems to be missing the point. Surely any representation - whether personal or from the office - from a Cabinet Minister referring to a passport application, is intended implicitly to add that person's weight and influence to the application.
I think that the Hindujas brothers used the Labour Government to get their Passport, by giving £1 Million for the Dome.
Mandelson saying that he didn't know about Hindujas' Bofors involvement was like (his) music to my ears. It is one thing that he has definitively lied about. With all the publicity about the affair in Indian media, he has to be more than totally naive or ignorant to say that. Given that, the programme carefully chose to not mention many other people implicated in the Bofors scam, many of whom are respectable members of their societies (Swedish, Italians, etc). Wasn't that to imply that Hindujas are the only people with skeletons in their expensive cupboards? Moreover, shouldn't Panorama also investigate all the business people of Britain who have powerful connections and check out if they ever received "favours". My assumption is that then we would have countless number of Panoramas, not only for the current times, but for many past centuries.
Surely the press, like everybody else in the country, must be getting a little bit bored of the whole thing. If Mandleson lied, he's gone. Therefore, so what? If he didn't lie, he was pushed out because Blair lost confidence in him. Again, so what? That's a matter for the Labour party. Who cares,frankly?
Looks as though snow white New Labour has found it's own Al Fayed.
Only puzzle remaining is whether Vaz & Mandellson are corrupt or just stupid.
It just shows the unfairness of life. When you have got money you can get any thing, even from a Labour government which claims to be fair. Next month (April) I will have spent eleven (11) years in this country without a permanent stay or a British citizenship. As a TaeKwonDo expert, I have taught TaeKwonDo to the children of this country from 6 to adults and produce a number of black belts. I have won an international silver medal and my points counted for the England team. I have been asked twice by Hackney council to promote TaeKwonDo in my borough. I have written a book on TaeKwonDo to promote the sport as this government is encouraging sport to youngsters. I have always been working and have a decent job in IT. I went to university in this country and have integrated very much in this society. But, it will be eleven years without a permanent stay or a British citizenship.
When you are Hinduja and make donation to the Labour party, you get a British passport in record time. Where is Tony Blair fairness toward poor people?
It looks to me that the inner circle of cronies that seem to run Mr Blair fell out with Mr Mandelson and wanted to get rid of him.
I would like to make a comment on some of the comments in this forum. India is not Nehru's India but Indians' India and good politicians and businessman are good but not businessman like Hindujas.
Having watched the Panorama programme last night, and if the reporting was wholly accurate, is it not the case, that as Lord Desai said, the whole labour party is at fault? Even if no laws have been broken, surely the political judgement shown by all involved, including the Prime Minister, must call into question their fitness to hold public office.
Surely the art of politics is to lie in such a manner as the majority will believe you, an art this Government once elected has been sorely lacking.
Don't you think that there is a hidden aroma of parochialism and racism in the reactions of the British society and media to the Hinduja affair? Hindujas are no saints, but they are same as various other arms dealing British businessmen who obviously go around with British passports. Hindujas have made a lot of fortune through arms dealing which is synonymous with murky connections with the people in power. So, why link the passport to all those other qualifications of Hindujas? It is a common knowledge that if someone invests a lot of money in UK or any other country, the citizenship is granted quite easily. It seems to me that British are paranoid about "foreigners" getting too powerful in UK (e.g. the reactions to Al-Fayed). I also guess this fear has to do with their deep-rooted guilt-conscience of having colonised and messed up with other parts of the world for a long long time.
Peter Mandelson stated clearly that he had no knowledge of events associated with the Bofors scandal. I was living in Bombay when this story started to break and it quickly assumed enormous proportions. Some 13 years on it remains a key unresolved issue in Indian politics and public life. Are we really to believe that Peter Mandelson would not be aware of this in his long standing position at the forefront of British politics? If, indeed, he didn't, where's he really been for the past 13 years? The (likely) alternative provides all one needs to know about the probity of this architect of modern UK government. Is there anybody with integrity and a sense of duty left in modern political life? Oh yes, I remember - Frank Field - a man with honour and a true knowledge of his subject. So he had to go didn't he?!
After watching tonight's Panorama about Hinduja brothers, I am quite confident that if Al-Fayed had offered similar donations, he would have had no problems for acquiring British passport, or maybe he would because he is a Muslim.
It is inconceivable that the Hindujas brothers should have been given a British Passport in view of the criminal case going on in India at the time and also the investigation into the Swiss bank accounts.
Is it impossible to take these passports from them?
Well done - a very good programme and highlights the links this government is having with people under investigation from Indian Sub continent. I would like to establish if other parts of the government are as open to questionable deals at best and at worst bordering on corruption? What price are we selling our democratic principals for around the world?
Good programme but shows the lack of
common sense by Government Ministers and others. Nothing is for free, and you are then under the influence of peoples requirements.
What was this programme about? It hasn't shed any further light into any aspects, yet it tried to create a mood of wrongdoing.
A much more honest programme would have shown the Hinduja interview in full answering all of the questions that Jane Corbin alluded to through inference.
I suspect that the Hinduja interview didn't give the ammunition that she was looking for nor any evidence that could lay any blame to any person.
Peter Mandelson said in an interview shown on tonight's programme that he did not know about the Hindujas' involvement in the Bofors affair in India.
In an otherwise perceptive documentary, I fail to understand why the producers placed such emphasis on minor details. For example, sending mangoes is not really indicative of anything - especially seen from an Indian perspective. Indians often give fruit. It's the cultural equivalent of saying that the Hindujas once sent Peter Mandelson a Xmas card! Furthermore, Diwali is a festival in which new clothes are given, which may explain the dress to Cherie. Sitting on a stage on show for hours is also a rather Indian thing - as my Swedish husband discovered at our wedding reception. I accept that the Hindujas probably were not just following Indian customs in these areas but were angling for a lot more. But come on, Panorama, there is enough info on the Hindujas and certainly enough intellect in your team to produce incisive and impartial documentaries without relying on misguided assumptions about mangoes, saris and seating arrangements!
I was of the opinion that a British Passport does not protect one in their country of birth, if one is involved in a criminal activity. Also the passport is the property of HM the Queen and can be revoked at any time. This case is a clear case for these passports to be revoked.
Thank you for showing and making clear the corruption in government. Can ordinary British people ever expect and receive a fair deal? There has to be as to be a decent honest leader somewhere, there should be no free lunches they do not exist. All we now need is the man or woman to rise and lead us by example, someone who genuinely cares and is beyond reproach but I suppose he died on the cross 2001 years ago.
So history does repeats itself. The parallels between the Hindujas and that other passport-hungry Asian Al Fayed are uncanny.
Will Martin Bell be once again standing at the next general election? If so will he be challenging Peter Mandelson's seat?
"Tell me who your are acquaintances are, and I will tell you who you are"
(old spanish proverb)
The Hinduja issue is a symptom of the difficulties which arise when Government becomes involved with private finance. The ethics of the public sector can never sit easily alongside the looser expectations which run with business decisions in the private sector. To what extent do these expectations also run alongside the decisions of business to enter into public private finance initiatives?
If Government and Parliament expect business to operate in a way consistent with the proper behaviour of public servants, then Parliament and the Government are being naive.
Well done Panorama - A good investigation that shows exactly why people are losing interest in politics.
This was an excellent programme, an example of what makes British journalism top of the English speaking world. Will it, however, prejudice in any way the legal processes in India if it is shown in that country?
I am surprised this government can stand up it is so bent, they will take cash for anything, and as for the contributions for the dome, well there's another £2 billion well invested - muppets
Congratulations. The programme was brilliant, extremely well researched. In Nehru's India, millionaires and politicians are gods. The timid Indian journalists will now take heart to expose more of the DEVIOUS DIRTY corruption of their former prime ministers and so on.
Please broadcast this PANORAMA on BBC WORLD TV for the crushed Indians back home, and across the globe, to see. There will be tremendous interest. The Indians have NEVER had such an experience for the last 53 years!
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