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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.
Anthony Padman

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...
Kuhan Tharmananthar

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.

What was wrong with the Blairs attending the function arranged by the Hindujas - They are not criminals

Dr Satesh Desai, South Croydon
I was intrigued, therefore, to see a shadow of the old Indian business practice apparent in the Panorama programme and a reflection of the British Media tendency to treat Indians differently. Diwali is a non-political and social event, for a community to congregate and celebrate. We have guests from all other religions and good time is there for everyone. What was wrong with the Blairs attending the function arranged by the Hindujas? They are not criminals and their case is sub-judice. On the contrary, they have been generous in supporting good causes and they have brought business to the Great Britain. I could not understand whether anything was wrong in making an enquiry, to the best possible source one can reach, about the progress of one's passport application. It is quite clear to me that Brothers Hinduja are well able to look after themselves in India and do not need to hide behind their British Passports. This is confirmed by the fact that they went there willingly. The Prime Minister's job is difficult and he has sometimes to meet people with proven bad behaviour, in the interest of the Nation. I am genuinely sorry to see Peter Mandelson suffer and Keith Vaz troubled on account of a matter that would not be of such importance if Hindujas were to be, say, from South America or Middle East. I hope that the present Government is able to weather this storm and Hindujas keep enriching the Great Britain as they have.
Dr Satish Desai OBE
South Croydon

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.
Ashraf Jilani
Los Angeles

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.

It is about time for the British to stop playing media trials with the images of non-white people peddling and trading favours

Paul van den Berg, Amsterdam
I promptly returned the basket and all contents to the giver, telling him NOT to try that stunt again, or he could go and find another supplier. So what was in the baskets of Mangoes? I think the whole episode of the Hindujas is a scandal, and the way Blair, Mandelson and Other Top Labour Government officials toadied to the Brothers, obviously falling in the trap of lavish entertainment and offer of 'bribes' for the DOME, a Project so near to the heart of Blair and Mandelson. Take back the Passports, and then look at the merits/demerits of the whole Hinduja brothers actions in India.

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.
Paul van den Berg

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.
Andy Nick

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.
Mary Marlowe

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.
Ashok Solanki

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.

Few politicians have the guts to refuse the money they are offered in return for favours.
Thomas Tylor

This incident confirms the fact that the law is different for rich and poor people.
Pankaj Kapoor

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.

If Peter Mandelson is really as naive as his claims make out, he should not be in any position of responsibility

L Hopkins, London
What else can be the purpose, when the applicant themselves can enquire about the progress of their application. And using one's influence in this way is easily interpreted as a favour in return for Dome funding, in this case. Whether Mandelson or his PA made the call is a minor distraction - a ploy I believe he is using to detract from the bigger issue of misusing his influence. With due respect, in many parts of Asia this type of favour is the norm and so the Hinduja brothers could be forgiven for thinking that this is what happens in this country. If Peter Mandelson is really as naive as his claims make out, he should not be in any position of responsibility. The contempt for the intelligence of us ordinary mortals which his repeated claims of innocence show, is unforgivable.
L Hopkins

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.
John Minor

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?

Good programme. 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.
Graham Sedgley
Market Drayton

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?
Maurice Mwana-tambwe

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.
Keith Miles

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.

The political judgement shown by all involved, including the Prime Minister, must call into question their fitness to hold public office

Dave, Llansantffraid
Everybody in India knows about the corruption cases against Hinduja brothers in bofors case. It simply shows the dirty corruption in Britain across all political and Gov. levels.
Ajay Kumar

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.
Llansantffraid, Wales

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.
Billy Enkay

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?!
Paul B.
Witney, Oxon

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?
Ronald McPhail

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?
Amrik Dhesy

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.

The briefings given to both Mr Mandelson and the Prime Minister on the Hinduja brothers need to be investigated

Richard Lucas, Ulverston
Surely both his private office and the Prime Minister's advisers would have received briefings on this high profile corruption scandal from FCO and DTI officials in India and London. If they did call for briefings and were not properly advised there has been a breakdown on behalf of the FCO and DTI. If they did receive full information on the Hindujas, why did they choose to risk the reputation of the Government by associating so closely with men accused of having a pivotal role in assisting arms dealers within a third world country? The briefings given to both Mr Mandelson and the Prime Minister on the Hinduja brothers need to be investigated.
Richard Lucas

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.
Miss Humphrey

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.
Peter Bibbey
Stoke on Trent

All Labour Ministers mentioned... showed a great deal of naivety and basic stupidity in allowing themselves to become involved and manipulated in such an obvious way

Kevin Spencer, Southampton
After hearing all the facts concerning this affair, Mandelson and all Labour Ministers mentioned, including the Prime Minister, whether guilty of interference or not, showed a great deal of naivety and basic stupidity in allowing themselves to become involved and manipulated in such an obvious way. This alone should be enough to allow the public to question their judgement and right to hold the office and positions they hold.
Kevin Spencer

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)
Claudio Furet

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

Robert, London
I think it is the Hindujas brothers themselves who have cunningly involved other british politicians like Peter Mandelson and Keith Vaz into their passport application. I say cunningly because its like they have indirectly bribed politicians and others into doing them favors.
Tej Agheda

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.
G. Stevens

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?
Edward L. Jones
Drogheda ( Nr. Dublin )

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
Paul Lasance

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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