Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eyes wide shut?

Sonal Shah, a member of President Obama's transition team, has 'renounced' her links to the VHP and it's affiliate in the USA, the VHP-A. Those who have been following this controversy that began immediately after she was appointed to the transition team and picked up steam after Vijay Parshad's powerful article in Counterpunch will be all the more confused with this seemingly contrite statement. Ms Shah has the gall to say :

"Had I been able to foresee the role of the VHP in India in these heinous events, or anticipate that the VHP of America could possibly stand by silently in the face of its Indian counterpart's complicity in the events of Gujarat in 2002 -- thereby undermining the American group's cultural and humanitarian efforts with which I was involved -- I would not have associated with the VHP of America."

meh! duh??

I am still confused as to what/who she is talking to here. Here we have somebody who has worked with the Clinton administration and Goldman Sachs telling is that she did not do even a most simple background check while associating with an organization! So we have the Disney princess-like well-intentioned Sonal Shah lending her name to the VHP-A because they were being charitable? A bit of a stretch isn't it? I mean you cannot really ascend the corporate ladder and actually work with the government if you are so wide-eyed innocent can you?

But of course that's not all to it. Ms Shah conveniently brushes aside the fact that her family ties to the VHP-A precede the work she did with the organization. The association with the VHP-A was a very natural thing for her to do. The key point is that she chose to, conscious or unconscious of the "rich" legacy of the VHP in contributing to India's communal fabric. So she's either a closet fundamentalist or a incompetent moron of the highest order(somehow that seems unlikely).

It's possible of course that Ms. Shah, in the best traditions of American insensitivity, just did not bother. However that's not an excuse. Those who are in the public sphere carry bigger burdens. That's a universal reality. Sonal Shah got caught. She better leave if she wants to save her already battered reputation in the USA.

Ps. Of course the joke in this is that things started heating up for Shah when former Republican senator Rick Santorum wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Enquirer criticizing her appointment. What was merely a 'lefty' fad suddenly became a 'bi-partisan' critique. Ms Shah's statement and her email to her 'supporters'(" I need to moblize [sic] people against the leftists and the right wing.") are merely desperate attempts to save her job. For some reason I keep getting reminded of Bill Clinton.

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