Some republicans never let an opportunity pass by. The announcement that the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, will not be attending the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Perth in October was the occasion for The Sydney Morning Herald, one of our most republican newspapers, to use this to advance its pro-republic anti-Commonwealth stance. That Realms, like Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia, make up sixteen of the 54 member Commonwealth does not matter.
Some republicans will use anything to kick the British and Commonwealth connection, desperately hoping that this helps revive their cause.
On this occasion, the Herald was drawing a very long bow indeed.
…"colonial club… with hangers-on"…
In “Indian PM out as colonial club loses its shine, “the Herald (11/8) gloated that this “as another signal of the declining international relevance of the Commonwealth organisation made up mostly of former British colonies with a few hangers-on.”
Ben Dougherty, the reporter, added: “The organisation has been unable to deal with security crises among its members in recent years, suspending Fiji and Pakistan with little effect and having Zimbabwe withdraw from the group,” conveniently forgetting that no international organisation seems to have done much about internal security crises in its members and that the United Nations not only keeps the most appalling regimes among its members but has been known to allow them to chair Even the Human Rights Council.”
The Prime Minister is also believed to have cancelled his attendance at a United Nations General Assembly summit.
The Times of India (10/8) sees no such reason for the Prime Minister's non-attendance. Indeed, Manmohan Singh has shown no disinterest in the Commonwealth, having attended the last two CHOGM meetings in Port of Spain (2009) and Kampala (2007).
“But,” The Times of India says “with political and economic uncertainties looming in India, Singh, never an avid traveller, has decided not to step out. In November, the PM will have to travel to Male for the SAARC summit anyway, and in September he will be paying a historic visit to Dhaka to reset relations in India's neighbourhood. “
There are a number of possible reasons for the Prime Minister not coming. Unlike Australian politicians he is apparently not an avid traveller. He has other commitments, one with a possible clash. The political situation in India demands that he give great attention to internal affairs.
It may well be that Australia is at fault. While we are quite happy to sell uranium to China, the government refuses to allow such sales to India. And then of course, there was the clear failure of the Victorian authorities to provide a minimum protection for Indian students.
(An Institute of Criminology apparently says that the Indian students weren't attacked because they were Indians; they were just in situations where they were likely to be attacked – working in petrol stations at night etc. That says a lot for the standards of law and order prevailing in Victoria and New South Wales. Perhaps the governments and Parliaments should have worried more about law and order rather than removing the symbols of the Australian Crown)