By Rakesh Krishna Simha April 2012 After decades in cold storage, the “foreign hand” is back on the front pages in India. It was in the mid 1970s that the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi first used the expression, specifically naming the CIA as one of the plotters against her Government. Nearly 40 years later another Prime Minister from the same party has gone on record, saying there is a foreign hand operating in India. Manmohan Singh was referring to the anti-nuclear protests in Kudankulam, which he claimed were orchestrated by American-backed NGOs.
Just how credible is this foreign threat? Is there really a foreign hand working against India? Are Indian politicians ratcheting up the scaremongering to further their narrow domestic agendas?
Back in the seventies Indians were – and today still are – extremely dismissive of Indira Gandhi’s allegations. Her political opponents and the media said she was being paranoid, claiming she was using the foreign hand bogey to silence those who challenged her increasingly autocratic ways. It is fact that she was a virtual dictator in democrat’s clothing and lost no opportunity to destabilise popular opposition party chief ministers.
But was Indira Gandhi lying about the foreign hand? Well, yes and no.