Guwahati: Reacting to a viral social media post insisting on India’s diplomatic liberty out of the Commonwealth of Nations, Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) bats for appointing ambassadors (instead of high commissioners) in most of the 53 Commonwealth countries, so that the Union Government in New Delhi can pursue diplomatic relationships with these nations without any prejudice. One can observe from the list of ambassadors/high commissioners (of India) in various Commonwealth countries across the world that there is no Indian ambassador (but high commissioners).
The question that arises is, why New Delhi is not interested to appoint ambassadors in neighboring Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka along with Asian nations like Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. Because of reasons unknown to the people of India, New Delhi is yet to appoint any ambassador in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, etc. Similarly, India has only high commissioners in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Canada, Dominica, Jamaica, Cyprus, Malta, United Kingdom, etc. By the recognised definition, an ambassador serves as primary means of confidential communication with other governments. In fact, the ambassador is the highest-ranking diplomatic representative of a particular country in another nation-state.
The host country typically allows the ambassador control of a specific territory called an embassy, whose territory, staff, and vehicles are generally afforded diplomatic immunity in that country. Responsibilities of an ambassador, who is the head of an embassy, include primarily to protect the citizens of his/her home country in the host country. When two nations make a deal, it is usually advantageous to both the countries to have ambassadors along with a group of staff. On the other hand, a high commissioner is the head of high commission and he/she is regarded as a senior diplomat in charge of the diplomatic mission in Commonwealth nations. The high commissioner normally keeps the interest of locals as well as their own citizens ahead. “The understood policy is that any nation which was a part of British colonies normally appoints a high commissioner only (not an ambassador) in Commonwealth countries. Actually, in the British empire, high commissioners were envoys of the imperial government appointed to manage various territories which were not fully under sovereignty of the British Crown,” said the forum of nationalists. It strongly opposes such a policy linked to the colonial legacy and urges the Centre to appoint the diplomatic representatives according to the interest of Indians only.
PPFA argues that there is no reason to follow the British legacy anymore. As a sovereign nation, India must establish its diplomatic independence (no matter what other Commonwealth countries would prefer to do), asserted the forum. Finally, the PPFA opines that there is an urgent need to revisit the existence of the Commonwealth in its present form. The organisational structure of the Commonwealth has far outlived its usefulness, asserted the forum, adding that it should be transformed with an aim to cater the needs, aspirations and values of various democratic nations in the globe.