'Dont patronise us': Diplomatic pushback by India; Dutch diplomat untweets 'advice' after Tirumurti riposte

Earlier at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi last month, Jaishankar had stated that India should engage the world on the basis of its confidence in its identity rather than trying to please the global community

Arul Louis May 07, 2022
India’s Permanent Representative T. S. Tirumurti and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

A Dutch diplomat who tweeted unsolicited advice to India on how it should vote in the UN General Assembly on the Ukraine conflict has taken it down after pushback from India’s Permanent Representative T. S. Tirumurti in a new trend of assertiveness set by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

“Kindly don’t patronize us Ambassador. We know what to do”, Tirumurti tweeted back at  Karel van Oosterom, the Netherlands ambassador to Britain who had told him over Twitter, “ “You should not have abstained in the GA. Respect the UN Charter.”.

Oosterom’s tweet was referring to India’s abstention on a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and on another stripping Moscow of its membership of the UN Human Rights Council.

He gave the advice in reply to Tirumurti’s tweet of his address to the Security Council on Thursday.

Oosterom’s tweet was deleted as a barrage of criticism followed Tirumurti’s response.

Testy exchanges like this are very unusual between diplomats of friendly countries – a friendship affirmed a month ago during an official visit by India’s President Ram Nath Kovind to the Netherlands.

The Dutch diplomat’s remark sounded like an off-the-cuff remark without involving the foreign ministry and a reflex action from his days at the UN when he had been his country’s permanent presentative.

Oosterom is not directly involved with India as his post is in London away from the foreign ministry at the Hague or New Delhi.

Jaishankar set the tone for dealing with patronizing interactions during his visit to Washington last month.

A Qatar government TV reporter in a hectoring tone asked him,  “Why not condemn Russia’s invasion? Wouldn’t this best reflect India’s foreign policy goals and international standing”?

He retorted sarcastically, “So first of all, thank you for the advice and suggestions in your question. I prefer to do it my way and articulate it my way.”

And when a Japanese reporter brought up reducing India’s dependence on Russia “as soon as possible”, Jaishankar said, “This seems to be my day to get a lot of advice and suggestions from the press, so thank you for joining that”.

At that news conference, Jaishankar drew attention to the seeming double standards in questioning India’s oil purchases from Russia when, as he pointed out, India’s “total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon”.

According to oilprice.com, which tracks energy trade, the Netherlands imported 31.7 million tonnes of Russian crude oil last year – the most of any European Union member. The Netherlands Prime Minister has said that it will end its oil and gas purchases from Russia only at the end of the year -- pumping cash to Moscow while it continues to condemn it at the UN.

Earlier at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi last month, Jaishankar had stated that India should engage the world on the basis of its confidence in its identity rather than trying to please the global community.

He said the country needs to put behind the idea that it needs the approval of other countries. “We have to be confident about who we are. I think, it is better to engage the world on the basis of who we are rather than try and please the world as a pale imitation of what they are. This idea that others define us, somehow we need to get the approval of other quarters, I think, that is an era we need to put behind us,” he said.

A day earlier, Jaishankar countered criticism of India’s position on Russia’s actions in Ukraine, saying pointedly that the Western powers have been oblivious to the pressing challenges in Asia, including last year’s developments in Afghanistan.


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