One thing you may have noticed about Prime Minister Gandhi is that at the end of al his foreign tours he drops in unannounced on an unscheduled country. On a previous occasion he had done so by dropping in at the last moment on Moscow on his way home from the US. And this time he is dropping in to Prague from his way home from Mexico.
Apart from the question of why he does this, a lot of people have also been wondering how Mr. Gandhi picks these unscheduled countries to visit. I will try and explain.
Every time the prime minister leaves on a foreign tour, keeping Mr. Zail Singh at home, Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar packs in his baggage an atlas of the world. This is a standard practice.
In the beginning things go smoothly and nobody so much as bothers to look at the atlas. Mr. Gandhi meets various people, has breakfast, lunch dinner with them, discusses everything under the sun except the problems at home, isolates Mrs. Thatcher, champions the blacks in Africa, takes ceremonial salutes at Airports, addresses crowded press conferences, mostly made-up of Indian correspondents accompanying the prime minister on his tour.
The night before the tour is ending Mr. Gandhi is to wing back to India, he suddenly realises he doesnâ€™t want to go home, at least not so soon. He has been enjoying himself solving the world problems and not solving the mounting problems at home, which, after all are the only genuine problems over which any prime minister of any country should exercise his mind.
So he tries to delay his home by a day, a few hours, anything. Mrs. Gandhi, like all wives agrees:â€ť You have been working too hard, you need to relax, to unwind yourself by solving other peopleâ€™s problems, as your mother and grandfather used to do before you. This trip has been too short.â€ť
Next, Mr. Gandhi has to decide where to break journey. He cannot go to Washington, because even prime ministers cannot just drop in at Washington. He cannot go to Moscow because apart from the prime ministerâ€™s frequent trips to Moscow being possibly misinterpreted in the West, , the Kremlin leadership also may be a little tired of his dropping in every round-trip.
So, Mr.Mani Shankar Aiyar is summoned who arrives with his atlas, his writing pad, his ball pen. The study the map, eliminate France, Italy, yes and no, Germany, a full trip can be undertaken later, Czechoslovakia, yes, there i8s a good country, only a slight detour required also. Mr. Aiyer writes on his pad-Czechoslovakia, getting the spelling correct, since he is a DOSCO.
Meanwhile, back in India, one more country is eliminated from the list of countries left for President Zail Singh to still visit.