Think Tank Events are a site of performance; various characters fill this space. The diplomat (trying to prepare a briefing note) foreign media correspondents (trying to get a quote) desi scribes trying to find their voice through banal questioning (clearly not reading their subject matter), wannabe social scientists and graduate students vying for internships and folks such as me trying to learn and unabashedly network (I really don’t care for pure ideological strains as life is not a petridish in a laboratory) and retired Babu’s who are fading lights of the cultural elite, vying for attention. Think Tank research staff; clearly nervous and uncomfortable at event management. They did not clearly envisage this job description when they were in top graduate schools in DC.
Today the Afghan Ambassador to India was dapper, with a Patek Philippe on his wrist and exquisitely gelled hair at Brookings India today morning. He spoke with the precision of a spymaster, and suave of a diplomat. He was rattling off numbers regarding India’s role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan clearly gathered by his research aides. He stressed the anti terror glue which binds Kabul and Delhi and was vehemently anti Taliban, a predisposition he gained probably as the Deputy NSA of the country.
His Excellency was clearly a people’s man, clicking selfies with the members of the Afghan diaspora in the audience after the talk, taking the media questions in a non premeditated manner. Hawks from Times Now and Republic were present stressing on Haqqani Network and Zawahiri in Karachi which he glided to the third man, as a batsman tackles a over pitched delivery outside the offstump.
He cited Kejriwal as an example of the ‘Democratic’ squabble between Dr Abdullah and the Dr Ghani. The perennial ‘Great Game’ just got Delhi involved. An American Think Tank mediating outreach and engagement in Delhi’s power corridor is a paradigm shift when there are sarkari institutes/forums available.