Vice president is a diplomatic favourite
Guess who is fast becoming a favourite of the diplomatic circuit, not to speak of India's own foreign office? Vice President Hamid Ansari. The reason is he is rather well versed in delicate art of international diplomacy.
Foreign ministry officials who travel with him find he knows much more than they can tell him!
No wonder the government is using him more and more to promote India's interests in key and neglected regions whose demands go much beyond the symbolism and ceremony associated with visits by the president and the vice president.
Last month Ansari made the first high-level visit by an Indian government leader to Croatia and was received by none less than the country's president in a rare gesture.
Ansari is, after all, a former member of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) who has served in top positions for India around the world, including as India's Permanent Representative to the UN. Size matters when it glitters
Botswana, a tiny country of 1.8 million people bordering South Africa, is not a country that would have in the normal course come on the diplomatic radar of a country of the size of India and its 1.2 billion people.
But its democracy, good governance and the fact that it is the world's largest diamond producer have propelled it to being among India's diplomatic priorities.
This year there has been an exchange of high level visits between the two with Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari going there and then Botswana Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Sebogodi Merathe making a return visit in less than six months.
At a banquet in his honour at Hyderabad House last week, the large Botswana delegation found it difficult to come to terms with India's size.
When told that Delhi itself, with more 17 million population, can probably accommodate 10 Botswanas, a woman Botswana official shook her head and said: "Size does matter, but then who accommodates is the question."Text: IANSImage: Vice-President Hamid Ansari with his Botswana counterpart Lt-Gen Mompati Sebogodi Merafhe during a meeting in New Delhi. (photographs copyright AFP and PTI)