12/31/2003††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† President Clinton in Agra


The Indian Express reported in November that the steering wheel of the bus carrying former President Clinton in Agra failed. The driver applied the brakes quickly thus averting a major tragedy. Clinton chose to walk back to his hotel instead of asking for a replacement bus, which, in any case, was not available. Former President KR Narayananís staff had lodged a complaint on his previous visit, but Clinton chose not to. It was discovered later that a bolt holding the steering wheel in place had broken off. The President of the Agra Development Authority (ADA) explained that the bus was just a machine that may breakdown at any time.


I have drawn several conclusions from this episode:


a)†† That India has achieved true democracy at last. Everybody is treated equally, whether king, beggar or President.


b)†† Clinton is not assertive enough. He should have stood his ground and asked for a replacement bus. He continues to make the wrong choices out of office.


c)      Clinton may also be a shrewd man. He weighed the risk of standing his ground against the risk of not reaching his hotel at all. He may have had to keep standing his ground right where he started standing his ground.


d)†† Clinton recognizes the value of exercise and seizes every opportunity to get some. He was setting an example for all other visiting VIPs to follow. If they donít, we know how to make them.


e)†† Itís a first for Clinton. You live and you learn.


f)††† The man who hasnít seen the avenues of Washington has now seen the lanes of Agra. No better way to experience the sights and smells of a place.


g)†† India lived up to its great traditions of hospitality. We arranged a bus. Actually, the autorickshaw is Agraís pride.


h)†† Security is not a problem in India. Even VVVIPs can walk the streets freely without fear. We should use this episode as our upper selling point (USP) in our tourism ads.


i)††† India is not a wasteful country, unlike many others and has achieved optimal efficiency. We do with one bus what other countries only achieve with a fleet.


†††††† j) †† Tourists are so enthralled by their experiences in India that they are willing to walk everywhere.


k)†† The ADA should be commended. The brakes did work at the right time. People never see the positive side.


1)†† The ADA President should also be commended. We have finally started appointing qualified people. He knows a machine when he sees one.


m)    Former President Narayanan and his staff should be reprimanded for being so petty as to complain.


But I have a few questions too:


What do you think President Clinton thinks of India?


What do you think President Clinton will tell the next American business delegation?


†††††† Is this the image we want foreigners to have of India Ė of a former President staring at the Indiaís broken steering wheel?