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The Economist wrong

  • March 5th, 2012

On 23 February I linked to an Economist article that claimed India had no more diplomats than New Zealand. The claim seems to be wrong.

Chirs Butler, a former NZ Ambassador has done some homework:

The “Economist” claim is interesting but it seems to defy both logic and experience.  So I did a bit of checking and it looks as if it might also defy the facts.

 According to Internet sources the Indian Ministry of External Affairs employed 4,746 people in 2007 (when its Minister announced plans to double that number over the following five years: see “Times of India” 30 April 2007). The Indian ministry’s own website states that it has some 162 posts around the world and employs around 600 Foreign Service officers (ie diplomatic staff).

 In comparison, in 2010/11 the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade employed 1,363 staff in Wellington and at its 53 overseas posts (MFAT website; I think the figure probably includes also the staff of NZ Aid).  The MFAT website does not appear to break down staff by category, but according to the www. website, it  has some 300 foreign policy officers (ie diplomatic staff).

 So where did the “Economist” get its factoid? It’s difficult to be sure, but in an address to the Spectator Anglo-Indian Summit on 28 June last year, UK Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne noted that India had only 660 diplomats, “about as many as New Zealand”. The bottom line of his point was that India needed to employ more in order to become internationally effective.

 I wonder who wrote Mr Browne’s speech?

It is interesting that Mr Browne would risk commenting on something as 'sovereign' as another country's foreign affairs effort, with what appears to have been a casual comparison. That seems more like blogging.

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