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Cablegate: Additional Resources Needed to Cover the Biggest

VZCZCXRO3568
OO RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHNE #2942/01 3231156
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181156Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4259
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JCS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 002942

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

SCA FOR ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER
SCA/INS OWEN
SCA/NEA/EX WHAUGH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV AMGT HR OIG IN
SUBJECT: ADDITIONAL RESOURCES NEEDED TO COVER THE BIGGEST
ELECTION IN THE HISTORY OF THE PLANET

1. (U) Action Request -- Paragraph 1.

Summary and Action Request
--------------------------

2. (U) Mission India urges the Department to make available
approximately $72,000 in additional travel funds as well as
four to six additional TDY reporting officers for a period of
two to four months for coverage of the Indian national
election, due before May 2009. The additional resources will
enable Mission India to enhance the quality and breadth of
our coverage of this massive -- 675 million voters --
election, one that has important implications for U.S.-India
relations. The additional funds will allow officers to
travel beyond Delhi's ring road and the cities where our
consulates are based so that we can paint a discerning
portrait of India's rich political landscape, particularly
for officials of the incoming Administration. This portrait
can then be used a baseline metric for future coverage of a
country that will be a major international player in this
century and one with which our strategic interests will
increasingly coincide. Mission India has created a
country-wide election coverage plan (please see para 6)
deploying resources from Embassy New Delhi and consulates in
Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad for this vast
democratic undertaking.

Why We Must Cover the Elections as Never Before
--------------------------------------------- --

3. (U) The U.S.-India bilateral relationship has transformed
over the last decade, capped most recently by the signing of
the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Initiative on October 11. But
this marks only the end of the beginning. It opens a new
chapter in our relationship, one which has the potential to
be among our most important international partnerships. Now
more than ever, India engages the strategic interests of the
U.S. in Asia and beyond. Based on our shared interests,
common challenges and an increasingly convergent worldview,
we have begun to more closely coordinate our foreign policies
in many areas. Further, our coverage of the elections
assumes greater significance because the Obama Administration
will be assuming office in Washington just before the Indian
elections take place. Our reporting and analysis will help
new administration officials better understand the new
globalized India they must deal with.

Why We Need More Resources to Get the Job Done
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (SBU) The era of big tent politics in India is over.
Globalization in the Indian political context means
heightened political awareness and access to information
through an explosive growth in media outlets. This has fed
the rise of regional political parties which has in turn
diminished the standing of the two traditional national
parties, the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP). Political reporting means much more than simply
talking to a handful of Congress Party and BJP bosses in New
Delhi. In a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and
multi-linguistic society such as India, national elections
are now won and lost on local issues in the country's 34
states and territories.

5. (SBU) In order to capture these political realities the
USG must send officers frequently and far afield. However,
Mission India has neither the personnel nor the travel
funding to take on this substantial but temporary
requirement. For example, Consulate General Kolkata has only
one reporting officer who must cover 13 different
states/territories with a combined population of 290 million
(roughly equal to that of the U.S.). Besides election
reporting, this officer is also responsible for all other
reporting duties including economics, G/TIP, science and
environment, and terrorism. In Delhi, one officer covers
Uttar Pradesh, which at 180 million has a population on par
with Brazil.

Travel Plan
-----------


NEW DELHI 00002942 002 OF 002


6. (U) Mission India has prepared a detailed travel plan to
carry out election reporting. Below is a summary of the
resources needed. For the full plan, please see the
spreadsheet accompanying this cable. Dollar figures
generally include airfare, per diem and M&IE for two people
(one American and one LES) per trip.

State Trips Est. Cost
----- ----- ---------
1. Uttar Pradesh 3 6,400
2. Maharashtra 3 3,800
3. West Bengal 2 1,200
4. Andhra Pradesh 3 7,000
5. Bihar 3 4,800
6. Tamil Nadu 2 2,100
7. Madhya Pradesh 3 4,800
8. Karnataka 3 8,200
9. Gujarat 3 4,800
10. Rajasthan 3 4,800
11. Kerala 2 3,200
12. Punjab 2 3,200
13. Northeast 2 3,200
14. Orissa 2 3,200
15. Jharkhand 2 3,200
16. Chhattisgarh 2 3,200
17. Other 2 5,000
----- ---------
Total 72,000

What the New Resources Will Buy Us
----------------------------------

7. (U) The additional resources will be used to deploy
reporting officers at least twice to the top twelve
bellwether states, which together account for three quarters
of the seats in parliament. We will be able to fully cover
the run-up to elections, the campaign itself and voting on
polling days. Reporting officers will profile 15-20 of the
largest regional parties that are likely to be significant
players in the new parliament. We will also be able to
better analyze how the most important issues -- inflation,
terrorism, Hindu nationalism, and the U.S.-India Civil
Nuclear Initiative -- are playing in different regions and
with different voter groups. And most importantly, we will
be able to more thoroughly assess the election's implications
for U.S.-India relations.

8. (U) In an assessment of the Global Repositioning
Initiative, which benefited New Delhi, the Office of the
Inspector General praised post's judicious use of limited
resources, noting that the mission "has a political section
ready and eager to carry out the outreach element of
transformational diplomacy, but lacks the local staff and
travel money necessary to support it." A one-time influx of
travel funds and assistance to cover the 2009 elections would
not resolve this underlying resource issue, but would serve
to ameliorate it in a time of real mission need. TDY
assistance could be sought from the Bureau and/or INR.

9. (U) The mission thanks the Department in advance for
considering this request. We believe the additional
resources will yield valuable benefits for USG interests for
many years to come.
WHITE

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