Ambassador Neelam Deo is the Former Consul General of India in New York. She has a Masters degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics and has taught in Kamala Nehru College, Delhi University. Ambassador Deo is a career diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), with over three decades in the Indian Diplomatic Corps. She has been India's Ambassador to Denmark and Ivory Coast, with concurrent accreditation to Sierra Leone, Niger & Guinea. Prior to her assignment in New York, she led the Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar Division in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, dealing with India's overall relations with these countries. Ambassador Deo has also worked in India's Diplomatic Missions in Washington DC, Bangkok and Rome. She is married to Dr. Pramod Deo, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service who is currently the Chairman of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission in Mumbai, and they have one daughter.
Question: Are there tensions between India and neighboring countries?
Neelam Deo: I don’t think we have any clashes. I think, sometimes the terms that are used can make a situation look aggravated when in fact it isn’t. But it is a fact that India’s neighborhood is in turmoil. You have had the elections in Nepal in which the communist party came out on top, they are still trying to form a government. You have Bhutan, which is, of course, a wonderful example where the king has himself ushered in democracy and stood aside in favor of his son so that they can be a good transition. You have Bangladesh where there is a government which came in after removing both the civilian political parties. You have Sri Lanka which is still in turmoil.
You had an election in Pakistan in which unfortunately the leader of one of the main political parties was assassinated before the elections. You have all the problems that are in the newspapers everyday in Afghanistan, which is one of our near neighbors. So, we do live in a neighborhood which is in turmoil, but none of these problems and none of these governments are at odds with the government of India. So, we hope that the political transitions that are underway around us will resolve themselves peacefully and will resolve themselves quickly. But there aren’t any clashes; in fact, the heads of government of all the SAARC countries, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, are meeting in Colombo even as we speak, and they have come to a number of agreements on how to proceed with cooperation.