President Donald Trump Calls Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador A “Pompous Fool” And “Very Stupid” In Public

To be derided as a “pompous fool” and “very stupid” in public is demoralising, to say the least, and that is how Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to the USA found himself addressed by none less than Mr Donald Trump.

All envoys are supposed to give an honest assessment of the powers in a host country, which also means a character assessment, their likes and dislikes and how best to approach them on sensitive issues. Whatever Sir Kim Darroch conveyed about Mr. Trump was obviously unflattering, and such assessments are “very sensitive” in nature and are sent across to their foreign affairs department through established secure channels.  The very fact that a cable of this level of sensitivity (about a sitting President) has been leaked to the press is a testament to the fact that Sir Kim Darroch has rubbed someone on the wrong side either at the Embassy or at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London or worse at the political level; and whoever that offended party was wanted to teach Sir Kim Darroch a lesson which would stay with him for the rest of his life. And there is no better way to do it than to leak something of this nature to the press and then sit back and watch the drama unfold in the press and social media.

The moment Mr. Trump stated “We will not deal with Mr. Kim Darroch anymore” it was clear that Sir Kim Darroch was automatically Persona Non-Grata (an unacceptable/unwelcome person) and he would not be effective as an envoy to the USA and he would achieve next to nothing by continuing as an Ambassador.  That is the worst possible situation for a serving Ambassador to be in.

An Ambassador’s primary job is to convey his government’s views and concerns to the host country, but when the host country does not want to deal with the Ambassador, then it is conveyed through the next Officer at the Embassy and that would be the Deputy Chief of Mission or DCM. But the DCM, by virtue of his rank, will not have access to the highest levels of the host country’s foreign establishment like the Secretary of State but officers lower down the rank.  So this, in effect, means that issues of crucial importance will not receive the priority they deserve with the host government and, even worse, DCM cannot seek an appointment either with the Secretary of State or the President of the USA on matters of urgent importance.

Highest levels of the US State Department like Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of State and Assistant Secretary of State will not deal with the serving British Ambassador as he is considered a “pompous fool” and “very stupid“. They will not deal with the DCM either, as he is a junior, but instead, will choose the route of conveying its urgent request through the United States Ambassador stationed in London, or if the matter is so urgent, the Secretary of State will fly down to London in his own special aircraft.  This, in effect, would render the entire British Embassy in Washington a mere showpiece with no role to play.

The USA and the UK are mature democracies and Permanent Members of the Security Council, and for such nations to indulge in a public spat over a leaked cable is unbecoming of both.  In my opinion, the best course of action would have been to call Sir Kim Darroch to the State Department to inform him that he is not welcome anymore and it is best if he left by a certain date, failing which he may be declared ‘Persona Non-Grata’.

The same could be conveyed to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office by the serving US Ambassador in London.  I believe issues involving Ambassadors should be dealt with discreetly and not through social media and name calling.  Of course the sudden recall would surely be noticed by the diplomatic community in Washington, but nevertheless, it would remain as speculation with little or no evidence to go by, but it would stay out of public discourse.

The resignation of Sir Kim Darroch is a saving grace in this sordid affair, as his continuing to be the British Ambassador would serve no purpose.  And worse in any diplomatic gathering all eyes would be on him out of curiosity – “So that is Sir Kim Darroch, is it, sitting there?”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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