File photo | Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) | Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg
File photo | Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) | Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg
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A bipartisan US House Committee has finally done what everyone else was hesitant to do. It has asked for Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the World Health Organization’s communications with China. The very fact that a bipartisan committee chose to do this is the beginning of the end for a man who has clearly been a consummate player of cronyism since day one.

Tedros has always been a master of schmoozing both the very worst of dictators and NGOs. How did the renowned malaria expert and current head of WHO manage this? Well, you just need to look at his last press conference. He said two things — that he had been racially abused and this abuse had largely come from Taiwan. He had been racially abused, but the point was that he used it to deflect from the genuine claims of incompetence levelled against him by those like US President Donald Trump.

The racism issue was carefully couched to shore up Western liberal social justice warrior (SJW) support. The Taiwan bit was to signal Tedros’ continuing loyalty to China. It worked. Papers like The New York Times (via Reuters) and The Washington Post flagged the racism bit — quoting him and attributing his outburst to past attacks in January by Taiwan. They, however, avoided pointing out that his accusations against the Taiwanese government were, in fact, without evidence — putting the Taiwanese rejection in quotes, while passing off Tedros’ allegations almost as a matter of fact. Unsurprisingly, China too came to the defence of Tedros, going along with the unproven allegation against Taiwan. Curiously, the Taiwanese investigation found no articles of Taiwan attacking him in January, but several from China were found “apologising” to him for Taiwan.


Also read: All about WHO, the global health watchdog attacked as ‘Chinese Health Organization’


The NGO link

This masterful manoeuvre is actually symptomatic of Tedros’ career. How else do you explain he was an empowered official of the Derg military junta regime of Haile Miriam Mengistu and then Ethiopia’s health minister under the same people who fought and overthrew the Derg? How else do you explain that the man who was foreign minister of one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, holding many thousand political prisoners, had this part of his record almost entirely suppressed while highlighting his heath credentials? His much-talked-about “achievements in health sector” too were mostly driven by NGOs, since Ethiopia never had the capability to manage its problems, so it did what funders asked it to do.

But this brings us to the dirty side of NGOs — the whitewashing of crimes they provide in lieu of access, programme implementation and rampant cronyism.

Unsurprisingly, Tedros’ chief adviser is Senait Fisseha, who was working for one such NGO  — the Susan Thomas Buffett foundation. See the link here? Provide government access and deliverables, allow NGOs to raise funds. The same NGOs then perhaps whitewashes his record as foreign minister of a barbaric regime and sanitises his Wikipedia profile to exclude said HR record. Said beneficiary then rewards said NGO person with a plum post.


Also read: Covid-19: Dr WHO gets prescription wrong


How China propped Tedros

The cronyism that its chief indulges in, of course, is all-pervasive across the WHO. The same man who ran a bitter campaign against him — Dr David Nabarro now is a special envoy, defending him and no longer attacking Tedros with damning reports as he once did. Another man known to have privately opposed Tedros — Bruce Aylward — is brought out as a talking head during times of crisis. Sadly, Bruce made a fool of himself by refusing to acknowledge the existence of Taiwan’s problems on live TV. But Tedros resolutely demonstrated to Beijing that he could turn any of his chosen people into Beijing apologists.

One reason that Tedros has gotten away with so much brazen cronyism is that America pays little to no attention to global public health, save pouring in money as a sugar daddy. What else explains the fact that chief adviser Senait is a pro-choice activist while a pro-life US president continues to provide money to WHO to channelise into her favoured pro-choice schemes? Tedros’ election to the WHO itself was a result of this US apathy. As commentator Chitra Subramaniam describes it, China started a scheme for global health colonisation and won because America didn’t think it was important enough. Forget the fact that the Chinese leveraged their investments across Africa to force the African Union to back Ted, but also got Pakistan to withdraw its candidate who was opposing him, sources say.


Also read: Why Modi, Trump & others are angry at WHO’s handling of Covid-19 crisis 


How India got influenced

What is deeply worrying, however, is how India got swayed into supporting Tedros. Informed sources tell me China’s main “lollipop” to India was futile jargon like “south-south cooperation” that glazes our diplomats’ eyes. Worse, India’s diplomatic credentials helped in covering up Tedros’ shady past and the fact his main backer was a Communist dictatorship. Unsurprisingly, it also evaded the health ministry’s notice that the man from India that Tedros chose for his Covid-19 panel is Srinath Reddy, a man who rose during the UPA rule and was linked to the Public Health Foundation of India — an institute whose FCRA licence was cancelled by the Narendra Modi government for lobbying.

Since WHO reps sit in at government meetings, it could mean the government is effectively providing detailed information to the same PHFI, albeit indirectly.

While the US Congress has woken up, and so has Trump, the question is when will India learn any institutional lessons from when we got swayed by China?

The author is a senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. He tweets @iyervval. Views are personal.

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28 Comments Share Your Views

28 COMMENTS

  1. Trump agent writings to divert incompetence of big brother. He committed himalayan blunder by visiting India during peak times of vitus. .

  2. India, under Modi, remains the Colonial Communist State founded by Gandhi, Nehru, Naiker, Ambedkar, and others. Besides Modi’s external and internal policy remains “Multi Appeasement”

  3. At least the WHO gave one serious Wrong missive to all, which has proved fatal across the World.
    ” A respiratory Virus does not spread thru the Air space around a patient””

  4. Very, very taught full article Mr Mitra. You have taught a lesson to someone none of us know. What he did not offer you the best single malt at the last cocktail party you were at before the lockdown?

  5. Shocking (or not) how everyone jumps on the bandwagon to diss someone on the evidence of assumptions and sketchy connections. It’s all a hoax folks was not WHO’s statement

  6. India seldom involves itself in the Internal affairs of other nations beyond South Asia. India is never seen as a Geopolitical power broker. Perhaps this would be a learning opportunity for India. India should form tactical power alliances like NATO with like-minded nations like Israel, Japan, France, Germany, and Vietnam.

  7. WHO chief is like any other job in indian politics, based in crony organisation and ngo funding. We have to now suffer these well oiled thick skinned useless people. Any way WHO chief can be kicked out with sanctions against China?

    • @Savy: “WHO chief is like any other job in indian politics…” Lol!!

      Clearly, you don’t see a difference between elections, voted for by millions of people and a WHO chief election where some hundred vote & geopolitics matters??!!

      Did you grow ignorant or didn’t change since your birth ;))??!!

  8. Tedros held only a B.Sc. degree, and was a junior health officer in 1991 aged 26 years when Derg regime fell in Ethiopia. He went to Graduate School in England after that. To link him to Mengistu Hilemariam’s misdeeds appears unfair to Dr Tedros.

    • I fully agree with Prof RK Jaitley. We should watch what we post and say.
      It’s so sad to see allegations on WHO and it’s chief in a time like this. In my eyes, Dr Tedros is the first ever WHO Director who could stir up a global public health campaign against an emerging pandemic. What have past Directors done eg in 1981-82 when HIV emerged?
      But cheap media like yours would always hamper progress and solidarity.

  9. India stand Independent don’t be partner of the herd.Americans and its cousin brothers are not always right.Look at how Trump treats hie own appointed people are treated? He wakes up in the morning and fires his people using Tweeter?His people have no room to fight this president. Tedros is lucky in that WHO runs from Switzerland and not NY otherwise Trump would send a tweet and fire him?

  10. This is not just the right time to run a campaign against individuals of WHO when we are facing a global threat.There might be shortcomings but no inernational organisation has been perfect in the past including WHO.The US has failed miserably to contain the endemic and the president is looking for a punching bag and the easiest target seems to be the WHO at the moment.But, is it right for President Trump to solely blame WHO for the pandemic ? Abdolutely not.This is not the time to weaken the institution as in spite of it’s short coming WHO is doing commendable job.As far as the allegation on collusion between WHO and China, the truth will come later but we have to accept the fact that it was good that endemic started in a country with strong economy and health system as the damage would have been much worse if at all it started in another country.India should have independent foreign policy and should not toe the line of others for that matter even USA.Its time to strengthen the global efforts under the banner of WHO.

  11. Very good, threw light on so many shady areas. It not only exposes Tedros as a unscrupulous man but throws more light on the WHO. The so-called world body that is in charge of the world’s health is just another crony organization with so many crooks running it.

    Thanks Mr Mitra for all the hard work you must have put in.

  12. Even the UN is equally of questionable credentials. There have been instances wherein it is obvious that the UN’s Asian officials had taken bribes to withdraw the UN protection force to allow certain military to kill civilians.

  13. Wasn’t our Sashi Tharoor deprived of the plum post of UN Secretary General by some *ism* of some permanent members of the U. N security council. Could he have helped his birth happening in Kerala, considered a communist state in the eyes of the world. Our own people publicise that canard.

    • D.Raja: “Could he have.. Kerala, considered a communist state in the eyes of the world.. canard.”

      Our own people publicize that canard??!! Lol!!

      I wonder if you ever read the present & history of EVIL communists who have killed innocent human beings just like Islamic invaders!! Please do take a clue from the the soviet union, India through covert communist Indira Gandhi/congress or the Chinese Communist party!!

  14. Even Indian defence ministry is using Zoom app – an app with clear links to China, the CCP, and absolutely irrefutable privacy and security concerns. Doesn’t matter if Rajnath Singh was talking to Joint chief for some totally mundane matter – there is no reason for an adversary to know. Can’t India have an official communication app with video calling, conferencing, whatsapp like messages even? Any IT company can create one with our own encryption keys.

    On another note, while we start with WHO, World Economic Forum must be investigated too.

  15. All congressional and senate committees are bipartisan. But it appears only Republican members of the committee have signed the letter to Mr. Tedros. Not a single Democrat on the committee has signed it. Here is the quote from another column: “While the Committee on Oversight and Reforms has 23 Democrat and 17 Republican members, the letter does not have the signature of a single Democratic member.”

    No sane person would take what the US President Donald Trump says at face value. He was in denial, and called coronavirus a hoax perpetrated by Democrats and media, and even said, come April and the virus would disappear! Well, April is here, and the death toll has exceeded 2,000 a day! He contradicts expert doctors on his own task force panel, ignoring their recommendation, doesn’t wear face mask. No wonder the media is now accusing him of being responsible for such a large number of deaths. Dr. Fucci on his task force has publicly said on TV that, had proper actions been taken in time, such a high death toll could have been avoided. FAMOUS COLUMNISTS AND OPINION MAKERS HAVE CALLED TRUMP A SHAMELESS, PATHOLOGICAL LIAR! NUMBER OF LIES HA HAS SPOKEN SO FAR, AS OFFICIALLY TRACKED BY WASHINGTON POST , RUNS INTO THOUSANDS. Tedros may be wrong, but you can’t prove that by saying, ” …… the genuine claims of incompetence levelled against him by those like US President Donald Trump”. Trump would say anything about anybody to deflect the criticism he is getting these days. He must be checked.

  16. Well as in case of Islamic miltancy …what seems to hurt India only ends up hurting West the most. All UN organizations are currently in disarray led by buffoons. Most importantly they cater to Chinese and Islamists interests while putting up facade of justice and false concern. They are not apoltical as they used to be but exessively partisan and mostly on the side of dictatorship and fixers. China contributed few millions to WHO but ended up owning it while US under scrooge Trump still put in billions and got nothing. Before another tragedy strikes democratic countries should Secretary General..his buffoonery is also due to bear fruit.

    • @Aditya Barr: Christian America/USA & the west is just about sold out and too afraid of China!! China has bought out Islam & Pakistan too!! The stupid western press is taking on India/Hindus before it becomes another China!! Meanwhile, America & the west is on it’s knees and is openly humiliated by Pakistan/China after the surrender to the Taliban!!

      Also, the west is sponsoring Islamic terrorism along with China & petro states! However, the west doesn’t seem to mind a few hundreds of their citizens butchered by Jihadis in the streets of Paris, London or New York!!

      On the other hand Islam/terrorism is sure hurting India and it must be very aggressive in dealing with this menace!!

  17. What a credential for holding high posts with shrewd manoeuvres, lobbying, boot- licking ,backings in high offices, that too, which boasts of being a watchdog for world’s public health. Sheer audacity. Should be kicked out of office.

    • The contradictory Statements, with double meanings from Tedros were a regular feature in Feb and March .He kept delaying calling the sickness a Pandemic ,because China controls him. In the end devastation is self evident.His team has no credibility and should be replaced urgently alonwith SG.

  18. Good article, very taught full.
    * Had to google few words, kudos too that.
    * My observation, many in Print are SJW’s & Woke personality.

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