Sunday, February 24, 2013

Go on, David.... maafi maango, yaar!

Nostalgic! Summer of 2012.Athens! Am ready to go back!!!
This appeared in Asian Age /Deccan Chronicle....

                          Go on, David…. maafi maango!
Gawd! Will this farce never end? What’s with this apology mania? First the dishy David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain ( simply ‘David’ to Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India) nearly apologises for a tragic incident that took place before even his own father was born. Then Sushil Kumar Shinde decides to actually say sorry for his saffron terror remark. This is such rubbish, really. And we must identify rubbish for what it is. Let’s not endorse these meaningless half-apologies, regrets, full blown apologies, transparently fake ‘sorry-s’, and other equally annoying attempts at covering up deep, old wounds with flimsy band aids. There is that old saying about not scratching scabs and making old cuts bleed again. Scars are scars. That the skin has come together over them and dried up the wound, means the healing process is over. It is time to move on.
The rather nasty aspect of the latest public expressions of  remorse is the essentially manipulative nature of the act. David Cameron was “expected” to apologise.Two days prior to Cameron’s scheduled trip to the site of the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre of 1919 where 1,000 innocents (official figure) were killed, I received calls from a few  British presswallas.. Those Brit blokes wanted to know whether Indians were expecting an apology. And if Cameron did indeed apologise ( which, of course, he didn’t), would we feel a little better? I found the questions ridiculous. Better? About what? A dashing young Prime Minister came a-calling, heading a trade delegation (“The largest ever…” he bragged), clearly looking for juicy contracts  in India. He shrewdly chose to visit Amritsar and then the  Memorial, obviously with an eye on the substantial Sikh vote back home. And we are supposed to feel …. what? Grateful? Overwhelmed? Come on. Was Cameron trying to make up for the batty,old Duke of Edinburgh’s crass, insensitive remarks  when he’d stared at the plaque at Jallianwalla Bagh and  said he thought the “numbers were vastly exaggerated”? Did Gen. Dwyer ghost whisper that into the Duke’s ear? Would it have been okay to gun down 500 natives, but not okay if the number doubled? The Queen had discreetly skirted around this particular landmine and declared it a ‘distressing example’ (of what?), adding for good measure that ‘history cannot be rewritten’. So it can’t, guys! Can you not get it? Sure, Winston Churchill described the horrific episode as ‘monstrous’. But that was then. And there it should have stayed. Now, chances are we shall spend weeks and weeks deconstructing Cameron’s words (“ a deeply shameful act”) and actions (no jootas, head bowed), perhaps reading much more into his brief visit than was ever intended. Clearly, Cameron’s minders are more aware of local sentiments than the ones who used to advise his predecessors. Note how everybody applauded Cameron’s sensitivity to local customs when he removed his shoes and bowed respectfully in front of the Memorial. That was a good move, we all agreed. But why are we so impressed by common courtesy? Do we not observe tradition when in Rome , visiting the Vatican? Or attending a church ceremony in England? If we can remember to cover our heads and keep our shoes on, surely Cameron and others can follow our rules without all of us keeling over and dying? But that’s how we are. Especially when it comes to Goras going native.
It’s too early to say what exactly Cameron’s visit will yield in concrete terms. Yes, The Mummy is visiting our shores. And the Museum in Mumbai is filled with eager school kids who believe they are at a promo event for the movie, ‘The Mummy Returns’. And no – the Kohinoor  stays where it is. Boo to you, you over reaching idiots! Other lucrative deals will have to wait for a bit, till we sort out our own mess with Choppers from Italy brokered by a British agent. Even so, Cameron’s flying 3-day visit is being hailed as ‘significant’. And every sentence he has uttered while in India is being scrutinised for hidden meanings and signs. When Cameron  chose Mumbai  over Delhi as his point of entry, it was promptly  notched as a plug for capitalism and big bucks. If Cameron mentioned (well-timed pauses and all), that he had decided to make India his first stop, glances were immediately exchanged between corporate honchos, who nodded approvingly (“ take that, you Chinese entrepreneurs. Cameron prefers us!”). Unfortunately, Indians have still to shake off the rather pathetic colonial hangover, no matter how deeply embarrassing it is. Cameron’s ‘approval’ matters to us. We refuse to see his visit for what it is in reality  - a shopping trip. A trunk show. Cameron was here to sell British wares. Conclude mega deals. Woo India. That’s it. Because Cameron needs us to save him back home. He needs those desi votes to hang on to power… to consolidate his position and to wow the locals . The moment of truth will be upon him soon enough. Sushil Kumar Shinde’s story  is similar. Both men have taken the same route – I am very , very sorry….” sang  our Shinde. “I regret…” declared Cameron. It’s  ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’  time all over again.
Someone forgot to remind these men, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Thank you Erich Segal.


Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

:D Oh how true. And about the Kohinoor. National property stays in the crown of the late British Queen, and will never be returned. Still we have to go gaga over his pretentious apologies, of a tragedy caused by his political ancestors, which came centuries late and is also painfully shallow.
February 24, 2013 at 4:49 PM

P V Ariel said...

Hi De,
Its really good to be here again after a bit gap, i read it in DC
A well written piece as always,
Yes, indeed "It’s ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ time all over again.
Well said

jaya said...

LOVE this Article ..Kudos to the flow of words-
YOur thoughts are awesome ! Genius

Vinay Bhushan Bhagwaty said...

nice piece. History can't be changed. but it can work as our guide. years ago Brits came to India for trading only and the rest is history. we need not go gaga over Cameran's actions and over actions. Their museums are enriched with our monuments.

Neeta K said...

Hi Shobha, every word is so true! Yes we need to come out of our colonial hangover!

Your blogs are truly thought provoking. I am a trained social worker, now working with SNEHA. We aim towards reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. Your blogs help me to think towards an issue from various angles. And I am trying to adapt that skill when I plan and implement action researches in the field of maternal health. Sincere thanks to you!

Website and Printing Solutions said...

the apology by cameron is ridiculous and too late. I was quite amazed when i read those headlines.

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Satish Ashtaputre said...

The apology from British P.M. is overdue hence it has lost its relevance.
Anyway, better late than never !

Kohinoor Devroy said...

Hello Shobha,

Reading your blog after a long time. Undoubtedly colonial hangover sucks, but its true and will continue existing. But the sad part is,how it is being treated. Anti-Brit sentiments in India and anti-Indian sentiments in UK will lead none anywhere.

Even Korea has a bitter colonial suppressed history with Japan but the treatment is very mature. Their tourism policies, diplomatic relations work-visa relations regulations speaks volume about their advancing attitudes. This is the way to grow-I believe.

Anonymous said...

No apologies can rewrite history.

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Aditya said...

Nice Post
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