Time-honoured conceits

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ajtr, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Time-honoured conceits

    October 29, 2010 2:41:38 PM

    Premen Addy

    Wallowing in limitless ignorance and bias, British journalists see India not as a rising economic power but a supplicant state dependent on the West

    Playing the Trappist monk is never easy for British scribes earning the Queen’s shilling in backward and impoverished India. The pulpit is surely there to dispense words of wisdom and advice to natives seemingly unable and unwilling to grasp the essential truths of life. Rick Broadbent, the new Times man in the country, has taken up cudgels with those given to impertinent questioning of the Commonwealth Games as a successful last-minute bailout, with notable achievements along the way, rather than the unmitigated disaster it was projected to be. On a visit to Jodhpur with a charity for young paraplegics, he discerned in Kapil Dev’s positives about the event the optimism of the true believer. Seeing a paraplegic dragging himself on the floor, Mr Broadbent made the crisp observation that India needed to walk before it could hope to run. Ticketing at the Commonwealth Games was a scandal, grand larceny was rife and the ruse to conceal Delhi’s poverty behind advertising hoardings was a trick too far, he proclaimed in a paper belonging to the Augean stable of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

    Contrasting the hopelessness and helplessness of India with the paradise that is Britain, is this front-page quote from the Evening Standard: “The Tube (Metro to Delhi denizens) was plunged into crisis today (October 21) as hundreds of thousands of commuters suffered a fourth day of chaos. Passengers were blocked from huge parts of the network because of a single broken rail on the Jubilee line... In an unprecedented week of Tube misery, the Piccadilly line today had severe delays because of a signal failure ... with Heathrow passengers forced to miss flights... It comes after thousands were forced to escape through Underground tunnels... Labour MP David Winnick, who travels to the House of Commons on the Jubilee line, said: ‘What is happening on the Underground... in the past few days is really disgraceful. I doubt if any other capital in western Europe suffers the same difficulties and indignities that people are suffering’. ”

    This is a cameo. Signal failures are frequent and time-consuming. Worse, at weekends entire sections of the Underground come to a standstill so that urgent engineering work can be carried out. Desperate situations call for desperate remedies: Britain’s rulers are making up for decades of complacency and neglect. These weekend suspensions are projected to last until 2014. As for overground travel, suburban trains resemble cattle trucks during the morning and evening rush hours. Passengers, unable to find a seat, pack the corridors, as I discovered on my mid-week journeys to Oxford, a mere hour on a fast train from London. Yet rail and tube travel in Britain is the most expensive in all Europe.

    Moreover, our present revels are far from ended. A winter of discontent awaits us. Rolling strikes on London’s Underground are already making confusion worse confounded and more of the same are to come from firemen and others in the public sector deciding to register their dissatisfaction at the Government’s savage spending cuts — £82 billion over five years — with the most effective means available: Withholding their labour.

    Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s spending cuts were deja vu. The cure for excessive public debt was pruned public expenditure: Seems reasonable on paper, but managing national finances are a trifle more complex than running the local grocery. Lacking the expertise of an economist I shall forego unprofessional counsel (except that most economists, including the Federal Reserve in the US, were unable to foresee the Wall Street collapse and its global aftermath) on the remedy. Paul Krugman, the American Economics Nobel laureate, was less than enamoured with Mr Osborne’s austerity measures, based, as they were, on “fashion” and lacking analytical rigour. He saw them “more as a fad, something everyone professed to believe because that was what the crowd was saying”.

    And so to US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to India and British media prognostications on its possible outcomes, of which the Financial Times devoted an entire page on October 25. Amy Kazmin kicked off with Kashmir. The subject, when raised publicly by the Anglo-American great and good, induced a fit of the vapours in New Delhi, as the former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband, discovered (as did Robin Cook before him). Nor did Mr Obama’s allusion to possible US mediation on Jammu & Kashmir, during his presidential campaign, endear him to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his colleagues. “But”, Ms Kazmin, wrote, “on his first presidential visit to India next month, Mr Obama must find a way to return to the issue in what will be a test of the deepening Indo-American friendship.”

    Clearly, India is perceived as a supplicant to the arrangement. Even after Mrs Indira Gandhi stood up to the threats and blandishments of Richard Nixon and Mr Henry Kissinger in the fraught India-Pakistan year of 1971, no lasting lessons have apparently been drawn by Anglo-American scribes. Time-honoured conceits live on.

    Ms Kazmin’s colleague, James Lamont, in a supporting flight of fancy, proclaimed: “The days when India’s defences comprised almost entirely MiG and Sukhoi jets are drawing to an end. With many of them near obsolete, India in the past five years turned to US weapons systems in Government-to-Government deals. In recent months, New Delhi has opted for Boeing’s C-130 and C-17 transport and Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.” But this surely was small beer to Indian orders for more Sukhoi MKI-30s and the significant agreement for the joint research and production of fifth generation fighters with Russia to rival America’s F-22 Raptors.

    With Mr Obama coming to India early next month, Mr Lamont set the stage for a likely high-profile order for 126 American warplanes for the Indian Air Force over its Russian, French, Swedish and European competitors. The IAF is presently engaged in extensive air exercises with the RAF near Kalaikunda in West Bengal. Our scribe should learn soon enough how obsolete the MiGs and Sukhois truly are. They should prove more advanced than the Battle of Britain Spitfires and Hurricanes! One cannot help wondering at the $5,000 instruments bought from a US firm for Chandrayan 1, which felled the $100 million mission with a malfunction a year before time. Was this simply a coincidence or sabotage? We shall never know.

    Meanwhile, Mr Obama deserves a warm, red carpet welcome from his Indian hosts, who should remember also the cautionary caveat of the ancients: “Beware of the Greeks bearing gifts.”
  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    It is time such chaps like Rick Broadbent are put in their place.

    However, the Delhi cocktail circuit fawns on the white paleface since it adds to their false prestige.

    Let this bloke come to Kolkata and state what he has to say, and without knocking his block off, I will take him on in a civilised way.

    These are the pathetic remains of a ravaged Great Britain, lamenting and dreaming of the days of yore - the Raj and all that pizzazz.

    That is why Cameron comes to India to beg for business and so will Obama!

    All that 'superpower in the offing' and such placebos that many Indians are lulled to believe since it massage the ego, is but soft soaping to salvage the West's economy worn to the core!

    I am yet to see this 'strategic partnership' hype in action. I find it in a reverse mode where Pakistan is the real strategic partner!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010

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