Thursday, September 06, 2012

From Sir Winston to Washington Post.

Most of my life, I have been far from an admirer of the late Sir Winston Churchill. I had always looked at him through a jingoistic prism as an India baiter and an India hater.  Recent events, though, have made me sit up and revise my opinion drastically. Saying the following in the British Parliament at the time of the debate on the India Independence Bill in June 1947 showed acuity, perspicacity and wisdom that was nothing short of a visionary’s. “Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. They will have sweet tongues & silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power & India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air & water... would be taxed in India.Why are Indians so offended now that Washington Post paints Dr Manmohan Singh in these lurid strokes: “a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government”? A part of the answer to this riddle may lie in the fact the urban Middle India craves for constant adulation from the West. Partly, it may be the backlash of believing in the hubris of India Shining and India-is-a-global-power brouhaha. Given these circumstances, the mildest rebuke or a slap on the wrist from an outsider, particularly an Occidental, may seem akin to public tar-and-feathering, even a torture rack.