It’s not often that I praise anything our government does.
Indeed, O patient and valued Reader, you might know that I’ve often taken pot-shots—if not broadsides—at the government; in this blog, and also in the edit-page columns of the Indian Express and other newspapers during those long-gone and more tolerant decades when they thought me fit to publish. And I dare say I’ve always tried my best to ensure that my artillery barrages of fresh gobar, shaani, and other avatars of feihua and yamasimba are directed evenly across the political spectrum, from Left to Right: from CPI(M) and its rabid fellow-travellers through the caste-ironed Dravida gangs and cow-belt Dals, across the scandalous scandal-rocked Congress and apoplectic AAPologists, to the tunnel-visioned BJP and Muslim League legions.
But today I must praise the government. Aye, I must praise this very NDA government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP.
Because this is the first time since 1997, when the late prime minister I K Gujral dismissed Britain as a ‘third-rate power’, that I’ve seen any Indian government or Indian political leader show the gumption and courage to tell the British government what it is and what it should do with its behaviour towards India since 1947—behaviour that is a toxic khichdi of arrogance, superciliousness, racism, contempt and plain hostility; behaviour that is, sadly, all too eagerly lapped up by many fawning Macaulay-haunted muttals among the English-educated citizens in our country.
Yes, today is different.
Today, the fetid vapours of decades of obsequiousness to Britain have been swept away by a zephyr of pure, clean desi air…and quite possibly, those fetid vapours will soon descend on the British diplomatic corps in the heart of Delhi, India.
Today, you see, the Indian government is constructing a public toilet right opposite the British High Commission in the capital.
Perhaps with this the British will learn to recognize why, when, where and how they should drop the matter. They might not discern the new flush of optimism that sweeps across India today; but surely they will discern – and tremble and gag – at every flush from the new public toilet.
Could there be a finer example of non-verbal diplomacy at its best?
Why, it conforms perfectly with the motto that I learned from my school: St Edmund’s, in Shillong, run by Catholics from Ireland (ah yes, those wonderful Irish teachers knew their Britain, and how to deal with the British, better than anyone else).
facta non verba.
Well done, Narendra Modi , S Jaishankar, et al.