(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
As the summer sun in New Delhi charred everything it could get its rays on, world leaders descended on India’s capital for the BRICS summit. The summit got off to an awkward start. Apparently, the Russian delegates got drunk on their flight here and were hitting on the wives of other delegates. While the Indians were busy making sure their guests had more food on their plate than any normal human being could possibly eat in one sitting, the Chinese delegates were going around giving everyone wedgies and forcefully taking their money. The South African delegates were just happy to be get out of the house for once because no one ever invites them to any summit and they wanted to use this opportunity to show off their sparkling personality.
The dysfunction was not limited to the lower-rung delegates. There were more cat fights among the heads of state than there are during a Spice Girls world tour. They couldn’t even decide what to order for lunch! Hu ‘What you looking at MotherF***er Spice’ Jintao wanted to have authentic Indian cuisine because the Indian food available in China is too Chinese for his taste. Dmitry ‘Assassin Spice’ Medvedev wanted to try this new bistro in Hauz Khas that he had read about in ‘Ballistic Missiles Weekly,’ Manmohan ‘Baby Spice’ Singh wanted to skip lunch entirely because his stomach was still working on a piece of chicken he had eaten for dinner yesterday while Dilma ‘Here to make it a non-sausage fest Spice’ Rouseff would go for whatever the group decided because she was tired of circling the mall and all she wanted was to sit down somewhere and have a refreshing glass of ice tea. The leaders finally decided to order from McDonalds so that no one got what they wanted and everybody could claim to have compromised. This also helped in breaking the ice as all the leaders agreed that while they may have problems with each other, nothing is worse than western capitalism wrapped in a bun.
This thawing of the ice also allowed the Indian Prime Minister to release his inner ‘Funmohan.’ All these non-Indians get him, man! They know that beneath the tough exterior lies the real Manmohan. This super-Manmohan-who is funny, sensitive and caring-is nestled between the buzzer connected to an office in 10 Janpath and a hologram of the 1873 edition of the Oxford English dictionary. Manmohan Singh at an international summit is like that episode of a sitcom in which the character with the least amount of camera time suddenly finds himself at the centre of attention. It is a bizzaro world in which he is treated with kindness & respect. People actually listen to what Manmohan has to say and don’t collapse into a coma as soon as he opens his mouth. He schmoozes at these shindigs. And sometimes, even lets a journalist ask him a real question! Though not an Indian journalist. Those wankers have got it out for him. He talks to real journalists from real newspapers. Indians and hacks not allowed.
This year the jovial atmosphere of the summit was ruined by a few so called non-violent Tibetans. Not only did they harm themselves, they almost caused an international incident. How dare they think that they can avail the freedoms guaranteed to them under the Indian constitution? They didn’t even bother going through the proper channels! And by proper channels I mean the dear leader of Indian news. Did they even give him a single interview? No! Did they have the decency to rent a fake mob? No! Did they hire former journalists as their PR agents who would advice them on what time to protest so as to draw the maximum amount of coverage or how to make a crowd of a few hundred people seem like thousands? No! Such amateurs. They didn't even try to come up with catchy slogans. There were no pictures of Gandhi. And no obeisance was being paid to the glory of Bharat Mata. YAWN! Get your oppressed soul off my lawn.
I, for one, am tired of such ad-hominem attacks on the government. You use British Raj-era tactics on your own people a couple of times and suddenly they start questioning your democratic credentials. What you don’t understand is that this was for the Tibetans’ own protection. These people are so flammable that they needed to be kept indoors, away from Delhi’s extreme weather. So what if they can’t visit Tibet? They can ‘street view’ it on Google Maps and see what China has done to their erstwhile home. And if there is one thing we can be assured off, it is that China is very kind to territories it occupies. Just ask the people in Aksai Chin. They probably don’t even remember that they were once part of India! And as for the people from Manipur who got arrested because of racial profiling, well, s**t happens, get over it. They were simply collateral damage in the arduous task of maintaining law & order. If they don’t want this to happen again, they should try not to look so Chinese all the time.
Frankly, there is enough freedom in this country. You can say and do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt the made up sentiments of everyone else or cause the government any perceived embarrassment or don’t point out things which might inconvenience people with a lot riding on some really big projects. All they’re asking for is a little mutual respect. You respect their right to do whatever they want and they will respect your right to not be transported-under ‘mysterious circumstances,’ of course-to the big twitterverse in the sky. Capiche?
In an unrelated story, does any freshly democratic country want an old, well-written but barely used constitution? Asking for a friend whose country doesn’t seem to have much use for one anymore.