For far too long Britain has acted with a deeply naive attitude towards India. Labour’s conduct towards the emerging super-power has not only done much to damage our relations at a governmental level – I.K. Gujral, Indian Prime minster from 1997 to 1998, once described Britain as ‘a third-rate power’ – but has also been detrimental to the image that the average Indian holds of us. I had ample chance for debate with Indian students whilst being shown round Mumbai University. Political students, with an insightful understanding of diplomacy between Britain and India, often told me that the former was often perceived as subordinating the latter, through some complacent arrogance that had somehow imbedded itself in the policies of successive governments after 1947.
The British ruled in India for over 200 years, the images of English gentlemen riding elephants and the stories of Kipling are a deep-set part of our culture, and to older generations India will always be that jewel in the British empire. However, we are deeply mistaken if we assume that this shared history gives us any prestige in the eyes of Indians. To Indians, this is little more than a period of history best forgotten.
Right from the outset mistakes were made by Labour about the ‘shared history’ that Britain and India were, quite wrongly, assumed to posses. During the Queen’s 1997 visit, a Band of Royal Marines was forbidden from playing due to its ‘imperial connotations’ and the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, put his foot in it by offering to mediate between India and Pakistan.
In its final years, Labour was far too occupied in its snuggling-up to China to turn its attentions to the quietly flourishing India and recognise its increasing importance as both a military and trading ally. Once again, embarrassing mistakes were made; notably, David Miliband lecturing Indian Ministers on human rights issues whilst addressing them by their first names. All of which has only served to push Britain to the peripheries of India’s political consciousness.
Thankfully, It seems that Cameron’s delegation of cabinet ministers and business leaders – the largest British delegation to visit the country since independence – can be taken as a direct contrast to labour’s prior indifference, and putting in its place an appreciation and reverence for a state that could do just as well without our support.
That is not to say that this new ‘special relationship’ is completely without benefits for India. The £700m deal between BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Hindustan Aeronautics will provide a multitude of jobs to the masses of unemployed within India (a problem that is currently being remedied by assigning three of four workers to do the job of one).
Furthermore, though we cannot rely on a shared sense of history and nostalgia to support relations between our two countries, we can appeal to the deep personal ties that are not hard to find. Britain has a 1.5 million Indian diaspora and there are 34,000 Indian nationals studying in Britain, and despite the growing allure of America as a place to study, Britain is still held as the highest in terms of repute (in all the Indian cities I visited, I saw billboards advertising agencies that would – perhaps misleadingly- ‘guarantee’ you a student visa to Britain). All of which instantly brings Britain and India closer together.
Let’s hope that David Cameron’s pledges to place a cap on non-EU migration and restrictions on student visas doesn’t end up being irrevocably detrimental towards these personal ties.
It has always seemed that – aside from the perishable nature of love and conflict arising from domesticities, both the trivial and the grace – the two quite influential factors in escalating global divorce rates (particularly in the UK and America) are that of the economic hold over the individual (i.e. commitments to careers and a desire for job security which almost necessarily holds a sort of precedence over marriage), and that of Hollywood.
My latter reason, I believe, is not as completely barmy as it might at first seem.
Take these statistics:
|# 1||United States:||4.95 per 1,000 people|
|# 2||Puerto Rico:||4.47 per 1,000 people|
|# 3||Russia:||3.36 per 1,000 people|
|# 4||United Kingdom:||3.08 per 1,000 people|
|# 5||Denmark:||2.81 per 1,000 people|
|# 6||New Zealand:||2.63 per 1,000 people|
|# 7||Australia:||2.52 per 1,000 people|
|# 8||Canada:||2.46 per 1,000 people|
|# 9||Finland:||1.85 per 1,000 people|
|# 10||Barbados:||1.21 per 1,000 people|
These are the top ten countries for rates of divorce throughout the world (Divorce rate per 1,000 people). Sourced from divorceform.com and recorded in 2004 (admittedly a little outdated, but still relevant to this article).
The country with the highest divorce rate (the highest number of divorces per 1000 people) is the USA; not only the home of Hollywood, but along with Canada, the country with the highest consumer expenditure on going to the movies (see graph). In fourth is the United Kingdom; a close ally of the USA and heavily influenced by American culture. In eighth is Canada; America’s Northern neighbours, as well as sharing its ‘top cinema spending’ spot. Three other countries within the list have English as their official national language (Australia, New Zealand, Barbados) and thus lack a language barrier to Hollywood’s cinematic allure.
Of course, there are many other factors to consider here. Russia has it problems with alcoholism which are sure to account for such a high divorce rate. In Finland, an increasingly secularized view of marriage that saw it as an arrangement that could be ended if it did not satisfy its partners has often been cited for top ten position. However, a more interesting reason raised is that Finland’s gradually expanding welfare system could manage an ever greater portion of the family’s traditional tasks, and it made couples less dependent on the institution of marriage.
Undoubtedly the rights of women have had a large part to play in divorce statistics, particularly where their status in society is determined by a prevalence of religion and cultural tradition. For example: in many countries a huge stigma is attached to a woman if she divorces. Worse so are those cultures where there is not even a capacity for women to seek a divorce, where marriage is little more than female objectification.
In their favour, the above tabled countries are places where – of which the majority are deeply feminised – divorce is usually easily granted, and it is not seen as a stigma upon women if she is a divorcé. Unfortunately, this has lead many idiots of the online community to conclude that feminism is bad for marriage (where to begin with this fallacious notion?).
Anyway, back to the Hollywood theory.
With Hollywood comes the idealised romance, the wet dialogue, and misleading simplification of emotion. Millions have grown attached, through Hollywood, to the idea of marrying a man of Brad Pitt qualities and living the happy-ever-after life. Millions of teenagers are right now dreaming of the day they find their very own Robert Pattison. But of course, the reality of Love and relationships is oh-so very different.
An outlandish theory? Well, apparently not:
Recent findings by researchers at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh) have shown romantic comedies, such as Notting Hill, promote unrealistic expectations of love; resulting in an almost detrimental effect upon relationships. And not long ago, a poll in Australia found that people felt the most dissatisfied about their partners after watching romantic comedies.
Food for thought.
Once again we have entered a major football tournament clutching our hopes and dreams of success on the international stage to our chests, only to find ourselves, in the event, clutching at straws. Every time we enter a competition it is with our heads held high and with our ambitions plastered across the national newspapers. Then we come crawling out of it like some lame animal after some miserable defeat. Then the grumble across the lips of the nation is “and from the country that invented it”.
But we did not invent it! What sort of a remark is that?
Frank McAveety, a Labour MSP, was heard making comments about a woman attending a Scottish Parliament committee meeting he was chairing.
He remarked of the “girl in the second row” that she was “Dark and Dusky. We’ll maybe put a wee word out for her. She’s very attractive, nice, very nice, very slim. The heat’s getting to me.”
The Clerk whom he was talking to remains – quite prudently, in hindsight – silent, but McAveety continues.
“She’s got that Filipino look – you know, the kind you’d see in a Gauguin painting. There’s a wee bit of culture.”
Quite inappropriate remarks for the convener of the petitions committee to make, one feels, and he has been made to resign because of it. But one can’t help feel that for his eloquence and his ‘cultural comparisons’ alone, he perhaps deserved something of a reprieve.
On the 15ht of June BBC News reported that
The BBC has received 545 complaints about the sound of vuvuzela horns during its World Cup coverage.
The corporation is considering showing coverage that cuts out the noise of vuvuzelas on its red button service.
On Monday, World Cup organisers ruled out a stadium ban on the plastic horns, which can reach 130 decibels, following complaints from players and fans.
Experts say it is impossible to cut out the horns without affecting commentary and crowd noise.
The BBC says it has already "taken steps to minimise the noise".
Did those 545 half-wits genuinely believe that it is the BBC who is responsible for the wasp-like noise that these horns make?
The Beeb reported that:
Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed Conservative predecessor Baroness Thatcher back to 10 Downing Street for a reception in her honour.
They shook hands and waved at photographers before entering the building but did not answer questions.
Baroness Thatcher, 84, is one of the first guests to be hosted in Downing Street since the coalition entered office last month.
She wore a light blue dress and coat for her meeting with Mr Cameron, emerging from Number 10 some 45 minutes after going into the building.
A smiling Mr Cameron said: "It’s good to have her back."
This last quote sent shivers down my spine.
Welcome to ‘The Glottal Stop’ – the ramblings, musations, contemplations of a student of Philosophy and Political Science.
Drawing influence from, among others, Private eye, HIGNFY, Brass Eye, and (heaven forbid, not often) the late night dry wit of Jeremy Paxman, we hope to open yet another outlet upon the momentous flood of satire and punditry that already drenches British Politics and Culture (though, that’s not to say we won’t pop over to Europe now and then…particularly to France; they’re always game for a laugh).
As you can see, everything’s just coming together right now; though, if you have any ideas for the blog or would like to contribute, then drop us a message in the comment box.