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Of Trump triumph & Modi bombshell

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Nov 18, 2016, 1:35 am IST
Updated : Nov 18, 2016, 7:29 am IST

However, almost as earth-shaking as the Trump victory was the news that Prince Harry has a new girlfriend.

US President-elect Donald Trump (Photo: AP)
 US President-elect Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

The Donald Trump victory created as many ripples in the UK, as in the US — and already the political fallout is breaking up the right-wingers. Who would have thought that even the Conservatives are facing problems, as almost all factions of the party appear to have a different point of view? To begin with, Prime Minister Theresa May looked uncertain about how to deal with a Trump ascendancy — and she lost the momentum to Nigel Farage who was quick off the mark, and actually flew to the US to meet the President-elect. There were photo-ops galore, and now we have Boris Johnson, another Brexiteer, putting in a word of support for Mr Trump’s foreign policy announcement about Europe footing the Nato bill. Mr Trump and the EU have little love lost between them, and since the UK is still reeling under Brexit, it can hardly complain. Besides, there have been so many comparisons between the unexpected results during the Brexit vote and the American elections. In both cases an increasing nationalism and anti-immigrant stance has been noticeable.

But to be honest, this time around, at least in our household we knew (albeit, with gloom) that Mr Trump was on his way, because Meghnad had already predicted it. And so I have to say I was luckier than most as I had months to get used to the idea!

However, almost as earth-shaking as the Trump victory was the news that Prince Harry has a new girlfriend. There have been rumours for a while about Meghan Markle, an American actress who works as a legal eagle in a US TV drama called Suits. The two met in the summer, and ever since the mixed-race actress has been dodging the press and questions. The Palace even put out a stark warning to the press stating that not just Ms Markle but even her mother was being hounded. Whilst she was recently spotted shopping at Kensington High Street, she then went underground — though there was speculation that she had spent the night with Prince Harry and also met his brother. (The British press has a nose for smelling a good story.)

Moreover the papers (sympathetically) have been pointing out that Prince Harry had not really been enjoying his single status, and possibly wants very much to settle down. Despite the big difference in their backgrounds and the fact that Ms Markle is older than Harry, there does not seem to be any resistance from the royals to the idea. Perhaps they too remember his wild cavorting hoping Ms Markle will bring that stability. All one can say is that he does seems to be fascinated by actresses, isn’t it? — the last one he had dated seriously was the young and equally pretty Cressida Bonas.

However, this is getting serious as Ms Markle had told her bosses that she had something important to do... and so was taking a few days off. Rumours are rife that she is also going to meet the Prince of Wales...

One bombshell that almost completely wiped off Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to India from all conversation was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of withdrawing the old `500 and `1,000 notes from the market. And to be honest, that news has spread far and wide. The reverberations were being felt by those who had exchanged pounds for rupees to holiday in India, and for those from India who wanted to change money to come to London! Whilst we were briefly in Dubai and Singapore this week, this was a topic of conversation everywhere, even in the newspapers, which reported that the local money changers had run out of acceptable cash.

In Singapore, which is already used to a very tough regime, our Chinese-origin taxi driver could not stop chortling over the move. He said that all his Indian clients were very pleased, and had become fans of Mr Modi. As this global impact of this changeover is assessed, it is undoubtedly also a historical moment when the world is looking at India and understanding, at last, the importance of turning vast reserves of money sloshing around into accountable transactions.

Meanwhile, as Christmas approaches and the familiar reindeer start flying across Oxford Street, a new “JC” is being serenaded. No, this one is not Jesus Christ — but Jeremy Corbyn, the bearded leader of the Labour Party. The latest tribute to him is in verse set to music by the Corbynistas — who actually hope to sell enough copies of the song, not just to promote JC as a future PM but to also gather donations for the poor. Now that’s called ambition! Specially since the verses are quite plaintive: “We’re voting Jeremy Corbyn! JC for PM for me!” Not very subtle, are they?

However, this use of entertainment to push difficult ideas deserves replication. Why not also spread the message of demonetisation through music! While people wait in queues let them learn about the perils of a cash-rich economy that pays no taxes! And the curse of black money... Entertainment can be very persuasive. Already it seems there are quite a few humming the JC tune, without being believers!

Kishwar Desai is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar

Tags: donald trump, brexit, theresa may