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  Opinion   Oped  16 Oct 2017  A dose of Bharatiya Sanskriti in UK

A dose of Bharatiya Sanskriti in UK

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Oct 16, 2017, 4:54 am IST
Updated : Oct 16, 2017, 4:54 am IST

There have been protests by 1.8 million people with Sadiq Khan also remaining firmly opposed to it.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo: AFP)
 London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo: AFP)

It’s a time-worn tradition that now multicultural London celebrates all major Asian festivals — and with an Asian origin mayor, Sadiq Khan, it’s de rigueur. Specially with his forthcoming visit to India, he would like to undoubtedly make a big splash of his love for Diwali. As earlier, this year too there was a kaleidoscope of vibrant and colourful performances from bhangra to desi pop — and the mayor formally lit up Trafalgar Square on this Sunday to announce the festival of lights. It’s open entry and anyone feeling nostalgic can get a full dose of Bharatiya Sanskriti — fusion style.

However, this year an additional fillip has been added with the lighting up of London Eye as well. In recent years, London Eye has been illuminated specially at various occasions, to highlight particular celebrations or events — and on this Sunday the organisers asked a variety of “inspirational figures” to launch the Diwali lights at the London Eye. One of the chief guests, to our pleasant surprise, was none other than my better half, Meghnad Desai. So hopefully his magic touch will make the Thames glow… It is amazing how much the knowledge about Diwali has spread. No longer do Indians celebrate quietly at home! Indeed this is a self-assertive community that is welcoming Lakshmi to the UK… and she is much needed here right now!

Considering the number of women Harvey Weinstein has allegedly assaulted or tried to molest or rape, it is very disappointing that most of the well-known actresses waited for years before disclosing this distressing fact. When the “casting couch” is talked about, obviously it is also part of a time honoured tradition (however bizarre and demeaning) followed by producers, all over the world.

Alarmingly, Weinstein is not a cheap third-rate producer — in fact he has either produced or been the executive producer for many sensitively made films — such as Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech, and yet his behaviour towards actresses is appalling. So the conclusion is that you can be very talented and bright — and an alleged rapist as well!

Why did these wonderful and brave women not speak up all these years? Even now it would be difficult for them, of course, but nonetheless their silence has meant that many other women had to suffer at the hands of Weinstein. Quite a few, sadly, might have dismissed it as an “occupational hazard” because even when it crossed all limits — they did not immediately expose him. And a few who said they had complained said that no one believed them. Now the Labour Party in the UK has asked that Weinstein’s CBE be scrapped. A few senior Tory leaders have joined the call, but the Prime Minister has maintained that it is up to the independent committee (which gives the awards) to decide.

However, as now there are British actresses who had been allegedly attacked by Weinstein, it is possible that there will be a change in the attitude — and some action might eventually be taken.

Right now Weinstein has lost his company, and his wife — and has also been removed from some very prestigious organisations. But there might be more retribution ahead as there are many who feel that rich and influential people like him get away lightly.

And now there are many with regrets — such as actor Colin Firth, who had been informed about an attack on a young actress ages ago — but admits he only showered some sympathy on her and did nothing else.

For years she has been a real trouper — not missing a single official occasion. But now it seems that age is catching up with the Queen, and she will finally give the Remembrance Day ceremony in which she used to lay a wreath on November 12, a miss. But she will be watching from a nearby balcony, at the foreign office, as Prince Charles takes over this duty, as indeed he is taking over others as well.

It seems that the last time, too, she had asked for a wreath that weighed less, as it was probably difficult for her to carry. In her long reign, she has only skipped the ceremony six times — twice when she was pregnant and at other times as she was travelling abroad! So this is quite a record!

Will he? Won’t he? And if he does — what will we do? These are the questions everyone is asking about Donald Trump’s visit, that has everyone agog.

There have been protests by 1.8 million people with Sadiq Khan also remaining firmly opposed to it. His example is being followed by others — but even if it is a truncated visit, Mr Trump is undeterred as his only dream and desire is to sleep in one of the rooms in Buckingham Palace and to meet the Queen — though I am not sure whether both actions can be simultaneous.

Come on — it seems a simple enough agenda. Let the poor chap into the UK, for at least one night!

Tags: sadiq khan, donald trump, bharatiya sanskriti