Monday, Sep 23, 2019 | Last Update : 07:29 PM IST

May & Co. should take lessons in communications from Modi

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : May 27, 2019, 12:45 am IST
Updated : May 27, 2019, 12:45 am IST

There are some sharp ironies — because the end of Ms May comes, literally, at the end of May.

British Prime Minister Theresa May  (Photo: AFP)
 British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AFP)

As the mercury shoots up, even if briefly, so does the mess over Brexit. But does it bother the sun worshippers? Forget it. This is the wonderful part of the British way of life. The marvellous sunshine cheers everyone up — and suddenly people shed clothes and head for beaches and beer.

However, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, shed tears over her imminent departure. There are some sharp ironies — because the end of Ms May comes, literally, at the end of May. There have been also a few heartfelt rants from those who believe she is being hounded out by the Westminster club, comprising mostly of men. But her critics say she has not been able to handle Brexit very well — and nor has she been able to convince her party or the country that she has the potential to take it further. The tears then, at the steps of Downing Street, showed just how tired she must have been of the gigantic effort of completing the divorce with Europe. Or could there have been a sense of despair about the direction in which the country was headed? Naturally, with a leadership election looming, Brexit will take a temporary backseat.

Frankly, if there is no resolution for five years (Brexit was voted on in 2016) it will only be fair to make way for another referendum in 2021 as there will be a new generation of voters who could have a completely different view from those who voted for the exit, and won a very narrow victory.

After all, every five years in a democracy, we do pause to reassess the leadership, so one could do so for the referendum. Perhaps this delay might just be a good thing!

And so, while the UK prepares to chuck out its leader, India conducted a mammoth election exercise and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won an even larger mandate. Has the time come for the UK parliamentarians to learn some lessons from India? The large and resounding vote for the incumbent Prime Minister would not have been possible without the fact that the welfare schemes put out by the NDA in the past five years were appreciated, and that people reposed their faith in the Prime Minister. No matter what you may think of him, he has proven to be a steady pair of hands. He has faced up to the abuse, the accusations of mismanagement, of thrusting forward majority rule, and proven that he is not held captive by the beliefs of others. He has shown he has self-confidence and believes in his ability to deliver.

Somewhere along the line, Ms May lost that ability to convince. She and her colleagues could take some lessons in communications from Mr Modi — and she could even (along with the other prime ministerial hopefuls in the UK) join in the yoga and meditation on International Yoga Day… it may calm everyone down.

While some people and businesses are leaving the country thanks to the uncertainty over Brexit, there are others who are leaving for more historical reasons. One of them is a favourite singer, 78-year-old Cliff Richards. As a child, I was fascinated by his singing — and his Summer Holiday and Bachelor Boy still ring in my ears and one cannot believe he will not be as much a part of the UK as he was. It appears that he has decided that he will stay for some of the time in the US, in New York. He had been upset over accusations of alleged sexual abuse — and has recently won a million-pound court case against the BBC, which had done some rather intrusive reporting on the allegations, which turned out to be false. Ultimately, he has opted for an apartment in Manhattan, near Central Park, where, according to reports, he will now live with his longtime friend, John McEllyn.

For a country that has long had a reputation for “ros bif” as the French put it succinctly, it is astonishing how many celebrity chefs and food-driven TV shows the UK produces. The persistent rise of celebrity chefs has been remarkable — and it seems they can churn out recipe after recipe, week on week, month on month. Who can forget Delia Smith or Gordon Ramsay? It is a unique phenomena that such a big industry has come to be built around these chefs. But are people’s tastes changing? I remember sometime back queuing up in Covent Garden to enter Dishoom, a restaurant which does Indian food with a twist — and saw that close by, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant appeared deserted. Sadly, he, the ultimate “Naked Chef”, the demigod for dining out — appears to be on the downslide. His chain has gone into administration, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk. One wonders how much pressure there is in being a celebrity chef, and to maintain that glamour and expertise relentlessly.

Yet, experts say that while Italian cuisine (that Oliver tossed up) may be on the decline — the market for Indian restaurants is still thriving! Perhaps, in his next avatar, Jamie Oliver could look at producing Indian food?

Tags: theresa may, brexit, narendra modi