Prof.Irfan Habib’s insightful criticism of the PM!
What is at stake?
Dr.Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister, had been duly honoured by Oxford University with a honorary degree. It is Doctor of Civil Law, not D.Phil, as the Hindu newspaper’s typical longer than usual ponderous editorial wrongly carried it! On reflection I thought it is how the Indian mind still works! Dr.Singh’s speech to suit the occasion with lots of scholars present was mild and quite typical of the man, soft spoken Singh had soft pedalled many touchy topics. The India-British connection is at best a controversial one.
As we grow into a mature country, with a sense of mature independence and with some wisdom, we Indians must also grow into a more assertive self confidence. By this we don’t mean we should be offensive to other’s sentiments. At the same time an occasion like the Oxford crowd gives one a rare opportunity to give an indication of what India today means to Indians as well as to the outside world. In this perspective the Prime Minister of India hadn’t done his job in keeping with the power and prestige of his high office. The PM had dwelt with certain light-hearted, if not lightweight observations. May be he and his speech writers would have wasted quite a lot of time as to come up with some typical English sahibs’ style self-deprecatory humbug! There is every indication in the carefully written (or constructed) with many juicy ordinary jocular-like remarks on Indian English is “okay” provided you also give some “embs” to the so-called stiff upper lips in the audience!