The plight of Britain and the Brown Man’s Burden

  • Manas Chakravarty
A pub in downtown Dublin. If global financial institutions are to uproot from London in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, Dublin could be on the shortlist thanks to excellent schools and nightlife (NYT)

We bring you a cross-section of enlightened opinion in India on the British vote to exit the European Union:

Anglophile Ashok Bhattacharya, speaking from an institution in Calcutta, insisted we spell his name Ash Oak Buttchargey before telling us he never liked the British hobnobbing with the Europeans. ‘This ill-starred marriage between the Brits and assorted Frogs, Wops, Dagoes and Huns wasn’t going to work. The divorce is a great relief,’ he said, polishing off his fish and chips. His pal Aneil Chuckerbutty, sipping a cuppa tea, said it was all Nehru’s fault. ‘If he hadn’t fooled around with Edwina, the British wouldn’t have left India and turned to Europe and there would be no Brexit,’ he argued mystifyingly. He was led away to his padded cell before he could elaborate.

Read: No immediate Brexit impact on business talks with US, says EU trade chief

‘Indians share a special bond with the Brits because chicken tikka masala is their national dish,’ said chef Ash Win Mittle of Delhi. He proposed that our football team should play England to make them feel better.

Unreliable sources say feelers have been sent from Westminster to Delhi for a strong leader to guide them. ‘David Cameron has resigned and none of their leaders is keen to steer their leaking ship of state through the Brexit storm,’ said a dubious source, adding they wanted Mr Modi to come and provide decisive leadership. ‘Of course we couldn’t let him go, so they went to Vlad Putin, but he was busy rolling on the floor laughing. Trump is their only hope now,’ he confided. The rumour that the finance ministry had strongly recommended Subramanian Swamy’s name instead could not be confirmed.

‘It’s a good thing they have taken a principled stand against hordes of fanatical Muslim Europeans streaming into their country,’ ranted an enthusiastic bigot, who said they hadn’t gone far enough. ‘They should throw out everybody who had entered their country in the last 1,200 years,’ he said. On being told that would include everyone of Norman descent, he said they had it coming, after exploiting Saxon Aryans all these years. He advised England to take India’s help in combating Scottish separatism. ‘For starters, they need an Armed Forces Special Powers Act,’ he said. He explained that helping the English is part of the Brown Man’s Burden.

Read: Brexit is another name for house-keeping

Mr Sun Git Some, a chap from UP, or United Provinces, said the British assertion of national identity was commendable. ‘I wish we were part of an Asian Union, so that we could withdraw from it,’ he lamented. As a second-best option, he made an impassioned plea for reclaiming our sovereignty from the Asian Snooker Federation.

But Juggernaut of Pondicherry said he valued his special relationship with France, particularly the wine. D’Souza of Goa said Portugal was a better team than England. Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi warned Britain against close ties with India.

A historian put the whole thing in perspective. ‘Many decades ago,’ he explained, ‘Winston Churchill said that, “In handing over the Government of India to these so-called political classes, we are handing over to men of straw, of whom, in a few years, no trace will remain”. He made one mistake — he should have said Britain instead of India.’

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

The views expressed are personal

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