Over the weekend, India’s foreign minister SM Krishna has had his moment in the fun, sorry, sun. Mr Krishna was addressing a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, where inadvertently, he started reading out the Portuguese foreign minister’s speech till nudged by an Indian official. Such things happen, he later said, replying to sceptics who insinuated that he was unfamiliar with his own speech. The nasty, twittering blokes however, could barely let the matter rest and advised the 78-year-old foreign minister to be careful, lest he took the wrong flight home.
Mr Krishna cannot be faulted for justifying his error, given that bigger men (stature, not size) have erred and got away with damaging slips. After all, his gaffe wasn’t insulting (like that good old time when Dubya spoke into the microphone, describing a New York Times scribe as a “major league a***ole); nor did it reveal ignorance, as British Prime Minister David Cameron did during his US visit last year, when he spoke of how his country and the US had fought together in the Battle of Britain in 1940. Mr Krishna’s act merely reflected the spirit of camaraderie, brotherhood and peaceful co-existence that have been the hallmarks of the country’s foreign policy since it became independent.
And if we junk the colonial baggage, there is a lot we can thank the Portuguese for. Thanks to them, you can holiday on an Indian beach with a name as exotic as Dona Paula. Or the bearded thinkers of Bengal can split hairs about semantics of harmad (a word originally used for rampaging Portuguese pirates). If that doesn’t impress, remember the debt our vindaloo owes to their Carne de Vinha d’ Alhos. The least we can do is read out their speeches once in a while.