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Miliband tastes ‘other’ India

india Updated: Jan 15, 2009 23:10 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times
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British foreign secretary David Miliband had quite an adventure in an Uttar Pradesh village in Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi constituency on Wednesday night. A thatched hut, a rope cot to sleep on and a light meal to survive the chilly night was what Miliband had for company. His host Gandhi, seemed used to the austerity.

Explaining why Miliband was invited to spend the night in the village, Gandhi said, “People come and see Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. I wanted to show them the other part (of India) and how vibrant it is.”

After giving an account of the ongoing development projects in Amethi, Gandhi took Miliband to Semra village at 10.30 pm.
They had a brief interaction with villagers before going to bed.

“Kya aap inhen jaanti hain?” (Do you know him?) Gandhi asked the Dalit hostess Shiv Kumari. “Haan yeh mehman hain,” (Yes, he is a guest) was the reply.

With Gandhi playing the interpreter, Miliband had a heart-to-heart session with the villagers. He wanted to know why the village children were learning English. A 70-year-old woman replied, “Sahab, aaj kal to toffee par bhi English mein hi likha hota hai" (Sir, these days even toffee wrappers have English words printed on them).

It was time to say good night and Gandhi told Miliband, “This is your bed, good night,” and left him in the hut before going to one adjacent to it. They left the village early in the morning.