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Merit alone must matter

PTI | ByBASERE SE DUR|Nabanita Sircar
Jan 13, 2005 01:01 PM IST

In any field merit should be the key word, not colour of the skin, writes Nabanita Sircar.

It's the silly month of the year. People are trying to escape the terrible weather predictions and scurrying off across the channel, for some warmth and sunshine. The awful weather at this time of year, officially declared as a washout summer, forebodes a bitter winter. It makes none of us too happy. But we are trying to keep our spirits up with regular dozes of voyeurism.

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First, it was the lurid details of Bangladesh-born Faria Alam's sexual escapades with England coach Sven Goran Eriksson. Just as the British public was lapping up the exposure, there came news of Home Secretary David Blunkett's secret love affair with Kimberley Fortier, the married publisher of The Spectator. I have met Kimberley a few times at parties and it's easy to understand why, as rumours go, Blunkett is besotted with this vivacious lady. The disclosures of the bitter-sweet love affair, is at least, not laced with near-porn descriptions of what went on between the sheets.

While the Blunkett affair roars on, with chances of it being revealed in his biography soon to be released, we can be sure of being bombarded with more intimate details of Jemima Khan, the recently divorced wife of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and her romance with actor Hugh Grant, throughout the week while they holiday in the South of France.

Such a tireless interest in the private lives of celebrities and politicians and judgmental write-ups about the morality of the relationships, makes me respect the Indian media a bit more. Where humans are involved there are bound to be relationships and flings, but time and again, the Indian media, under no outside pressure, has resisted from flashing the private lives of politicians and famous people, in public. Such stories are limited to actors, in the rumour columns of glossy Bollywood magazines. This respect for privacy, says a lot about the maturity of the mainstream Indian media, and it deserves praise.

Though the media here runs amock at the scent of an affair, yet growing racism and the handling of race issues which is becoming increasingly worrying, is seldom debated. Is it a case of political correctness gone too far, or is Britain still suffering from imperial guilt. This approach of constantly trying to please ethnic minority groups is touching dangerous levels. The Ministry of Defence is set to appoint a salaried Muslim imam to attract more Muslim recruits and encourage the 300 or so already serving. That is such a bizarre idea. Why bring in religion in matters of the nation? For only 300 recruits in such a large service, a religious leader has to be appointed? To what extent is religion to become a part of what should be patriotism.

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