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Farrukh Dhondi

61

Prince William has finally asked Kate Middleton to marry him. They have been ‘going out’, though that entails quite a lot of staying in, for eight years. She is not the first commoner to be asked to marry into the royal family. There was Mrs Simpson, a commoner divorcee who Edward VIII gave up his throne to marry.
The wedding has been set for April 2011 and already rings have been exchanged. William gave Kate his mother Princess Diana’s ring. Some, believers in luck, wondered why he chose it as it hadn’t brought his mother any. It brought her, if rings bring things, heartbreak in marriage, divorce, one un successful affair after another and then the fatal crash in a car in Paris. Was she wearing that ring?
The first bad fairy at the national rejoicing was an Anglican bishop who blogged his opinion that the marriage would last seven years. This was probably more his cynical appraisal of the culture and character of the young generation rather than any schadenfreude on his part. He may have made a calculation that the Prince’s parents, Uncle Andrew and Aunt Ann all had marriages that didn’t last.
From the photographs the ring looks perfectly presentable. I don’t believe in bad luck. If I see a ladder I cross the road to walk under it, I think magpies are just greedy birds and not cloaked devils, I make it a point to buy 13 eggs if they are being sold loose and deliberately avoid ‘organic’ products when genetically modified ones are available – I am against all forms of superstition.
But still, when the newspapers asked the public who should be the next King, the majority chose William, skipping Prince Charles and a generation, I felt a certain unease.
The crowning of a British monarch involves a crown. The British crown is kept in the Tower of London for tourists to pay to see. It contains as its centrepiece the legendary Kohinoor Diamond.
This diamond doesn’t have a very clean history. The legend goes it came from the holy rivers of India and adorned the crown of the God Krishna. It passed, by way of a King and dynasty mentioned in the Mahabharat into known recorded history.
We know it was acquired as loot by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and did him no good as his son Aurangzeb deposed and imprisoned him. In 1739 Nader Shah invaded and plundered India and carried off the Kohinoor. He was subsequently assassinated and the stone came into the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali whose successor Shah Shuja was deposed and fled with the diamond to the Punjab and sought the protection and aid of Ranjit Singh. He gave the diamond to Ranjit in gratitude for his assistance in regaining his kingdom.
Ranjit Singh’s successors, all successive owners of the diamond came to untimely ends. Kharak Singh, Ranjit’s son was murdered and his own son Nau Nihal Singh, while returning from his father’s funeral, was killed when a building collapsed on him. His uncle Sher Singh succeeded to the throne but was treacherously assassinated by his own nobles.
The British subsequently annexed the Kingdom and Lord Dalhousie seized the diamond and the heir to the throne Duleep Singh and sent both to Queen Victoria.
There is a legend of an ancient curse on the Kohinoor which says that any male who owns it will possess the world but all its miseries too. Queen Victoria didn’t suffer the curse, but her male successors were plagued with world wars, abdications and genetic infirmities.
So William should beware. The crown with the Kohinoor should go straight onto Queen Kate’s head. The option, of course, is to return the Kohinoor to India immediately.
Sonia Gandhi and President Patil are both female.


62
As a teenager in Kanpur I knew a fellow we called Poachy, a young man in his teens who boasted of landing a lucrative job in an international firm. He would disappear now and then on ‘assignments’, the nature of which he kept secret, dodging queries with vague phrases like ‘import-export’. He implied that his firm dealt in tea and tobacco and was a great source of income for India.
It was only when one of our friends caught Poachy at work on Lucknow railway station that we discovered what he did for a living. He attempted to bribe and plead with the friend, but the truth was begging to get out. Poachy was seen on the platform with several trappers and porters loading animal cages with monkeys onto the trains for conveyance to the ports. The monkeys were screeching and scratching and in apparent distress in captivity. From the coast they would be sent by ship to Europe for live vivisection and other medical experimentation.
No doubt the experimentation in far off lands assisted the progress of medical science or the commerce of cosmetic companies, but it struck us as shameful and an affront to the pride of the country that Poachy was poaching wild monkeys for export.
Later, in my travels I came across the traffic in hair and its export from India’s sunny climes, mostly Kerala. Indian maidens with thick black tresses would be induced to sell them. Tons of this hair was gathered and exported to Europe for the manufacture of wigs and the propping up of vanity. Undoubtedly the women who sold their hair made some money out of it and it was not as though they lost a kidney or an eye. The hair would grow again and they could be as beautiful as they were before or indeed sell the next crop. Even so, the trade struck me as ignominious.
Even later, living in Europe, I was acquainted with the fact that some or most of the dead bodies that medical schools in Germany used for dissection and anatomical studies came from India. On enquiry I was told that the bodies were acquired from police and municipal morgues and had been vagrants who died unclaimed in the cities, or they were people whose relatives had abandoned the bodies rather than bear the cost of any sort of funeral. Again I am sure science and German medicine benefitted from this ghastly trade but I found it sad and sadder that dead bodies were one of my country’s perhaps limited but valuable exports.
And now, coincidentally again in Germany, I come across a documentary which features the services of the Akanksha Infertility Clinic which, on the evidence of the film, sells reproductive, baby-making services outsourced to India. The women whose wombs are used for surrogacy are, again on the evidence of the film, young Nepali or North eastern girls. Fertilised embryos are placed in their wombs and they are made to, by and large, lie down for nine months till the surrogate baby grows in them and they give birth. The babies are then sent to the ‘mothers’ or families who have ordered and paid for them. All the clients I saw or heard of were women from America or Israel.
Again, surrogacy is not a practice that I find repugnant or reprehensible. It might make for some human happiness. What I did feel disturbed by was a sequence in which one of the young surrogate mothers has a miscarriage and is treated as though she is somehow at fault and an ingrate for not delivering a baby ”even after we’ve so carefully fed you on ghee and milk and luxurious foods.” Phone calls, insurance services, even medical tourism sell the skills of the country. Somehow surrogacy for the rich West doesn’t seem the same.


63

My first Christmas in Britain came as something of a surprise. I was at Cambridge University and had spent the two and a half months of the first term settling into college, the town, England and new acquaintance, writing letters to India. I was living in college at the time and had not been told that during the Christmas holidays I would be required to move out of my room.
My Tata scholarship didn’t stretch to the extravagance of going to London. I found the cheapest room I could find at the top of a house in a dark street. Over two days the other undergraduates melted away. Even some of the Indians in other colleges – Rajiv Gandhi being one – had places to go and invitations. Poona seemed very far away.
I moved into my gloomy attic room at the top of the empty house with the landlady in the basement flat. I arranged my worldly goods and budgeted my allowance for the next few weeks. There was a coin gas meter in the room which supplied the fireplace and the cooking ring. I soon got the measure of it and its thirst for silver coins.
Blankets kept me warm through the nights but during the day, having reached the coin limit, I visited the few Indian and Pakistani friends who were still in Cambridge in their centrally heated hostels, but even these soon went their ways and I hit upon the stratagem of going to the University libraries, sitting close to the radiators and catching up on the complete Tolstoy.
Then, as the 25th approached, the libraries shut. I had lentils, and rice and had bought a bag of potatoes, cans of beans and a box of eggs and of course tea, coffee and a half pint of milk and those provided a rich and varied diet. But cooking exhausted the gas supply and there were no coins left over from my careful budget for heating. But it was Christmas and I knew the Church would provide.
I carried my Anna Karenina to one or other church or chapel in Cambridge, most of which were open, heated and deserted. I would stay for as much time as would be deemed the safe side of loitering and then would move to the next one. I steadfastly visualised the old Parsi ladies who sat for hours in the fire temple with an open prayer book and, having covered my Tolstoy with brown paper, hoped that any intrusive enquiry would conclude that it was a bible.
The churches stayed open for Christmas. Christmas Eve was particularly snowy and I attended the evening service and sang hymns with the substantial congregation of St. Mary’s. A middle aged man with shiny black hair parted down the middle was standing next to me and he offered to share his hymn book with me. We sang the praises of the Lord.
On the pavement after the service I heard his footsteps turn into my dark street. He was following me, caught up with me and began a conversation by asking if I was a student at the university. He said he’d come up to my room for coffee. I explained about the meter and he said he had plenty of coins. This was very tempting so I invited him up.
I was naive. He sipped the coffee I made and then took a box of talcum powder from his coat and asked if he could ‘powder’ me. I caught on. I kicked myself. I said I wasn’t up for that sort of thing and he began to argue. I asked him to leave and he began to shout which brought the landlady’s very robust son leaping up the stairs. My new friend took one look at him and ran down them. It all ended badly, but I suppose that’s another story. Merry Christmas.


64

The political sport in Britain today is watching the cracks appearing our seven-month old coalition government. The present and last Indian government were also coalitions. The BJP and then the Congress Party did not win clear majorities in Dilli and cobbled together support by offering ministries, concessions, jobs and influence to the minority partners from our multifarious states. Ideology played a very small part. One couldn’t, for instance, see the CPM forming a government with the BJP.
I am trying to think of another absolute divide of principle, but Indian politics being what they are, can’t. In the UK the Tory-Liberal Democrat arranged marriage is yet to succeed or flounder on the accommodativeness of the two families.
In India the CPM withdrew its support for the Congress led government on the issue of the nuclear deal with the USA. It was the only matter of principle affecting an Indian collation that I can recall. Pacts always boiled down to who was offered which gaadi from which influence or corrupt money could be milked.
My grandfather used to say that the British taught us bureaucracy, from-filling and corruption. Comparing Indian coalition politics to this British effort proves the contrary. India should think of out-sourcing political-corruption expertise. In this British coalition the majority Tory party and especially its right-wing stalwarts pull one way and the minority Liberal Democrats, especially their very libertarian wing, pull the other.
Their coalition is, apart from supporting capitalism down the line, about principles, promises, possibilities and their betrayal.
The latest conflict of principle and promise arises from the Tory promise to strengthen the nation’s security against terrorism and the Liberal Democrats’ promise to stand up for civil liberties. They promised to get rid of what the UK calls ‘Control Orders’ whereby suspected terrorists can be detained, put under virtual house arrest, electronically tagged to trace their whereabouts, restricted from using mobile phones or accessing the internet and confined by curfew. The orders are issued on evidence from the secret services without public trial of the suspects. The last Labour government, which imposed them, contended that making the evidence public would expose the identities, activities and methods of the services and their agents and that would seriously compromise the security of the nation.
The Liberal Democrats are in a bind. They want to demonstrate that, now they are in government, they want to keep their civil liberty promises and abolish Control Orders. The Tory Party and the majority of the country want to keep this form of restriction in place. At present Control Orders apply to only eight people, all of them suspects of possible Islamicist terror.
In the case of every other crime in the UK the evidence against the suspect is produced in open court and a judge, or for most offences a jury, pass a verdict. Control Orders are a clear case of principle, politics and security in direct conflict.
It is not as though the eight people subject to control orders have been sent to a concentration camp on the whim of some apparatchik. The evidence of their involvement in a serious threat to public safety has been assessed in secret by a judge.
I won’t take my leave, dear reader, without telling you where I stand. I really dislike terrorists and potential terrorists and am very tempted to take the position that my late great father Lt Col. Jamshed Dhondy would have taken. He would undoubtedly have said, mixing English and Gujerati: “Line them all up against a wall and shoot the lot.”
On the other hand, and conclusively, I think the Lib-Dem manifesto position is correct: the citizen’s liberty under the rule of law is indivisible and sacrosanct.
Perhaps there ought to be three judges assessing the secret evidence — before lining the bastards up against the wall and shooting them.


65

I am in Delhi because a play of mine has been invited to the International Drama festival run by the National School of Drama. I won’t bore the dear reader with advertisements for that production, brilliant and well-received though it was. Instead I will tell you about my ride on the new (not ‘New’ as in ‘New Delhi’) Delhi Underground.
I rode all over it, just for the heck of it and to savour the sensation that one could travel fifty miles on the Delhi Metro for what amounts in pounds Sterling, the currency in which I deal daily, to something between 30 and 40 pence, whereas in London one has to pay at the least £5, which is fifteen times as much. And I am reliably told that the Delhi Underground actually makes a profit, whereas the London Underground is heavily subsidised and still in deep trouble.
So this is the tale of two cities. The numbers multiply when one talks of the history of the underground railways that integrate the cities. Allow me to explain:
The London underground was built more than a hundred years ago and by and large, despite all the improvements and expansions through the decades, didn’t cross the river Thames. There was the District line which went to Putney and Wimbledon, passing through Kensington and Earls Court and then the Northern line which went south through Clapham to Morden.
When one first encounters London, one doesn’t realise that it is strictly divided between its north and south. Slowly, as familiarity grows, one realises that the north and south, divided by the river Thames are in fact two cities which used to feel quite separate from each other. There was a snobbery about being from “Saarf Lndn” as I discovered when ethnic cleansing and property prices forced me to move from Notting Hill Gate to South Clapham.
This was in the seventies and I soon found that north Londoners regarded the south of the city as another country. I heard people say that they had never actually ventured into that part of the city. They may have passed through it while driving to France!
And a similar attitude seemed to obtain and perhaps still does in Delhi. Everyone I know and have dealings with lives in South Delhi, in the housing enclaves that stretch from Gurgaon in Haryana to Noida in Uttar Pradesh. One ventures into Old Delhi to go to the railway station, to visit the Red Fort, to buy very particular things such as Indian perfumes from Chandni Chowk, to get to the University or to eat at Karim’s near Jamma Masjid. Otherwise the territory and the millions who live north of Connaught Place are a neglected mystery.
In the decades in which I have lived in South London two significant changes have taken place. Several parts of the city in the South have, through the pressure of population and the operation of demand and supply in the housing market, become what the British call ‘gentrified’. In other words flats, houses and whole terraces are bought on mortgage by upwardly mobile middle class couples and the housing stock restored through repairs and tasteful repainting. Then the neighbourhood markets and shops change hands and stylish coffee houses, clothes boutiques and gastro-pubs replace the Chinese take-away and the £1 store.
Finally London transport finds the political will and the money to build extensions of the underground and four new underground lines to integrate the South with the North. London becomes one city.
It is manifestly clear that this hasn’t happened in New York. The Bronx in the north is quite distinct from Manhattan. And yet my brief ride on the new Delhi Metro gave me the distinct feeling that exchange of populations every minute, every hour, every day because of these new arteries of the city will change the face and possibilities of the Capital. Let’s hope.


66

It is obviously in the interest of all newspapers to declare as campaign against watching TV. Such a campaign, restricted to a single day and urging people to step out and play instead of becoming couch baingans may have some impact. If extended to two days or a week, I am convinced it wouldn’t. TV is here to stay and has become a part of urban and rural life.
We no longer remark it, but in the early nineties, driving through a city like Mumbai, dotted with shanty-towns, we would see a thousand satellite dishes mushrooming over the slum rooftops.
The same dishes would deface the fronts and sides of the vertical concrete slums that here and there replace the improvised horizontal shanties. TV: the opiate of the masses.
I could stop watching TV for a day. Easy-peasy. When I worked for the wretched box for twenty years I had to watch a lot but since I moved on from this sedentary trade, I go weeks without. The news draws me I feel compelled to watch a BBC current affairs analysis programme called Newsnight at 10.30 on weekdays.
A ban wouldn’t change my life, but it would be like stopping smoking or for a week or going without a drink for those addicted to the drag and the dram.
Instinctively one feels that self-imposed abstinence is somehow good for one. Members of the family, elders especially have throughout my life told me that fasting occasionally is good for one’s health. I don’t think there’s any medical evidence for this and, on the contrary, fasting could lead to acidity and ulcers, but I feel, again without any proof, that it must surely be good for your soul.
Denial gives you the illusion of control and is undoubtedly the way to fight addiction. I gave up smoking, not slowly, not with aids and chewing gum, hypnosis or any other gimmick but by just stopping! It was twenty six years two months, four days, three hours and nine minutes ago and I’ve never missed it – but who’s counting!
A friend of mine recently told me that he had expunged the internet from his computer and from his home because he had become addicted to Facebook and would waste several hours each day fiddling with the machine and indulging in this mass banality less skilful than tiddlywinks. He didn’t think that he could maintain the web or a server on his computer and resist the temptation of Facebook. He had, to adapt an old saying, to throw the whole bath out – enamel, taps, baby and all to get rid of the undesired bathwater.
If one were to play the game of what one would feel itchy about banning for a day, my youngest daughter would probably nominate her I-Pod. Millions, including yours truly would nominate the mobile phone. I tell myself that it’s s my chief instrument of business and social communication. I could undoubtedly do without it — like I could do without one leg or one lung.
The last time I dropped my phone in a snow blizzard and lost it, I lived a few frantic days trying to replace it and reconstruct my list of phone numbers, but discovered that the world hadn’t ended and neither was the sun under eclipse and the day blotted out. Nevertheless, I spent so many anxious hours trying to get a new one and recover from the loss that I didn’t use the time to walk the cats or do a spot of gardening.
I hope the one-day voluntary ban on TV-watching has brought friends or families together. The last time there was a complete electricity blackout in Britain and the TV was consequently not functioning there was an epidemic of births precisely nine months later and the hospitals couldn’t cope.


67

I have been reading two inspired history books: Flaws in the Jewel by Roderick Matthews (Harper Collins, India), an account of the Indian British Colonial period using the central thesis that British conquest, annexations, governance and the final departure were brought about by adventitious circumstance rather than any massive game plan. It’s what the Brits themselves would call ‘muddling through’.
The second book is M.J. Akbar’s Tinderbox, the Past and Future of Pakistan (Harper Collins, India, again, — and though I declare that they publish me, I don’t owe them any money or favours!). MJ tells me very much I don’t know and goes back into history in a detailed, eminently readable and masterful account of the growth of the ideologies of separation.(No, I don’t owe MJ any money either!)
Tinderbox ends with the uncannily accurate predictions made by the great Congressman Abul Kalam Azad in 1946 about the future of the country which even then was not certain of creation. He predicts the fragmentation of East and West; that in the absence of any plan of development the only power or faction that could and would rule Pakistan will be its army; that the feudal classes would dominate the economy and impoverish the general population; that fundamentalism will rear several ugly heads and, so tellingly, that West Pakistan will become the playground of world powers who will finance and manipulate it.
A billion copies of Azad’s speech in Urdu, Pushtu, Punjabi, Sindhi and Balochi should be printed and an American ‘drone’ (no, not an impotent senator, a pilotless aeroplane!) should shower them over the schools and madrassas of Pakistan from Khyber to Karachi.
I suggest this purely as an educational exercise: the thoughts, insights, projections and predictions of a scholar of Islam being made available to a population which is fed a strange view of history through censored texts. My intention is not that the superstitious who read the speech should hail Maulana Kalam Azad as a new Nostradamus, though no doubt some, the very few who have heard of Nostradamus, will.
At the end of his account of British India, Matthews plays the game of ‘what if?. He speculates on what may have happened if the Maharattas had not come second at Panipat, or if Hyder Ali had gone five miles further and captured the Coromandel coast from the British.
He also asks some far-reaching or far-fetched questions: what would have happened if Tsar Paul Ist had not been assassinated and had fulfilled his plan to invade India via Afghanistan in 1801?
The game is as much fun as playing computer chess, I guess, but the results are impossible to judge. In accordance with the Matthew format we may ask what would have happened if there had, after all the agitation for it, been no Pakistan. Would Mr Jinnah have been the First Prime Minister of India and lived long enough to negotiate with Eisenhower instead of Stalin and Khruschev?
Would LK Advani have stood for Chief minister of Sind against Benazir Bhutto and welcomed Muslims to join His All India Sindhi RSS? There would have been no Mahajar Quomi Movement and there may have been an agitation to unite the two Bengals as in the time of Lord Hardinge after Curzon had separated them.
What is almost certain is that the changes of wealth, power and balance in the Islamic world would have affected Afghanistan and the borders of the NWFP as they have today and the ‘Indian’ government and army would be faced with the sort of insurrection and mindless ‘jihad’ that has been promoted and adopted in that region.
The country may in all probability have had a Musharraf or a Kiyani as its Commander in Chief, but there would even in that enlarged army have been no prospect of pulling coups and imposing martial law from Delhi. Capitalism may have been even more rampant.


68

I was ordering a cappuccino at the counter of Starbucks, the American coffee chain, in Los Angeles when a black man walked in. He wore dirty, torn denims and a tattered peaked cap. He had straggly facial hair and must have been in his forties though the eyes and face were wearied with drugs or troubles and he looked eighty. The man had left his well worn ruck-sack in a shopping trolley on the pavement before entering.
The cafe catered for students from the nearby campus and they continued to look into their lap tops. The workers in the cafe didn’t seem perturbed either. American citizens have the right to dress and smell as they please.
The man stood next to me and said “God bless Abraham Lincoln. He set the black man free!”
He said as though I should exclaim “Hallelujah!” but I was staring at his jaws which had just two or three protruding isolated teeth and then hastily looking away.
He was now ignoring everyone and addressing me. Aggressively.
I didn’t know why because I was doing nothing more than waiting for my modest order. Perhaps he wanted me to concur about Lincoln’s contribution, which I would have readily endorsed except for my naturally shy temperament.
“Michael Jackson, man. Dat was de man. He ain’t dead. No Sir! Michael’s alive, you hear?”
I couldn’t help but hear, he was close enough now, with his face thrust towards me, for me to smell his breath. I didn’t agree, though. I was convinced through what I had read or seen on TV that Michael Jackson was definitely dead.
My friend didn’t appreciate what he took for my silent dissent. No one else indicated that they had noticed this uninvited belligerence. I saw that the fellow had an empty plastic bottle tucked in his waist and from the odour of his breath deduced that some part of his unruliness was attributable to the influence of alcohol.
“Abraham Lincoln would have thrown you out,” he said as I began to place my order for a coffee and paid for it.
Starbucks has a system whereby you pay at the counter and then go a short distance to a dispensing counter where the people who mix the drinks – and there are thousands of flavours and several temperatures and combinations to choose from – serve them.
My protagonist wasn’t letting me get away that easy.
“You, I mean you!” he said raising his voice so that everyone in the shop could hear above their own din and clacking of laptop keyboards, “It’s you bringing communism to this country.”
This was quite alarming. Had I forgotten to leave my copy of Das Kapital in my motel room and was it protruding out of my back pocket? (I actually haven’t ever owned a copy of Das Kapital thought I did in the ‘sixties have, and probably still own, an English translation – but you know how panic brings on anxieties…).
“We don’t want your filthy communism here,” he said and then he turned to the attendant who was clearing up the paper cups and litter. “Get dat man, he’s got a bomb.”
Still no one paid any heed to this unfolding drama, but I understood. He was confounding communists and Islamic terrorists. They were all the same to him. Bad people, so he reached for the bad name he knew: a dirty commie!
I took my coffee out to the fresh air and observed through the glass wall that he was taking an inordinately long time putting sugars into the drinks he’d bought and arranging the free napkins and plastic cutlery about his person.
He made me think. Great men like Lincoln and Gandhi take on the mission to right deep wrongs – slavery and colonialism. What was Buddha fighting with his doctrine of detachment? Was there an epidemic of ‘attachment’ in his times?


69

Skimming through the daily papers a headline caught my eye. It said Britain is to fast-track visas for millions. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Conservative-Liberal coalition government has, despite its ‘liberal’ ingredient been campaigning hard to pull back on its commitment to allow workers from other countries and their families to enter Britain or settle here.
Perhaps, I thought, some compassion has finally overcome their hard hearts and they have been moved by events in the Middle East. Now that Gaddafi’s air force and armoured vehicles and artillery (supplied to a large extent by Britain and by British companies) are going in for the kill and Bahrain’s civilian population has Saudi troops and armour ranged against it, there may be millions fleeing the warm shores of Libya and the Gulf. Would Britain, the country that restricted British passport holders’ entry from Idi Amin’s terror, really accept them? This I had to read.
I read. My eyes, or rather wishful thinking, had deceived me. The headline didn’t read ‘millions’ it read ‘millionaires’.
The Con-Dem coalition of David Cameron and Nick Clegg has announced that it would fast-track millionaires and billionaires, some of whom may find that their off-shore bank-accounts could soon be under scrutiny from the new democratic governments of their countries, from the mullocracies that take over or indeed from the international community which is already calling for the freezing of Libyan accounts.
Now this government did condemn the regime of Hosni Mubarak when the riots against it started in Cairo. They even asked Mubarak to resign and back off. In the case of Libya and of their erstwhile friend Colonel Gaddafi and his son Saif who have sworn to shed the blood of every Libyan citizen before they will relinquish their corrupt power, they have even mooted, with the French, a no-fly zone. When William Hague the Foreign secretary proposed such a measure, he might have thought that it would not be immediately implemented. The Germans in Europe and the Chinese and Russians in the UN would stall it. But now the resolution has been passed and the world waits for its results.
Gaddafi would have enough time to bomb a proportion of his own population into submission or into the dust. The ‘no-fly’ zone would strike against the Libyan air force. In 2005 the UK licensed the sale of £30 million worth of “military transport aircraft” to Libya. In 2009 and 2010 they sold the regime “bombing computers” and “military aircraft ground equipment.”
Perhaps Hague was sincere and was willing to commit a couple of the USA’s aircraft carriers to patrol the skies and bring down Gaddafi’s planes.
It’s not surprising that this government, which has spent the last few months berating the previous Labour administration for being lax on immigration and admitting too many people from Europe and the rest of the world, has now made its own move to relax immigration law. It has offered millionaires a fast track entry and immigration service under a new visa regime. It’s all a matter of money. Rich men can pass through the eye of this needle.
The proposals allow millionaires from wherever to acquire British citizenship in three years if they bring with them £5 million pounds to invest. They can, unlike other applicants for citizenship stay out of the country for six months each year. Moreover, if the investor brings £10 million into the country, he or she will be promoted from Club to First, as it were, and granted a British passport in two years.
David Cameron says he wants to “create an entrepreneur’s visa and put out the red carpet” for people who can bring in money or those with a “great business idea.” This he says is in competition with Canada and Singapore which countries are attracting wealthy people in greater numbers: in 2009 “only 300” millionaire investors applied for British citizenship. Surelky Brit-Cit can buy more?
Property prices in Mayfair, Chelsea and St. John’s Wood are bound to rise and the ‘escort’ agencies and casinos will put out more flags.


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