May 14, 2004

Of course there was going to be retaliation! -- just one more step of escalation. Of course that retaliation was going to be brutal and direct and lethal, in a manner which few in the western world have ever personally encountered: what other purpose has a hostage ever had? Is death any the less, when it is carefully sanitised for public consumption?

With the addition of only one extra sentence in that blog entry I could have seemed a prophet -- but what would it have served? "I told you so"? Tell that to the family of Nicholas Berg.

Of course, given half a chance, name recognition will carry the day over issues (although neither Hollywood nor Bollywood are in any way unique in this). Another family, entangled by blood and now newly by marriage around a single political party. She resisted in 1991, after her husband was assassinated: and the Congress Party collapsed shortly thereafter. She did not resist in 1997 -- and now has unseated the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Democratic Alliance it headed, foreign-born notwithstanding. The words most commonly used of the election results are "unpredictably" and "confounded" -- yet all she had to do was to evoke the heritage suggested by the name she married into by being willing to talk with people of her adopted country, to interact with them -- to be human. It goes against all political wisdom and considerations of personal safety.

She is still described as a reluctant leader. It was to her children, youthful, plain-spoken embodiments of symbol, that rural voters flocked -- but what political pundit seeks opinions outside the cities?

Public campaigning now is over. The hard choices are just beginning. Image, or true nature? and if the latter, will it survive the corridors of power? At what point must the deepest wishes of our lives sublimate within a greater need? Ask that of Sonia Gandhi.

Thought of the day:

In a state of bliss, there is no need for a Ministry of Bliss.
- John Kenneth Galbraith (American Capitalism, the Concept of Countervailing Power)

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