In the aftermath of London 2012 Olympics success, Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed Indian dance as not-physical education. Sports lessons in schools were being filled with “Indian dance or whatever,” he said – activities that “you and I wouldn’t think of as sport.” Read more
If the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games was all about might, London 2012 showcased what is right: health for all, deaf children singing the national anthem, seven young people lighting the flame, 500 construction workers giving a guard of honour to the Olympic torch carrier, Suffragettes, women athletes and nursing to name only a few. Read more
An interesting sidelight to the Family Planning Summit in London last week was that it was held amidst a double-dip recession. This was symbolic because a recession of course means a slump in demand and consumption. And that neatly links up to a view that I heard from some key delegates – that the rate of population growth in developing countries must be ’stabilised’ because it is adding to carbon emissions and climate change. Read more
The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman was in London last week for the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting – leading the Indian delegation in the absence of Dr Farooq Abdullah, the Minister for New and Renewable Energy. It was an important conference to attend, as India is a major partner in this 23-nation initiative. Read more
Rickie Sehgal, the Indian businessman with Conservative Party links, was in all probability merely boasting when he allegedly told an undercover British reporter he could get him David Cameron’s mobile (cell) phone number if he joined his elite club of South Asian Tory supporters. The price? A mere £10,000 a year, apparently. Read more
Defining moment: this modern-day cliché of English language usage probably best sums up 2011. Read more
Lord Tim McNully, minister of state in the UK’s justice ministry, briefed a power-packed Indian business team at London’s Chatham House last week about the UK’s new anti-bribery law, which has already been dubbed the world’s toughest and “most draconian.” Read more
The British sculptor who exhibited in India last year is a well-known supporter of beleaguered Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The outspoken Chinese dissident was freed on ‘probation’ from jail just before premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Britain this week.
On Monday, Wen and Prime Minister David Cameron announced business deals worth £1.4bn. According to 10 Downing Street, bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to reach $100 billion by 2015 and British goods exports to China are up by more than a fifth since Cameron was in Beijing last November.
This worries Kapoor. “I believe there is a direct link to the overwhelming economic power of the Chinese and the reluctance of so many politicians to do anything real with regard to human rights in case it disrupts trade and halts the billions of dollars it brings in,” Kapoor says in a newspaper comment.
And then, rather oddly, he jumps on India. “It is vital,” said he, “that countries that have huge populations, like India, where I was born, where human rights and life are cheap, are held accountable for every individual.”
And if you thought this connection was tenuous or even forced, here’s how he ends his comment: “Will India be next? India is democratic, but how far will they go? We must all watch very, very carefully.”
I don’t know if anyone rubbed Kapoor off the wrong way on his visit to India last year, but before leaving for India he couldn’t have been more gracious. Taking a team of Indian journalists around on a tour of his London studio, he spoke genially about India, making all gathered (corporate executives, civil servants, gallery owners, reporters, Indian High Commissioner Nalin Surie) look very happy.
He even described his exhibition as a “home coming of sorts.”
But his recent comments about India are uncharitable and sullen – and I really can’t think of any reason for him to have suddenly put India on his watch list.
Kapoor’s friends in the London art world tell me he has always been ambivalent towards India and his Indian identity (“struggled” with it is how they put it).
As for his note of protest against the “overwhelming economic power of the Chinese” (and, by extrapolation, Indians), surely one reason he took his gigantic installations all the way to India last year was that wealthy Indians would buy them in a display of their overwhelming economic power?
There have been protests (by people of Indian origin) in London against the recent Delhi Police crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his supporters. Read more