Let ‘em have it

Balsamic… many people would prefer that
to ballistic
Such great news for Indians, however many hundred million they total today, that the nation now has nuclear submarines. And they can fire ballistic missiles, which is even more wondrous.

Well, good for about 2.7 per cent of the people, I suppose. You know, the ones who wear suits and ties and travel business class and wheel their bags into five-star. . . You get the picture.

As for the rest of the population, who cares? Their lives have nothing to do with missiles. The countless millions with jobs or family businesses, cooking food for train passengers, or cleaning offices by night. And finally, the poor, for whom no international conferences or bankers’ dinners can bring an end to hunger and exhaustion.

India, however, has enormous “middle classes”, many claim, compared with half a century ago. True. Legions with purchasing power. Ask them if they would rather have a Mercedes than a missile. Those who run the world’s biggest democracy are unlikely ever to consult on that scale.

In the Sixties, tumultuous decade, the first thing I learned about Gandhi, the sub-continent’s quasi saint, was his insistence on non-violent protest. His watchword was “satyagraha”. Civil disobedience as a means of shifting mountainous oppression. Weep, Mahatma, your legacy is being trashed.