Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 2 of 100: Talking About England

George Osborne did what he promised to do - took maximum advantage of recent poll victory, wimpishness of Liberal Democrats and the usual Conservative scare-mongering - and delivered a very harsh budget. It hit home, and thousands of teachers and other public service workers have been imposed a pay freeze. This government excels in PR, indeed that was this Prime Ministers chosen profession, and the practice of spin reigned supreme on the budget day. Britain is bankrupt, indeed, a second Greece in the making; though it is interesting to note that Britain can afford to maintain and upgrade Trident, at the cost of £50 billion, whereas Greece can't dream about such a waste.

I am not affected. I have nothing to do with public sector. But it is a stunning display of conservative comeback, which is happening all over Europe in all its ugliness. There is a cosy coalition of newspapers and conservative dagger-wielders, with some clueless privileged bobbies like Nick Clegg literally being the sitting duck of the time. It seems that everything bad was a Lib Dem policy - Child Benefit freeze to unexpected rise in VAT - though Conservative George Osborne will finally save the Britain. One thing is clear: Though Gordon Brown is so evidently not likable, we should have never deserted Labour. They were foolish and incompetent, but it is dangerous to get the Tories in. They may hijack Britain's future, completely.

This is long term for me. I fear British economy will be in decline, in a prolonged state of recession, after its Keynesian life support is withdrawn. This may affect the world. However much the Conservative spin masters want us to believe, Britain is no Greece, and what happens to Britain impacts rest of the world significantly. Not our Trident, but our economy, our creativity and innovation, education and ideas, make a difference to the world. The usual conservative bamboozle, the assumption of Imperial Grandeur overseas while playing broke while paying the retired soldiers, teachers and nurses, will please the newspapers united in dislike of Gordon Brown, but undermine Britain's long term future. Something I am indeed tied to. I am not here in the hope of a state pension, though as an immigrant, I am stereotyped into living in the hope of one. But it is more the competitiveness of this country, the ongoing excellence of its universities, vibrancy and integrity of its democracy, which worry me.

France finally goes out of World Cup, losing out to hosts South Africa. It can't be just footballing reasons. One would suspect that this is about a deep clash of cultures. The authoritarian French, represented by the coach and the Football Association, seems to have permanent war against players who seem to be less French, corrupted by close contact particularly of English Premier League, known for its irreverence. The walk outs, the suspensions, the abuses, all point to a deep clash of cultures: The war between Paris and the suburbs have finally reached the football team.

My routine is settling into a predictable morning-evening cycle, my old beloved habit of walking on London Bridge every morning/ evening, walking shoulder to shoulder with thousands of walkers through Gracechurch Street and Leadenhall Market, talking about endless possibilities of technology with some of the more enlightened colleagues and friends, and believing, once again, that my actions make a difference. Few months ago, I had given up, planning to go back to Kolkata for a breather; but the evidently foolhardy decision to walk out of a job without any firm plans have suddenly paid off and opened up dramatic new possibilities.

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