OpinionLamp Post

Not-so-great Crooked Britain

England is a laundromat for dirty money, thanks to an army of financial and professional service firms

Crooks from around the world rush there on investor visa programmes, loaded with cash that they invest in property and business

Ineffective regulation and a flexible legal system underline the mindset of Angleterre (the land of the English) that the late 18th century French revolutionary Bertrand Barere described as a “nation of shopkeepers”

England allows shell companies to obscure the ownership of property and other assets

Why else would all manner of crooks and financial malfeasants from all over the world rush to England to conceal their dubious funds?

A former Pakistani Prime Minister is still trying to explain how he was able to afford luxurious properties in London on his salary

So is an Indian political son-in-law

England gives asylum in the name of democratic legal processes to all sorts of money-laundering thugs and hoodlums (involved in cricket, airlines and diamonds) whom their countries seek

Ironically, Britain pretended to be very active in forming the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in July 1989 to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and funding of weapons of mass destruction

Till a few years ago, I used to see advertisements in Indian magazines about properties in England! Their property market is sustained by shady fellows from Pakistan, India, Russia, Africa etc

The fantasy of being a great power persists

Last year England rejected vaccination certificates for Indian vaccines

When India imposed reciprocal quarantine restrictions on UK citizens, the Brits were horrified at the audacity of a former colony and talked of “engaging” with (read pressuring) India to resolve the issue

We announced that we would not take part in the hockey events in the July 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games since we would not like our teams to spend 10 days in quarantine a few weeks before the Asian Games in China

Londonistan added fuel to the fire, by claiming that it had no problem with WHO-approved Covishield but with vaccine certification in India!

In January 2021, the UN Secretary General had famously said the India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity was the best asset of the world against the pandemic and thanked us for donating 200,000 vaccines to UN Peacekeepers

He had no issues about certification or quality

In his September 2020 address to the UNGA, a certain Boris had described Indian vaccine-candidates as among the most promising!

Earlier this year he wanted to import Indian vaccines for his people but had to cancel his scheduled April 2021 visit because of the virus!

The whole world accepts India’s amazing CoWin app, the Brits have to be different and cussed!

They have introduced red, amber, and green lists of countries whose citizens intend to travel to the UK

We should have only a blacklist for them

Some years ago, I did a favour to a friend and accepted an invitation to a dinner at a British diplomat’s residence in New Delhi

I duly received the invitation with a proviso that I should bring a Government-issued identity document with me!

My Secretary asked her counterpart in the British High Commission to send us the fellow’s birth certificate as well as the marriage certificate of his parents

Of course, I did not go for the dinner

In the 18th century, when the French Revolution was changing the course of human political evolution, the British were mildly amused; they became positively hostile when the Revolution turned to republicanism with the overthrow and execution of Louis XVI, and Britain allied itself with other European monarchies against the French Revolution

The perfidious albion (deceitful British) became a common saying in France

It has come alive again when the USA/UK recently overrode France’s multi-billion dollar submarine deal with Australia and established AUKUS, an acronym for Australia, UK and US

In 2018 France gifted us 31 Jaguar airframes to replace the ageing platforms, England sold us 2!

The citizens of Britain were the world’s greatest empire builders, with almost one quarter of the planet under Britain’s sway at one time

The sun was supposed never to set on the British Empire since even God did not trust the Englishman in the dark

We Indians were the world’s greatest empire busters, as we began the process of decolonization that saw the empire go bust

The fellow named after a place of Christian worship on a hilltop, “an unashamed imperialist at a time when imperialism is on its last legs”, as Sardar Patel described him, was shattered that the white man’s burden was disappearing, and that Gunga Din was no longer at his beck and call

So, in 1945 he asked the chap who was going to India as Governor General to keep a bit of India and to divide India into Pakistan, Hindustan and Princestan

Deep down, many ex-colonials never forgave India for inaugurating the dismantling of the British empire

From 2003, we have largely stopped accepting official foreign assistance. The British aid fellows in New Delhi were becoming increasingly irrelevant but were hooked onto the luxurious lifestyle that New Delhi offers foreign diplomats, with cooks, maids, drivers, cleaners et al

In 2014, at one of the India-Africa Forum Summits that I was privileged to attend, they signed an MoU valid for 6 years with the International Trade Centre Geneva called the Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) as a South-South project to promote business between specified East African nations and India

Business result? Minus zero

Africa is the continent about which Boris the Joker famously said that its problem was not that Britain was once in charge, but that it was no longer in charge

Another fellow called Tony blared that Africa was a slur on the conscience of mankind, accused its leaders of unlimited corruption, and set up a still-born

Africa Governance Initiative

The Panama and Pandora Papers have shown that he accepted huge commissions on arms sales!

Britain’s soft corner for Pakistan is best explained as the indulgence of a parent for an illegitimate errant child. The child is, after all, the father’s creation in a moment of uncontrolled passion

Britain, reeling today under its self-goal of quitting the European Union, is desperately seeking an enhanced independent international profile, and has still not accepted its dramatically reduced role in global affairs

In January 2020, the UK announced a fast-track visa to attract the world’s leading scientists, without any cap on the numbers of suitably qualified people able to come to the UK

The announcement followed a pledge the previous year by Shri Boris to turn the UK into a “supercharged magnet to attract scientists like iron filings”

As of date, less than six “iron filings” have moved to the UK

The British continue to live in La La land

The 4 May 2021 virtual summit between the two Prime Ministers established a “India-UK Roadmap 2030” looking to the future, but Britain has not let go of the past

There has been a whole series of British Governments that dream of a one-way special relationship with India

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab pompously says: “Your politics are our politics”, meaning that we will continue to harbour anti-India fellows, do little to stop violent attacks on our High Commission in London, give sanctuary to all sorts of shady financial offenders, and hold parliamentary debates on the farmers’ agitation or the regularization of Kashmir’s status in the House of Frauds (sorry Lords)

He forgets that Britannia no longer rules the waves

 Britain has still to learn to live with Indian power

It is galling to the former colonial master that India is a revisionist power. We want a revised Security Council, a revised international financial architecture, and revised commitments on climate change

As long as it retains a permanent seat in the United Nations, Britain will continue to fantasize that it is a great power

In 1947-48, we were attacked by tribal lashkars and soldiers from Britain’s illegitimate child Pakistan led by British officers

In November 1947, under the command of a renegade called Major W. A. Brown who had sworn loyalty to the Maharaja of Kashmir, the Gilgit Scouts overthrew the Maharaja’s Governor in Gilgit, and declared accession to Pakistan – the joker was knighted by the Queen and posthumously awarded Pakistan’s highest accolade

I recall that in 1965, when we were under pressure on the Kashmir front, we crossed the Punjab border and moved swiftly to Lahore, giving a rude shock to Pakistan, Britain denounced this “naked aggression” against Pakistan, and made similar noises in 1971

In 1991, our Foreign Exchange reserves were less than USD 2 bn, enough for a couple of weeks of imports. We asked our dear former rulers for USD 600 mn to finance some essential imports and were told that we would need to pledge our gold to the Bank of England, which we did

Times change, mindsets remain frozen

If UK were not a member of the UNSC, its global influence would be about the same as Somalia’s

As the legendary Bob Dylan sang in his 1960s classic:

“Your old road is rapidly agin’

…For the times they are a-changin’ ”

Reality stares them in the face, but attitudes prevent its acceptance

The business of the UK is business. When we bought their fighter jets, everything was hunky dory: when we bought something else, we became terrible violators of human rights

In my postings overseas, more than one Head of Government pointedly asked me if London still had influence in Indian affairs, as claimed by my British counterparts

Yes, I would respond, about as much as you have on Mars

Quitting the European Union will further erode the UK’s global relevance if it has any left. But they will continue to delude themselves that they still determine the destinies of hundreds of millions, as they did for two hundred years

Interestingly, while young India is bursting with energy and enthusiasm, Britain has a Minister for Loneliness and claims that they have 9 million “lonely” people in England

Those who rule England today had fathers or grandfathers or uncles in the British Indian Civil Service or the military

They have been brought up on stories of the white man’s burden and their glorious lives in British India with huge homes and dozens of servants for “chota hazri” and “bada hazri”

What they want from us today is the huge Indian market for British products including defence equipment and Indian investment in England

In 2022, England needs India more than India ever needed England

India is the fourth largest foreign investor in the UK as of 2022. In recent years there is more Indian money invested in UK than the other way around

According to official estimates, as of 2022, Indian companies in the UK have a turnover of some 50 bn pounds, and employ several hundred thousand people

Tata group alone employs almost 65,000 people in the UK

All hell broke loose in 2011 when Shri Rattan Tata complained in a newspaper interview that British workers at Jaguar Land River and Corus (companies that he had acquired) could not be found in their office after 3.30 PM on Fridays!

A cartoon in The Economist in 2013 depicted David Cameron genuflecting before our leaders and pleading for Indian investment in UK

India’s Finance Minister’s comments in Parliament in 2010 describing British aid to India as peanuts, sparked furious media and political debate in England on why it was being continued when India had preferred the French Rafale to the Typhoon, which is partly manufactured in Britain

With considerable difficulty, India managed to persuade the British Government to discontinue its assistance from 2015, much to the horror of Indian NGOs that were its primary beneficiaries

Ten years ago, there was much hype over the UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI)

The British leader said that a higher quality of education would provide opportunities for all, encourage economic growth, and overcome poverty in India (you see they still think they can alleviate the poverty that they caused in India!)

From the 1950s to the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of Indians especially from Punjab (and others from former British colonies) went to the UK in search of economic advancement

Over the last 20 years, the number has been reduced to a trickle, thanks to labyrinthine British immigration laws that assume that half the world sees the UK as paradise and is dying to get there

While researching a project, I came across this gem

At a meeting with his officials in 1946 in Lahore, the egregious and pompous Sir James Glancy ICS (1906 Punjab cadre), governor of Punjab, said:

“We would leave very soon but remember that you would not be able to maintain those vaulting standards of fairness, honesty, efficaciousness and diligence in administration, which we maintained …despite difficulties of governing and numerous odds faced by us. Time would come when many of you would remember us with tears in your eyes”

Please, readers, do cry for the glorious years of the British Raj

 

Author:

Deepak Vohra

Ambassador Dr. Deepak Vohra, Made in India,
Special Advisor to Prime Minister, Lesotho, South Sudan and Guinea-Bissau,
Special Advisor to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils, Leh and Kargil, Gauri Sadan, 5 Hailey Road, New Delhi 110001.

 

I am not Indian because I live in India, I am Indian because India lives in me!

They said: Hide from the storm; I replied: I am the storm  

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