400 years : from Sir Thomas Roe to Barack Obama

400 years.

Well, almost 400 years back, a ship had sailed across the choppy waters of the Arabian Sea, the Union Jack waving aloft, and had entered the port of Surat. The affair had been humdrum. Surprisingly so, because the person who had sailed, was destined to leave his mark in the time-stained pages of the Great Indian History.

The year was 1615, and the person was Sir Thomas Roe.

The journey had been long and exhausting. The ship had braved the raging Atlantic Ocean, right down to the Cape of Good Hope. And then had entered the tumultous Arabian Sea. The alighting at Surat had been followed by a long and gruelling journey through the hot wastelands of the North West. When, after weeks of travelling Sir Thomas Roe had finally reached the gates of Agra, his face did not betray his weariness, nor did he lose focus of the humoungous resposnsibility he was bearing upon his shoulders.

For Sir Thomas was no ordinary person. He was the emissary from the court of His Majesty James I, the then King of England, himself. And his instructions had been very clear: Arrange for a commercial treaty which would give the English East India Company exclusive rights to reside and build factories in Surat and other areas. In return, the Company would provide the Emperor of the land with goods and rarities from the European market.

And he was the man chosen for the job.

The "Emperor of the land", or of what was then the "known India", was none other than Nur-ud-din Salim Jahangir, third of the great Moguls, direct descendant of the illustrious Akbar, and the father of Shah Jahan. And it wasn't long before the happy-go-lucky Jahangir was smitten by the English offer. Sir Thomas, in fact became his drinking buddy in his own Court and the Mogul emperor, was quick to wrap up the deal in a gracious letter of acceptance to James I.


Such was the story of the first commercial contact that India made with the Western World.

November 2010. 395 years later.

The basics remain the same. As had happened 395 years back, it is another Westerner approaching India. With yet another commercial idea in his mind. The only difference : this is no Sir Thomas Roe. Instead it is the President of the United States, who goes by the name Barack Hussein Obama. And along with him, is the First Lady Michelle, and their kids whoseNamesAren'tReallyOfMuchConsequence.

Remember the single ship entourage that had come along with Sir Thomas Roe? In this case it is ..ahem... slightly different : 34 warships, including an aircraft carrier, stationed off the coast of Mumbai. 40 aircraft, including the Air Force One military 'plane and 6 heavily armoured cars to accompany Him around.

So yes, you guessed it right. That which has changed, is just the magnitude. Magnitude of everything that is of absolutely no tangible consequence to our country. And that is it. At a personal level this entire hullabaloo around Obama's oh-so-epic visit is somewhere between rotten cheese and half baked cabbages in my priority list. Or maybe lower.

First things first. Why has His Uselessness Mr Barack Obama decided to sanctify our motherland?

The answer my friend is a-blowing in the wind. Obama comes to India, not as a Statesman, but as a mere salesman. Remember those irritating people who wake you up from your mid-day siesta by ringing your door bell and politely asking whether you have tried out the new fairness cream which makes you glow in the dark? Obama comes for a similar reason. The only difference is that, you just cannot ignore his doorbell. So poor old Manmohan Singh, (analogous to Jahangir in the previous example), has to wake up from his mid day slumber and make arrangements and listen to the useless rattling of this person.

Also when He says something akin to "And it is clear that standing in the 21st century, it is but an Indo-US alliance that will save this planet" old Manmohan has to nod his head in sugar-coated agreement and clap. And yes, he has to remember to shake His Worthlessness Mr Obama's hand at every strategically spaced-out time interval.

Seriously Mr Obama. Whom are you trying to hoodwink?

'nuff with your diplomacies. What's with getting stuff done? $200m being spent per day to keep His OhMyGoodness alive. 800 rooms in the Taj and Hyatt ... beefed up with extra layers of air-tight security to keep His Joblessness safe from the prying sniper rifles of the Al Quaida.

To what avail?

Change. And long rambling eloquent speeches on how India should not misinterpret the outsourcing issue in the US.
More change. And another long rambling eloquent speech on why India needs to buy US goods over Indian ones.
... And more change.And yet another long eloquent speech on how an Indo-US partnership is the next best thing about to happen to this world after Jockey Inners. 

What's with the compensation for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims? What's with the Sino-Pak threats along our borders? What about the terrorism issues, following in the wake of the 26/11?

Surprisingly, His HollowVivaciousness has no answer. And interestingly, His MasterfulEloquence doesn't dare utter the P-word in any of His public addresses.


I shall end this now. It's been dragging along for quite some time. Here's hoping His PseudoAwesomeness realises that it's high time He stops beating about the bush. And starts some real work for a change.

It certainly is  necessary.

Here's some light humour to wrap up.


Nethra said…
People get into such high positions to change the world but they do realise they cannot, only after going there. Poor Obama wanted to do some good but now confused to whom he should be doing the good. ;) :)

By the way, liked your take on his visit to India. When our own politicians don't do anything about their country how do we expect a foreigner to do it?
Sushant said…
High cynicism backed by no solid proof.

Its a well established fact that Pakistan is the biggest ally to the USA. Hence, you cant expect him to say something against them in a town hall meeting with students.

Yes he has come as a salesman. But boy he has things to sell which the Indians can't imagine to come up on their own in the next few decades.

BTW happy to see a fellow bitsian blogger blogging on this. Appreciate your interest.

Random Question -Are you an indian leftist?
@Sushant : thanks.

Regarding the 'no-solid-proof' thing that you mentioned, I'd like to clarify certain things.

One, What about the whole Warren Anderson incident surrounding the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Did Obama even care to mention any of the words "Anderson", "Dow", "Union Carbide" during his visit?

Two, The US was officially a Pak ally during the Cold War, an advantage very cunningly used by Pakistan to wreak damage upon our own country. Remember the double-faced mastermind of the 26/11? David Headley, and how little the US had done to do anything worthwhile?

Three, regarding continuing an alliance with Pakistan. That is plain stupid. Given the fact that even Musharraf accepted that Pakistan had been behind the terror attacks.

You might find this link interesting : http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-11-04/obamas-india-trip-to-save-an-alliance/
oh and in reply to the "Random question" ... i am anything but one, though I am an Indian by birth and heart.
Roshmi Sinha said…
Quite a post that was!

Well... Uncle Sam's 'friendship' is worse than its enmity. Just look around...

As for 26/11... it was part of a larger gameplan... to get this so-called 'war-on-terror' squarely on to the subcontinent.

The so-called 'developed' countries survive or rather their economies stand tall based on the 'purchasing power' of the 'developing' and 'under-developed' countries. Especially in defence related products. Else their economies would collapse...

The occupant of the most expensive piece of real estate in the US of A is just a mask. Calling this person as 'the most powerful person on earth' is a misnomer. The real powers are nameless and faceless... the oil gods, bankers, defense contractor lobbies, money bags, conglomerates, special interest lobbies...
Anonymous said…
so the recent post was an apology to this one ?
- Mic
@Mic : suit yourself. ;-) But can't NOT say that the developments in the parliament yesterday weren't satisfactory. Personally speaking.