Revenge of the Raj: UK disarray as Jallianwala anniversary looms!

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Kishwar Desai

Has this strange coincidence struck you as well? The closer we get to the anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre — the greater the political disarray in the UK? So if I believed in the afterlife, I would imagine that these coming weeks could see the revenge of those thousands who were killed at Jallianwala Bagh 100 years ago… Could it be that the curse of the martyrs has struck a deadly blow as the UK , once a mighty power , struggles to maintain its position as world leader?
Isn’t it ironic that Britain is falling into a quarrelsome, shambolic mess, just as we remember those who died at Jallianwala Bagh — because they dared to challenge the supremacy of the British Raj?
How things have changed for the erstwhile Empire! The process of leaving the EU has been going on unsuccessfully for two years and yet in India the Partition was over in six weeks —leaving chaos and death behind.
While these are the lessons of history, many of the Brexiters still press on with their demands regardless of how much the country has been torn apart. Thus it should not be shocking at all that the people are fed up — and no matter what the politicians may feel, and the dreams they personally may nurture , it is time they began to listen to the people.
The biggest wake up call for the government came when Theresa May lost the vote on the Brexit plan last week for the third time. Following that the Conservatives have plummeted in the opinion polls. Some of this may be due to their inability to present a cohesive front. Shockingly, the Conservatives are now five points behind Labour at 36 per cent — while Labour is at 41 per cent. This means that if elections were to be held today — it is very possible that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, would swing to victory. This by itself may be enough to get the Tories to pull together and work things out.
And while most of the country is struggling with Brexit — there are many who are dealing with more weighty problems. Which is why a new cookbook, Pinch of Nom, has just flown off the shelves, selling more than 200,000 copies within three days of its publication! This is an absolute record for a non-fiction book, comparable only to J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown, who write fiction! Written by two chefs, Kate Allison and Kay Featherstone, this book contains basic, crowd-sourced recipes, that are easy to make. And promise to help you lose weight as well.
But the astonishing bit about the book is that the two chefs are no poster girls with wasp-thin waists and long flowing tresses. They are both pleasantly plump and look like they would like a good “nom” occasionally, like many of us. (“Nom” being slang for “good eating”.) And therefore, how do we credit these recipes with the power to make us slim again? Possibly because Pinch of Nom emerges from a blog maintained by the two chefs, in which they had systematically reached out and collected recipes from their readers. There is research and marketing behind Pinch of Nom and also the building up of a dedicated community of food lovers-plus-dieters. The combination seems to have worked phenomenally well.
And just to make authors like me eat their heart out even more (apologies, could not resist the silly pun), their book has got thousands of positive, mostly five-star reviews!
And as another royal baby comes along in either April or May — we can be assured of a welcome change in the conversation, far away from Brexit. The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, believes in doing things differently, and one big relief is that she is not going to make an appearance, post-birth, on the steps of the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital, looking beautifully dressed and immaculately coiffed as her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton has done three times already.
This return to normalcy is being appreciated, since giving birth is a messy affair and it is difficult for most women to even stand straight after that, or walk — let alone wear some amazing clothes and look gorgeous. By saying that, she will stay away from the limelight. She has definitely ensured that she can even (hurrah!) — have time to quietly bond with the newly born babe, and not be worried about her image in the papers. Since her child will not be heir to the throne, she can simply relax and at a hospital close to her new home at Frogmore cottage.
And, finally, those of you who are keen to join the commemoration of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in the UK and India — please do see the three exhibitions, set up in collaboration by the Partition Museum from Amritsar, along with the Manchester Museum — at the Manchester Museum, at the Nehru Centre in London and the Birmingham Library. The Jallianwala Bagh Centenary Commemoration Committee supported the initial exhibition in Amritsar, which is also on. All of these will give you some heart-wrenching revelations about the terrible tragedy!
The writer is an award-winning author and columnist. Her latest book, Jallianwala Bagh, 1919, The Real Story, has just been published.