Opinion Columnists 12 Sep 2021 Kishwar Desai | A mu ...
Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.

Kishwar Desai | A multicultural star is born; will Priti turn back migrant boats?

Published Sep 13, 2021, 2:42 am IST
Updated Sep 13, 2021, 2:42 am IST
Refugees and migrants have been a huge challenge for this island country
Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu had migrated with her parents from Canada when she was just two years old and she is the first British woman to have reached a major singles final in 44 years. (AP/PTI)
 Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu had migrated with her parents from Canada when she was just two years old and she is the first British woman to have reached a major singles final in 44 years. (AP/PTI)

The day of the multicultural girl champ has arrived! On the weekend was a tennis match which made history: between two girls who came from multicultural backgrounds in Canada — but one of them is now British and she won! Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu had migrated with her parents from Canada when she was just two years old and she is the first British woman to have reached a major singles final in 44 years. Now living in Bromley she grabbed a convincing victory from Leylah Fernandes, a 19-year-old also from Canada, in the US Open. Raducanu is already a millionaire from the branding deals she has signed — and has become a national darling, not just in the UK but also in the US.

Along with her success has been the jump in here Instagram followers — starting with 10,300 before she played in Wimbledon to 600,000 on the eve of her Grand Slam departure to the US.  The British media has gone gaga over the young girl — but sadly as there is a restriction from people flying into the US from the UK, her parents who have made many sacrifices to support her, probably ended up watching her win on a TV screen.

 

Like many of the other athletes — Raducanu’s training was also hit by the pandemic and she and her Romanian father, Ian, had to simply use the local cul de sac near their home to hit balls for hours every day. Her Chinese mother, now known as Renee, used to take her back to her hometown in Shenyang, where Emma would play ping pong. She was known for her ping pong skills — and few knew in Shenyang knew of the young girl’s tennis prowess.

But with this spectacular win — a tennis star with a dazzling smile is born !

 

“Woke” protests continue to topple sculptures from their perch. Thomas Guy who donated a third of his estate in 1724 to find cures for “incurable “ diseases and helped to found the Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital, is now the latest to face the ire of those who feel that his investment in companies which dealt in slave trade in the eighteenth century is intolerable.

Guy had made a small fortune by profiting through the South Sea Company, which had transported nearly 64,000 slaves between 1715 to 1731. Many of these were to plantations in South America.

 

Though removing the statue is still being debated — there is a strong move for it, just as there was a big push to remove the statue of Sir Cecil Rhodes. Of course no one is asking anyone to return the Rhodes scholarship, which at one stage was the hottest thing to apply for, and many including Bill Clinton and our own Girish Karnad were beneficiaries of the philanthropic endowment.

Similarly under immense pressure, the Winston Churchill Foundation, another charitable organisation which gives fellowships, has now dropped “Winston” from its name. The allegation by many of his detractors is that that Churchill was an imperialist as well as a racist.

 

However, Churchill is also recognised as a saviour in the UK by many, a hero who saved millions in World War II — and is a special favourite of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said it was “absurd, misguided and wrong to airbrush his giant achievements “. And so the man who wrote 43 books, mostly historical tomes, may himself be written out of history.

But there is a debate over whether we should recognise these men and women as people of their times and not judge them by the changes society has undergone.

India is not the only country where attitudes are being changed towards those who were our heroes till yesterday

 

How many times have we read and re-read Jane Austen! And we have been fascinated not just by her plots but also the descriptions of the English countryside which is said to be heavily influenced by the area in which she lived: Chawton. She wrote here in a cottage owned by her brother who worked in the nearby town of Alton. This is very much in my to-do list of places to visit — but now alas there might be a major development of 1200 homes coming up in the Chawton Park Home. This has also got the local residents worried as the peacefulness of the area may be destroyed. And so what better than for the protestors to dress up as Jane Austen characters, over the coming weekend, and protest!

 

Well, those of us who are fans could head there before the housing complex comes up!

Can the British have the stomach to turn away refugees who are arriving here in boats? Australia has done it, France has done it as well — but the big problem for home minister Priti Patel is that she is criticised if she stops them and berated if she lets them come in. Refugees and migrants have been a huge challenge for this island country — and there are many who feel that the welfare state here is the biggest attraction for those who want to make the UK their home.

 

It is a difficult decision for Ms Priti Patel, who is veering towards a tough stance, encouraged by her counterpart in Australia who has assured her that once the first few boats are turned away, others will stop arriving, as happened down under. Only time will tell — as usually illegal migration is a thriving business often run by ruthless agents.

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