Opinion Columnists 14 Mar 2021 Kishwar Desai | Wome ...
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 | Women’s Week: Meghan vs Kate, let-down nurses, Sarah Everard

Published Mar 15, 2021, 12:00 am IST
Updated Mar 15, 2021, 12:00 am IST
Boris Johnson announced unapologetically that nurses on the NHS will only get one per cent increase in their pay
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Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned? Right or wrong? Those of us who had seen Meghan Markle blow into the UK, play the princess and then storm out may find it a little difficult to take everything on Oprah’s show at face value. Luckily I can’t be called a racist as I am probably as brown as her. My background in television also ensures that I automatically discount some of all “ reality TV” especially if there is big money at stake. The reality is that the moment the camera is switched on, everyone acts just a little bit — because no one wants to come out looking like the bad guy or gal. I have seen it far too often — there are no re-takes in life, but plenty in television. No one “lies” but everyone has a version of what happened. And if you have an axe to grind —-do the hatchet job before the opponent can step in.

International Women’s Day was on Monday last but the storms had already gathered. In sunny California, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Meghan Markle and Harry Sussex last Sunday night West Coast time on CBS. Even before the ITV showed it on Monday, it was all over the newspapers and TV and has not gone off the air all week. That is real global TV clout. Eleven million people watched it in UK and apparently 70 million (roughly as many as UK population) worldwide.

 

Harry has not featured very much in the subsequent discussions. It is all about Meghan and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge with the Queen in the background. It would be an ideal Ekta Kapoor serial — multi-generation, multi-racial family with dogs and horses and palaces and international locations. May be Netflix will come back with Crown: the American sequel.

It was the apparent mention about the possible colour of the baby Meghan was carrying — which seemed to have shocked the TV audience; they should know that in India most people —-without even knowing the meaning of racism — prays for a ‘gora’ child! But this one will run and run. When the wedding took place, everyone was impressed by the choir with Black British singers, the dignified presence of Meghan’s mother and the Bishop from Chicago giving his radical sermon. At the time the Palace bathed in praise about its modern attitude. But then as we know in Indian movies, it is after the interval that the tragedy sets in.

 

The tabloids are having a great time with the Daily Mail doing scores (literally) of items on Meghan every day. Piers Morgan ex Tabloid editor and TV pundit stalked off his “Good Morning Britain” show when his fellow presenters upbraided him for badmouthing Meghan. But then Meghan officially complained he had called her a liar. ITV shares fell that afternoon and Morgan went permanently the next day. The Royal Family has launched a retaliatory barrage of talking up the Queen, their best weapon. There are reminiscences from around the Commonwealth as to how non-racist she is and what a sense of humour she has. All in a week’s work.

 

Despite the success of reaching 24 million vaccinations, Boris Johnson seemed to lose the plot, again. The week after the Budget saw millions of pounds being given away to all and sundry, he announced unapologetically that nurses on the NHS will only get one per cent increase in their pay. There was widespread consternation. These are the Carona warriors — who had been applauded every Thursday evening during the first lockdown by everyone including Boris and his fiancée Carrie Symonds and their dog. And now this.

In the meantime, there is news that Carrie has refurbished the living rooms in 10 Downing Street lavishly. But the British government is so mean that there is no budget for spending any money on the interior decoration of the official residence; neither at Downing Street nor Chequers the weekend home of Prime Minister which is a private donation run on private charity money. Carrie seems to have raised the money from Conservative Party donors which has caused even more mockery than if she had won it in a lottery. The moral of the story is there are those who know how to get the money— and the others can wait.

 

Women remained in the news, in tragic circumstances. Sarah Everard, a young woman who graduated from Durham University and working in a middle managerial position in London was walking across Clapham Common in South East London, not far from where we live, around 9 pm. She was returning to her home in Brixton on the other side of the Common. She never reached home and her mobile phone went silent. This was around ten days ago. On Friday the police confirmed the abduction. Even worse news followed. Her body was found in the rural areas of Kent. Shockingly, the man responsible was a police officer in a senior responsible position.

 

On Thursday both Houses of Parliament had set aside all other business to celebrate International Women’s Day. The murder dominated the discussion, including the radical suggestion that men should be banned from stepping out after 6 pm. What do you think?

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