As I See It

CB Patel Thursday 14th December 2017 06:03 EST

Sadiq Khan shows exactly what is wrong with 'divide and rule’

Grandparents of London Mayor Sadiq Khan were born in pre-partition India, later moving to Pakistan, where his parents were born. They however, moved to London in the 1960s and his father found a job as a bus driver. Khan himself, was born on British soil. Both he and his wife are lawyers by profession and identify as practising Muslims. Ever since he took up as the Mayor, the 47 year old has grown to become one of the most popular Labour party leader, not just in London, but across the UK. He has managed to reach out to all, disregards their religious preferences. Today, be it a Hindu, a Christian, Muslim, Sikh, or Jew, all support Sadiq Khan with a loyalty that is almost enviable. 

A small yet moving example of the Mayor's popularity would be when US President Donald Trump berated him after a terror attack in the City. A major misunderstanding on Trump's part, he criticised Sadiq who had merely asked citizens to “not be alarmed” to see increased police presence. What was phenomenal, however, was how netizens of the UK quickly jumped to their beloved leader's rescue, lashing at the outsider who dared point his finger at Khan. What gives the human rights lawyer so much power over the people? How did he manage to garner public love so strong, Londoners and people across the UK are ready to defend him internationally? 

Secret to his popularity can be elucidated in two simple points. The first, a belief of universalism in the sense that all religions are to be treated the same, and second, respect towards people of all classes of the society. As the first citizen of London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has slowly and gradually made a place for himself in everybody's hearts. The easiest way to connect with a person, is to respect their religion. Despite following a Muslim path, he has honoured several other religions without any hesitance. Muslim leaders often face the dilemma of losing on their votebanks by visiting a temple or paying obeisance to other places of worship. Not Sadiq Khan. He has the same faith when he visits Hindu temples or the Gurdwara, as he has when he visits his mosque. 

Not just with internal communities, our beloved Mayor understands the importance of maintaining relations with other countries. His recent-most India-Pakistan visit comes as an appropriate example. A large number of world leaders avoid visiting both the neighbouring countries in one trip, considering the sensitivity of their relations. However, without an ounce of self-doubt, Khan came to India first, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top business leaders like Mukesh Ambani, actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, only to wind up the tour and leave for Pakistan. 

From New Delhi to Amritsar, he visited the Golden Temple, and left for Wagah Border, from where he entered Pakistan on foot. Yet again, Khan met with leaders, businessmen, and celebrities in the country, trying his level best to strengthen bilateral ties. His delegation also included deputy mayor Rajesh Agrawal, who was with him at every step of the tour. 

Many people are persistently stuck in the miserable rut of who is Hindu? Who is Muslim? Who is Indian, or Pakistani? What we need to remember is that UK is our karma bhoomi. For now, we should only revel in how proudly Sadiq Khan tried to link both, India and Pakistan- estranged sons of the same motherland. 

Keeler or Killer? The misery of being Christine 

The Profumo scandal that rocked the UK in 1963, resulted in the resignation of then prime minister Harold Macmillan. To this day, it is arguably one of the largest scandals in the history of modern Britain. On top on the list of those who were severely affected by the whole affair, was Christine Keeler. Heartthrob of elite British circles, she died last week at the age of 75, leaving behind nothing but whispers about her true identity. To the uninitiated, Christine was a symbol of the era. Photograph of her young, vulnerable and naked self, seated on a back-to-front Arne Jacobsen chair spread went on to become her identity. Now, after she lost battle to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, her son brought her true story to light. 

The model and showgirl met with her “pimp”, osteopath Stephen Ward in 1960, at Murray's Cabaret Club in Soho, and he introduced her to a glamorous world of mansions and Britain's finest. Of all the affairs she had due to her frequent attendance at posh sex parties, her parallel liaisons with British secretary for war, John Profumo and Soviet attaché Yevgeny Ivanov proved to be the beginning of her end. MI5 spies were aware of her and had the right mind to use her as a trap to get the Russian to defect. They however, remained unaware of Profumo. Gunshots fired at Christine's house in 1963, by a shoddy boyfriend brought her to the attention of police authorities. By this time, the British Parliament was buzzing with rumours. Profumo was prompt to lie in the House of Commons about their affair. However, he quit in disgrace months later. PM MacMillan resigned in October 1963 and the Tories were trounced in the 1964 general election.

By this time, her old mentor Ward had committed suicide, and Ivanov had died early. While it would have been easy for Keeler to tap her heels and head back to her previous life, she chose to turn her back on everything. Her shoulder held the burden of two failed marriages, endless homeless shelters and council flats to complete her life. She worked in telephone sales, dry cleaning and also as a school dinner lady. The haughty youngster, who laughed in the face of adversity was now just a sad, old woman living in a semi-sheltered housing, terrified of being recognised. 

What was the truth behind the Profumo Scandal is still unknown. For some, it was sex, for others, it was spying. If you ask me, it was only the misfortune carried by Christine since the very hour she was born. Abandoned by her father as a child, she was brought up by her mother and step-father in a house made of two converted railway carriages. She was sexually abused by the latter and his friends, until in 1951, when she was sent to a holiday home after a school health inspector found her suffering from malnutrition. 

Christine Keeler was known for many things. What wasn't known, or rather taken into account, was the background she came from. After an early introduction to severe hardships, the lady sought to use her body to live by. Maybe it was psychological. Maybe, after having her body violated so many times, she found strength and solace in controlling what she does with it. 

No one, but Nikki 

Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, needs no introduction. The senior-most Indian representative in the Trump Administration is a Sikhni by birth, making her fearless and outspoken by nature. In a refreshing break from the White House's flawed defense against the numerous allegations against the President, Haley's statement took the world by surprise. The billionaire world leader's philandering ways is no secret. Also known is his open degradation of the opposite sex. 

Several women in the past week have bravely come forward with stories of sexual harassment and misconduct by Trump in the past. While I am no judge to discuss the rights and the wrongs, it upset me to see his administration's arrogant assertion that all allegations voiced are fake. Haley, a former governor, is perhaps the first top ranking official in the US, who boldly refocused attention on the case against the President, insisting that his accusers should be treated no differently than others. 

It takes a remarkable amount of strength to be in a public forum and say- “They should be heard, and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” very well knowing that the person she is speaking against is no one other than the President of the United States. Haley's comments come as a reminder that even the greatest leader of the Third World should not get away from disrespecting women. 

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