Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An uneasy valentine

A side-effect of researching the history of Indian Railways is an involuntary feeling of respect, in spite of yourself, for an empire that fully earned the word mighty. And a fresh disdain for the lesser version being attempted now.

The old invader was ruthlessly feudal, magnificently arrogant and calmly self-centered. The new one wears its power clumsily, still in awe of its own brute force. So no railway system will be bequeathed to Iraq, no snob schools will be built in Afghanistan nor clubs in Kosovo, no courts, cathedrals or civil service.

They will be left nothing to tear down in a gesture of independence or appropriate with ceremony or simply build on. Nothing will be stolen from them that can be demanded back in indignation as "closure". It will have been a rape, as opposed to an unequal relationship.

No comments:

Blog Archive