The Mask comes off

In the past few days, finally the mask of encouragement and racial equality has come off the faces of various white peoples. The Jaguar dealers in the US and the board of the Orient Express hotels have both reverted with open revulsion to the Tata's proposal to buy each of these brands. According to these commentators on the issue, the US consumers and the potential guests of the Orient Express Hotels will not take kindly to Indian ownership. Regardless of the fact that their thus far predominantly white managements have made no great strides in getting either of the firms to perform profitably. Arcelor had announced similar reservations about a year back when the Mittals bid for the firm.

In a way, it's good to see that the mask is off. It's much more tricky and painful to fight a battle against guerillas. When the enemy is out in the open, the fight is much more clean. And what's more, in the new India, proud of her culture and self-confident about herself and her abilities, no one is going to lie back and take such comments and turn the other cheek. Especially not the Tatas, who in any case have been among the nation builders of India. The Tatas are fighting back and have asked the Orient Express chain to take back their words, and have taken the battle public. Good for them, and good for India!

I do realise that not all 'white people' feel this way and that there are plenty of inclusive Americans and Europeans, and I have numerous friends amongst them. And it's not a rant against 'white people' which would be racist of me. I just find it an incredibly arrogant and outdated attitude in a day and age when India and China are amongst the fastest growing nations, followed by Brazil. And when iconic firms like Citibank and Pepsi have Indians at their helms. Not to mention the growth of technology and innovation in Silicon Valley fuelled by - you guessed it - Indians.

Recently, Fareed Zakaria wrote a Newsweek editorial about America's growingly bizarre position as a global superpower which is afraid of the rest of the globe. This kind of Xenophobia and superiority complex was the attitude that China and Japan had during the 17th and 18th centuries, and we all know what happened to them before and after they wised up. Unless America - a country that notoriously lives in the present - learns to take a few lessons from history, in the words of the sage, it may unfortunately be condemned to repeat it!


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