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  Opinion   Oped  24 Jul 2017  Can Dunkirk revive Britain?

Can Dunkirk revive Britain?

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Jul 24, 2017, 12:31 am IST
Updated : Jul 24, 2017, 12:31 am IST

Meanwhile, Dunkirk is certainly acting as a balm for flagging spirits in the UK.

A still from the movie Dunkirk
 A still from the movie Dunkirk

In the battle of Dunkirk, in 1940, certainly the British did not cover themselves with glory, but what they did manage to do was reduce their troops from being annihilated by the Germans, who mysteriously, gave them a break from a battering for three days… it was enough for troops that were on the verge of surrender to be evacuated, to live to fight another day.

The Christopher Nolan film, which is turning into a box office hit, Dunkirk, is also creating waves in the UK and US — though one of the World War II allies, the French, are a little miffed that their role in the operations has been practically written out. However, this film could provide the formula to revive Brexit-hit Britain — just think of Dunkirk! Think of how the British almost lost everything and then finally defeated the nearly victorious Germans. A lesson to be learnt from there, perhaps. The only missing piece is a leader like Winston Churchill — someone to rally the troops and raise a battle cry. Where is he — could he hide inside the mop-haired Boris Johnson? Whilst it might be easy to visualise Mr Johnson with a parrot on his head, conducting meetings from a bathtub — does he really have the fierce determination of Churchill?

Meanwhile, Dunkirk is certainly acting as a balm for flagging spirits in the UK. Amazing how easily we can turn failure into victory… And in this the victory lay in eluding the enemy successfully…

Sometimes it seems that the more we move forward, the more we remain the same! The BBC, upheld as a bastion of good old-fashioned, free and fair journalism (or at least it used to be our ideal, when I was a full-time hack) is obviously not all it appears, behind the scenes. In shocking revelations, the public broadcaster confessed to not having adhered to gender parity in salaries. So what’s new — some might query — doesn’t happen all over the world? Perhaps this is where Indian channels might actually score higher — as I am sure the Indian public broadcaster (Doordarshan) does not discriminate — and we all of know of at least a couple of private Indian channels which are led by female anchors so it is unlikely that they would accept anything less than what the men are earning. Other private channels might have a different policy.

But then, the argument is given that Doordarshan is not mandated to be commercially viable — which the BBC says it is, and thus has to pay people to stay on.

However, most unusual was the live interview in the early morning Today radio programme in which Mishal Husain, one of the BBC’s leading anchors, actually asked Tony Hall, the head of BBC about this gender bias — and did it really exist? “It’s complicated. One person could be sitting next to someone doing the same job who earns more,” Mr Hall said. But he justified quickly that “they could be doing other things.”

She might have been herself shocked to discover that her own salary was far less than her co (male) anchor. (Not the best moment to be on air.) But now the “girls” are fighting back demanding parity, and so this news story will probably run and run. The shocking thing of course, is how BBC, which revels in revealing the wages in sweatshops around the world — had managed to keep this so quiet. Is it that we genuinely prefer to see balding, ageing, well paid men to svelte, attractive, low paid women? No accounting for taste!

By the way, the highest paid among all is radio anchor Chris Evans who takes home a salary of £2.2 million! But then this is the inexplicable country where the gender pay gap continues to be on an average around 18 per cent.

At a time when we are questioning whether the world media deliberately and indiscriminately files negative stories about India — here I am writing a second negative little item about the UK… and this time about rising crime. Having been told of a few grisly encounters recently — I am wondering, like the rest of this country, whether we have gone too far with police cuts. As we know, Theresa May had presided over the pruning of the police force numbers by 18,000 — and there had apparently been no impact on the crime rates. But now the worrying part is that the rising crime is mostly the kind, which can cause immense personal harm, while the monetary damage might not be large. Lately, there has been a lot of media coverage over increasing acid attacks and statistics show that the number of these kind of crimes — burglaries, knife attacks, etc., have actually gone up.

Is this only because there are fewer bobbies to be seen — or is there some truth in that people are just not as financially secure as they used to be?

Whatever the case, this is the kind of information, which led to the revival of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. So Ms May should get the cops out!

Tags: dunkirk, brexit, winston churchill