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Towards the First (Royal) International?

Our "royalty" is now out to create an "International" of its own. The people who see nepotism in all this do not understand the need of the blue-blooded leaders in our monarchic republicanism.




Towards the First (Royal) International?

G P Deshpande

Our “royalty” is now out to create an “International” of its own. The people who see nepotism in all this do not understand the need of the blue-blooded leaders in our monarchic republicanism.

G P Deshpande ( is a well known commentator on literary and political affairs.

Economic & Political Weekly

NOVEMBER 14, 2009

here was once an African monarch visiting a good old republican country (in Europe, or was it the US itself? We forget). The excitement of the media and the people to see a head of government in colourful, traditional ethnic dress was stunning. Some British paper had then commented on the Republicans’ interest in the institution of monarchy. But the monarch was no less thrilled. We had always wondered where this excitement comes from. What is so bewitching about monarchy? We shall probably never understand. But with or without understanding the almost seductive nature of monarchy, one cannot escape its power. We now have come to believe that Indian republicanism and democracy survive because of the strong monarchic elements within it. Think of the smallest example. Under British monarchy the most powerful political address carries the number 10. Number 10 decides. Doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the name of the street has to be different. But that cannot be helped. If London were to be a part of this monarchy the street name could have been changed to you know what.

On the subject of name change, our liberals are shocked no end that the names of Calcutta or Bombay are changed. In case of the former, it seems primarily a spelling change. The ‘C’ in the older spelling has the same phonetic value as the ‘K’ in the new spelling. So what is the ballyhoo all about? In case of the latter, however, it is a grave case of playing with the colonial, i e,

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monarchic memories. That is blasphemy or so it would appear from the liberal outcry. This outcry has become so universal that in a Hindi play on “sex, morality and censorship” [in theatre], there was a bright comment on it! The royalty or their hangers-on can merrily change names

without reference to propriety, let alone history. Recently, a native (We use the word advisedly because that is the status of at least some Indian languages anyway) language periodical had published what it called the Sankshipta (abridged or selective) list of the names of the institutions of various kinds named after the Royal Family. Even so the number of changes and renamings therein was more than 150, all in the name of two or three members of royalty. No so-called “national” publication has so far even compiled such a list; nor has any national channel conducted a debate on the renamings. Return to the pre-colonial and they will have all the wisdom thrown at you. The changes there are far more ostentatious and vulgar than the return of the native! Why should a stadium in southeast India or a flyover in western India or something similar in the east be all named after one man? But these decisions do not seem to worry our liberals. For them the natives and their languages are a problem.

So we had thought at one stage. But we were clearly wrong. It is all a business of the royal and therefore legitimate. The plebeians cannot claim the same status to themselves. Be that as it may, when it is the question of royalty it would appear that it is an all-pervasive phenomenon. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not have anyone kingly or royal. It cannot therefore order either Yeddyurappa or the Reddys from Bellary, Karnataka. The crisis there continues. Think of the succession of Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra


Pradesh. The “Indraprastha” (capital of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata, today’s Delhi) royalty decreed that Jaganmohan must wait loyally and that was it. There was an excellent cartoon on it in The Hindu. But the artist missed out on the royalty aspect of the situation or so we thought. But there is little doubt that the Congress works thing out better largely because it is deeply aware of the number 10’s royal demeanour and has bowed its republican head to its near-sacred authority.

Lately, there has been a development of this royal character. We are used to reading about the princes in Britain and who among them has left the military academy or is about to.

Our counterpart is a prince like Haroon Al Rashid going out to hear out people’s complaints. In our case it is the dalits that are sought out. The non-royal of the dalit readers has no clue how to counter the appeal of the royalty for the dalits. Again these non-royals tried to counter the royalty by building their own statues. But since they lack the royal status they became a laughing stock. This land is a republic of statues and tombs. Even so the royal sanction is necessary. Poor Mayawati and her mentor cannot acquire it. So the Prince stands above anyone else even without a pedestal. After all can a pedestal be far behind once your royal status is recognised and worshipped?

But our royalty is now out to create an “International” of its own. The India Gate area in Delhi was during the British times known as the Princes’ Park. All the Maharajas had their palaces there. These buildings now house one government office or the other. These princes used to be there in I ndraprastha for conclaves with the viceroy.

Our fascination with the royal conclaves seems to be so powerful that a serious effort is being made to create even an international one. Look for the princes has been a principle for a while. The elections demonstrated that. The number of the royal or near royals that have emerged in these elections is amazing. But, then, the people who see nepotism in all this do not understand the need of the blue-blooded leaders in our monarchic republicanism.

Our prince understands it though. For him it is important to have a conclave of princes. So he went to Egypt and had a session with the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s son.

So you may expect that a son also rises in west Asia-north Africa area. After all Egypt has had a monarch till Nasser overthrew him in 1953 or thereabouts. Under the guidance of our prince he can also save Egypt by practising monarchic republicanism. In a way it is the first international of the royals. It may not be a bad idea to make Shashi Tharoor a spokesperson of this international. He might handle the external relations better than his performance in the External Affairs Ministry. But that is a minor detail. The important thing is the initiative. If it is taken seriously our Prince can expect at least one place/street name in Cairo changed to meet the sensibilities of the Indian royal family. No small foreign policy achievement, if you asked us!

South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics

Call for Research Pre-Proposals – Economics of Climate Change

Deadline January 30th 2010

The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) is a regional network that brings together and strengthens South Asian researchers and institutions interested in the inter-connections between development and the environment. SANDEE is currently inviting research pre-proposals on the Economics of Climate Change. Pre-proposals, if accepted, will lead to an invitation to submit a full research proposal.

Human activity is altering the earth’s climate with serious implications for food security, health, biodiversity and natural disasters. South Asian countries will need to respond with strategies to both mitigate green house gases and adapt to climate change. SANDEE would like to increase its support for research on the economics of climate change.

We are soliciting concept notes on the following topics: a) The benefits, costs and distributional impacts of specific adaptation or mitigation strategies. b) Economy wide impacts of climate change policies through the use of macroeconomic models. c) Incentives related to international climate mitigation/adaptation instruments and climate negotiations. d) Economic analyses of local and regional climate problems such as haze and black carbon and strategies to mitigate these. e) Extreme events and the economic viability of ‘adaptation instruments’ such as insurance, improved natural barriers or institutional responses.

SANDEE supports economics research related to environmental problems. Pre-proposals that do not have a strong economics component will not be considered. However, multi-disciplinary projects are encouraged. Institutional affiliation is required for receiving support. Pre-proposals will be evaluated on their academic merit and policy significance.

SANDEE will collect proposals throughout the next 12 months. However, in order to be considered for our next research competition, please send concept notes by January 30th, 2010. Grant budgets for the last few cycles have been around 15,000 USD for one to two year grants. Larger budgets are considered if a multidisciplinary research team of natural and social scientists are involved with a clear definition of roles and tasks. Concept notes can be uploaded on the SANDEE website at Please contact us at, if you have additional queries.

NOVEMBER 14, 2009 vol xliv no 46

Economic & Political Weekly

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