London Diary: New Delhi’s self-goal against the BBC

The decision to ban it from Youtube and Twitter in particular can only be described as over the top and has ended up fuelling public interest in it

London Diary: New Delhi’s self-goal 
against the BBC

Hasan Suroor

New Delhi’s self-goal against the BBC

New Delhi’s hyper reaction to the BBC documentary on the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat and Narendra Modi’s alleged failure to control them quicky enough has done more service to the BBC than damaged its reputation. Suddenly, an eminently forgettable film has become the talk of the town.

The decision to ban it from Youtube and Twitter in particular can only be described as over the top and has ended up fuelling public interest in it. More people are now curious to find out what makes it so incendiary that it is seen as a threat to India’s sovereignty—the reason given for banning it.

The fact is that there’s nothing new in the documentary. The same old stuff reheated for a new audience. It’s a typically BBC balancing act based on interviews with the usual suspects on both sides of the aisle with one side alleging a sarkari cover-up of an alleged Muslim “massacre”, and the other denouncing such allegations as a plot to defame Modi.

India has accused the British government of interfering in the affairs of a sovereign country over the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s decision to conduct an investigation into the riots. I reported the story from London at the time and know that the British action was not prompted by its interest in Indian Muslims but visiting British Muslims caught up in the violence. The government was under intense pressure from local Gujarati Muslim community to act, and the investigation was an attempt to be seen to be doing something.

The only thing I find intriguing is the timing of the documentary. Why now? But conspiracy theories suggesting a sinister British conspiracy against Modi and his government are, frankly, for the birds.

Indian do-gooder in UK free food scheme

A Pune-based Indian entrepreneur has reportedly contributed to a fundraiser set up by an Edinburgh Pizza restaurantowner to support his scheme to distribute free pizzas to poor people in winter.

Marc Wilkinson, the owner of Pure Pizza in Morningside, thanked the unnamed Indian donor in a TV interview. He said he had been planning a big altruistic act to help people struggling with the cost-ofliving crisis.

“I keep hearing about how the cost of living is affecting so many people and I just thought that my ovens are running all day anyway, so they may as well be working at full capacity all day if it helps people. Altruism is something that really interests me so I wanted to try it,” he told BBC.

He plans to raise £12,000. How much came from the anonymous Indian do-gooder is not known.

B for ‘bloo’ and C for ‘coff’

Britain’s English Spelling Society (ESS) has recommended a series of changes to how certain words are spelt.

It wants redundant letters in words such as (w)rong, (k)night, (g)nash or snor(e) to be dropped.

It has also recommended having only one letter or letter-combination to represent one sound: so wash becomes wosh, love becomes luv, foot is fuut, good is guud, blue is bloo, show is sho and cough would be coff.

The ESS believes that the changes will tackle illiteracy and help to boost the economy. A standardised spelling system was provisionally voted on in March last year and has been fully approved after members around the world were consulted. The society has decided to endorse an approach called ‘traditional spelling revised’ (TSR), which it will promote to run voluntarily alongside traditional spelling in the hope that it will eventually gain wide acceptance.

Back to Sony and Nikon

Planning to buy the newest model of iphone seduced by its more flashy camera functions? Well, don’t. Because the good old box camera is back in fashion. The so-called Generation Z is reported to be dumping their smartphones for oldfashioned digital cameras despite their lowquality effect. The trend is being driven by celebrities such as the supermodel Bella Hadid and social media influencers.

The demand is so high that sales of vintage or discontinued models doubled between October and December last year. Online searches for digital cameras have risen exponentially. On TikTok, hashtag #digitalcamera has over 124 million views. There are also videos instructing iphone users how to turn them into “2000s digital camera”.

So, hold on to your old Nikons and Sonys to keep up with the Joneses.

Vanishing polish

The growing popularity of casual shoes is having an unintended consequences for the once-flourishing boot-polish industry as the new crop of shoes don’t need polishing. The demand for shoe polish has fallen sharply, a trend that accelerated during the pandemic and that led many office workers to ditch formal suits and leather shoes.

And at least one major shoe polish company, the famous Kiwi shoe polish, has announced plans to withdraw from Britain attributing its decision to a “rise in casual shoes that don’t require formal polishing”. A leading shoe repair business in London described it as “a sign of the times”.

And, lastly,

First Draft, a newsletter on language, is collecting awful euphemisms used by companies to describe job losses. Goldman Sachs, for instance, is offering ‘headcount reduction’, while Intel aims to save money by ‘people actions’. Amazon’s preferred euphemism is ‘role eliminations.'

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