It was a public relations disaster gift-wrapped with tinsel, and fancy coloured-paper. Nobody seriously believes in Santa Claus anymore, yet virtually all over the world the myth mesmerises children at this time of the year. Hence it was terribly bad form for Donald Trump to query a seven-year-old on the veracity of the legend ~ particularly on a Christmas-related radio chat show. Yet it was not entirely out of character, for the insensitivity and arrogance of the businessman-turned-president has only increased since he assumed an office whose might was generally seen as having a humiliating impact.
That “his” White House is being demolished from within bothers him little, and even the dismay he has just triggered in the “Bible Belt” will hardly cause him sleepless nights for it will have blown over by the time his re-election bid will be mounted. His authoritarian functioning is a continuing reminder to the Indian voter that the checks and balances of a parliamentary system makes for a more balanced democracy, even if at times the NDA government loses proportioned rationale: as when cow vigilantes are under focus. Or when building a temple becomes a top political priority since it is perceived as the ultimate voter-magnet.
It must have been a particularly stressful Christmas for Theresa May. The Brexit “deal” she struck with the leadership of the European Union has hardly struck a chord with the British people ~ a large section is pressing for a second referendum, others are calling for her exit from No. 10 Downing Street. The New Year could accelerate her D-Day. On the other side of the Channel the “yellow vest” protest is posing a severe challenge to the government of France as “socialist” forces are re-asserting themselves.
Elsewhere in Europe the anti-refugee resistance is on the rise. It is not a “bright” day that will dawn for many parts of the world a few days hence. It may appear a mere pinprick as of now, but it could also be ominous as a pointer to the next Lok Sabha. In cosmopolitan Bangalore (sorry, Bengaluru) some Hindutva outfits are demanding that the police impose a ban on New Year’s Eve public revelry on the iconic Brigade Road-MG Road sector of the city.
While recalling the disgraceful behaviour of drunken goons two years ago is valid cover, what is not is the argument that festivity on the night of December 31 is a western, modern, (Christian?) concept that has no place in India. In the context of the attack on a worship-service at a church in not-too-distant Kolhapur, the anti-revelry demand is both regressive and scary. Making a comparative joke of Trump’s loaded question about still believing in Santa.