Liz Truss should be good choice for India-UK relations

What is most commendable about Liz Truss becoming the prime minister of Britain is the totally transparent and democratic process in which it was carried out

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, September 07, 2022, 12:33 PM IST
article-image
Queen Elizabeth II appoints Liz Truss as Britain's new Prime Minister | AP

What is most commendable about Liz Truss becoming the prime minister of Britain is the totally transparent and democratic process in which it was carried out. Her rival, Rishi Sunak, who is the first person of Indian-origin to hold out till the end, has every reason to be satisfied with his performance, though he lost. He won the votes of a majority of the Conservative party MPs. He lost because he could not win a majority of the popular votes, though the fact remains that Truss won by the least majority. She is a run-of-the-mill politician, while he is an economist by training. In his case, his wealth, especially that of his wife, who is richer than the Queen, and the castle he built for himself, could not have gone well with the voters who have been groaning under the weight of rising energy bills and living expenses.

Truss will find managing the economy far more challenging and troublesome than defeating Sunak, who had some specific plans to rejuvenate the economy. Freezing the energy prices for some time is an option she has. It can only be a prelude to more fundamental changes which alone instil hope in the minds of the people, who have already seen India overtaking Britain as the fifth largest economy. Public services, especially health, are in a moribund state and there is hardly any section of wage-earners who have not resorted to strike in the recent past. The economic growth rate is as low as 1 percent. Though her party MPs have outwardly rallied behind her, there is no guarantee that they would not resort to regicide when an opportunity arises. There are even dark hints that they may not allow her to complete her term. Of course, she is not averse to shifting her positions, a good trait for a person in power. She is one of the many women heads of government in Europe, where in some states adult suffrage came later than in India.

Policy experts in India have reason to be happy that Truss is in power. Not that they did not want to deal with Sunak! As Commerce minister once and foreign minister in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, she is known to Indian policy-makers on a person-to-person basis. They see eye-to-eye on many issues related to energy prices and the Ukraine war, to name just two. India is the 10th largest service trade partner to the UK and there is scope for increasing the volume of trade to mutual advantage. As secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth and development affairs, Truss had often held forth on her views about strengthening the UK’s relationship with India. She has also been in favour of liberalising the visa regime, especially to make it more attractive for Indians, especially the professional class. All this bodes well for better relations between India and Britain.

Duties versus rights in naming of roads

The question, which is more important, fundamental duties or fundamental rights, is as old as the question, which came first, the egg or the hen. When the British built the two-km road from the India Gate or the War Memorial to the Viceroy's House, they named it Kingsway as the Empire was ruled by a King. Naturally enough, the road that intersected the Kingsway could only be called Queensway. With India becoming a Republic in 1950, Viceroy’s House was rechristened Rashtrapati Bhavan. Kingsway became Rajpath and Queensway became Janpath. Nobody ever found any objection to the new names, not the least by the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the forerunner of the Bharatiya Janata Party which had many former kings as MPs and a blue-blooded former Gwalior Queen as vice-president for a long time. Until then, the party had merely been coining Sanskrit-based Hindi words for party posts like parliamentary party president.

The advent of the BJP at the Centre marked a new turning point in the sense, the party’s emphasis turned to renaming cities, towns, roads and buildings. All the names associated with Muslims and Moghuls were first targeted. At the rate at which the renaming spree is taken to its logical conclusion, the hundreds of years the Moghuls ruled since Babar crossed the Kurram Valley would soon be obliterated from public memory. What reportedly prompts Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rename Rajpath as Karthavya Path or Path of Duty is the emphasis he lays on duty, as distinct from rights. Since he cannot deny anyone his rights, except at the cost of votes, he might logically rename Janpath as Adhikar Path or the Path of Rights. That raises another question, why not rename Delhi by its oldest name Indraprastha where, according to the Mahabharata, the Pandavas lived?

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Politics in SC postings is nothing new

Politics in SC postings is nothing new

Editorial: Democracy, not PFI, the strength of Muslims

Editorial: Democracy, not PFI, the strength of Muslims

The new normal after the pandemic

The new normal after the pandemic

Maya — the illusion of power

Maya — the illusion of power

Editorial: Closer India-US ties will benefit both countries

Editorial: Closer India-US ties will benefit both countries