WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is “very disappointed” because China has denied entry to an expert team that wants to find the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. China has a lot to hide, including Jack Ma. India too is disappointed because UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said no to entering India. This would be the first time since 1966 that no foreign dignitary would be the chief guest on Republic Day because India is unlikely to invite anyone now.
India will not have any chief guest during the Republic Day celebrations this year. (Photo: Reuters)
Imagine if India were to indeed extend another invite, what would it say? “We request you to grace the occasion because Mr Boris Johnson has refused”? Even if the invite won’t say it, the world knows it. So, it would be better to celebrate Republic Day this year with a few guests but no chief guest. In 1952 and 1953 also, no guests came. We continued to be a republic. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor believes we will continue to be a republic even if we cancelled the parade this year. He has, in fact, suggested that we must, saying getting crowds to cheer the parade as usual would be “irresponsible”.
In fact, in 2015, India was so powerful a republic that then President Pranab Mukherjee managed to snub US President Barack Obama, who was the first US head of state to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade. You see atithi devo bhava is all fine but protocol is protocol. And the protocol is that the chief guest accompanies the President of India, flanked by the horse-mounted bodyguards of the President, to the saluting base on Rajpath from where the President reviews the Republic-Day parade.
So, Obama wanted that Mukherjee join him in his Beast, the US presidential state car, which was flown to India. But Mukherjee had his own Limo. Mukherjee may have been curious to find out how the Beast looked from inside, but in the way stood protocol. The two leaders decided na teri, na meri but apni apni. So both went in their own cars with Obama managing to reach ahead of Mukherjee and then waiting for his Indian counterpart to arrive.
Pranab Mukherjee refused to sit in Barack Obama's Beast in 2015 because it was against protocol. (Photo: PTI)
Obama was our guest, in fact chief guest, so we would not blame him. But if Obama wanted to blame someone, he could have blamed United States Secret Service, for the wait. Considering how the Secret Service provides the US President an impenetrable security cover, he too may not blame anyone.
Boris Johnson ‘refused’ to be our guest, but we are not blaming him either because his country is under a complete lockdown since January 4, so he couldn’t have chosen to attend celebrations in India. Republic Day guests come from all over the world, but where does the world guest, the Word Of The Day, come from?
Guest comes from Old Norse word gestr, which means stranger. So a guest used to be someone who would accidentally arrive at one’s place. Not the relatives who say they were in the city for something and so thought of paying you a visit. We are talking about complete strangers. In old times, travellers who would lose their way or needed to spend the night would knock and seek refuge at places. Why would someone help such a person? Because someday you could be that lost person too.
Don’t tell your friends or relatives they are not your guests because guests are strangers. The word has acquired a new meaning. Oxford dictionary now defines guest as ‘a person you have invited to your house or to a particular event that you are paying for’. And that is why even though atithi devo bhava, we end up asking sooner or later, athithi tum kab jaoge?
You can tell the guests to go away but peaceful protesters have a right to stay where they choose to stay. Since the farmers are out in the cold and rain, the Supreme Court is concerned and has chosen to hear all pleas against farm laws on January 11. The situation will worsen tomorrow because there will be a tractor rally as part of the protests. The SC bench has said that "there is absolutely no improvement in the situation” regarding farmers’ protest.
Farmers are braving the cold and rain at Delhi's borders. (Photo: Getty Images)
But petitioners against 'love jihad' laws of UP and Uttarakhand have been told by the SC to first go to high courts and then come to the Supreme Court. Petitions against the laws are already before the Allahabad High Court and the Uttarakhand High Court. So, the SC wants to let the two HCs first decide on the matter and in case the petitioners are not satisfied, it will take up the matter. People who thought they only have to fight families in case of inter-faith marriages meanwhile continue to fight the state, courts and, of course, families.
What is the relation between a marriage and coronavirus vaccine?
Steven Brandenburg, who destroyed 500 doses of Moderna vaccine believing they change human DNA, was going through a divorce process and was upset because of it. Still trying to find the relation between marriage and vaccine? Give up, there is none.
But how did Steven destroy the doses? All he had to do was leave the doses out of the refrigerator because he believed that the vaccine can alter human DNA. We would accord Steven Brandenburg the title of Covidiot after his bid to save the world from DNA alteration.
People in the US and in India have the right to decide whether they will take the vaccine, but no one world over has the right to destroy vaccines, the status of their marriage notwithstanding.
Listen to the experts on all matters of science, which reminds us of an ISRO scientist who has claimed that an attempt was made to poison him. Scientist Tapan Misra has said he was poisoned with deadly arsenic trioxide on May 23, 2017, during a promotion interview at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.
He believes the arsenic was mixed in the chutney that accompanied his dosa, which was an after-lunch snack. According to Misra, the poisoning appeared to be an ‘espionage attack’.
From science to politics and before you say you don’t want to talk politics, we are talking about the film Madam Chief Minister which is based on politics with Richa Chadha as the Madam. Watch the trailer because you can’t watch the movie till January 22, when it releases.
Tandav, another political potboiler, releases on January 15.
Before you get to politics, treat yourself to some music. We recommend The Inner Self Awakens by Agam. Awaken the inner self, let the outer body and mind sleep because winter is the best time to sleep.
We will leave you for now watching trailers or listening to music.
See you tomorrow.
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