Shashi Tharoor running in elections for India's Parliament

What do people want?

India’s Congress Party, headed by Sonia Gandhi, has been inspired to field former UN official Shashi Tharoor as a candidate from Kerala State contesting India’s forthcoming parliamentary elections on 16 April.

Here is a photo from his campaign website:
Shashi Tharoor campaigning for a parliamentary seat from Kerala

Should he win, apparently, he could even become the future External Affairs Minister of the Government of India, according to some observers.

This is not my fight.  But, would I vote for him?  Nope.  I learned my lesson — Shashi Tharoor says one thing, and does another.  If the direction of the wind shifts, he immediately changes his mind, and apparently doesn’t feel either guilty, or ridiculous.  He exhibits no apparent need to reconcile his actions with his position [and by this I do not mean with his position in the world, but with his personal moral stance]. And he shows not even a twinge of conscience.  The absence of principles makes this possible.
Continue reading Shashi Tharoor running in elections for India's Parliament

What (nearly) every woman wants

A good man, attentive, pledging to be faithful, respectful, who asks what she wants, and says he wants “to make our future strong” …

Yes, but maybe also one who is not too unaware of his own self-absorption.

This is the feeling after watching a truly wierd promotional music video prepared by Israel’s Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd. — which was, and may still be, government-owned.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry website states that “There are approximately 150 defense firms in Israel, with combined revenues of an estimated $3.5 billion. The three largest entities are the government-owned IAI, IMI and the Rafael Arms Development Authority, all of which produce a wide range of conventional arms and advanced defense electronics”. This page can be read in full here .

Critics have said that the video is in bad taste. (Some — but not all — make particular mention of the missile mock-ups draped with flower garlands that are dotting the stage set.)

The man — looking rather like a Mossad agent in the field — represents Israel. The woman, in a veil and Indian-style costume, represents India.

(Why? How would it have worked the other way around? Or, with two leading players of the same sex?)

He walks onto the set wearing dark sunglasses, and then whips them off to peer deeply into her eyes.

Despite the lyrics, this is clearly more than just a friendship.

What she (India) says, is “I need to feel safe and sheltered, security and protection, commitment and perfection, defense and dedication“.

He (Israel) asks, considerately, “What more can I pledge, to make our future strong?“. After hearing her wish-list, what he offers is: “I promise to defend you, fulfill your expectations, shield you and support you, meet my obligations“.

What more could a woman want, really? Only a few little things …

Together, forever, I will hold you in my heart“, they sing together. “Together, forever, we will never be apart“…

But, despite the attention he pays to her, they don’t seem well matched, as a couple — at least not if this is a real romance.

Her attitude is … well, a bit matronly. [Maybe this is to suggest that she is grounded, down-to-earth, knows what she is doing, rather than a starry-eyed romantic, or madly in love?]

There is also something about her look that is … well, just not right. There are two or three moments that are really horrible. At one point, the female lead looks straight into the camera, shows a lot of teeth (set off by bright red lipstick), and screeches the word “dedication”, a capella.

Then, of course, there is the twice-sung refrain:
SHE (India): “I believe in you.
HE (Israel): (big smile, looking very pleased with himself indeed, and becoming the focus for the camera lens), “You believe in me” …

A one-sided relationship?

Towards the end, after a little bit of uncertainty about the exact nature of the relationship between her and the leading man [first he, Israel, says “We’ve been together for so long, trusting friends and partners”. Later on, she, India, says: “friends and companions“: he, Israel, says “committed and strong“; then together: “We’ll stand united, protect our bond“], she leaps into his arms. He seems to hesitate, and has to rebalance the weight. Then, he tips her over backward, as if doing a tango, or a jitterbug rock-and-roll, and they both smile for the ending.

But, despite the embarassing moments, there are still some parts of the video that make you think, yes, that is (at least partly) what a good relationship should be about.

McClatchy Newspaper’s correspondent in Jerusalem, Dion Nissenbaum, posted about this video on his blog, Checkpoint Jerusalem, here, the other day.  He linked to a Stratpost post on this video, here, that quoted Rafael’s Director of Exhibitions Assay Josephy as saying: “In Israel we have Jewish people from India, so we know about Bollywood and the song and dance numbers. Israelis are generally aware of Indian culture…”

StratPost, a new blog on South Asian Defense & Strategic Affairs, was the first to write about this Rafael Armament Development Authority video, here — pointing out the competition for sales orders from India.

The StratPost post’s author, Saurabh Joshi, wrote that “The video is a Bollywood-style dance number featuring Israeli artists in full Bollywood costume singing in English about the potential for the Indo-Israeli defense trade relationship and dancing around mock-ups of Rafael’s products. It is significant that recent reports have indicated Israel to have overtaken Russia as India’s single-largest defense materiel supplier”…

Joshi noted “That the international defense industry is keen on getting a piece of the enormous Indian defense market is not surprising, considering the expenditure the Indian government is planning on defense equipment”. [n.b., No doubt in part due to the recent Mumbai attacks in which some of the foreign targets hit were Jewish, including a Chabad outposts] “The government plans to acquire a whole range of materiel from fighter aircraft, battle tanks, artillery howitzers, missiles of all ranges, naval vessels etc”].

Dion Nissenbaum also linked to Wired.Com report on the video, posted here, which writes that “Every element of the promotional film is just plain wrong. The sari-clad, “Indian” dancers look all too ashkenaz and zaftig. The unshaven, hawk-nosed, leather-clad leading man appears to be a refugee from You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. Then of course, there’s the implication that the Indian military is somehow like a helpless woman who ‘need(s) to feel safe and sheltered’.”

Stephen Trimble, writing here, called it a “catastrophic collision of Bollywood and the arms industry”.

This video had its world premiere at Aero India 2009, according to a post on a website devoted to the “Defense Industry”, here.

Haaretz reported today that “The video cost $15,000 to produce, and was directed by the independent director Avishai Kfir in Israel. The actors are Israelis of Georgian and Indian origin … ”

The Haaretz story can be read in full here.

Rafael Armament Development Authority executives, meanwhile, expect the video to win awards.

For fans of Shashi Tharoor … he says that India envies Israel for its military operation in Gaza

To members of the Shashi Tharoor fan club — don’t even bother to bombard me with your insincere comments saying how great he is, how he is nearly a saint, and how he is one of the best people ever to have passed through the United Nations.
Continue reading For fans of Shashi Tharoor … he says that India envies Israel for its military operation in Gaza