Tariff-ic fables of our times…!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Jun 2018 16:41:06






What is history, but a fable agreed upon?

--Napoleon Bonaparte

Aha! History and fables, those inseparable friends. You often mistake one for the other. And oh the furore they create as they walk past our lanes! In no time will history sit to judge our times and with all due respect to the might of fables, it is going to find it difficult to agree upon this time round. For, we have quite a number of fables. Why, this entire month alone has produced enough scripts for history to be judged ‘for good or for evil in superlative degree of comparison only.’ I will not be surprised if the month goes down in history as the ‘best of the times and the worst of the times.’ But I am a collector of fables and quite smitten by the powerful and so am quite anxious to see what history makes out of our ‘fabled’ times.People may vow by democratic values but display of true power is still an irresistible sight. And if display of power is charming, haven’t our times found the most charming of all powerful men? It is one thing to preside over world’s most powerful State and absolutely another to tell the world, in no uncertain terms, that you are the President of the United States. The POTUS has always been important but never before has he exuded so much power.

In matter of hours, the reigning POTUS turned the course of history (If I may have the fables’ permission to say so) and turned friends into foes and foes into friends. An agoged history is still trying to catch up with new set of who’s who and seems just a little behind an absolutely bemused world.The Europeans and Americans were best friends till the POTUS felt that the Americans were being cheated and like an angry boy refused the sign the G7 declaration. He sat his ground even when a seemingly furious Angela Merkel seemed to be asking ‘…bhai tum sign karoge ya nahi…?’ And angry that he was President Donald Trump had kind words for many of his G7 counterparts. Apart from trading insults, the G7 was also about trade in general. American President’s assertion that everybody was cheating his country (though had almost no takers) was rather based on the age-old tradition of trade. The richest are never to be cheated. It has to be the other way round.

Trump also mentioned that India was cheating America buying lesser of their goods and services. Forgetting McDonalds and Pepsis and Apple i-phones, the President seems to be stuck with Harley-Davidsons! India never intends to cheat anybody, least of all the makers of so much junk. The President must take into account the status of our economy. It is developing. Had we been underdeveloped, we might still have had roads to ride his Davidsons. But as we are developing, our roads, too, are in a perpetual state of development and widening. Nobody here seems to know how long it will take for us to become a developed nation or how much wide should our roads be. Our Government, by imposing higher tariff has, in fact, done a yeoman’s service to your beautiful bikes. They can continue to glide on American roads while Indian ones complete their celestial cycle of repair and widening.

But for now tariffs have become a major issue. A tariff war has begun between countries of the world as history and fables watch intently. There are already murmurs of a reverse of globalisation, which was the obvious step ahead for the civilisation and deglobalisation already seems to be making ground. For hardworking nations like India, it comes across as the story of the boy who finished all chores and homework to go out to play but on reaching is told that the game has been called off. That’s what unfair is, Mr President.For, how can one quantify and put in the list of deficits and surplus those wonderful Indian brains that have made America their home and their generations can be seen working right from the White House to NASA to Silicon Valley enriching your nation?And very recently we have imported such wonderful stories from your land - A dhabawala’s rags to McDonalds story, a shikanji selling fellow creating the huge brand Coca Cola…Heart-warming indeed!. How can you quantify these wonderful fables of brilliance? On that account, the tariff’s forever on us.
The great Napoleon Bonaparte who was so well aware of the fabled nature of history also had a brilliant piece of observation about history-makers, so apt for our times. “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap,” he had said. But he did not say anything about what tariff the world might have to pay for it.