By Vir Sanghvi
published here Express Buzz.
I wrote, a few weeks ago, about how much the attitude to Indians had changed in the West. Once we were regarded as losers, people who inhabited a desperately poor country, continually ravaged by famine or drought, incapable of making a single world-class product, and condemned to live forever on foreign aid. Now, we have the world’s respect and, more tellingly, the West’s envy as more and more jobs are Bangalored away from their high-cost economies and handed over to Indians who perform much better for less money.
That piece was prompted by a visit to London. This one too has been inspired by a trip abroad and by saturation coverage of the Pakistani cricket scandal in the press and on global TV channels. But my concern this week is not with how the West sees India.
It is with the transformation of the image of the global Pakistani.
I was at school and university in England in the Seventies and lived in London in the early 1980s. This was a time when Pakistan was regarded — hard as this may to believe now — as being impossibly glamorous. The star of my first term at Oxford was Benazir Bhutto. In my second term, she became president of the union and was the toast of Oxford. Her father was then prime minister of Pakistan and lucky students vied for the opportunity to visit Karachi or Islamabad as guests of the Bhuttos. They came back with stories of unbelievable hospitality and spoke knowledgeably about Pakistan’s feudal structure, about landowners like the Bhuttos, about an autocracy that had reigned for centuries etc. Continue reading