The French Connection

prez.jpgThe French got fried in the fury of Republic and were left as french fries!

This could very well be the concept of India’s fifty ninth Republic Day! There is an old joke about two men and a woman ,each from Italy, England and France, being marooned on an island. A few years later, a rescue party finds that among the Italians, one man had murdered the other and was living with the lady; the English said they hadn’t spoken to each other as they hadn’t been introduced yet! Both the Frenchmen were cozily cohabited with the woman! This shows the trait of the French for meeting with personal matters swiftly. Quite unlike, of course, the Indians.

Witness the storm in a teacup over the impending visit of  the French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, to India. The problem is inevitably over the affair of this Frenchman, one that he is sharing quite publicly with his celebrity girlfriend, Carla Bruni. The problem that Indians are now facing is over how to classify Ms. Bruni. The seat of the girlfriend of the Chief Guest doesn’t quite suit their notion of protocol. Hence, the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) are dealing with this French connection, keeping it at the top-most of their priority levels.

If it wasn’t the Bucknor surrounding the Indian team news, one can envisage that l’affair Bruni would have been an issue of national pride and morality. It is not quite at the level of the Saudis, who bluntly asked Mr Sarkozy to come alone. However, we do like to mess a bit.

And people can guess that romance is in the blood of this political family. Andree Sarkozy, the father of the French President, said for his twice divorced son that, ‘In his position, he is spoiled for choice. But I hope no one will think of marriage. I’ve had enough of brides’. Hence, at 52, Nicholas Sarkozy is making news, not just because of his different approach to the world politics, but for getting media coverage till a point of saturation. The glamorous model-turned-singer, Carla Bruni, who is reported to have had relations with musicians Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and American real estate magnate Donald Trump, seems to add enough spice to the matter to wreck up a cocktail of media frenzy. Maybe, this experience paid to help her enter the life of the French Prez,  who has recently divorced his stunning wife, Cecilia, this October. Their first trip was one to Disneyland to look at the Mickey Mouse parade!

And perhaps, despite the tedious officiousness, the MEA is rather enjoying the diversion. After all, it signifies a change from paying attention to rather boring issues like China, West Asia or the Look East Policy, or trade, investment and the WTO for that matter. This, in contrast, allows the possibility of rubbing shoulders with some real French glamour. It is just a matter of finding something appropriate in the rulebooks.

Saurabh Sharma