IN INDIA WE EXPECT OUR PRIME MINISTERS AND PRESIDENTS, though the later are only titular heads, to be in their late sixties or older, to be paragons of virtue – very loyal to their spouses – though they may otherwise lack the acumen to handle a vast country’s complex problems.
And they should preferably belong to a dynasty. If they do we can give them concessions like being in their forties. If they don’t belong to the dynasty, we question his having not having ever lived with a wife he married at a very young age and by arrangement, not his choice. If she belonged to the dynasty no one mentions that she married by choice but separated after becoming a mother twice!
And many Indian politicians lead double lives – of righteousness and high morals for the
public to see and a hidden life of debauchery, corruption and amassing of black money.
So the just-concluded election in France should be an eye-opener for Indians, who had very little interest in it, in sharp contrast with the way the US Presidential polls were fought as much in India as in the USA, whether it was J.F Kennedy Vs. Richard Nixon or Donald Trump Vs. Hillary Clinton.
And when a friend sent a message saying “Emmanuel Macron, the next President of France, is 39 years old” in the third week of April, I questioned, “But aren’t the elections May?” The reply came immediately, “May be, but he will definitely win”.
Many others around the world were not so sure. Macron’s rival, Ms. Marine Le Pen, an extreme rightist who would have made France follow Britain out of the European Union, is also from a political dynasty; her father contested the Presidential elections in 2002. And the rightists set the trend — in India and the USA, .
The liberals around the world heaved a sigh of relief as Macron is a centrist. Today’s New York Times has an editorial and five stories -two of them videos- on the French elections. The friend’s message, however, had more surprises, It said:
“The next French President is 39 years old.
But that is not the news.
He is married to a 64 year-old, that is still not the news.
His wife was his drama teacher 24 years ago…not still the news.
His then class teacher had a daughter who was his class-mate…everybody including his parents thought this teacher’s daughter was his girlfriend.
Nope. They were wrong.
He fell in love with his class teacher when he was 15…she was “happily married” and had three kids (the ‘happily married’ is a relative term, in this context.)
At 17, he promised to marry her. She was at the time 42 years.
They got married in 2007 with our man now 30…well she was almost 55.
Next month he is going to be sworn-in as the President of France, just six months to his 40th birthday, while his lovely wife who has three adult kids and seven grandchildren (her first child is two years older than Emmanuel while her second child, the former classmate, is the same age as him).
In France politicians having extramarital affairs is nothing new. The people just don’t care. Policies and administrative performance were not linked to personal morals by the French electorate.
In the United Kingdom next-door or distant United States the politicians quit at the first whiff of a scandal, unlike in India, where they are defended by their parties and all ‘followers’ and do not quit till they are thrown out.
The older generation will remember the 1961 scandal in which the British Secretary of State for War (Defence minister) John Profumo had a brief affair with a call girl named Christine Keeler. She also had affairs with a Russian naval officer, among others. It ended when security agencies warned her that it could be a breach of security.
The scandal was widely publicised in India as General Ayub Khan who became the President of Pakistan was allegedly among those sexually involved with her and so Indian security could also be involved.
The French people are supposed to be the most sexually liberated people in the world, unlike the inhibited Indians. Faced with scandal charges, Indian politicians try to wriggle out – with the help of the three ‘C‘s — cash, caste and coercion.
Morality is just a political tool in this country, to be used as convenient.