Rahila Gupta

Surreal scenes outside Modi visit

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) concludes today in London and has been in the news for the very good reason that British Prime Minister Theresa May had initially refused to meet with the Caribbean heads of state to discuss the Windrush scandal. Those who had arrived in Britain as children from the Caribbean in the 50s and 60s had, in the recently ratcheted up climate of hostility against immigrants, found themselves jobless, homeless, unable to access health care and on the verge of being deported because they did not have a passport.

Less widely reported, however, was the intense interest that CHOGM aroused in the Indian diaspora because the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was due to attend. Both adoring and contemptuous crowds vied for space and the right to be heard outside Downing Street and in Parliament Square.  Although the issues at stake were serious, the resultant chaos was almost farcical.

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