1 - 7 August 2014 #718

Touchy-feely bilateral relationship

Now that Prime Minister Shri Jhusilji has decided to do on to Shri Modiji what Shri Manmohanji did to his cousin Shri Girijaji, and break protocol to go to the airport to receive him on Sunday, his advisers at Balu Water are scratching their heads about what would be the appropriate way to greet his Indian counterpart. Not that I have been asked, but the Ass would like to offer the PM’s mandarins a menu of options about how SuKo should greet NaMo: 

1.  Namaskar:

This, of course, would be hugely symbolic since the greeting represents the age-old bonds of culture and agriculture that join our two great nations. It would also allow Nepal to keep India at arm’s length. However, it is a bit impersonal and doesn’t do enough to underline the interactivity that Indians and Nepalis share. I would suggest that Shri Jhusil wrap both his hands around Shri Modiji’s namaskar and oscillate it counter-clockwise for a mutually acceptable duration. However, our prime minister shouldn’t get carried away, and should let go of Modiji’s hands after 7.5 seconds, unless he lets go. Whichever happens first. 

2. Hand-shake:

If the PM wants to show that Nepal would like to keep its distance from India, then a curt handshake would be the appropriate gesture. The question then arises, what should Nepal’s response be if Modiji uses both hands to immediately grab Jhusil Da’s outstretched right hand? Our PM should be briefed that he should then use his left hand to cover both of Modiji’s hands and not let him get away with what could be construed as a high-handed behaviour.   

3. Touching Feet:

This is an absolute no-no. No one touches anyone’s feet. Comrade Amrace can do it if he wants.

4.   Bear Hug:

Before 1990, hugging His Majesty the King was out of the question for a visiting Indian PM. But since then, the leaders of Nepal and India are prone to hugging each other tight at the slightest provocation, probably to locate each others’ soft spots. Hugging is fine, but keep it within the bounds of decency.

5. Bear Hug with Kiss:

Ever since Brezhnev and Honecker indulged in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the airport in Berlin in 1983, some world leaders of the leftist persuasion still French kiss one another from time to time. My view on the sensitive topic of political osculation is that we must make a distinction between lip-service and tongue-lashing. And as long as kissing is taboo in Bollywood cinema, the leaders of our two countries should desist from smooching each other in public. (Kissing ass in private is fine.)

6. Holding Both Hands:

This is the way Bhutan’s leaders greet Indian leaders, and there is no reason we should emulate Jigme the Fifth unless we have run out of our own ideas, and want to be in the same category of bilateral relations. Remember: body language is a very important indication of one country’s intention towards another, and every move will be closely scrutinised for meaning.

7. Casually Holding Hands Inside Bomb-Proof Vehicle from Airport:


8. Arm Around the Shoulder:

What should Jhusilji do if Modiji puts his arm around his shoulder? Fortunately, this situation won’t arise because Modi is younger, and Jhusil is Big Brother. However, it should be ok for Nepal’s PM, if he feels up to it, to put his arm around the Indian PM’s shoulder especially after a couple of drinks at the state banquet while singing “Hum Tum”.

9. High Five:

This would be my personal recommendation because it does not break protocol, it is not all touchy-feely, and keeps a certain distance while at the same time show-casing informal bonhomie between equals.

Read also:

Speaking truth to power, Editorial

Modifiable relations, Damakant Jayshi

India open, Editorial

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