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Post-colonial angst

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Post-colonial angst (brought up during a conversation by GreatBong ): Defined as the post-modern flip-side of colonial hangover; an inability to shed the smug sense of superiority from the colonial days of the British Empire. And this TimesOnline article by Kevin Eason about Tata’s bid for Jaguar and LandRover takeovers (briefly mentioned in the previous post) is but one example.

It must have taken Mr Eason an incredible amount of will-power to steer clear of Soministic tendencies [1], but that doesn’t stop him from indulgence in pointless nostalgia for symbolisms of the British Empire (someone tell him we have turned a new century) and criticisms of Tata that are at best dubious.

For example, he says:

The disposal of Jaguar and Land Rover by Ford is just another sign that the sun has not only set on the British Empire but the lights have gone out as well. Ford may have been an American multinational company, but its long history and substantial presence here always made it feel as though the two charismatic brands had stayed within our grasp. But Ford’s hopeless inability to manage Jaguar, in particular, has served to underline that the world is looking to the East for its salvation.

Translation: we can be comfortable with foreign ownership, as long as it is American, but going East is a far too much ! The next passage is far more staggering in its alienation from reality:

At least under Ford the two Midlands-based companies could be promised an interchange of high-technology, design ideas and talent with their parent business. But what will Tata bring except for size? Precious little, probably,

Strange statement to make, given that Ford possibly has the worst record for technology innovation in recent times. Further, a global company like Tata with its involvement in seven business sectors (not to mention neat 100 products) has ‘precious little’ to offer ? This is bordering on churlishness. But he keeps harping on the technology issue :

If Tata is buying the badges in a postimperialist bout of muscle-flex-ing, they could be making a huge mistake. Meanwhile, the factory workers in Solihull and Birmingham must be wondering what brilliant ideas will come from a manufacturer whose only headline-grabbing vehicle is a car that comes at the price of about four iPhones.

This is simply hitting blow the timing belt. If the author cannot merit the necessity of technical nuance in producing a cheap car, he could at least refrain from indulging in meaningless comparisons. The only way four iPhones could help in transporting you is if you called a taxi with one of them!!

Lest anyone accuse me of narrow nationalism or double standards on crying-wolf etc, the reason this article pissed me off was the total lack of logic or reasonable arguments. I care little for who owns Jaguar and Land Rovers (personally I wouldn’t touch either of the cars with a barge pole) and Tata’s ownership will not find me in a chest-thumping mode [2]. There are enough sound financial reasons for Tata to steer clear off this deal. Yet sadly, the article is based solely on prejudices and exposes the inability of its British author to stomach a new reality.


[1]: Which is not to say Somini Sengupta isn’t picking up the mantle herself to churn out more drivel.

[2]: However, the symbolisms cannot be avoided. An Indian owning flagship British companies, Tata owning some of the most expensive, as well as the cheapest car etc.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 11, 2008 at 8:05 pm

7 Responses

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  1. GreatBong loses his mind very often. I need to remove him from my Blog Reader.


    January 11, 2008 at 8:14 pm

  2. @ruhi: after all, we are Bongs – its in our nature to be a bit emotional in this manner :). dont take it the wrong way.
    any comment on the actual article ?


    January 11, 2008 at 8:20 pm

  3. Probably that’s one of the reasons why I lose my mind quite often too. It has to do with spending 20+ years of my life in Calcutta.

    Regarding the original article- I’m shocked that he’s actually comparing Tata with Ford. Definitely a compliment for Ford, eh? Tata had created a revolution in the country when he’d introduced Indica and I think he’s repeating it again with his new car. I don’t know what GreatBong is even talking about when he says that Tata has very little to offer. He needs to go and talk to those Indians who at least feel satisfied that perhaps, they can think of buying a car sometime sooner than expected.

    There is no point comparing a car which is only meant to satisfy the minimum requirements (I feel that it delivers much more though) with a car manufactured by Ford, when Ford, himself has only been grabbing headlines for the recent deals with the UAW and his ever declining profit margin.

    Maybe he means to say that he would love to have a Ford (even though the car sucks) instead of a Tata Nano (because it’s Made in India)? Weird argument indeed.


    January 11, 2008 at 9:08 pm

  4. Ruhi – now I understand your comment. The author that you are unhappy about is not GreatBong.


    January 11, 2008 at 9:48 pm

  5. @Ruhi: Now I understand too. I should have made it more clear. GreatBong told me about the term post-colonial angst after he read the article I have linked. When I started writing this post, the conversation with GreatBong was fresh in my mind. I seriously doubt if GreatBong would have come with such an article dishing Tata.

    The article itself was written by one Kevin Eason, who does not seem to care much for the porspective ownership of Landrover/Jag by Tata. And much of that is based on prejudice, not rational thinking. And that is the point I think I was trying to make. 😛


    January 12, 2008 at 12:09 am

  6. Bongopondit- thanks for the explanation. I seem to have missed that name in your post. Should have read more carefully. Anyway, my analysis still stands- the author changes though. 😛


    January 12, 2008 at 12:30 am

  7. […] reads Kevin Eason’s article in the TimesOnline on Tata’s bid for Jaguar and wonders if Eason still suffers from post-colonial angst. It must have taken Mr Eason an incredible amount of will-power to steer clear of Soministic […]

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