At times, one yearns for the good old days when battle lines were clear and one knew who is rooting for whom. Nowadays, if you happen to be a PPP jiyla who bitched about Sharifs a couple of weeks back or a noon-league supporter who thought calling President Zardari a lying cheating whore will grant you a palace in heaven and 72 virgins, you find yourself in a bit of bind. First they were sworn enemies, and then came democracy charter. Then they became friends, then they were not, then they thought they were friends and now even they don’t know where they stand. Shifting loyalties and friendships requires one to keep a lid on emotions and not call your temporary opponent any names; even if it means that you die of political name calling constipation.
The problem is; this is not a just a local affliction. First there were clear lines drawn between Capitalism and Communism, now the bastion of capitalism is home to socialism of sorts and US government is buying banks, insurance companies, equity firms and what not to keep the economy afloat. The former strong house of socialism, Russia, is home to maximum number of new millionaires and billionaires who love to buy football teams and shag as many Wags (that is wives and girlfriends of those footballers who play in those teams) as they can with the help of those little blue pills. Formerly, we just had a G7 (group of rich powerful Western Countries plus Japan) and a G77 (group of middle and lower income countries who were envious of Group 7 countries). Nowadays, one can’t keep a tab on these groups as they are fluid and can transform themselves very quickly from G7 to G6 to G8, from G22 to G33 to its latest variant G20 (mind you, its different from the poor countries’ G20 formed in Cancun 2003).
The question is: why am I blogging about G20? Well, why not. For one, I cannot just blog about the doomsday scenarios from Pakistan about Taliban and their not so civil ways of implementing their code. Secondly, my friend Andrew has taken over my inbox sending me minute by minute updates from London – from how choppers are flying all over London carrying the powerful heads of states to the stories of protestors who are squatting over London’s Square Mile and how he wishes that he had taken a couple of days off to show solidarity with protesters (I personally think he wanted to score with the women protesters). Since G20 is all I have been reading about for past 24 hours, it is but natural that I write about it.
G20 usually comprise of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the US and the country holding EU presidency, in this case, Czech Republic, but Gordon Brown seems to be in a generous mood and also invited Spain, the Netherlands, chairs of New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the African Union Commission, and the president of the EU Commission. Heads of the UN, World Bank and International Monetary Fund takes the tally of attendees to 29.
Amidst all the stimulus plans and saving the world promises, Guardian focuses on more important issues surrounding the G20 such as why US all secret service agents wear shades, what will Jamie Oliver be cooking for the G20 delegates, who will sit next to whom at the dinner table (I am assuming that everyone would want a piece of world’s biggest super star President Obama), where picketing protesters throng, what clothes will the partners of heads of states be wearing and why is Obama given the codename Renegade?
How much money is it costing the British Exchequer? A cool £20 million – a bargain if compared with 2008 G8 summit in Japan (cost $285 million). Will it make a difference to the lives of people battling job loss, rising food prices and poverty? Not really, similar meet ups have not changed the world in the past, why should this one be any different?
Why is it convened? It is convened to find a scapegoat for the financial toilet the world is today. Chances are that most of it will be blamed on good ol’ W who is probably enjoying a juicy steak in Crawford and couldn’t care less. It is also rumored that Gordon Brown wanted to have a big party at tax payers’ account and decided to hold the summit as a cover for the party. A less likely rumor is that it is yet another chance to give some more press coverage and air time to Jamie Oliver.
What would have been the most looked for moment of G20 but will not happen any time soon? The meeting of Barack Obama and French First Lady Carla Bruni. It is heard that Sarkozy got a little unnerved by Obama’s message of “Change” and made sure that Carla would not attend the summit. It would have been interesting to see The Saint and the Seductress together.
Who will not bring their partners? Apart from spoilsport Sarkozy who feared the Messiah’s undeniable charms a little too much, Angela Merkel’s Professor hubby will not be there (he is a quantum Physicist and probably has better things to do). Cristina Kirchner’s husband, Néstor Kirchner will also give it a miss, probably because he used to be the President of Argentina before his wife and knows that he would stand out like a sore thumb exchanging floral arrangements and recipes with the wives of Indonesian and Dutch presidents. The infighting between the numerous wives of Saudi King Abdullah to accompany him resulted in him taking his favourite camel for company. They are putting up a special heated tent in London Ritz for the aforementioned camel.