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The French girlfriend and the Indian wife

By Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra It’s no longer Britney Spears. It’s the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his ladylove, Carla Bruni,…

By Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra , in Blogs Global Perspective on Politics , on January 22, 2008

By Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra

It’s no longer Britney Spears.

It’s the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his ladylove, Carla Bruni, who have kept the tabloids busy.

And it’s just not the tabloids. BBC and The New York Times have been following the President-in-designer-wear and former supermodel and now a pop-star Bruni vacationing in Egypt. But what eventually found its way into the international media were the “morality” questions raised by the Indian media over Sarkozy’s upcoming visit.

Sarkozy is chief guest for India’s prestigious Republic Day parade on January 26 to celebrate India’s Republican Constitution that came into effect in 1950. The question the local media raised – how to make sense of President’s girlfriend?

The question made headlines in India when apparently Indian officials couldn’t find answers in the protocol book detailing how to seat, greet girlfriends of the visiting head of states, a first for Indian officials.

And now imagine Indian president next to Sarkozy – Pratibha Patil is the first woman president of the world’s largest democracy. Draped in a sari, her head covered, with a red-dot on the forehead, a symbol of a married woman; Patil is representative of the largely conservative-by-western-standards and cultural-by-Indian-standards woman population of India.

As officials scrambled to find answers, international media was quick to point the protocol dilemma in front of the “largely conservative” India, but failed to find the humour in the process.

The India media didn’t. An editorial in The Hindustan Times suggested that the nation direct the two lovers to the greatest monument of love – Taj Mahal and a Times of India columnist supported the two lovers in the “land of the Kamasutra, the world’s best known love and sex manual”.

The new reports say that Bruni is not traveling to India with Sarkozy. At last, now the French and the Indian can talk about investments and trade and not matters of heart.