Hollande's lady friend Trierweiler 'honorary wife', deems India

French President Francois Hollande's two-day visit to India will no doubt take its predictable course – ending with a clutch of memorandums signed and mutual expressions of goodwill.
 
The general attention-grabber is that for the first time in its history, India has accorded the status of 'honorary wife' to Hollande's lady friend, Valerie Trierweiler.

Trierweiler was treated as the wife of a head of state and accorded the same red-carpet as Hollande when they arrived in New Delhi this morning, along with a large trade delegation.
 
They were received by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and together reviewed a guard of honour.

This is in sharp contrast to the position India adopted when former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's lady friend Carla Bruni came to India in 2008. She did not get any official status and could only accompany Sarkozy in a private capacity.

Valerie Trierweiler on the other hand will officially accompany Hollande at all public functions.

Trierweiler is a two-time divorcee. She has been with Hollande since 2007, when he and Ségolène Royal ended a long-term relationship.

Her official reception has raised sniggers among the chatterati. In a country where women are repressed and sexuality stigmatised, her quasi-official status is ''an insult to Indian values'', said one of them, and a ''Raj-ingrained kowtowing to White powers'', said another.

''China would never put aside its protocol for any visiting head of state,'' commented a third talking head, hinting at India's pathetic pretentions vis-à-vis its neighbour for Asian and global economic leadership.