Shoes have evidently replaced pies as the preferred projectiles of non-violent protest around the world.
First, there was Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who hurled his footwear at George Bush. And this week, a protestor in the UK chucked his shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Both leaders have taken the attacks with grace. Bush said that the leather-assault on him was a sign that Iraq was now an open society. Nobody would have tried the same against Saddam Hussein. And Jiabao stoically assured his hosts that one shoe would not come in the way of the growing friendship between the Chinese and the British.
All this is a far cry from the days when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev tried to grab the attention of the United Nations General Assembly by banging his shoe on a table.
Indians don’t do shoes—we prefer the swadeshi alternative. Chappals are regularly thrown at opponents in legislatures and used to garland effigies of real and imagined enemies.