People Protest and Politics


   “—-The lady doth protest too much, methinks ” 

                                           William  Shakespeare                                                      

This post is NOT about Ms Mamta Banerjee , even though I did , at one stage ,  contemplate using her ” Maa/ Maatee / Manush” ( roughly translated : Mother / Earth / & People ) slogan as the title ,  till better sense prevailed . This post is NOT about  machiavellian antics of the lady who has , in the past few days , rocked the UPA II governmental boat , & hastened  processes of realignment across  political spectrum in New Delhi . NOR is this post about  decline & fall of the once frontline state of West Bengal in the Union of India . This post is most definitely NOT about her ragtag agglomeration of sycophants , ranging from a former leading light in a front- line Industry body to an erstwhile quiz master well past his best-by date . This post , I daresay with all sincerity & conviction at my command , is NOT about a nation-wide suspicion about a chemical disequilibrium in the collective wisdom  of a certain regional political party with aspirational delusions . In short , this post is NOT about anything that can get me into trouble when I visit Kolkata next . With adequately protective disclaimers in place , let me get on with what this post is about , contrary to what the opening lines & photo might inaccurately denote .

Key word in this post is  “Protest” as an interface  between People & Politics .  Argumentative that we are as a nation , we have had more than our fair share of protests in the past 12 to 18 months , culminating in an inelegent shirt-strip  brouhaha at Vigyan Bhavan New Delhi  the other day , causing visible discomfort to the Honourable PM even before he could start his inaugural address , as his security detail looked on in paralytic  inertia.

 

 

 

We had , in recent times, witnessed Shoe-Gate with a torn shoe ( ahh !! the prudent Indian protestor !! ) hurled at then Honourable Union Home Minister Chidambaram at a press conference ( the journo missed Chidambaram by a mile even though the latter did not duck  , unlike his predessesor in this format of protest ,  George W Bush during his final visit to Iraq as American President ) . Shoe-Gate was followed closely by what one might call Slap-Gate with Sharad Pawar , then Honourable Union Minister for Agriculture at the recieving end .  And now Shirt- Gate aimed directly at the Honourable Prime Minister . I hasten to clarify that the prefix “then” to Honourable does not denote that the aforesaid gentlemen are no longer honourable ; the connotation is with reference to ministerial portfolios held when the aforesaid protests occured. The ‘S’ centricity of these protests is quite uncanny & could , going forward , inspire a post called ” Shoe Slap & Shirt ” to displace the hitherto “S3” space- domination by late Raj Kapoor’s magnum-opus .  There I go again with my customary digression !! Getting back quickly on track , suffice it to say that these individual formats of protest carried out by deranged persons in isolation  reflect meaningless antics  underserving of more than a passing & bemused attention. That BJP , the principal opposition in Parliament , attempted to legitimise  Shirt-Gate as reflective of middle- class angst against UPA merely reflects their bankruptcy of political finesse .

Protests have been in human DNA since pre-historic times . Lord Rama , so Ramayana tells us , was banished for 14 years by his polygamous father Dashratha , following a rather unique form of protest by his step- mother Kaikayee to get her biological son Bharat designated heir-apparent in preference to her step-son & rightful next-in-line Rama. There was no counter protest by Rama nor by his biological mother , probably because they understood the futility thereof  given  Kaikayee’s bewitching control over Dashratha’s decision-making dubiousness . In Mahabharata too , crown price Bhishma was forced , in the face of an unusual protest by his prospective step-mother , into a vow of life- long celibacy to ensure not only that his in-the-womb step-brother got designated heir apparent but also that his step brother’s progeny , yet unconcieved , would be the undisputed heir-presumptive .

Oliver Cromwell’s campaign culminating in Magna Carta , after a lot of blood had been shed to nurture the foundations of the British parliamentary democracy , is an example of protests turning ugly & violent but leading eventually to a sustainable model of justice & equity.  American Civil war  &  Boston Tea Party  come in the same genre of bloodletting protests in larger long term interests .

Contrarily , India , both pre & post-independence , has  had some highly impactful defining moments in Protests , mostly peaceful & sometimes metaphorically violent (such as the innocuous shoe polish blackened face at the sublime level , or laying siege for varying lengths of time, to restrict & confine the besieged person  ( Gherao  )  at a slightly elevated level of sublimity. Laying siege through Gherao or a variant thereof in a peaceful Dharna ( literally meaning squatting ) was seldom violent & was mostly embellished with a smattering of singing “old-fasioned, foot-tapping ,hand-clapping , knee-slapping ” songs with  ‘nary-a-note-in-tune’ . Instances such as the ChaddiGherao ( stripped down to underwear ) siege  at movie star Dilip Kumar’s villa on Pali Hill , Mumbai to urge him to return the Nishan-e-Pakistan , Pakistan’s highest civilian honour , conferred upon him by the “enemy”  have been few , far between , & at worst amusing .

“Protest” per se is not a bad thing .  To quote Abraham Lincoln ” To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” 

However , contemporary politicians appear to lack the art of  protest with symbolism , elegance , & innovative freshness . Ironic !! Given that Mahatma Gandhi , Father of the Nation, inspired innovative forms of peaceful , non violent & impactful protest across the world but was apparently not able to pass the legacy on at home : at least not to political dispensations of our times . Ironically ,  politicians across party affiliations do invoke Gandhi’s  name perfunctorily before launching shrill , cacophonous , & boring campaigns of protest .

The 240 mile Dandi march of Gandhi in 1930 , culminated in his lifting a lump of salty mud at the sea shore to symbolise a nation’s defiance of the British Raj & with this symbolism , Gandhi ushered-in his renewed “battle of Right against Might” to “shake the foundations of the British Empire” ( quotes in Gandhi’s own words ) . Who can deny the Salt protest ( Namak Satyagraha ) its rightful place as one of most impactful mass protests in history of our nation. And, who can ever forget the emotion-charged Martin Sheen as  American journalist  Miller  in Richard Attenborough’s GANDHI , filing his report on phone of the incident at Dharasana Salt Works in dramatic telegraphic syntax : the only staccato reportage to have ever been read into official records of United States Senate 

Anna Hazare did show some early signs of reinventing Gandhian art of protest & though not in the same league as Gandhi , could have offered a meaningful platform for popular protest , but for eventual & inevitable derailment of his movement from within.

“It’s funny how social activists usually protest against the only things that  have a credible chance of achieving the activists’ goals.”
Craig Bruce ( Australian TV Comedian )

Anna Hazare’s campaign for a strong legislation to curb corruption , in retrospect , suffered from its inherent weakness of piggy-backing on successful formats of protest without correspondingly nuanced focus on finesse . Hunger Strke was a direct lift from Gandhian strategy . However , Gandhi never directed his extremely potent Hunger Strikes against the British Raj nor as a tool for emotional blackmail . Most , if not all , his Hunger Strikes were directed at introspective atonement for personal failures & collective failures of his misguided followers . Gandhi’s  inherent moral authority over those he led brought them around to his ways. Neither Anna nor his key aides command the moral authority of Gandhi to carry a Hunger Strike to realms of mass remorse & course-corrections. ” I am Anna” emblazoned Gandhi Caps worn by his supporters were obviously inspired by ” We are all Khaled said”  campaign to bring to book cops responsible for killing in custody  of  Egyptian activist Khaled Mohammed Saeed as a precursor to Fgyptian Spring of 2011.  ” I am Anna” caps did for a while catch the imagination of masses in galvanising protests against institutionalised corruption . The mutation , post the split in Team Anna , to Gandhi Caps emblazoned with ” I am Arvind ” is laughable & contemptible ( no protective disclaimers needed when it comes to Arvind Kejriwal , the joker who thought he could be the King of Spades )  .

And yet , all is not lost . Whilst Political formations across party lines in Gandhi’s land appear to have forgotten the art of  peaceful yet impactful protest , the proletariat have displayed remarkable courage of conviction in recent times to protest as no one has & created impact leading up to their stated goals. Khandwa farmers’ JAL SATYAGRAHA ( Protest in Water ) in August 2012 illustrates this. Fifty-one farmers , not led by any politician , spent 17 days immersed neck -deep in the reservoir of the Omkareshwar dam till an otherwise indifferent State Government of Madhya Pradesh was forced by power of their truthful courage to address their rehabilitation concerns ( till then neglected despite a Supreme Court direction ) .

Opponents of Kudamkulam Nuclear Power Plant tried to imitate Khandwa Jal Satyagraha by threatening to stand immersed in sea till their demands were met . Their protest however  fizzled out : perhaps because the sea , unlike a reservoir ,  has to contend with tidal ebb & flow .

I have often wondered whether  disruptive protests through  past several sessions of our Parliament could have been better & more effectively choreographed . If BJP, the principal opposition  in Parliament were to wear surgical masks & maintain pin-drop silence during parliamentary sessions , in protest against the UPA Government’s arrogance in power  , instead of disrupting proceedings with shrill , incoherent , & cacophonous sloganeering , they could perhaps have embarassed the Government & shaken its very foundations , rather like Gandhi in Dandi. Instead , they came through not exactly smelling of roses !!

 

 

 

 

Innovative protests in this day & age of  multi & social media exposure do genrate some interesting Protest banners & signs. An innovative protest sign in this genre is from Arab spring in Egypt 2011 :

Occupy Wall Street ( OWS ) symbolising income inequalities in the “We are 99 %” slogan  has consistently produced meaningless protest signs with little or no impact . That OWS movement has survived despite absence of any focussed agenda  is quite incredible. It probably manifests an underlying frustration at societal inequity without any focussed redressal . NYPD cops continue to earn USD 56,000 per year whereas  Goldman Sach CEO continues with his USD 56,000 per day . Poor who have nothing to eat have not resorted to eating the rich. Signs with such messages  appear to have turned the movement frivolous

Protest , as the dictionary tells us , is etymologically derived from a conjunction of two words in Latin : Pro meaning  Publicly , & Testari meaning Assert . To protest or to publicly assert , one must have a subject of public interest , with larger good of the public at large as the goal post , & a well thought out strategy to reach the same , under leadership that has clarity of vision , mass appeal , & charisma to carry a campaign through .

One looks forward to a Pune-produced stereoscopic 3D animation film in mid October called Delhi Safari A story about a group of animals from the Borivali National Park in Mumbai :  a leopard cub named Yuvi ,  his mother Begum ,  Bajrangi the hot tempered monkey , and his anger management guru , Dr. Bagga the bear , who decide to submit a petition to the Government in Delhi  to restrain builders & developers from encroaching their natural habitat in the National Park. A protest in front of the Parliament in Delhi is the goal. The motley group includes  Alex , the parrot who can speak & understand the language of politicians in Delhi.  The movie records their journey & adventures en-route & in Delhi

  Indeed : “In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty.”
   Phil Ochs ( American Protest Singer ) 

Cheers & atb

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IDP Guru Nanak And I


We have done it again : apart from winning the under-19 Cricket World Cup for the third time ( Great !! ) & carrying parliamentary debates to TV studios & street corners ( not so great !! ) , we have made it to the top of yet another global listing of the wrong kind.  This time around we share top honours with Turkey in a study undertaken by a Norwegian agency , of Internally Displaced persons ( IDPs ) , or Domestic Refugees , for ease of understanding, amongst nations which are not torn by war nor any man -made turmoil nor by Mother Nature’s fury . Over 400,000 Indians have been classified by this listing as Internally Displaced Persons . That is a staggering 334 persons in every 1 million Indians !!

The aforesaid news brought back memories of a very nice painting of Guru Nanak that has adorned the walls of my parental home over the past several decades : in fact for as long as I can remember , as a symbol of my late mother’s faith in “being human”. The uniqueness of this painting , apart from the fact that this was amongst her most prized possessions , is that Guru Nanak’s compassion filled eyes appear to follow your movements to every corner of the room . As a kid , I often used to run around the room & test out the accuracy or otherwise of my mother’s faith that one was always in the Guru’s direct & compassionate gaze. The result was always a resounding yup !! The right palm , symbolising “Ek Aunkar ” or “There is only one GOD ” in all five elements , often kept me off mischief as a kid , as though Guru Nanak , with a direct look-see on me , had raised his right palm in a ” You just watch it kid !! ” admonition .

What , one might wonder , is the connection between a Guru Nanak painting & Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs. The connection lies in that the painting with the 360 degree benevolent vision has in fact been an Internally Displaced Painting or IDP , each such displacement being closely associated with Events & Non Events in the Kanuga clan.

In Bungalow 43 in Digboi  it had the pride of place in the Dining room , primarily because the Drawing Room was a circle ( we called it “Gol Kamra” or ” Round room ” ) & had no straight walls to hang any pictures , leave alone the painting of the presiding deity.

The move to Bungalow F-1 in Duliajan ( # 1 denoted my late Dad’s hierarchical position in the fiefdom but I never did figure out what F denoted ) saw the painting occupying a pride of place in the finally straight-walled drawing room ( we continued to refer to this also as the “Gol Kamra ” or the ” Round Room ” primarily because old habits die hard !! ) .

Post Dad’s retirement , we moved from one accomodation to another ( # 303 Mayfair Gardens , # 901 Mayfair Gardens : both in Kolkata , followed by # 6/4 Lajpat Nagar New-Delhi ) & were ourselves Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs in a manner of speaking , living out of suitcases. Throughout this period , the painting was safely crated with other family jewels , awaiting a final resting place in Dad’s retirement home then under construction.

And then , almost a year later , in the fall of 1970 , the Kanuga IDPs moved to their final destination in New Delhi , an address I oft quoted as my Permanent Address till subsequent events decreed otherwise   ( in India it was customary then to have a Current & a Permanent address to qualify for a  Ration Card or LPG cylinder , or a Telephone connection !! ) .

I vividly remember the animated discussion between my late parents about where the Guru Nanak painting should be displayed in the new Kanuga home . The arguments for & against each proposed location can be the subject of a nice long & wholesome post some day. Suffice it to say , for the present, that the decision finally arrived at was to have Guru Nanak’s benevolence on the main wall of the front balcony , keeping a roving eye on the comings & goings about the front entrance & blessing those within,  every time they ventured out, specially to enjoy the winter sun. The benevolent Guru Nanak seemed not in the least perturbed & continued to bless our “permanent” address as He had done over the years during our IDP days .

But then , as the old saying goes , nothing is permanent : everything is transient with a facade of stability !! And we were soon to discover this when the post- Indira Gandhi  assasination civil disorder  of October / November 1984 happened. Guru Nanak’s painting was once again in discussion & prudence warranted not displaying one’s Sikh faith on the front balcony for all to see lest a Sajju or a Jaggu or a Bhaggu should lurk in the wings quietly marking his next game. In the Alibaba & 40 thieves tale , the solution lay in chalk-marking each door so as to neutralise & confuse the marauding gang . The prospect of adorning  each neighbourhood  balcony with a Guru Nanak painting was so bizzare that it never really merited a discussion. Prudence prevailed over bravado & the benevolence of Guru Nanak was quietly shifted from the front balcony to the Drawing Room , which is where, in my late mother’s opinion,  it rightfully belonged from way back in 1970.

And that is where the Guru Nanak painting rested , for several years , watching over the events & non-events of the clan . My mother passed away soon after , her Chautha rites presided over by the benevolence of the Nanak painting , &  years later , my father , in his sunset years , was often seen looking at it , as though engaged in a private tete-a-tete on the years that had rolled by.

On one of my infrequent visits to my once “permanent” address , about a year after my Dad’s demise , I discovered that Guru Nanak had been replaced by Mother Teresa on the drawing room wall : Mother Teresa ,  with compassion in her eyes , I was told & could not but agree ,  & a palm extended in the aft direction , as though symbolising a ” you are free to leave if you do not approve of the change ” gesture : a thought I diplomatically contained within myself !! . I figured out the reason for this change , without ascertaining the cause & made my way to the Pooja Room to pay respects to my old friend , the much displaced IDP , in His final resting place. He seemed pleased to see me ( but then His eyes always denoted utmost compassion for all  ) & had the right palm up , not so much in admonishment as in an embalming gesture , as though to tell me , as a fellow IDP , that a person or a painting can get physically displaced by the force of circumstances , but internal displacement can be neutralised by directing one’s focus away from so called permanence of addresses towards faith in the Five Elements symbolising  Ek Aunkar.

I have been a displaced person all these years , living out of suitcases , but the feeling of being internally displaced is kept at bay very successfully.  As I approach retirement in 4 to 5 years from now  , the search is on for a retirement home ( the apartment in Mumbai was always a stop-gap & given the unplanned chaos that the area has witnessed in the name of development it can not possibly be a peaceful retreat post- retirement ). If I do finally find a good retirement home for myself , I will for sure lay claim to the Guru Nanak painting & take my old pal in as a benevolent companion in my sunset years , with the pride of place in the “Gol Kamra ” .

Cheers & ATB

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Veni Vidi Vici Rishi


I return after 10 days during  which  a lot has happened in the realms of events & non-events . Most significant in this collage has been the arrival of Rishi Kanuga , on 10th August , in London . This one therefore is for you, Rishi : Veni Vidi Vici because I like my blog titles in trios , & tagged to your name because Vici rhymes rather well with Rishi ( except to those who pronounce Vici to rhyme with Ricky !! ) . Most importantly it reflects a hope that having arrived , you will see & conquer ( metaphorically of course ) the world .

First things must  always come first ( that I presume, is why they are called as such ) & let us therefore go through the Welcome address .

Hello there , Rishi Kanuga . Delighted at your arrival . A warm welcome to the Kanuga clan , as its youngest member . I once held that title for decades together & was dislodged by your Dad & others , in quick succession . The incumbent Title holder has had a long reign, also counted in decades . You, my friend , are now the title-holder , with no serious challenge on the horizon .

Let me take you on a tour of some of the Events & Non-Events that marked your arrival , pal , suitably updated now that you are already a little older & wiser .

Big Bazaar hyper markets in India announced a 6-day ” Maha Bachat” festival which closes tomorrow. That notwithstanding, food inflation stayed rock solid at 11 % . Monty , the sirdar at the Planning Commission rushed to Washington to learn new ways & means to challenge inflation. I went on a 3-day training programme at Sun & Sand to learn nuances of new management tools & am busy with a dissertation for the next 30 odd days . Mery Kom won the boxing-bronze & Sushil Kumar a wrestling- silver at the Olympics in your neighbourhood , to take India’s Medal Tally to an all-time high of 6 ( wow !! ) . An incident in Mynamar caused rioting in lower Assam & led to an ugly incident in Mumbai last Saturday. Peace is threatened as a result in Pune , & the Hyderabad police has gone on a preventive high alert . The Government in Delhi meanwhile appealed to all trouble makers to stop doing things unbecoming though commonplace in the country , & went on to announce free mobile handsets for the 400 million officially poor in 12 months & electricity in their homes within 48 months ( handset chargers thereafter ?? ) . A 70-year rope weaver & a 65 -year cobbler reacted on the telly  that they would  prefer food to mobiles : a clear case of ” if they dont have enough at home to eat , let them use a mobile phone ( to order Chinese take- away !! ). Baba Ram Dev ( your grandpa will tell you all about him when you have a moment to spare : right now, quite understandably , you must be kind of busy gurgling your Hi there’s & making new friends ) went on a fast  probably because he is not officially poor ( quite honestly he himself does not appear to know what he is or is not ) &  the Govt , therefore, did not offer him a free mobile . The main Opposition in Parliament went ballistic ( it is not clear whether they too want free mobiles or are genuinely aligned with the Baba or merely want to make an ad-sum noise )  . The Government was accused of having lost its way ( your Dad will read you a story one of these days about a certain Alice in a place called Wonderland who did not know where she wanted to go & was told that she could therefore take any of the several paths in front of her to get to nowhere in particular !! )

To cut a long story short , several seemingly unrelated events & non-events more or less coincided with your arrival. Where’s the connection , you might wonder !! . When you are a little older & read a fascinating subject called Physics , you will come across  an exciting theory apart from the rather dreary phenomenon of falling Apples : the Theory of Chaos . Simply stated , the theory correlates events & non events as non-linear outcomes of seemingly unrelated occurances. For example, India’s Industrial output fell by 1.8 % because mine went up by 18 % .

In the midst of this chaos , one prediction needs to be made. Through your growing up years , back home in India , cobblers will cobble while rope weavers will weave ; Big Bazaars will announce discounts , while Holy men & Yoga teachers will go on fast/s ; Government/s  will  reduce poverty by re-defining its thresholds & by occasional empowering freebies : may be free internet will follow free Ring Ring !! ( to order Chinese take aways on-line ).  And yet, as you gurgle or scream as is your right ( more likely gurgle with joy after gettig featured in my blog )  to demand attention , you could in fact be announcing your arrival to place such disjointed issues & desultory non-issues on notice , so to speak. There is hope yet that our Medals Tally will go up , or our Governments will cease to be directionless , or that poverty will actually get eliminated without re-definitions & so forth. You, pal , have challenges ahead of you : challenges that the preceding two generations  of Indians , including me, chose not to confront .

God bless you young friend

Cheers & ATB

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Thank you


Having completed 6 weeks of blogging & 23 blogs , I reviewed the Blog statistics this morning & was not disappointed . On the contrary I felt encouraged , elated & perhaps humbled . Many thanks for reading my blogs : it means a lot to me. Must share some key stats till now :

  • Total readership cumulatively : 787
  • Average readership per day : 4 in June ; 18 in July ; & 43 per day so far in August .
  • Highest / Lowest in a day so far : 62 & 4
  • Readership from countries : India , UK , Ireland , Sigapore , Kuwait , Russia , & France
  • Most read post : Three Wise Monkeys

A BIG THANK YOU once again , & cheers for now

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RIP_WIP_VIP


My temporary absence from the scintillating world of blogging has come to an end.

My inspirational “trio” ( remeber Three wise Monkeys & Three Judgemets !!   ) is back to complete a Trilogy .

First the  RIP : dedicated to someone who  famously described himself as a           gentleman bitch .  Gore Vidal is no more. I watched the Hard Talk re-run on BBC of a four-year old  interview with the just deceased , wherein his acerbic witticism visibly made the otherwise unflappable interviewer seem uneasy . I am not well read enough( nor  widely-read to be honest !! )  to write anything meaningful about Gore Vidal’s works . I knew of him as a novelist , a story writer , an essayist , & a political commentator but had read none of his works . What I did know though were some of his outrageously funny quotable quotes , which always come in handy , often as uncredited one-liners . Herewith some of these , aptly applicable to the world’s largest democracy wherein we participate , perform , & produce ( sorry , there I go again with my penchant for digression but this one was irresistable  !!  )  .  I am referring to democratic processes & not to what one-track minds would think !!

Coming back to the RIP dedication, who would imagine that he was referring to America & not to our very own India in his ” Half the people can’t read a newspaper , & half will not vote . One hopes it is the same half “.  Or in his somewhat snooty  ” Public figures can’t write their own speeches. There’s some evidence that they can’t read them either “.  Team Anna , in the euphoria of wanting to enter Electoral Politics , must take note of his warning ”  at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests ” .  Or the daily rant of most tax payers reflected inThe genius of our ruling class is in making a majority of  people —–   drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.”  How , one wonders , could he have known about the NDA – UPA hyperbola in our lives when he ascribed to Democracy the quality of giving us  “the feeling of choice like painkiller X  or   painkiller Y :  both just Aspirin” Cheerio Gore Vidal ; RIP .

The WIP  in this narrative occured when I drove  2 kms to a new Hair-Spa ( in my pre-HNI days I would visit the friendly neighbourhood barber shop when in need of a hair-cut & a vigorous scalp massage called ‘Champi’ orchestrated by the latest Bollywood number blaring full throttle from a precariously old radio ) . The hair therapist  at the Spa ( I thought they were called Barbers ; or Hairdressers in slightly up-market establishments ) spent over 10 minutes helping me through their Menu ( I wasn’t ordering a meal , hungry as I was ) to what he expertly believed to be the most appropriate treatment for my hair. The process started with a trim here & a clip there . Half way through these prelimineries , a certain religious fervour overtook  the therapist , & he excused himself to break his day-long  fast in response to his  ethereal  calling , leaving my hair & me as  work-in-progress so to speak , in no condition to stage a walk out in protest ( one sideburn trimmed & the other in wild disarray might be trendy only if sported  by a celeb ) . I amused myself , instead , through a vivid recollection of  the common sight of half tonsured WIP generated by  accredited barbers at a popular place of worship down south , by accosting unsuspecting pilgrims only to abandon them as half-done  captive demand awaiting completion of the tonsure, to accost more gullibles  : a clear case of two halves being grater than one full in revenue optimisation .

Finally , VIP  here refers not to any VIP but to my favoured brand of vests & boxer shorts  In the madness called the Phoenix mall , all global brands , differently priced , some shockingly so , were on display to the inexplicable exclusion of VIP . And that too , in synthetic fabrics & loud colours : whatever happened to the near-universal preference once upon a time for white ribbed Egyptian cottons.  A long & tiresome search finally produced results , albeit in a brand called MIP . May be there is a message there for one to move up in the hierarchy of needs from  very important to the most important .

Cheers for now

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Three Judgements


I have been a bit under the weather & in no state to Blog . Better now, I am back at work & my blog after a two-day respite to all ( at work & in the Blogosphere ).

There is so much that has happened while I was away  .

Team Anna’s 4th day at Jantar Mantar , Anna 4 one might say , continued to be a damp squib . The Government had , almost as an ominous warning , demonetised Anna 4 ( 25 paise coins ) , to prelude the wash out of Anna 4  ( sorry : a plagiarised joke !! ) .

The Brits were at their diplomatic best in altering the basic structure of their National Anthem so as not to hurt any sensibilities at the Olympics that they are hosting rather well since last night. The innocuous first verse warranted no change. The second verse invoking Divine help in doing rather a lot of nasty things to enemies of the erstwhile empire has been deleted to make way for the politically correct third verse which their atheletes are engaged in memorising . One needs to doff one’s hat at their ability to deal , ever so placidly , with a series of goof-ups in the run-up to the grand opening last night . In Jaya Row’s definitional finery, they come close to Satvik behaviour ( concerned but not perturbed ) compared with Desi reactions collectively bordering  Tamsik ( perturbed but not concerned ) at the Common Wealth Games in Delhi.

I appear to have digressed , as is my wont , from the theme of this blog & must therefore return to three monumental Judgements that were dispensed while I was away :

  1. The Pakistan Supreme Court dispensed delayed , though not denied , justice to the Punjab Bakers’ sssociation by de-controlling the price of a “Samosa” in Lahore . Financial reforms finally visible in Pakistan !! May be the next mammoth step will be to allow multi-brand FDI in “Samosas” now that the price ceiling of Rs 6 has been removed .
  2. It took a British court much less time , true to their reputedly efficient judicial system , to dispense justice to the bereaved family of the Pune lad who was murdered in cold blood in Manchester last Boxing day , with a harsher-than-life-imprisonment sentence to the accused & convicted .
  3. Last , but by no means the least , was the verdict in the 8-year old paternity what-not in the Narain Dutt Tiwari case .  Predictably, the outcome was described by the defendent  as a politically motivated conspiracy . He reportedly praised the efforts of leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, & Madan Mohan Malviya , whose  traditions he claimed he would follow till his last breath. Of course , in the interest of brevity , I have left out a few words from these desultory statements by the octogenarian , & any mischievous connotations arising therefrom are entirely unintended.

The aforesaid LBBNMTL verdict called for some focussed research in Wikepedia ( where else !! ) & herewith some profundities thus culled :

  • Not having sired a child in wedlock ( Press reported this with a telling yet camouflaged “first time Dad ” ) could be sufficient ground for an appeal in a paternity trial .
  • The ” probability of parentage”  is 0 % in a negative result but 99.99% in a positive DNA result : meaning that while DNA can establish non-paternity in absolute terms , its establishment of paternity could be wrong in 0.01 % cases ( seemingly small though substantial in relative numbers for a leader of substance in a country of 1.2 billion ( 120,000 to be precise ). What you might wonder is the point I am making. The honest answer is that I haven’t the foggiest .
  • The aforesaid 0.01 % are individuals with at least two sets of genes . Most people ( so Wikepedia would have us believe ) have a single & distinct set of genes. The formerly mentioned rare individuals are , it seems , referred to as Chimeras . A chimera of course is , in Greek mythology, a fire-breathing monster with a lion’s head , a goat’s body , & a serpent’s tail . In colloquialism , the word has a completely different connotation , when used as a rare adjective for a negatively multi-faceted person in the hare & hounds analogy. A plea of self confession in this regard might well be his only salvation : senseless invocation of names such as those cited above will definitely not get him off the hook .

Cheers for now & off we go to cheer the lads & lasses at London 2012 .

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Signs of our Times


A blog ” The confessions of a Linguist ” by a Grammer pedant , under the nom-de-plume Brightbluesaturday , has been making waves in Blogosphere :  there appears to be no end in sight to the debate it has initiated between Descriptive & Prescriptive grammarians .

Selective excerpts from the blog deserve sharing :

  • “We can’t send angry letters to TESCOfor having a sign saying “Ten Items or
    Less instead of “Ten Items or Fewer” “
  • “——  the difference between “your” and “you’re”, or “there”, “their” and “they’re””.
  • “The difference between “its” and “it’s” is important. It’s not life and death, but it’s still important “.
  • Words like “best” and “favourite” and “tallest” are superlatives. This means you can’t add a “most” or a “least” onto them. “Most favourite” is a redundant phrase.
  • ” Café has an acute accent on the e. Otherwise you pronounce it to rhyme with “safe””.
  • Yes, I  know, I know, as a linguist, I’m supposed to see language as being descriptive  ——–Well, for whatever reason, I’m a secret prescriptive grammarian.

This rant by a prescriptive grammarian deserved a telling response from the land where English ( Hinglish/ Inglish ) is often spoken with the “whole & sole” purpose of being understood & not with an eye on Grammatical purity . ” Who you are “ & “How you are “ are often heard , with equally fascinating responses in ” Why I should tell you ? Who YOU ARE to ask me !!  “  and ” Pulling on somehow “   ( if quite well ) , or a description of the malaise , if unwell ; such as  ” Tummy is making funny Gud Gud sounds”  or       ” having high temperature  & pain in the back side “

However , merely a descriptive response wouldn’t be telling enoughAfter much deliberation , I chose to stun the purist  with a ” shock & awe “ ppt Signs of our Times ( please click on the link to view it )

Cheers & GN

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