Random Thoughts

Madam Chairman; Business as Usual

Madam Chairman
Reincarnation of Prufrock
Business as Usual
Grandma’s Remedies
Three-hour work Day
Crorepati Club
Think it Through

Madam Chairman

In March 1966, Indira Gandhi was on a State visit to the USA. A meeting had been scheduled for her to meet Lyndon Johnson. BK Nehru − that distinguished civil servant − was our Ambassador in Washington D C. BK had an extremely cordial equation with the American President who asked our Ambassador how to address the Indian Prime Minister − Plain Mrs. Gandhi or Madam Prime Minister or….. (I dare not mention the actual phrase because Johnson was fond of highly spicy language in which every word he used was preceded and followed by an expletive.)

BK Nehru promised Johnson to check with Mrs. Gandhi as to how she would like to be addressed. And he did as soon he got a chance. After a bit of reflection she said: “Well, you know, half of my Cabinet addresses me as Sir.” So tell the President whatever you deem fit. (I’m sure left to himself Johnson would have called her ‘Hi, gal’)

Why I referred to the above episode is because the SBI has created a similar problem for itself. In its long history spanning over two centuries, the Bank chose for the first time Arundhati Bhattacharya as the first woman to head the hoary institution. So, the problem: how to address the new chief.

Chairperson is, these days, the fashionable term for a woman chairman. That’s what the UPA selected for Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

But the world of bankers has its own ways. There were instructions from the top – you know what it means − that she was to be referred to as chairman. The designation has something to do with legalities. It turns out that the SBI Act of 1956 does not recognize the designation of ‘chairperson’ and the legal eagles in the bank decided the bank’s first woman head should stick to chairman.

Thank goodness, the UPA doesn’t have any law to obey.

Reincarnation of Prufrock

The very mention of the name of British poet TS Eliot conjures up the image of The Waste Land. Lovers of English poetry would recall that before the much-cited work, lamenting the loss of intellectual vigor of the western civilization after the First World War, Eliot wrote The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. That was way back in 1915.

What is Prufrock associated with and why have I mentioned the name? In Eliot’s poem, Prufrock laments his physical and intellectual inertia, the lost opportunities in his life and lack of his spiritual progress. Above all, he is haunted by reminders of unattained carnal love. With visceral feelings of weariness, regret, embarrassment, longing, sexual frustration, and a nagging awareness of mortality, “Prufrock” has come to be recognized as a vocal symbol in modern literature.

Why have I dug up the poor soul? It is very relevant. For days the name of the veteran journalist Tarun Tejpal − at long last in police custody − and his heroic sexual exploits are in the news. It is now reported how he and another great mind, Ponty Chadha – yes, that controversial liquor baron − and Tejpal got together before the latter was killed last year and conceived of a great idea. That was to start an exclusive private club for “select urban Indians” to be named ‘Prufrock’. Tejpal must have read Eliot. The Club was to be, in Tejpal’s words, “a vibrant cultural space, where a highly accomplished, eclectic community of select urban Indians can meet and engage in an atmosphere of great intimacy with eminent people who make and shape the world”. I forgot to mention meet “over fine drinks and exquisite cuisines created by a celebrity chef.” Good ideas flow, you know, only after good liquor and good food and very stimulating company. Need I elucidate the last named italicsed incentive to creative thinking? Haven’t you been reading about it all through the week?

What a pity Ponty Chadha is no more. However, I hear his successors have undertaken to honor the commitment. The cloud that Tejpal is under may clear one day. Sometime or the other, Delhi will have an exclusive club called Prufrock with a carefully curated, by-invitation-only membership, located in GK I in the heart of South Delhi.

Business as Usual

Things may – in fact, do − change in all walks of life but not in our politics. It’s always business as usual in it.

There has been a strident chorus of demand that political parties shouldn’t field candidates with criminal record. Would you like someone who has a couple of murders and half a dozen dacoities to his credit to represent you in Parliament? After the Supreme Court’s ruling, banning tainted candidates, an enraged Rahul Gandhi showed annoyance at his own Party’s backdoor efforts to bring the convicted politicians back through the backdoor. And the Congress Party has several of them.

After making suitable noises the Party bosses have once again done what they have always been doing, namely, allot Party tickets to those who have criminal records.

I read in press reports that in MP, as many as 243 candidates who contested in the just concluded elections had criminal cases against them. Congress Party of course fielded the most followed by BJP. In Chhattisgarh, both the Parties were vying with each other to field criminals. Only if the electorate rejects them all, there’s some possibility of cleaning up our politics. Let’s wait for December 8 when the results will be announced.

Grandma’s Remedies

We’re prone to reject old grandma recommending a favorite herb of hers for one minor or major ailment that we’re likely to suffer from. But you shouldn’t be dismissive in rejecting off hand age-old oft-tried home remedies.

Doesn’t it t sound too good to be true that new evidence shows almost conclusively that the common herbs rosemary (Gulmehandi in Hindi) and spearmint (a type of pudina) could be effective in treating and preventing of the much-dreaded ailment called Alzheimer’s Disease. It is reported in The Guardian that recent experiments at the St. Louis University of Medicine tested proprietary compounds made of spearmint extract and rosemary extract on mice afflicted with age-related cognitive decline. The rosemary extract had a significant effect in improving learning and memory, and the spearmint extract in improving memory. Perhaps it’s still too early to conclude whether these herbs will do likewise in humans or what doses might be needed. However, it establishes the fact that age-old traditional treatment shouldn’t be dismissed off-hand.

Three-hour work Day

Are people in the office you are familiar with hard at work or hardly working? As reported by The Mirror, a study claims the typical full-time office worker is actually toiling less than three hours a day. The British study polled nearly 2,000 office workers and concluded that, on average, employees only concentrated on their duties for two hours and 53 minutes of an eight-hour work shift.

So how do their days fly by? The poll shows the average worker spends 44 minutes a day on social media sites, 1.5 hours tracking news stories online, 40 minutes chatting, 17 minutes making coffee and up to 45 minutes having lunch. The rest of the time goes to snacking, food preparation, texting and calling home. The most eye-opening statistic: most office workers spend 26 minutes at their desk each day looking for a new job.

In our case it’s not a minute more than two hours and rest follows an Indian pattern sans computers which are making steady inroad.

Crorepati Club

If you want to become rich quickly − and who doesn’t these days? − I can give you is a priceless tip. Join politics without further loss of time. Take the case of 66 MLAs who are re-contesting the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections. Their average worth has risen from Rs. 2.90 crore in 2008 to a massive Rs. 10.43 crore this year. Some of them saw the real windfall.

These details have been unearthed by the Association for Democratic Reforms and Delhi Election Watch after they scrutinized nomination forms of 796 of the 810 candidates who will be contesting the election on December 4.

Congress candidates are the richest of the lot with 61 of their 70 candidates declaring themselves crorepatis. The average worth of its candidates is Rs. 14.25 crore. BJP is next with 58 crorepatis and an average worth of Rs. 8.16 crore. The Aam Aadmi Party, the new entrant in the race, isn’t just aam aadmis; they too are fielding 33 crorepatis.

The poorest of the lot – someone like yours truly − has declared worth of Rs.20,800. And hold your breath the richest of the lot is one Manjinder Singh Sirsa of Shiromani Akali Dal with declared assets of Rs. 235.51 crore. I wonder why on earth he is contesting again. Human beings aren’t ever satisfies with what they have.

Think it Through

Never say anything in a national campaign that anyone might remember, said Eugene McCarthy

He was a long-serving representative of Minnesota in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He also unsuccessfully made a bid to for the presidency, and not once but five times.

Our politicians, unfortunately, say too many memorable things which they just cannot fulfill. Nehru promised socialist pattern of society and the daughter went a step further: Garibi Hatao. So the Party has to pretend to at least try. The best is to utter well-tried inanities, which everybody forgets as soon as the elections are over.

Color images (c) Gettyimages.com


More by :  Sakshi

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