Random Thoughts

Back in Business; Promises Not to Keep

Back in Business
Promises Not to Keep
All in the Family
Repairing Leaking Party
Insects Named after Humans
War of Words
Think it Through

Back in Business

Does a country get a Parliament and parliamentarians that its people deserve? Should that be so, we indeed are the most unfortunate lot in the world. If there were a people who inherited the highest and the loftiest of ideals of life, it is us.

It was the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, who famously said that for the first time in man’s search for knowledge, “truth was recognized by the sages of India.” The same land, today, is accursed with the worst conceivable species of politicians that there’s in the world.

The first round of 2014 elections is due for 64 constituencies on April 7, 2014. There are 64 candidates in the fray. The National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in their analysis of the affidavits of all these 64 candidates found six candidates or 9% among them, face criminal cases. They also dug into their financial background to discover that 16 of them i.e., a good 25% have assets worth Rs. 1 crore or more. The average asset per candidate contesting in the first phase of 2014 Lok Sabha Elections is Rs. 5.75 crore.

And mind you these are only self-sworn affidavits. Whether their entries can stand a through third party scrutiny remains to be seen. Affidavits, proverbially, are economical with truth. And out of the six candidates, who have declared criminal cases, three have declared criminal cases that are grave indeed, including attempt to murder and rape.

Isn’t it a depressing beginning to the new chapter that the forthcoming elections were supposed to usher in? All we see that the old hands are back in business.

Promises Not to Keep

If Robert Frost was commissioned to write an obituary of the Congress Party – soon it will need one – he would have composed something to this effect:

The woods indeed are lovely dark and deep
There were promised I made never to keep
Oh yes never to keep
And now isn’t it time to go to sleep?

What else would you suggest writing on the tombstone of the Party, founded on December 28, 1885 by a British civil servant called Allan Octavian Hume and which had the distinction of having its last President for fifteen odd years, an Italian who wisely married a Gandhi scion and belatedly adopted Indian nationality?

The future historians will record that the only redeeming feature of the Party was that someone called M K Gandhi used it as a medium of nationalist awakening. How ironical that another so-called Gandhi – in no way related to the Mahatma – presided over the last rites?

All in the Family

One unresolved issue of history is the question of succession. Whether it is a kingdom or a gurudom, the crucial choice of a suitable successor has always been a source of rancor and often bitter and bloody conflict. And pitted in the conflict are often several claimants prepared to go to any length to stake their claims. Some wise contenders like Aurangzeb killed all brothers who could be potential rivals to allay all future fears.

Those who are at the helm of affairs have a duty to ensure that the institutions they establish function smoothly after they are not around. Take the Buddha. Despite persistent pleas of his wife and some of his followers, he refused to nominate a successor to lead the Sangh. The result was various divisions among his followers about doctrinal matters. Nanak, similarly, turned down repeated entreaties of his wife to nominate his son as the successor to the guru’s gadi. So did the next two gurus. Thereafter the office turned hereditary.

In contemporary times, party leadership cannot wish away the good old issue of succession. Have a look at our recent past. Jawaharlal didn’t wink an eyelid before nominating his darling daughter as Party president. So, his political lieutenants had no qualms of conscience in nominating Indira Gandhi after Shastri passed away. Indira, in turn, was unabashedly an advocate of hereditary rule. So on her assassination her son took out without a murmur from the Party as if ours is a constitutional monarchy like England.

Repairing Leaking Party

I firmly believe Lalu Prasad has had a raw deal in life. A man who entertained a whole generation with his political gimmickry, deserved a better deal in life. The poor fellow, instead, is being betrayed by one old comrade after another. He is, today, literally in a sink-or-swim situation.

Would you be surprised to hear how is planning to shore up his fortunes? On the advice of a vaastu expert – and fortunately, there is never a shortage of charlatans in our country – he’s filling up a pool in his wife’s bungalow with mud. To you and me that may sound like a strange remedy. But no! That’s exactly what the vaastu specialist has prescribed to RJD chief after his ‘hanuman’ – i.e., Ram Kripal Yadav – walked out on him.

The pool located in the middle of Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi’s sprawling 10, Circular road bungalow campus, signified, he was told, emptiness and mirrored the steady exodus from the party. It was also full of what in vaastu science is called negative energy. Gleaming tiles are being used to line up the pool.

Those who are in the know of things tell me more alterations are in the pipeline. The seating arrangements for guests and supporters will also be suitably modified. Bitya Misa’s victory or – forbid the thought – defeat will vindicate whether vaastu is a real science or like astrology, a make-belief?

Insects Named after Humans

Earlier stars and planets were named after scientists and famous people. But today, living organisms like insects and even parasites are being named after celebrities. Here are a few samples:

  • A gathidium rumsfeldi 
    a beetle named after former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
  • Agathidium cheneyi
    a beetle named after former US vice-president Dick Cheney.
  • Scaptia beyonceae
    a species of horse fly with a golden tip to its abdomen named after Beyonce Knowles.
  • Anophthalmus hitleri
    a species of blind cave beetle named after Adolf Hitler.
  • Aptostichus angelinajolieae
    a species of water trapdoor spider named after Angelina Jolie.
  • Eristalis gatesi
    a flower fly named after the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.
  • Eristalis alleni
    a flower fly named after the co-founder of Microsoft. Paul Allen.

War of Words

A bizarre battle is raging in Britain. On the one side are lovers of the English language bequeathed by the Authorized Version of the Bible and Shakespeare. They are pitted against local councils that are culling the humble apostrophe from street signs. The historic university city of Cambridge was the latest in a series of places this year that have made the change, which transforms the all-too-familiar names such as King’s Road into Kings Road.

Understandably, Cambridge was forced to backtrack after anonymous lovers of the language who are punctuation protectors, mounted a guerrilla campaign. They ventured out in the dead of night and used black marker pens to fill in the missing apostrophes.

This veritable punctuation pogrom – so called by several municipalities – is apparently in response to central government advice aimed at helping the work of the emergency services. The case is cited of a teenager who died of an asthma attack after an apostrophe error led to an ambulance going to the wrong address.

Come to think of it, all this apostrophes business is indeed a messy affair. In countries such as the United States and Australia, which imported the English language, apostrophes disappeared from street signs long ago. Not in England, however. And the moves to do the same have aroused the ire of the guardians of the English language.

There are lovers of language who are deeply concerned. If it is apostrophes today, it will be commas tomorrow. Already some commas have disappeared.

Two other areas of concern about the future of English language are the invasion of American English and the ever-increasing computer use. Take the first. Every time I type favour the computer a red line tells me “wrong spelling”. So, I must delete the letter u. The same warning surfaces when I type flavour. Why don’t the custodians of Queen’s English accept the fact that the days of the Empire are over and now it is Pax Americana and bring to an end this linguistic family feud by accepting defeat? That would mean modifying the Oxford Dictionary once and for all.

However the second threat is far more insidious. And that is doing away with the use of capital letters. So I capital becomes i small case and sentences begin with a letter in small case. I don’t have then to waste energy pressing Shift every now and then. Possibly, the English language will survive these two threats in my lifetime: après moi le dé·luge

Think it Through

“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.”

The famous 17th century publicist renowned for his maxims and essays, François de La Rochefoucauld, the author of the above cynical truth offered a clear-eyed, worldly view of human conduct. Perhaps we do need to have an honest look at our own selves or just continue to live our lives (as T S Eliot put it): “To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”


More by :  Sakshi

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