August 12, 2012

An interwoven relation

Two friends with opposite ideologies had a letter exchange once.

Dear Mr. Change,

I would never indulge in a debate with you over something that was established centuries ago. After several arguments with you, today I decided to write as to why I matter to the world as we know it. Why I, being the sole reason of everything, should be respected for my unique traits. I had envisioned long ago, even before Adam dated Eve with an apple to eat, that by remaining immovable, I would provide greater meaning to the universe. I understood that by remaining committed to the idea of not shifting base, by adopting quantitative loyalty as the highest virtue, by maintaining same position for eternity, I would get the recognition of being uniquely unique. Realisation of staying at one place made me experience advantages of life. The almighty created me to not let you take over the world. Not to allow you to complicate his already complex creation. Even the same almighty doesn't interfere in my nature. For, I am his only hope in letting him keep the commanding position for eternity. I provide him his authority. That is why, despite scientific world leading human inventions, God is still God. I am his scientific prototype. My bum is so comfortably placed that I refuse to wander in other areas even if they look different or interesting. You have accused me of being lazy without knowing me well. Let me make it clear to you, I am neither lazy nor do I believe in escapism. I am definite, I am certain. I follow same principles in any given space or time. I have my eyes on everything. Everything that comes and goes around is dependent on my presence. It is I who monitor what is going wrong with you at play. I carry the confidence of being supreme in the times of uncertainty. I stand, sit, dance, cry without leaving my space. Being same year after year is a cause that I am committed to. And you will never understand what it means to be the same. I help mathematicians and physicists to know their world better. I define E=MC2, Pi=3.14. My association with life and death is set before humans were created. God created humans and their lives in advance. How can manage without me? You keep jumping aimlessly without any respect for humanity, nature. History can not be defined if I am not on the job. Schools, colleges, research thesis are all dependent on my existence. Marriages are successful because I, as a virtue in human life, exist. I am the alpha, the Omega of the world. Leaders, countries, climates believe in standards I set. Barring few cases where you have acquired a space unlawfully, I rule the rest. Region, Religion, Geography carry my characteristics. People who refuse to believe in you turn to me. And I respectfully embrace them. Human relationships stand to the test of time because of my existence. You don't even know what loyalty, commitment mean. The indisciplined life that you live is nothing but a recipe for disaster. You confuse people. Why should I even waste my time arguing with you Mr. Change.

Yours superior,
The Constant.

Dear Mr. Constant,

      I just love the way you put those scientific equations every time I warn you of your limited meaning to the world as we know it. Such an exemplary effort, but to limited success. The great thing about you is the way you keep showing the same face everyday. Sometimes I wish to appreciate you for the rigidity you display. I am not a conservative individual who loves himself. I shall point out why you don't carry the weight anymore. Your attitude toward life needs overhauling. Open your eyes, look around. See what is visible. I rule what was your empire once. Human virtues are defined with my support. In fact, I have become a virtue that humans believe in. Barring communists who feel pride in having you as an ideology, I help others define themselves. Every being has started believing in the power that I only can provide. Marriages used to be based on idea of you. Look around my friend, that's not the case anymore. Even mother nature has never put trust in you. Didn't you hear about climate change ? Even democracy relies on my existence. I give this world the meaning of exploration. Why from foreign policy to domestic elections, I have become core of everything? Nothing, not even a great scientific basis that you give yourself, is your world anymore. Ask those Mathematicians, Physicists who are thinking of re-defining the same pi= 3.14. You are not trusted anymore. Don't they need me to carry the humanity forward. Great scientists, who once defined you, are now being questioned (I hope they are also investigating that Einstein who propagated you endlessly). You have taught humans all foolish virtues. You have held me back for years. No more the case. I have also had effect on Philosophy, mythology that the world talks about. I rule on every part of universe. The almighty is dependent on you, but see what effect I have on genders that that very almighty creates. He too needs my support for his factory of human production. I take effect there as well. What is your value to humans if I don't exist ? You talk about region, religion. Pay attention, I take effect on region, religion, geography. I have redefined happiness across universe. I have my effect not only on food items, but also television, films, songs. Economies of the world are taking my help to answer the age old questions posed by rigidity you carry. It is me what Middle East uprisings are striving for. I am sought by opposition parties in every country. Every walk of life has my prominent presence. Your days are numbered. It is high time you start giving me credit for keeping human life interesting. Look at yourself, nothing but an age old entity that is being forced out by this planet. I have replaced you as policy. I accommodate. You keep your head high by disappointing one and all. Give up this rigidity, and you shall be saved in some little way. You bore people, why even I should waste my time on you?

Your replacement,
The Change.

June 8, 2012

Refusal to retreat

O, blest retirement! friend to life's decline -
How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease!
- Oliver Goldsmith

The bucket list is a movie with a chronicle of two aged individuals, performed by Jack Nicholson and Morgan freeman, who, upon realising that only few years are at hand, upon concluding that bitter family ties may not turn sweet, decide to live their dreams.

Reflection of these bucket list characters can be seen in Indian political parlance. There are two individuals who appear to be wearing same shoes as the oldies in the film.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, who lives more by accidents than choices, is heading the government at the centre. From being liberal economist turned finance minister to the Prime Minister who, at first, appeared serious enough for the job, everything was an accident. A Serendipitous life.

L K Advani, who probably lives by choices turned into accidents, still nurtures the dream of leading the government one day. From being a Hindu nationalist to the one who praised Jinnah on Pakistani soil, everything was a well thought strategy. He is still waiting for his serendipitous moment.

Manmohan Singh became Prime minister accidentally; Advani wants to become Prime minister willingly. With their respective reasoning, one seeks to get out; one seeks to get in.

Having scaled great height in public life, both appear to be standing unaccompanied like an unwanted old member of a family who, at best, can only offer advice even if there are no takers for it. Despite setbacks on several occasions, the desire to keep trying is still alive. It appears to be an old age rigidity that refuses to die.

General elections of 2009 brought an unforeseen success for UPA that, apart from Gandhi family, was credited to Manmohan Singh as well. He was again given an opportunity to head the government. Display of no nonsense attitude toward work and commitment impressed many in Singh's first term as the Prime Minister. As it appears now, Congress party seems to have left him alone in the battlefield. He is stuck to the chair that majority of Congress leaders, even if implicitly, want him to quit.

Manmohan Singh was appreciated for his silence, now that very silence has been haunting him everyday. Several caricatures find their inspiration in Manmohan Singh's silence on all issues. He realises his dwindling stature in the government and the party. Hence, he is his own guardian. When allocation of everything is turning into some scam, Manmohan has decided not to allot anything at all. Hence, the paralysis has hit his government that has blocked policy decisions.

The same general elections of 2009 turned into a bitter reality check for L K Advani. Despite projecting him as Prime Ministerial candidate, BJP suffered big loss in terms of numbers. UPA's dismal record couldn't be turned into NDA's victory. Advani had to give up his position as leader of opposition too. Apart from other reasons, Advani's blend of Rath Yatra and oratory brought BJP to the level of forming the government at the centre. This blend took him to the chair of deputy prime minister. It is the last mile that looks difficult. But that doesn't discourage this octogenarian leader from keep digging until he gets hold of the treasure that, he still believes, is meant for him. Looking at the current developments, it appears that Advani still hopes to secure another nomination for 2014 general elections. At the same time, the iron man is also witnessing his diminishing stature within the party.

Both Congress, BJP wish to see their leaders as history. It is the perseverance of these leaders that refuses to become part of history as yet.

BJP doesn't need Advani anymore apart from having his face on campaign posters, a fact that Advani himself knows. Congress can't have Manmohan Singh anymore, an unfortunate fact that Manmohan knows quite well. Even if this remains a reality, inner crisis in both the parties give these two leaders an opportunity to stay put.

Even if it is assumed that both leaders earned more than expected in public life, there can be no reason for not seeing them still lingering around with a list of wishes in their buckets.

Commitment to the ideals can make leaders hang on. The fulfillment of the dreams, realisation of importance of those commitments to the next generation; assurance that the cause they toiled for these many years will remain supreme can be expectation enough for leaders to hang on.

Some will also say that exodus from public scene is not a requisite. Fair enough, but departure matters if one wishes to be remembered, and remembered for good deeds. Neither Advani nor Manmohan seem to be in a hurry to hang up their boots.

Shane Warne declared departure from International cricket when he was at peak of his career. That presents two significant scenarios. First, you quit with stature that followers appreciate and cherish for years; second you quit and yet remain relevant.

When the party cares less for what a veteran has to say, retreat from the scene remains the only intelligent choice. There can only be one advice for these two veterans of Indian politics- Leave. Leave before they start ignoring, stop listening, and start loathing.

January 13, 2012

This way lies not only folly but disaster

If these acts continue, we don’t need anything else that would stoke a strong reaction. Justice Sachar committee report talks about taking an affirmative action for Muslims in India. It was set up, as secularists of the country say, to bring Muslims into the mainstream. And what did it recommend? The much awed report recommends hundreds of administrative amendments to the way this country has been running. What has been shunned for others, as the report indicates, has become central for Muslims of the country. Report lists series of measures that will further alienate this ‘cornered community’. For instance, it recommends recognition of the degrees from madrassas for eligibility in competitive examinations such as the civil services, banks, defence services and other such examinations. It talks about ‘provision of equivalence’ to Madrassa certificate for subsequent admissions into institutions of higher education. Separate data from banks on the transactions done by Muslims, and submission of such data to Reserve bank of India. It also talks about creating a separate government fund to encourage NGOs run by Muslims. It goes on to add ‘it should be made mandatory to furnish information in a prescribed format once in three months and also to post the same on the website of the government departments’. It also makes disbursement of funds to Muslims an obligation for banks. It recommends that the qualification for admission to ITIs be lowered for Muslims who come from madrassas. It says incentives should be given to builders, private sector employees, educational institutions that engage Muslims in their ‘diversity index’.

“If Muslims carry the perception of being aggrieved, swift action should be taken to the full satisfaction of the Muslims”, it says. Data related to the schemes announced by the government should be available so as to analyse whether the community is happy with the scheme.

To do away with the social separateness of the Muslims, report recommends administrative separation. The recommendation lists what arguably is best for the community. It essentially talks about creating a parallel bureaucratic set up to run this wish list. I have only listed few recommendations of the committee. If one takes the implementation of these recommendations into consideration, one easily calculates how many more government employees will be needed to fulfill these wishes. How much infrastructure will be needed to see these recommendations coming into effect? This manifests what kind of implementation mechanism will have to be put in place to fulfill Justice Sachar’s recommendations. Even if the government agrees to implement half of what has been recommended, it will keep defeating its own unforgettable records of fiscal discipline.

Report that sets entire administrative structure of the country after one job- "to satisfy Muslims to the fullest". Anything falling short of that satisfaction should invite penalty, it says. “But look at the marginalization of the community, they lack education, health, houses”, secularists wake up again. Their job is limited to making the very Muslims- who come out to vote in elections, feel protected. By offering protection, secularists buy the community's loyalty. But what kind of Protection is this? From who?

This very study was being sold as Quran to Muslims, as the only master plan that will not only fetch them into the mainstream, but will also share with them fruits of India’s 9% growth. It was said, in no uncertain terms, that the report will be implmentated the moment it is submitted. Four years on, no implementation is being talked about. Upon realising that too many provisions have been suggested in the report, that these recommendations can put government under unending administrative pressure, government decided to talk about the sudden discovery of ‘anomalies’ in the report. “But this is just a study, not Quran”, our secularists reason.

What follows is the fashionable assertion these days about communal forces devising a plan to oust Muslims from the country. “Our aim is to keep the communal forces out”, a usual one liner of secularists. Reasserting the names of same old factions, who have been brandished by these secularists, as enemies of Muslims.

And what does Sachar say about Muslims in these "communal states"? It ranks Gujarat above West Bengal. It goes on to talk about pathetic state of Muslims in 'fully secular' state run by our very own secular comrades.

Thus, obvious question hits us. What qualifies as communal?

Here, thought is lost, and any attempt to regain it qualifies as taking sides. And if the side being taken is of anyone against such policies, ‘communal’ is the tag hurled without losing a second. None of “our worthies” has made any meaningful presentation about the implementation of the recommendations of Sachar report. Setting up a committee to look at the condition of Muslims cannot qualify as having acted against the ailments of that community.

But the belief of our secularists, in the welfare of Muslims, is only rhetoric for Iftaar parties. Functions organised by minorities commission is the play ground for these empty assertions. Recall our Prime Minister’s statement on minorities having first right on national resources. If he cannot guarantee regular rights, how will this claim of ‘first right’ on national resources be executed? The expectation, so developed, with which these poor fellows vote, remains an expectation only. And there is no shortage of quotes from constitution of the party. Citations of historical decisions during struggle for independence. But those quotes are only to be quoted, not to be applied.

A new front, a new commission, a new scheme, a new approach. Nothing brings a new life that Muslims desperately seek. Recall the jibe of decades: ‘the Hindu rate of growth’. Our growth was held down to 3-4 per cent, it was dubbed — with much glee — as ‘the Hindu rate of growth’. Today, we are growing at 9 per cent. And, if you are to believe the nonsense in Sachar’s report, the minorities are not growing at all. So, who is responsible for this higher rate of growth? The Hindus! How come no one calls this higher rate of growth ‘the Hindu rate of growth’? It is easy to understand. Dubbing the low rate as the Hindu one establishes you to be secular; not acknowledging the higher one as the Hindu rate establishes you to be secular! Will the sluggish Indian growth rate, the growth below expectation becomes Muslim growth rate? Why only concessions, and no answer on the outcome of those very concessions?

As elections come close, senior most leader of the party starts feeling the need to offer protection to Muslims. This time, Muslims refuse to pay 'hafta' for protection; secularists move one step further towards creating more separateness. The announcement of a separate quota is made just before those ‘concentrated populace’ are to vote. People, who claim to have been following Islam without questioning it, suddenly start calculating the benefits to be accrued from this quota. They are never short of quotations from the holy book to back their assertions. Now they ignore the same book. Quran emphasizes 'the importance of equality before Allah' at great length. But the custodians, upon learning about the proposal, put Quran on hold. "It is the need of the hour", they reason. What has been propounded, and sold as election promise, suddenly acquires centrestage. Everyone, claiming to be the sole representative of the community, jumps into the fray. After all the credit line, from where such ideas are born, becomes crucial. Who will reap the benefit is the question that engages these custodians. Race for projection, as the sole guardian, starts.

None is concerned if there is any alternative to such non-feasible master plan. None is talking about the consequences of this quota. Aren't we heading in the direction that Britishers wanted to take us, and we almost proved them right? Separate Muslim electorate for Muslims wasn’t a welfare scheme to uplift the community. It was to emphasize ‘the separateness'.

M F Hussein, an artist in his own right, His depictions of Hindu goddesses have been in the news: he has painted them in less than skimpy attire. Well, in the case of an artist, that is just inspiration, say the secularists. The question that arises then is: How come in the seventy-five years Husain has been painting, he has not once felt inspired, not once, to paint the face of the Prophet? It doesn't have to be in the style in which he has painted the Hindu goddesses. How come he has never felt inspired to paint women revered in Islam, or in his own family, in the same style as the one that propelled his inspiration in regard to Hindu goddesses? Immediate reaction from the intelligentsia is to defend the artist. ‘In painting the goddesses, he was just honouring them,’ a secular intellectual remarked. ‘It was his way of honouring them.’ What can be a bigger service to the almighty? Put your talent to the service of god. We all can agree without argument. But how come this heavenly artist never but never thought of honouring the Prophet by using the same priceless skill?

As elections are round the corner, 'these worthies' start campaign of justification. Be it a fatwa that demands blocking an author’s visit to the country, or a fatwa that blocks Yoga- treated as science everywhere. When in doubt, talk about the so-called larger picture. If that picture has any larger dimensions, these secularists are not concerned.

I assume the figures, as compiled in Sachar report, to be correct. There is no argument that the Muslims in India do need attention. But why Muslims are called Muslims? Why not call them Indians? I possess limited understanding to come up with a mechanism for the true welfare of this community, but it is not difficult to understand that the way things are being taken forward is not what the community will wish to live with. Separateness can not be dealt with by creating provisions that require further separateness. It remins me of what Jawaharlal Nehru had once said, in different context though- This way lies not folly, but disaster.

October 9, 2011

Ten Years Hence

Ten years have passed. Reconciliation is the theme that surrounds two important events of the last decade. Looking back, at the decade gone by, is an opportunity to see why after a decade long effort, reconciliation becomes a theme. One such opportunity presents itself now. At the beginning of the last decade, United States invaded Afghanistan. Though the intended outcome of the famous invasion is yet to be realised, United States has been making every attempt to spend the last few years by finding peace with Taliban. In India, we have been a witness to one significant ten year spell- Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Why do I mention these two different events, located in two different geographical spheres, together?

Many parallels can be drawn here, if one attempts to look deeper. If I further my freedom of imagination, these two events appear alike in many ways. Odds against evens. Turning odds into evens.

When Obama took office, presidency inherited unstable economy and Afghanistan as the biggest worries. Ten years hence, Afghanistan still remains a troubled area. Independence from Taliban, so achieved, has limited meaning in several different parts of the country where druglords still have an impact. With no independent defence machanism, it looks as fragile as it was in 2001. Recent assassination of a former president, killing of Karzai's half brother, incidents like these neither instill confidence nor offer solutions. As the war looked long term affair, United States managed to get international community on board. In the process of taking the war further, it found friends and few foes. US spent dollars, soldiers, political capital, but no concrete results achieved. All in all, war hasn't brought the change that America wanted to see. War only added to already declining status of US. Now as it appears, United States doesn't want to keep spending money in defending the decision of invading Afghanistan. So, it seeks an exit.

Coming back to home, Narendra Modi has acquired the front page in almost every business newspaper in the country since 2002. All known business leaders in India have endorsed his development of the state. If we go by business reports, Modi has turned Gujarat into a model of growth for other states to follow. Ten years into Chief Minister's residence, Modi is still dealing with what he inherited from his first term. He is still surrounded with number of riots court cases. Despite Gujarat's highest growth across all states in the country, Narendra Modi still waits for an acceptance as a leader, both within and outside his party. He is still trapped in an image that refuses to die down; image that still denies him US visa. All in all, development alone has not been able to bring the change Modi would want to see. Modi, it seems, doesn't want to keep spending time defending his 'no-role' during 2002 riots anymore.

As the decade ends, US and Modi both seek to put an end to the image that reminds them of the horrid part of their past. So much has already been invested in defending those misdeeds. Both, as it appears, want to eliminate what both see as a nuisance that overshadows their achievements in the last one decade. United States doesn't want to lose its authority as superpower. Narendra Modi doesn't want to lose an opportunity to become Prime minister someday. Hence, we see display of reconciliation.

In the end, it appears, both United States and Narendra Modi seek one common virtue- "Sadbhaavna"..

August 14, 2011

Free market, imprisoned minds

If asked to suggest a viable economic model for any 'X' entity, chances are that most of us would advocate a model of free market economy, based on demand-supply equation. As newer products acquire shelf space around us, we are more encouraged towards free market theory, as it increases competition, reduces price, and offers quality. A competitive market - where only best survives. Many of us can safely argue in favour of one product over another, based on personal experience. It is universally accepted principle- whoever offers best shall survive, and survive happily. Not many can deny the benefits of sticking to this model, based on fair competition.

But I have a contention here. My contention is in close relation to the professional sphere. Why is the free market belief forgotten in professional sphere, when we keep advocating it?

As organisations offer annual appraisal to their employees, different reactions follow. Some are satisfied; some are not. Those who are, hail their belief in competitive free market theory- where only best are rewarded, and how it works best for them. Those who are not, denounce the free market theory, arguing injustice. "I contributed so much, I think I truly deserve the 'X' percent hike given", a satisfied employee reasons. An unsatisfied one cites his own reasons for being unhappy.

Free market economists often argue over governmental intervention in pricing mechanism of many commodities. The common contention, in their arguments, is how governmental intervention discourages producers, reduces production, and raises prices. This intervention usually becomes visible when, in an attempt to save one industry, government compromises good prospects of another. That is the story visible.

We witness something on those lines in professional sphere. While deciding percentage of raise in salary, why organisations do away with principle of free market? Why is it that significant contributors end up on the same scale as the lowest? "There are different reasons in that decision", a senior explains in response to my query. He adds that work contribution has limited role in deciding increase in one's annual remuneration.

So, the free market belief- best reward to biggest contributor, takes a hit. One with highest contribution faces the heat in terms of comparative increase in remuneration. It is like a PSU that contributes maximum in revenues, but remains low on returns in terms of bonus, capital for expansion. The argument of helping sick on the expense of healthy follows inevitably. That eventually leaves healthy on the path of falling sick in near future. Sick industry, helped on the expense of a healthy industry, eventually ends up spreading sickness further.

Equate it to professional sphere around. Highest contributor, labouring under the anticipation of rewards, sees limited increase in remuneration. The lowest contributor takes away part of rewards. "But government cannot just think economically", Finance Minister’s usual justification on aiding sick units. What happens when a sick unit is supported by subsidy, extracted out of profits of healthy unit? What happens when the lowest or zero contributors are rewarded, on the expense of highest contributors? We have seen numerous examples in government run institutions to this effect. Such examples are available in private organisations as well.  

So, productive individuals are compromised to accommodate unproductive ones. As sick units are assured with minimum funding, productive units start losing vigour. Thereby, reduction in productivity. Soon this reduction becomes visible.

No organisation will be better off with non-performing assets for long time. If contribution is the only parameter to offer good appraisal, why sudden need to accommodate “the experienced” gains importance? Why does it not matter whether "the experienced" is making any significant contribution to net result? It just does not end here. Government goes one step further to define productively again. PSUs, managing good balance sheets, get revised targets to meet. Anything short of meeting that target allows government to divert capital to aid sick units. Government attempts to give life support to those units which are, essentially, dead, or should be declared dead. If an individual is only engaging one chair, why the organisation is paying him? And if the payment is being made without much thought, what is the contribution?

An economy goes into recession when it accumulates too many non-performing assets. It is a simple economics principle. We are aware of the side effects of having NPAs. But the plea, seeking attention for contributors, reaches no one. When the balance sheet is observed, troubled finances are talked about. Blame game follows. Who got the economy to these troubled levels? Why does the competitive environment, so created, is forgotten while offering appraisals? 

Another principle of free market theory, giving equal opportunity to all, takes a hit. One rupee extra to sick unit is one minute less productivity of healthy unit. Production will surely suffer. Delays will be frequent. Ignorance of these non-performing assets brings most important question to the surface. Why do organisations keep aiding these sick individuals at the expense of real and significant contributors?

Two natural consequences follow.

First- Individuals, with higher or real contribution, start losing vigour in performing day after day. Individuals, with next to nothing contribution, still survive with no fear of losing anything. So, bad loans keep rising. Government, with certain benefits in mind in aiding sick units, gives rise to NPAs. Government insists banks to offer credit for sick industry. Banks follow orders, only to realise that there are too many unpaid receipts.

Two- the overall productivity reduces. The healthy units focus more on partial treatment meted out. Idea of expansion is forgotten. Desired productivity is never achieved. NPAs become difficult to handle. At the end, organisation's growth suffers. 

June 15, 2011

When simplicity becomes rarity

Why subject the subject to subjectivity?

If the above question makes you feel sick, do blame me. I would welcome if anyone pins blame on me for being sick with that sentence. First, let me admit that I do not know anything about universally accepted linguistic principles. Now, Who would want to listen or read lines like subjecting the subject to subjectivity? It is an imaginary sentence that has no specific origin or usage. The reason for writing it is actually making an attempt at chasing this new trend in news language to its extreme. With the current trend, the above line may one day find place in some TV channel. We do listen or read unique lines everyday through our newspapers or television news channels. I, as many others, follow what I get to listen or read through available resources. Mostly related to current affairs, I do come across this new trend in the language everyday. It is part of my daily professional requirement. In the process, I inevitably raise questions to myself- Why take away simple words from language and fill the space with 'complex invention of unnecessary phrases'? Why hate simplicity of language if that is the magic of it?

History books tell us that human race evolves over time, so does the language of human race. Hence, changes or modifications are seen in all walks of life including the language we speak or write in. Every language has its grammar. So you stick to the grammar as much as you can. Sometimes you take liberty from specified rules and make it more convenient for yourself. This modification is also known as adaptation. And it is a natural process. It can also qualify as linguistic innovation.

But many people, mostly from news business, do not seem to believe in natural evolution of language and its traits. Therefore, forced evolution takes effect. Even if provided with the best of conditions, a fruit takes its time to ripe. It can ripe days before its natural time, if forced by a chemical conditioning. But we know how a fruit would taste if the natural growth is advanced by applying artificial means.

Television journalism makes fruit ripe even before existence of that fruit is established. I will again make the same request. Watch TV news and observe the language used. Why do we replace simple words with more complex, newly invented phrases? Why do we pretend to be masters of language when we are not? Why the simplicity of language condemned and complexity preferred? Is there any benefit out of it? As I see it, there is none.

At least in India, we see inflation of already crowded news vocabulary. For instance, Why write "big blow" when blow is what you mean? Why say "massive loss" when loss is what you report? Why say "big tragedy" or huge tragedy" when tragedy alone suffices? Look around, you will observe, these words have influenced language as used in daily lives. Television channels take liberty to be flexible with grammar. This liberty has done more damage to language. Unwarranted modifications have replaced rules.

There is no dearth of words in english language, if the only objective is to multiply the significance of news by putting a word here and there. Won't  the usage of the phrase "Racism beyond shame" categorise racism as a lesser crime? Or an acceptable act? Then how will one define "racism under shame"? Racism itself is an unacceptable act, why set boundary and re-define it? But 'racism beyond shame' becomes acceptable. Simplicity is treated like contempt of complexity. Usage of simple verb, adjective qualifies as poor linguistic calibre.

As I said above, we are not in the business of amending the existing grammar. Though Innovation in language can be accepted without much argument. But how can an unwarranted invention be acceptable? People who have brought news vocabulary at this juncture see nothing wrong with the degradation of language. Not because they don't care, but because they do not know that the degradation has already begun. In fact,  they are playing an active role in it. Not that anybody is bothered, but by the time remedy is thought about, wounds spread to every part of the body.

When you read 'a subject is subjected to subjectivity', you inevitably take note of it. It makes one think whether there is any dying need to add adjectives, edit verbs, play with nouns, when simple verbs can be trusted with the job. Every language has its own grammar. Not to decorate the language, but to maintain the uniformity.

Linguistic discipline is the backbone of this profession. Simplicity is the first lesson. If it is not respected, we will end up with new dictionary every year that neither has the right word nor the right meaning. Editorial immunity, guaranteed under the constitution, can not become a reason for hitting new low everyday. The current trend neither decorates the language we use, nor does it help in maintaining uniformity of any kind.
Since linguistic complexity has become daily business, simplicity of language has become an asset. If you possess simplicity of lanuage, cherish it.

June 9, 2011

Ping-Pong- Game of mutual understanding

A Politician/Journalist has a 24/7 working hours. I do not know the origin of this statement, but I can testify as witness as I see it through cameras everyday. With whatever understanding I possess, I can surely say that the statement is not wrong. There's catch here- do they work for each other? Difficult to understand whether politicians keep media busy or media keeps politicians busy. Is there a mutual respect treaty that makes working for each other a mutually agreed framework ?

For instance, since the day Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev have started their respective movements against corruption, both Congress, BJP address press conferences everyday accusing each other of playing politics. Those who believe that only Cricket is played in India need to see this game of politics as well. Press conference was not a daily phenomenon till few months back. It has become a daily event only recently. Answering accusations, raising questions through media has turned press conferences into Monday to Friday Television soup with a garnish full of twists every week. Shoe throwers have added flavour to it. I wonder when I see political press conferences everyday, only to issue a rebuttal. 

Spokespersons have a tough job as they are assigned to issue clarification for something they weren't  involved in. Hence, more than offering party's stand on an issue of public concern, or a clarification on some faux pas, leaders from both the parties look like playing ping pong. A hit from one side has to be answered by a more clever hit from the other side. A simple ping pong principle.

Do not take it as politician/journalist bashing. This ping pong does not exist between the politicians alone. Journalists have their own clever hits in between. The real ping pong is played between politicians and journalists. It is a game of balancing both the sides for convenience. Get a comment from one side and balance it by getting a harsh comment from the other side irrespective of the requirement. Doing things irrespective of the requirement can qualify as pro-active measure as well. It is win win situation of sorts. When leaders from both sides fall in the well laid trap, absolve yourself completely. Put words in mouth, declare it as war, and call it war of words between politicians. Colonial cousins- the way we do it.

This mutually agreed framework has created new breed of politicians on both sides who love to talk on any issue whenever opportunity knocks. It has also led to the creation of new breed of journalists (professional compulsion does not allow me to name one) who survive on this act-react theory everyday. Just visit a party office, extract a comment, create a news story. Follow it by getting a rebuttal of the comment. Comment seekers started seeking reaction, reaction seekers started seeking rebuttal. If someone acts, somebody else will surely re-act. Isaac Newton must be happy that Indian politicians are addressing press conferences everyday to prove his third law of motion right.

That somewhat shifts the dynamics of politics and journalism. This ping pong turns the table. Politicians act like journalists. They keep raising questions for their brethren in the other party instead of answering themselves. Journalists become spokespersons. They keep giving clarification and reactions through their sources as to why a party/leader did what it did. At the end, it is a mutual respect that drives both politician and journalist.

Imagine a situation if scribes stop entertaining every silly comment offered by a politician. Imagine spokespersons stop entertaining every silly question asked by news hungry journalist. What will happen ?

Torturous, unnecessary news stories will be thrown out of every TV channel. Every spokesperson will answer instead of raising questions. Every journalist will ask instead of answering questions quoting poor sources.

Cut out of that quick imagination and observe what you see. You save me, I save you. At the end, the ping pong continues.

(P.S.- I am part of this game).