General ravings, Musings

A lament for Civil Uniform Code

I wept when they told me he was dead.

I wept all the more bitterly, because I’d never known he’d lived.

With these words – whose source has vanished from memory and is untraceable even by her exalted Holiness Google Devi  – I dedicate this mercifully short ramble to the eternal spirit of one of the greatest spiritual teachers humankind has ever been cursed with: Alfred E Neuman, mascot of the long-deceased and bitterly mourned MAD Magazine, USA.

“What..me worry?”

 It is with the angst in these words, O Most Noble Reader, that I lament… because I’d never known how important the Uniform was, or is, to college students.

I lament as I behold the Great Non-Issue Over Uniform that started in Karnataka a couple of weeks ago and is now exciting and inflaming passions among people across India—young and old, infants and geriatrics, irrespective of our castes, classes, religions, races, sexes and all the other important and puerile characteristics that make us all human, inhuman, sub-human and uniquely Indian.

I weep in empathy with today’s youngsters, who are devoting so much of their time and creative energies in agitating for what they hold as their ‘religious freedoms’ to wear Hijabs and Scarves and Burqas and Shawls of assorted hues to their colleges and railing against the directives of their educational institutions and the Karnataka government that disallow them to do so.

But I also weep in remembered joy, at the realization that I and others of my age had experienced and practised much more genuine liberalism, enjoyed much more genuine freedom—of thought, of belief, of choice, of action— in our seemingly backward colleges in our seemingly primitive times, 50 years ago, than the agitated and agitating youngsters who inhabit today’s so-called Modern Mainstream India.

I studied in Shillong, Meghalaya from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s.

First, at a missionary-run boys’ school where we were taught, pretty early on, what the Uniform meant.

It meant just that: Uniformity.

Wearing the Uniform meant shedding all our conceits, all the egoistic notions we had about ourselves— our homes, our privileges, our outside lives and identities. We left all this baggage in a heap outside the school gate. In school, wearing the Uniform, we students were all the same and we were all treated the same.

We were learners, expected to learn what we’d come to learn. We were all expected to obey the school rules.  

And no rule was stricter than the rule about wearing the proper Uniform…which meant complying with the strict norms regarding design, quality, pattern, and hue prescribed for everything from shoes to sweater, socks to shirt, trousers to tie to blazer. 

Corporal punishment, progressing in intensity from a resounding slap to a severe caning, was the standard punishment for breaking the rules including the Uniform rule.  The canes were chosen with care by the Executioner from an array of options, ranging from stout local bamboo to the incredibly flexible, excruciatingly painful Malacca cane that occupied a special place of honour in the Principal’s Office (and whose ministrations I am glad to say I escaped). The caning was administered, if you were lucky, on the palms of your hand…or else on the seat of your trousers as you helpfully if unwillingly bent over a chair.

But here’s the interesting thing:  back in our time, in that school run by the strictest and most wonderful Irish Catholic missionaries, you could wear anything you felt like wearing that announced your religion or identity (or lack thereof) so long as it didn’t obscure the Uniform…and so long as you were prepared and capable of tackling the not-so-loving attentions and ragging of your colleagues.  

So, in school you would see  the occasional kufi caps, vibhuti marks, kadas, threads round wrists, crosses round necks, turbans, and so on…all these were just fine.  The Authorities really didn’t give a damn about what religion or social stratum or whatever any of us belonged to.  And because of that, all of us too very early on learned not to give a fig about what religion or social stratum or whatever any one belonged to.  We studied, we played, we ate and drank, argued, raged, fought, got caned, mourned and celebrated together and as equals. Because we were taught so, we discovered and knew we were at our core all the same.

Well…that was school.

In the missionary-run college too, the Authorities were very strict about certain things: like punctuality, attendance records, class discipline, performance in the quarterly tests, and suchlike.

But we had NO UNIFORM CODE in college.  Nothing was disallowed in attire; nothing was compulsory in attire.

For the simple reason that, all of us having crossed the age of 16, the Authorities treated us as reasonably sane adults, and therefore expected us to behave as reasonably sane adults in all matters including attire.

And I do believe we students kept our side of the bargain. We wore what we liked to college; I personally chose the habit of an advanced derelict (and behaved as one), which has since then become my lifestyle.

And to the best of my recollection none of us ever roamed around naked on the campus – at least not during class hours and/or when sober.

Coming back to today’s lunacy playing out over Uniform…

 I am all in favour of a Strict Uniform Code in schools. Because the Uniform is an important part of creating a ‘level playing field’ in school, as it is in the military services. It helps kids shed egos and pre-conceived notions about themselves and about others, it helps them make friends and engenders team spirit, it gives them courage and wisdom to fight and win their individual and often lonely battles against prejudices and discrimination outside the campus, throughout life.  

But I believe it is utter madness, sheer stupidity, for the Authorities in Karnataka or anywhere else to dictate what teenaged college students (young men and women!) should wear or not wear to campus.

For the simple reason that youngsters aged 16 years or more are maturing or fully matured; they will be opinionated and contrarian, they will be cussed, they will revel in their new-found freedom and test the boundaries of the law and the rules, they will routinely do precisely the opposite of what the Authorities in their misbegotten wisdom tell them to do.

It is Nature’s way for young adults to be like this.

To the Authorities and to the youngsters I respectfully offer a namaskaaram and a couple of suggestions that I believe will satisfy all.

To the youngsters I murmur: wear your hijabs and scarves and whatever else you like if you insist on exercising your freedom to wear your religious or secular identities on your sleeves —and on your heads and necks and shoulders and anywhere else you choose.

Only… make sure you retain the freedom to take these things off when you choose to.

To the Authorities, I say: Let these young adults be.  Let them wear what they like.

But if you want them not to wear something to college, don’t ban it – instead make it compulsory to wear.

And if you want them to wear something to college, don’t make it compulsory – instead ban it.  

Maybe, maybe then, the Authorities can get back to doing what they ought to be doing: improving curricula and faculty and infrastructure.

Maybe, maybe then, the youngsters can get back to doing what youngsters naturally love to do: running wild, breaking bounds, perhaps learning something in the interim, and driving each other and us crazy while taking charge of the future…which is their birthright.

Jai Hind.


[1] Alfred image from https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/2019/07/04/mad-magazine-quits-newstands-after-67-years/1650759001/

General ravings, Potshots

A ‘Pilot’ Proposal: “Vishaal Ghudashaal” Luxury Resort for MLAs

Dear Reader,

I present below the complete text of a weird yet strangely interesting ‘Pilot’ project proposal for bank finance from India Bulls & Ghotala Bank; I found it in an envelope lying near Reserve Bank of India on Parliament Street, New Delhi.

I’m not sure whether to take it seriously or notand I can’t seem to locate this India Bulls & Ghotala Bank either. What do you think I should do?

Application for Small Business Loan—Sole Proprietorship

A. Personal Profile

1. Name of the applicant

MADHUSUDAN  NIGONI  PERIALINGAM

2. Residential address

Same as my business address (see 8 below)

3. Sex

Heterosexual; 2 to 3 times a week

4. Whether applicant belongs to SC/ST/EBC/OBC?

[Attach copy of Caste Certificate as applicable]

Not sure. However, I can arrange to submit any number of SC/ST/EBC/OBC certificate(s) as required by Bank

5. Technical qualifications

  • 2018-19. Double Diploma in ‘Creative Accounting Practices’ and ‘Advanced Fabrication Techniques’ from Diamond Institute of Business & Fabrication Technology, an affiliate of Nirav Modi Global University, Antwerp.  [Address: D.I.B.F.T. Delhi Campus, Room no. 163, 4th floor, next to A-1 Photo Studio, Laxminagar, New Delhi – 110092]
  • 2016. Discharge-cum-Good-Conduct Certificate issued by Superintendent, Tihar Central Jail,  Delhi on Authority of 3rd Additional Metropolitan Magistrate, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi
  •  1977. Certificate of Lifelong Unemployability issued by National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), New Delhi

6. Line of Activity/Business

HOSPITALITY SECTOR.

7. Experience

I have over 41 years’ experience in Hospitality Sector, as Certified and/or Institutionalized Inmate as well as Visiting Fellow in various public and private Mental Hospitals.

8.  Business Address

Same as my residential address (see 2 above). 

B. Project Outline

(Explain the gist of your project and how and why it is technically feasible and financially viable; detailed documents, excel-sheets, charts etc. may be annexed as required)

The proposed Project is a new venture in a hitherto-untapped realm of Hospitality Sector that promises assured, highly attractive financial returns on investment at minimal risk, while also serving public good by supporting welfare of elected People’s Representatives and strengthening Democracy in India.

AIM

The project involves setting up and managing a Dedicated Luxury Resort for MLAs that will offer secluded, secure and supremely salubrious accommodation for MLAs from across the country who are being targeted and/or lured to defect to other political parties.  

RATIONALE

1. Backdrop

The last few decades of India’s political history has witnessed an interesting phenomenon. In the wake of almost every state assembly election, the newly elected Members of the concerned Legislative Assemblies (i.e. MLAs) are frantically herded together by their respective party leaders and transferred swiftly to Hotels and Resorts (often located very far away), where the MLAs can be strictly monitored and prevented and/or protected from defecting to some other political parties.  A few examples:

  • Currently (August 2020), several score Congress MLAs in Rajasthan are suffering untold agonies in a 5-star Hotel in Jaipur where they have already been corralled for over two weeks.
  • Karnataka, clear leader among all states, has seen its MLAs whisked off to resorts across India in 1983, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2019.
  • In 2016, Uttarakhand MLAs were herded and flown into a resort in Jaipur
  • In 2019, MLAs from Maharashtra were relocated to a resort in Jaipur.  In 2002, the Maharashtra MLAs were spirited away to hotels in Bengaluru.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh too are energetic players in the MLA-Hide-and-Seek game.

2. The Need & Opportunity

While the process of herding and physically transporting the MLAs has matured into a smooth and well-oiled machine (especially with the induction by all parties of fleets of private jet aircraft at public expense), it is very difficult to find enough rooms for all MLAs in any single Resort or Hotel. Usually, the MLAs have to rub shoulders (and occasionally, other limbs and appendages) with tourists and other kinds of aam aadmi riffraff in these 5–star establishments. This poses a grave security risk for all concerned, especially the concerned political party’s future. Also, the available Hotels and Resorts usually do not provide adequate security infrastructure for MLAs against snooping sting-seeking journalists, spies from rival parties and so forth.  These and other factors cause great distress and hardship to the herded MLAs and their party Minders, as well as great financial distress and biological stress to senior party leaders. The overall effect is detrimental to Indian Democracy as envisaged by our Forefathers and Foremothers.

Clearly, there is a huge need as well as opportunity for setting up a dedicated luxury resort exclusively for MLAs in each and every state in India, where the MLAs can be provided with all the comfort and resources— physical, psychical, and moral—that they might need during such times of crisis.

PROPOSAL

The applicant proposes to set up a Dedicated Resort for MLAs in the National Capital Region of Delhi. The Resort, tentatively named “Vishaal Ghudashaal” (English: “Magnificent Horse-Stable” to convey a sense of stability as well as the pleasant atmosphere of horse-trading) will have a capacity to accommodate up to 84 MLAs at a time. It will provide 7-star facilities to its illustrious guests even while ensuring that a Z++ -level security ring prevents any unseemly, uninvited or untoward surveillance or intrusions by reporters, photographers and other outsiders that might disturb the tranquility of the guests.

The Resort is proposed to be set up as a ‘Pilot Venture‘ (inspired by recent events in Rajasthan following the exit of Shri Sachin Pilot, MLA, from the Congress party).  In the long term, it is hoped that this Project can be scaled up to establish similar Resorts in other locations across the country.

Financial viability

[Detailed analyses attached at Annexures 1–18]

  • Occupancy level of the Resort is critical to the financial viability of the Project. Here, the occupancy prospects are extremely encouraging, with as many as 10 states going to assembly polls between 2020–2023 to elect 1260 MLAs, a large proportion of whom are likely to seek refuge in the proposed Resort.
Current Assembly lapses inStateNo. of MLA seats
2020 DecemberBihar243
2021 MarchAssam126
2021 MarchJ & K  87
2021 MayKerala140
2022 MarchGoa  40
2022 MarchManipur  60
2022 DecemberGujarat182
2022 DecemberHimachal Pradesh  68
2023 MayKarnataka224
2023 DecemberChhattisgarh  90
Total1260
State Assembly elections due between 2020-2023
  • Historical data and reports show that a Resort-bound MLA typically receives an incentive of Rs 10–20 crores for remaining loyal to his/her parent party or for switching loyalty to another party [e.g. see this report. This provides an assurance as to the liquidity of the guest-MLAs and their respective political parties, and thereby strengthens and assures the financial viability of the Project. [Thus, even at 50% occupancy in the proposed 84-room Resort for a few weeks at a time, the increased liquid assets of the 42 guests would be in the range of Rs 420–840 crores—please see Annexure 9(c)].
  • The Project requires a capital investment of Rs 875 crores towards construction, finishing and commissioning of the Resort, including ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ infrastructure creation. To meet this amount, the applicant will contribute Rs 87 crores (10%), and seeks a term loan of Rs 788 crores (90%). The applicant will bring to bear his considerable expertise and experience in the Hospitality business to ensure the success of the venture.
  • The Resort is expected to be completed and launched within 36 months of release of the Term Loan. 
  •  The entire Term Loan of Rs 788 crores, along with interest, is projected to be repaid in full within a maximum of 12 months of launching the Resort.
  • The Term Loan may be viewed as a ‘Revolving Fund’ that will mirror the ‘Revolving Door’ dynamics of MLA defections, and enable the financing of more such Resorts in the long term on a sustainable basis. 

Credit facilities required

PurposeAmountRepayment
Setting up and running one 84-room high-security Luxury Resort in NCR Region, to accommodate  MLAs with high defection potential from all political parties across IndiaTerm Loan of Rs 788 crores  Within 12 months of commissioning the Luxury Resort
Working Capital Cash Credit of Rs 30 croresOn demand

I/We certify that all information furnished by me/us is true; that I/We have no existing borrowing arrangements with IB&G Bank; that no legal action is currently being taken against me/us ; that I/We shall furnish all other information that may be required by you in connection with my/our application, that this may also be exchanged by you with any agency you may deem fit; and that you, your representatives, or any other agency as authorized by you, may, at any time, inspect/verify our assets, books of accounts, etc., in our factory and business premises.

Date: 28th July 2020  

Place:  Delhi