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                                                                        

General ravings, Potshots

Lamps of Thanksgiving

Last night I had a terrible dream.

I dreamed that India was facing a pandemic from the Covid-19 virus—which was bad enough—but instead of the Modi-led NDA government, India was governed by the Congress/Communist-led UPA government.

In my dream I was at a press briefing by Mr Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister for Health, Information & Broadcasting.  Mr Tharoor was replying, in his characteristic cultured and mellifluous tones, to a question on the role of Tabhligi Jamaat in increasing the spread of the virus across India:

“May I, in the simplest possible words, categorically defenestrate the diabolical diatribes of disinformation, the extraordinarily elliptical propositions, indeed the abominable and abhorrent agglomeration of synchronized ad hominem assaults by a regrettably vociferous section of our public who hilariously profess that they alone represent the descendants of those doubtful ancestors who built the great cities of Harappa and Lothal on the Western Plains, that a certain esoteric ecumenical congregation in the Nizamuddin area of the Capital known as Tabhligi Jamaat have, in furtherance of what is after all only their honest and benign desideration to practice and observe their faith, sown and spread far the seed of the pestilence that we know as Covid-19; I say fie on these craven, communal and cavilling critics, these illiberal worthies of inchoate intellect; to them do I murmur: Factum fieri infectum non potest”.

It took a large pot of strong, haldi-laced tea and a filter-load of black coffee to replace the feverish trembling of my limbs with calming, caffeine-induced tremors of my whole body.

I don’t know about you, O most worthy Reader, but tonight I shall respond to Prime Minister Modi’s call and light two lamps on my balcony at precisely 9 p.m. I’m a little flexible on letting them blaze for precisely 9 minutes; because my lamps are LED lamps made in China, so by leaving them on for an hour I’m neither going to cause any problems to the power grid not add any additional environmental impact to that already caused by the manufacture of these lamps.

I bought my Chinese lamps from a kid at a traffic signal; his smile was a blessing that no amount of fervent prayers at any shrine, religious or political, can bring.

I’m lighting these lamps as a Pratinandana or ‘Thanksgiving’.  Like on the evening of March 22nd , when I stood – well, strode up and down – on the balcony beating away at a metal pan and a Turkish drum.

Like on that day, tonight my Pratinandana will be for nurses, doctors, ward boys, municipal sweepers, drain cleaners, garbage collectors, micro vendors of fruit and vegetables, rickshaw-wallahs, thela-wallahs, head-load workers, truck drivers, police constables, watchmen…. for little kids forced to sell Chinese lamps at traffic signals…for all the countless, forgotten millions whom we see but do not recognize, encounter but do not meet, who live their invisible lives and slave at endless, thankless jobs that ensure that you and I are healthy and secure and  well-fed and sheltered and strong enough so that we can all make careers out of criticizing the Politicians, the Government, the System, the Establishment, the Bureaucracy,  and a thousand other ‘Others’ and ‘Thems’ for not making our beloved India a better place to live in for these very countless millions.

But I shall also offer a fervent thanksgiving prayer to all Gods and Prophets  –  secular, communal and communist – for saving us from  what I believe would have been a fate even worse than a Covid-19 pneumonia: namely, if instead of the Modi-led NDA, India had been governed by the Congress/Communist-led UPA government.

Oh, just to clarify:  I’m not making any political statement by lighting made-in-China lamps. Unlike a large section of our populace (unhappily, most of them highly-educated urban illiterates), I neither believe that China has created Covid-19 to murder off most of the world’s people, nor do I believe that Covid-19 and other viruses are created wearing little molecular-sized kufi caps or vibhuti marks on their heads, or for that matter waving tiny nano-sized red flags and yelling revolutionary slogans.

Sure, lighting these lamps is symbolic. I think symbolism is good.

I believe symbolism is one of the things that distinguish the human from the bacteria and the virus.

Jai Hind.

 

 

General ravings, Potshots

Courting Contempt

[Disclaimer: This has been written on the 9th day of the author’s self-isolation due to persistent cough and sore throat, and amid recurring episodes of catatonia, mild hallucination, and hysterical cackling at the sight of TV news anchors and onions. Any disrespect shown or hurt caused to any lawyer, advocate, journalist, politician or any other person connected with or disconnected to the judiciary is entirely intentional.]

Despite the title, this isn’t about the ethics (assuming the existence of any) of ex-Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi accepting the NDA government’s offer of a Rajya Sabha seat. Nor is it about the ethics (assuming they have any) of these myriad lawyers, journalists, politicians and affiliated scoundrels who today are questioning Gogoi’s ethics, when just two years ago –  on January 12, 2018 to be precise – the same bunch had extolled Gogoi as some kind of judicial hero for having been one of the four Supreme Court judges who  held a press conference to publicly accuse then Chief Justice of India Deepak Mishra of improprieties.

Ethics in India is like the radioactive element Polonium-214: it has a rather short half-life.

This is about the 3.3 crore cases that are pending before courts in India.

Now, numbers numb the brain—especially, large numbers. We usually regard anything more than six as a blurry ‘many’.  So, how in the name of Bakasura the Ravenous does one comprehend a number like 3.3 crores?  How can we visualize it, get a feel of what it is?

It’s important that we can do this. Because India is all about very large numbers; especially in the synergistic realms of political swindling, business theft and general loot of the public exchequer by public and private individuals and institutions.  For example, there’s Rana Kapoor, Founder of YES Bank, whose maxim seems to have been “Founders Keepers” as he scammed us of at least Rs 3000 crores (they’re still counting).  Vijay Mallya, that ethylated and spirited Kingfisher entrepreneur, made off to Britain with Rs 9000 crores of public money kindly gifted to him by nine banks.  Nirav Modi the Hira Chor (I just love the way our journalists call him ‘Diamantaire’ ) robbed Rs 28,000 crores from just one bank (Punjab National Bank).

And so, ignoring your howls of protest and with a murmured Guru Stotram  to the great  Isaac Asimov who had a way of making the most complex things simple to understand, we shall try and explain this number of pending court cases—3.3 crores— in a manner that even Rahul Gandhi might comprehend (if he concentrates really hard).

In sallying forth, we shall try our best to retain our footing on the treacherously narrow and slippery path that runs high above the dreadful chasm of Contempt of Court.

Here goes…

Preamble

Any business involving Indian courts generates colossal quantities of paper – in the form of indemnities, oaths, bonds, undertakings, agreements, powers of attorney, declarations, affidavits, deeds, and a plethora of other documents. Each document is invariably photocopied in triplicate at the very least.

Why so many copies? No-one knows.

Maybe it’s prescribed in the Shastras and Puranas.  Maybe it’s just that no one dares ask why.

I personally believe all the kabaadiwallahs, channawallahs, peanut vendors, et al. are running this multiple-photocopies system in cahoots with lawyers and advocates to ensure that they receive a vast, steady and sustainable  supply of waste paper for packaging their wares—a fine example of the Sustainable Circular Economy.

Anyway: to return to the topic from which we were rudely distracted by ourselves…

Bird’s-eye view

Let’s assume, very conservatively, that each court case involves 2000 sheets of A-4 sized paper located in various files. Then, 3.3 crore court cases give us a total of 66 billion A4 sheets (that’s 66000000000). Since we know that an A4 sheet measures 21 cm × 29.7 cm, it’s easy to work out the total area that can be covered by the paper that makes up 3.3. crore case files:

Area of paper  = [66000000000 × 21 × 29.7] square cm =  4116 square kilometres (km2).

To visualize this better:  with the paper from our pending court cases, we could completely paper over  India’s six largest metropolises—National Capital Territory of Delhi  (1484 km2),  Bengaluru (709 km2), Hyderabad (650 km2), Mumbai  (623.7 km2),  Chennai (426 km2) and Kolkata (205 km2)— and still have enough paper left over (i.e. 289 million A4 sheets, with a total area of 18 km2) to cover 2812 football fields.

Not impressed?

Astronomical view

Well…we could instead paste our 66 billion A4 sheets together, lengthwise, and make a paper bridge that’s 19.6 million kilometres long—enough to stretch to the Moon and back 20 times,  still leaving us 4.2 million km of paper with which to wrap Earth around the Equator 105 times.

If that’s not inspiring enough:

Green view

A good working estimate is that one large tree has to be felled to make about 10,000 sheets of A4 paper. This means that our 66 billion pending court cases represent the long-neglected and cruelly fragmented remains of  6.6 million trees!  

One wonders how many of these pending cases pertain to our ecology and environment? To tree felling?

Economic development view

There’s also a bright side to the issue: a silver lining in the judicial cloud. Consider the fact that these 3.3 crore pending cases have for decades provided livelihoods to lakhs of advocates, legal interns, office assistants, stamp vendors, typists, photocopiers, notaries public, stamp and seal makers, oath commissioners, and other hard-working men and women. By ensuring that these court cases have remained pending, these heroes and heroines of our judiciary have in fact contributed significantly to India’s GDP.

May they continue to do so! 

Way forward

The Indian judiciary is doing its best to reduce the number of pending cases. For instance, in 2016, the subordinate courts disposed of a whopping 1.9 crore cases…but the problem is, over 2 crore fresh cases were filed in subordinate courts during that year. [see here for details].

Clearly, like the Red Queen, our judiciary is sprinting to stay in the same place…and steadily falling back. The number of pending cases just grows and grows.

Little wonder that out of the 3.3 crore currently pending cases, 86 lakh cases have been pending for five years and more in subordinate courts and High Courts.

How we can reduce this colossal backlog?

A friend suggests that we periodically line up and shoot all advocates who ask for adjournments. An attractive idea: but we fear it might be a violation of their fundamental rights to procrastinate.

We must instead look for a Constitutional solution.

Let’s focus only on these 86 lakh (8600000) cases pending for five years and more. Let’s suppose the government and judiciary set up 100 brand-new super-efficient Special Courts exclusively to dispose of these 86 lakh old cases, with each Court working 10 hours daily for 300 days a year. Furthermore, let’s suppose each Special Court completes hearing and disposal of a case every hour (i.e. it finishes off 10 cases daily, or 3000 cases a year).

How long will it take for these Special Courts to get through all 86 lakh old cases?

It would take 8600000 ÷ 100 × 3000 = 28.66 years.

 So, if we set up the 100 Special Courts today, they could get the job done by November 2048!

Of course, that’s provided the litigants and their lawyers don’t appeal to higher courts against the verdicts in the Special Courts…

[Adjourned]

 

 

 

 

General ravings, Musings, Potshots

Corona Virus, Evolution and Revolution

However much we dread the Corona Virus, we cannot mask ourselves against the truth that the virus reflects the spirit of true Indian Secularism in the way it infects all people irrespective of their race, religious belief, caste or class.

Covid-19 might not be good for one’s constitution, but in its own humble way it respects the Indian Constitution. It shows us that we are all truly One.

Which, for no apparent reason, brings us to the question: how can one teach Evolution to Indian schoolchildren?

Now, you might think the answer’s simple. You might answer as follows:

“Just write up – or better still and in true Indian tradition, plagiarize—a simple summary of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’; enrich Darwin’s ideas with Gregor Mendel’s insights into inheritance of characteristics; lead on to Erwin Schrodinger’s insights into the molecules that must make up life, and explain how his ideas and the work of Oswald Avery, Linus Pauling and others inspired the discovery of DNA’s structure by Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick and James Watson…sparking off a vast amount of research and expansion in our knowledge of how all life on Earth is linked, so that we know today that all humans are descended from the same ancestral mother who lived somewhere in the African continent.”

Of course your answer is correct, O learned reader. Alas, translating your answer into action is not simple, because nothing’s simple in India. It’s especially hard to introduce the flavours of Truth and Rationality, seasoned with Scientific Temper and Honesty and laced with a few dashes of Fun and Adventure, into the horrifying tasteless khichdi that masquerades as our Education Policy.

Consider, gentle reader, two of the simple statements just made up there somewhere:

  1. All life on Earth is linked.
  2. All humans are descended from the same ancestral mother who lived somewhere in the African continent.

Now, imagine that we propose to set out these statements as the Learning Outcomes of the chapter on ‘Evolution’ in the NCERT textbook for, say, Class 10. Assuming further that we are not lynched on the spot by an all-party delegation of MPs and MLAs, these are the kinds of responses we might expect from two of our political parties, the BJP and the CPI(M):

BJP: It is quite correct to state that all life on Earth is linked. But our textbooks must also emphasize that these so-called discoveries of Evolution by these Darwins and Sharwins, Watsons and Whatnots, were actually made 11000 years ago by our Vedic ancestors who summarized their insights into the concept of ‘vasudaiva kutumbakam’ – One Great Family. We must also mention that Indians ruled the entire Earth in ancient times, for which evidence is everywhere to see, in our ancient epics as well as in today’s world. For example, Argentina derives its name from Arjun-Sthaan, clearly evidencing that Arjuna, the great warrior of Mahabharata, had visited this South American region in his search for divine weapons…

CPI(M): In very simple words, we see this attempt to introduce Evolution into our school curriculum as nothing but another manifestation of Brahmanical Hegemony masquerading as pseudo-rationalism to preserve and strengthen the existing class-hierarchical model of social exploitation ; a diabolic and communal attempt by bigoted Hindutva-worshipping self-styled scholars to saffronize our school curriculum and brainwash young and innocent minds into believing the despicable lie that all Indians are equal—thereby denying the hundreds of millions of underprivileged Backward Castes, Minorities, Dalits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women and other oppressed communities their just rights for reservation of jobs, educational quotas, subsidies and other forms of affirmative action under the various reservation policies. We will oppose this Hindutva proposal tooth and nail; we shall leave no stone unturned or Molotov cocktail unflung in our peaceful street marches calling for Revolution against Evolution…

Musings, Potshots, Remembering

Kick them in their Secular Organs

With Congress and NCP bowing and scraping before Shiv Sena for spoils of power; with even the Leftists refusing to condemn this display of political debauchery, the murderers of 1992/93— whether Hindu or Muslim— can now breathe easy…forever

I laughed, swore, ground my teeth, and swore some more, reading today’s Indian Express front-page piece with its hagiography of Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena leader and Chief Minister-designate of Maharashtra.

“Behind mild exterior, a tough negotiator, tech-savvy manager,” gushes the article.

IE
The Secularization of Shiv Sena [full story here]
Not a word about the Shiv Sena’s vicious, parochial vision;  not a journalistic peep about the Shiv Sena’s violent past and present.

O tempora O mores !

Briefly, I try and recollect the ten years I lived in Mumbai, from 1984 onwards; those were busy years, wonderful years, joyous years in this greatest of cities. But now, all I can recall are the unspeakable horrors that I experienced and witnessed in 1992 and 1993, when the people of Mumbai turned upon one another in the name of ‘religion’. Horrors that were largely instigated and inflicted by the glorified goondas of Shiv Sena, BJP et al.

Hazily, I recall that the murderers of Shiv Sena, BJP and affiliated Sangh Parivar groups were clearly exposed in 1998 by the Report of Justice B N Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry. I know no action was ever taken on the Report; now I wonder, does anyone even remember it?

I abandon my cerebral search and embark instead on a quick Google search.  It appears that Great God Google remembers the Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry. Google remembers and recalls the Commission’s Report… though those of us Indians old enough to remember have forgotten, or chosen to forget, it ever existed.

Remembering SS
We may forget, but Google remembers…[click here for story]
Do forgive me, O most tolerant Reader: but after having troubled your mind with these musings, now I  turn away from the screen and put a lid on my terrible memories. I can’t delete the memories: they will endure as long as I live; but I am too weary to dredge them out and revisit the horrors; too weary to rage anymore against the dying of the light.

There’s just no point.

Because now, with Sonia Gandhi’s Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP bowing and scraping before Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena for spoils of power; with even the Leftists refusing to condemn this most unholy display of political debauchery, the murderers of 1992/93—whether Hindu or Muslim—can now smirk and breathe easily…forever.

As can all those who have rioted and maimed and slain their fellow Indians since then,  in the name of religion, caste, race, language.

Behold,  the Shiv Sena has been Secularized!

The media is overjoyed. It is a Victory for Secularism against the BJP!

Only the lambs are silent, fearful…for the wolves have now entered the pasture in great numbers, and the wolves are wearing sheep’s garb.

I fling the newspaper aside, open my scrapbook and reflect on the enduring relevance of Martin Niemoller’s words from 1946:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me

And there was no one left to speak for me…

 

 

General ravings

Emissions of Guilt

India is spearheading international efforts to combat the threats of Climate Change. With the 25th Conference of Parties due to take place in Madrid in early December 2019, and with the Winter Session of Parliament already on, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has prepared a small glossary of select terms related to Climate Change for the enlightenment of our MPs.  Here are a few extracts from the booklet, provided to us by an anonymous and possibly non-existent source in the L.S. Secretariat:

Emissions: Emission (archaic: admission) is the same as confession. If you confess or emit to a crime, it is called ‘emission of guilt’.  It is easy to understand why emissions are bad for your health. Luckily for you, as per Indian law an emission of guilt holds no weight in Court unless the emission is made in presence of a magistrate. Hence, if you are questioned by police, CBI or Enforcement Directorate regarding scams or other crimes,  emit nothing.

Fossil Fuels: Describes the very old and seasoned bureaucrats in ministries such as coal, environment, forests, mining, petroleum & natural gas, etc., who have perfected the science  of working very hard during their tenures to achieve zero outputs while at the same time ensuring zero emissions regarding any acts of omission and/or commission. (Related term: Zero-Effect Zero-Defect)

Conference of Parties (COP):  This is a mechanism under which tax-payers across the world pay the United Nations to organize annual Parties for assorted Fossil Fuels, media-folk and other hangers-on from 193 countries in lovely holiday resorts such as Bratislava and Buenos Aires, Cancun and Cartagena, Nagoya and Nassau. Here, the Party-goers can  argue about why emissions are bad for all of us, which country is emitting more than which, and what should be done about it and by whom. Already, 24 COPs have been held. Each COP usually ends with an Agreement under which all the Party-goers agree on two vital issues: (1) where to hold the next COP; and (2) a resolution never to promise to actually do something about emissions, as this might bring to an end all future COPs (this is also known as Principle of Shared Iniquity).

Coping Strategy/Adaptation: This is the approach adopted by a politician to cope with (or adapt to) a changed, politically adverse climate. If successful, the politician is said to demonstrate ‘Climate Resilience’.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Set up by UN, the IPCC has been working very hard for over 30 years to try and get over 190 countries to agree on important issues such as whether Climate Change is actually real, and if so, how to measure it and what the measurements tell us or don’t tell us about our past, present and future. So far, IPCC has produced many reports describing its brave efforts to get countries to agree on anything at all related to Climate Change (assuming it is real).

Low/zero carbon economy:  Also called Zero-C, this is a cherished goal of India’s e-governance initiative, to minimize or eliminate the use of carbon paper while making hard copies of government  documents. Zero-C will save paper and precious trees, and also protect politicians, government officials and affiliated Fossil Fuels against media stings and CBI inquiries based on leaked carbon copies of official documents. Note: Zero-C is not to be confused with Zero-X (archaic: Xerox), which is a different but equally harmful leaking mechanism.

Mitigation: This is a legal strategy by which  politicians and other Fossil Fuels can cite mitigating circumstances to dilute charges brought against him/her under CrPC, IPC or even IPCC.

Renewables. These are inexhaustible energy resources for political parties. For example, in India both BJP and Congress promote solar energy, through Sun Salutations and Son Salutations respectively. Also, BJP specializes in forcing citizens to convert to biogas energy through cow protection or Gau Rakshak; while Congress and CPI(M) compete in promoting large-scale wind energy generation through Mani Shankar Aiyar and JNU Student’s Union respectively.

Clean Technology Transfer: A very rarely used term nowadays, it describes ‘clean’ defense deals where no bribes have been paid to politicians or arms dealers while purchasing military equipment/technology from abroad.

Appropriate technology: This describes  modern, anti-pollution technology that is appropriate for Indian needs – such as the N95 anti-pollution masks being bought and distributed by Aam Aadmi Party at Delhi tax-payers’ expense to protect Delhi citizens against air pollution caused largely by the Delhi citizens’ own industries, vehicles and construction activities.  However, if the appropriate technology is obtained by swindling of public money, it is termed ‘Misappropriate Technology’.

Jai Hind.

 

 

Musings, Remembering

Shrugging away our Atlas

The other day I was looking at a world map. A ‘Mercator Map’, which is the nice rectangular map all of us are familiar with and which is still used in our school atlases to teach Geography.

Mercator Map
Mercator Map [Source: http://www.thetruesize.com]
Of course, we all know (though I for one rarely remember) that the Mercator map presents a cockeyed picture of the world’s continents and countries, because it shows a 3-dimensional spheroid Earth as a flat surface.  In depicting the world as a flat rectangle with the Equator cutting across its midriff, the Mercator Map utterly deforms the comparative sizes and shapes of all the continents (and therefore, all countries). The further you move away from the Equator, the more the Mercator Map exaggerates the sizes of countries;   that’s why China and India look much smaller than they actually are compared to, say, USA; that’s why Greenland looks bigger than the entire continent of Africa!

There’s a wonderful free-to-access site, www.thetruesize.com,  that lets you shift around countries on the Mercator Map and figure out the actual size of a country compared to other countries/continents. Do visit the site: it’s fun, and also a real eye-opener!  Here are a few screenshots showing  how big India actually is compared to Europe and Greenland, and how big Brazil is compared to India [all images captured from http://www.thetruesize.com]

India - true size

India and Europe

Greenland - true size

Greenland and India

True size - Brazil

Brazil and India

Some say the European colonizers used the Mercator Map to boost the apparent sizes of their own countries and thereby belittle (literally!) their African and Asian colonies.  That’s a matter of perception: but I don’t think we can really fault the man who created the Mercator Map in 1569 – geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator of Flanders (Belgium) – because his sole and very honourable aim was to make a map that would help voyagers from Europe navigate the oceans more easily.

Besides, as an Indian I personally believe we Indians are masters at belittling ourselves at the drop of a hat – or more accurately, at the slightest hint of ‘Western’ disapproval –  and that we should cure ourselves of this low self-esteem rather than pretend that it is some kind of genetic disease impregnated in our Bharatiya DNA by Thomas B Macaulay.

Anyway, while playing around with the Map and reflecting on how easy it is for me –  perhaps for all of us – to be misled by warped imagery and memory, by ignorance and illusion, by prejudice and propaganda, I remembered an article I’d written for the Indian Express over 15 years ago – written in deep angst because the media at that time seemed focused on whipping itself, and indeed the entire population of India, into a frenzy of self-flagellation following the hideous Gujarat violence of 2002.

Here’s the article: reading it again, I get the feeling nothing much has changed….good or bad.

What do you think? I’d love to know…

THE GOOD SHIP INDIA

Indian Express: Nov 27, 2003

[http://archive.indianexpress.com/oldStory/36064/]

At times of internal strife one sometimes wonders: will India ever be united? Open the atlas and look at Europe. Start at Ireland, and trace a path eastwards across the Irish Sea to England, and onwards across the Dover Straits through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. Turn southwards and wander through the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary; wheel west into Austria, and again south to explore Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and Greece. Skim across the Adriatic Sea to travel through Italy, cross the Alps into Switzerland, cut eastwards to sweep across France, and then veer southwards over the Pyrenees into Spain, and finally, Portugal.

A long journey across a vast terrain, to be sure. Yet all those lands we traversed would together fit into the territory of India with room to spare. What’s more, India comprises people who differ from each other in far many more ways than the peoples of Europe: in race, religion, language, culture. To the wonderment of the world, the good ship India hangs together! Battered she is by violent storms of communalism and sectarianism, tossed to and fro by the conflicting pulls of her bewilderingly diverse populace, yet India sails on, her billion passengers united by a Vision.

A Vision, of a land in which all are equal and enjoy equal rights.

The Constitution of India, which we gave ourselves on 26 November 1949, describes this Vision in great detail. It crystallizes the most sublime ideas of millennia. It tells of a just and humane land, where we may dwell and think and speak and follow our chosen beliefs and faiths freely and without fear. The Constitution alone binds us together. It expresses our shared vision, and contains the blueprint for the ship that will help us realize that vision, the ship we have named the Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic of India.

The unity we seek is alive in the Constitution; in times of strife, internal and external, we must reaffirm our faith in this great Book. Amends must be made for past wrongs; walls of prejudice that have hardened over centuries must be dismantled not by force but with understanding. There will be upheavals and unrest; hurdles posed by the corrupt, the jealous and the slothful, by those who interpret freedom as mere licence. But as long as the Constitution and its vision are alive in our minds and our hearts, India shall prevail.

And her 5000 year-old voyage will continue.