General ravings, Potshots

Dreadlock Visions during Lockdown

[or, Hair Today…Gone Tomorrow]

When the Union Government announced extension of the Covid-19 lockdown till 17th May, I felt a sharp prickling sensation in the back of my neck.

The prickling sensation wasn’t because of fear. It was a familiar and increasingly irritating reminder that my haircut is long overdue— and that now I’ll have to wait at least two weeks more to have one.  It’s a hair-raising prospect; especially because for the last 40 years, I have with clockwork regularity gone to the barber every 45 days for a “double fauji bina kanghee wale” job.

I do believe short hair lightens the pressure on the brain. Deliberately shorn hair also helps when my hairline is receding just about as fast as my intelligence and memory.

Anyway: with every passing lockdown day, what remains of my hair grows in about thirty-seven different directions at varying rates in five distinct shades of grey and white. I can’t do a damned thing about it, because barber shops have all been closed,  and ‘social distancing’ prevents me from seeking the amateur assistance of a friend who has volunteered to do the job with garden shears.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mind enduring this minor discomfort—after all, overgrown hair is such a trivial issue when millions are undergoing such hardship  in these difficult times.

But I am chagrined that even as my hair runs riot and my face increasingly resembles that of a depressed and slightly deranged hedgehog, I see a large number of public personalities—political leaders, celebrity journalists and the like—appear with perfectly coiffured hair on TV and online screens every day.  In fact, these women and men look exactly as well-groomed as they did in December 2019!

Me
(L) Me; (R) Hedgehog (image courtesy medicine.net). Note: I apologize for any unintended hurt feelings, injured egos or ruffled quills that I may cause to hedgehogs by drawing this comparison.

It is obvious to me that these well-groomed public personalities are flouting social distancing norms! Their haircuts are just too good; they can’t be lawnmower jobs done by family or friends. I am convinced that these women and men are covertly availing the services of professional hairdressers, so that they can look suave and well-trimmed while the rest of us watch our own faces disappear under the overgrown undergrowth on our scalps.

Unfair?

Perhaps…but  I don’t grudge these fine women and men the privilege of getting their hair groomed while the rest of us can’t. After all,  they are respected and popular figures who are doing all they can to boost the morale of the Indian public in these trying times. Naturally, they must look their best.

Still, it’s tempting to know what these public figures might have actually looked like today, if they had not availed the services of hairdressers during the lockdown.

And so,  I’ve created projected images – crude, but hopefully indicative – of what a select few politicians and journalists would have looked like today WITHOUT their haircuts.  To create these projected images I’ve used the beta version of an Algorithmic Profile Projection software, code-named ‘Tonsure 101’, that is being developed for the Intelligence Bureau by the internationally derided Prof. Iqbal Taklu and his team under a shadowy India-USA security cooperation  project that is so secret that it does not find mention in any public or private records, and indeed may not even exist.

I plan to crowd-source bail bond funds in my next post.

Actual look                                               Projected image
Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Amit Shah, BJP M.P; Union Minister, Home

 

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi, Congress M.P
Mamata Bannerjee
Mamata Bannerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister
Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI(M); Kerala Chief Minister
Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena; Maharashtra Chief Minister
Shekhar Gupta
Shekhar Gupta; Editor-in-Chief, The Print
Arnab Goswami
Arnab Goswami; Editor-in-Chief, Republic TV

Jai Hind!

Musings, Potshots

Lessons in Economics – from Rahul Gandhi and from Suresh

I must share with you two really profound – and radically contrasting – lessons in Economics I learned today. One, from  Congress President and Prime Minister-aspirant Rahul Gandhi; the other, from my colleague-become-friend of some 24 years, Rickshaw and Thela (wheelbarrow) Operator Suresh.

First, Rahul, who “chose to explain a bit of economics to voters” while addressing a public meeting on April 19th at Bajipura (Gujarat). To quote from today’s Indian Express article [click here to read]: Suresh and Rahul

He (Narendra Modi) has taken money from your pocket, and you have stopped purchasing goods like shirts, pants, watches, and mobile phones.’ Rahul explained. ‘This led to the shutdown of factories in India and many labourers lost their jobs. The unemployment rate is now at its highest in the past 45 years.’

He continued: ‘Under the NYAY scheme, an amount of Rs 72,000 will directly go into the bank account of women. Then you will start shopping, and when you shop, the factory will start functioning, and the unemployment issue will be solved.’

He also said, if voted to power, ‘We will give 22 lakh government jobs in one year, which are currently vacant, and 10 lakh youths will be given jobs in various panchayats.’

Rahul’s insight really made me think, O gracious reader. In a weird and woolly way, it kind of makes sense, no?

Only one thing about Rahul’s economics troubles me: Rahul’s plan to create 22 lakh government jobs (+ 10 lakh quasi-government jobs). Since the 7th Finance Commission, even the lowliest central government employee in India starts with salary of Rs 18,000 per month; that’s Rs 216,000 (2.16 lakhs) annually. Which means that, even assuming that every one of Rahul’s 22 lakh new government employees draw only this minimum salary, the annual salary bill for these worthies will be Rs 47520,00,00,000.

That’s Rs 47,520 crores every year! At minimum government wages…

To me it seems a hell of a lot of money, just for the sake of having 22,00,000 more leech-like sarkari babus making life miserable for you and me and all other honest, tax-paying citizens. Especially so, because that Rs 47,520 crores is going to be forked out every year by honest, long-suffering income tax payers like you and I!

But then, I console myself, Rahul Gandhi has been advised on his NYAY scheme by globally renowned economists like our very own P Chidambaram, Arvind Subramanian, Raghuram Rajan, and also British Nobel Laureate  Angus Deaton and French economist Thomas Piketty. Undoubtedly there’s something  I’m missing, ignoramus that I am…

Enter, Suresh.

At my request, Suresh brought his thela over around 11 a.m and was helping me clear out some old furniture and stuff. As usual, over a break for a banana and chilled glass we discussed the state of the world. “Who will you vote for?” he asked. “I know I will not vote for AAP this time,” I replied.  “I’m more and more inclined to vote for Modi’s BJP-NDA…”

“I too will vote for Modi,” he said firmly. “Of course, I suffered a lot when the note-bandhi [demonetization, 2016] happened. All my earnings are in cash even today;  nobody pays a rickshaw/thela-wallah any other way but cash. And of course with prices always rising, it is a very hard life for a daily labourer like me. Besides, as you know, for much of last year, I could not work…”

In mid-2018, Suresh’s five year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to the chemotherapy and the excellent medical care he received and continues to receive at the Delhi Government’s Lok Nayak Hospital, the child is now recovering well…but for Suresh and his wife, it has been a year of indescribable anxiety, physical and mental trauma….with the financial pressures (to raise over Rs 2 lakhs for the treatment, when there was no time to even ply his rickshaw or thela) only adding to their stress.

“But still, I think I will vote for Modi,” he repeated. “I think because of Modi, nowadays the sarkari-log, the babus are more scared to bully and exploit people like me.  The babus and other people are also more scared to do do-numbaree (black marketing). People tell me, arre look at price rise under Modi; but I tell them, I don’t think Modi is to blame for price rise.  I think the real reason for price rise is because people, more and more people, are greedy. People nowadays buy much more than they need, or can use; that’s the reason.”

He then described how, two weeks ago, he was helping a couple in the neighbourhood pack their belongings to move out of the city. “They had two wall-cupboards filled with only chaddars (bed sheets and bed-covers),” he murmured in awe.  “They had more than three hundred chaddars in there, single and double! Most of them were new, untouched.  If one couple buys so many hundred chaddars, why won’t prices of chaddars go up, sir? It’s like that with everything…”

Suresh’s words, too, made me think.

Unlike Rahul, who has a team of illustrious economic advisors, Suresh has none.

But  Suresh has something that I think counts for much more: common sense, that comes from experience of hard ground realities.

I’ll go with Suresh’s insights into economics.

Jai hind.

General ravings, Potshots

Political A-SAT and SAT

ASAT
Stellar vision?

Ever since India successfully conducted its anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile test, our crass netas have given political twists to the event that would make a boa constrictor straighten in envy. Considering the kinds of comments that they and their acolytes are making, and with Lok Sabha polls looming over the horizon, we, the wee people, have good reasons to worry about whether our newly elected MPs will even understand, let alone be capable of handling, critical strategic issues such as space technologies, missile defense, nuclear deterrence and the like.

But there is hope! Unconfirmed and officially disavowed sources reveal that the Lok Sabha Secretariat is alive to the challenge, and is preparing a series of small booklets on science and technology for the enlightenment of our newly-elected MPs.

Here are a few sample definitions leaked from the draft Lok Sabha booklet on ‘Aerospace Science for MPs’:

 Satellite: This is simply another name for party follower or chamcha. Satellites can be of two common kinds:

  • ‘Polar’ or ‘Poll-ar’ satellites are rather unstable, and remain loyal only so long as their leader has a chance of winning in polls.
  • ‘Jio-synchronous’ satellites, also known as ‘Jio-stationary’ satellites, are more stable and loyal, because they are held securely to their leader/party by the attractive gravitational forces of G, 2G or even 4G.

Space Debris: The countless pieces of metal, plastic, composites and affiliated junk that are now orbiting the earth, and that have resulted from the break-up of old satellites launched by different countries during the last 50 years. About 97.9% of all the space debris is ‘clean’ debris, because it comes from NASA satellites sent up by USA. The remaining 2.1% of the debris is ‘dirty’ debris because it comes from Indian and Chinese satellites.

Escape velocity: The very high velocity with which politically connected fraudsters and affiliated crooks escape from India to other countries when a new government takes over in Delhi. ‘Relativistic’ velocity (also known as ‘Maxis’ or maximum velocity) is the highest attainable escape velocity, usually achieved only by crooks who are close relatives of political leaders.

Global positioning system (GPS): A wonderful technology that helps government to keep track of the escaped crooks, and guide them to safe havens when necessary.

Inertia: Describes the tendency of a government to remain forever in a state of supreme inactivity; or if roused into motion (usually by sting operation), to continue moving aimlessly along a fixed path to nowhere until halted by the ‘fictional’ force of Opposition.

Launch window: The auspicious interval of time for a new politician to launch her/his political career by filing nomination papers for Lok Sabha or assembly elections.  Launch window is determined by specialists in astral science called ‘astronauts’. The term astronaut itself is derived from the ancient Sanskrit: astra-nath—‘one who rules over stars’ (Ref: Goru Gauswamy et al., 4300 BCE. Space Explorations. Muttal Press: Takshashila).

Re-entry vehicle: Pathway for political deserters to return to their parent (or grandparent) party. As re-entry usually generates intense heat from party rivals, re-entering politicians require rings of protective coating. Hence, the re-entering politicians are popularly called ‘turncoats’.

Star wars:Spectacular electoral battles waged between stars affiliated to Bollywood, Mollywood, Tollywood and other non-Dawood studios. If firearms such as Shotguns are used by the star-candidates during poll campaigns, we call them ‘shooting stars’. Sometimes, the winning stars are given Cabinet portfolios, in which case we call them ‘acting ministers’ if they turn up for work; or else, ‘deadwood’.

Warhead: An especially strident jingoist, usually seen on TV talking-head shows calling for nuclear attack on neighbouring nations, political opponents, and occasionally, neighbouring panelists.

Jai hind!