Double, double, toil and trouble…

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

2018 is likely to be one long round of electioneering — besides the north-eastern states, assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan where the BJP is incumbent, and in Karnataka that the BJP is trying to wrest from the ruling Congress party. And it is all shaping up into the sort of witches’ brew that Shakespeare provided the recipe for.

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Beggars, losers

The image above is about a story dated October 2009. It could have been done today, about this story.

As Ivanka Trump’s visit to India nears, the south Indian city of Hyderabad is getting ready to dazzle its foreign guests — by locking its homeless and destitute people out of sight in prison rehabilitation centers.

I wrote this in October 2009. It could be written today.

That’s more thought and effort — and money — going into hiding poverty than ever went into alleviating it. While on which, I really really loved the ‘bushes’ idea. Take a leaf from Macbeth, do — get the slum dwellers and beggars to squat in front of the unsightly huts; Delhi turned Dunsinane. Solves two problems in one shot, by hiding the slums and their unsightly inhabitants in one shot.

The story of our life — governments come and go, but the sores on our social fabric continue to fester. Our poor are not human beings, they are merely an optics problem; their homes are to hidden from the august gaze, as happened earlier this year when Modi took Shinzo Abe to Ahmedabad for a road show, the poor themselves are to be locked out of sight when august personages come visiting, only to be freed and left to their own devices once the photo-op is over.

We live in a world where “looking poor” is a crime. These are the things that should shame us as a society. These are also the things we never speak of as a society.

 

“Minimum governance”

Khichdi, India’s ultimate comfort food, is set to be designated as the national food.

According to a Navbharat Times report, food ministry headed by Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had proposed khichdi’s name for national dish to the Centre, which was duly approved.

Such joy, to see a government that is so decisive and takes such swift action, on matters of national importance.

How naming khichdi the national dish will double the income of farmers is unclear at the time of going to press.

WTF just happened: Sept 24

Three days into this WTFJH series that I started as a means to find/reclaim my voice, and I find that the feedback alone has been worth it.

I’ve been getting mails suggesting what I should write about (and also what I should not); mails asking what prompted me to return to blogging at a time when the trend is to move away from the format, and – this is by far the majority – what have I to say, what am I prepared to disclose, about my own biases.

Taking these in order: first, why emails? This will work much better, for both of us, if the conversation surrounding my posts is appended to the posts themselves. I’ve not asked for sign-ins before you comment; I have placed no bar on your commenting anonymously, so there really is no reason to flood my mailbox rather than speak your piece right here. Or am I missing something?

Two: re the question of whether I will write about this or that. This is a work in progress and I am still trying to work out a system, a rhythm, that suits me. I don’t intend to write about every single thing that happens – I am an individual, not a news site, and I don’t have the resources for such blanket coverage. My focus for now (remember “work in progress”?) is to connect up the dots; to examine an issue that catches my eye and see if it is part of a larger pattern – in other words, to go beyond capturing the headlines du jour. (So yeah, you will find one incident highlighted and elaborated upon and other incidents, bearing at least a superficial similarity, ignored.) Continue reading

What rubbish!

Update“We are out here cleaning India Gate. Cleaning programmes are going on across the country. The message is we have to keep India clean. Everybody and not just government officials will have to participate in this. And it has to be an everyday operation, not just once in a year and not just for the camera.”

Alphons Kannanthanam, a recent inductee into the Union Cabinet, was doing his bit for the Swach Bharat cause — pity that he first arranged for cameras and the press, and then had volunteers litter the India Gate lawns so he could “clean it up”. That he then lectured about camera-ops is merely the ironical icing on the cake.

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Name games

“It seems that Buranda is what used to be called an Underdeveloped Country. However, this term has apparently become offensive, so they were called Developing Countries. This term was apparently patronising. Then they became Less Developed Countries — or LDC, for short.

It seems that the term LDC is not yet causing offense to anyone. When it does, we are immediately ready to replace it with HRRC. This is short for Human Resource-Rich Countries. In other words, they are grossly overpopulated and begging for money.”

— From the Conflict of Interest episode in Yes Minister.

Now read this clip from an actual news report:

“Beginning this season, for instance, if India’s monsoon rainfall were to dip below 10 per cent of the normal and span between 20 and 40 per cent of the country’s area, it would be called a “deficient” year instead of an “All India Drought Year” as the IMD’s older manuals would say. A more severe instance, where the deficit exceeds 40 per cent and would have been called an “All India Severe Drought Year,” will now be a “Large Deficient Year”.

So there you go: India will have no more droughts. By administrative fiat.

(We’ve had two successive Large Deficient Years, though. And if the rains play truant this monsoon, we might have a Totally Fucked Up Year coming up).

BTW, this is not the first time a name change has solved our problems. Remember this?

Drought, redux

To my surprise, an earlier post on the pointless symbolism of shifting the IPL out of Maharashtra resulted in emails (and messages) from several friends. The consensus was this: While they agree that shifting cricket out of a drought-hit state does not solve the problem, symbolic gestures are not to be sneered at either — they are, I am told, a way of increasing general awareness of a problem.

Okay, if you say so. Now consider a few recent instances of “raising awareness”:

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