WTF Just Happened: Sept 25

“The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.”
“It must come sometimes to ‘jam to-day,’” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know”

The Financial Times lit up British PM Theresa May in a scorching editorial. Inter alia:

It is a well-established rhetorical technique that, presented with a sticking point in the present, you shift your focus to the future. So again and again, Mrs May spoke not of how agreement would be reached, but of aspiring to agreement: “I hope . . . we want . . . it is our ambition . . . ” Jam tomorrow, then — but what jam!

It sums up government rhetoric to perfection. And it reminded me of some of Modi’s stump speeches during the 2014 election. For instance, during the recent controversies surrounding the Rohingaya refugees, a section of the media has been banging the drum for getting rid of all refugees. I trawled through my clippings file and found this speech in Darjeeling, where Modi spoke of how Bangladeshi refugees are the children of ‘Mother India’, and it is a national responsibility to care for them. It is a speech the noise machines on TV, who now clamor for all of them to be deported, appear to have forgotten — an amnesia shared by the government of the day. I was also struck by this trope, frequently used during that election campaign:

“I have come to make a special request to the people of West Bengal today. My brothers and sisters of West Bengal, you have chosen rulers for 60 years. Now, give a chance to a servant once. You have given 60 years to the Congress, try giving me 60 months,” he said.

That goalpost has now decisively shifted. India’s 100 most backward districts will be developed by 2022. 33 percent of IIT students will be women by 2022. Work culture and tax administration will improve by 2022. Child malnutrition will be eliminated by 2022. Farmers’ income will double by 2022. (That is to say, the Center says it will double by then; it also says it is up to the states to make their own plans to achieve this).

India will achieve a 10 percent cut in oil imports by 2022. Every citizen will have his/her own home by 2022. (Getting reliable figures on any government scheme is a frustrating exercise, but judging by the little evidence available, it isn’t going too swimmingly. In Rajasthan, for instance, 4.73 lakh homes needed to be built over the last two years to achieve the larger target. A grand total of 5974 homes have been actually built. Other states, same story.)

Every house will have electricity by 2022. The bullet train will fly India into a new era in 2022.  The Naxal menace in Chattisgarh will be ended by 2022 (that is Raman Singh borrowing from big brother’s playbook). There will be a ‘New India’ by 2022 (This last, by the way, was resolved at the BJP national executive today).

So, jam yesterday, when we knew the secrets of plastic surgery, and Durga was the Union defense minister and Laxmi held the portfolio Arun Jaitley now adorns, and we had aeroplanes that even flew from one planet to another, and pushpaka vimanas flew thick and fast…

And jam tomorrow, when a new India will come into being at the stroke of the midnight hour on the 75 anniversary of Independence. But no jam today…

In other news, the BHU protests have snowballed, in predictable ways. As inevitably happens when there is a problem in one of our universities, several worthies have started the victim-shaming process. Vide BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who says the protest over molestation is a “Naxalite movement“. Or a Yashwant Deshmukh, BHU alum, who is saddened by the “negative coverage“. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, who is reported to be ‘unhappy’, spoke to the UP chief minister. Lo, an FIR has been registered, for arson, against 1000 students.

See why I have ‘WTF’ right there in the headline?

In passing, remember Farooq Ahmed Dar? The chief of a gang of Kashmiri goons who pelted stones at our armed forces? And was then tied to the front of an army jeep as a human shield, to the delight of some of our more battle-hardened TV anchors? And how the army officer responsible was commended by the government? Well, guess what? He wasn’t.

Also, remember Narayan Rane? Who recently quit the Congress party because, in his own words, the party had not given him the promised chief ministership? (I’d mentioned him in the Sept 22 edition). He will meet Amit Shah in Delhi today. (I wonder which chief ministership he will be promised, leading to a ‘momentous’ announcement?)

PS: The blog is on a break from now till Wednesday, while I attend to some stuff offline. Be well, all.

 

 

 

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“I disagree”

But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnes — ego non — these are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky — such are the ranks of those who disagree.

This lecture, by Pulitzer-winning commentator Bret Stephens, is brilliant.

 

 

The how, and why, of the bullet train

This is — I can’t seem to find the right word — a revealing speech by Narendra Modi from back when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The Dummy’s Guide to Giving Talks

This parody of a TED talk (or of most talks, most of the time) is brilliant. Watch, laugh, and maybe, learn.

The news — and views — in briefs

#1. Read M Rajshekhar on the lucrative trade in Rajya Sabha seats:

According to the former Congress MP, the legislative arithmetic in these states creates a market for buying and selling Rajya Sabha seats. A third big party that has some seats but not enough to nominate its own members to the Rajya Sabha can capitalise on its numbers. This is likely, he says, if the small party has been out of power for long – and is cash-strapped.

#2. Boring, but very important: The BJP national executive that met in Delhi over the weekend passed a resolution that is worth reading in full, and remembering as the year ahead unfolds.

#4. Speaking at the executive meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his partymen to avoid controversies. The reported statement seems along the lines of the established right wing narrative — that there is a vast left-wing machinery lying in wait for any excuse to play ambush politics. This neatly shifts the narrative from the acts themselves, to the motives of those who question various acts — but let that lie. I’m hoping Modi’s partymen were listening — and will respect his views. We could do with a lessening of the political temperature in this country.

#4. For Holi week, a brief history of bhang.

#5. The best thing to have come out of the JNU fracas is the teach-in program featuring academics and others speaking on nationalism and related subjects (Several of which have been posted on this blog earlier). Here, the announcement for the next series (Follow Stand With JNU for updates):

JNU.jpg

Anupam Kher, redux

Yesterday, Anupam Kher spoke at JNU. The full speech is here for those who want to listen.

It is not the contents of the speech that struck me — there is nothing there that Kher has not said before, in other forums. What is noticeable is this:

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Kanhaiya Kumar, tomorrow and yesterday

Tomorrow, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will hear a petition demanding that the bail given to the JNUSU president be revoked.

Yesterday he spoke, thus:

Also read, this “open letter” by Kiran Nagarkar to Kanhaiya Kumar.