Sunday, April 19, 2009

No Englis, pliz....

This appeared today, and has generated quite a buzz. I received a really flattering text message on the column from someone in Bhubaneshwar and I can tell you, it felt good. As I told those eager beavers at the IIM-A last afternoon, for a writer there is no greater reward than a reader appreciating something. Oh, I bet you want to know whether or not my chaas and dhokla date with Modi happened. It didn't. Worse, no chhas, no dhokla. The dinner I was invited to was hostd by a couple keen on breaking the traditional rules of Gujju cuisine ( which I so love - the cuisine, not the rules). Instead of dhokla, guests were treated to cheese toasts and pizzas. But mercifully, only as starters. The rest of the banquet was delicious but a little too spicey for me. The sharpness of the meal was somewhat sweetened by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan's refined conversation and impeccable manners. There was a particularly boorish bureaucrat at our table whose every second sentence began, " When I was at Shah Rukh Khan's house in Mumbai..." Khansaab looked at me and sighed deeply. That was the extent of his demonstrating his disinterest. I was ruder and blunter.

Yes, I met Mallika. We bonded big time as we drove back to Ahemedabad together after visiting two villages in the Kalol district, more than 40kms from the city. I'll be writing a full account in my next column. Let me just say Mallika did not disappoint. And I am proud of her... regardless of the outcome. She was upbeat and full of beans as she went from jhopdi to jhopdi making her pitch to those simple folk who have been taken for a ride for 62 years by various political parties. Please be patient.... I shall tell all. But break ke baad.

A foolish confession: I missed my flight. Yes. Again. I had given myself a clear one-and-a-half hours to get to the airport. Guess what?? It's no longer enough. By the time i got on to the next much later flight, I was half asleep on arrival at A'Bad. But my local minders were merciless! They gave me all of 10 minutes to change and jump into a waiting car.... and on to the cheese toast dinner.At 40 degrees centigrade and still climbing, i though I'd faint. But tra la la, mine hosts had arranged a 'Mist Fan' (end of my hair, but at least i wasn't dying of dehydration). A 'mist fan' is a fantastic contraption which sprays a fine mist that keeps drenching those at close range but otherwise cools down the space most effectively. I was tempted to borrow Khansaab's dupatta (it was NOT a shawl), but by then my hair was stringy and hanging in wet rat tails anyway.

I met my Gujarati translator, Sonalben at the talk, and was delighted to hear my books will soon be published in Modi's state. On the way back to Mumbai, I wasn't taking any chances. My flight was still three hours away. Sonal suggested a quick trip to 'Bandhej' - surely one of the chicest stores in India?? How could I resist? After gasping at the sight of those exquisite bandhnis and leheriyas, I reluctantly dragged myself out of the store and just about made the flight. Hurrah!

***********************************************************************************************8


“ No Englis, pliz…. we are mulayam.”

Wah, Mulayam, wah! No English. No computers - no problem.Just goondagiri, illiteracy,ignorance and netagiri. A winning formula indeed for India in the 21st century.Sometimes, one feels enough jootas haven’t been hurled yet.Jayalalithaa said, “ A good politician rules out nothing.” What about a bad politician? The world’s eyes are on us right now. These elections are likely to be the most closely watched ones in the country’s history. So far, the scenario looks pretty depressing and grim - national leaders busy taking cheap pot shots at one another ( like school-going brats fighting over the Headboy position ). Narendra Modi’s sexist and inane ‘Budhiya\Gudiya’ comments. Political murders, naxal attacks and shameful alignments. There’s a bloody maha yudh going on. But hey… this is democracy at its vibrant best. That’s the upside. Anybody and everybody is welcome to take a crack at winning a seat – from hard- core gangsters to whiz- kid bankers. It sounds incredible, but at the end of the bhaagam bhaag, the Indian voter invariably manages to assert himself\herself and get the fundas right. That in itself is nothing short of a miracle.
Manmohan Singh has referred to Independent candidates as ‘Spoilers’, much to the horror of the chi chi crowd. The fact that he thought it important to raise the issue at all, says something. And that something has to do with a ‘C-word’ called ‘Class’. This election was supposed to be about Caste and little else. It suddenly looks like Class has become the new Caste! Everybody is having a go at anybody who is educated, speaks English and lives the good life– a city slicker, in other words. I don’t get it. We are more comfortable with smugglers, robbers, murderers and assorted charge sheeters. We can deal with goons, gamblers, drunkards and other equally charming individuals. But the minute someone armed with a degree walks into the picture, we treat that person as a pariah, an outcaste. If that person happens to be a woman, God help her – she is dubbed a ‘memsaab’, and her privileged background is the first strike against her.Professional qualifications become disqualifications – an Ophthalmic doctor from Mumbai has been rubbished as a ‘socialite’ since she lives in a posh locality. Ditto for the banker who wears pearls. There is a clumsy attempt to equate middle class affluence to self-indulgence and frivolity. Why pigeon hole politicians by providing ‘uniforms’ based on traditional clichés – khadi kurtas for men, handloom sarees for women?Why damn people who don’t conform to this pre-determined ‘mould’ and defy those dated dress codes ?Why accuse them of being disconnected from the masses. “ Elitist’ is the new gaali, the most convenient putdown. In order to be taken seriously, one only has to look and play the part - forget objectives or issues.It’s the same as getting Sanjay Dutt to parrot ‘Gandhigiri’ dialogues from his hit film and pass them off as his personal ideology. It is all about acting-shackting and manipulative projection.Or so the self-styled experts think.
But the Indian voter (whether from Banjara Hills or Malabar Hill or from the back of the beyond in Chhattisgarh) is much smarter than that, as has been proved in our fourteen previous general elections. Underestimating the intelligence of the common man has been many a neta’s undoing. Mulayam Singh had to beat a hasty retreat from his ‘ No Englis, pliz’ position.And nobody even in his own state was buying his ‘back to roots’ retrogressive suggestions. Keeping the rural poor without electricity is a trick that no longer works. Bijlee is their birthright and they shall have it. Computers have transformed their lives with instant money transfers and other electronic banking facilities. Try telling them to go back to living in the trees and scrounging for berries.Mass media, Bollywood in particular , has had such a permanent and powerful influence on voters across the board that today, everyone wants to live the gaudy, technicolour dream. There are countless, restless hopefuls out there who continue to believe in the upbeat India story and are prepared to fight for it aggressively. They came down from the caves years ago. Nobody can push them back in there again. Not even Mayawati. Singh may well become King again ( a ‘weak’ one, Mr. Advani?), which is exactly what corporate India wants. But if that happens, our man will have to deal with the ‘spoilers’ in our midst - those rare islands of decency, integrity,sanity, honesty – and yes – naivite. This motley crowd of individuals has given us hope that in an ocean of corruption ( the real and only curse in India), they chose to fight on, knowing the odds are stacked against them. Let a thousand ‘spoilers’ bloom!










33 comments:

muthu said...

Its good to know that I am commenting first......

Good politics comes only through respectable politics which every single politician in our country seems to have forgotten, a country which has cradled the best of the diplomats and leaders - Gandhi, Nehru, Anna, Patel to name just a few.

May be Respectable politics is a bit too much to ask, so how about decent politics. Is that too hard for people who are campaigning today (assuring free TVs and stuff on their agenda instead of a good futuristic plan to boost the country) to contrive.

I remember the quote from the movie –
V for Vendetta –

“While the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation. Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen the enunciation of truth and the truth is there is something terribly wrong with this country, Isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerability and depression……….. How did this happen who is to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than the others and they will be held accountable and again truth be told if you are looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.”


Brutal may be the above quote but I believe that naked truth in it is what makes it so brutal.

And when people like you spread the word Ms.De people listen.

So spread the word to vote for those people who will act responsible, form a public opinion on who would be the best candidate in your area, Look into the history of these people who ask for your votes, don’t get off track listening to people having word battle, you have a more important job in your hand than them – selecting them, I still strongly believe……


Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen the enunciation of truth.


So let's spread the word.....




PS: This comment is a part of my post I did in my blog, today afternoon. It seemed so apt a comment for your blog, so I just pasted it over here.

Peace... :)

muthu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
muthu said...

An after thought - The quote is directly from the movie and I tend to just stress the value it gives to the strength of the word....

The other words that accompany it are not what I meant to stress upon.... esp the words abt the country....

introspection said...

In effect mine is the first written 'comment' then. Here goes:

This post is just 'out of this world'. Bollywood has minimal mentioning and all the talk is wonderful. Sarabhai may turn a few heads, you never know. Mr Singh beware of the Spoilers. That reminds me. Aren't 'spoilers' a car accessory that makes the car look elegant and beautiful....So let our spoilers do their job. I will not put anything beyond our intelligent voters, this time. As you said, 'the World is watching' this new India.

I have already read the 'no Englis plz' column today. You are wondering why the murders, criminals and mafia is preferred over 'degree holders'? We are too used to crooks and 'a known devil is better than an unknown angel' they say. In this case they are worried of these unknown angels, I guess.
Peace...!
PS: Are there any pictures of the mist air ridden hair of yours...? tch tch. take care.

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

karbo ladbo jeetbo re...
:))

Anon said...

More so called "spoilers" please! They'd be a million times better than some of our politicians who want to set us back about a thousand years. I think they've confused "progress" with "regress" but then given their sketchy intelligence levels its not surprising. From what my family in A'bad says Mallika Sarabhai is a fabulous choice for voters. She's sone to much to help & uplift already that they figure it can only get better if she's elected. Oh for a few more good women & men to enter the crazy maelstorm which is the Indian political scene!!

Theyoginme said...

Its interesting that "class" has become a bad word. I bought the Slumdog DVD to hear Danny's commentary. The scenes they shot in the school (about the 3 musketeers), were shot in a real school in the slums. He said there were many such good schools and the families who live in those vibrant communities, yes he described them as vibrant communities like any other "high class" community, want their children educated. He made some very interesting observations and really had the most positive things to say about the people who are "under priv.". My personal experience has been the same. Now if they could only vote out the criminals...

Sumit said...

I would vote for the spoilers anyday than the goon!! Sincerity in the capacity of a leader towards the greater good is obviously the desired factor...

And honestly, most of the "national leaders" leave me feeling sick. be their antics in the parliament, on television, political rally... they have managed to make it a joke. The way they manage to go for each others' throats, makes you think if Churchill was right when he said, "India is a geographical term. It is no more united than the Equator".

The loathing of candidates just because they are educated and have managed to work hard and achieve what they have today, is seriously a gimmick. The highlight would obviously be that they have no clue of what happens in the lives of the poor!! And frankly, if wealth n affluence were the criterions, then the politicians should be the first ones to be sacked!! Honestly, the tirade could go on... One has to vote!!

The electorate still has the power!! It needs to be smart enough to exercise for the good...

Cheerio

Stillness Speaks said...

You once said that our country is running on auto-pilot. And I so agree with you on that. Nothing seems to make sense anymore as far as politics is concerned. Even those who are more educated than the others (in that arena) haven't done India a lot of good.

And those who really can make a difference don't wish to be part of that circus.

What stumps me is that, how in the world do voters fall for fake promises which these politicians make every time. Are we just a very forgiving nation or a bunch of gullible fools with the politicians taking us for a ride year after year?!

The media is screaming at us to use our power to vote. Who do you vote for when one is as big a crook as the other?The lesser criminal maybe! Who do you vote for when all you know about a candidate is what he chooses to write about himself.

Hope this time round, the process is different. Let's hope we see the change we've been wanting to see for a very long time now

Sidhusaaheb said...

Computers and English should not be banned. I agree.

Going by some of the comments that one often gets to read on this blog as well as many others, however, it is obvious that formal education and the ability to use computers is no cure for bigotry.

I wish it was though, somehow.

Ye manzilen !! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kala said...

I dont think we lack educated, classy and also aware women though they are few and far between. Shabhana Azmi, Subhashini Ali, Brinda Karat, Sheila Dixit and few such others though some are affiliated. Our PM himself is highly educated and his daughters are also well educated though not flashy. So he cannot be against educated women. Are we not making mountain of molehills by taking Singh's statement out of context?

kala said...

Of course Mulayam wants English and Computers for himself and for his close friend's and their children. For the aam Janta, he would like to send them back to stone ages. As you rightly said to live in tress and scrounge for berries. The highly educated Jyoti Basu did the same for the Bengalees almost banning English education making them handicapped in the job market. Every regional, narrow minded leader's first target is English education and false love for the native language. They know that English education combined with computer skills will expose corrupt politician's agenda. Mulayam's friend Amitabh writes most of his blogs in English, reaches out to his fans through his computer, accepts all the foreign honours ungudgingly, sent his children to Switzerland and Boston. Mulayam's son is also English educted and foreign educated. No doubt Amar singh's children will follow suit. Will any of them send their children to corporation schools? Hypocrisy at its best. Employment market is shrinking due to advanced technology and thus reservations for the OBCs, Dalits and other favoured communities is shrinking and thus their vote base is also going to shrink. Happy shrinking.

kala said...

Your Ahmedabad travel tale is interesting and enlightening. Wishing your friend best of luck.

Nandini said...

Absolutely! Let a thousand spoilers bloom!
I simply wished that these elections promoted a system of "vote against" rather than "vote for" the candidates. Things would have been much simpler & cleaner.
Perhaps, the impending question of a weak coalition would not have risen, only spoilers who could bring about a change for the better.

Rajlakshmi said...

this one is such elegantly written... the kind of motivation that we need from mediapersons like you ... :) josh bhara post...

omsherryom said...

when mulayams' (or amar's)SP declared in its manifesto no englis, no computer, i noticed a strange co-incidence i must say. Amitabh Bachhan wrote his blog in hindi !( http://bigb.bigadda.com/?paged=5 )Day 353(1)... perhaps it is politicians (whether mulayam or lalu or mayawati) to keep their folks (janta) as illiterate, gullible. ignorant and weak so that their 'politics' prosper. Some dose from this junta is awaited - a la- shibo soren's loss in Jharkhand after becoming CM

*KHUSHI* said...

Shobhaji,aapne kya hame yaad kiya? I am also Sonal but not the same one you met..
about Bandhani and laheria.. aha.. I also love... hope to meet you one day here in Mumbai..

over to politicians..vote ot karna hai.. lekin Shhh.... koi padh raha hai.. election heat is high..voters feeligns are burning... lets see who will survive...

himani said...

After reading about Maillika Sarabhai in your blog...i went ahead and did some research on her..and i found her so vibrant and enterprising...I'd really jump with Joy if she wins!!! =D

krish said...

Dear De

Waiting to hear about your trip from Modi land .....one thing you would agree the roads are good.....

Bang on Babe....dare they try to push us back ......we need a good roads , infrastructure ....clean citys and villages.....we are not herd of animals in lalu land and they dare treat us that way....JAGO LOGO JAGO......fight for your basic rights........

Luv

Kris

Anil Kumar said...

Computer and English are absolute must to survive in this global arena.

As someone pointed out that during Gandhi Family's rule, average road construction was 11 kilometers PER YEAR. While in last decade it was 11 kilometers PER DAY. BJP wants to take credit for it and may be they are right.

It reminds me that for a long time, there was this belief in India from Congress politicians, that the reason we use man power to build roads is because it gives employment to thousands of poor people. If you use machines and diggers it will make lot of people unemployed.

The same logical reasoning was communicated to some American President back in the 1970's.

The reply from this American president was then why don't you give these people SPOONS to dig the earth. That will give jobs to probably millions more.

Samajwadi party of Amar Singh, Mulayam Singh and Jaya Bachhan forgot to mention in their manifesto that from now on all roads in the UP mainland will be constructed with spoons to create jobs. And Aishwarya Rai will cut the ribbon for spoon ceremony in the company of Mulayam Singh, Amar Singh and other criminal elements.

No maceens pleez.

kala said...

Its a good one. Thousands of spoons to dig a road.Well, our political parties are walking backwards or bending backwards to please the L.C.F. They know upper classes rarely vote and love to laze at home citing many excuses. Indians believe in hard labour from others. Inspite of mechanisation, Indians have the highest number of housemaids and cooks to save electricity bills, a fraction of which can be spent on servants.

athi said...

Hmm. I guess the usual argument is that most of the people in India are from middle class or are underprivileged. And well, it is true. But does that mean that people from upper middle class or beyond cannot contest because they can't identify with our problems?When did class ever become a crieria?

I can't understand what good an uneducated person or a criminal can do to our country. And what bad would an educated person do? Definitely the hope for a better future lies with the latter.

And khadi and hand woven clothes don't make anyone a patriotic and pearls and designer clothes don't make someone less concerned about the enrichment of the society.

kala said...

Dont forget Price Water House chartered Accountants, Satyam, Worldcom, Enron all highly educated. Educated can do as much harm as uneducated but the lesser evil that is the Educated evil is always better than the brutal uneducated evil.

jus me... said...

"But the Indian voter (whether from Banjara Hills or Malabar Hill or from the back of the beyond in Chhattisgarh) is much smarter than that, as has been proved in our fourteen previous general elections."
Is that really happening? are people making an intelligent choice based on pure economy and what's good for them? Why then do people attack women in broad daylight and the govt does nothing about it? Why then do i read comments that this had to happen cuz women are coming out? Why then do we hear a tirade against everything good but modern?
We've a long way to go Ms. De. 6 months ago I thought things had changed... you just need to look at Bangalore's stories in the past 4 months to see how stupid that thought is. Indians seem to be determined to stop their progress and the voice of those wanting change is a small one

Theyoginme said...

Athi, right on! This khadi culture of politicians is full of crap. I find it condescending and disrespectful to the values of Gandhi, who started this, and for a purpose. It is no secret politicians everywhere are controlled by special interest. In India the special interests are primarily criminal and law breakers, or those who seek unfair advantage. The system of justice is moronic everywhere - even in the USofA where they pride about fairness and justice, but the reality is much different. The country and culture has to adjust with time and with that comes acceptance of change. Some cultures will adapt quicker, some lag. India is an interesting blend - as the corrupt become duplicit.

BTW if all voting in India is electronic why does it take over a month to get election results?

Sanket Korgaonkar said...

First of all - my hearty compliments on a stimulating column. It hurt me - angered me - not at you - but at the truth you so clearly pointed out.

My thoughts ....

1) I don't blame the politicians for using education and qualification as strike points. They are politicians, they would do everything they can to convince a majority of voters to vote for them - and when they can't convince them, they proceed to confuse. The problem is not the politicians, it is the public!! I disagree with your perception of the Indian voter as - an informed - smart and diligent citizen believing in the all healing powers of democracy. Heck No! The majority is still in villages, if they have an education - it is based on rote learning and not on understanding principles, most schools teach the what and how - and no one bothers to ask why? Look at Mumbai's 10th and 12th examination papers and compare them with their Western equivalents.

The middle class is changing as growing affluence desensitizes their natural apathy towards social duties. Mumbai attacks were a flash point for most of them - making them realize that their - 9 - 5 jobs and send my son to the US - get out of here as soon as possible philosophy does not shield them from outrageous terror attacks, people for the first time saw how elected officials and every form of government employee has raped the country. It is the middle class's cable bill - that comes padded with weekly hafta - hafta money sent to Daud in Pakistan - used to buy weapons and train Kasab - and back to Mumbai in the form of AK-47 bullets - Yes! It has awaken the middle class like a bucket of cold water in the night.

2) It is an evolutionary process, no point in being frustrated with the stupidity of the masses - the change in thinking that you see in middle class - will permeate to the lower classes once they don't have to worry about their next meal. Education and understanding becomes important only when basics are taken care of first. And then degrees won't work against candidates - and anyone using such tactics won't succeed because they don't work on people. Give it 200 years where we get something somewhere right - and keep moving forward not back - and then you have an argument. The problem with cities in India, and its intellectuals is that in their ultra-white informed light of know-it-all - they often times become impatient and expect the whole of India to subscribe to logic - Hello???? Get the pulse of the people - and you will see how off you are - try to understand why are politicians saying what they are saying - if it works - why does it work.

They may not have degrees but they are certainly not idiots. You honestly think Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and a 6 decade veteran like L.K. Advani enjoy throwing childish cheap shots?? Trust me - they'd rather talk issues, but unless we take an IQ EQ test - filter citizens - take them to an island - ask them to vote - and make that government lead India - it won't work!! They are only doing what they have to.

In the meantime anyone who hates me for my passion of English can kiss my educated A**

Warmest Regards,

- Sanket

Sanket Korgaonkar said...

*have - passion polluting grammar.

sury said...

Nice blog...
What is your take on the 688000 crores of black money circulating in overseas bank. Would like to see you write a post on tht.

Gajendra said...

mulayam threatening the lady DC took the cake shobhaa, isn't it? In our country only a politician can do something(or say something) so crass and get away with it.

I remember vinod mehta naratting an incident where gordon brown was called 'a one eyed idiot' for his misdeed. hahaha.

smita said...

....on mulayam's manifesto...

This person & his party are hell bent on dragging india several years back...!!

He actually deserves a "shoe-missile"

SSQuo said...

You missed your flight, ha! You had a relatively OK reason. I have missed flights, but they have been pretty much my fault.

Misty fan? OH what a dissapointment.

hanmi reddy said...

Mulayam Singh is desperate to win votes by hook or by crook as his main vote bank (muslims) have second thoughts