“Laughter is an instant vacation.” said Milton Berle. Here at NK, we would like to contribute to lightening your mood in preparation for a meaningful and relaxed and this time, patriotic weekend. So here’s the tongue- in-cheek look at the events of the week gone by that you’ve been waiting for 🙂
In Davos in Switzerland, as the World Economic Forum (WEF – don’t mistake it for WWE please) discussed poverty in absolute luxury over five days this week, Pakodas, Vada Pav and Dosa – all Indian delicacies – and of course our famous chai, were in high demand in the sub zero temperatures. As a matter of fact anything Indian was, including the country’s celebrated Prime Minister (the first one in 20 years to attend the WEF) who was given the privilege and the honour of presenting the key note address at the inaugural plenary, ahead of Donald Trump. During his key note address, the PM touched on three issues which according to him were plaguing the world – Terrorism (not the kind that happened over the release of an artistic fictional work), Climate Change (not the socio-economic kind) and Protectionism (by the US, not India – The US imposed America First tariffs on solar panels that very day!).
Even as the rich discussed the poor in Davos, the new annual Oxfam survey titled ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’ was released. It showed that 82% of the global wealth generated last year went to 1% of the population, while the 3.7 billion people that account for the poorest half of population saw no increase in their wealth whatsoever. Not surprisingly at least .1% of that 1% was in Davos this week discussing the plight of the 3.7 billion who weren’t and could never be! Switzerland is also the place where most if not all of these 1% keep their wealth and possibly they were there for a dual purpose?
In India too, the rich not only got richer, but did so very steeply – The richest 1% in India cornered 73% of the wealth generated in the country last year, a rise of 14% over the previous year, the new Oxfam survey showed. Besides, 67 crore Indians comprising the population’s poorest half saw their wealth rise by just 1%. Makes you wonder what these gentlemen really discuss in Davos year after year, doesn’t it?
Ahead of the Indian PM’s keynote address, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), forecast that India would grow at 7.4% in the next fiscal – It will never be clear if the prediction was a pre-determined gift to one of its important members, or if there was a typo in that news report – they may have mistakenly referred to the Indian fuel prices which have grown at a similar rate over the last six months to reach an annual high of, coincidentally perhaps, Rs. 74.00 in Bengaluru this week (Petrol). For those of you who commute, transport, light your homes, power your pumps, or plough your fields with combustion engine equipment or vehicles, and still remain in the dark (not because of high fuel prices) about how the price has reached this level so quickly and so quietly, fuel prices in India follow the pharmaceutical norm for sustained release dosages, which are designed to release a drug at a predetermined rate in order to maintain a constant drug concentration for a specific period of time with minimum side effects!
Generally a state cites a law and order problem, only when it is complicit in it; else it is just the reverse – an order and law problem – Pass an order and apply the law….strictly and objectively. There may be a few anxious moments, but no major hassles. Ahead of its Jan 25th release (even the release of the Twinkle Khanna film, ‘Padman’ was postponed to accommodate it) Padmaavat the movie was banned by a few states citing a law and order problem because of what they called, ‘hurt sentiments’ among some of their citizenry. Their reasoning was that the rest could go to other states to watch the film if they wanted to. This ban was overturned by the Supreme Court, and the law and order problem became a reality, because ironically, no orders were passed and therefore no law applied. Then revealingly, the states themselves appealed to the Supreme Court to reconsider their order! That appeal was dismissed and artistic freedom of expression reigned supreme in our country… for once. Or so we thought! Sadly it was not to be – reasonable restrictions which are permitted by law on the fundamental freedom of expression were applied by the public on the public in a most unreasonable manner and the film remained canned in those states that had originally banned its screening… Objective achieved. The Central government followed the pictorial maxim of “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”. It is a state subject after all, but what about the states’ subjects?
Through all of this, it seems to me that no one, but no one (don’t get me wrong, not even I; but I can imagine) understands the plight of the film producer and his entire team – the blood, sweat, tears and of course the money that goes into making a film – when he learns it will be canned (not Cannes mind you!), or he will be caned, or both, at the end of it all. Maybe the time has come for the court to ask the states that ban a film (or any other artistic work) after it has received the concerned authority’s assent, to pay the producer his estimated earnings from that state – on behalf of the protesters of course – it would only be fair. If they want they could recover the costs from them or the tax payer – but that might become another law and order problem… or rather an order and law problem! A vicious cycle indeed.
It’s often been said, perhaps or perhaps not in lighter vein, that marriage transforms tigers into sheep. But it came as a revelation that a television interview with the leader of the largest democracy in the world could produce the same result among Television anchors! Preparing the question paper must have been a nightmare – ‘tis real tough for a teacher to prepare an easy question paper – you knew the questions you wanted to ask but couldn’t ask because it would be from outside the prescribed syllabus – all students know that! Secondly, unlike the CAT, the questions posed must necessarily have lent themselves easily to pre-determined informative answers that educate and celebrate, not imply – else what is the point of an interview? Right said Fred! In the end the anchors pulled off the tough assignment brilliantly and returned to their former avatars as tigers the moment it was done with!
The President this week disqualified 20 AAP MLA’s from the Delhi Legislative Assembly because they held what was termed as an office of profit as parliamentary secretaries – The AAP government said that all these parliamentary secretaries were given by way of profit was a broom (their election symbol), but the election commission believed that the broom was provided for from government coffers and therefore they must be disbarred and recommended the same to the President who accepted the recommendation with alacrity! Luckily for them they are still in a majority in the assembly – for the time being, but the situation is fluid. The problem is the people will pay for, not profit from, the consequent by-polls that the election commission is eager to hold at the earliest opportunity!
The term ‘office of profit’ emanates from a quaint little clause under section 9 (A) of the Representation of People Act and Article 191 (1)(A) of the Constitution that specifies public representatives cannot hold an office under the central or state government that provides them an income of any sort – even a table and a chair to sit on. Nothing in these clauses however debars them from earning an income from other sources, including private sources, the only condition being, it must not be directly from the Government coffers. Unfortunately it is a universally acknowledged fact that only a family that eats together stays together!
Whose river is it anyway? People in a state that neighbours Karnataka, love their beaches so much that they are afraid they may become a dry sandy desert, if the Mahadayi River (Mandovi to them) is not allowed to flow into the Arabian Sea unhindered. See, empathy for a sea is fine, but when it exacerbates human thirst it can make the affected people thirst for blood not water. And water is thicker than blood. Now it is up to the Tribunal to decide whether the people or the sea is more in need of the river’s water, and that decision is unlikely to come before Karnataka’s assembly polls in April 2018 no matter how thirsty people are – that would amount to tampering with the EVM’s and they have been certified tamper proof!
Finally some Monkey Baat! Satyapal Singh, a former Police Commissioner of Mumbai, and now Minister of State for HRD, last week said: “Darwin’s theory (of evolution of man) is scientifically wrong. It needs to change in the school and college curriculum. Since (the time that) man is seen on Earth, he has always been a man. Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, said they saw an ape turning into a man”. Adding or commenting on this gem, would spoil its satirical effect and may amount to monkey business, so let’s leave it there! I do hope King Kong does not wake up from his slumber and turn on mankind! Watch your back!
As we celebrate the 69th year of our sovereignty on the 26th of January, its best we remind ourselves that our freedom is not free – our forefathers worked hard to achieve it and we must work even harder to develop and sustain it.
May love for our country fill our hearts this weekend as we celebrate the Republic Day, and have a good one!