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One Part Wisdom, Three Parts Coward

GPD A thought which quartered hath but one part wisdom And ever three parts coward -I do not know Why yet I live to say this things to do, Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means To do it...

Politics of Defence

GPD You do not have to underestimate China's military capabilities. Nobody has. But you must not underestimate the need for political handling of China and George Fernandes has unfortunately given that impression. Politics is in command in Beijing even now. If must be here in Delhi too.

Requiem for Dange

G P D DO you remember a man called Sripad Dange? Yes, there was a man of that name. A fair man (in senses more than one!) and a witty man. Somebody siad of him once in private conversation, "a nice, witty, Maharashtrian, not much of a communist though". The first part of the remark was very valid.Going by the recent performance of the communists, the second part appears to be distinctly unfair. 'Not much of a communist though' might now be a description of almost anyone, a cynic might say. But one does not have to go by typical cynical remarks. We all know how these cynics are and behave. They have this endearing habit of not saying anything except in a provocative manner Dange would have loved the first part of the remark. The second part, he would have hated; would have seen either a CIA or a Maoist conspiracy behind the remark. What is the difference between the two conspiracies, he would have asked and would have probably gone on to quote Keshavsut: You wonder, don't you, who we are Darling of the Gods certainly we are! We met him years ago. These were the years of the now-forgotten Cultural Revolution in China. The Chinese, he said, had put him at the top of their hit-list. In a way they had made him an international figure. He seemed to enjoy the status. He thouroughly disapproved of whatever we had written on that 'Revolution' in this very journal. Strangely his comments were very brief and dismissive. We are used to dismissive languages being used about almost everything we write. The dismissiveness, therefore, was hardly strange. His brevity was. He must have been distressed. He quickly changed the subject and talked of Kosambi' s review of his book From Primitive Communism to Slavery. Apparently, Kosambi was sharply critical of his work. But the kindness and humour with which he recalled Kosambi's attack on his work was remarkable. We moved on to Maharashtrian cuisine and things like that. We never met again.

Not So Hung After All

GPD ELECTORAL games our people play: that could be a nice title of a nice quickie on Indian elections. The games are, of course, expensive. And getting more expensive, every passing day. The 'biggest democracy' title does not come free. It is also the 'biggest expensive democracy', if one calculated the per capita expense as a proportion of per capita income. The Election Commission has reduced the noise level going with the elections but hardly anything else. But then it could not have. That the Commission organises this show at all, with increasing frequency at that, is impressive indeed. With all the confirmed and unconfirmed stories of violence and rigging notwithstanding, it is a successful and fairly impartial operation. Even 'rigging' seems to give different results every 18 months. That might mean that you can'rig' only with the general mood and rarely against it. At any rate it is not easy to see how in a situation of money and muscle power ruling the roost, as it is quite often alleged, governments do change. The big fellows do lose elections. The 'yuti' (BJP-Shiv Sena combine in Maharashtra) sweeps the polls in one election and is practically wiped out in the next. Of course, there are reasons for it. But those reasons, if they are valid at all, presume relatively free and fair elections. The game is expensive but it is played according to rules.

From Hour to Hour, We Rot and Rot!

From Hour to Hour, We Rot and Rot! GPD Chandrababu Naidu has done one great service. He has brought it home to everyone that one's campaigns, one's politics and one's future cannot be separated from what one does after the elections. Political credibility is a factor even in our murky times.

Languages and Dialects

GPD INDIA is a huge country. A cliche, you would say and you would be right. But then Mrs G and Miss G are proving it so repeatedly that one was forced to repeat the cliche. The mother and daughter had to go somewhere. How does it matter where? Both of them were out to save the Congress which, many would believe, is bound to face its doom if the magical Mrs G touch is not there. The elder Mrs G did save the Congress a couple of times. The younger Mrs G might do the same. But for Sitaiam Kesri and perhaps Narasimha Rao, everybody in the Congress seems to believe that. The elder Mrs C used some political strategies and slogans. Bank nationalisation was one of them, 'Garibi hatao' was another. There have been few more imaginative slogans in Indian politics. Slogans for propaganda is an essential political weapon in any electoral battle, The more attractive it is the more useful it tends to be.

From Abad to Nagar

GPD IT should be easy to see that in comparison with their BJP allies the Shiv Sena people have (at least) a faint tendency towards humour. When they decided to change the name of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar we thought that it was one of those attempts on the part of Bal Thackeray to have a good hearty laugh at the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who died in 1707. Even the attempt to laugh (towards the end of the 20th century) at a man who died at the beginning of the 18th was interesting because it gave us ideas of Reagan laughing at Hegel who, it is reasonably certain, was taken by him as an evil German spirit responsible for Marx who in turn was responsible for the evil empire in Russia. One would go on counting such delightful anachronist laughters creating historically alienating effects which even the 'Great BB' (Bertolt Brecht was referred as 'der grosse BB' The Great BB in the former GDR) could not have possibly thought of! One would have normally not expected this of the BJP That party has no sense of humour. The Sena has, albeit of the macabre variety. So we thought that the change of Aurangabad's name was a part of that! That it was not like calling Bombay Mumbai was clear from the very beginning, Insisting on Mumbai is like insisting on Guangzhon instead of Canton. Colonialism robs us not only of silver (and the like, and even that may not be true if the Cambridge Economic History of India is any guide, but let that pass) but also of languages and words. Why should the western world have changed Beijing into Peking? Or Guangzhon into Canton? Well, no particular reason except that not only the colonialists' word should prevail but also their pronunciation. So they went on re-spelling almost everything in Asia and Africa. That they are still changing words is obvious. Consider words like 'reforms' or 'radical' and their current usage and the point should be obvious. The Chinese were the first to point out that imperialist names or spellings will and have to be changed. Peking has to go and Beijing has to take its place, Thackeray may not admit any debt of gratitude to China but what he did to 'Bombay' was no different. Even token anti-imperialism seems to be the monopoly of right-wingers, whether in Maharashtra or in Iran, The 'Hinduhridaysamrat' (the emperor of the Hindu hearts), as Bal Thackeray likes to be called by his Sainlks, must have discovered before long that even token anti-imperialism is not his cup of cow's milk. He therefore decided to go one step in a backward direction. We should have said two steps. The first backward step was what he did (like everyone else in the state of Maharashtra lately) to the Marathi language. In the olden days there were several suffixes used to denote a town. To begin with there was 'abad' as in Aurangabad, There was, of course, 'nagar' as in Ahmednagar. There was 'pur' as in Nagpur. This usage of 'pur' had another speciality typical to Marathi. The 'u' in 'pur' is long. There was 'gav' as in Jalgav Puri and so on and so forth. The modern Maharashtrian seems to have forgotten all these words. Now everything is a 'nagar', Why? The reason is that those who want to rewrite history have forgotten what their history is. It is now aboring monotony. Why can't there be a Shivajipur in Maharashtra? Why does it have to be Shivajinagar instead? No answer, except perhaps the inevitable one. Those who claim to speak in the name of history do not know what it is, The variety and plurality of words also constitute history. Of course, this would be too much of intellectualism for the Sena people. As for the BJP people, as long as Kashi and Mathura and thereby Hindi are safe they could not care less about what happens to other languages. Hence the unchallenged craze for Nagar. Change everything to Nagar. The Congress people would want everything after the Nehru-Gandhi clan. The 'yuti' (the coalition) wants every city and town to be a Nagar! Pride of Marathi has resulted in ignorance of Marathi.

Politics of Avatara

GPD IN the Indian tradition one concept that has rarely been questioned if at all, has been that of the 'avatara', the godhead which descends down to the world of the mortals and saves it. The Gita has quite a theory about it. It talks about how when 'dharma' declines the Lord himself descends down to this earth to destroy the 'adharma'. Only the 'mahanubhavas', the 12th and 13th century mystics questioned that notion partially, (They paid the price for it seven centuries later when a court in Maharashtra decided to prevent the government of Manohar Joshi from publishing their major work presumably much to the delight of his MLAs. But that's another story.) Otherwise the notion of avatara has survived and dominated the Indian psyche. It has been a constant feature of Indian thinking. The evil grows and grows. It takes the Lord himself to rescue the world.

One Country and Two Prosperities - 2-One Phenomenon and Two Languages

One Country and Two Prosperities 2 One Phenomenon and Two Languages GPD The semantic exercises the Chinese engage in are fascinating. They used the characters hui gui (meaning 'regression') for what has happened to Hong Kong. It was a reminder that this was no British generosity, no act of 'returning' on their part. The cunning of History has worked out the hui gui of Hong Kong.

One Country, Two Prosperities

One Country, Two Prosperities GPD Will 'one country, two systems' work? Why will it not? For the truth of the matter is that they are two systems only in name. Both are capitalist systems and it is a case in effect of 'one country, two prosperities'.

Literary Heritage in the Dock

Literary Heritage in the Dock GPD What is being done to our languages is really pathetic. The Shiv Sena and BJP members of the Maharashtra legislative council have opposed the publication of a third edition of Mhainbhat's Leelacharitra edited by V B Kolte, an erudite researcher on the is a reason. Leelacharitra is a justly famous work. Many years ago a great researcher on the Mahanubhava tradition and literature, V B Kolte, edited and published this work. It was published by the Maharashtra government. It has gone through two editions already. It has been out of print for a while. Legitimately a third edition is due.

In Defence of Sitaram Kesri

consumers pay less then the subsidies have to be borne by the public exchequer Second, since the government needs foreign capital inflows for this purpose, it must make the policy environment for such foreign investment more favourable through a range of tax concessions, easier trade and labour restrictions, and the like. Third, the domestic capital market should be further liberalised to facilitate the generation of resources for infrastructure. In this regard the government also has to provide institutional support and guarantees to attract the kind of long-term funding that infrastructure requires. Fourth, the government should facilitate the mobilisation of resources for infrastructure investment by financial institutions, through such means as sovereign borrowing, liberalisation of the institutional finance market to allow private entry, launching of new schemes such as debt-securitisation and guarantees as part of a 'public-private partnership' in which the public sector effectively shoulders all of the risks with none of the benefits. The range of financial liberalisation measures proposed is sweeping indeed, goes well beyond the presumed brief of the Expert Group or even the conclusions of the Narasimham Committee Report which was explicitly devoted to the financial sector, and merits a separate critique in its own right.


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