Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Political genology

Updated: January 8, 2011 3:55 pm

India That Is Bharat

Satiricus feels flummoxed. In his colleges days he had learnt a subject called Political Science. But at that time he had no idea that the “science” in Political Science could be Biology and/or Genetics. But then, one lives and learns or unlearns, as the case may be.

                Take, for instance, this heading of a recent newspaper article “Are you Cong or BJP? One answer lies in your genes.” The said article, published in a journal called New Scientist, says believe it or not that there is growing evidence to suggest that genes affect personality, which is linked to political behaviour.

                Good God! Does this mean Satiricus’s being a Congressman or a BJP-wala will be scientifically determined by his genes? And if that is indeed so, does that in turn mean that there is a biological difference between secularism and pseudo-secularism?

                And that is not the end of it. Some “political scientists” in the USA (where else?) are of the learned opinion that telling somebody not to join a certain political party “is like trying to persuade someone not to have brown eyes”. Well, now, that sounds very scientific, but what about contact lenses? If contact lenses can change the colour of your eyes for a few rupees, why can’t your political contacts change your party affiliation with a suitcase full of rupees?

                Anyway, Satiricus learns that Americans actually recently held the “world’s first” conference on “Biology and Politics”. Did it lay down the biologically big or genetically generous bribe for scientific defection?


Incomplete indians

For a long time Satiricus laboured under the impression that he was an Indian, and that was that. That whether he was good, bad or indifferent as an Indian made no difference. That he was, in fact, a fairly good Indian. But, alas, along came a Manas-putra of Macaulay who wrote a precious piece in India’s biggest (and therefore most secular) English-language newspaper a few months ago asserting that Indians who do not know English are incomplete Indians, children of a lesser God. Ah, me! That proves that with his notoriously poor English Satiricus must be a complete idiot to think he is a complete Indian. Fortunately, Satiricus and Signora Sonia are worlds apart—at least continents apart. For this same newspaper wrote some time back that “two years back, when an Italian journalist tried to congratulate her on the Congress victory in the Lok Sabha elections in her native language, she told him coldly to speak in English, she was now an Indian”. See? She is an Indian, so she must speak English. Now, is that why Mullah Mulayam had certified her as a “hundred per cent Bharatiya Nari”?

Mao & money matters

Is Chinese Communism on sale? Perhaps more to the point, is Chinese Communism being auctioned off? Virtually so, it seems to Satiricus. For time was, when a picture of Mao was the very picture of Chinese Communism but now a picture of Mao is being auctioned off by an auction house in Beijing. Painted to celebrate first anniversary of Communist rule in 1950, it is the original model for the Mao painting that still hangs over Tiananmen Square, and is expected to fetch a price of 1,50,000 dollars. Well, well, well, what do you know? Mao and money meet, and the answer to that question of Chinese questions, “How to be a good Communist” is to be a good Communist billionaire who can shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Mao picture as a decoration piece for his luxurious home. And as there are now many Chinese Communist billionaires, they need many such pictures, no? So Satiricus was not too surprised to see the auction report illustrated with a photograph of a shop-keeper standing, to quote the caption, “besides portraits of Mao Tse-Tung on sale at a flea market in Beijing”. A ‘flea’ market is a typically American institution, and means a roadside market selling second-hand goods. So what does that mean? It means, in China, where riches and religion have returned, Mao and Maoism have become second-hand goods. They are being sold down the (Yangtze) river.

Dirty dollar

“In God we trust.” That is the motto stamped on the American dollar. But communists do not believe in God. Even Russian ex-Communists. So Satiricus was not so surprised to read not long back a press-report from Moscow-alluringly alliteratively titled “Dollar declared ‘dirty’ for Duma Ministers”. It said the Duma, Russia’s Parliament, has approved a law that will punish the Russian government’s ministers for saying “dollars” when they could have used the word “rouble” instead.

                The purpose of the law, its backers said, was to rebuild the pride in the Russian currency. It is to apply only to ministers’ public pronouncements, but it is also going to be extended to the media.

                In short, the current answer to Shakespeare’s old question “what is in a name” is ‘everything’, so far as Russian currency is concerned. But will the media and money mix? If and when the Russian media forgets the rouble and so merits penalty, will it be able to “pass the buck”?

                Then again, will Russian newspapers “make a fast buck” by printing raunchy pictures as is the fashion in the English media in India? Perhaps such worries are pointless. For Russian parliamentarians are required to be patriotic only in public. In private, their devotion to the dollar can remain undisturbed.

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