India That Is Bharat
Had Satiricus been young enough (and bright enough) to want to apply for admission to the world-famous Oxford University, would his application have been accepted? It is a difficult question. In fact it is quite questionable, because the questions he would be asked at the interview would be quite beyond his sense of humour. Take, for instance, the recent press report about the questions that the dons of Oxford now-a-days ask: Why do animals have stripes? Why do human beings have two eyes? Does poetry have to be difficult?
See? Even an acknowledged ignoramus like Satiricus would have thought that the questions are as weird as the weirdos asking them. But according to the director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford, the point is that there are no right or wrong answers to such questions. Then why ask pointless questions? Because, he explained with a straight face, “the interviews are academic conversations designed to assess how the applicant thinks, instead of just giving answers and facts”. Is this explanation meant to make the point that fiction is more important than fact at this illustrious institution of knowledge? For instance, when the Oxford University was set up 3-4 centuries ago with the clear objective of pushing a Christian agenda on the academic level, did it mean India’s history written in Britain is a learned piece of fiction?
Anyway, if Satiricus is required to think something a journalist should never be forced to do he can come up with answers that match Oxford’s standards of stupidity. For starters, why do animals have stripes? So that they can be distinguished from non-stripe nitwits like Yours Truly. Why do human beings have two eyes? Because although one eye is enough when you see eye to eye on something with somebody, you need two eyes to close with your two hands so that you do not have to see the mess that is the world around you. And, does poetry have to be difficult? Yes, it does, otherwise people might actually understand it.
Two more questions have also been reported. One: Imagine we had no records about the past at all except for everything about sport, how much of the past could we find out? We could find out that Napolean lost the battle of Waterloo to the Brits because he did not know how to play cricket, the only thing the Brits call sport. Two: Why are strawberries and ladybirds both red? Because a ladybird is a type of insect, and because of his insectile brain he does not need a reason to see red.
But the question of questions here is, after coming up with acceptably weird answers, would Satiricus still want to join this university? Satiricus doubts. For, in the first place, being a journalist, he “doesn’t need no education”. And secondly, only a few months back he had read in the papers a report headlined “School-girl rejects sub-standard Oxford Varsity!” It said a teen-age school girl who went to a state-funded school rather than an elite private school, sent a letter of rejection to the University. She wrote: “I am afraid you do not quite meet the standard of the universities I will be considering.” See? When this little girl tells the Oxford University that its standard is sub-standard, it clearly means the university is not weird enough. In turn this means the questions it asks may actually (though not always) make sense. So only when they are acceptably nonsensical will Satiricus consider an Oxford degree. In the meanwhile here’s a question for the profound professors of the university: Why is the Oxford University not called Cowford University when the Oxford Dictionary itself says ‘oxherd’ and ‘cowherd’ mean one and the same thing?
Satiricus is generally as healthy as any normal person, and he tells only the normal number of lies. Are the two connected? The astounding truth that they are, dawned upon him when he read in the papers the other day about researchers at a university in Europe telling people, “Tell fewer lies for better health.” They have reportedly discovered that telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s health. Well, now, what do you know? Modern Satiricus had no idea that when our ancient sages gave us the sage advice satyamvada, tell the truth, they were actually giving us medical treatment. But with modern advance in medical science has this simple cure not become outdated? Are not secular lies better at saving our ailing secularism than the toxic truths of communalist-cum-Hindu quacks? Ask ex-Congress leader Sharad Pawar, who publicly confessed telling a lie in the service of secularism when he said during the dozen simultaneous Jihadi terrorist attacks on Mumbai that one had (also) been on a Muslim locality.