Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 18:26:45

Politics of price

Updated: July 23, 2011 5:08 pm

India That Is Bharat


EVERY man has his price, once said a British prime minister by name Robert Walpole. But the question is, does every man know his price? Especially every man in India who is a political leader? Supposing Satiricus was one such, would he? It’s a tough question. And to make it tougher, the current price of a politician comes in terms of power rather than in terms of pelf. So if Satiricus, having spent 30 years as a leader of A-Party, decides one fine morning to cross over to B-Party, he would have to first think of what position he should sell himself for. He would find that things were much simpler in the olden days when defection was a straightforward business with a cash value. Take Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. That may have been enough to cross over to the Romans of Rome. But crossing over to the Roman Catholics of India is a different matter, and far more complex. Naturally Satiricus would have to bargain hard—especially in view of his crassly communal politics of the past. Fortunately, he had a plus point. It is that he is a journalist, which proves he is illiterate and backward—and are not backward classes more privileged in forward India?

So if B-Party just offered him Position X, he would naturally feel offended and turn down the offer, telling them—don’t insult me with such a puny post. Then if some higher-ups in B-Party leadership dangle before him the carrot of position Y, Satiricus, by now an astute salesman, would act hard to get—with his eyes on Position Z. But that, alas, might simply shoot down the whole deal. The unfortunate upshot: No sale. Then what will poor Satiricus do? Simple. Satiricus will loudly announce—“I am with A-Party, I am not quitting A-Party.” Then Satiricus will add under his breath—“ …. Until I get a better price for myself”.

How to make a name

Once upon a time, when Satiricus was small, he used to be at the receiving end of a piece of perpetual parental advice— work hard and make a name for yourself. Fortunately for him, hard work is now outdated. Now he can make any name of his choice for himself by just registering it with the government for a modest fee. For instance, according to recent press reports literally lakhs of people—ranging from celebs to nonentities—are lining up in the state of Maharashtra for a change (only) in name for a change in their fortunes. In most cases this “nominal” change-over is actually a new spelling of an old name. For instance, a stock-broker named Abhinav Kumar, who was doing badly in business and had lost lots of money, was advised by a numerologist to add an “n” to his name and make it “Abhinnav”. Hey, presto! His finances improved. How come? Not because the recession was over, but because Dame Fortune liked the new English spelling of the old Indian name.

But do such lexicographical liberties mean that the modern Marathi Manoos has mastered the game of the name? Satiricus thinks not. This may show ingenunity but not imagination. For that one has to go to Karnatak. In fact, even city-dwellers of Maharashtra are no match to the villagers of Karnatak in their mastery of the fine art of name-calling. Take, for instance, a village named Bhadrapura near Bangalore. Here there are villagers with—believe it or not—names like Bus, Train, Coffee, Glucose, Hotel, High Court, Gramophone, Dollar, British, English! See? These villagers have not only a bus but also a train; they may live in a hut but have a hotel; they may be poor Indians but have an American dollar; and despite rural illiteracy in India they can distinguish between the British in general and the English in particular.

But are all these outstanding achievements unmatched on the international level? Even patriotic Satiricus has to admit they are not. In fact, if brevity is the soul of wit, the Chinese are ahead of us. For there are Chinese parents who have named their baby “@”! On the other hand if there are parents who want their offspring’s name to be lovingly lengthy, there cannot be a better example for them to follow than a couple in New Zealand who named their child “Tulala Does The Hula From Hawaii”! But even this is not modern enough to suit the twenty-first century. So what should progressive parents do? The answer was recently given by an Egyptian. He named his baby daughter “Facebook”! A stunned Satiricus wonders…. when she grows up, will Miss Facebook marry Mr.Yahoo Dot Com?

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