Thursday, August 11th, 2022 01:17:28

The fundamental question

Updated: March 8, 2014 3:02 pm



It is a given that a journalist is illiterate. What is not but should be, is that a journalist is also ignorant. Look, for instance, at the press comments on Rahul Baba’s TV interview. One ignominious ignoramus dismissively dismissed it as a non-event. Another wretch ridiculed Rahul as “stuck on repeat”—like a phonograph needle going round and round in the same groove of a broken phonographic record. What nonsense! What this dimwit dubbed “stuck on repeat” was actually a masterly performance of a genius fully focussed on fundamentals.

Look at the report as printed—Interviewer: “Are you afraid of losing to Narendra Modi, Rahul! Please answer my question as specifically as you can.” RaGa: “Rahul Gandhi wants to empower women.” Interviewer: “How is Narendra Modi responsible for the (Gujarat) riots when the courts have given him a clean chit?” RaGa: “Our party believes that women should be empowered.” Interviewer: “Is your party’s argument about putting him (Modi) on the back foot on Gujarat flawed?” RaGa: “The real issue at hand here is empowering the women of this country.” Does the sun rise in the east or the west? The fundamental question here is, how do we empower women.

See? Could there be another equally illustrious example of an absolute focus? By the way, if the last Q-&-A was imagined, not asked, Satiricus could helpfully add some more equally imaginary questions for RaGa’s equally imaginative answers. Some simple samples: Question: Does the night follow the day, or is it the other way round? Answer: Women need to be empowered. Question: Which came first—the hen or the egg? Answer: Women should be empowered. Question: Why do dogs bark but cats mew, and sparrows chirp but crows caw? Answer: Women must be empowered.

Finally, at the end of this illuminating dialogue, Satiricus could ask: Rahul Baba, why do you want all women empowered when two of them are already immensely empowered—your mom and sis? Maybe RaBa may feel stumped for a sec, but after that initial instant he may readily respond—“There you have a point. One is fine, two is company, but three is crowd, right? And who wants a crowd? Not me. Not even in my election meetings.”

No comma for pause

How many times does Satiricus pause to think while writing this column? Satiricus cannot say. As he looks at it, a journalist’s job is to write; a journalist’s job is not to think. In fact, if a journalist, were to think before he writes, he would fail as a journalist because then his writing would be littered with tell-tale punctuation marks, revealing the pauses he had to take to see if his writing makes sense, or, as in this hopefully popular column, to quote a poet, “much fruit of sense is rarely found”.

Actually Satiricus quite agrees with this professor in an American university who recently suggested that the comma, that ubiquitous punctuation mark, has outlived its expiry date and should be buried with due dictionary rites. Going further, he argues that the comma, now dead, should not have been alive in the first place, as it “need never have been a pillar of our grammatical landscape, for there’s no logic” for it. But isn’t that is strong point for journalism? For logic and thought go together, and what does journalism have to do with thoughtful writing? Would this column have been possible if yours truly took a pause to think if what he was writing was simple rot or tommyrot? So no thought, no pause for thought, and no comma for pause, that has been the key to its success.

There is another opponent of the comma who argues, “It distracts; it annoyingly dilutes what must be intense”. Well, now, isn’t that actually good? For many a time Satiricus feels like writing intensely about crooks, cheats and politicians, but would the editor allow it unless it is decorously diluted? And finally, if the comma “distracts,” Satiricus is really beholden to it—for distracting the attention of this column’s reader from what is apparently enjoyable to what is really rubbish.

Winnability Factor

Were, in a fit of madness, Satiricus to think of contesting the coming election, what would be his chances of winning? So long he had no clue to the answer of that question of questions. But now, thanks to recently published statistics, he knows where he stands—or falls. For according to this research, in the first place you have to be a criminal. Then your winnability would depend on how big your crime was and how serious the case against you. If, unfortunately, there are no cases, you have a meagre 7 per cent chance of winning. On the other hand if there is at least one case against you your winnability rises to a respectable 22 per cent. What does that show? It shows, alas, that innocent Satiricus is a born loser.

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