Our voters have two fundamental, inviolable rights?No. 1, they have the right not to know their mind, and No. 2, they have the right to vote in haste and repent at leisure.
Between psephologists and prophets, psephologists have the edge, for, while both can tell what will happen, only psephologists can also tell why it did not. So Satiricus is not surprised to see that every psephologist worth his statistical salt is currently learnedly explaining why he came a cropper. Not that hindsight is the exclusive prerogative of this tribe. It is God'sgift for all mankind, that is, men of all kinds, from the psephologist at his sophisticated computer to the panwala in his corner kiosk.
Everybody knows everything about the election results, so, so far as opinions are concerned, Satiricus has a wide variety to choose from. Of course, the top-of-the-shelf one among them is that secularism won, communalism lost. But Satiricus wonders if it was really so. For if it were really so, what about the secularism that the losers so ceremonially embraced in their Chennai declaration a few years ago, while sending Sri Rama into a political vanavas? Since then Satiricus has happily watched them replace Hindutva with Haj, and he is sure that if the voter had heeded their piteous plea for ?one more chance?, they would have proved that their cent per cent Indian secularism was every bit as good as the imported variety. This being so, Satiricus is at a loss to understand the RSS argument that the losers lost due to ?dilution of ideology?. Which diluted ideology is the RSS talking about? Did the losers lose because of diluted Hindutva, or did they lose because of diluted secularism? To make the confusion worse confounded in Satiricus'sbefuddled brain, even in respect of other causes, he is being told opposite things. For instance, the RSS says the losers lost because they gave importance to local issues; a winner among the losers says they lost because they gave no importance to local issues.
So then, what is Satiricus'sown opinion? His reading of the situation is as simple as his simple thinking. He thinks the BJP lost because all sorts of people wanted it to win?from the Jama Masjid Imam to the Haryana Governor. He also thinks the BJP should have expected the unexpected. The BJP president says these results were not expected by anybody in the country?neither by politicians nor by the media, neither by BJP'ssupporters, nor by BJP'sopponents. Satiricus must say that it is a pretty comprehensive summing up. But is it fully comprehensive? Satiricus thinks not, because the BJP president left out one class of people?the voters. Satiricus would be surprised if the voter himself was not surprised to see whom he had voted in. But perhaps, that is the beauty of elections in a ?democracy? like ours. Our voters have two fundamental, inviolable rights?No. 1, they have the right not to know their mind, and No. 2, they have the right to vote in haste and repent at leisure.
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In the old days, only newspapers were on sale. Now news itself is also on sale, and, at the right, fabulous price, even an ad can pose as an eight-column news headline; isn'tthat good news?
New version of news
The other day Satiricus read an article by film-maker Mahesh Bhatt titled ?Tabloidisation of the Media?, in which he argued that ?even the so-called serious newspapers have undergone a metamorphosis and become entertainment products.? But is that such a bad thing? Satiricus is not so sure. It is true that once upon a time, long, long ago, newspapering was all about news. But does that mean there should have been no progress? Should not professional progress mean that newspapers do not remain papers full of boring news but become viewspapers, full of entertaining views of the female torso? After all, as a poet put it, ?What is this life, if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare??at bare bosoms and buttocks?
Then again, gone are those dull, didactic days when the media was meant to be educative. Now we don'tneed education, we need information. Vivekananda may well have said that information running riot in the brain is not knowledge?but that is precisely the point. We want a rich riot of information?information on such tremendous trifles as what designer outfits a certain celeb is wearing these days, at what five-star eatery famished filmstars live to eat rather than eat to live, and which crorepati is going to book that five-crore-rupee car now available in rich India, that is poor Bharat. And finally, in the old days, only newspapers were on sale. Now news itself is also on sale, and, at the right, fabulous price, even an ad can pose as an eight-column news headline; isn'tthat good news?
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The feeling of happiness is not so gross as to depend upon gross things of life.
Material comforts: No match for happiness
Is Satiricus happy or is he not? And if he is, how happy? Well, now, the answer to that would depend on whether happiness is measured by the litre or by the yard, no? No, Satiricus is not being flippant, but he was certainly floored to read in the papers the other day that in a recent international survey, India was put at No. 21 on the happiness scale. Good Lord, does that mean happiness sells by weight?
In this particular survey those who are obviously unhappy with the amount of happiness Indians feel say that our incomes and our material comforts have gone up, and yet our happiness has gone down. And why is that? Because, says a psychiatrist, ?The Gross National Product is in no way an indicator of gross national happiness.? Translated into English this means that the feeling of happiness is not so gross as to depend upon gross things of life. But do we need an international survey for what everybody knows already? Satiricus recalls that long back he had read a simple definition of happiness??Happiness consists not in having what one wants, but in wanting what one has.? So Satiricus has his own scale of happiness. He is marginally happy when this column gets printed without more than half a dozen misprints, he is moderately happy when nobody finds out that his originality is undetected plagiarism, and he is murderously happy when this column bores the reader to death.