India That is Bharat
Alphabetical alchemy as a trade trick
THE fine art of explaining (away) what is already obvious to everybody (in other words, saying nothing in so many words) is the exclusive area of expertise of erudite editors. Naturally the Indian Express editor is no exception. After reading his recent piece on how the Congress is ?sinking slowly with the CMP? Satiricus wondered why a full article was necessary to tell a trite truth that could have been told in half a sentence.
The problem, as the said Editor said boldly in bold letters, is ?the constant highlighting? of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's?not being a full-fledged government?.
Well, now, if that is the secret of the sinking, is that not an open secret? Or does he mean that the problem is not the fact that the Manmohan Singh government is not a full-fledged government, but the problem is that this fact is constantly highlighted? In that case the situation is not so simple for a simpleton like Satiricus. For, translated into understandable English, it means something bad is good enough if you don'ttalk too much of its badness. Unfortunately, that is precisely the point, for, after all, what are politicians for, if not for talking too much? And all this talk, sadly says this editor, ?reinforces the NDA criticism that real power rests with Sonia Gandhi?. See? Sonia Gandhi'sreal power is not a matter of reality but just a matter of criticism. Then why feel sad about it? If talking too much about it is the problem, is not writing too much about it?
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If and when the maker of some product finds that the product is not selling well enough, he adopts an accepted sure-fire remedy?he advertises the product more and more aggresively in the papers. An excellent example in point was the banner advertisements of soaps and shampoos and such things in the Indian Express not long ago, which ran across the entire width of the paper'sfront page above the eight column headline about some major national or international event.
But what to do when the paper itself is the product desperate for bigger sales? Why, the same logic applies?it needs to advertise itself in its own columns. So it was in the fitness of things that the very Indian Express started advertising its foreign columnists by printing large pictures of them and describing them as among the most influential people in the world. And if Satiricus does not know what events in the world the Express columnist did influence, he has only his ignorance to thank for it.
Then again, if Satiricus claims that this foreign columnist of this Indian paper did not influence him even a bit it only shows that Satiricus is not worth influencing. Unfortunately, many Indian readers of the Indian Express seem to be equally impervious to influence. So it has adopted a still more brilliant technique in its courtship of the reluctant reader?from the lower level of advertising its columnists it has risen to the higher level of advertising itself. Morning after morning it is calling itself incisive and effective and sincere and credible and what have you. Satiricus is impressed. He thinks this self-praise-worthy campaign marks a red letter day in the history of advertising?literally. And why literally? Because in these one-word ads the letters ?i? and ?e? are printed in red. Again, why? Why, because ?i-e? stand for Indian Express. See? Only a genius could have thought of this alphabetical alchemy as a trick of the trade. But for this poor practitioner of the illiterate profession of journalism, there is a slight problem. It is this: If Indian Express can be incisive because both share i and e, Indian Express can also be abusive by the same yardstick, no? If it can be effective, it can also be defective. If it can be sincere, it can also be insincere. And why change over from adjectives to a noun?influence? Or is that only half-a-word advertisement, the full one word being influence-peddler?
In fact, if any noun can qualify as a descriptive ad for the Indian Express if it contains an ?i? and an ?e?, our abominable anti-secularists may suggest the use of a very short, pithy word which, in their uncharitable opinion, covers everything that the Indian Express writes against the Hindus?a lie. They might even say calling Indian Express credible is incredible. Good God! Satiricus had no idea that his illiterate profession would one day become the devilish domain of the dictionary.Alas, the time has come to make a literal difference between men of letters and idiots of the alphabet.
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Secularists seem to have a serious problem. It is that they do not know what to do when their secular conviction is shaken by a communal experience. As a result they become like a curate'segg, partly good partly bad?that is, partly good secularists, partly bad communalists.
Take, for instance, poor dear Tavleen Singh, our famous fifth columnist. After spending long years and longer columns abusing Hindus in general and RSS wretches in particular, as every good secularist should, one day she suddenly wrote a eulogy of Hindu civilisation. Satiricus does not now recall the provocation for such a heinous Hindu act, but she claimed she came to know that Hindu civilisation had many good qualities that she was not taught about, later, in order to expiate the sin of praising something Hindu, she went on a pilgrimage of our secular Haj, Deoband. But what happened? She was turned back from the gate. The result was her angry damnation of Deoband. And now we have her horror at the London terror. Why? Because her son lives there. And so it goes on. And this is precisely why Satiricus finds communalism convenient. He admittedly lacks the intellectual agility to be a general secularist and an occasional communalist turn by turn, depending upon happenstance. More importantly, he is incapable of distinguishing between pseudo-secularism and pseudo-communalism. Or is the difference the same as between pseudo-Tweeledum and pseudo-Tweedledee? Only Singh can say.