Satiricus has a question: Was Shakespeare really sure a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? Whatever the answer, Shakespeare and Sharad Pawar are two different people, so when Sharad says liquor shops could be renamed wine shops, he is trying to bridge a difference that Shakespeare could not see.
Pawar says the grapes of Nashik in Maharashtra could be put to better and more profitable use if they are made into wine and people drank that wine, as it would not be the same as drinking liquor. Now journalist Satiricus being illiterate by definition, is not sure about the exact difference between getting drunk with liquor and getting drunk with wine.
The dictionary says both are alcoholic drinks, the only difference being that liquor is distilled, while wine is fermented. But perhaps for Pawar that makes all the difference. Apparently, he is of the considered opinion that getting drunk with alcohol is OK provided you choose the right alcohol?and of course the right alcohol is the one made from the grapes that Pawar'svoters grow and want to sell. So economics and alcoholics are joined by politics. And that is as it should be, no? In the past, India that was Bharat was a spiritual country. In the present, Bharat that is India could well be a spirituous country. And that is progress. Under the present progressive dispensation it is to be expected that people should become progressive enough to drink grapes rather than eat them.
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An orderly society lives by rules and regulations. So, in the considered opinion of Satiricus, regulated corruption is a sine qua non of an orderly society. That being so, Satiricus is at a loss to understand why West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev should not be happy with the Kolkata Police Gazette officially publishing a ?Bribery Chart? of policemen. According to this chart, an undertrial pays Rs. 500 to remain outside the lock-up, Rs. 200 to be served snacks and foreign liquor, and Rs 100 to use a mobile phone.
Actually, if the West Bengal Chief Minister is not happy with the chart, neither is Satiricus?but for very different reasons. In fact Satiricus is positive it is incomplete as well as outdated. He refuses to believe that the chart offers only the three services mentioned in press reports. And even these are in dire need of updating. Look, for instance, at the paltry charge of a couple of hundred chips for snacks plus foreign liquor. Should the two not be separately charged? And does the Deputy Commissioner in charge of publishing the gazette not know that there is such a thing called ?Indian made foreign liquor?? Then should not the chart helpfully clarify whether the bribe will cover Indian made foreign liquor or foreign made foreign liquor? And as for the chart being old, Satiricus distinctly recalls Prime Minister Indira Gandhi once saying corruption was a global phenomenon. That was years ago. Then is it not time our progressive powers that be (with the Left not left out) progressed to a more attractive index of bribality?
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It is getting increasingly tougher and tougher for simple Satiricus to keep pace with our famous Fifth Columnist'sideological zigzag. Is Tavleen Singh a secularist or is she a communalist? Apparently it depends. Depends on what? On the flavour of the week. Now columnist Satiricus quite agrees that for a columnist the column is the most important thing in life. Neither Satiricus nor Singh is an exception to this cardinal principle of column-writing. But there it a vital difference.
India could well be a spirituous country. And that is progress. Under the present progressive dispensation it is to be expected that people should become progressive enough to drink grapes rather than eat them.
Satiricus is so slow-witted that he plods along the same ideological path week in and week out, year in and year out. Not so Tavleen. With easy expertise in intellectual acrobatics, she twists and turns. Normally, she abuses the RSS as a sterling secularist should. Then suddenly she mixes Sonia-bashing and secularism, and brews a heady broth with a heading like ?How Muslims are victims of secularism?.
Now, for Satiricus, the very idea of Muslims being victimised by secularism in India that is blessed Bharat is ridiculous. But for Tavleen Singh that seems to be the week'struth and the whole truth about Indian secularism. The occasion for her alarm is the fact that recently, for the pious purpose of strengthening secularism, the Prime Minister constituted a ?high-level committee to prepare a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslims community of India?. Commenting on it, she asks in anguish, ?When the PM set up this ?high-level committee? did he not realise that instead of helping Muslims it would set them up as a target once more?? A target for whom? Of course the Hindus. How neat!
With one stone she killed two birds?Sonia secularism and Hindu communalism. But then Sonia, Singh and Satiricus are made of sterner secularism stuff. So Satiricus was appropriately happy when this minority committee (or should Satiricus say anti-majority committee?) went to the BJP-ruled (and therefore communal) State of Rajasthan and forthwith produced a damning report of eight pages based on no more than a couple of hours spent with some Muslims of Jaipur. What made Satiricus still happier was that it was dated not only ?August 24, 2005?, but also ?Rajab 18, 1426?. See? A government report of secular India carries not only a Christian date but also an Islamic date. Satiricus saw this for the first time. But then, there is a first time for everything, including the ancient chronology of modern Indian secularism. And of course since India is not Hindusthan this official report does not have to bother with dates relating to horried Hindu eras like Shalivahana Shaka, Vikram Samvat, Yudhishthir Shaka and Yugadi. If, even in such a secure situation, our fifth columnist finds fault with secularism as preached by pen-pushers and practised by politicians, Satiricus can only say that hopefully she will again zig or zag when it is time to write next week'scolumn.