Meenakshi Dahiya

Notes on stuff that catches my fancy

The Great Deluge is Here

Desperate times require desperate measures. Here is mine. If we have to have a saffron dingbat heading us in 2019, then I vote for <drumroll> the Rapidly Drowning Nuisance that is the newest Chief Minister in India.

The all-knowing internet (*this* one please, not the B.C. one) assures me that my interpretation of the word ‘Viplav’ is indeed correct. It can mean drowning of something in water, a commotion or a nuisance in a state or country that disrupts the peace, among others. Talk about hidden signs. Here we have ones that are staring right in your face.

Why, you may ask? Many reasons!

1) He has hair. This man will not need a transplant. Notably, both Bhogi & Regrown Pate fail this test. Brains could never be a criterion. It is unfair to compare people on something they clearly don’t possess.

2) Knows the difference between Civil & Mechanical engineering. Doubt that Bhogi or

‘Entire Political Science’ degree holders can spot that nuance. Civil guys, congratulations, you’ll have a stable career but Mechanical chaps will have to tie a cow to their Paan stall or they can still apply for H1B.

3) But Trump stands in the way to that. Logical question then is how to tame Trump? If you said a hug then you are living in the past. Not the distant past, mind you, because that was glorious.

Coming back to taming of the shrewd. My dear people, the secret weapon is a killer handshake! You see it got Macron a State Dinner. So, our gym instructor fellow is most up to the task.

4) Amazing knowledge of pre-history. So what if he didn’t bother with the evolution process – he established the fact that we had internet in Mahabharat times. Isn’t it sheer brilliance? In fact, I have it on good authority that he has clinching evidence to disprove recent scientific papers claiming that the Indus valley was not inhabited by Aryans. He will soon publish a wefie of dudes with Swastika tatoos in the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro. This guy can think beyond a 500-year old masjid! The other two dudes are still stuck on an ever-shifting goalpost of Mandir Kabhi Banayenge.

5) That Bhogi fellow just feeds the cows. Our guy thinks beyond. He understands commerce. He also understands entrepreneurship can solve the unemployment problem. He recommends selling of milk. This is another Amul waiting to happen, people! And this time it will be a 100% non-Congressi one, which can then stand up and say you didn’t do anything for 70 years, you White Revolution-types!

6) He may stand at the same place, but he has a higher view. He is taller than 56-inch. So, no loss in gross volume. Maybe, from his higher point of view, he will be able to see more. At least he knows where to look for Tripura without the help of a fancy headgear.

7) Revenge of the north-east. This country has ignored its north-east for a long time. It is payback time. The rest of India needs a broken-Hindi speaking smart Alec kicking their casteist asses. Bonus points – Bangladesh will smile indulgently on the rise of yet another export. Anyway, they are doing much better than India on most development indices – despite being headed by a woman (“She’s a woman, how intelligent can she be?”). But I digress.

8) He is a God. I am not making it up – his name clearly states ‘Deb’. 56-inch is only a king of the humans. Bhogi is twice named. Not sure which one he uses in his janampatri. So, our Deb fellow, with the sanskari name is the new Boss.

9) He likes to talk. Yes, even with Press! Never thought I would see a quieter PM than Dr MMS. But then facts are stranger than fiction. We have a super silent one now. He speaks only in a foreign land or with his minions. BipDeb sorely needs a gag at most times. How delightful! I would rather hear some inane joyful words rather than Bhogi’s ‘nautanki band karo’ orders.

10) If we have to go down, crash and burn, then let’s do it in style. With a young well-built motor-mouth in charge, rather than jaded blokes with unsavoury pasts.

Make sure you vote for NOTA so that BipDeb wins.

BMKJ!

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Andaz Apna Apna

Normal governments ply only one policy and then they screw around it. 

Modi Sarkar is ‘hat ke’. 56 inch has a super normal capacity and not in the chest department alone. Hence, it has two policies- one official & the other one not so. Two for the price of one! Yet, 69% doesn’t appreciate the government’s sterling work as much as it should. No wonder Bhakts are such an angry and frustrated lot! 

I agree that the official policy is the emaciated one; mainly since it comes with the mandatory picture of Gandhi & sometimes Nehru (latter is disappearing faster). Good riddance! His headstand pictures were causing unwanted headaches. 

The Official Policy includes diplomacy, non-alignment, peace, tolerance, secularism, socialism and the usual banal stuff whom no body gives two hoots about. Museum stuff, you see.

The more robust is the unofficial one. It is the spicier and the meatier version (sorry, non-beefy but totally beefed-up – go figure!). It has the hint of malice which can whip public passions accompanied by a dash of bigotry. Beats every soap-opera. High adrenaline stuff after drab Dr MMS. Talk about miracles!

Though I do sympathise with you that this ‘official & unofficial’ cocktail is making everyone dizzy. It has come to the stage where it is difficult to figure out ‘Karishma kaun, Raveena kaun’!

You would think that junk food kills. Wrong. Only in the long term. And not before it sends enough physical symptoms warning you to shape up. Try beef instead. Instant nirvana through lynching. Hence, have beef with beef instead.

You would think that since Modiji favoured Chinese yoga mats and his prudent decision (do note that there is no other kind!) to get Sardar Patel Statue made in China; you could too indulge in cheaply-priced China made goods. Wrong. 

Yes, I know- that Modiji & that 11 Jinping (pet name given by Modiji) looked cute on the swing together. But don’t get any wrong ideas. That was why Modiji kept his black goggles on with the Terracotta Army too. Don’t follow the eyes. You’ll only find a camera and nothing else. Sigh! 

Use your intelligence. While you are at it, use your reading skills and better decipher the poorly written Whatsapp messages calling out for boycotting the Chinese goods. 

It is high time that you start taking Whatsapp messages seriously. Do I need to remind you about ‘Karishma kaun & Raveena kaun’? And that who you thought was Karishma, was actually Raveena!

Don’t be hard on yourself. It took KJo (the same coffeewala Karan Johar!) more than 2 years to come to terms with it. Since, you & I, don’t have a similar fan following where we get to make videos about seeking forgiveness; we need to get smarter and realise that the bloke speaks for us too. Awww!

Having settled that we are definitely against Fawad Khan & Co on account of our about 70 decade old different nationalities… Wait include that ‘Hot Tea’ fellow too! You can never be too careful these days. Phew! Please do wipe out that wistful expression on your face about their chaiwala & ours. Dear folks, it’s all about karma. Stop blaming the 31%.

Meanwhile, also cease talking about the Army altogether. Especially, their medical procedures. They are the Gods. Okay! More like the God statues that everyone puts in a small temple at their homes and then forgets till a festival comes about. Then the statues are dusted and prayed to before they are respectfully but uncaringly stored again. Don’t you dare talk about the OROP & disability benefits, you non-believer!

Tell me, what’s great about a missing student in a nation of nearly 1.3 billion? These JNU types need a reason to create trouble. Why can’t they keep their head down and quietly turn into cogs which then can be fitted in anywhere the rulers like? They will earn a living and will be able to raise a family. What else is needed, anyway? 

Poor farmers don’t even get that. And no storage spaces too. Only hell. Then pyres & graves. God, this is depressing! Let me just read some social media messages telling us about ‘Acche Din’ with pictures. Photoshopped? So what? We all need dreams. If we can’t manufacture goods like China we can definitely manufacture dreams and the PR. Good enough. Right? Yes! Thought so too. 

Karwa Chauth Rocks!

Karwa Chauth today. Yes, fasting. And totally unapologetic about it!

Why? It is my way of pausing my life, which is on a perpetual roller-coaster, and thanking the Almighty for the one person central to my existence. It is my way of regenerating our bond.

No, I am not naive enough to blindly follow the DDLJ tradition and I am not individualistic enough to negate the importance of this one person in my life.

Somewhere there is a method in the madness. It is my way of bringing our culture and ethos together for a very personal purpose. The whole process unites the personal with the social. 

Fasting? I value this relationship higher than the basic need for food and water. It reminds us that this partnership is above everything else. 

Additional learning? I can empathise with my Muslim friends much better when they observe the month-long Ramzan!

Dressing up? Once a year my forgotten jewellery like pajeb & bicchue come out. Mangalsutra is worn with devotion and pride. Mehendi, sindoor, bangles et al came in my life with him and hence are invaluable. 🙂 Shastra’s talk about solah singar (16 adornments) for a bride. This day, every woman, can be a bride again. Married life, reboots itself!

Only women fasting? Absolutely objectionable stuff. I think this division of labour in fasting has more to do with a woman’s higher multi-tasking skills than her inferior place in our retrograde patriarchal society. (The patriarchy needs a thesis in itself, so we won’t venture there). Women can multitask much better than men any day, so men shouldn’t even try keeping up with the fasting spouse. Back to the superior multitasking skills of women. 

There is this whole gamut of dressing up, shopping and meeting friends over Puja, and then the restless waiting for moonrise. Tell me one sane male who will do this willingly. And no, the crutches of booze are not allowed 🙂 Women thrive on the excitement of doing different things. They have the ability to create meaning out of the banal. They create homes out of nothing. They add colour and joy to life itself. They create meaning itself.

Katha? The real life and legend mix like no other. Age-old innocence is recited and you bow your head to tradition rather than logic. We all know that logic works but not always….A mystery, a scope for some miracle, a little sweetness…cannot hurt.

Does my husband fast for me? No. I don’t let him. He has tried to dissuade me. He has offered to fast. But, I cannot handle another irritable person in my life. 🙂 This is my day. I need the pampering. 🙂 Plus, all-round plummeting energy levels at the household level will not be good for world peace.

Obviously, it has no scientific connection to prolonging any man’s life. In fact, having a cranky, hungry & thirsty (hopefully, not blood-thirsty) wife at your hands is not exactly a recipe for nirvana. Add PMS and you can imagine the poor guy’s plight. So, the whole KC thing is a bit twisted, much like us. And despite filmy ideals to the contrary, I would strongly recommend the guys not to fast. Stay in your supporting role. 

Poor women at disadvantage? These women still need to do a lot of physical work even while fasting. True – it does, but women are the ultimate survivors. These women may not have access to the pricey malls, yet they have access to the feeling of belongingness. I would argue that the latter beats the former by a country mile.

Mother-in-law’s gift? This is one day when I thank my mother-in-law from the bottom of my heart for her son. I have one now and I know it is not an easy task. I hope, my son grows up like his father!

Cribbing about thirst & hunger? What fun! Try doing it. Very cathartic. Trust me, whining for water while we wait for the moon connects us more solidly than a board sitting around a table discussing their new IPO and forecasting future returns.

Impact on children? Though I confess that these days it’s hard to catch our children’s attention, yet in this brouhaha they do notice how much a marriage involves sacrifice and that taking each other for granted is not advisable on KC (or any other day). For the mother in me, it is hard to miss an opportunity to pass a learning to the progeny, however ‘uneducatable’ they might be!

Waiting for the moon? One day in the year when I actually observe and abide by nature! And, that day, moon makes all of us value it’s cool brightness like no other. Now, I understand the value of Eid ka Chaand so much better!

So, loosen up. Go get decked up. Express your gratitude. Eat or fast. Everything is optional. Just live. Life is too short for anything else. 

Wishing you a very Happy Karva Chauth! May your married life nourish your soul and may you stay together for an eternity.

Case for Coalition

Thinking in binary has given us computers but taken away a lot of intuitiveness that makes us human.

We now prefer national vs anti-national, cow vs beef, legit gau-rakshaks vs self-proclaimed ones, Arnab Vs Sanity, Us vs Padosi Desh(s), Rest of the country(which is not much) Vs Dalits, Modi Sarkar vs Central Government, Stable govt vs Unstable govt and so on.

In fact, most of our experiences remain unclassifiable and beyond the binary, but no one notices this. Dr Manmohan Singh and his government, for instance. Allow me to explain. Take coalition governments – they perform well. Data supports this claim too. The good part about ‘less-than-absolute’ power is that nonsense such as war-mongering, unlimited foreign travel for personal glory, cow and sanskari trolls, selective bashing etc, is completely ruled out.

Look at it this way – a bunch of politicians, each one with their own unique combination of greed and fear, are put in a room to decide on some important issues. What will be motivating forces? Options are:

1) Let me make a quick buck while this lasts.

2) My constituency/state/party should benefit the most because in the next government we want absolute majority so that we can do things which we can’t right now because of these other blokes in this room.

3) Let me just propose dumbing down of the education system. But wait, isn’t that HRD minister an educated fellow from our coalition partner party!

4) To hell with my coalition partner, let me hire gau-rakshaks to harass Muslims, Dalits and any office going dude with a leather bag. I am sure that rest of the people in this room will agree with me because I am God’s gift. All the religions should accept this God, of course!

What do you think? 🙂

Yes, of course, development will be slower. But it would at least be a state of motion that moves us forward, not backwards! 

Think beyond the binary. Think beyond the limited options. Make sure that idiots that bother you are more at each other’s throats than at ours. Think coalition!

State of Adjustment

The Indian concept of ‘jugaad’ is a prime example of human ingenuity. It is cost saving, efficient, seeks to maximise resource usage and many a times a life saver. Most people in my generation have used hangars to hang heating rods in plastic buckets in hostels, seen water pumps repurposed into vehicles, most repair jobs were DIY and so on.

Then jugaad entered into our social behaviour. Asking people to share their legitimate seats with a ‘Bhaiya, please adjust karo”. From that it jumped into our politics too. We see political parties adjusting with each other too. The same hamams, scratching backs et al.

Post 2002 we have seen an adjustment of another kind. Persecution of parts of society in the name of development. Message was loud and clear- we will bring prosperity but let us carry out just a little bit of ethnic cleansing at the same time – thoda adjust karo. Like a professional adjuster, 31% adjusted. 

Now, this adjustment tamboo, like the one in the story, is stretching & extending all over the place. To keep it simple, all but the so-called ‘high caste’ males are being pushed inside the tamboo of persecution. Amongst the high caste males too, liberals and intellectuals are not spared. So, apart from our knicker clad brethren, every one is being adjusted.

Why did we start negotiating our social structures? Is it the quality of our education or is it ‘that time’ for Mother Earth! Look at Trump, Erdogan, Brexiters and so on.

Suddenly, the science which kickstarted the jugaad has suddenly disappeared. Superstition always replaces science. Now, we have Laxmi Mata pillion riding, helmet less, to teach us that we need to be cleaner otherwise we will lose our prosperity. This is not a private advertisement. It is an ad sponsored by our government which happens to run a constitutionally secular country. Adjustment continues.

Adjust with persecution of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Women, Tribals, Intellectuals…

Adjust with Cow & legitimate gau rakshaks. 

Adjust with food dictats (have beef with beef!), clothing (what? Jeans! No!!), caste (how dare you Rohith Vemula!).

Adjust with dumbing down of education in our schools and universities. 

Adjust with blinding pellets in Kashmir. 

But adjust for what? Fudged GDP figures? 

Let’s unravel the mystery of GDP growth. No technical stuff. GDP rise should bring prosperity to all. Do you see that all around you? No, government propaganda posters are not development. 

Do you see more jobs? Do you see new schools being built? Do you see hectic construction activity? Are you and your friends buying new vehicles just to upgrade? Has your food quality improved? Have social shaguns/gifts gone up in value?

If not, you are adjusting with your future. And, just in case you missed, it is not good. In fact, it sucks.

Bhala Uska Slogan Mere Slogan Se Safed Kaise?!

 

Yup, India has become the new global slogan hub. IT hub is passé; Slogans are the latest “in” thing. Following two years of dedicated research, we are proud to announce that thanks to considerable time and effort spent in differentiating – and then categorizing – slogans, we are now the new Slogan Superpower. Moreover, we made rapid strides in the last two months and thanks to some major breakthroughs, we have made unprecedented progress in engineering sloganeering.

We have a rich inventory of products now available. Broadly speaking, we have Nationalist™ (N™) and Anti-National (AN) ones. The latter variety is pretty potent: it can get you slapped with sedition charges. The package comes complete with a free lynching in court, an extended jail-feel-karo stint and includes a bail approval (pre-loaded with Manoj Kumar songs).

There are loads of sub-standard and confusing products out in the market when it comes to slogans, so we have put together a 100% Made in India Quick Guide for you:

  • Rule #1 : Anything to do with Azadi is Anti-National (AN). It includes freedom from Poverty, Casteism, Feudalism etc. – basically all sorts of nonsense that no one in their right mind could care two hoots about. (Seriously! Tell me why should I bother about a Dalit child going hungry or not getting an education when I can perfectly happily worry about my maid not turning up and what gadget to buy next!!)
  • Rule #2 : Anything to do with Mata is Nationalist™ (N™). These ones come in a lot of flavours. You could try one of our popular combo-variants – Bharat, Gau, Durga, Lakshmi and so on. Add Mata to any of these and you’ll instantly feel a golden halo around your empty head, and a patriotism certificate printed in saffron will pop up right in front of your eyes, expertly navigating your blinders on either side.

This was easy. Now, comes the messier part, where some confusion exists about the precise intellectual property ownership, and both categories stake claim (examples are Jai Hind, Satyamev Jayate etc). This one is really tough. In these cases, the discerning eye will always look for external cues:

o   Is the person well-dressed or least claims he is (N™); or does he talk about poor farmers (AN),

o   Thinks Anupam Kher can think (double negative, hence N™); Actually believes in thinking (AN),

o   Talks about soldiers serving at Siachen (N™); Talks about the death of his own brother in CRPF at the hands of Naxalites (AN),

o   Prefers singularity – in colour or ideology (N™); Prefers abhorrent, rainbow-like, confusing diversity (AN),

o   Thinks intolerance is a concocted concept (N™); Thinks intimidation is bad word (AN).

You get the idea – go forth and continue to make your own similar rules. However, here’s a warning – exercise caution! Recently, a me-too category has also popped up. These guys didn’t like being excluded from the sizzling chemistry between N™ & AN. They wanted to gate-crash the party. Since most slogans were either already appropriated or were being hotly contested, these party poppers created some of their own like “Hindustan Zindabad” to confuse matters!

One more nuance you should always be aware of is that many of the slogans are geo-location sensitive and, like photo-chormatic glasses that change colour when you go from light to shade, so too can these slogans magically transform. For instance, saying Pakistan Zindabad in JNU is clearly Anti-National. Saying the same at Double Sri’s Yamuna-throttling extravaganza is, of course, Nationalist™. So, be careful when you use these Geo-Chromatic Slogans.

And one more thing – I believe the R&D department is hard at work on new varieties, and the following will also be available for your sloganeering pleasure soon:

  • Wherever Anupam Kher’s Dadaji was in 1984, still Official chamcha ji ki Jai…
  • Hit & Run Devi(l) Mata ki Jai…
  • Vikas haazir ho!
  • Horses for Cow-level security!
  • Beef badnam hua, kiske liye?
  • Modi aur Mallya ke liye Janta bekarar!
  • Abki baar… Maaf karo yaar!

Now, you may ask why we are building core competence in an utterly unproductive and non-remunerative field. It is an excellent question, to which I too don’t have an answer, so please join me in raising the one useful slogan I do know.

Let’s all fold hands and enthusiastically join Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’s Dhritrashtra in saying, “Ye Sab… Kya Ho Raha Hai!

 

Why Socialism?

Kanhaiya has brought back leftist thought to mainstream thinking, but he is not a lone warrior. In recent times, we have seen others like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn raise their voices advocating socialism or socialist policies.

This makes people see red… in more ways than one! They see the doom of status quo in such thinking, and start quoting examples of the failed USSR, East Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, even China to an extent, and so on.

Take a breather, learned people. Firstly, there is a huge difference between communism and socialism. The failed examples were all communist countries. 

Socialism predates Marx. This will please believers of Vedic plastic surgery and air travel, but the fact is we in India had a rudimentary socialism ages ago. Ram spent 14 years living as a poor commoner, everyone was treated equally in his Ram-Rajya, commoners and princes all studied under similar conditions at the same (tax-payer subsidised?) Gurukuls. Let us leave Sita alone for now – that’s a discussion for another day; even Marxji has kept mum on gender equality. Alas! Woman is always a sacrificial lamb. The very basis of the idea of Ram-Rajya is a deep-rooted sense of equality. In our mythology, a good King is always portrayed as one presiding over a welfare state. 

Consider Kanhaiya – the original one (It must only be a coincidence that this name spells trouble for Kings!). Anyway, Kanhaiya had Sudama as a friend, and both attended the same Gurukul. Here’s what that Kanhaiya told Arjuna on the battlefield: 
samo ‘ham sarva-bhutesu

na me dvesyo ‘sti na priyah
I’m equally disposed to all beings; I have no more hate for some nor more love for others. 

All that is fine, you say, but such ideals are not practical. Equality is all fine and good, but no government is able to get a society to such idealistic levels in reality. I invite you to look at Singapore’s education system, which is one of the best in the world. The foundation of this system is egalitarianism. The state has ensured that each child – whether it be a PM’s child or a janitor’s – attends the same schools. Merit rules. It should in India too, but don’t miss the prerequisite of equal opportunity before you latch on to merit.

Modern day economies are mixed economies. There is no question left, even in the minds of the most vehement supporters of capitalism (especially over the past decade) that markets can, and do, fail. Hence we have a solid economic case for government intervention. Public goods, merit & demerit goods, natural monopolies, negative externalities like pollution and the need for essential goods & services – all these scream out for government action. Here’s a fun fact: all of this is economics based on capitalist thought; communism doesn’t even come close to influencing this line of thinking.

It is thus acknowledged that there is a government role even in purely capitalist economies. Next, let’s look at income generation. We all know that capitalism creates and then propagates income inequalities. Right now, just a busload of people own half of the world’s wealth. What happens to the rest? A majority of people don’t have enough to eat, let alone put their children in school. If the state doesn’t help, they may never get educated. The rich, of course, can have their personal universities. In a world where we talk of a “knowledge economy”, denying education to the poor is denying them a chance to ever improve their lives. 

Even if we leave the humanitarian cost alone, and think in pure market economy terms, there is a humongous loss in aggregate demand from leaving people excluded. If these people had enough purchasing power, they would have an effective demand for goods and services. Customer is king in a market. Right now, about half of world’s population has been denied even the status of a consumer. That’s a massive loss right there for the capitalist – all because we are not ready to forgo a short term profit.

Governments should encourage entrepreneurship; taxation should be bearable and laws should not be stifling. But beyond that a government does not need to babysit corporates. Government should distinguish between need and greed, and move on.

Welfare state, therefore, is a concept that has more than just a humanitarian argument going for it; it has an equally important capitalistic argument supporting it. 

If you don’t want to put your own liberty, privacy and free air on the market, how can you put a price on a poor Dalit child’s future? 

Step back and look at the bigger picture. Everyone has a place in it. Yours would get better, not worse in the process. Life is not a zero-sum game.

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