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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Election histrionics

Our political leaders would do well to heed the admonition of dear Father Bonet to the students of St. Xavier’s School,Bombay.

Written by Soli J. Sorabjee | April 26, 2009 11:28:45 pm

Our political leaders would do well to heed the admonition of dear Father Bonet to the students of St. Xavier’s School,Bombay: “Think twice before you open your mouth.” Lalu Prasad valiantly announced that if he were the Home Minister he would run a roller over Varun Gandhi for his alleged hate speeches. In less than 24 hours he ‘clarifies’ that he meant a legal roller. Mulayam Singh Yadav vehemently advocates abolition of the English language but soon explains away his preposterous statement to mean that Hindi should be promoted. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi proclaims his friendship with LTTE chief Prabhakaran and disputes that Prabhakaran is a terrorist. Shortly thereafter his statement is modified with a grudging concession that some elements in LTTE could be terrorists. Our actor-turned-politician Sanjay Dutt takes the cake. In response to the show cause notice issued to him for his ‘jaadu ki jhappi and pappi’ remarks about Chief Minister Mayawati he explains that these are from a dialogue in his movie and are meant to spread love in society and his statement should be treated as affection of a brother towards his sister! These bits of entertainment though funny,are tragic because they are at the expense of the Indian electorate who are regarded as dumb spectators in this ongoing election theatricals.

Logic takes a back seat during electioneering. Advani’s caution to Varun Gandhi to observe restraint in his future election speeches after his release from jail is construed by Kapil Sibal as conclusive admission that the tapes were not doctored. BJP’s demand for measures to secure return of illegal proceeds lodged in banks in Switzerland and in other countries under the shelter of banking secrecy laws is countered by Congress spokespersons with the question “Does BJP want to re-enact Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act (FERA)?” The insinuation is that the repeal of FERA by the BJP facilitated accumulation of illegally acquired funds in banks abroad. It is forgotten that FERA in its working had,according to our eminent Home Minister,P. Chidambaram become “a tool of oppression” and “created a flourishing black market in foreign exchange… International markets do not respect draconian laws that run counter to common sense… Mercifully FERA was buried finally on May 31,2000.” Goldsmith’s lament that “Logicians have ill defined as rational the human mind” has compelling poignancy during elections.

Well done,President Obama

US President Barack Obama did not profess his regard for the rule of law and transparency only in his election speeches. He translated it into action by his courageous decision of dismantling the obnoxious detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. Recently,overruling his own CIA director,Obama ordered that the four memos on prisoner interrogation prepared by George W Bush’s Justice Department be released. These memos reveal the cruel nature of the recommended interrogation techniques. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal and violative of the basic values of any civilised society. Obama’s decision to release these memos is another proof of his sincerity and his commitment to transparency.

The lighter side of recession

There are many victims of the global recession. Sponsorship for concerts and musical events is one of them. However,it has also generated humour. One recession bumper sticker reads,“Recession is worse than a divorce. You lose half your fortune and still have your wife.” Another popular jibe is that “the difference between communism and capitalism is that in communism we nationalise the banks and then push them to bankruptcy. In capitalism we push the banks to bankruptcy and then nationalise them.” One thing is certain. Thanks to the Iraqi shoe-thrower and his imitators in our country shoemaking industry will not be in doldrums. In fact,demand for the right type and size of shoes has increased. And of course the flower industry will always thrive when several bouquets are routinely offered at every function to the speakers on the dais,to other dignitaries and at times to their spouses. The fragrance of flowers will hopefully dispel the gloom of recession.

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