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Friday, January 21, 2022

Flip Side: Tongue twisters

In Bhutan, it was B4B, in Nepal, HIT, in Japan it was ‘You Mori, me Modi’, and now the Chinese visit has given his linguistic talent new wings.

Written by Dilip Bobb |
Updated: September 21, 2014 12:07:25 am

Prime Minister Narendra Modi loves to dress up; in sartorial terms as well as his personally-patented language of politics and statecraft. He clearly loves acronyms, wordplay and numbers, starting his stewardship with promises of 5Cs, the P4 governance model, the 3Ss that India needs to speed up on and even the 3Ds in case any alphabets were feeling neglected. In Bhutan, it was B4B, in Nepal, HIT, in Japan it was ‘You Mori, me Modi’, and now the Chinese visit has given his linguistic talent new wings. Catchy phrases can also be tricky because they can catch you out later. Some examples.

Inch: His carefully composed acronym for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, expanded as Inch Towards Miles. But the Chinese army seems to be taking it quite literally, occupying areas miles inside Indian territory and not giving an inch even as Xi and Modi were bonding over bhakri. Officially, the visit was labelled a success, but the incursion was akin to a stab in the back and bordered on an affront. Or, as Confucius is said to have said: ‘He who pampers the cow gets spoiled milk’.

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Jinping the gun: On the eve of Xi’s visit, there was much talk of the Chinese investing $100 billion in India. By the end of the talks, the total investment was $20 billion, or one-fifth of the original figure, which left everyone wondering about the missing billions. Chinese checkers? Or, more appropriately, Peking Duck. Curiously, the origin of the $100 billion figure remained a Chinese puzzle, leaving everyone confused about who had been jinping the gun.

Cheeni come: Speaking to the Chinese media on the eve of the visit, Modi did some sugarcoating on Sino-Indian historical ties, saying “it was because of Chinese technology that we were able to refine the sugar, which is why the people of India started calling sugar cheeni”.

He should have asked Indians manufacturers, of Sivakasi firecrackers to Benarasi saris, mobile phones, toys, furniture and fake couture, who have been pleading with the government saying “Chini cum”.

Dhokla diplomacy: Another catchphrase that caught on when Xi touched down in Ahmedabad and was treated to some Gujarati delicacies by Modi. It was actually a snide remark by a Congress party spokesman and a reference to the BJP’s taunt during UPA II, when it had coined the phrase ‘biryani diplomacy’ to suggest India was being soft on Pakistan. The Congress dig was in the context of the timing of the Ladakh incursion. In terms of heated culinary exchanges, as far as the Chinese are concerned, they have never forgiven India for having invented Chicken Manchurian. And putting it on the menu at Moti Mahal.

Soft power: If improving ties was part of the script, then the sight of Xi humming along to a rendition of Raj Kapoor’s Awaara hoon suggests that soft power is an effective medium, border violations and India’s soft stand notwithstanding. After all, the most popular Chinese dish in India is sweet and sour chicken.

The 3Ds: Originally, Modi’s sweetener to Japanese investors was to emphasise 3Ds — democracy, demography and demand. In one sense, he was right. Demand in India is shooting up, as in the Shiv Sena rejecting the BJP’s demand for 135 seats, offering just 119, and the demand by Ajit Singh to remain, rent-free, at his Lutyens bungalow, even though his party was wiped out in the last elections. Singh must be going by another Confucius saying, ‘A naked man has no fear of his pocket getting picked’.

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