Thursday, January 13, 2011

Random Walk: Cryogenic and IPC

Dear All,

So, we are meeting for the first time in the New Year, I mean in the new decade. Though we are late in greeting each other, still, never mind. Let me re-iterate the hackneyed : Happy New Year and may the new year bring all the prosperities ……….well…….

Such well-intentioned phrases may not be apt if one is living (?) in India. I know, you are cursing me to be a pessimist, if not an anti-national. But let me assure you that I am not of those varieties. I have passed no seditious speech in the last one month and neither plan to utter anything of that genre in the coming one month, no, I mean one year. No, no, I guarantee, in the coming one decade at least.

I know about Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code and I know that IPC was framed by our Angrez brothers, no masters, in the year 1860. So, how do you believe that I can be an anti-national?

And you see that I am staying in this land of Rishis and Munis for over thirty years now. Even if you never liked me, I never planned to leave this land of Himalayas. Every time you disowned me, I somehow squeezed in. And still, I am among you, sermonising, being rejected, but nevertheless hopeful. Hence, from no angle, you can call me a pessimist.  

But here I am, not professing but yelling at you the ‘truth’. The truth is that, a few days back, the Times of India, aare baba our National Daily Newspaper, in its front page claimed that prices are going up and up and up. Most essentially, prices of food items are skyrocketing. Let us not go into the inflation percentages. I feel they are of no use. 

Why? For a simple reason. I do not go to the bazaar myself and thus am not paying the money from my pocket. My father still takes that pain. Don’t mock at me please. I do not have the time and my father enjoys going to the market. That’s the actual reason and nothing else.

However, I know the prices of few commodities. Let me spill out those here. One, my favourite dish:  Biriyani. In 2000, one plate of that Central Asian importation cost 36 INR. I am sure about the price since I used to have a dish almost daily at the roadside restaurant near my old house in North Kolkata. Now, in 2010-11, it costs 80 to 90 INR. So, two and a half times or about 100 to 125 per cent increase in ten years. Aah, I know your answer. You shall say ke Bhaiya, our salaries have also increased by that similar percentage. But my immediate reply to you is ke Bhaiya, your and my salaries may have increased, however, what percentage of the population do we comprise?

Few days back, one critic lambasted me left and right for having written that India has lots of poor people. He said that he would never read my pieces since I exploit my country to exalt myself. I tried to act in a professorial manner by indulging in a short lecture, but he was old enough not to be persuaded into a different track. To the contrary, he cited a nice example.

When he used to be in India (he, at present, stays in the Land of Washington), he had seen a lot of poor people, I mean penniless, rag-tag guys in his village in Uttarakhand. Now recently, when he visited India for a few days, he had gone to his village to inspect the poverty, with the hope that he might get hold of some more starving and distended belly-walas, by virtue of the expectation that those rag-tag walas had somehow procreated under the tremendous pressure of the legacy of Kamasutra.

To his utter disappointment though, he found that the sons of those rag-tag walas, had somehow gone to school, when “his” kids were having a brawl at the city discotheque, and now were planning to join the Indian Army; when “his” kids were slowly into marijuana, among others.

His conjecture, thus, was that India has become a rich country and poverty is on the decline, pretty fast.

Do you agree with him?

When I cited the official statistics (which are in any case, if not doctored, then at least partially engineered) to him, he was reluctant to go into any sort of conversation with me and stopped further discussion.

But I guess, you are ready to go ahead with this discussion? After all, we are meeting for the first time in this new decade.

I will briefly update you about some fascinating topics because I know that you were terribly busy in your office in the last couple of weeks while I was on vacation. That made me privy to: 

First, RBI has created hurdles for the Indian Oil Companies. Its most recent diktat as released on 27 December 2010 exhorted the private and public sector companies to stay away from the Asian Clearing Union while paying for oil imports from Iran.

Second, the JPC-PAC debate has not yet subsided.

Third, some villagers, whether innocent or not, have been gunned down by miscreants (Marxists or not) at a place called Netai near Lalgarh.

Fourth, ISRO’s GSLV flight nosedived, dashing all the hopes of India being quickly elevated into the elite club of countries having the ICBMs, geo-stationary satellites et al. Now, we have only one cryogenic engine left with us, as given by the Russian friends.


Fine. So I should stop here. However, before we disperse for today, I will tell you a short story.

I was privy to a sight, even a few months back; when I used to get down at the Dum Dum Metro station, one of the terminals in Kolkata. Three geriatric women stood by each other and begged in front of the passers-by. Since I somehow possess a car these days, and do not travel by the Metro, I have not seen them anymore. However, I firmly believe that they do not stand there any longer. The reason is simple. They are not extant. Why? Again, the reason is simple. In a market economy, the rule is: perform or perish.

The people did not give them any alms because they had to exist in this ‘inflation-al’ world. Hence, their cash assets must have gone down pretty fast as the ‘people’ were preserving their own. Thus, as the people were somehow performing, those three women must have perished in the process as they could not perform.

Uddipan Mukherjee is a late riser. Still, he works 'very hard' to edit Indian Policy. By the way, he writes in diplostratics  

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